Friday, January 16, 2009


First up, I want to get some news out of the way. I've had a long week (moving from Georgia to California at the start of it, starting my new job, my kids starting new schools) so I was looking for a way to have news without actually having to write anything. (I may not even be able to muster chatter. It's been a long week.) I mentioned that in "Help!" e-mail and Elaine immediately phoned and suggested Workers World.

Like Great Britain's Socialist Worker, they allow you to repost articles in full as long as you note that they wrote it and they have the copyright. It's a great way for their content and ideas to get out.

So I was looking through what they have and there were several things I thought about noting before I decided on the abortion piece. Even drive-bys tend to mention in their e-mails that I'm a mother. I am. I have three kids. And I am 100% pro-choice. I don't think there's any split on that issue between mothers and non-mothers but my sister was once greeted with shock when she declared (at her job -- my oldest sister, for those keeping track) that she was pro-choice. The sputtering reply was something like, "But-but-but-but you're a mother!" Yes. You can be a mother and you can be pro-choice. I would think you'd have just as much reason to be pro-choice as if you weren't a mother.

So with that in mind and the Roe v. Wade anniversary coming up, I decided that Kris Hamel's "On 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wage, Fight continues for reproductive justice" was the Workers World article I wanted to repost:

Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion as a woman’s right, will be 36 years old on Jan. 22. The 1973 ruling was wrested from a reactionary bench after years of struggle by women and their male supporters, as well as many legal and medical groups. Ever since, women’s right to reproductive freedom has been under vicious attack by right-wing, racist, anti-woman and anti-choice forces.
In the November 2008 election, voters reaffirmed their support for reproductive rights by defeating anti-choice ballot measures in South Dakota, Colorado and California. Across the U.S. they overwhelmingly chose Barack Obama for president. Obama supports the right to abortion and women’s reproductive health care.
Roll back Hyde Amendment, other restrictions!
A letter to Melody Barnes, head of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, was prepared by the Hyde–30 Years Is Enough! campaign, a project of the National Network of Abortion Funds. Women’s rights and reproductive rights leaders met with Barnes and other members of the Obama transition team in December to begin discussing how to “ensure real reproductive choices for all women.”
The letter states in part: “For more than 30 years, the Hyde Amendment and other funding restrictions have affected the poorest and most vulnerable of low-income Americans, with a disproportionate impact on women of color and immigrant women. The Hyde Amendment denies abortion access to the 7 million women of reproductive age who are currently enrolled in Medicaid. These funding restrictions are the most detrimental of all attacks on safe, legal abortion care, and represent a clear violation of low-income women’s human rights.”
The Barnes letter urges Obama to “strike language in his first budget that blocks women’s access to abortion care, including restrictions on abortion funding for Medicaid-eligible women and Medicare beneficiaries (the Hyde Amendment), federal employees and their dependents (FEHB), residents of the District of Columbia, Peace Corps volunteers, Native American women, and women in federal prisons. Though attached to different funding streams, we consider these restrictions to be a single issue requiring consistent and equal treatment by President Obama.”
The letter to Barnes further states: “By striking funding restrictions, President Obama can place abortion back in the context of health care, thereby setting a new tone and signaling to Congress his commitment to comprehensive women’s health care. [T]his early commitment will bolster the efforts of our diverse and growing grassroots advocacy campaign as we continue educating the public and Members of Congress about the urgent need for a full repeal of these restrictions.”
Only 43 percent of House members in the new Congress are abortion rights supporters. The U.S. Senate now has 40 members who are committed to reproductive rights. (
Among the signers of the Barnes/Obama letter are dozens of national organizations such as the Center for Reproductive Rights, Catholics for Choice, the National Organization for Women, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, and Black Women for Reproductive Justice. Dozens of local and regional organizations are also signers.
Bush’s parting blow to women
On Dec. 18 the Bush administration’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a new regulation affecting 17 million poor women–a disproportionate number of whom are women of color–who are enrolled in public health care programs. The restrictive regulationsignificantly impairs women’s ability to get such basic reproductive health services as contraception, counseling and information necessary to make decisions about their own health.
A Center for Reproductive Rights press release stated: “The new regulation allows people only tangentially related to the provision of health care and an increased number of medical institutions to refuse a woman care based on religious and moral beliefs. HSS claims this will further protect health care providers against discrimination; but in reality, it leaves women who rely on public programs unprotected and seriously violates their rights and needs as patients. HSS also purposely leaves the door open for health care providers to justify refusing a woman basic forms of contraception such as birth control pills and IUDs.” (, Dec. 18)
Advocates for reproductive rights are urging incoming-President Obama to immediately rescind the new HSS regulation. The petition “Urge Obama to Take Action” can be signed at
Just as it took a mass struggle to win Roe v. Wade 36 years ago, access to full reproductive health care for all women will involve grassroots organizing to build a strong, broad-based coalition for women’s reproductive rights. This struggle will continue on a national and state-by-state basis in order to stop ongoing right-wing, anti-choice initiatives and begin establishing reproductive justice for all women.
The writer is a co-founder of DANFORR–the Detroit Action Network For Reproductive Rights, one of the signers of the Barnes/Obama letter. Email
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

Support independent news

So there you go. And on abortion, I'm going to repeat what I've had up here before. If you don't personally plan to ever have an abortion (under any circumstances), that still doesn't mean you should be anti-choice. There are people who are pro-choice simply because they don't feel it's the government's business. And it's not. It's a woman's business because it's her body.

Okay, now let me try to muster some chatter.

If traffic moves right, I am home in forty minutes. I don't have any problems getting to work in forty minutes but driving back can be a problem. There are a lot more cars than I'm used to (and Atlanta isn't a tiny, one-horse town). But it seems to move quicker and it seems like everyone knows the pattern. It's like they all drive in formation.

Do I mind the drive?

I probably should. I should probably tell you it's awful and I want to pull my hair out.

Instead, I'll tell you the truth.

I love it!

Because everyone's helping out (dropping my kids off and picking them up), I no longer am rushing to the schools in the morning and then to work or rushing from work in the evening and to daycare. So I've got forty minutes in the morning and forty minutes in the evening of me-time.

I don't care if the guy behind is riding his horn and riding my bumper, it's like being in the tub with bubble bath. I'm sure I'll get used to it and it won't seem so special, but right now it's really amazing.

Dona loaded me up with all of these books on disc and I had my own CDs. She figured it would be dull. No. Not yet. It's been wonderful.

The kids love it as well. I'm sure they think, "Break from Mommy! Yea!" (I would think that myself.) I'd mentioned that I had boxes to unpack still and thank you to Kat, Ava and C.I. who made a point to take care of that for me. That was going to be my big project over the long weekend. Instead, the big plan now is for the kids and I do to some sightseeing.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 16, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the US government pays $350,000 over a veteran's sucicide (Jeff Lucey), assassination attempts pile up in Iraq, Barack makes it clear that he is declaring war on Social Security and more.

Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) evaluates the changes in the Green Zone since the January 1st 'handover' to Iraqis:

The first thing I noticed when we reached the first checkpoint was that it was manned by Iraqi soldiers, not Americans. The soldier was friendly and after checking our IDs, waved us on to the next checkpoint, which was also staffed by Iraqi soldiers. But there were a few Americans standing behind them observing the Iraqi soldiers. Still, the Americans did not approach us and left the work to the Iraqis. I also noticed a new "welcome" sign that was in both English and Arabic, and near that was a billboard that listed in Arabic the principles of an Iraqi soldier, including being loyal to Iraq.
Seeing the Iraqi soldiers made me think I would see them elsewhere in the Green Zone. But the other checkpoints I passed through were the same as before, and manned by Peruvians who work for a security contractor. Iraqi soldiers had not replaced them. The U.S.-Iraq security agreement says the Americans can continue to assist Iraqis in security efforts after the Green Zone handover. And it seemed that with the excpetion of the entry/exit areas of the Green Zone, the internal checkpoints were still the same.

Further proof that things remain the same comes as Iraq sees another assassination.
Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roasdie bombing that wounded two people, a second one that wounded four and a third one that targeted Ahmed Taieb Murad and claimed the life of Murad's bodyguard Reuters identifies the Education Minister targeted in the Baghdad roadside bombing as Abd Thiab al-Ajili." The Education Minister's name is also spelled Abed Theyab in some press coverage. Mohammed Abbas and Matthew Jones (Reuters) report that provincial candidate Haythem al-Hasnowi (of the Dawa Party) was shot dead during an attack on his convoy outside of Baghdad. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the attack took place in Ajrash and left four members of al-Hasnowi's security staff wounded. Issa also notes that last night in Salahuddin Province, provincial election candidate "Hussein al Shatb survived an assassination attempt by gunmen". This month began with the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Iraq Staffan de Mistura condemning the assassination of provincial candidate Mowaffaq al-Hamdani who was murdered in Mosul on the last day of 2008. Provincial elections are scheduled for January 31st in fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces. The United Nations have been warning since November that the lead up to provincial elections would likely lead to an increase in violence. November 10th, UN spokesperson Michele Montas handled the press briefing and noted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had declared that the upcoming provinicial electiions increased the "potential for election-related violence and instability."

In other reported violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul roadside bombing resulted in three Iraqi soldiers being wounded. Reuters notes an Ishaqi roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and left five more people injured, a Kirkuk rocket attack that left one person wounded.


Reuters notes a Mosul home invasion that resulted in 1 woman being killed and two more members of the family being injured.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered Thursday in Mosul and 1 discovered in Mussayab while three were discovered in Kirkuk.

Also today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died of wounds at approximately 3 p.m. Jan. 16 following an improvised-explosive device attack on his patrol in Baghdad. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kind and official release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4227 with 6 for the month thus far.

That count does not include those who return and take their own lives. Iraq War veteran Jeffrey Michael Lucey took his life June 22, 2004 after he was repeatedly failed by the VA system despite the fact that he was suicidal and that his family pleaded with VA staff to treat him.
Fred Contrada (The Republican) offers a look at some of Jeffery's time in Iraq and after:

At one point, Lucey came upon the body of an Iraqi boy who had been shot to death in the street. A tiny, blood-stained American flag was clutched in the dead boy's hand. Lucey took the flag and carried it with him for the rest of his life.Lucey began drinking a lot after returning home later that year, his family said. At Christmas time he confessed to his sister that he had been ordered to shoot two captured Iraqi soldiers at point blank range. Lucey, who had kept the men's identification tags, threw them on the bed and shouted, "Your brother is a murderer!" The U.S. Marine Corps said it has found no evidence that Lucey's story is true.Kevin Lucey said records show his son told someone at the VA that he was contemplating suicide, but the Luceys were not informed of this. On June 21, 2004, less than a month after he was released from the VA, Jeffrey Lucey asked his father if he could curl up in his lap. Kevin Lucey cradled his son that night. When he returned home from work the next day, he found Jeffrey hanging from a self-made noose in the basement. Lucey was buried with the flag he had taken from the Iraqi boy. Kevin Lucey said news of the settlement stirred a lot of emotions within the family."It's like losing Jeff all over again," he said.

