Friday, November 28, 2008

Shove it up your ass, Carlos Fierro

Tonight's post focuses on a Dumb Ass Carlos Fierro's whose "Obama and the End of Racism?" is posted at CounterPunch. I don't like Dumb Asses and I don't like Liars so I have two reasons to loathe Carlos Fierro.

The Dumb Ass writes:

The liberal minded among us who told us that first and foremost we had to make sure that Obama got elected, but that after the election the real work would begin, have remained oddly silent as the Obama administration begins to take shape. First it was the announcement that Rahm Emanuel would become Obama’s Chief of Staff. Emanuel, who is one of the most ardent supporters of apartheid Zionism practiced in Israel on Palestinians, also voted for the trillion dollar give away to banks, voted to authorize the war in 2002, and worked to defeat an anti-war candidate in Illinois (see Tammy Duckworth v. Christine Cegelis). Then there was the announcement that Lawrence Summers would head the National Economic Council and act as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Mr. Summers found fame when, as president of Harvard, he publically suggested that women are inferior to men in math and science, which accounted for Harvard’s disproportionately low numbers of women in math and sciences. Mr. Summers lost his gig as president shortly after. And lastly we learn that Hillary Clinton will be named Secretary of State, as hawkish a hawk there has ever been.

Now the first part, I could go along with. His cheerleaders have been silent. However, Hillary is "as hawkish a hawk there has ever been"? Proof? More so than Donald Rumseld? More so than Henry Kissinger? It's hard to see how she trumps every American that has ever lived, let alone Hawks in other countries.

Carlos is a Dumb Ass and a Liar. Like many a liar, he is most likely thinking of Hillary's 2002 vote. That vote, for authorization of the Iraq War, passed the Democratically controlled Senate. It's hard to believe that with so many Democrats voting for it, Hillary managed to leap ahead of all of them. But Carlos wants you to believe she did. He wants you, in fact, to believe his deluded fantasy that she's even more Hawkish than GOP presidential nominee John McCain. That's because he's a two-bit piece of trash liar.

He might try to point to Hillary's vote on the Iranian resolution. He can try. But Barack didn't vote on that one. He ignored the vote, he was a no-show, even after Harry Reid's office gave him a heads up. And, as Jake Tapper pointed out, Barack had already sponsored similar legislation earlier. So at worst Hillary can be guessed to be as Hawkish as Barack Obama.

But Carlos can't tell you that.

He can lie:

Even with this, it is hard to deny that the symbolic significance of Obama’s election to president is indeed staggering. It certainly wasn’t lost upon me. I was teaching as the election results began to come in, and we had a TV on in the background. My disinterest in the results didn’t mean that I couldn’t appreciate the historic nature of the event; historic it certainly was. The significance can be overblown, however.

F**k you, Carlos and kiss my Black ass. I have spent weeks thinking I was one of the few Black people not caught up in the hysteria. Not true. Huge turnout for Thanksgiving with relatives coming from all over the country and, time and again, they spoke of how it was no great turning point. Why? He's not Black.

We are Black.

Barack's bi-racial, half-White, half-Black. You could easily say that White and Black people have an equal right to celebrate his win; but don't tell us that a Black man is going to the White House. We don't buy that. We don't even buy that a High Yellow's easing into the White House.

It was a media narrative, a lie, that was told over and over to get the nation into a feel-good mode. No different than the shoes tossed in the tree in Wag The Dog. A lie repeated over and over to build support. I'm not buying it. Carlos has bought it and suddenly feels a flutter in his stomach. Shove it up your ass, Carlos, I'm not in the mood.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the so-called 'coalition' continues shrinking, the press pimps spin for the White House, and more.

Yesterday, the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement passed the Iraqi Parliament and some form of the treaty was also released in English (finally) by the White House. While the White House issued a fact-free feel-good from the Bully Boy of the United States and the press, always desperate to fit in, copped a few feels of their own, the reaction was not as universal aclaim in Iraq. Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports approximately 9,000 people gathered to protest in Sadr City and another 2,500 in Basra. AP adds, "Al-Sadr's statement calls for "peaceful public protests" and the display of black banners as a sign of mourning. But it doesn't repeat his threat to unleash militia fighters to attack U.S. forces if they don't leave immediately."

The treaty passed but no seems concerned and you have to wonder who in the US administration (or the press) is paying attention. The UN warned this month that violence would most likely increase as a result of Parliamentary elections being (finally) scheduled for next year. Was it really the time to antagonize Iraqis further? Will the treaty be looked at in a year or two the same way Paul L. Bremer's decision to de-Baathify the Iraqi government was? Will it be the failure that people point to and marvel over how the US just had to keep pushing, just had to poke the bear. Was it worth the anger and the ill will? No one wants to debate that or acknowledge it. The press is on their cop-a-feel high. Take
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) who breathlessly pants the vote was "historic". Historic? 149 members of Parliament voted for the treaty. There are 275 members of Parliament. That's barely over half. Historic? Really? The Scotsman explains the treaty better than any domestic outlet: "On Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers approved a pact allowing US forces to stay in Iraq for three more years." The domestic press outlets are too busy parroting the White House to note much reality. AFP explains, "The United States on Thursday hailed the Iraqi parliament's approval of a landmark accord for US troops to leave the country in three years, but a referendum on the deal next year could complicate withdrawal plans for the next US president." Ignore the referendum, ignore that the majority of Iraqis want the US out now, ignore that the backdoor deals that the US crafted to push the treaty through are not unknown in Iraq . . . On that last point, Iran's Press TV reports:

"Washington echelons repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iraqi government if they continued their opposition to the security deal," said Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. Iraq's al-Morsad reported on Oct. 10 that US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had warned that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be 'ousted' unless he signed the US-proposed security pact. Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has also claimed that the Bush administration had threatened to cut off vital services to Baghdad if it further delayed the accord, saying the threats were akin to 'political blackmail'. "It was really shocking for us…Many people are looking to this attitude as a matter of blackmailing," al-Hashimi said on Oct. 26.

