Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tracy Morgan is disgusting

The homophobia of Tracy Morgan surfaced yet again. And, as a result, he's issued this save-my-ass statement:

I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.

It's not funny, he's not funny. His apology is crap. He has repeatedly made homophobic remarks and the only reason he finally issued an apology this go round is because Comcast won't put up with this s**t the way GE did.

Tracy Morgan needs to find a new line of work if that's the best he can offer when he has so clearly crossed the line.

He is an uneducated moron and it's partly our fault for making a point to glorify such an idiot to begin with.

It's also Tina Fey's fault for creating an environment, in the '00s, where homophobia ran free and, because it came from the critical darling Fey, no one bothered to object. (Ava and C.I. objected repeatedly. I wouldn't be surprised if they tackle this topic at Third.)

And instead of owning her part in the blame, Tina decided she'd issue a 'funny' statement.

There's nothing funny about Tracy Morgan stating he would stab a gay teenager. There's nothing funny at all.

How is it playing? These are the result of LAT's online poll.

My children do not watch 30 Rock and the reason is because it's a racist and homophobic show. The only Black women are loud and overweight. We do not get to be beautiful on Tina's little show. White women get to be beautiful, a Latina woman can be. But Black women? She keeps writing and casting us as Aunt Jemimah.

Again, Ava and C.I. have called it out. All the others who claim to write about TV? They've been strangely silent. As a result, they share in Tracy Morgan's homophobic statements.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, June 10, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protesters in Baghdad are attacked, Ahmed Chalabi and Nouri al-Maliki are engaged in a curious dance, some Sunni militia groups may be brought into the government, and more.
And it's Friday so protests took place in Iraq. This was Decision and Departure Friday and the first protest Friday since the end of the 100 Days -- a device Nouri al-Maliki utilized in an attempt to defuse and defocus the protest movement. 100 Days, Nouri promised, and the issues raised by the protesters (whom he also called "terrorists" repeatedly) would be addressed. The 100 Days ended Tuesday. The issues were not addressed. RTT explains that Nouri declared the 100 Days as protesters demanded better basic services with him promising to "implement improvements in public services. [. . .] Maliki pledged that his cabinet would meet the demands in 100 days. [. . .] The 100-day dealine passed on Tuesday, and Maliki asked for more patience to solve problems." Jason Ditz ( observes, "Maliki's strategy appears to be to insist that he achieved all of his goals, and his comments including claims of massive amounts of 'progress' made in the last 100 days. The calls for renewed protests, however, show the opposition isn't buying it."
AFP reports that at least 400 gathered in Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad. AFP is derailed by another Chalabi sponsored pro-government 'rally' meant to distract from the rally demanding the government provide for the people. What is it with the press? They cover all of the official protests. This one was demanding suspects be executed (we've ignored the 'guilty' and will continue to do so). AFP also misses the biggest news about the difference between the two: Chalabi's protest was not hassled, Tahrir Square? They were harassed and pushed out. AFP does note: "Security forces were out in large numbers at the square, which was closed to vehicle traffic." And that protests also took place in Hilla and Basra (real protests). The Great Iraqi Revolution reports, "Government Security Forces assault a group of the Great Iraqi Revoution's Youth, beating them and cursing them with filthy language, as well as confiscating their stickers and posters at the Salihiya Checkpoint. Another checkpoint did the same thing at an entrance leading Tahrir, to another of our groups." Alsumaria TV reports, "Hundreds of Baghdad residents rallied in Al Tahrir Square on Friday calling for the dismissal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's government and urging constitutional amendments." While Chalabi's protesters weren't hasseled by security forces (naturally), they did manage to harass others (ibid). CNN reports, "Two human rights activists who were among the demonstrations told CNN that at least seven anti-government protesters were beaten with sticks by some pro-Maliki protesters." Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf adds:
janearraf jane arraf
janearraf jane arraf
Al Mada notes a banner carried in Tahrir Square which read, "Our hearts are stronger than your government" and note that thirty minutes into the Tahrir Square demonstration, a dozen of the pro-government thugs, carrying sticks, invaded the protest and began beating up four activists." Abbas al-Lami is quoted stating the thugs beat up women and the youth activists. Aswat al-Iraq adds, "The eye witness told Aswat al-Iraq that the sheikhs hit the demonstrators with sticks they were carrying, in addition to punching and kicking them." The Los Angeles Times' Ned Parker Tweets:
nedparkerlat Ned Parker
Tim Craig (Washington Post) quotes women's rights activist Wafa Sheba stating of the thugs, "They dragged me from the fence and beat me. We went to the security forces and tried to complain, but security forces said they were not going to interfere." Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times via Sacramento Bee) report the thugs carried posters with Ayad Allaiw's face on them, Allawi's face covered "with a giant red X slashed across his face" and that there are rumors they were "bused in by al-Maliki's Dawa Party" (they may have been but I'll stick with the Chalabi connection based on an overseas call this morning when I was doing the morning entries -- two members of a foreign embassy in Iraq -- not the US -- was aware that violence would take place before it did and
they made the Chalabi connection -- they were right about the violence, I'll stay with their Chalabi tie-in unless/until it is disproven). Parker and Salman report:
The violence, which echoed street attacks in the years leading to the creation of Saddam Hussein's authoritarian state, bodes ill for Iraq's emergent democracy, which President Barack Obama recently described as a success story. Attacks on peaceful protesters also raise questions on how much freedom of expression will be tolerated by the al-Maliki government after remaining U.S. forces leave Iraq by year's end.

