Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blah and music

This is one of those mornings where I just wonder why the hell did I get out of bed?

I'm just going to bitch and moan for a bit so prepare to laugh at me for doing so over non-major or even serious issues.

Is every web page having troubles today?

I get my cup of coffee, I'm online and I'm logged into Blogger/Blogspot and every other page I go to is either loading slowly or displaying an error message.

And it just drives home how quickly I've gotten used to the net's speed and how quickly I've turned it into something as 'natural' as breathing with all the expectations that entails.

I guess it was that with TV. People were all excited, "We got a TV! We got a TV!" Then one day, the signal's bad or the station's signed off and the expectations are not met and it's, "What the hell is this crap?"

And as I'm waiting for something -- anything -- to load, I start noticing that the top of my mouth, in the back, feels like it's burned and I'm like a cat with a fur ball trying to cough what's causing that feeling out. And I'm trying to think what I could have eaten that would have burned the back of my throat?

So I'm going over yesterday's meals and just not finding anything. I ate (cold) a vegetable casserole for breakfast. I had fruit for lunch and dinner was grazing through uncooked vegetables and fruits. Coffee is the only thing hot I had yesterday and I know I didn't burn my mouth then.

And then I start telling myself I must be getting sick and should go to bed which reminds me that I had The Maltese Falcon on the DVD and it's one of the DVDS from Warner Bros. that you don't have to put on repeat. For some reason, it just keeps playing over and over unless you stop it. And I was sitting here thinking, "I could be in bed watching that movie. Instead, my mouth hurts, the computer won't load and I'm about to bore everyone." Such is life.

Mike's "Interview with C.I." went up this morning. Ignore the time stamp. He started typing it last night but it was too much so he put it on hold until this morning. That's not the full interview. That may be all he types. He was going over some of it with me this morning asking if I thought it needed to be included or not. I told him to just put up as much as he was in the mood for. Mike does type slower than any of us (as he admits) and it was just too much for one entry. (I'm surprised C.I. stayed on the phone for that long. So was Mike.) So he's going to take one section to Polly's Brew where he does a column each Sunday. And I told him I could grab the music section. Mike hated Dashboard Confessional's The Shade of the Poison Trees. He liked it better than the CD prior (which sounded like Bryan Adams to me) but he really did not like it. So he and C.I. were discussing that and how Mike finds himself now singing "Where there's gold, there's a gold digger." From a song on the CD. So the point is Mike's been listening to it some more and now likes it a lot more so C.I. and Mike are talking about instant reactions and about long term ones.

The Pretenders have a new CD out right now. I have it. I'm scared to listen. It's been such a huge, huge disappointment musically in the last few weeks. A number of you have e-mailed guessing the CD I'm thinking about reviewing is Ani DiFranco's new CD.

You are wrong.

I have nothing good to say about that hideous excuse for an album. Ani died. (See my review.) I'd love to be nice about it but I listened to Ani's CD and felt she'd not only wasted my time, she'd knowingly wasted my time. When you have nothing left to say, close your mouth, don't keep signing.

That's a piece of crap album. It's the sort of album that just begs for the artist to take a long rest. And what's really disturbing is Ani took about two years off. She's lost it. She may refind it but she's got nothing to say currently and can't eve blather in a way that makes you think, "Well at least it sounds good on the speakers."

The CD I'm thinking about reviewing is by a male artist.

I was never thinking about doing a review on Ani DiFranco's latest bid for your pocket book because it's just that awful. I could have done a funny pan of Madonna's new CD. It would have been hilarious (I actually wrote it but pulled it when I found out that Madonna was backing Hillary). But Ani? It's too depressing.

There are songs on that new CD on which the tuning is so out of tune. It's a pain to listen to on every level. It's painful that Ani no longer seems aware of tuning -- open or otherwise. It's painful that Ani's once again giving us a bunch of ditties that need more work on them. It's painful that the whole thing adds up to crap. It's just an insult to listeners.

I wish I could be kind about it but that is just the weakest CD released this year by an artist with even minimal expectations.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, talk of the treaty between the White House and the puppet government continues, the UNHCR notes the Mosul crisis and more.

Starting with the treaty attempting to masquerade as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reminds that what's being talked about now is a draft and explains the process for Iraq: "presented today to Iraq's political and national security council, which is made up of top government officials and the leaders of major political groups. If it survives challenges there and among other government ministers, it will move to the Council of Representatives, or parliament, where Maliki has pledged to put it to an up-or-down vote. Far less controversial matters have taken months to move through the Iraqi legislative provess, if they moved at all." BBC's Jim Muir reports: "Rejection of any agreement with the Americans is spearheaded by the group led by the militant Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, who has strong grassroots support and also 30 seats in parliament. The Sadrists have called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to denounce the accord. At least one other big Shia faction is believed to have reservations about the agreement, and some Sunnis have also voiced dissent." Also noting the anticipated Shi'ite split is the Minneapolis Star Tribune which adds, "Although passage would require only a majority of the 275-member parliament, Al-Maliki will submit the draft only if he is convinced it will receive two-thirds support. To reach two-thirds, the draft would need the 30 votes from the Supreme Council." US Senator Carl Levin has issued the following statement:

"I have not yet seen the proposed Strategic Framework Agreement nor the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq. The Administration committed to provide the text of these agreements to Congress before they are finalized, and I look forward to reviewing the text. I am skeptical of any agreement that would subject U.S. servicemen and women to the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts in the middle of a chaotic war and in the absence of a judicial system that has been proven to be fair and protective of the rights of individuals."