The settlment?
Jonathan Saltzman (Boston Globe) reports the US government insists that they are not to blame but they will be paying the Lucey's $350,000. As a general rule -- ask Asian-Americans interned during WWII -- the US government not only refuses to admit responsibility, they refuse to offer restitutions. Those who no longer believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause will find it difficult to believe the kindness of Uncle Sam resulted in the $350,000 payment. The Luceys are members of Military Families Speak Out and that organization has released the following (PDF format warning) statement:US GOVERNMENT AGREES TO PAY $350,000 TO PARENTS OF US MARINE IN SUICIDE CASE CASE WAS THE FIRST TO BE FILED SINCE THE IRAQ WAR BEGANGovernment Admits that Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey's Suicide Was A "Tragedy"for Veterans Administration SPRINGFIELD, MA -- The United States Government has agreed to pay $350,000 to the parents of a United States Marine who committed suicide in 2004 after returning home from combat duty in the Iraq war. Within months after returning home from Iraq in June 2003, Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey began to show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his experience in the war. On June 22, 2004, Jeffrey hung himself in the basement of his parents' home, two weeks after the Northampton Veterans Medical Center in Leeds, Massachusetts, turned him away. Jeffrey, who had received an honorable discharge from the US Marine Corps, was 23 years old at the time of his death. In July 2007, his parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the United States in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts -- the first such suit to be filed since thebeginning of the war in Iraq. On January 6, 2009, the US Justice Department issued a letter to the Luceys' attorney, Cristobal Bonifaz, which admitted "that Jeffrey's suicide while under VA [Veterans Administration] care was a tragedy for the VA and the individual care providers." The letter formally offered $350,000 to settle the case. Bonifaz today notified the federal court that his clients have accepted this offer. "The US Government killed my son," said Kevin Lucey. "It sent him into an illegal and reckless war and then, when he returned home, it denied him the basic health care he needed. We hope that this case serves as a wake-up call to the nation that our government must be held accountable for the suffering it has caused thousands of US military families." Joyce Lucey added "When Jeffrey went to Iraq, we didn't realize that the bullets and bombs there didn't present the only threat to our son's safety. Our own government's apathy and indifference are just as great a threat to our troops and veterans. Until the Veterans Administration takes the psychological wounds of war seriously, the epidemic of military suicides will continue to grow." "Jeffrey Lucey carried to his death the American flag he found in the hands of a dead Iraqi child," said Bonifaz. "Jeffrey never recovered from the horrors he witnessed in Iraq. When his post-traumatic stress disorder signs became critical, he was turned away at the door of the US Veterans Administration. Jeffrey Lucey would have lived but for the illegal war in Iraq and the callous and irresponsible treatment handed to him by the US agency charged with providing him health care when he had returned home." After their son's death in 2004, Kevin and Joyce Lucey joined Military Families Speak Out, a national organization of military families opposed to the war in Iraq. "Jeffrey's story is a story of too many military families in this country," said Joyce Lucey. "We will continue to speak out to demand that our government immediately end this war, bring our troops home now, and provide all the necessary medical care they deserve when they return." "And to those military families who have similarly suffered because of the negligence of the US Veterans Administration," added Kevin Lucey, "we hope this case serves as an example that the government can and must be held accountable in a court of law." Kevin and Joyce Lucey and Cristobal Bonifaz are available for interview.Copies of the letter from the U.S. Justice Department outlining the settlement in this case are available by request from Military Families Speak Out. Military Families Speak Out is an organization of 4,000 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, with loved ones who are serving or have served in the U.S. military since fall, 2002.

Starting tomorrow
Act Against War and Courage to Resist are sponsoring actions

Throw-A-Shoe at Bush! To Obama: No war!Join Us. Shoes provided or BYOS! Prizes, Music & Fun!
Sat., Jan. 17, Noon - 3 pm, Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero BART), SF
Sun., Jan. 18, Noon - 3 pm, Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero BART), SF
Tues., Jan. 20, 7 am - Noon, United Nations Plaza (Civic Center BART), SF. Near the public Obama inauguration simulcast event at Civic Center Plaza
Iraqi Journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush while saying, "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq." We symbolically join him as Bush leaves office. We also throw shoes for the widows, families, and US service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We throw shoes for those who are hurting while billions are wasted for war instead of bailing out those of us lacking food, housing, healthcare, and education.

Here are 5 key changes that will begin to do this.

1) ALL TROOPS HOME FROM IRAQ NOW! Including "non-combat" troops, private contractors (i.e. Blackwater), and close all US military bases in Iraq.

2) HELP REBUILD IRAQ Give reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stop the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future.

3) NO ESCALATIONS, NO NEW WARS * No escalation of war in Afghanistan; troops should be withdrawn.* Stop attacks inside Pakistan. Don't attack Iran.* Cut military aid to governments that violate human rights or international law, such as Israel in what Amnesty International calls an "unlawful attack on Gaza."* Close Guantanamo and all secret prisons

4) FROM GLOBAL MILITARY INTERVENTION TO REAL SECURITY AT HOME * Close all 800 foreign US military bases.* Reduce military budget and troops; Stop wasting hundreds of billions needed for healthcare, housing, education, and green energy/jobs.

5) SUPPORT VETERANS * Amnesty for all GI resisters who refuse illegal war.* Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.

(I don't think they're clickable above, so I'm putting the links in -- and Courage to Resist is also on our permalinks to the left). Those actions begin tomorrow.Muntader al-Zaidi is the Iraqi journalist who threw both of his shoes, one after the other, at the Bully Boy of the United States while declaring, "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog" and "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." And
that was December 14. Over a month later and what's happened?Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports that Muntader's family and attorneys aren't allowed to see him (the December 21st visit -- hailed in the press at the time as the first visit -- remains the only visit), do not know where he is held and do not know if or when Muntader will see justice but his family fears never and fears for his life. Attorney Dhiyaa al-Saadi explains that there is documentation of the torture Muntader has experienced while imprisoned ("two medical reports conducted by government physicians within a week of Mr. Zaidi's arrest described brusing that coverd the reporter's face and body, but was especially sever on his legs and arms; a missing tooth; a gash on the bridge of his nose; and what appeared to be a burn mark on his ear").al-Maliki's legal adviser Fadhil Mohammed Jawad tells Williams (apparently for the laugh factor) that, "Judicially, Iraq is just and the law will handle this case with justice." Yeah, that is funny. (For a recent look at Iraqi 'justice,' see this article by Ned Parker.) The family is refused visitation and even the New York Times can't figure out where Muntader is being held despite High Judicial Council spokesperson Adbudl Satta al-Biriqday telling the paper that Muntader was at a specific prison "in the Green Zone, operated by the Baghdad Brigade, a military unit that answeres to the prime minister's office." Attempts to visit as al-Biriqday said was possible?But during a recent visit to the complex, an Iraqi Army guard told a reporter who requested a visit to leave immediately. The guard also said it was "dangerous" to seek to meet Mr. Zaidi.The soldier who did not identify himself, said he did not know whether Mr. Zaidi was being held there.On Thursday, an e-mail message sent to Mr. Maliki requesting a visit with Mr. Zaidi received no reply.Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports that his brother, Mitham al-Zaidi, was finally allowed a two-hour visit today and that Muntader wants people "to pray at two mosques in Baghdad for the release and welfare of all prisoners in US detention." His brother quotes Muntader stating, "What I did was because of my refusal and rejection of the occupation and the American policy in Iraq."

Turning to US politics, President-elect Barack Obama met with the Washington Post editorial board yesterday.
Here for Michael D Shear's text article, here for the sixty-one minute audio. Warning for those listening to the audio, Barack's speaking abilities have not magically improved. Sample: "Uh, obivoulsy military service is uh something we uh honor as a country [. . .] That's going to be something that we uh uh . . ." And four minutes, for those wondering, he takes his first swipe at African-American fathers. Yes, it's Barack singing all his well known tunes. And mixing in a few new ones such as, "It's not something I've said publicly . . . but spending money wisely is not easy." Mostly, the interivew will be remembered as the one where Barack declared War on Social Security. Barack's replied to questions and made vague statements. But, his Love Cult insists, that's just the Nice Guy Barry trying to make nice and get along. He doesn't want to say, "Stupid crooks, Social Security is not going to be chipped away!" Well, actually he does want to say that and he did say that.

We're dropping back to Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (ABC --
video and text):

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press you on this, at the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency some kind of a grand bargain? That you have tax reform, health care reform, entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And when will that get done?
OBAMA: Well, the -- right now I'm focused on a pretty heavy lift, which is making sure that we get that reinvestment and recovery package in place. But what you describe is exactly what we're going to have to do.
What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government, what are we getting for it, and how do we make the system more efficient?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And eventually sacrifice from everyone.
Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.

Barack was asked about it above. With the Washington Post, he brought it up on his own -- and referenced George Steph's "grand bargain" -- so hopefully even his Love Cult can start to see a few realities. He begins talking about his big "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" that will be held in February and include a motley crew that will "talk about waste." He then seques into Social Security during this response (at approximately 16:14) and states the following:

We're also going to have a discussion about entitlements and how we get a grasp on those. Uh and uh, you know, like i think everybody here is familiar enough with the budget problems to know that as bad as these deficits that we're running up over the next -- that have already been run up -- have been and despite the cost of both TARP and the stimulus, the real problem in our long term deficit actually has to do with our entitlement obligation and the fact that historically uh if our revenues ranged between 18 and 20% of GDP they're now at 16. It's just not sustainable so we're going to have to uh craft a uh what George Stephanopoulos called a grand bargain and I-I try not to use the word grand in anything that I say but uh but we're going to have to shape a baragain. This, by the way, is where there are going to be some very difficult choices and issues of sacrifices and responsibilty and duty are going to come in because what we have done is kick this can down the road. We're now at the end of the road and uh we are not in a position to kick it any further.

Those are right-wing talking points and only the most historically ignorant of Barack's Love Cult will fail to grasp the declaration of war.

