Friday, November 21, 2008

Deal with it

It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.
-- Marie Cocco, "No Breakthrough for Women Politicians" (Washington Post Writers Group)

So I asked and you replied. Betinna's novel ended. You write the final chapter as you like.

I wasn't offended as a few wondered in e-mails. First, I love Betinna too. She is very real to me after writing about her for over three years. Second, you love Betinna as well and that makes me very happy.

I'm not sure what to do and will probably do it the way I do a guest post when I fill in at other sites.

This is from AAP:

FEMINIST Germaine Greer says the dress Michelle Obama wore to her husband's US election declaration was a "butcher's apron" and looked like a "geometrical hemorrhage".
- Obama dress a butcher's apron: Greer- Red splatter a 'geometrical hemorrhage'- Black and red 'the colours of chaos'
In her regular column for The Guardian, Greer described the outfit as: "All black with an eye-burning red panel that splattered itself down the front like a geometrical haemorrhage."

I'm not a Germaine Greer fan. However, I don't see anything 'anti-femist' about Greer reviewing an attention-getting outfit Michelle elected to wear.

And it was an ugly outfit. We were looking at it again last week at work. And if you think Greer was harsh, you should have heard four Black women talking trash. And all four of us agreed that Michelle has never learned to dress herself. She really does not know how.

I wish one of us had thought to compare it to the butcher's apron. However, we just focused on her lack of breasts and wide-wide hips and how the red splotches on the black dress emphasized both flaws.

She is not an attractive woman.

She looks better when they put pieces in her hair but, as one co-worker was saying, "Oprah can't help her pull some outfits together?" She dresses so poorly. We went to Google images and it was one fashion disaster after another. There was one cute dress and it was on some gay website. We found it via Google and she looked good in that outfit, had the hair and make up just right. But in other pictures, there was always something hugely wrong.

Here's reality, when you wear an outfit that is that different, you are inviting comments. And not all of them will be positive.

Greer calling out what she saw as an ugly outfit (we all agreed at work) is not anti-feminist. Michelle is nothing but decoration and you only had to catch Barack's multiple speeches to grasp that. So when all you are is decoration, people are going to examine the wrapping paper.

Deal with it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the proposed treaty is protested in Baghdad, and more.

Starting with the treaty passed off as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports on yesterday Parliament activity: "Critics of the agreement tried to further put off discussion Thursday, shouting and banging on tables. . . . But lawmakers in the 30-member Sadr bloc, who have been opposing the agreement, failed to stop the legislation's progress. speaker Mahmoud Mashadani extended the parliament session so debate would continue on Saturday and a vote could still come next week. He already had canceled a leave that had been scheduled for lawmakers next week to cover several Muslim holidays, saying the vote on the pact was too important to delay further." However, on the holiday, CNN notes, "If a vote has to be held beyond Monday, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said it could be delayed by the annual hajj religious pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that comes at the end of the pilgrimage." The Los Angeles Times' blog notes that the treaty needs to be read aloud in the Parliament a third time before going to a vote. Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes, "It is not clear if the endorsement requires a simple, or a two thirds, majority of the 275-member legislative -- the latter a constituational requirement for key legislation. It is also unclear if the assembly will debate the agreement article by article or vote, as the government wants, on the whole package, or what will constitute a quorum should its detractors try to prevent its passage by astaining or walking out."

Before we go further, in the US you can make your voice heard via
American Freedom Campaign:Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed! We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled. The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties. If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress. Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox Campaign Director American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Today White House spokesperson Dana Perino declared on Air Force One that the treaty would be available to the American peoope "soon," "As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that. You bet. . . . As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that. You bet. . . .
I don't know exactly the timing of it. Obviously, we've provided full briefings to appropriate members of Congress. I think over 200 members of Congress saw it. Secretaries Rice and Gates, amongst others -- I think General Lute -- were up on Capitol Hill to provide that information to the citizens, representatives in Congress. And then as soon as we are able to, we'll provide the English language, sure. . . . . I actually can't tell you when it will be. I just don't know." In other words, no, the treaty isn't being released to the American people anytime soon.