The Post's Tim Craig quotes American journalist Daniel Smith who says, "There were lots of people with sticks. They were saying: 'We're with Maliki. You're Baathists'."
AFP's Prashant Rao notes the protest across Iraq.
prashantrao Prashant Rao
On Nasiriyah, Al Mada reports that over 1,000 activists marched through the streets demanding better basic services, and end to corruption, jobs and a reformed political system. The Youth Movement's Secretary General Muhammad Abdul Ridha states, "The protest is in solidarity with the youth of Iraq and demands the government provides basic services and respects citizens' rights and freedoms." He is among those calling for early elections. Revolution of Iraq notes, "Firing live bullets to disperse demonstrations in Mosul Friday decision and leave the lens of Staff correspondent Obeidi." A photo essay of the Mosul protest can be found here. Video of Mosul's protest can be found here. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports, "Around 500 people gathered in front of the Hilla provincial council carrying banners that read 'The government cannot keep its promises' and 'People want reform'." Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqi forces prevented a dmonstration from taking place in Wassit.
Kitabat runs the text of a speech Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) gave today which includes statemens about attempts to smear Iraqiya with false charges and lies including the claims that Iraqiya was attempting to organize a military coup against Nouri. Allawi notes Nouri's denying Iraiqs the answers to the questions which prompted the 100 Days and that now Nouri wants another 100 Days, that Nouri's 'forgotten' he is still the Minister of the Defense, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of National Security. Allawi notes that Nouri retained the post of prime minister as a result of being backed by Iran. He states, "Dear wounded people of Iraq, on the Qur'an I promise in front of God and in front of all of you that we will not let the Youth of Iraq stand alone in oppossing attempts to creat a new dictatorship in Iraq and the Youth of Iraq will find in us and throughout Iraq freedom and liberation and our complete support as they exercise their Constitutional right to speak out and emboyd the hopes, dreams and demands of the Iraqi people. You, the young men and women of Iraq, we all share the hope of putting an end to corruption, an end to injustice and an end to tyranny while we build a prospersous future for all Iraqis."
Back to Ahmed Chalabi, Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri intentionally avoided him and his followers when selecting the new head of the Justice and Accountability Commission. Ahmed's dear friend and fellow thug Ali al-Lami was assassinated last month which, in the puppet government, may be the only thing which actually counts as a resignation. Al Rafidayn states that Mohamed Shia'a has been named (the Iraqi press has been referring to him as "the Sudanese" for days now).


Chalabi and Ali al-Lami used the committee (which Parliament thought they had killed off) to launch witch hunts and drive opponents (Sunnis mainly but also Shi'ites) out of the 2010 election.