For some reality, here's 2008's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science winner
Paul Krugman addressing the realities about Social Security on Democracy Now! in December of 2004 (link has text, video and audio):

Social Security is a program which ahs been traditionally run. It looks like a retirement fund, and it is not exactly. What it really is is a government program with a dedicated tax. We take the payroll tax and it's used to pay benefits to retirees. And 20-plus years ago, the commission led by Alan Greenspan said, you know, we are going to have this problem as the baby boomers reach retirement age. We will have a higher ratio of retirees to workers, and we better get ready for it. Social Security, the payroll tax was increased. There were some other things, a small rise in the retirement age set in motion. So that Social Security would run a surplus, which would be used to accumulate a trust fund, and this would tithe us over, some ways into the aging of the population. And that on its own accounting is working just fine. I mean, one of the things that we need to know is that the estimates of the day at which the trust fund runs out, just keep on receding further into the future, because the program is doing so well at running surpluses. So, ten years ago, -people said it was going to run out in 2029. Now the official estimate is 2042. Realistically, it's probably going to go well into the second half of the century. Now how does this become a crisis? Well it becomes a crisis by changing the rules. By saying, oh, well, actually that surplus that we're running because of the tax increase that was designed to prolong the life of Social Security, that's not real. Because it's invested in government bonds which are perfectly good asset, for anybody else, but not for the Social Security administration.

Barack's remarks to the Post's editorial board go beyond troubling. There's no need to decipher them. He brought it up on his own (he also refused to answer questions on the topic -- though he was happy to later say Sponge Bob was his favorite TV cartoon). His words, transcribed with all the "uh"s he is so famous for. It's very clear what he's pushing. And that's why it's on the audio recording that few will listen to and not in the write-up that made the paper (the bits of half-sentences in the write-up are from his dancing around the direct questions on the topic, not from when he spoke at length about it without any prompting).

We're going to stay with the Post interview for a bit more because it's Barack speaking. When his attack on Social Security began this month (he's attacked it many times before) there was a lot of garbage about how he was being distorted and those weren't his words and "My lover would never say that about me!" It's him speaking on the audio recording. His words, his voice. So let's turn to Guantanamo.
Michael Ratner and Jules Lobel wrote a piece for The Nation last month on Guantamo and how it needed to be closed but that wasn't the end of it:

But what of others whom the Bush administration asserts cannot be released? And what will be the fate of any new detainees under the Obama administration? These questions should be answered as they have been for 200 years in this country: if there is sufficient evidence, charge them with crimes and have trials in federal courts; if not, release them. Not much will have been accomplished if Guantanamo is shuttered while the practices that underlie it continue. Yet this is being suggested by some who may have Obama's ear. They argue that holding some terror suspects without trial or charges is necessary. A National Security Court composed of specially appointed judges without juries, using watered-down, minimal due process, would make the decisions.

The Feel-Good Headlines are Barack will close Guantanamo. The issue of the innocent -- you are innocent in the American judicial system until you have been found guilty in a court of law -- was briefly addressed by Barack in his interview with the paper's editorial board yesterday. He rushed to insist, "I will close Guantanamo and that's the bottom line." No, it's not as he immediately made clear, "The trick is what do we do with dangerous individuals who are detained whose evidence is fouled up . . . ? And there are no quick, easy solutions to that." Yes, there are. You're guilty or you're innocent and that's determined by a jury in a criminal case. If the evidence is not there to warrant a conviction, then you're not guilty. That's how it works in the United States. Do the guilty sometimes escape punishment as a result? Absolutely. But the alternative is a people controlled by the state. That's what guilty until proven innocent is. In a criminal case, the prosecution is the government. A government that does not have to first prove guilt can use prosecution as a way to do away with dissidents and political opponents. Trumped up charges can have someone imprisoned for years or even put to death. The people rule in the United States and American justice is built around that principle. Everyone accused of any crime is innocent in a court of law unless and until they are proven guilty.
Ava and I long ago noted that Barack didn't grasp the Constitution (wrongly inferring that Loving v. Virginia involved a lawsuit against a church). Nothing he said to the editorial board yesterday indicated a strong grasp of the US Constitution. He spoke of the possibility of creating a new body. And maybe that new body was just to continue to imprison the current inmates or maybe it was for his planned imprisonments.

While we're noting Michael Ratner (president of the
Center for Constitutional Rights, co-host of Law & Disorder with Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith) we'll note Ratner As Media Critic (I'm laughing because it's not a role often associated with him but the excerpt will indicate it's one he should tackle more often):

The December's Harper's Cover promises a lot: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are behind bars. Prominently displayed under the prisoners is the title of Scott Horton's article "Justice After Bush, Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration." I was excited. I thought I was about to read the case for prosecuting high level administration officials for the torture program.
Alas, it was not to be. Prosecutions are given only lip service while the bulk of the article argues for a truth commission/commission of inquiry. A commission will not do what is necessary to end torture now and in the future: make it clear, just as we do in cases with the most minor offenses, that actions have consequences. A failure to initiate a criminal investigation of the torture program will only encourage future law breaking by sending a message of impunity. The message that we need to send is that the torture conspirators will be held accountable. That is the only way to fulfill Obama's promise: "I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I'm going to make sure that we don't torture."
What is surprising in Horton's article is the disconnect between the first half which is one of the strongest pieces I have read about the lawlessness of the Bush adminstration and the latter half where he sets up a complex and unworkable commission. The articles opening paragraphs scream out the necessity for prosecutions. Horton states that no other administration has been "so systematically or brazenly lawless;" that torture is the crime that "calls most clearly calls for prosecution;" and that it is the "most likely to be successfully prosecuted." In one of his most important observations Horton states that the administration "waged war against the law itself," and that the ruler claimed that it "was the law." This recognition is critical. It means that no matter how many executive orders and new prohibitions on torture are enacted, a future administration can reassert Bush's claim that the President is above the law. The prohibitions will be for naught as will the conclusions of a commission. This is a key reason why the deterrence that results from prosecutions is necessary. Never again should we have an executive who claims to be above the law."

Public broadcasting notes. Starting with public radio,
WBAI on Sunday and Monday:

Sunday, January 18, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURPoet Hugh Seidman hosts this hour with fellow poets Harvey Shapiro,Lawrence Joseph and D. Nurkse.Monday, January 19, 2-3pmCAT RADIO CAFEContinuing WBAI's all-day annual Martin Luther King Day celebrationand fundraiser. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio CafeNOW on PBS examines "the green energy dream" in the latest installment which begins broadcasting on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings for date and time in your area): "Will the green energy dream come to fruition? This week NOW explores obstacles to the promise of renewables--energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and rain."

Also on PBS (and it begins airing tonight in most markets) is
Washington Week which finds Gwen gas bagging with the National Journal's Jim Barnes, Washington Post's Shailagh Murray, New York Times' David Sanger and Slate's John Dickerson. Watch Gwen pretend to listen while fuming that she wasn't picked to be the host of Meet The Press. Study Gwen's face while her interior monologue screams, "Yeah, I've now dropped to one woman guest a week, pretty soon I'll drop to zero. No one ever calls me out. Mainly because no one notices me. How do I have four guests each week and repeatedly book only one woman! No one is noticing! Why doesn't anyone love me? Why!!!!!" Bill Moyers Journal also airs on PBS (tonight in most markets) and the latest includes Bill responding to the Gaza slaughter and you can review the discussion Moyers had with the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman. At the show's blog, Micahel Winship offers an essay proclaiming it's "Time to Move On." Some are less sure about forgiving and forgetting, Michael:
As Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in, I recall an old National Lampoon record album -- record albums, remember those? -- from the final weeks of the Watergate scandal that comically suggested that President Richard Nixon be given a "swearing OUT" ceremony. There followed a series of blistering curses and calumnies directed at the soon-to-be departed and disgraced chief executive, delivered by someone impersonating the Reverend Billy Graham. You have to wonder if amidst all the fanfare and hoopla Barack Obama isn't quietly swearing a bit beneath his breath as he beholds what his about-to-be-predecessor has left for him. Hercules mucking out the Stygian stables is as nothing to the heaps of bungle and botch confronting the next commander-in-chief.

As Winship continues his essay, many will be reminded of the joke by those who do not believe in reincarnation: Why do people who say they've had past lives always claim to have been someone famous? As Winship piles it on thick about Barack and tosses out this president and that president, you quickly note there's no John Tyler, no William Henry Harrison, no Chester Arthur, in fact as Winship raises and raises the stakes, you start to worry he'll get a nasty hope-cut on his typing finger.

And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no
60 Minutes:60 Minutes is pre-empted Sunday, Jan. 18, by CBS Sports coverage of the American Football Conference Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. 60 Minutes Update
Osama bin LadenAn audiotape of Osama bin Laden, his first since May 2008, appeared on an Islamic militant Web site Wednesday. Last October, the officer who led the Army's Delta Force mission to kill bin Laden revealed to Scott Pelley what happened in the weeks following 9/11 in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Video

gina chon
the wall street journal
the boston globejonathan saltzmanfred contradamilitary families speak out
law and disorder
michael ratner
michael smith
dalia hashad
heidi boghosian
the new york timestimothy williamscourage to resistact against war
deborah haynes
60 minutescbs newswashington weeknow on pbspbsbill moyers journal

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The racist Joe Cannon

Joseph Cannon (Cannonfire) is a racist and a pig.

I don't believe I need a spoiler alert for that. I don't believe it's like giving away the season (and series) ending of Lost or anything. Most people can tell Joe Cannon is a racist even when he's not screaming f-you (with the f-word spelled out, apparently someone didn't have a mother or didn't have a mother who told him what was and wasn't acceptable) over and over.

We can tell because we look.

Why do we look?

Keesha's story has been told many times but it's always worth retelling. (And when I got contacted today on the phone tree about this, I believe I was told Keesha was one of the people whose comments Joe Cannon refused to allow to post.)

Keesha went through what most of us who are Black have. It's true of Asian-Americans especially (as Lian has pointed out) as well. We go to a blog and think, "Oh, this is great. It's my new home." And we're there a bit. And we leave our comments. And the more we leave, we notice a distancing. Especially as we leave comments that indicate we are Black (or Asian-American). And when it's time for us to call out the DNC for how appallingly it is ignoring Black voters (or Asian-American ones) and we do, we suddenly realize how unwelcome we've been all along.

Keesha has the war stories and there's not a well known blog online that she hasn't had this happen at.

They don't mind Black readers . . . if the readers know their place.

It's happened to all of us. And so we look for clues to tell us if some place is worth investing.

It's not a problem to call out a Black person. That won't make a person racist.

Provided Black people are noted at other times. If the only time they're noted (and this is true of women as well) is to call them out, then the blogger has a problem.

And the sources they cite. Are they all White? Does a Black person ever get worked in?

If so, how often?

These are the clues -- after you've been burned online -- that you look for and you don't invest anywhere until you know they're safe.

Which is why Black people in this community do not go to Cannonfire.