In Iraq,
Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) note the Sunni attitude conveyed by MP Aala Maki, "To be clear, it is not the treaty that is the problem. What will be built on the treaty, that is the problem." They're dancing to get their palms greased. Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) reports, "The discord in Iraq's parliament, and on its streets, over the Baghdad government's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Washington is over a lot more than the date on which U.S. troops are to withdraw and the rules governing their conduct until then. As the rabble-rousing Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made clear on Friday, it's also about which Iraqi parties will best leverage the Americans' eventual departure to their own political benefit. Sadr drew thousands of supporters to Firdous Square in central Baghdad on Friday to protest against the draft accord, which awaits a ratification vote in Iraq's parliament on Monday."

CBS and AP cover the protest and note, "After a mass prayer, demonstrators pelted the effigy with plastic water bottles and sandals. One man hit it in the face with his sandal. The effigy fell head first into the crowd and protesters jumped on it before setting it ablaze." AP's Hamza Hendawi reports the demonstration Moqtada al-Sadr called last week took place today following prayers in Baghdad and that the Bully Boy of the United States was "burned" in "effigy" "in the same central Baghdad square where [US shipped in exile] Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier" and the Bush stand-in was also "pelted . . . with plastic water bottles and sandals" and it "held a sign that said: 'The security agreement . . . shame and humiliation'." CNN adds, "The demonstration brought out one of the largest crowds to congregate in Baghdad since protests against the agreement started this year. The square was sealed off and traffic was blocked as thousands chanted 'No no to the agreement,' 'No no America,' and 'Out, out occupation'." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes Sheikh Abelhadi al-Mohammedawi telling those assembled, "If they [US] do not get out then and those with me are ready to drive them out in the method that we see fit, provided that it does not go against religion." AFP reports that a statement from Moqtada al-Sadr was read to the crowd and quotes it as follows: "If they don't leave the country I am going to be with you to make them leave in a way that suits you, as long as it doesn't go against the religion. And if they leave the country and you fear that the enemy coming from outside will transform your land into a battlefield, I and my followers will be a shield for Iraq." BBC (which has text and video on the demonstration) quotes al-Sadr's statement thusly: "Let the government know that America is and will not be of any use to us because it is the enemy of Islam." BBC provides a photo essay here. Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) describe the scene around the demonstration, "Iraqi army snipers perched on rooftops along the broad avenues leading to the square, a public gathering spot in the middle of a traffic roundabout decorated with fountains and greenery. The effigy of Bush, wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, dangled for hours as the crowd, which stretched for several city blocks, knelt in prayer and listened to clerics denounce the Status of Forces Agreement." Reuters photos (such as here) include a caption that notes "Iraqi forces shut streets in Baghdad". Xinhau notes, "Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area, blocking all the roads leading to the route of the demonstration". This Reuters photo by Mushtaq Muhammed shows Iraq soldiers frisking a young man holding a sign bearing al-Sadr's photo "before entering the rally site". This Reuters photo by Kareem Raheem shows an American flag being burned at the demonstration. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the catchy tune sung as the rally ended, "Maliki is the new Sadam."

Staying with the treaty,
AP's Matthew Lee reports that mercenaries such as Dyncorp, Blackwater, Triple Canopy and KBR have been informed by the US State Dept and Pentagon that the treaty will mean "private Americans and non-Iraqi foreigners working in key roles for the United States in Iraq will lose immunity and be subjected to Iraqi law". AFP adds, "One-hundred-and-seventy-two contractors who provide armed escorts and other security measures to government officials, diplomats and NGOs have been briefed on the new rules."

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


CNN notes three Baghdad bombings with 1 person dead and four injured. Xinhua notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted 3 deaths and nineteen people wounded. Sahar

Today the
US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A Multi National Division -- Center Soldier died of non-combat related causes Nov. 20." And they announced: "A Multi National Division - North Soldier was killed in a non-combat related incident in Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 21." The announcements brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4204.