Chalabi had hoped that someone from his party (National Congress Party) would receive the post. Raman Brosk (Zawya) reported earlier this week that Chalabi was denying he had been dismissed from commission, "According to JAC secretary Muzaffar al-Battat, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered the dismissal of Shalabi. He said Maliki appointed the Minister for Human Rights, Mohammad Shayya." Brosk goes on to detail two other battle of wills -- both of which Chalabi lost -- in the last week. Last weekend, Nouri stopped an Iraqi government boat that was enroute to Bahrain and whose voyage had been organized by Chalabi and the two men have also locked horns over the position of Director of the Commercial Bank because Chalabi wanted his nephew Hussein al-Azri to retain the position but Nouri replaced al-Azri (who immediately fled to Lebanon) with Hamdiya al-Jaff instead. If the rumors are true that Chalabi organized the pro-government response in Baghdad (the thugs attacking), he might have done so in order to embarrass Nouri. He's already sicked his supporters on Nouri, after all. Shatt al-Arab reported Wednesday that Chalabi's circle was whispering that there appeared to be an organized plot against Chalabi (and they used the term "physical liquidation") and his unnamed supporters insisting of his being pushed out of the Justice and Accountability Commission that this was part of a deliberate war against Chalabi which attempted to exclude and marginalize him. Chalabi has appeared to be tailoring statements for maximum damage to Nouri. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported this week that Chalabi had announced that the US military must leave Iraq at the end of the year. That was a huge turnaround for Chalabi who spent over a decade taking money from the US government as part of the so-called Iraqi National Congress -- a group of cowardly Iraqi exiles who fled their country instead of fighting for it and spent over a decade lobbying and lying to get other countries to go into Iraq. Only after the US military was on the ground in Iraq (and advancing towards Baghdad) did Chalabi feel it was safe to return to the country.
On the issue of the US military, yesterday CIA Director Leon Panetta appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to provide testimony regarding his nomination to become Secretary of Defense. One key exchange took place near the end of the hearing.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen: I know earlier you were asked about Iraq and whether we would continue to stay in Iraq if asked. And, like others, I have been concerned about increasing violence in Iraq, about the recent casualties. We just lost someone from New Hampshire in the attack over the weekend. And so I wonder if you can talk to what we need to do in order to keep our focus on the efforts in Iraq and, um, assuming that we are not asked to stay, how we will deal with drawing down the remaining troops that are there.
CIA Director Leon Panetta: Well we are at the present time on track to withdrawing our forces at the end of 2011 but I think that, uh, it's clear to me that Iraq is -- is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there. And-and-and it really is dependent on uh the prime minister and on the government of Iraq to present to us, uh, what, uh, you know what is it that they need and over what period of time in order to make sure that the gains we've made in Iraq are sustained. I-I have every confidence that, uh, that, uh, you know, that a request like that, you know, is something that I think will be forthcoming at some point.
We covered the hearing in yesterdy's snapshot and Wally offered "Claire McCaskill" (at Rebecca's site), Ava offered "Brown and Collins ask Panetta" (at Trina's site) and Kat offered "Senate Armed Service Committee Boneheads." Today Justin Raimondo ( offers his thoughts on Panetta's hearing:
When oh when are American progressives going to recover their moxie – the fighting spirit of their predecessors, like Bob La Follete – and stand up against the warmongering and the assault on civil liberties that characterizes the Obama administration? I keep asking myself that question, even as the apparent answer becomes all too clear.
The evidence that the long silence of the progressives will be extended throughout the already-started presidential campaign season was on display in Washington this week, as the confirmation hearings for Leon Panetta as the new Defense Secretary commenced.
[. . .]
Imagine an alternate history in which the Vietnam war continued for another decade or so – and was extended throughout Southeast Asia. Imagine, too, that a Democratic president – say, oh, Hubert Humphrey, since we're in an alternative universe – not only continued LBJ's war policies, but escalated the war, and nominated war-supporter and US Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Boeing) to head up the Department of Defense. Envision Jackson stating in his confirmation hearing that he and his predecessor "pretty much walk hand in hand on these issues" – and then imagine what Senator William Fulbright would make of this pledge of continuity.
Unfortunately, today, there are no Fulbrights to speak truth to power. Instead, we have fake-"progressives" like Barbara Boxer, who, instead of grilling Panetta, chirped:
"'Good luck, and I hope the committee does this quickly,' Ms. Boxer said after describing Mr. Panetta as her mentor and 'very smart, but he also gets it.'"
It's Boxer who doesn't "get it": she
masquerades, for the benefit of her California progressive constituency, as an opponent of the Afghan war, calling for a drawdown and rapid withdrawal, and yet she gives a free pass to Panetta, who wants to "stay the course." Fulbright's ghost is railing from the netherworld – but, alas, today's progressives are deaf to his pleas.
Turning to some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes the corpse of 1 cab driver was discovered in Mosul, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings claimed the lives of 4 people with twenty more left injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and left four people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing which left two people injured and, dropping back to last night, 8 rockets hit the Green Zone.
Meanwhile Mu Zuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Iraq on Thursday held a national reconciliation conference with the attendance of representatives of Sunni Arab insurgent groups who are willing to lay down their arms and join the political process." The groups Hamas al-Iraq, Jaish al-Islami, Jaish al-Mujahdeen, Naqshabandiyah, Jaish al-Fateheen and Jaish al-Murabteen are listed as having particpated. If successful, it would not be the first time a Sunni group of resistance was brought into the government. The Sahwa, Awakenings, "Sons Of Iraq" were a group of Sunni militants. The US government brought them in by paying them a monthly salary. The plan was for the Sahwa to be absorded into the process with Nouri finding jobs for many as police officers or military positions.
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show, Iraq was addressed with panelists Courtney Kube (NBC News), Richard McGregor (Financial Times of London) and David E. Sanger (New York Times).
Diane Rehm: Now, let's talk first about Iraq because it was really a deadly week for US troops there, Courtney.
Courtney Kube: That's right. On Monday, the US military suffers its worst attack there in about two years. This morning [a] Shi'ite militia claimed responsibility for launching six rockets into a small US - Iraqi outposts in southern Baghdad, killed five soldiers. There was another soldier killed later this week. Six soldiers -- US soldiers -- killed in Iraq in one week is much higher than we've seen recently.
Diane Rehm: And 20 Iraqis killed killed as well in a series of explosions across the country [on Monday]. David Sanger, do Monday's death raise questions about troop withdrawal plans?
David E. Sanger: Well Pentagon has known, Diane, from the beginning that the withdraw is a very vulnerable period because the troops are not in the position of being out to find these kind of sites. They're relying on the Iraqis to go do that and the whole idea has been that the movement of troops back to these bases would pretty well insulate the US against most casualties and, until now, that's worked out. But as the -- As withdraw accelerates and basically all US troops are supposed to be out by the end of the year -- unless there's an agreement with the Iraqis to the contrary -- I'm afraid you could see more of this. It's also got a bigger issue that's lurking behind which is that the same questions will pervade the slow withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan where there are a lot more American troops now. And, of course, that process is supposed to begin next month -- probably very slowly.
Diane Rehm: And, Richard McGregor, the incoming Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, underwent his confirmation hearings yesterday. He says that Iraq will ask the US to stay beyond the end of 2011.
Richard McGregor: Well this is -- has been -- a fascinating process because the US has almost been asking Iraq to make a formal request. But it seems there's a lot of internal opposition in Iraq -- or inability of some leaders to step forward and put that request forward. I think Adm [Mike] Mullen talked about this at least six months ago. Secretary [Robert] Gates talked about it before so the withdrawal time that David was talking about, timetable, is obviously flexible from the US. But so far, I don't think they've received the formal request to stay.
Diane Rehm: And do you agree with David that that could affect the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as well?
Richard McGregor: Well, I think anything when the -- anytime when the U.S. withdraws after a major conflict, the aftermath is very important. If they leave with honor, to use a phrase, with certain -- not terrific echoes, then I think that's fine. But if they leave in, which looks like a retreat and without their aims met and without a friendly Iraq behind them. After all the aim was to build a model, Middle Eastern democracy and quite apart from the hit on the U.S. bases this week, I think a week or two ago in Iraq the 17 bombs went off in a coordinated attack. So, you know, I think the withdrawal process is very important.
Diane Rehm: Courtney?
Courtney Kube: Yes, I traveled to Iraq with Secretary Gates on his last trip there, about two months ago and he -- I wouldn't say that there is necessarily an appetite for a continuing presence -- for the U.S. to have a continuing presence but there's an understanding, there's an acceptance that that's the need that's going to come up.
Though not yet over, the week is winding down and it's a week in which 6 US soldiers have died in Iraq. 5 died on Monday, 1 died Wednesday. OzarksFirst (link has text and video) reports that Pfc Matthew J. England was the soldier who died Wednesday "when an IED exploded near the military vehicle he was driving" and is survivors included mother Pamela Hengen and father Daniel England. The Ozark County Times runs a photo of Matthew England.