It did not take Joe Cannon screaming his head off at Stan today with f-you and all the other crap. Seriously, I am the mother of three young children. I will wash their mouths out with soap today, tomorrow and forty years from now if I hear them talking like Joe Cannon. He probably thought he came off "tough." He just sounded like a little brat who learned a new curse word and wanted to repeat it over and over.

As a general rule, Joe Cannon, calling Black people racist is not a way to deflect from your racism.

In fact, a White person who calls a Black person racist will immediately have Blacks studying the exchange. They will be looking to see what went down. They will be scoring.

They will come to the same conclusions I did: You are racist.

Barack Obama is a person of color. (He is not Black. That's racist of you, a White man, to call him that.) He is now the incoming president of the United States. He must step down from the Senate. His seat was open and it should have gone to a person of color.

Screaming "Racist!" at that logic just proves what a racist you are.

But it was already proven. Day after day at your site it's "Check out this White person" and "Check out that White person" and on and on. You live in an all White world. (Which must be hard to do in Los Angeles, but you pull it off.) The only experts are White, like you. The only ones worth quoting are White, like you.

You prove every day in every way that you are a racist.

Your little stunt today, where you attacked Stan? You made it clear you were a racist. I think it was Gina who e-mailed me the copy & paste of Cannonfire (I don't link to trash and I don't visit it). I read it in shock. My oldest son asked me what I was reading and I told him it wasn't really appropriate for him. He begged and pointed out he was the brave one during our big move (from Georgia to California) reassuing his brother and his sister. So I said, "Okay, but there are words here that are unacceptable."

So he read it. I asked him, "What did you think?" He said, "That guy's a racist. Why's he picking on Stan? Where does he think he can talk to Stan like that? Is he talking to Stan like that because Stan is Black?"

(For the record, Stan self-defines African-American. I use the term Black as do my children.)

It was obvious to a young (Black) child that Joe Cannon was racist and it will be obvious to anyone who bothers to read the exchange.

I'm tired. We just moved to California this week. Monday. I'm still not fully unpacked. I have many things to do -- with my kids, with my new job, you name it.

But my parents taught me to have pride in myself and taught me that you never let anyone steal your joy. When Joe Cannon falsely screams racist at Stan, he's trying to attack Stan's joy. He's trying to make Stan think like Joe does: That Black is bad.

I will not be silent while Joe attacks Stan for sticking up for our people. I will not be silent while Joe thinks he can speak to a Black man like that. He thinks he can bully Stan the same way Harry Reid and Dick Durbin thought they could shame Senator Roland Burris.

Not happening.

Stan is Black and he is Beautiful. Joe could bask in being White and take pride in that. Instead, Joe feels threatened and must attack the Black person. He must kill the joy. In another century, he'd be toting a whip. Those days are gone and I won't be silent. Joe Cannon can retreat to his plantation but he can't live in the real world and not be called out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, January 15, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a new Pentagon report notes that the Iraqi military is a shambles, Ryan Crocker receives an award, Bumiller and Shanker continue to report realities on 'withdrawal,' Ms. magazine's continued efforts to self-embarrass and more.

First off, I know about
Stan being trashed by a racist. It will be dealt with tonight. I dictated a long section on it and on the pig's White entitlement but Stan's the one who got trashed and I wanted him to see it first before it went up. (It's always cute when a White person already known online as a racist decides to call an African-American racist.) That section was e-mailed to him and he said use it for the Thursday's "I Hate The War." I will and I will expand it. But I know that people are angry -- it will be addressed.

Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker (New York Times) report on the US military commanders contingency plan for Iraq. Last month Bumiller and Shanker reported on the military commanders presenting a partial drawdown of US troops in Iraq on a slower scale than Barack's 'pledge' of 16 month withdrawal (of "combat" troops only). No objections were raised over the timeframe by the president-elect but, in case objections are registered in the immediate future, they've come up with an alternate plan they could implement. This calls for a high of 8,000 a month (more likely four to six thousand) to be pulled. Using the high figure, 48,000 US service members could be out of Iraq (with at least 30,000 of that number redeployed to Afghanistan) in six months. That would still leave close to 100,000 US troops in Iraq. And there is no full withdrawal planned by Barack. That is why he refused to promise that, if elected, all US troops would be out of Iraq by the end of his first term (2012). Of course, Barack also rushed to assure the Times (2007) that he would easily halt any drawdown and rush more troops back into Iraq (and no words to declare this a temporary measure) when he sat down with Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny (see this Iraq snapshot and Third's article and the actual transcript of the interview -- a transcript Tom Hayden should have read before humiliating himself in public, then again Tom-Tom seems to enjoy public humiliation). So the article tells you that the military's preparing for all possibilities . . . except the possibility the American people want (and some foolishly believe Barack ever promised) full withdrawal of Iraq. That is not an option the military even considers. And the report is backed up by the statements Pentagon spokesperson Goeff Morrell made today, "Our military planners do not live in a vacuum. They are well aware that the president-elect has campaigned on withdrawing troops from Iraq on a 16-month timeline. . . . So it would only be prudent of them to draw up plans that reflect that option. But that is just one of the options that they are drawing up." The article bears noting for two additional details. First, as Barack seems determined to make Afghanistan his own personal quagmire, let no one deny alarms were raised ahead of his swearing in:

Even as Mr. Obama prepares for the drawdown in Iraq, some influential Democrats and national security experts have begun voicing concern about his willingness to send up to 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, where the United States has been at war for more than seven years. They say that Mr. Obama has yet to make clear his overall goals beyond calling for more forces, money and diplomacy in an increasingly violent, ungovernable country that the military says presents even more problems than Iraq.

Second, after noting what the Status Of Forces Agreement could do, Bumiller and Shanker include the reality: "That agreement, however, can be renegotiated." That's reporting (and this was the report referred to in
yesterday's snapshot, FYI). (And so was Bumiller's December report on how the military hopes to fudge troop withdrawals by terminology.) The Status Of Forces Agreement (which al-Maliki calls "The Withdrawal Agreement" when visiting Iran) was one of two agreements. The other was the Strategic Framework Agreement. Vice president-elect Joe Biden left the Senate today. April 10th, as chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Biden explained the two agreements:

We will hear today about the two agreements that the Administration is negotiating with Iraq which were anticipated in the November Declaration. On Tuesday, Ambassador Crocker told us that these agreements would set forth the "vision" -- his phrase -- of our bilateral relationship with Iraq. One agreement is a "strategic framework agreement" that will include the economic, political and security issues outlined in the Declaration of Principles. The document might be better titled "What the United States will do for Iraq," because it consists mostly of a series of promises that flow in one direction -- promises by the United States to a sectarian government that has thus far failed to reach the political compromises necessary to have a stable country. We're told that the reason why we're not continuing under the UN umbrella is because the Iraqis say they have a sovereign country. But they don't want a Status of Forces Agreement because that flows two ways. The Administration tells us it's not binding, but the Iraqi parliament is going to think it is. The second agreement is what Administration officials call a "standard" Status of Forces Agreement, which will govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, including their entry into the country and the immunities to be granted to them under Iraqi law. Unlike most SOFAs, however, it would permit U.S. forces -- for the purposes of Iraqi law -- to engage in combat operations and detain insurgents. In other words, to detain people that we think are bad guys. I don't know any of the other nearly 90 Status of Forces Agreements that would allow a U.S. commander to arrest anyone he believes is a bad guy.

We're focusing on the Strategic Framework Agreement, or as Biden put it, "What the United States will do for Iraq." The
US Embassy in Baghdad notes that the agreement was the topic of "the inauguaral January 13, 2009 meeting of the Iraqi-U.S. Higher Coordination Committee" which found puppet Nouri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State Condi Rice co-chairing the meeting with participants Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister) , Barham Saleh and Rafi Essawi (Deputy Prime Ministers), Jawad al-Bolani (Interior Minister), Abdul-Qadir Muhammad Jasim (Minster of Defense), Mowaffak Al-Rubaie (National Security Advisor), Sadig Al-Rikabi (Political Advisor) and on the US side Henrietta Fore (USAID Aministrator), Dave McCormick (Under Secretary of the Treasury), Eric Edelman (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), Ryan Crocker (US Ambassador to Iraq) and Gen Ray Odierno (top US commander in Iraq). Anyone see a problem?

Where's James L. Jones Jr.?

That's Barack pick for National Security Advisor. Some will argue that, with Condi participating, Hillary Clinton should have been brought in. While it's unheard of for the Senate to fail to confirm one of their own, it could happen. With Hillary or anyone else. So there are some people that it made no sense to invite since they do not have that posts yet. However, NSA is not a post that requires Senate confirmation. James L. Jones was selected by Barack and announced by Barack. That means he is the National Security Advisor. His Iraq counterpart was participating, why wasn't Jones brought in?

The US Embassy in Baghdad announces: "The meeting formally launched the Strategic Framework Agreement process, which will guid U.S. - Iraqi relations. Secretary Rice and Prime Minister Al-Maliki reaffirmed their strong desire to establish a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship, based on the principle of equality." And how did they do that? How did Condi Rice -- who is out of a job next week -- reaffirm anything long-term for the US? Jones should have been brought into that meeting and for those who want to offer excuses about travel to Baghdad, Condi Rice was not in Iraq January 13th. She was in DC. We'll get to what else she was doing but she and Hernietta Fore were in DC pariticipating via tele-conference. The outgoing administration should have made a point to invite James Jones who will be -- no doubts, no confirmation from the Senate needed -- the next National Security Advisor and will be done transitioning and in that job in less than a week.

If you're conveying longterm relationship, how do you do that with the outgoing administration. For that matter, Robert Gates could have participated in the meeting. (And his Iraqi counterpart did.) Gates is Secretary of Defense and Barack's made him his designate for Sec of Defense. As the only link between the outgoing administration and the incoming one, why wasn't he voted in. Before we go to what Gates did Tuesday, today the Bully Boy of the United States presented a Medal of Freedom to US Ambassador Crocker. Among those attending the White House ceremony (Crocker was in DC for the ceremony) were Condi Rice, First Lady Laura Bush and John Negroponte. Among Bully Boy's remarks were recounting some of Crocker's history of service:

Members of the Foreign Service bring this valor and professionalism to their work every single day. And there is one man who embodies these qualities above all: Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Over the years, Ryan has earned many honors, including the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and the rank of Career Ambassador. Today I have the privilege of honoring Ambassador Crocker with the highest civil award I can bestow: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It has not been bestowed yet. The son of an Air Force officer, Ryan Crocker has never been your typical diplomat. For social engagements, he likes to tell guests, "no socks required." For language training, he once spent time herding sheep with a desert tribe in Jordan. For sport, he has jogged through war zones, and run marathons on four continents. And for assignments, his preference has always been anywhere but Washington. During his nearly four decades in the Foreign Service, Ryan Crocker has become known as America's Lawrence of Arabia. His career has taken him to every corner of the Middle East. His understanding of the region is unmatched. His exploits are legendary. He has served as ambassador to five countries. He has repeatedly taken on the most challenging assignments. The man has never run from danger. As a young officer during the late 1970s, Ryan catalogued Saddam Hussein's murderous rise to power. In 1983, he survived the terrorist attack on the American embassy in Lebanon. In 1998, as the Ambassador to Syria, he witnessed an angry mob plunder his residence. After any one of these brushes with danger, most people would have lost their appetite for adventure. Not Ryan Crocker. In the years since September the 11th, 2001, I have asked Ryan to hold numerous posts on the front lines of the war on terror, and he has stepped forward enthusiastically every time.