Bilal Hussein is the Associated Press' Pulizter winning photographer who was imprisoned (for no valid reason) for over two years by the US military. The
International Press Freedom Award (Committee to Protect Journalism) has picked him and five other winners for 2008:

Bilal Hussein Associated Press photographer, Iraq Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad, Pajhwok Afghanistan News executives, Afghanistan Andrew Mwenda, managing editor, The Independent, Uganda, Hector Maseda GutiƩrrez, imprisoned reporter, Cuba
Beatrice Mtetwa, media lawyer, Zimbabwe

Congratulations to Bilal.
H. Josef Herbert (AP) notes CPJ "had been among those who had pressed for the release of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his news photography, including the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi. . . . Steven Hurst, former AP bureau chief in Baghdad, said Hussein was taken into custody and held for more than two years without charges. 'He did nothing but his job as a photographer in a war zone,' said Hurst, adding that the military evidently 'didn't like the story that was being told by his pictures'." Information about Bilal and his false imprisonment can be found at the Free Bilal Hussein Now! website.

In other news,
Mickey Z' (at Information Clearing House) prepares for the immediate future:

No, I don't mean that Great Depression. I'm talking about the inevitable moment -- maybe next week, maybe next year -- when the Kool Aid wears off and the Obamatrons wake up to realize their hero offers nothing even approximating hope or change. The carefully calculated speeches -- which have always been filled with empty, hollow phrases -- will no longer soothe a battered and desperate populace and the Obamabots will suddenly recognize that the Pope of Hope has never been anything more than a human marketing strategy, a product. This year's iPhone. "Yes we can"? Merely the first three words of a longer phrase: "Yes we can continue to work, consume, and obey authority without question."

In election news, December sixth, Louisiana's second district elects someone to the US House. Kimberly Wilder (
On The Wilder Side) notes this article on candidate Malik Rehim's recent award and click here for a message from Malik.

Public broadcasting notes. First up
NOW on PBS this week looks at the role of credit ratings agencies in the economic meltdown. The program begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings, as does Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting down with four including the New York Times' Helene Cooper, Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and NBC's Pete Williams. Staying with TV but turning to commercial TV, CBS' 60 Minutes offers Scott Pelly examing an assualt "on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium," Bob Simon on foreign widows of US citizens being ordered to leave "because their husbands died" and Lesley Stahl reports on Rex Lewis-Clack ("a musical savant born blind and mentally impaired who, at 13 years old now, is making remarkable strides despite doctors' prediction."

Public broadcasting heads up radio.
WBAI Sunday, Monday and Wednesday:Sunday, November 16, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURAndrew Andrew prove two opinions more mindbending than one.Monday, November 24, 2-3pmCat Radio CafeAuthor/editor Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. on "George, Being George," anoral history of literary legend George Plimpton; novelist Arthur Nerseianon "The Sacrficial Circumcision of the Bronx," second of TheFive Books of Moses series based on urban terrorist Robert Moses;andJordan Roth of Jujamcyn Theatres announces, a new wayto get discounted theatre tickets while saving the world. Hosted by Janet Colemanand David Dozer.Wednesday, November 26, 2-3pmCCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMARESatire with brand new boxing gloves for the new guys and more groundglass for the old guys. With transition team Janet Coleman, DavidDozer, John McDonagh, Marc Kehoe, Scooter, Moogy Klingman, PaulFischer, The Capitol Steps, Prince Fari and the great Will Durst.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio Cafe

iraqthe new york timescampbell robertsonstephen farrellamerican freedom campaign
the los angeles timestina susman
gina chonthe wall street journal
deborah haynes
bilal hussein
60 minutescbs newswbaicat radio cafejanet colemandavid dozerwashington weekhelene coopernow on pbspbs

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Man Named Joe

[Betty note. Elaine typed up a short story I'm copying and pasting here. She felt since my site was the online novel -- until recently, as more grasp how it ends for Betinna, more so stop! -- it's where she could place her ripped-from-the-headlines reworked as fiction. Community members will get the point.]