Ignore all of that and ignore that all of this is one big pressure cooker. It really is just like when Bremer disbanded the Baath Party and the real-time press rushed to hail that too. Let's drop back to
the April 10 Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations hearing chaired by Joe Biden who noted "We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat. We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat? . . . [that the proposed treaty requires the US] to take sides in Iraq's civil war [and that] there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out. . . . Just understand my frustration: We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." Senator Russ Feingold agreed noting, "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation, won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?" But the press, reflecting their 'betters' in the administration, rush to ignore those basic facts. Feingold's question bears repeating, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal?" Apparently the press isn't concerned but they're not free press, they can't report, they can only reflect the spin coming out of the White House.

None more so than the media crack whore
Alissa J. Rubin who joins with Campbell Robertson (New York Times) to pimp one lie after another and, most notoriously, the lie that the treaty "goes into effect on Januray 1, 2009, when the current United Nations mandate that currently governs American troop operations in the country expires." Put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard, Alissa J. The treaty now goes to the presidency council where the three members may approve it or they may shoot it down (only one vote is required to nix the treaty). Translation, at this point, nothing goes into effect on January 1, 2009. Don't get stoned and try to 'report,' Alissa, it only embarrasses yourself, the paper and everyone else. Who, what, when and where, not predicitions passed off as facts. She's far from the only cop-a-feel-pimper, but she is the worst. The Washington Post manages to include (buried deep) the following on the treaty:
". . . the pact also allows the Iraqi government to negotiate with the United States to extend the presence of U.S. troops if conditions on the ground are not stable. The
Los Angeles Times manages to note: "The pact allows for amendments if both sides agree to them. U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting an extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi forces in charge. 'There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides,' one U.S. official said." While the Iraqi Parliament has now approved the treaty, the White House thinks they can get away with circumventing the Constitution and refusing to allow the treaty to go before the US Congress. American Freedom Campaign picks the lack of US Congressional input into the treaty as the abuse of the week:Iraq Parliament to vote on U.S.-Iraq agreement, while Congress has no inputDuring the Bush administration, the power of the executive branch has been greatly expanded. At times, President Bush has treated Congress like an inferior branch of government – and, to be honest, Congress has done very little to demonstrate it minds being treated that way. Case in point: On November 17, the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Iraq had reached an agreement setting the terms of the U.S.'s presence in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate on December 31. Although the Bush administration is calling this agreement a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a category of international agreement that does not require congressional approval, it is clear that the agreement goes well beyond a traditional SOFA. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has no plans to seek congressional approval. What makes this even worse is that under the Iraqi constitution, this kind of agreement must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. So we are left with a situation in which the Iraqi Parliament is voting on an agreement that will affect the lives of U.S. soldiers, but Congress has no voice at all in the process. And what is Congress doing about this? Very, very little so far…

And while Biden could express frustration April 10th over the treaty and object to it, while Barack Obama could do the same as he was running in the Democratic Party primary for the presidential nomination, while he could show boat and pretend he shared Hillary Clinton's objection to a treaty without Congressional approval (even becoming one of the 13 co-sponsors of the bill she put foward), while Biden and Obama could run in the general election insisting that the treaty must have Congressional approval, that was then. Every time a Barack wins an election, a Barack loses a spine.
Deborah Haynes (Times of London) shares this today: His transition team will now be poring over every word of the document to see what it will mean for those soldiers who may remain in Iraq for up to three years after the expiry of the UN mandate on December 31. Mr Obama, a lawyer, will be anxious to see that American troops remaining in the country do not fall foul of Iraqi or international law.The treaty was yet another 'present' vote for Barack. He couldn't stand up, he couldn't do a damn thing. When you've built your own myth around your so-called judgment and the only thing you have to remotely base that claim on is a 2002 speech, you're paralyzed and that's what Barack's rushing to enshrine: a paralyzed presidency.

Meanwhile further tensions on the horizon as
Reuters reports, "Oil contracts signed by the Kurdish regional government (KRG) with foreign oil companies are not recognised by central government in Baghdad, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani said on Friday."

In other news the so-called coalition of the willing continues shrinking.
CNN reports Japan is ending their air mission in Iraq as 2008 draws to a close. Takashi Hirokawa and Sachiko Sakamaki (Bloomberg News) note that "Japan Air Self-Defense Force will terminate the airlifts, which started in March 2004 and are designed to help reconstruction work". UPI adds that Yasukazu Hamada, Japan's Defense Minister, "said Japan's air self-defense force mission had helped in imporving the Iraqi situation, Kydo news service reported." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) observes, "President Bush's 'coalition of the willing' is set to all but disappear from Iraq by the end of the year, with 13 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Moldova and Tonga preparing to withdraw their few remaining troops. Britian, Australia, Romania, Estonia and El Salvador are the only nations, apart from the US, that plan to remain after a UN mandate authorising their presence expires on December 31."