Dana Perino noted in today's White House press briefing, "It was a surprise for Ryan Crocker, that he was getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- a surprise, I think, for everybody. But we kept that a secret because he is a very humble person, Ambassador Crocker. And I can't think of anybody more deserving. And I think that it was a fitting tribute to the Foreign Service Officers that the President has put in posts that usually go to political appointees, that something as important as Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in Iraq when it came to having leadership there, especially during those dark days, which I'll get to in a moment, Abassador Crocker was definitely one of the best leaders. And for some of the younger people there, the younger career Foreign Service Officers, I think it was really good for them to see that hard work can be rewarded, and by a President who is very grateful for all that the Foreign Service has done under his watch and that they'll continue to do there. They're consummate professionals. I've had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of them."

Now back to Robert Gates. Gates joined Rice, Fore and State Dept Counselor Eliot Cohen in the US State Dept's treaty room Tuesday (the 13th) for
a signing ceremony (link has text and video). What were they signing? Don't rush. War Hawk, Neocon and PNAC-er Cohen gave big butt smooches to Gates and Rice and then Rice offered this frightening thought, "I suspect that that means that there are two American universities that may be teaching from this manual." The manual? The counterinsurgency doctrine. Yes, the Pentagon has long practiced that abuse of human rights but Rice is on board as well and they were signing the counterinsurgency guide as well. (The two universities are the ones that gave Gates and Rices their doctorates -- Georgetown and the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies respectively.)
Counter-isnurgency is war on a native people. The last eight years have seen anthropologists, psychologists and psychiatrists betray their fields and training to provide 'skills' on how to defeat a native people. Rice declared, "And this counterinsurgency doctrine and this manual really is a compilation of the experiences that we have had in learning how to fight together, how to work together, and ultimately how to deliver for people defense, democracy and development." Gates added, "I'm honored to sign the Interagency Counterinsurgency Guide today and demonstrate my support for whole-of-government counterinsurgency process. Military efforts alone are rarely effective in counterinsurgency operations. This guide reflects strong efforts by many organizations and individuals to build the soft power capabilities and the coordinating processes within the United States Government that are so central to our counterinsurgency efforts." And if you could read the above without losing your lunch, Fore seemed determined to ensure that your hurled:

And let me add for my two secretaries that it is very important for us in the world of development to have a guide such as this. It's a very complex and challenging area – the work of counterinsurgency. We in development will particularly focus on helping host country governments how they can deal with good governance while having an atmosphere of counterinsurgency. It is very challenging, but country ownership and legitimacy of a government, as well as continuing good governance and democratic reforms, are a very important and integral part. And we will add our highest accolade in that we will use this guide in the field.

That's Henrietta Fore who will thankfully be out of USAID shortly. Condi got off a joke and we'll note it here, "And now to my good friend, Bob Gates. And not only are we both Ph.D.s and former high-ranking university administrators, but we both studied the Soviet Union, which, in case you don't know, no longer exists. And it means that found useful work after that." Some would question whethere the employment was useful to the world.

Counter-insurgency is digusting, vile and goes against democracy. Fortunately, since Hillary Clinton will likely be Sec of State, all the Barack groupies posing as 'independent' journalists can call out the State Dept support for counter-insurgency, right? They can just pretend -- as they did throughout 2007 and 2008 -- that the counter-insurgency 'noteables' were all supporting and advising Barack -- such as Sarah Sewall, Samantha Power and, oh, so many more.

In Iraqi election news,
John J. Kruzel (Australia TO) reports US Maj Gen Michael Oates is voicing concerns ahead of the January 31st provincial elections: "What's important to Iraq is that elections be seen as credible, and my only concern is that outside influences may interfere." Elections are schedueled to be held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. AP reports that groups competing in Mosul are asking for "more government protection for polling stations in Kurdish-controlled areas" and they quote Habda's Athil al-Nujeifi stating that Sunni and Shi'ite groups are asking for the protection (al-Nujeifi is Sunni), "We have bitter experience from last elections when members of the peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) took advantage of the situation and committed fraud in order to boost the position of their two parties in the elections. Our current demand aims at preventing any new violations that would repeat the old scenario."

Turning to Iraqi 'justice.' From the
December 10, 2007 snapshot:Among the deaths reported in Iraq over the weekend, one has gotten more attention that most murdered Iraqis receive. Yesterday, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the continued targeting of officials and the roadside bombing in Hilla which claimed the life of the Babil province's police chief Brig. Gen. Qais Al Mamouri (two other people also died in the bombing). Adrian Croft (Reuters) noted that there have been multiple attempts on Mamouri's life over the years and quotes a historian specializing in Iraq's history, Reidar Visser, declaring, "For several years, Mamouri stood out as an honest figure of authority in the mixed governorate of Babel, and had fought hard against militias regardless of their sectarian affilaitons." In this morning's New York Times, Paul von Zielbauer noted this "assassination of the police chief, Brig. Gen Qais al-Mamori, who led the police forces in Babil Province, was the latest of several attacks against provincial leaders in the mainly Shiite Arab region in recent months. General Mamori, who was 48, had become known for cracking down on militia leaders. He and the two bodygruads were killed as their police convoy rolled past a gas station in Hilla, the provincial capital, a local police official said. The leader of the provincial council's security committee, Hassan Watwet, said an investigation into Sunday's explosion was under way." von Zielbauer also noted that Muhammad Ali al-Hassani and Khalil Jalil Hamza -- governors of the Muthanna Province and the Qadisiya Province respectively, were assassinated several months ago "in what appeared to be a power struggle among rival Shiite militias for control of the oil-rich region." CBS and AP note: "The death of Brig. Gen. Qais al-Maamouri, chief of Babil's provincial capital of Hillah, was the latest in a series of assassinations of provincial leaders in the mainly Shiite region. Hundreds marched along dusty roads in Babil to mourn al-Maamouri, chanting and firing guns into the air."
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) speaks with Aais al-Mamouri's brother Safaa who explains that all this time later, there has been no justice. He explains how a September trial went nowhere when the judge asked to be excused. Safaa says, "The political sides intimidated the judge and made him leave the case. Maybe it was a political party that has power in the government and intimidated the judge, or a side that had militias." Still no trial. The case was moved to Baghdad's criminal court and the day for the trial to start has came and went with no trial.

No justice in Iraq. Moving to contractors.
Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reported yesterday, "A $722 million contract to rebuild Iraq's oil and gas production facilities was marked by multiple changes, cost overruns, failure to meet schedules and lack of oversight, according to a new inspector general's report." The corporation responsible? KBR. Meanwhile World Tribune reports a new "Defense Department report said less than 10 percent of Iraq Army battalions were capable of planning and executing counter-insurgency operations. The rest of the army combat battalions required anywhere from partial to significant support from the U.S. military and it's coalition partners." The report is entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" and it was released January 13th (it's dated January 9th -- PDF format warning, click here). You can file this under "conditions on the ground" most likely. "Conditions on the ground," Barack has stated repeatedly, would determine withdrawal rate for "combat" troops. Conditions, the report informs, are not good. And the news is far worse than the report indicates. For example, page 1 (page 11 on your screen) includes this bit of rah-rah on 'progress': "The November 3, 2008 passage of an amendment to the PEL establishing set-asides for religious minorities on three provincial councils marks a positive step towards ensuring minority representation in Iraq's political institutions." Oh really? Does the Pentagon think no one pays attention to Iraq?

That "postive step" reduced the number of set-asides for religious minorities (which led to protests throughout Iraq and that may have in turn led to the attack on Christians in Mosul). Article 50 was the provision that allowed for minority representation in Iraq. The Parliament kicked it out -- with little attention from the public or the press -- arguing that a national census had never taken place. al-Maliki didn't know how the set-asides had been eliminated but they'd be restored! They were not restored. Even with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani swearing that they would be. With Article 50 dropped, an add-on was create which gave a smaller number of seats than Article 50 promised. Not just the Vatican but the Pope himself called that out. And the report wants to paint that as a sign of progress?

The entire report is a joke and it's difficult to find a section passed off as 'progress' that closer examination reveals none. On a similar note,
Ernesto London (Washington Post) reported Monday, "Tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq started the year calibrating their missions to conform with a new security agreement that demands that American combat troops depend more heavily than efver on their often-bungling Iraqi counterparts. Sometimes that means dragging one or two along on patrol." Which is more than backed up by the Pentagon's own report.

Leila Fadel (Kansas City Star -- billed that way because if you don't put in on the company's Iraq page -- created to drive traffic -- you don't get credit) reports that some Palestinians find Iraq's statements in support of the Palestinians under assault in Gaza hypocritcal. Who are these Palestinians? The ones in Iraq: "Banned from holding Iraqi citizenship, even if they were born here, Palestinians lost some of the few rights they had after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and have lived in fear of Iraqi groups who seek revenge for the Palestinians' perceived connection to the old regime." The figures have dropped from 34,000 in Iraq to 10,000 not counting the 3,000 imprisoned in the camps on the Syrian border.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roasdie bombing that wounded two people, a second one that wounded four and a third one that targeted Ahmed Taieb Murad and claimed the life of Murad's bodyguard Reuters identifies the Education Minister targeted in the Baghdad roadside bombing as Abd Thiab al-Ajili.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul yesterday.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Nineveh Province yesterday.

In US political news, Ms. magazine can't stop lying. Reality: Ms. is having huge subscription problems. Today on CNN, Kathy Spillar tried to defend the cover that can't be defended while paired off against
The New Agenda's Amy Siskind. At the end of the report, CNN's Jason Carroll stated Ms. asserts that subscriptions are up. LIE. Bold faced lie. As with every other periodical in the country, Ms. is suffering due to the economy. Since posting their upcoming cover, Ms. has had a record number of cancellations and, if we want to be really honest, Ms. tanked in 2008 before the economy did. Jason Carroll offers Ms.' 'logic' in this statment: "The magazine says it's the right cover saying it's the right time to showcase a man like Obama who identifies himself as a feminist." Stop. Just stop.