Joe, on his knees with cum on his lip, breathed heavy and wiped away tears. The public toilet encounter had gone just great until right after, when the other guy peaked through the glory hole after and got a good look at Joe.

C.I. had known Joe was gay before she met him. A friend was thinking of hiring him as a writer for the TV show they produced and asked C.I. to read a sample. The sample wasn't in script form which was C.I.'s first observation, the second was that Joe was gay. Really? The producer didn't see it. But Joe was a 'rule breaker' was the excuse offered on the refusal to follow format. In 15 pages of writing, there were two interesting events that could be shaped into something and there were fourteen pages that ranked among the worst writing of all time. The producer talked to Joe about the two incidents that scripts could be built around. Joe ignored him and wrote another 'sample' that a star got ahold of and hit the roof on.

"Where am I! I'm not even in this!"

Joe was 'the stepson of someone' the producer owed a favor to so he attempted to let Joe down easy that didn't work and Joe cried and begged for another chance. Since a big favor was owed, the producer figured, "One more chance." But asked C.I. if she'd 'oversee' Joe.

She agreed to give it a try as a favor and two weeks on non-stop feedback ensued culiminating in C.I. doing a re-write of Joe's script. It was good, it got filmed. Joe had a credit in his name only because C.I. didn't want it.

On the basis of that Joe got a bit of interest. Then Joe tried a few projects, writing solo, and it went right in the crapper.

As did his life.

It was at that point that he took to the public toilets for anonymous sex.

Now he was worried because his face was seen and someone might tell Daddy.

Long past 18 and in the closet.

A few weeks later, the phone rang and C.I.'s housekeeper attempted to take a message but the producer insisted it was an emergency. Coming to the phone, C.I. quickly learned that Joe was bad mouthing the producer and C.I. all around town.

They had driven him, C.I. was informed, to sex in public toilets. They had destroyed him. He was a great talent. They had destroyed him. They were evil.

"He's bad mouthing me all over town?" C.I. asked.


"Well, I don't generally hang out in men's public toilets so I'm really not overly concerned."

A drug habit or two later, Joe did a freelance piece for a glossy magazine and could turn it into a permanent job if he could Big Star of the Moment for a cover story.

He tried his step-father who couldn't help him and really didn't want to. He tried everyone he'd ever known or spoken to except for one person. Finally, he made that call.

"Yeah, I can speak to him, but why should I after you trashed me?" asked C.I.

Joe begged to make a personal appeal which he did in front of C.I. and her friend Elaine who was visiting. You just didn't know what it was like to grow up poor and then suddenly, at 20, have a rich step-daddy. And you didn't know what it was like to struggle and have a drug habit and have to prove yourself all over again and . . .

Apparently talk about your self non-stop since that's all Joe could do.

C.I. made the call to Big Star of the Moment, asked if he was interested in doing any more press and explained about Joe.

Big Star agreed to do the interview and C.I. said Joe would call Big Star's manager later to schedule.

Hanging up the phone, C.I. told Joe it was taken care of.

Joe nodded.

But, Elaine noticed, never said thank you.

Joe coasted for a few months at the glossy, swearing he was also working on a novel. After six months of repeatedly failing to produce anything, Joe was let go by the glossy.

Within the year, he was busted by an undercover cop in a public toilet and had to call Mommy and Step-Daddy. It was then that Joe finally had to come out to his parents. I'd tell you how old he was by then but it's so very embarrassing.

Despite the fact that Joe's only filmed credit came via C.I. reworking and rewriting the whole script, despite the fact that Joe's only job that ever lasted more than two weeks resulted from C.I. calling Big Star of the Moment, Joe continued to badmouth C.I. and producer for everything that ever went wrong in his miserable life.

Joe tried blogging.

He'd learned C.I. was online and figured -- since he always thought he was superior to everyone -- that he could do it easy. Didn't work out that way and Joe exited online quickly and in a huff. Joe surfaced again a year later and this time asked for help from C.I.