Some of today's reported violence?

BBC notes 9 dead (plus the bomber for 10) and fifteen wounded in a Musayib mosque bombing. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the mosque death toll rose to 13 ("12 worshipers" plus the bomber) and notes a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 others while leaving fourteen wounded as well as a Diyala Province house bombing that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with three more injured.

In music news,
I Am Three announces there new digital download available here or here which includes the tracks "Burning Me," "Fell Over," "I Try," "Monkeyphonics," "Nostalgia," "Worth It" and "Strange addiction." In addition, Kat reviews Labelle's Back to Now here. In non-music news check out Gaza Strip: a catastrophic human toll - by Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse.

iraqwisam mohammedtimes of londondeborah haynesthe new york timescampbell robertsonalissa j. rubinthe los angeles timesthe washington postamerican freedom campaign
mcclatchy newspapersmohammed al dulaimyi am three
labellekats korner

Thursday, November 27, 2008


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, November 27, 2008. The White House finally releases a copy of the treaty (knowing that everyone's on a holiday), the treaty passes in the Iraqi Parliament (but not by the required number), chaos and violence continue, a war resister seeks asylum in Germany, and more.

"Iraqi lawmakers today approved a pact allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country through 2011 after winning support from skeptics by promising a public referendum on the plan,"
explain Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) and they go on to note that "[a]ccording to the agreement" troops out in 2011! Which agreement? The Arabic one the puppet government thinks is final or the English one the White House refuses to release because, as Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes." This was noted last week in a Congressional hearing as well so it's really past time to stop speaking of the agreement singular. Salman and Susman do a better job explaining this:The pact, while not explicitly stating that an extension can be sought, allows for amendments if both sides agree to them.U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting a possible extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi security forces in charge. "There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides," one U.S. official said in discussing the pact. Yeah, it's a one-year agreement. Only 2009 cannot be changed or cancelled. Everything else that the White House says is set-in-stone is actually a conditional option that can be wiped away by either side. Today the White House finally released the agreement in English. We'll jump in at Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective:

1) This Agreement shall be effective for a period of three years, unless terminated sooner by either Party pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Article.

Get it? Paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect." Meaning only 2009 is set in stone. It is too late for either party (US or Iraq) to give one year's notice and cancel it in 2009. They can give notice to cancel in 2010 or 2011. The second clause is also worth noting because it weakens the strength of any agreement as well: "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries." That's the aspect that allows for a change and all the 'flowery' respect for Constitutional procedures is hog wash. The Iraqi Parliament needed to have two-thirds of all members (not just members present) to pass the treaty today. They did not have that. According to their Constitution and their laws, that's what was needed. In the US, Congressional approval is needed over all treaties and we know that has not take place. We further know that Barack Obama -- alleged Constitutional scholar -- doesn't give a damn about the Constitution. He show boated and did his little pretty words number while campaigning but despite all his insisting that the treaty would have to come before the Congress -- including becoming one of thirteen co-sponsors on Hillary Clinton's Senate bill insisting upon that -- he shut his corporate mouth and put his tiny tail between his legs to slink off like the disgusting, cowering trash he is. He's not going to stand up for the Constitution 'later.' He couldn't stand up for it right now.

An agreement built upon a systematic disrespect for the rule of law does not suddenly develop one. An agreement built upon lies does not suddenly embrace honesty. The treaty is built on lies and they include the lies to the American people. Why is the US pursuing this treaty? The White House keeps talking about these 'recent' gains in Iraq. Today is November 27th of 2008. Recent would, for most of us, go back no further than the end of spring. But Article 25 explains Nouri al-Maliki and Condi Rice notified the United Nations that the Security Council's mandate would be cancelled at the end of this year . . . last year. al-Maliki's letter was dated December 7th, Rice's December 10th. 'Recent' events?

The agreement the White House has released may not be the official agreement or the final one. It is the one that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari signed November 17, 2008. The note above their signatures states: "Signed in duplicate in Baghdad on this 17th day of November, 2008, in the English and Arabic languages, each text being equally authentic."

That version is published online by the White House in PDF format (
click here). The Bully Boy of the United States released the following statement today: "Earlier today, in another sign of progress, Iraq's Council of Representatives approved two agreements with the United States, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement, often called a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. The Strategic Framework Agreement sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries, and the Security Agreement addresses our presence, activities, and withdrawal from Iraq. Today's vote affirms the growth of Iraq's democracy and increasing ability to secure itself. We look forward to a swift approval by Iraq's Presidency Council. Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely -- but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament. The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day."

But wasn't this day 'paved' in December of 2007 when Rice and al-Maliki notified the UN that there would be no extension of the mandate following its December 31, 2008 expiration?

Rumors abound that al-Maliki has consolidated his power with the passage. For the so-bad it's good reporting, check out
Alissa J. Rubin, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell of the New York Times proving that reporters can serve up camp too. In the real world CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer explains that this means an extension of US troops in Iraq and link includes video. Meanwhile Ruth explained how certain members of the press are actively participating in the manufacture of consent and deliberately distorting what the treaty says (Ruth utilizes Ayad Allawi's "US-Iraq agreement needs work" from the Boston Globe) to make her point. What happens now in Iraq? The treaty now goes before Iraq's presidency council where the president or either of the country's two vice-presidents can veto it. To pass it requires all three give thumbs up. Only one need give a thumbs down to veto.