The five who died on Monday were finally identified by the Defense Dept yesterday:

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of five soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died June 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
Killed were:
Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., 20, of Madelia, Minn.;
Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., 27, of Middletown, Ohio;
Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, 24, of Victoville, Calif.;
Spc. Robert P. Hartwick, 20, of Rockbridge, Ohio; and
Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, Chicago, Ill.
For more information, the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.

Jim Woods and Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch)report on 20-year-old Robert Hartwick whose survivors include Linda Hartwick (mother) and Robert A. Hartwick (father) and two sisters. He was on his first tour of duty in Iraq. His mother remembers him as someone who loved to fix things starting with a go cart when he was 5-years-old and who didn't "hunt because he could 'never hurt any animal'." The Chillicothe Gazette adds that he "was a combat medic and had joined the Army in June 2009."

And making it back to the United States alive does not necessarily mean making it to safety. Pat Doyle (Star Tribune) reports on Lt Comd Jim Pierce:

Pierce tended to Iraqis in the Iraq war with the same care he gave wounded Americans. But those who knew him well say he never recovered from the experience -- especially the sight of severely injured children -- and returned stateside traumatized, depressed and suicidal.
"He was blown up psychologically," said a sister, Amy Bursch of Foley, Minn.
Pierce, 52, a retired officer, died May 23 at his home in Goodview, Va. Authorities have not ruled on a cause of death; a medical examiner said it is under investigation.
Memorial services will be held Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bird Island.

Jim Pierce was a member of the Navy and may or may not have taken his own life but for those who are struggling with that issue, the Army notes these resources:

WLOX reports on Iraq War veteran Gene Dufree who, as part of the Mississippi National Guard's 1556h Charlie Company, deployed to Iraq in 2005. Five soldiers he served with died in Iraq. He remembers, "These were great guys. Husbands, brothers, great outstanding people. It leaves an emptiness in you that you will never overcome. [. . .] Knowing what I had been through, I prayed to God that those guys did not have to endure what we had to go through."

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Lunch panhandlers

"Battle Of The Slogans 2012: 'Obama Made It Worse' Versus 'It Would Have Been Worse'" (Hillary Is 44):

Campaigns for president always have one of two themes: “it’s time for a change” or “stay the course.” The incumbent power will always be the “stay the course” purveyors, even if “adjustments” or “tweaks/changes” garnish the formula. The out of power challenger will always run a campaign based on the “it’s time for a change” theme.

The themes and slogans for 2012 are already set. If Obama persists in running for election in 2012 he will run on “stay the course.” The Republicans, or a potential third party challenger, will run on an offshoot of “it’s time for a change.” Obama enabler and Big Pink hater Peggy Noonan explains:

“Four words: He made it worse.

Obama inherited financial collapse, deficits and debt. He inherited a broken political culture. These things weren’t his fault. But through his decisions, he made them all worse.

Joe Scarborough recently wrote that Obama’s big enemy now is time running out. With unemployment again above 9 percent, the country’s AAA debt rating in danger, the failure of Obama’s stimulus scams and bailout sprees evident, there is very little time for an economic rebound before November 2012. Blaming George W. Bush is increasingly a lame strategy.

It's time for a change. One you can believe in. Dump Barack in 2012!!!!!!

Barack's a problem. So is dining out these days.

3 work friends and I went out to lunch today. I'll be nice and not note the place. It was awful, though. Not only did we have to wait 35 minutes after we ordered to get our food, but just getting a glass of water was a problem.

You may think, by the above, that we were forgotten or ignored -- and possibly because the place was packed.


We were repeatedly told, "Your food's on the way," as our waitress sailed past us repeatedly. At one point, she wanted her picture taken with a blond actress (I think she's on Happy Endings but I'm not sure). So she gave the older man the actress was dining with her cell phone and told him to take a picture.

I sure am glad my waitress had time to pose for photos.

Then it was time for her to flirt with Tim who's in management and wears a wedding ring so should have no problem telling our waitress to tend to her tables and stop stroking his shoulders.

But what really ticked me off was the woman with cancer.


I have no problem with the woman herself. I've never met her.

But two waitresses come by our table with an empty pitcher (so, no, I didn't get water then either). One of the waitresses that used to work there five or so years ago just learned she had cancer. Could we?

Excuse me?

Panhandling inside?

Now one guy goes to put a buck into the pitcher and one of the waitress stops him and says, "Can't you do better than that?"

So he reaches in his wallet and gets a ten. And then the women expect us to all tip ten bucks. Forget that.

I really did not appreciate having two waitresses come by my table at lunch and hit me up for money.

Now at the end of the meal, I was paying with a card for my part so I went to the register (instead of waiting on our vanished waitress to show up). The cashier asked me if I didn't want to leave a tip on the card.

No. I said, "I believe the tip was given when I was hit up for money at my table."

And I will not eat there again.

I have no problem with someone putting a jar by a register.

But there's a world of difference between that and coming by your table for money -- demanding something bigger than a one dollar bill.

And, as a woman at our table put it, "How could I not give? We still hadn't gotten our food. Can you imagine what they would have done to our food if we hadn't donated?"