She called Elaine and Elaine said, "Honestly, you need to stop being so damn nice."

But it was instilled in C.I. at an early age that it was her duty to help others.

So she did. And all that happened was Joe having one meltdown after another. One ridiculous e-mail after another full of jealousy and screaming rage.

One e-mail after another of "I could write if you would die!"

It got very old and the fact that Joe was back in therapy -- when he would show up for his court ordered appointments -- didn't seem to mitigate his rage. For months on end, things would be fine in that no one would hear from Joe. Then he'd write one of his screaming e-mails where he blamed everything on others.

Things only got worse when Joe was busted again in a public toilet and the other man turned out to be 16. As a registered sex offender, life offers him less and less options and it also lead to Mommy and Step-Daddy saying bye-bye and shutting down the bank accounts.

That is the story of Joe.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the treaty dance continues, Iraq corruption continues and look who is firing the auditors, and more.

Starting with the treaty masquearding as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Chris Floyd (Baltimore Chronicle) steps up to talk realities:

The American media is by and large swallowing the propaganda line that the Iraqi cabinet's acquiescense to a "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) with the U.S. occupation force means that the Iraq War will be over in in 2011. This will further cement the conventional wisdom that the suppurating war crime in Iraq is now behind us, and the topic will be moved even further off the radar of public scrutiny.
But as usual, there is a wide, yawning abyss between the packaged, freeze-dried pabulum for public consumption and thhe gritty, blood-flecked truth on the ground.
As Jason Ditz reports at, the so-called "deadline" in 2011 for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces remains, as ever, an "aspiration," not an iron-clad guarantee. The pace and size of the bruited "withdrawal" will remain, as ever, "conditions-based," says Pentagon and White House officials -- a position long echoed by the "anti-war" president-elect. And as we all know, "conditions" in a war zone are always subject to radical, unexpected change.

Campbell Robertson and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) deserve credit for this bit of reporting today on the treaty, "The concessions included establishing deadlines for withdrawing combat forces from Iraqi cities by naext June and from the county by the end of 2011, though officials said the text of the agreement included language that made those dates less rigid deadlines." While they note US Rep Bill Delahunt, they fail to note the most important detail from the press release his office issued last week:

Next week's hearing will examine the possibility that any bilateral agreement reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq may effectively tie the hands of the next Administration as a result of a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it for one year.

The hearing is tomorrow and starts at ten a.m. The most important part is "a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it [the "bilateral agreement"] for one year." So the treaty's not all that binding. Binding contracts do not allow either party to cancel in one year, 'binding contracts' trumpeted for what they will 'do' three years from now (2011) do not allow either party the option to cancel out starting in 2009.
Reuters reports that Ali Larijani, Iran's Speaker of Parliament, is decrying the treaty for "strengthening comprehensive U.S. hegemony in Iraq" while Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani released a statement today which includes: "The representatives of the Iraqi people in parliament must take on a big responsibility in this case and each must be up to this historic responsibility before God and the people."

The Washington Post asserts a 'change' in Barack Obama's stance on the treaty. First let's review the public stance this year.

During the election, the Obama-Biden campaign website revealed their stance on the so-called SOFA in "
Plan for Ending the War in Iraq:"The Status-of-Forces-AgreementObama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
Post election, was set up as the official website for the Barack-Biden transition and if you pull up "The Obama-Biden Plan," you will find:The Status-of-Forces AgreementObama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.
That has been the official position, that Congressional approval was required and Congressional review. However,
Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) reports, "And the Obama transition team is signling that it wants Congress to review the pact, though not necessarily approve it." That would be a huge shift from where Barack once stood. It would also make Joe Biden look like a flat-out liar. Or are we all supposed to forget the April 10th Senate Foreign Reltations committee he chaired where he told the State Dept's David Satterfield and the Defense Dept's Mary Beth Long that regarding their claim that the so-called SOFA didn't need Senator approval, "I respectfully suggest that you don't have a Constitutional leg to stand on." And are we supposed to forget Senator Russ Feingold informing Satterfield, "I would suggest your difficulties are with the nature of our Constitution." Or that Senators Norm Coleman and Johnny Isakson also called out the so-called SOFA (both senators are Republicans -- there was bi-partisan objection to the Senate's Constitutional role of approving any treaty being circumvented). Back on the Democratic side, Senator Robert Menendez pointed out this bi-partisan objection, "Many of us on both sides of the aisle believe that such an agreement needs to come before Congress." Senator Jim Webb made his position clear, "I would argue it's a document that needs Senate consent."