The referendrum was included in the vote today and the Los Angeles Times notes: "If voters rejected the agreement in the July 2009 referendum, Iraq's government would have to cancel SOFA or demand changes to it. The terms of the agreement allow either side to give the other a year's notice of cancellation, so if Iraq scrapped the pact, U.S. forces would have to leave the country in July 2010."

Today's violence?
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing that resulted in the death of 1 police force member, a Baghdadroadside bombing that resulted in the death of an Iraqi soldier with three more wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left sic more people wounded, a Mosul 'sucide' bombing that took the life of the bomber and left six police officers wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 civilians with 28 more people wounded.

Meanwhile in Germany a US soldier is seeking aslyum.
Andreas Buerger (Reuters) reports 31-year-old Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd self-checked out of the military in 2007 and is now seeking sancturay in Germany where he held a press conference today and declared: "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing. I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders."

In Iraq, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres wrapped up a thee day visit by visiting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani:

Guterres, who was accompanied by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Iraq, said UNHCR's operations for uprooted Iraqis had until now focused primarily on refugees in neighbouring states, mainly Syria and Jordan. He told Al-Sistani that the two nations deserved praise for their generosity to Iraqi refugees. UNHCR supports both nations' efforts to assist the Iraqi refugees.
With the improved security situation in Iraq, including in Najaf itself, UNHCR was now moving toward increasing its presence in the country and stepping up its activities on behalf of internally displaced people and returning refugees, the High Commissioner said. The agency is doubling its budget to US$81 million in 2009 and increasing the number of provincial offices from the current 10 to 14, covering the whole country.

iraqjonathan s. landaymcclatchy newspapers
nancy a. youssefadam ashton
the los angeles timestina susman
the new york timescampbell robertsonalissa j. rubinstephen farrell
cbs news
elizabeth palmer
ruths report

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now I don't believe I wanna see the morning

I've mainly just got a question tonight: Since when does the Iraq War matter so damn little that Panhandle Media will let Big Media spin any lie and never bother to question?

I thought that at least the end of the illegal war mattered.

I noticed long ago that the day to day didn't mean a damn thing to Amy Goodman. She had 'moved on.' But Big Media is repeatedly lying about the treaty and Panhandle really can't be bothered with it.

Remember that when Amy Goodman, Norman Solomon, et al want to act like they give a damn after the fact.

Remember that when the do-nothing United for Leslie Cagan but Let's Pretend It's Peace & Justice wants to pretend they are outraged.

They're not doing a damn thing.

Truth of the matter is there's only one person leading on this issue. Guess who. Right, C.I.

Some others pick it up and maybe comment once a week. But no one's driving this, no one's calling out the press, no one's going over it and over the way C.I. is.

I caught the Death Becomes Her reference. "I want to talk about . . ." Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) says in group therapy, " Madeline Ashton."

Everyone starts screaming because Helen always talks about her frenemy Madeline.

When C.I. made that reference in passing, I caught it. And I thought how awful it must be to know each day you're going to have to correct the lies on the treaty and that no one's really going to do a damn thing to help. Each day, C.I.'s got to dive in. Who else is helping?

It's disgusting.

Thank the Lord for C.I. This is exactly the sort of topic and manner of addressing it that made The Common Ills. C.I. can stand up when no one else will. And that is what is once again happening.

The treaty covers 2009. 2010 and 2011 could be modified or cancelled completely by the terms of the contract. So all this nonsense of "Troops will be out in 2011!" is b.s. It's not what the contract says. It's like I go next door for a cup of sugar and my neighbor (a very nice woman) gives me the sugar and says, "You should come over sometime when I make brownies" and I run all over the neighborhood saying, "I had brownies!" No, I didn't. Not yet.

So it's family time.

We had some cousins come in and everyone wanted ear phones. I finally had to go to the drug store (I called to make sure they were open) right before midnight and buy five sets of Jelleez (that's the brand of ear phone). I get back here and distribute them (to young teenagers) and after about two minutes not only is there peace but everyone's ready to watch a movie. I had to go get ear phones for that?

I've got two of my cousins and their children here at my house, by the way. I think I said we had a lot of out of town family come in. So they're divided up in all our houses. My cousin Ruby reads Marcia's site religously (and I mean to pass that on, Marcia, so if I don't, remind me -- Ruby has some intense feedback -- all positive) and she saw the post about Rebecca turning Marcia onto Barbra Streisand. So Ruby went out and bought Barbra because if Marcia approves . . .

Seriously, she thinks Marcia does an amazing job online. (Marcia does do an amazing job online.)

So she got The Essential Barbra Streisand which I am looking at and we have on the stereo right now.

By the way, the teenage cousins all brought their laptops but they did not bring headphones. My boys have headphones because they are into music and will blast each other without headphones. So they were loaning out their two ut that wasn't enough. Now with five sets, each of them has one to listen to.

Barbra singing "Second Hand Rose" and it must be from the play Funny Girl and not the movie because it doesn't sound like the film (the arrangement) which I know very well. (I have it on DVD and have most of Streisand's stuff on either DVD or VHS.) Ruby says that it's from Barbra's TV special. So to correct that, not from the play, the recording is from a TV special.