Produce the statment Barack Obama ever made where he stated he identifies as a feminist. Now maybe when he was trying to woo Hyde Park over a decade ago, he made some such statement but he's not made it since stepping onto the national stage.

"The problem with the cover is it's a man standing in a Superman pose and, thank you, but the women of this country can stand up for themselves," Amy Siskind states. That's one problem.

There's another. The cover's a lie. It's already been explored at length how Barack uses sexism 'periodically' when he's 'feeling blue' and 'the claws come out' (if you're not familiar,
click here for Violet Socks detailing it). But that's the least of it.

The cover is a lie because it's not a real photo. It's a photo-shopped cover -- and not photo-shopped for humor which puts Ms. on the same sewer level as The National Enquirer. There are people who will see it and think Barack posed for it. That's called LYING. That's called DECEIVING. Ms. needs to make it very clear that they have doctored a photo of Barack. They could have taken an undoctored photo, run it on the cover and offered the headline "This is what feminism looks like." It would still have caused problems but the cover wouldn't have deceived people. Many will honestly believe this is a photo Barack posed for and that he wore that t-shirt. It's a LIE. And the cover's a LIE. Whoopi Goldberg, Janeane Garofalo, Ashley Judd and countless others have been more than happy to put those t-shirts on and pose for Ms. in them. The fact that Barack didn't proves he's not a feminist. But the cover's a lie because it's photo shopped and people assume it's true. It's a lie because Ms. has used similar photos on the cover (Janeane with the bullhorn) and in their get-the-word-out (they don't like to call it "marketing") on the magazine. So Ms. readers have a right to expect that when they see someone in that t-shirt in or on Ms., the person posed for the photo. If you're not getting it,
check out the spring 2003 cover where Ashley, Margaret Cho, Whoopi and Cameryn Manheim are all featured wearing t-shirts with that slogan. Those are photos they posed for. Most people don't read Ms. For obvious reasons these days. So they're not getting how offensive it is that Barack's in that t-shirt in a photo shopped photo. Ms. set out to fool readers. That's offensive.

Kathy Spillar's brought on (by Ms.) to dispel myths. Yes, she is a White woman. However, she is not of the Seven Sisters -- a point immediately apparent when she opens her mouth. Spillar graduated from Texas Christian University.
Julie Menin explains, "There is still some concern from some women's groups about President-elect Obama. And, specifically, some of the concerns they have are that there have not been that many women appointed to his cabinet." Kathy Spillar ignores that. Spizer has no response to that. She's probably busy humming her alma mata's theme song ("Fight on boys, fight, with all your might/ Roll up the scores for TCU/ Hail white and purple flag whose heroes never lag/ Horned Frog, we are all for you!" -- maybe Ms. can hail that as a feminist song!).

The sad thing that no one's supposed to notice is that Ms. not only has run off readers (starting before this cover), they're not even a real magazine anymore. They started out as a monthly magazine. They can't even hack it as a bi-monthly. Going advertising free was supposed to 'free' Ms. And it quickly dropped from bi-monthly to quarterly. It again takes ads. Its got less and less content. The only thing that always excited readers were the letters and they now edit the letters and only offer snippets. The magazine is a complete and utter failure that should either shut down immediately or fire all on staff and reboot.

But Kathy Spillar wants to go on CNN and declare Ms. a success. Keep dreaming, Kath. [
Heidi Li offers her take here.]

And keep dreaming that those who choose to honor homphobes can ever be feminists. They can't.
Sunsara Taylor (World Can't Wait) takes on Barack's homophobic friend Rick Warren:

When Barack Obama invited Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback mega-church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, some raised their voices in protest. But all too many told people to just calm down, drink the Obama'Laid of "common ground," and reach out their arms to this pastor who is nothing more than a Christian fascist in a Hawaiian shirt.

Rick Warren is no "moderate" and he is not progressive. He may be the "new face" of evangelicalism, but he doesn't represent a new content.

Taylor goes on to list the problems. 1) Biblical literalist. 2) Wants to criminalize being gay. 3) Insists women are subordinate. 4) Denies evolution. 5) His AIDS work in Uganda is a joke and damaging to healthcare and preventing AIDS to begin with. Sunsara concludes:

Stop drinking the Obama'Laid! The "common ground" being brokered by Obama is doing nothing to bring Rick Warren and his ilk closer to the interests of humanity. Rather, this "common ground" approach is about legitimating and normalizing Warren's deadly religious bigotry. Standing on this "common ground" is leading progressive people who genuinely care about women, gays, science, and AIDS in Africa to capitulate, to give up principle, and to accept things that they never would've accepted from someone like Pat Robertson or George Bush.

The fact that Rick Warren is the best that Obama can come up with to speak about "purpose" and "morality" reveals the utter moral and ideological bankruptcy of not only him, but the whole imperialist system he represents. Time is up. Humanity needs liberation and we need morality and purpose that correspond to that; to overcoming grinding poverty and exploitation, establishing equality and mutual respect between men and women, ending racism and national oppression throughout the world, fostering critical thinking and science among all people, and unleashing art and the imagination unshackled from religious ignorance and superstition. This is communist morality and revolutionary purpose, the exact opposition of compromise and conciliation.

And despite Melissa Etheridge making a fool of herself to vouch for Rick Warren, he's a HOMOPHOBE. And
Hillary Is 44 explains he's helping with the attacks on the LGBT community in the Episcopalian Church and sending out 'soldiarity letters': "We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans. I offer the campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County" Golly, Melissa, looks like you really are "the only one" -- and not in a good way.

Highlighting these community posts: Rebecca's "
'que sera, sera'," Marcia's "Ms. Jackson, because you know you're nasty," Betty's "Outkast," Trina's "The Singing Nun," Ruth's "Fats Domino and the Drifters," Stan's "From En Vouge to Luther Vandross," Elaine's "'I Want To Hold Your Hand'," Kat's "Isley's for my first," Mike's "Harriet Miers, Monica, etc.," Cedric's "I guess any crook can be Secretary of the Treasury" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE CAN MANAGE THE TREASURY?????".

the new york timeselisabeth bumillerthom shanker
the los angeles timesned parkermcclatchy newspapersmohammed al dulaimy
the new york times
paul von zielbauercbs news
the washington postwalter pincus
ernesto londono
like maria said pazkats kornersex and politics and screeds and attitudethomas friedman is a great mantrinas kitchenthe daily jotcedrics big mixmikey likes itruths reportsickofitradlzoh boy it never ends
leila fadel

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"Hey Ya." We're all writing about a song first. For me, it's that song by Outkast. How come?

I was having a very bad day one evening. It had been a bad day all around and, on top of everything else, I had forgotten to turn on the stove so dinner wasn't ready. I was that stressed that I kept opening the oven door and checking and could not figure out why dinner wasn't cooked yet. The kids were being kids.

But it was a stressful day and my plan was to get dinner in them, turn the AC on (because when it's cold, they do go to sleep), get 'em on the couch with me with a movie and they'd conk out early and the awful day could be over. But dinner wasn't ready and I now got that it was due to the fact that I had not turned on the stove.

When I realized that, I turned on the stove and sat down at the kitchen table, about to cry. My oldest son walked in, took a look at me, acted like he was walking out of the kitchen but suddenly rushed up to me singing "Hey Ya!"

I didn't even know he knew the words. It may have been the first non-kids song he ever sang. But he had me smiling as he performed that and then his brother and sister came in and they started trying to dance along like he was doing. It was very cue and it made up for the worst day of this decade for me.

We're all writing a first on song tonight and that's my choice.

So I am moved in and am living in California. It is a trip but I am loving it. I have so much help and I appreciate it.

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
and Wally of The Daily Jot,

I owe all of the above thank yous. Let me start with Kat who flew in Saturday and helped me take care of last minute things and helped so much Saturday, Sunday and Monday (including flying to California with us). Thank you!!! All of the above are helping me out so much and I appreciate it so much. As I noted before, the kids and I are going to be at C.I.'s. I drive 40 minutes to work but it's 45 in the evening and may increase due to traffic. Everyone above is so helpful and Ty is going to be the emergency contact for the kids if they get hurt or sick so thank you, Ty! Jim, Dona and Jess will be picking the kids up and Ty will be dropping them off. Thank you. Jim plans to stay with them anytime they're sick. Thank you.

Everyone's made it so easy including C.I. who registered them, got them enrolled.

I was so worried about big things and little things and I was on the verge of a freak out when we flew out (Kat can tell you). So it was so great that everything was taken care of including, yesterday, a birthday. One of my son's was born on January 13th. Due to the fact that we were moving, we had the birthday last week so his friends and family could be there.

And that was supposed to be it. C.I. asked what a max was on the adults buying him a present and I said 10 bucks max. He'd had a party already. I don't want the kids getting spoiled. (C.I. has an amazing house/estate and I'm already fearing when 18 months are up and it's back to our house -- fearing the kids' reaciton.) So last night I get home and I'm told we're having Thai which is Jess and my son's favorite. Then after, Dona hauls me out of the dining room and says there's a cake and so we bring that in. It meant so much to my son as did the gifts. It's real easy to say, "You had your birthday last week! We had it early!" But it's really not the same for a kid.

Anyway, things are going very good and I do love my new job.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 14, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, suicide bombers are a concern only when its female suicide bombers, women's representation on the provincial councils just slips out of the law and no one's sure how which allows us to examine some of the most recent attacks on women's rights in Iraq.

Fu Yiming and Gao Shan (Xinhua) remind that a 10-year-old boy disguised himself as a floral vendor to launch a suicide bombing in Tarmiya last September and they note that other children "have been recruited and trained to be suicide bombers". So we will now see the efforts to ban children from public life, right? And flower vendors! And we'll see half-way homes set up for any children that fit Iraq's highly limited means of profiling, correct?