On both sides of the aisle, senators stood up for the Constitution (and let's not forget that they stood up in the House as well including US House Rep Susan Davis) and now this is going to be tossed aside or Barack Obama thinks it is? That's what the Post reported this morning. (Friends on the transition team told me this morning and this afternoon that the position has not changed and Senate approval remains the stance. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.)

Deputy Secretary of State
John Negroponte spoke in Ireland yesterday where he strung together the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, "2001" and "extremism." When the current administration leaves office will they take the direct and indirect fale-linkage of Iraq to 9-11 with him? You'd think so but you'd also have thought that all that lip flapping in April meant something, that a Constituional scholar like Barack wouldn't be eager to spit on the Constitution before he's even sworn in; however, the Post feels their information on this is solid and Team Barack will not fight for or advocate Senate approval. If true, he'll go into office a damn liar and never overcome it while Democrats in the Senate will be damned in the same manner. (Russ Feingold being Russ would most likely speak out to some degree if the Senate was circumvented. Would the rest?) For eight years, Democrats and their media surrogates have tossed around phrases like "rule of law" and if they think they can drop them just because "their guy" got into the White House they better expect to see huge losses in both houses of Congress come November 2010. And you can pair this potential move by Barack with Tom Burghardt's "Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the 'Change Administration'" (Dissident Voice):While expectations may be high that the incoming Obama administration will reverse many of the worst features of the Bush regime–from warrantless wiretapping, illegal detention, torture, "targeted assassinations" and preemptive war–now that the cheering has stopped, expect more of the same. According to The Wall Street Journal, "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party." With hyperbolic "change" rhetoric in the air, Obama is relying on a gaggle of former intelligence insiders, warmed-over Clinton administration officials and "moderate" Republicans, many of whom helped Bush craft his administration's illegal policies. With U.S. street cred at an all-time low, due in no small measure to Washington's hubristic fantasies that it really is an empire and not a rapidly decaying failed state, ruling elites have literally banked on Obama to deliver the goods. During his run for the White House, the Illinois senator may have mildly criticized some of the administration's so-called "counterterrorism" policies including the Bushist penchant for secrecy, the disappearance of "terrorist" suspects, driftnet surveillance of American citizens and legal residents, CIA "black site" gulags and the crushing of domestic dissent. But in the few scant days since the November 4 general election, the contours of what Democratic party corporatist grifters will roll-out come January 20 are taking shape. Citing Obama's carefully-crafted public relations blitz on the campaign trail opposing illegal spying, the Journal reports: Yet he ... voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision. The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight. (Siobhan Gorman, "Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact," The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008) The "current government official" cited by the Journal fails to specify precisely what it means to "keep the road open" when it comes to torturing prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Turning to England, Peter Goldsmith is in the news. Lord Goldsmith resigned as Attorney General of England and Wales June 27, 2007. His advice to then-Prime Minister Ton Blair has been questioned for some time (PDF format warning,
click here for the advice). Yesterday Lord Thomas Bingham, speaking to The British Institute of International and Comparative Law raised Goldsmith's advice. BBC reports he called the war "a serious violation of international law" and said Bingham provided Blaid with "no hard evidence" making a case for the war. Joshua Rozenberg (Telegraph of London) explains, "It is thought to be the first time that Lord Bingham has expressed his views about the legal advice given to Tony Blair by the former Attorney General. The issue never came before Lord Bingham while he was sitting as a judge." Rozenberg quotes Bingham on why the decision was doubtful:

"First, it was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had: Hans Blix and his team of weapons inspectors had found no weapons of mass destruction, were making progress and expected to complete their task in a matter of months.
"Secondly, it passes belief that a determination whether Iraq had failed to avail itself of its final opportunity was intended to be taken otherwise than collectively by the Security Council."