So The Essential Barbra Streisand is a double disc set with 22 songs on the first disc and 18 on the next. I'm not sure how many people know Barbra's hits. I assume everyone knows "The Way We Were" (which is on the collection). "Second Hand Rose" is also a hit, by the way. "Stoney End" is on the collection and it was Barbra's biggest hit for years (until "The Way We Were") and before that "People" (also on the set) was her biggest hit. I've told you before my older brother was the big music collector growing up and he knew everything about everyone, chart runs, how many millions the albums sold, etc. "Evergreen" was a number one. So was her duet with Neil Diamond ("You Don't Bring Me Flowers"), her duet with Donna Summer ("No More Tears"), "Woman In Love" was a number one solo hit, "Guilty" was a top ten duet. I'm surprised "The Way He Makes Me Feel" isn't on this because there are two tracks from Yentl and "The Way He Makes Me Feel" charted top fifty or forty (my brother would shake his head over my forgetting -- and then Barbra does her pop album and doesn't sell so well so she does The Broadway Album -- I did listen, I just can't remember how high "The Way He Makes Me Feel" went on the charts). Her hit duet with Celine Dion ("Tell Him") and her hit duet with Bryan Adams ("I Finally Found Someone" -- from The Mirror Has Two Faces, which she directed) are both on the collection. One of my favorites of her hits is on the collection, "The Main Event/Fight" from the film The Main Event which I watch over and over. It is not a heavy film, there's no huge message (other than that women are strong and capable -- Amen!) but it is a funny film and she and Ryan O'Neal had the nice chemistry they had in What's Up Doc? still.

Ruby loves disc one because it has more live tracks ("Happy Days Are Here Again," etc.). But she loves both discs and strongly recommends it. She's already told me when "No More Tears" comes on, she's doing Barbra's part and I have to do Donna's.

I hope everyone's having fun spending time with their friendsand family. Happy holidays.

Title's a line from "Stoney End," by the way. Written by the late, great Laura Nyro.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the treaty vote is postponed, the US military announces more deaths, Alissa J. Rubin wins the Who Wants To Be The Next Judith Miller non-reality show, and more.

Starting with the treaty which was due to be voted on today by Iraq's Parliament.
Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) become the first of big media to report the reality that there are two versions of the treaty masquerading as a Status Forces Of Agreement: the US version and the Arabic version Iraqis peruse. The three reporters explain: "The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation of several key provisions of the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement than the Iraqi government has, U.S. officials said Tuesday -- just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote. These provisions include a ban on the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq, a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors. Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes."

The differing versions were noted in
the November 19th Congressional hearing. Why others can't report is a question they should have to answer on the record. They should also have to explain why they offered no skepticism (a trait reporters are never supposed to forget to pack) when this is totally expected. During the April 10th US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations hearing the chair, Joe Biden, explained: "The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is." You didn't have to be pschyic, you just had to pay attention. Look at how Ghana Broadcasting Corporation reports on the treaty: "Iraq's parliament has agreed to put a controversial deal allowing US troops to stay in the country for another three years to a public vote." Even accepting that it's a three year treaty (when it's not) they see it as a three-year extension, not as a withdrawal. It takes a lot of stupid to see only what you want to see. Alissa J. Rubin and Campbell Robertson (New York Times) proved they're bag-men for the adminstartion but they aren't reporters. They did so in print this morning with nonsense about how the treaty "would be a road map for the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in three years." One wonders what they packed for the Green Zone that was so all important it required ditching their skepticism? Online, Rubin showed up this morning to break the news that today's vote has been "delayed by at least 24 hours" and to lie that the treaty "would lead to the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in three years." America, meet the new Judith Miller, Little Miss Alissa. Can't tell the truth and can't even remain detached. Alissa whose only concern isn't "What does the treaty say?" but instead, "What does the White House want me to say? Call Crocker! Ask Crocker what I should type!"

She can't read the US version of the treaty. She can't read Arabic and she can't apparently handle the English translation well enough to grasp what it says and what it doesn't. For example, what will or will not happen in 2011 is meaningless in any contract that truly runs for one year (this one runs for 2009) but allows it to be renewed if both parties desire to renew it (for 2010 and 2011) and it can also be modified for both of those years if renewed. So the only thing concrete is 2009. It's tough for glorified general studies majors when they slam into the basics of contract law but real reporters know that they don't just scribble down what the US Embassy tells them. They know that something beyond their education requires they utilize what journalism calls "sources" to walk them through. Alissa can't be bothered.

She doesn't know s**t about how the US Embassies are run throughout the world. What an idiot. Seriously. She's heading the paper's Baghdad division and she doesn't know about US Embassies? Can we say someone's a little too green and needs to be stationed somewhere else to ripen? Every US Embassy, EVERY ONE, has US troops stationed at it to provide protection. EVERY ONE. So, Alissa, how will there be a complete withdrawal of all US troops in 2011 when the US Embassy will remain in Baghdad? How? No, don't go run to Ryan Crocker. You're a reporter and an editor, you damn well should have already known the answer to the question.

CNN lied the nation into an illegal war back in 2002 and 2003 so it's not a big surprise
they continue to lie today and maintain that the treaty would "set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops". No, LIARS, it does not. A one-year extension for the occupation of Iraq was needed and that's what the treaty does. Every year, the United Nations Security Council has passed a one-year mandate which legalizes the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. This one expires December 31, 2008. It needs to be renewed or a new arrangement needed to be reached. That it what the treaty covers. And only the first year cannot be broken by either side. So stop lying, LIARS WHO LIED US INTO WAR.