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Thursday, June 9, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, DoD finally names the 5 US soldiers killed in Iraq on Monday, Leon Panetta appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta states "a request like that," US military staying in Iraq past 2011, "you know, is something that I think will be forthcoming at some point," weapons inspector David Kelly's 2003 death remains in the news in England, and more.
Monday, in the worst attack on US service members in the last two years, 5 soldiers were killed in Baghdad. Doug Ireland (Eagle Tribune) speaks to Michael Cook's high school computer teacher, Curtis Killion, who states, "He would always volunteer. He was the kind of kid that all the younger ones were comfortable with." We noted more details about Michael Cook in yesterday's snapshot. The five who died were finally identified by the Defense Dept this afternoon:
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of five soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died June 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Field artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
Killed were:
Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., 20, of Madelia, Minn.;
Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., 27, of Middletown, Ohio;
Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, 24, of Victoville, Calif.;
Spc. Robert P. Hartwick, 20, of Rockbridge, Ohio; and
Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, Chicago, Ill.
For more information, the media may contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.
Prior to the announcement, the press was already reporting on Emilio Camp Jr. because his survivors had spoken to the press. Pat Pheifer (Star Tribune) reports:

Allan Beyer, the high school principal, said Campo, a 2009 graduate, "was a credit to his school and the community" and called him "a very outstanding young man."
Campo played basketball, his main sport, but also soccer, track and football. Whenever he returned to his hometown of 2,400 people about 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis, he'd stop at school to say hello to the staff. Five of his classmates stopped by Tuesday to share their grief and their memories, Beyer said.
Campo's death was the first war loss for Madelia since Vietnam, Beyer said.
Dustin VanHale, a classmate and good friend, said Campo "was always best friends with everybody." He was a motivator, telling basketball teammates after a 25-point loss, "don't worry, we'll get 'em next time."

KARE (link has text and video) observes, "His picture seems to be on every page of his high school yearbook. Campo played varsity football, basketball, ran track, was a member of the Business Professionals of America, and sang in the choir." Mark Steil (MPR -- link has text and audio) speaks with several people who remember Emilio Campo including his cousin Martha Magally Garcia who talks about how he'd always call home when something bad happened in Iraq so that his family would know he was okay and not worry, "It was something that he always said when called. Don't worry family, I'm still alive. Joking and teasing with us on the phone. We couldn't believe, we can't believe, that he's gone now." AP notes that "when he died he also had a steady girlfriend, Samantha Crowley, who was prom queen when Campo was prom king in 2009." Meanwhile Randy Ludlow (Columbus Dispatch) notes Robert "Hartwick graduated from Logan High school in 2009" and speaks to the school principal Jim Robinson who states, "He was a pretty tough kid.
The Daily Press notes Christopher Fishbeck (and runs a photo of the dignified transfer of his remains to Dover -- photo by Jose Luis Magana with AP) and a website created for him. Among the features at the website is this moving photo slide show of Christopher Fishbeck with his friends, family, pets and serving in the military. Chicago's WLS has a photo of Michael C. Olivieri.
In addition to the 5 who died Monday, another US service member was reported dead in southern Iraq yesterday for a total of six this week.
The regional press in the US has done a strong job of covering the deaths (as has the Associated Press). The national outlets? Not so good. ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, for example, didn't even note the 5 deaths on Monday. Even more appalling, PBS' The NewsHour reduced the deaths to a brief headline (3 sentences) but made time for a segment on a non-sex 'sex scandal' -- a full segment. And the US service member killed in Iraq yesterday? The NewsHour didn't even note yesterday's death in their headlines last night. Apparently, it wasn't news and 5 US soldiers have to die in Iraq for them to make (a small amount of) time on the program for the news. The Nation and The Progressive have had no time for the deaths though both grand standed on the Iraq War for years and years . . . before a Democrat was voted into the White House. You might say Matthew Rothschild "has now proven himself to be both a fool and a hypocrite" -- you might even say that Matthew Rothschild should stop calling others hypocrites (Rand Paul is whom Rothschild aimed the insult at) and take a look in the mirror. International press has done a better job of noting the 5 US deaths on Monday. For example, today Arab News offers an editorial which opens by referencing Monday's violence:

Five US soldiers have been killed in Iraq. This is the single most serious loss the US has suffered in Iraq in more than two years. The killing of Americans in a rocket attack on the outskirts of Baghdad coincides with two interesting opinion polls in the US. Although President Barack Obama formally ended Iraq combat operations last year, there are still 45,000 US troops and thousands of other Americans in the country who serve as "advisers." A Washington Post-ABC poll suggests that support for the war in Afghanistan had actually risen in the past month understandably buoyed by the sensational killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. Forty-three percent of Americans now think the war is worth fighting, compared with 31 percent in March. This is still a minority against those who are opposed to the Afghan war.
A different poll by the Pew Research Center shows that a whopping majority of Americans blames the country's current economic woes and debt on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sixty percent of Americans agree that the two wars contributed a great deal to the size of the national debt.
Meanwhile this morning the Senate Armed Services Committee heard from the head of the CIA, Leoan Panetta, who has now been nominated to become the Secretary of Defense. Before the hearing started, several members of CodePink were present asking, "Mr. Panetta, will you pledge to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq" and carrying signs which read "DIPLOMACY NOT WAR!!" and "NO MORE WAR!" The Committee has posted [PDF format warning] "Advance Policy Questions for the Honorable Leon Panetta Nominee to be Secretary of Defense" which is a series of written questions Panetta has responded to -- 79 pages of a Q & A. As disclosed before, I know Leon Panetta. I like him but, for example, pages 13 through 14 is bulls**t. He is asked about dwell time. He is asked specifically about what he will do to see that they are all meeting the prescribed dwell time. He notes that the Army and the Reserve Component are not meeting it and states, "If confirmed, I will continue to work toward the goal of a 1:5 dwell time ratio for the Reserve Component" and, for Army, "If confirmed, I will continue to monitor this issue closely." That's what you would do?
No, that is your JOB DUTY. So he's answered (in question 18) nothing more than, "I will do the duties my job demands."
What do you believe are the major lessons learned from the Iraq invasion and the ongoing effort to stabilize the country?
[Panetta:] One of the most important lessons is the U.S. government must train and plan for post-combat operations. Conflict can occur along a spectrum. Our military must be prepared for combat, but also may have a role in shaping the political, cultural and economic factors that can fuel conflict. The U.S. military must plan and train with civilian counterparts, be prepared to operate effectively in all phases of conflict, and develop better awareness of political, cultural, and economic factors to ensure that our actions will meet our objectives.
What is your understanding and assessment, if any, of the Department's adaptations or changes in policy, programs, force structure, or operational concepts based upon these lessons learned?
[Panetta:] I understand that lessons learned from Iraq and other recent engagements have led to deep and wide-ranging changes in doctrine, organization, training, and policy. For example, the counterinsurgency doctrine has been completely revised, culminating in the publication of Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24. The development of Advise and Assist Brigades and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance units are examples of force structures.
So, for any who didn't know already, he's a counter-insurgency supporter. Counter-insurgeny is war on a native people -- in this country, it was used against the Native Americans, it was most infamously used in Vietnam to the outrage of millions and millions of people around the world. Such are the times that today few bother to object the unethical and illegal nature of counter-insurgency and one-time journalists rush to disgrace their profession and their own names to become cheerleaders for a policy they damn well should know is criminal.
While maintaining that he supports a drawdown of all US troops by the end of the year, he writes, "Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials have acknowledged that there will be gaps in Iraqi Security Forces' capabilities after 2011, especially in external defense. I believe the United States should consider a request from the Government of Iraq to remain in Iraq for a limited period of time to provide limited assistance to fill these gaps." He gets credit for grasping the Kirkuk issue. That may seem an obvious issue but it wasn't that long ago that Chris Hill (the thankfully former US Ambassador to Iraq) and didn't have a clue -- even after extensive tutoring -- about the issue of Kirkuk. ("A land dispute" was as deep as he could go.) On Iraq today, he writes, "Iraq still faces dangerous and determined enemies, but these enemies do not have the support of the Iraqi people. Although occasional high-profile attacks still occur, the underlying security situation in Iraq remains stable and these attacks have not sparked a return to widespread insurgency or civil war." Those are the key sections on Iraq in the 79 pages. (Anyone wondering about contractors should know he takes a pass on the issue of whether they are being over-utilized insisting he is not currently in the position to be able to make that call.)
In testimony, he showed a subserviance that was disgusting. Asked by John McCain whether or not the Congress had the right to cut off funds (as they did during Vietnam), Panetta gave an indirect response praising the president and "his" powers. Congress has control of the purse and Panetta, a former member of Congress, knows that. It was embarrassing to see that and alarming because maybe he meant it. (It wasn't said in order to cinch the post -- he's a former member of Congress, he knows that's an automatic in before you even factor in that he sailed through the nomination process in 2009.) In the final half-hour of the nearly four hour hearing (I'm counting Panetta's break that he took which was longer than five minutes), Senator Jim Webb would raise the issue and note that Panetta served in Congress. Panetta would dance around the question and use language that portrayed Congressional power as weak and presidential power as higher and more powerful -- has Leon forgotten about the three branches of the federal goverment and the concept of separation of powers?
Senator Carl Levin is the Chair of the Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain is the Ranking Member. We'll note this from Chair Levin's opening remarks:
The next Secretary of Defense will face a complex, extraordinary set of demands on our Armed Forces. Foremost among them, the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Between these two conflicts, we continue to have approximately 150,000 troops deployed, the US military is also providing support to NATO operations in Libya. In addition, even after the extraordinary raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terrorist threats against our homeland continue to eminate from Pakistan, Yemen, Somolia and elsewhere. The risk of a terrorist organization getting their hands on detonating an improvised nuclear device or other weapon of mass destruction remains one of the gravest possible threats to the United States. To counter this threat, the Defense Dept is working with the Departments of State, Energy, Homeland Security and other US government agencies to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, fiscile materials and dangerous technologies. A number of key national security decisions will have to be made in the coming weeks and months. Even as the drawdown of US forces in Iraq is on track recent signs of instability may lead Iraq's political leadership to ask for some kind of continuing US military presence beyond the December 31st withdrawal deadline agreed to by President Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki in the 2008 security agreement between our countries.
We'll also note this exchange on Iraq.