Frances Gibb (Times of London) quotes Bingham stating, "Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration." The First Post emphasizes the illegal nature of the war based on Bingham's judgement.

From illegal to corruption, September 22nd in the US, the the Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on corruption that was noted in the
Sept. 23rd snapshot:

Senator Byron Dorgan: In March, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing at my request, in which we heard from a very courageous Iraqi judge who headed Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity. This agency was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion of Iraq, and charged with rooting out corruption in the new government. Judge al-Radhi estimated that corruption in Iraq's government had resulted in the loss of $18 billion in government funds, and most of those funds had been US tax payer dollars. Judge Radhi said that instead of supporting his efforts to fight corruption, the top levels of the Iraqi government had ultimately suppressed his investigations. [. . . ] Judge Radhi also testified that since the establishment of the Commission of Public Integrity, more than 31 employees have been assassinated as well as at least an additional 12 family members. One would have expected that our own government would have been doing everything it could to support Judge Radhi's anti-corruption efforts. But in hearing of this committee back in May, we heard from two State Dept officials who said that our own government was not interested in ensuring accountability of U.S. funds in Iraq or in rooting out corruption. In fact, one of the officials, retired judge Arthur Brenna, said that some of the stolen funds were steered to the Iraqi insurgency. Yet the administration was generally indifferent to the problem. This indifference has had deadly consequences. We will hear from witnesses today -- one of whom was Judge Radhi's chief investigator in Iraq -- about how stolen US funds have gone to al Qaeda in Iraq. Our earlier hearing with Judge Brennan showed us that the State Dept turns a blind eye when it comes to corruption. Today's hearing will show us what the State Dept turned a blind eye to -- and what the consequences have been.

James Glanz and Riyadh Mohammed (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki continues to fire those tasked with oversight and the reporters note, "Mr. Maliki's stance on oversight was most vividly illustrated by his long-running feud with Judge Rathi al-Rathi, the former head of the Commission onf Public Integrity, an oversight agency created by the Coalition Provisional Authority. After Mr. Rathi's corruption investigations repeatedly embarrassed the Maliki government, the prime minister's office supported corruption charges against Mr. Rathi himself." Matt Kelley (USA Today) reports that being suspended by the government doesn't mean that you can't still get contracts as Lee Dynamics International (suspended for bribery) proves, "Contracting officers gave Lee Dynamics International a new contract in July 2007 despite warnings from military lawyers, according to a report issued by Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR). The Joint Contracting Command-Iraq did not return calls on why Lee Dynamics was awarded the new contract." Matt Kelley also notes, "The Pentagon spent about $600 million on more than 1,200 Iraq reconstruction contracts that were eventually canceled, nearly half of them for the mismanagemnt or shoddy construciton, government inspectors say." Reuters notes Iraq ranks number three on the most corrupt nation-state list by Transparency International Index and that the head of Iraq's Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugaili, was sent out to dance for reporters today .and declare, "In 2008 we referred 337 cases to the court. This year has seen the biggest achievement." No word apparently on whether more corruption cases would allegedly be referred or not had al-Maliki not fired at will. Glanz and Mohammed note:

At least two of the officials who were forced out were Christian women, Hana Shakuri of the Culture Ministry and Samia Youssef Sha'ia of the Christian Endowment. But most are simply senior Sunni and Shiite technocrats who have been at their posts for years and in several cases were orginally appointed in 2004 by L. Paul Bremer III, the top administrator for the Coaliton Provisional Authority.