It's a damn shame that so few in so-called independent media will call the treaty out. But remember that in 2011, file it away. Remember who lied in Big Media and remember who couldn't be bothered with the topic in Little Media. Remember that United for Peace & Justice & Uselessness couldn't even mount an objection.

Of organization, only the
American Freedom Campaign got active: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

And for the beggars of
Panhandle Media, let's be really clear that after the treaty is rammed through is TOO DAMN LATE to finally get around to raising objections.
What is known is that there are two versions and they differ. That was known last week and addressed in the Congressional hearing. Credit to Youssef, Landay and Ashton for reporting that now. The tell-Iraq-one-thing-but-do-another aspect was noted by Joe Biden, the incoming v.p., back in April. The UN mandate expires at the end of this year and another yearly agreement is needed to legalize US forces being on the ground in Iraq. A treaty is going through the process in Iraq but in the US the Congress will be circumvented. If the treaty does not go through a one-year extension of the mandate will be sought. The treaty covers only 2009. Every thing coming after 2009 is optional because it can be modified or either party (Iraq or US) can cancel out on the full treaty.

That is known. So the liars and the fools in the press corps who continue to insist that this one-year treaty means ALL US troops withdraw in 2011 have either been played or think they can play you. They got away with it when they 'reported' the lead up to the illegal war and they're getting away with it right now because they're not being called out. Where are those supposed 'brave' voices?

Norman Solomon, who allegedly gives a damn about Iraq, can write two fan club mash-notes to his wet dream Barack this week but can't write a damn thing about the treaty. Remember that. [Cedric and Wally have spoofed Norman's nonsense this week in "
Norman tells all!" & "THIS JUST IN! NORMAN SEES PEE-PEES EVERYWHERE!" and in "Norman discovers his girlish side" & "THIS JUST IN! NORMY LOVES BARACK!"]

The vote has been delayed. Allegedly it will take place tomorrow.
CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer observes "that the ruling Shiite and Kurdish parliamentary blocs have enough votes to approve the agreement, but the government wants it to win by a convincing margin -- in part because one of this country's most influential Shiite clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has said he can accept the agreement, provided it has broad public support." AP's Qassim Abdul-Zahra explains that the Kurdish and Shi'ite blocs have indicated their willingness "to hold a national referendum on the deal in 2009. That amounts to a concession to many Sunni Arab legislators, who have said they would support the security pact Wednesday if it was put to a nationwide vote next year." Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) note demands by Sunni legislators and they observe: "The delay, coming after days of political bargaining and cajoling, underscored Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's concerns about passing the controversial Status of Forces Agreement without a wide margin. The legislature's main Shiite Muslim and Kurdish blocs support the deal, virtually ensuring it would win the 138 votes needed to pass the 275-seat parliament. But Shiite Muslim leaders want to ensure sufficient Sunni votes to guarantee its legitimacy in the eyes of Iraq's Sunnis." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) states, "Sunni Lawmakers also said that their new stipulations, formulated just Tuesday, semmed from discontent over growing Iranian influence across Iraq and a belief that a new administration in Washington may not honor the terms of the deal" and "In exchange for their support for the security agreement, a wide variety of Sunni, Kurdish, and even Shiite parliamentarians are insisting on a political reform package that would increase checks and balances on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government. For the Sunnis, fears of empowering Iraq's Shiite-dominated security forces underpins much of the opposition." On the referendum, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) adds, "But they have agreed to make the pact subject to a national referendum next year that could require a complete American troop withdrawal by July 2010 -- 18 months ahead of what the agreement now envisions. The referendum was a last-minute concession to Iraq's largest Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which has long demanded that the agreement be put to a nationwide vote." "Political theater" Rainia Abouzeid (Time magazine) calls today's delay and notes the recent repeated delays in voting on the treaty and explains puppet Nouri al-Maliki "personally lobbied recalitrant parliamentarians at the nearby Rasheed Hotel" today "in exchanges that degenerated into fiery rows, according to a Maliki aide who was present."
What if the vote goes through tomorrow (or some day) and the referendum is attached?
Reuters quotes US Secretary of State Condi Rice declaring, "My understanding is that nothing here delays the entering into force of the agreement and that's really the important point." McClatchy's Adam Ashton agrees: "That's because the vote likely wouldn't take place until July, and the security agreement requires each side to give the other notice of at least one year before ending the pact." OH GOODNESS! The treaty can be modified or cancelled! Who would've guessed! (Yes, that point has been made in the snapshots repeatedly for too long to count. That is why it is a one-year treaty, not a three-year one. A one-year treaty is being signed which can be extended if both parties desire to do so.)

What some desire . . . Reports are that the current US Secretary of Defense -- pro-'surge' Robert Gates -- will remain Sec of Defense under incoming president Barack Obama. File it under "Slogans That Bit You In The Ass."
Stan and Rebecca covered this topic last night.