Oh wait, that only happens to women. And let's establish that by turning to two attacks last week. The first on women's rights and the second on the rights of the press.
Sunday, January 4th when a bomber -- then identified as a woman -- took their own life and that of at least 40 other people in Baghdad. This was in the midst of a Holy pilgrimage, one that brought people from all over Iraq to the region and from outside of Iraq as well. By Tuesday, 'security' demanded action and, of course, the action just had to be an attack on women. From the January 6th snapshot:

In Iraq, the latest attack on women's rights takes place under the guise of security, always under the guise of security.
AFP reports that ALL women are banned "from visiting a Baghdad district which is home to the city's most famous Shi'ite tomb" and why is that? Because of the Sunday suicide bombing which, you may remember, Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) maintained Monday was carried out by a man despite statements to the contrary. So you've got confusion as to the gender of the bomber. But you've also got the fact that no men were banned from shrines and these bombings have been going on for over five years now. Regardless of whether Sunday's bomber was or was not a woman, there's never been a similar effort to ban just men. It's only women that get screwed over and always while being told that it's for the 'security' of all. It's not for security. It has nothing to do with security and when you grasp that this is a pilgrimage and that the pilgrims come from all over Iraq and outside of Iraq, this is blatantly offensive. It is yet another effort to curtail the mobility of women and even in the 'logic' being offered, there's no excuse for it. They have still not established the gender of Sunday's bomber. Dagher and al-Husaini as well as LAT's Usama Redha and Kimi Yoshino provided statements by Iraqis outraged by the lack of security. What you have is a band-aid measure that will not fix a damn thing but the government wants to scapegoat someone and, just like their allies in the US, the Iraqi government will gladly scapegoat women. And Reuters is now reporting: "Initial reports said Sunday's bomber was female, although the government later said he was male." But who's being barred from worshipping? Monday, the United Nation's Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, made a point of condemning the attacks on pilgrims and decreeds bombings like Sunday's "appalling and unjustified crimes." Will de Mistura call out the barring of women from worship or is he only interested in speaking up for the male pilgrims?

Statistically female bombers really are not an issue (
August 21st, LAT was reporting that "the number has jumped to 30" for the year 2008 -- still not a huge number) but if Iraq's so alarmed, well maybe they should pay more money? "Awakening" Council members are also known as Sons of Iraq and they do have Daughters of Iraq but they pay them over 20% than they do men. If they are saying female bombers are just so earth shattering and such a great threat, maybe they shouldn't have been so sexist and cheap? Maybe they should paid women doing the exact same work the exact same amount? And "they" is the US. The US military set up that pay scale, the US military endorsed and embraced sexism.

The Iraqi government (al-Maliki) knew the Sunday bomber was not a woman. They knew it before the implemented they attacked women's rights to worship. There was no 'security' improvement by destroying women's rights. It did give the appearance of 'movement' at a time when Iraqis were loudly and publicly criticizing the puppet government's inability to protect them. "Look, we did something!" Nothing that helped, but they did it. And where was the press? Where were they?

Did they call out the attacks on women's rights? No and they never do. Few bothered to even report the ban on women. Those did bother to report it never saw this ban as anything other than 'security' and never questioned why women -- not a large part of bombers in Iraq to begin with and the Sunday bomber was a man --were being targeted. There were no editorials in the US. There were no efforts to speak to Iraqi women's rights organizations. There was no effort to explore. It was just taken for granted that women are so damn unimportant in the world's eyes that if they're denied their right to freely worship, that's just the way it is.

Contrast that with the attack on the press.
Friday's snapshot included this: "Kim Gamel (AP) reports that other 'laws' are being pressed. Specifically the puppet government has issued a 14-page conduct code for reporters -- Iraqi and foreign -- that they will need to sign 'in exchange for permission to attend this month's provincial elections, riaisng concerns among media analysts that independent coverage could be undermined'." The following day, Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Katie Nguyen (Reuters) reported: "Media organisations who flout the Communications and Media Commission's mandatory code of conduct could be landed with a fine, have their equipment confiscated or be forced to make a public apology, said a document obtained by Reuters on Saturday. . . . Media organisations could have their licences revoked if they fail to pay any fines, according to the document." The press amplified the story by covering it, they spoke to Reporters Without Borders for quotes, to journalists for quotes, to journalistic unions for quotes. And by Sunday? Crisis averted! Gamel provided an update: Iraq will no longer require reporters to sign a contract in order to cover the January 31st provincial elections and the 14-page contract is being tossed. In an interesting development not really noted, Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) quotes Judge Qassim Hasan Abodi stating, "These are not our regulations. All we ask is that the media be neutral, transparent and objective. This is the only thing." Yoshino doesn't identify the body that Hasan's with, just notes it's over elections ("head of Iraq's election commission") -- he is the head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission. That is the UN backed body (UNAMI works with them) and the claim being made on Friday -- when the story of the contract and the penalities broke -- was that the IHEC had pushed that. No, they didn't. It was al al-Maliki.

Now examine the above. The press goes along with the attack on women's rights but comes to life when the rights of the press are attacked. That goes to how little importance is placed on women's rights and the refusal to grasp that there is no democracy without equality. As important as a free press is to democracy, so is equality. Currently, a slaughter is goingo n in Gaza and in some of the critiques of the press -- blistering, as they should be -- a point may be lost. It's not, "Oh, look at the idiot who can't report!" What those calling the sorry and distorted coverage of the assault on Gaza are doing is believing in and advocating for the power of a free press. If the press does not matter, then it wouldn't matter what the press reported. What those critiquing the current coverage of that crisis are doing is advocating for a free press and acknowleging the power of the press -- and doing so much more than many members of the press ever do.

Above you have two examples of attacks on freedoms. The first attack, on women's rights, meant nothing to the press and they barely covered it. So the attack continued and laid the groundwork for future attacks. In the second case, the press responded and the attack was repealed. That is the power of the press.

Alissa J. Rubin and Sam Dagher (New York Times) report the latest attack on women's rights in Iraq: Somehow, no one can figure out how, the rights of women to be represented with 25% of the seats in the January 31st elections just fell by the wayside. No one can figure out. It just, in all the talks and discussions, somehow, no one can figure it out, it just dropped right out. Oops. The reporters explain, "Early versions of the law, which governs the election of Iraq's 18 provincial councils, included a firm guarantee that women would have at least 25 percent of the seats -- the same percentage mandated by the Constitution for the numbers of women in Parliament. In the male-dominated Arab culture, the framers of the Constitution and the Americans who were involved in drafting it thought that the quota was necessary to ensure that women would be represented.But the provincial election law was changed several times, and the quota language was gone by the time it went to the Presidency Council, whose approval is needed for it to become official. It went back to the Parliament with several unrelated changes and was published in early October. The lack of a strong guarantee for women's council seats has begun to gain widespread attention only in the last few days." And good for Rubin and Dagher but find that topic at any other outlet. Find one example in the US of the press using their power to amplify. You can't. As this snapshot is dictated, no news outlet except for the New York Times is covering it. The Houston Chronicle does make it a sidebar online to a Los Angeles Times article that, frankly, says nothing. The LAT article is all over the place (and doesn't mention women at all) but apparently that passes for 'universal' and attacks on women -- unlike attacks on men or attacks on the press -- is some sort of esoteric topic that's just not worthy of coverage.

What might life be like for Iraqi women today if the press had treated the repeated attacks on their rights as worthy of reporting? Maybe we wouldn't have today's 'In some small areas in Iraq, women can drive again!' stories. Because if these attacks on women were called out and not treated as 'oh, that's the culture,' women never would have lost their right to drive in Iraq or been pushed into wearing garb they didn't wish to. If the thugs the US put in charge of Iraq had known that they would be held up for the ridicule they deserved by the press over these attacks on women's rights, you damn well better believe that they would have cut it out, they would have stopped their attacks on women if only to avoid risking their puppet masters cutting off funding. Instead we got this b.s. nonsense that these were 'cultural' responses. No, they weren't. Iraq was a highly advanced country. It was not Afghanistan. The point
Ava and I were making in February 2007, when we reviewed a bad TV show (Jericho), still applies and women reading better grasp that. No one's going to give you a damn thing but they will gladly rob your rights. And that's not just in Iraq or Afghanistan. We've seen it in this country. Susan Faludi did a wonderful job documenting the backlash during the Reagan era (and, hello, we're back in another Reagan era and Ms. magazine has made clear it will be just as pathetic now as it was then -- for those who missed how pathetic it was during the first Reagan era, you can refer to Faludi's Backlash for how Ms. actively underminded women's rights and standing). But that was nothing compared to an earlier backlash in this country. No, not the backlash after WWII when Rosie the Riveter was forced out of work (and that is covered in Faludi's book), the backlash that began with the Great Depression, the one no one ever wants to talk about. Choose any industry, and you'll find women high in the chain. That would end quickly. Let's talk film a second. Women were directors. Women were studio heads. Women were screenwriters. Women were producers. Come the depression, it's all over now, baby blue.

It's amazing that
Naomi Klein has yet to call out Barack's conservative economic statements and programs because the Shock Doctrine does not refer just to violence that allows an economic programs to be pushed through. It also includes economic violence that allows economic programs to be pushed through. (Naomi's book, while wonderful, merely popularizes theories that have been in place for many, many decades. The reading the book has been given is a very safe one and one that tells domestic readers in the US, "These are things that happen over there!" That is not the case and that is not the case only when it comes to a 9-11 or Pearl Harbor.) Barack's economic plan has rightly been called out for ignoring women. But by whom? Which male identified 'progressives' have bothered to say a damn word, which male identified 'progressive outlets' have bothered to raise an objection? None. The Nation hasn't done a thing. The Progressive hasn't done a thing. Because women can always be thrown overboard. It's not just in Iraq and women need to start grasping that. The failure to do so is why each geneartion of the women's liberation movement has to reinvent the wheel.

What's taken place in Iraq is the backlash in flip-card fashion. It's happened very quickly. Just last year, it was 'okay' to talk about institutionalizing widows. Prisons pretending to be halfway-houses were okay because, when you lose you husband, what better way to grieve than removed from your home, you friends and your family and locked away? That truly was presented as the 'answer' to female suicide bombers. Round up the widows and lock 'em away. Repeating, female suicide bombers do not make up the bulk of the bombers in Iraq. They are not the majority, they are a statistically insiginificant number. And they may be inflated as many later reports have proven when female bombers turn out not to be. (And often the excuse is given that someone must have been dressed as a woman! No, just as likely is that, not having any clues, a scapegoat is needed and what looms as the ultimate threat since the beginning of time to some men: Women.) But because a small number existed, it was time to propose locking them away.