We'll use the women's religion to grab
Liz Sly's (Chicago Tribune) report on Sunday about Iraq's Mandeans who predate Christianity and Islam ("and even perhaps Judaism") but are now "on the brink of extinction" having dropped from 30,000 in 2002 to between 3,500 and 5,000 currently:

Scattered around the world in tiny communities, the chances that the religion will survive more than a few generations are slim, experts say. Mandaeism does not accept converts, and the children of Mandaeans who marry non-Mandaeans do not belong to the sect. There are only 35 priests left in the world familiar with the elaborate ceremonies of a people who claim to be directly descended from Adam and who regard John the Baptist as their most important prophet."It has been a catastrophe for us," said Sattar Jabar Helou, who heads the Mandaean sect worldwide. "This is one of the world's oldest religions, and it is going to die."Mandaeans, known as Sabis in Arabic, are just one of several minorities who have historically given Iraq its distinct identity as a cradle of religious diversity. All have suffered disproportionately from the spread of anarchy and extremism in the wake of the U.S. invasion.Iraq's once-substantial Christian community has seen its numbers dwindle from about 800,000 to 500,000. Yazidis, a lettuce-shunning minority that venerates the forces of good and evil, have been targeted for attacks in their enclaves along the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan. Shabbaks, a Muslim sect that permits alcohol and is neither Sunni nor Shiite, have been persecuted in their ancestral lands near the northern city of Mosul.

Turning to today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing inside the home "of Sadi Mahdi, a general inspector in the ministry of electriticy" which left "Sadi's son Mustafa and his wife" wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded one person, another Baghdad roadside bombing and this one left two people wounded and a Mosul car bombing that claimed 1 life and ten other people injured. Reuters notes a Sinjar bombing that claimed 1 life and left thirteen people injured,


Reuters notes 5 'suspects' were shot dead in Samarra and three more wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad

Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) continues to explore service members deaths in Iraq from non-combat, "Here is today's horror story, involving Sgt. Mason Lewis of Virginia. A year ago, the military told his mom he had died in a fall. By implication: his fault. Yesterday a local TV outlet reported that the official probe has belatedly revealed: 'Army investigators discovered a poorly maintained bucket loader with no brakes and sluggish hydraulics, operated by an inexperienced crew, led to Mason's death'."

Mickey Z (at CounterCurrents) points out the little confidence game so many on the left are playing at present regarding a hopey-changey Corporatist War Hawk:And let's say Howard Zinn wrote an article that talked about what this man should do, what he hoped he'd do. For example: "announce the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan" and "renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war as well as the Carter doctrine of military action to control Midest oil." Also: "radically change the direction of U.S. foreign policy, declare that the U.S. is a peace loving country which will not intervene militarily in other parts of the world, and start dismantling the military bases we have in over a hundred countries. Also he must begin meeting with Medvedev, the Russian leader, to reach agreement on the dismantling of the nuclear arsenals, in keeping with the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Treaty." Then raise taxes on the rich and combine that windfall with the hundreds of billions of dollars freed from the military budget to "give free health care to everyone (and) put millions of people to work" and thus "transform" the United States and "make it a good neighbor to the world."
Well, Howard Zinn has written such an article ("Obama's Historic Victory," Nov. 12, 2208) but is anyone calling him delusional and ridiculing him for even suggesting such insane expectations? The tens of thousands of readers who look to Zinn as a trusted voice of wisdom and reason are being dangerously misled by an article that omits the reality that every indication points to Barack Obama doing the exact opposite of what Zinn writes. Zinn knows as well as anyone that not an iota of evidence exists that Obama would do anything approaching what is described above. For a man of Zinn's stature on the Left to even hint of such a possibility is a shockingly irresponsible act and one that only contributes to the misguided perception that Obama's election is somehow a victory for the progressive Left.

chris floydthe washington postmichael abramowitzthe new york timescampbell robertsonsteven lee myers
james glanz
riyadh mohammedtom burghardt
matt kelley
liz sly
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
greg mitchell
mickey z