While Barack offers more of the same, UN High Commisoner for Refugees Antonio Gueterres is visiting Iraq and
declared today, "We are no expanding our presence inside Iraq. We will have a pressence in 14 governorates by early next year, including here in Ramadi." Gueterres arrived in Baghdad yesterday and his visit continues tomorrow. Sarah Chynoweth and Ada Williams Prince (Washington Post's PostGlobal) report on Iraqi refugees in Jordan and note, "Although life in Jordan is free of gunfire and explosions, it is not free from fear, particularly for Iraqi women and girls. If you are an Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is filled with dread and uncertainty. Since Iraqis do not have legal status there, they are afraid of being caught by the authorities and deported back to Iraq--even though this does not occur very often. Because of this, many are afraid to come forward to receive health care, even if the services are available and accessible.
If you are a poor Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is even more difficult. There are tremendous barriers to getting adequate health care: women with limited financial resources often have less knowledge of what medical services are available and how to access them." The Iraq War has created the world's largest refugee crisis and over five million Iraqis have been displaced internally and externally.
Total Catholic notes, "The flood of Iraqi refugees into Syria has produced big changes for the Church in the country. Caritas Syria, the local affiliate of the international umbrella group of Catholic aid agencies, has expanded its outreach. Today, it manages more than 2 million [British pounds] a year in projects targeting vulnerable Iraqi refugees, and it co-operates in ecumenical programs with the country's Orthodox community." Derek Gatopoulos (AP) notes that Human Rights Watch released a report today that. HRW explains, "Greece systematically rounds up and detains Iraqi asylum seekers and other migrants in dirty, overcroded conditions and forcibly and secretly expels them to Turkey" and offers:

An Iraqi Kurd from Kirkuk who was among the scores interviewed by Human Rights Watch, made five attempts to cross from Turkey to Greece and was beaten and summarily expelled from Greece. He was also beaten and detained by the Turkish authorities. After the Greek authorities finally registered him, they used detention to deter him from seeking asylum. "They told me that if I asked for asylum and a red card that I would need to spend more time in jail beyond 25 days, but if I didn't want asylum and a red card I could leave detention after 25 days. So, I refused the red card and after 25 days they released me. I got a white paper telling me I needed to leave the country in 30 days.
"I wanted to go to another country to seek asylum, but a friend told me that because they took my fingerprints, they would send me back to Athens. I have now been here a month without papers. Now I am in a hole. I can't go out. I can't stay. Every day, I think I made a mistake to leave my country. I want to go back, but how can I? I would be killed if I go back. But they treat you like a dog here. I have nothing. No rights. No friends."

The report is entitled "
Stuck in a Revolving Door: Iraqis and Other Asylum Seekers and Migrants at the Greece/Turkey Entrance to the European Union" and it notes:
Despite the widespread fear among Iraqis of being deported, relatively few are officially deported from Greece. In 2007 Greece deported 405 Iraqis out fo the 9,586 Iraqis who were "arrested to be deported." Since Greece has not been able regularly to deport Iraqis directly to Iraq, this presumably reflects deportations to transit countries, such as air arrivals from Jordan. Because there are now direct air connections between Athens and Erbil through Viking Airlines, a private Scandinavian company that runs charter flights, it appears that some direct deportations from Greece to Iraq have taken place. However, since this connection is not permanent and flights are often interrupted, Greece has mainly sought to deport Iraqis to Turkey on the understanding that Turkey would be more likely to accept Iraqis and (Iranians) than other nationalities under its readmission agreement with Greece because of the relatively cheap and easy option of deporting them by bus across its southeastern land border.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 2 lives and left eighteen people injured.

Today the
US military announced: "One U.S. Marine and an U.S. Military Transition team Soldier were killed in a small-arms fire attack while conducting a humanitarian assistance operation near Biaj Nov. 25. Two Marines and three civilians were also wounded in the attack. While in the midst of the unit conducting the mission the unit came under fire by two men, one of whom appeared to be wearing an Iraqi uniform. The Iraqi Security and Coalition forces immediately cordoned off the area. 'The attack appears to have been unprovoked, said Col. Bill Bukner, spokesman for the Multi-National Corps - Iraq. 'It is unknown if the attacker was an Iraqi soldier or an insurgent in disguise.' The incident is under a joint investigation." The announcement brings to 4207 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

War resister
Robin Long was extradited in July. Last month Gerry Condon (Soldier Say No!) wrote an indepth piece on Long and the movement in Canada:

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who argued fruitlessly five years ago that Canada should join George Bush's invasion of Iraq, was eager to deliver the first deportation of an Iraq War resister. The order to arrest Robin Long came from the top. It was Harper's insurance policy. If he couldn't deport Glass, he would deport Long.While the Canada Border Services Agency shuttled Robin Long from one prison to another, keeping him isolated from friends and supporters, a last-ditch attempt to stop his deportation was mounted by Vancouver lawyer, Shepherd Moss. A hearing was scheduled in Federal Court in Vancouver for Monday morning, July 14. But Robin Long's luck ran out when his case was assigned to Judge Anne McTavish, the author of damaging decisions against Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two GIs to seek refugee status in Canada.Canadian authorities had failed to inform Long of his pending deportation, thus denying him his right to appeal. But Judge McTavish refused to delay Long's deportation. The legal reasons for Corey Glass's were not yet published and could potentially apply to Long. Such was the rush to deport a war resister, however, that Judge McTavish was willing to risk having opposing court decisions on the same issue, within a one week period."Here, we've got a deserter for you."Robin Long was not allowed to attend his own hearing and he was not informed of its outcome. Instead, on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, Canadian immigration police drove him to Canada's border with the U.S. near Blaine, Washington, and loudly announced to their U.S. counterparts, "Here, we've got a deserter for you."Stephen Harper and the Bush Administration got what they wanted, international headlines trumpeting, "Canada Deports U.S. Deserter."The Canadian people learned about the deportation of Robin Long from sketchy media reports. The Canada Border Services Agency, citing "the Privacy Act," refused to give the media any details. How was the deportation carried out? Where did it occur? Who handed Robin Long over to whom? Where was Long held in Canada? Where was he being held in the U.S.?The Privacy Act, enacted to protect the privacy of individuals, was abused by the Conservative government in order to isolate Robin Long and keep Canadians in the dark. Why didn't the Conservative government want Canadians to know the details of this deportation? The word "deportation" connotes an unfortunate but orderly and lawful procedure. What Canadian and U.S. authorities did to Robin Long was more like a "rendition," an extralegal government-to-government kidnapping supposedly reserved for terror suspects. Canadians will be outraged when they hear the truth.
War Resister Assaulted and Threatened in Canadian JailsRobin Long was arrested unlawfully on false grounds and for political reasons. He was held incommunicado. Over a ten-day period, he was transferred to three different Canadian jails. In the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Long was assaulted twice by a group of prisoners who objected to his dreadlock hairstyle. Although he is short and slight, Long was able to fight off his attackers once, and a guard halted the second assault. But Long decided to cut his hair.