Last week the desire to pathologize these women was noted:

The female suicide bombers result in alarmist headlines (
here for US News & World Reports) because, "Oh goodness! It's a woman!" As if Pirate Jenny was an obscure character from a never heard of play? As if Pirate Jenny doesn't have her roots in any revolution (including the American revolution). But, "Oh no, it's a woman!" So when a female bomber executes a bombing, it's a big deal to the press. When a man does, it's a single sentence and there's no hand wringing or pondering WHY????? It's obvious why and the one's pretending otherwise are the same ones pretending that something good can yet come from this illegal war. And it's pretty obvious that there is HUGE sexism involved in the coverage. This summer Time offered up "The Mind of a Female Suicide Bomber." I'm sorry, are female bombers unheard of in illegal wars and occupations? They become the norm. And pretending otherwise is not only historically ignorant and sexist, it's damaging to anyone's grasp of what is actually taking place on the ground in Iraq. They're attempting to make it some sort of pathological sickness in the minds of some woman when this is a natural response to a people occupied, under attack and prevented from self-governance. There's nothing pathological about it. Historically, it is a common response. Mythologically, even more so. Will Time next offer us "The Mind of Areto"? Was there any difference in Areto attempting to avenge the murder of Hippolyte and Iraqi women today attempting to avenge the murders of their famillies? Aztec mythology includes many similar examples, such as La Llorona who acts to avenge the murders of her children. It's really disgusting that we rush to pathologize a normal response on the part of women that has been historically charted and culturally taught. The sickness is not inside the women in Iraq who decide to wear a bomb, the sickness is the illegal war and continued occupation and you have to historically and culturally ignorant or else a liar who hopes others are historically and culturally ignorant to push these women's responses off as something unheard of and completely unexpected.

Today we are told that young boys are becoming suicide bombers. We do not get, "WHY!!!! WHY!!!!! OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!" coverage. We do not get talk that they should be put away for 'security.' Naomi Klein rightly noted Iraq was the experimental lab where all the US kooks could test their theories. She failed to note that those theories included the attacks on women and on women's rights. A huge failure, a huge omission and until women start writing as if their rights are as important as men's, don't expect very many men to ever make that case.

If female bombers are truly a menace, then the government could fund for security. They don't want to. The US set the standard -- and did so without anyone calling them out. The
June 6th snapshot included this:

Badken observes: "The US military pays each member $300 a month to man thousands of checkpoints throughout Iraq. The Americans have credited Sons of Iraq for the waning Sunni insurgency and the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad. But questionable loyalties, often brutal conduct and an uncertain future make these groups a wild card in the ongoing effort to stabilize Iraq. In April, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said these U.S.-funded militias may one day 'turn their guns on us'." But that cautionary note is dismissed by the White House and, on Friday, Jim Frederick (Time Magazine) reported on the lastest twist to the "Awakening" Council: Female recruits! US Capt Michael Starz told Frederick that "this is an employment program" and that "many of the women around here are widows and have no way of supporting themselves." What a load of crap.

If the concern was providing women with opportunities, the US could have done so long ago, could have fought to protect and ensure women's rights instead of installing radical thugs in the puppet government. Most importantly, while the men make $300 a month, they're paying the women eight dollars a day -- that would be two dollars a day less than their male peers while claiming that there "are widows" who "have no way of supporting themselves." The US government wants credit for 'creating' employment opportunites for Iraqi women but the US is paying them $2 less a day than the males while claiming that the women needs these jobs because they're supporting themselves and children. Can you say "exploitation"? The real reason the US is using women, as Capt Starz readily admits is that female bombers are now an issue. The women are being trained to 'inspect' and search other women. And apparently that's not a job important enough to warrant equal pay -- at least not according to the US. And the reason for including Senator Boxer's April remarks was to make it clear that the US government is the one paying the "Awakening" Council members, nothing has changed on that since April. So the US government is sending the message in Iraq that a woman's work is worth 20% less than a male's. If that figure sounds familiar,
Nancy Clark (Womens Media, link has audio) was noting that figure last year: "Women are paid 80 cents for every dollar men are paid and that does NOT include any part-time workers! If it did, it would be even lower." The women in Iraq are being asked to do the exact things the males are being asked to do and the US government is sending the message that, for the same work, it is okay to pay a woman 80 cents while paying a man a dollar. Capt Starz tells Frederick that the increase in female bombers means, "It is a critical security issue that we find a way to have women searched at high-traffic areas." It's 'critical' but, apparently, work but apparently not critical enough to offer the same rate of pay. Repeating, US tax dollars are paying for this program. (US Ambassador Ryan Crocker repeatedly bragged in April, before Congress, that paying them off meant attacks on US service members was down. It's the hand-over-your-lunch-money-to-the-bully-and-you'll-be-safe-in-the-playground 'strategy.') Should it be funded by the US? I don't think so but as long as the US funds it, it certainly doesn't need to endorse gender discrimination. But that is what's taking place.

Badkhen is Anna Badkhen and she was filing that for her former paper the San Francisco Chronicle. If you're concerned about 'security,' you don't pay women doing the same jobs as men 20% less. If you're concerned about 'security,' you don't whine, all this time later, that you don't have enough people (women) to search women. But it's not about security. Which is why there will be no attempts to target young boys or flower vendors for imprisonment or curtailing of rights. It's only done to women because they know they can usually get away with it. And they get away with it because. despite the intensive power of the press to be a light illuminating injustice, few news outlets even care. In fairness to them, they're only reflecting a large lack of concern that exists throughout the United States. It's that apathy that allowed the US government to pay Iraqi women 20% less than their male counterparts to begin with -- even after the press exposed that fact.

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded four people, another Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three people and a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldiers and left five more people wounded.


Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Kirkuk.
Yesterday's snapshot noted Deborah Haynes (Times of London) attempting to have the AIDS test that Iraq requires of foreigners (Erica Goode of the New York Times wrote last year of the government's disinterest in giving her one). IRIN explores AIDS in Iraq and notes, along with the fact that those with AIDS have to hide their status, the following history and facts:

The virus first came to Iraq in 1985 via contaminated blood imported from a French company. It was detected the following year in scores of people suffering from haemophilia, a hereditary blood disorder, said Wadah Hamed, the head of Iraq's AIDS Research Centre. "Treatment at that time was tough and arbitrary. Those found to be infected were placed in segregated medical facilities," said Hamed, who also heads Iraq's national AIDS prevention programme. Some 482 cases have been detected since 1986. Of these, 272 were Iraqis and the rest foreigners. Today only 44 are still alive, he said. Patients get the equivalent of about US$85 per month from the government, as well as a clothing allowance. Those infected in 1985 are paid an extra $200 monthly. They get free monthly check-ups; their partners are examined every three months, and other family members are checked every six months. Baghdad has at least 11 medical centres for this purpose and there is also one such centre in each province.

In the US, the New York Times will be publishing a story tomorrow (and later today online) about Barack and US commanders differences regarding Iraq or 'differences.' (I'm not waiting for it to go up but am noting it for a friend at the paper who asked that it be linked to. We'll link to it tomorrow.) On US politics,
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) evaluates the latest moves by president-elect Barack and provides the perspective for the not so surprising statements and actions:

Barack Obama just loves Ronald Reagan, the late president but still idolized leader of the American right wing. During his campaign for the presidency Obama famously said that unlike Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton didn't
transform the country in a fundamental way. At the time he was in the thick of his primary battle against Hillary Clinton and the remark was perceived mainly as a dig against his opponent and her husband. When he later said that he would have a foreign policy like Ronald Reagan, it was seen as an attempt to get the votes of rural "Reagan Democrats" in the Pennsylvania primary. It is now clear that Obama's paeans to Reagan were not mere vote getting efforts or jabs at the Clintons. Barack Obama has proven himself to be a true believer in the Reagan revolution.
Even when Obama announced that his stimulus plan will include a $3,000 tax cut for businesses, his cultists say that we should just give him a chance, a chance to back up the bus and roll over us again. Hopefully Democrats like
Senator Tom Harkin will remain vigilant and keep speaking up for the common good. Harkin and a few other democrats were actually paying attention to the Obama economic proposals and weren't pleased by what they witnessed. "I am a little concerned by the way that Mr. Summers and others are going at this in that, to me, it still looks like a little more of this trickle-down, if we just put it in at the top, it's going to trickle down."
"Trickle down" was a Reagan era buzzword that meant theft of public resources. The concept was that if those who already have a lot were to get even more, some of the lucre would trickle down upon the rest of us. It worked fine for the wealthy but thirty years later, working people have not recovered from the effects of the Reagan era.
Ronald Reagan successfully dismantled government programs that no other president dared to touch. He was called the great communicator because of his ability to convince white Americans to act against their own economic interests. His apocryphal tales of black "welfare queens" led an already racist nation to decide that government was the problem in their lives when it is actually the only means of protection from larceny committed by wealthy individuals and big corporations.
Not only is Obama promising tax cuts for businesses, but he is repeating the Reagan mantra about
"reforming" Social Security and Medicare or cutting their rate of growth. Proposals to cut back on entitlements are dangerous and ought to be vehemently opposed. Entitlements are the only safety net that Americans have. Pension plans are available to an ever smaller group of workers, health benefits are lost when jobs are lost, and 401K accounts shrink along with the stock market.
Despite being ignorant about so much that effects their lives, Americans know that entitlements are their last hope for a decent life in old age. The only significant defeat for the Bush administration was the failure to privatize Social Security. It was the moment when Americans spoke up and forced Congress to prevent a Bush initiative from coming to fruition. If Barack Obama successfully tampers with Social Security and Medicare, which Bush was unable to do, then progressives who excuse Obama are worse than useless. They are traitors too.

By the way, the PIG that e-mailed
Rebecca to get private e-mails and turn around and pass them on, then LIED and claimed he didn't (one of them was bounced by the then-vactioning 'REV's e-mail, he fowarded them, ASSHOLE) has a bad article on impeachment and it's even worse because the Barack Loving Jerkwad spent all of 2008 smearing Bill and Hillary Clinton with LIES thereby painting himself into such a corner that he can't refute John Conyers justifying not impeaching the Bully Boy by likening it to Bill Clinton's impeachment. Bill Clinton's conduct was a personal issue that did not reflect on his performance in office or his duties. It was a sexual matter and a private one -- forced out in the open by the Witchhunters who cornered and THREATENED a young woman (Monica Lewinsky). The people never supported impeachment of Bill Clinton before the proceedings started, not during it and not afterwards. Any or all of that could refute Conyers and then some; however, basking in his DERANGED CLINTON HATRED made PIG unable to write the article he tried to. He's in his own hell now where logic fails him because he's roped himself off with so many LIES. Paul Krugman and others warned people that you didn't join in the sliming and trashing of Bill Clinton just because it made you feel so good. Now it comes back to bite in your fat, saggy assses. No one's fault but your own. And for PIG, as for so many, the hatred wasn't even of Bill. The real bile was reserved for Hillary. Who they went on to viciously attack for policies of Bill's that they disagreed with. And they thought no one picked up on that, no one noticed. A lot more caught on than they'll ever know and it's why the dregs of Panhandle Media's days have passed . . . at their own hands, group suicide style.

the los angeles timeskimi yoshinousama redha
the new york timessam daghermudhafer al-husaini
alissa j. rubin
tim cockskhalid al-ansarykatie nguyen
anna badkhen
kim gamel
margaret kimberleysusan faludi
deborah haynes
erica goode
sex and politics and screeds and attitude