Ranking Member John McCain: On the subject of Iraq, if the Afghan [he meant Iraqi] government and all its elements agree that there should be a residual US military presence in Iraq, particularly in three areas, air,defense, intelligence capabilities and security in the areas around Kirkuk and that part of Iraq where there has been significant tensions, would you agree that that would be a wise thing for us to do?
CIA Director Leon Panetta: I-I believe that if, uh, Prime Minister Maliki, the Iraqi government uh requests that we uh that we maintain a presence there that that ought to be seriously considered by the president
Ranking Member John McCain: Do you think it would be in our interests to do that given the situation --
CIA Director Leon Panetta: Senator, I have to tell you, there are a thousand al Qaeda that are still in Iraq. We saw the attack that was made just the other day. It too continues to be a fragile situation. And I believe that uh we-we should take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that we protect whatever progress we've made there.
An interesting exchange but do reporters give a damn about US troops staying beyond 2011? Let's look at Reuters reporter Missy Ryan's real time reaction on her Twitter feed to the hearing -- and apparently that's the only exchange that stood out to her:
Missy Ryan
Missy Ryan
Missy Ryan
Missy Ryan
Missy Ryan appears to have gotten lost in that 1,000 figure. I have no idea why. It's not as though the US government has an al Qaeda membership list and daily uses it to conduct a roll call. It's a guess. It may be accurate, it may not be. More than likely, it's not. Why is Missy Ryan -- and the rest of the press -- obsessed with that number. In the exchange above, was 1,000 really the key moment? I don't think so but it's the sort of minor trivia that the press can run with and obsess over. It's trivia which is so much easier for small minds to cover as opposed to ideas. And if people don't like that -- Missy Ryan's hardly the only reporter running with "1,000!" as news from the hearing -- maybe they might try rising to a higher level? 6 is a number that Missy and Reuters didn't obsess over but 6 is the number of US soldiers who have died in Iraq this week. And whether or not the troops leave Iraq at the end of the year will determine whether or not that number increases after 2011. And considering the very poor job Reuters did reporting on the Status Of Forces Agreement in real time, I think it could be argued that they need to do remedial reporting on this issue. (They are far from alone on that.) But by all means, obsess over 1,000 -- a guess and an inflated one at that. If 6 US soldiers die in Iraq in the first six months of 2012, I'm sure that we'll all be so thrilled that the obsession from today's hearing was over 1,000 -- I'm sure we'll all feel that was time well spent by the circus freaks passing themselves off as the press.
Back to the hearing for a brief excerpt.
Senator Lindsey Graham: When it comes to Iraq, if the Iraqis ask us to provide some troops in 2012, Secretary Gates says he thinks that would be smart. Do you think that would be smart to say yes.
CIA Director Leon Panetta: Yes.
This is an issue, maybe not to Missy Ryan, but to Iraqis and Americans, this is an issue. Aswat al-Iraq reports that MP Maha al-Douri is on a campaign to collect a million signatures to a petition calling on the US to leave Iraq. Three days ago, Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman) wrote about how "Arabs are divided over the spate of popular revolutions rocking their regimes. But it is clear that many of them will prefer to be crushed under the armored vehicles of their regimes than being 'liberated' by the U.S. [. . .] U.S. 'liberation' of Iraq has brought horrendous results and led to ruinous consequences. Its outcome has been corrupt local administrations (governments) immersed in filthy sectarianism." You could argue that, around the world, the issue of whether or not the US military stays in Iraq beyond 2011 matters to a large number of people -- even if those people aren't in the US press corps. Of course, not all US reporters missed the point. This is from the strong report by Lolita C. Baldor and Donna Cassata (AP):
"I think it's clear to me that Iraq is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there," Panetta said, adding that it was contingent on what Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requests. "I have every confidence that a request like that is something that I think will be forthcoming at some point."
We'll note the exchange the above quote came in.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen: I know earlier you were asked about Iraq and whether we would continue to stay in Iraq if asked. And, like others, I have been concerned about increasing violence in Iraq, about the recent casualties. We just lost someone from New Hampshire in the attack over the weekend. And so I wonder if you can talk to what we need to do in order to keep our focus on the efforts in Iraq and, um, assuming that we are not asked to stay, how we will deal with drawing down the remaining troops that are there.
CIA Director Leon Panetta: Well we are at the present time on track to withdrawing our forces at the end of 2011 but I think that, uh, it's clear to me that Iraq is -- is considering the possibility of making a request for some kind of presence to remain there. And-and-and it really is dependent on uh the prime minister and on the government of Iraq to present to us, uh, what, uh, you know what is it that they need and over what period of time in order to make sure that the gains we've made in Iraq are sustained. I-I have every confidence that, uh, that, uh, you know, that a request like that, you know, is something that I think will be forthcoming at some point.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen: My time has expired. I would like to explore that more later.
Senator Shaheen was referring to Michael B. Cook. We'll again note the statement her office issued:
(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen released the following statement in response to reports of the death of Pfc. Michael Cook, formerly of Salem, N.H.:
"My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Pfc. Michael Cook. Like many brave sons and daughters of New Hampshire, he sought to serve his country and protect his fellow Americans, and he did so with honor and courage.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Michael's family at this difficult time."
Yesterday there was also coverage of a Senate hearing. To note that, we'll quote Ann from this morning:
They covered the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" reported on Senator Patty Murray's Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 bringing in some other details from other hearings this month. At Rebecca's site, Wally offered "Army pays $1 billion annually in unemployment" which focused on the costs issues of Murray's bill. At Trina's site, Ava covered the sexual assaults that are taking place at the VA in "Sexual assaults at the VA (Ava)." And Kat explored a bill Senator Richard Burr's is pushing in "Senator Burr" and how it's been something he's fought for repeatedly and she also covered the fact that the government officials continue to break the rules on prepared testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. To which I say, "So much for Barack's transparency pledge."
In Iraq today, violence continued. Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life, a Tuk Khurmato roadside bombing injured one police officer, 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk, a Baghdad bombing injured one person (bomb was outside a store selling alcohol), 1 judge was shot dead in Baghdad, Jalal Jassim Mohammed ("head of a company belonging to the Ministry of Industry") was shot dead in Taji, 1 police commissioner was shot dead in Baghdad, 1 corpse (male) was discovered in Baghdad and a Baghdad roadside bombing left two people injured. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that the day's violence claimed "three government officials" and "The assassinations have led some government officials to take some precautionary measures like changing the type or color of their cars or changing their routes home, three government officials told CNN. They spoke on condition of anonymity for security."
Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) observes that violence has increased in the last 100 Days. 100 Days? Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to derail the protests that were taking place in Iraq. He and Moqtada al-Sadr worked over to derail the protests. Moqtada even insisted people shouldn't protest. The 100 Days ended June 7th. Mohammad Akef Jamal explains:
The political crisis in Iraq is coming to a head as the 100-day government ultimatum ends today. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki had sought the time to undertake reforms.
Al Maliki had not been expected to meet his goals because he does not have the capabilities to fix the situation in Iraq in such a short time. Moreover, his pledge could have worsened the situation. And this is exactly what happened, as no one has seen any kind of improvement on the ground. In fact, things have deteriorated further in the country.
The prime minister had a major role in the deterioration of the political situation in Iraq, a country that is on the verge of collapsing as a result of the Arbil agreement not being implemented.
This agreement included nine chapters, and was concluded last November between Al Maliki and Eyad Allawi, Chairman of the Al Iraqiya list. It was sponsored by the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani. It put an end to the government formation crisis that had lasted nine months.
The agreement included the establishment of the Supreme Policies Council, to be chaired by Allawi, and the formation of a real, national unity government. Both did not happen, resulting in protests by Al Iraqiya, which had received the most number of votes in the elections.
Nouri elected to trash the Erbil Agreements once he got what he wanted. Marina Ottaway and Danial Anas Kaysi (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) examined the current political tensions in a new paper and noted of the Erbil Agreement:
The Erbil agreement was a compromise among the parties that had won seats in the Council of Representatives in the March 2010 elections. Allawi's Iraqiya coalition had won 91 seats in the election and Maliki's State of Law coalition won 89 seats. Neither could form a government without entering into a coalition with other parties, and political reality dictated that any coalition needed to include representatives of the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish parties to be viable. This meant that Maliki and Allawi had to compete for the allegiance of the same parties, and compete they did, in a nine-month-long round robin in which every party tried at one point or another to form an alliance with every other party.
When it became clear that neither side could prevail, all parties accepted the compromise mediated by Barzani. Maliki would be the prime minister, but, in exchange, the speaker of the parliament would come from the ranks of Iraqiya, and thus would be a Sunni, while Allawi would head a new National Council on Strategic Policies (NCSP). The Kurds would continue to control the presidency -- and, of course, to run the Kurdistan region autonomously. Ministries would be shared among political parties proportionate to the number of seats each controlled. Several issues, however, were left unresolved, including the number of vice-presidents and the nature of the NCSP.
The government of national unity was certainly not a marriage based on love or even convenience. It was a marriage of despair -- there was no other acceptable solution. It thus took a month to form the government -- the maximum time permissible under the constitution before the president would have to declare that Maliki had failed. Even when the government was announced, it was not complete. Many ministers were only nominated in an "acting" capacity, though it had already been decided which party would control which ministry. Most notably, none of the security ministries -- defense, interior, or national security -- had a permanent head yet, and Maliki was the acting minister in all three cases. He remained in control of the three ministries at the time of this writing five months later.
MEMRI Blog states, "After meeting in Erbil with Masoud Barazani, president of Kurdistan Regional Government, and the regional Prime Minister Barham Saleh, the head of al-Iraqiya, Ayad Allawi, declared that an early election is preferable to a majority government which Iraqi President Nouri al-Malaki might prefer over the current government of national partnership, given his long-standing disagreement with Allawi." Aswat al-Iraq reports that Iraqiya's Mohammed al-Daamy declared today, "Al-Iraqiya Coalition is able to form a government of political majority, through its partnership with the Kurdistan Coalition and the Supreme Islamic Council, in order to save the Iraqi situation, that has reached its minimum stage; but we are not for such a solution at the present time. We want a common solution, shared by all political blocs, in order to save the Iraqi situation, and we may resort to the formation of a majority government in the forthcoming phase, because the current experience has proved that the national partnership did not succeed in saving the situation, causing further deterioration in public services and security." And yesterday the paper noted that MP Abdul Mehdi al-Khafaji (National Alliance) declared Nouri cannot fire any minister currently because the National Alliance "is the only bloc capable of forming a majority government." We'll note this report by Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) tomorrow. (There's nothing wrong with the report, I just don't have the time to include it and what needs to be included with it so we'll wait for that tomorrow.)
Meanwhile Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) reports that "the country's armed forces remain dysfunctional, with power dangerously decentralized and wielded by regional fiefdoms controlled by Iraq's top politician. Local commanders have a direct line to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, circumventing heads of the military. The armed forces remain focused almost entirely on internal security; no one knows how the Iraqi military would come together to fight a foreign enemy, or even who would be in charge."
Turning to England where the big news is the late Dr. David Kelly. Kelly told the BBC about the way the intel for the Iraq War was being cooked. The BBC reported that intel was being "sexed up," Tony Blair hit the roof and began a war on the BBC. Dr. David Kelly admitted he was the source for the BBC story and, shortly afterward, Kelly turned up dead. If this 2003 major news event is new to you (and it may be, that was 8 years ago), the Telegraph of London offers a timeline of key events. His death, ruled to be a suicide, has been surrounded with rumors. Nick Collins (Telegraph of London) provides a walk through of the contradictory evidence (some say Kelly was despondent before his death, others found him upbeat, etc.) and ends with, "As well as the notion that spy agencies may have orchestrated Dr Kelly's death to prevent the publication of secret and possibly incriminating information, some conspiracy theorists point to the fact that a number of other microbiology experts including five Russians working on a weapons project had died in the past decade, some in circumstances deemed to be suspicious." Today Emma Alberici (Australia's ABC) reports, "Calls for an inquest into the death of the UK government's chief scientist, Doctor David Kelly, have been rejected by attorney-general Dominic Grieve, who says there is no evidence he was murdered." News 24 adds, "Attorney General Dominic Grieve, the government's chief legal adviser, ruled out asking the High Court to order an inquest into the scientist's death." The Telegraph notes that "a group of campaigning doctors, led by Dr Stephen Frost, accused the Government of being 'complicit in a determined and concerted cover-up', saying they would now seek a judicial review of Mr Grieve's decision." Paddy McGuffin (Morning Star) adds that the group of doctors are calling the decision an embarrasment and have stated: "No coroner in the land would have reached a suicide verdict on the evidence which Lord Hutton heard."