That's the definitive piece on Long and thank you to a mutual friend who first called to ask, "Why are you ignoring Gerry?" and then steered me to that essay which I wasn't aware of. Gerry Condon ends his essay noting that you can write Robin care of
Courage To Resist and that "You can also contribute to Robin's brig account that he uses to pay for phone calls to friends and family." And for those wondering if Robin is due to be released before the holidays, Fort Carson Public Affairs Office's Karen Linne explained here August 22nd that he had been sentenced to 15 months and would be credited for "about 40 days" for the time he was held at the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County prior to the court-martial.

Moving over to US politics,
Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) observed last week, "It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one." With that in mind, we'll note John Ross' election observations via Counterpunch:
I don't buy Barack Obama as the Messiah. I didn't vote for him (I voted for another Afro-American) and I haven't filed an application to join his regime. He ran a duplicitous, multi-million dollar campaign that masqueraded as a social movement and because it was a gimmick and a shuck, will thwart and demoralize the re-creation of real social movement for years to come. The suckers packed shoulder to shoulder in Grant Park on Election Night were not a movement. 40 years ago, the Left stood in that park and were burning American flags, not waving them - although the reasons were equally specious. Back then, it was the denial of another false Messiah's rightful place on the Democratic Party ticket. We ran a pig for president to underscore our disdain for the electoral process and when Mayor Dailey's cops kidnapped and barbecued our candidate, we turned to yet another Afro-American who was also not the Messiah. In August 1968, the Mayor of Chicago, whose son is now Barack Obama's most trusted political advisor, sent in the real pigs to beat us into the Grant Park grass like so many baby harp seals. Now that was a social movement… Eduardo Galeano does not get it. When he tells Amy Goodman that he has high hopes for El Baracko because black slaves once built the White House for which the president-elect is now measuring the drapes, he does not consider that Obama himself is a slave, a slave to Wall Street and General Motors and Big Oil and Big Ethanol, a slave to the War Machine and U.S. Imperialism and Israel, a slave to We're Number One jingoism, avarice, and greed and the American Nightmare, a slave to the free market and free enterprise and free trade and the flimflam of corporate globalization, and most of all, a slave to the Democratic Party puppet masters who now move his strings. Galeano doesn't seem to recall that Afro-Americans can be mass murderers too. Condi is a killer and Barack's big booster Colin Powell once obligated the United National Security Council to cover up a reproduction of Picasso's "Gernika" before he could lie that contaminated body in the eye about Saddam's make-believe WMDs and jumpstart a war that has now taken a million Iraqi lives. So far. The bloodletting has hardly abated. We are in garbage time. The adulatory garbage being spewed about the virtues of Barrack Obama are a toxic trick on the peoples of the earth. One glaring recent example: 100,000 marched from sea to shining sea in the U.S. last weekend (Nov. 16th) in support of same sex marriage and no one had the moxie to even mention that Barack Obama does not support same sex marriage.

On the issue of equality,
Ruth, Kat and Marcia covered the Florida circuit judge overturning Anita Bryant's ban on gay adoption yesterday. Elaine noted US House Rep Rosa DeLauro's Congressional work on breast cancer and Mike covered the judge who yelled "tyrant." Independent journalist David Bacon covers immigration and Obama in a new article at The Nation:

So far, the choice of Janet Napolitano is not encouraging. The Tucson "Operation Streamline" court convenes in her home state every day, and the situation of immigrants in Arizona is worse than almost anywhere else. Napolitano herself has publicly supported most of the worst ideas of the Bush administration, including guest worker programs with no amnesty for the currently undocumented, and brutal enforcement schemes like E-Verify and workplace raids.But Obama does not have to be imprisoned by the failure of Napolitano to imagine a more progressive alternative. In fact, his new administration's need to respond to the economic crisis, and to strengthen the political coalition that won the election, can open new possibilities for a just and fair immigration policy.
Economic crisis does not have to pit working people against each other, or lead to the further demonization of immigrants. In fact, there is common ground between immigrants, communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations, and working families. Legalization and immigrant rights can be tied to guaranteeing jobs for anyone who wants to work, and unions to raise wages and win better conditions for everyone in the workplace.

Bacon's latest book is
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

jonathan s. landay
mcclatchy newspapersnancy a. youssefadam ashton
gerry condon
robin long
john ross
elizabeth palmerthe new york timescampbell robertsonalissa j. rubinthe los angeles timestina susmancbs news
the washington postsudarsan raghavan
marie cocco
david bacon