DPA reports an increase in opposition to the treaty today "among Iraqi religious leaders," quoted Imam Sadr Eddin al-Qabani telling a large gatherin in Najaf ("crowd of hundreds"), "The Shiite clergy is very worried about this security agreement with the USA" and noted the protest by Moqtada al-Sadr supporters scheduled for tomorrow in Baghdad has already resulted in many people beginning "to arrive in Baghdad to participate in the demonstration". Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) explores the treaty's meaning beyond the US and Iraq:

The US has extended its influence throughout the world with treaties and agreements, thereby securing its status as a major military and political power. And irrespective of the wording of the treaties or accords, the US has categorised its partners into two groups -- friends, ans subordinates.
Basically, treaties and accords are partnership contracts signed between two countries or more, to mutually safeguard the interests and security of all the parties to the agreement.
In most treaties, there is one powerful partner. There is also provisions for such agreements to include financial, scientific and cultural aid, which is usually availed by the weaker partner in the pact.
The security treaty between the US and Iraq has become a popular political topic for discussion in Iraq and the Middle East, as its signing is round the corner.

Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal goes on to explore the region and notes Iran's opposition to the treaty. We'll come back to that later in the snapshot. As noted in
yesterday's snapshot, Congress is not in session. In fact, let's quote White House spokesperson Dana Perino on that: "So Congress isn't even going to be back here until about November 17th." That's the situation that worried many included Senator Jim Webb who introduced legislation September 12, 2008 about this very possibility. Speaking on the floor (link has text and video) of the US Senate, Webb explained:

We are at an odd situation in the business of government at the moment in that the international authority for the United States to be operating in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. The UN Mandate through the UN Security Council will expire at that time.
Since last November, the Administration has been negotiating what they call a "strategic framework agreement," that is intended to replace the international authority of the UN Mandate. There have been two questions that have come up with respect to what the Administration is doing. The first is the timeline. The Iraqi government negotiators have some serious questions that weren't anticipated before. But the larger question, really, is what entity of the federal government has the authority to enter the United States into a long-term relationship with another government?
These are serious issues. I would submit that the conditions under which we will continue to operate in Iraq -- military, diplomatically, economically, and even culturally -- are not the sole business of any adminsitration. We have questions about the legal justifications under domestic and international law for the United States to operate militarily and quasi-militarily, by the way, given the hundreds of thousands of independent contractors that now are performing essentially military functions in that country.
There are questions about the process by which the United States government decides upon and enters into long-term relationships with another nation -- any nation. And in that regard we have serious questions here about the very workings of our constitutional system of government.
This Administration has claimed repeatedly since last November that it has the right to negotiate and enter into an agreement that will set the future course of our relations with Iraq without the agreement or even the ratification of the United States Congress. The Administration claims that the justification for this authority is the 2002 congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq and as a fallback position, the President's inherent authority from the perspective of this Administration as Commander in Chief.
Both of these justifications are patnetly wrong. The 2002 congressional authorization to use force in Iraq has nothing to do with negotiation with a government that replaced the Saddam Hussein government as to the future relations -- culturally, economically, diplomatically, and militarily -- between our two countries.
On the other hand, we are now faced with the reality that the United Nations mandate will expire at the end of this year and that expiration will terminate the authority under international law for the United States to be operating in Iraq at a time when we have hundreds of thousands of Americans on the ground in that country. And I and other colleagues have been warning of this serious disconnect for ten months.
Many of us were trying to say last November that the intention of this Administration was to proceed purely with an executive agreement, to drag this out until the Congress was going to go out of session, as we are about to do; then to present essentially a fait accompli in the sense that with the expiration of the international mandate from the UN at the end of the year, something would have to be done and that something would be an executive agreement that to this point the United States Congress has not even been allowed to examine. We haven't been able to see one word of this agreement.
We've tried to energize the congress about this. We've met with all the appropriate administration officials. There have been hearings. There have been assurances from the administration that they will "consult" at the appropriate time. But we haven't seen anything. So we're faced with a situation that is something of a constitutional coup d'etat by this Adminstration. At risk is a further expansion of the powers of the presidency, the results of this is to affirm in many minds that the president -- any president -- no longer needs approval of congress to enter into long-term relations with another country.
In effect, that is committing us to obligations that involve our national security, our economic well-being, our diplomatic posture around the world, without the direct involvement of the United States Congress. This is not what the Constitution intended. It's not in the best interests of the country.
This amendment which I introduce today is designed to prevent this sort of an imbalance from occuring at the same time that it recognizes the realities of the timelines that are now involved with respect to the loss of international authority for our presence in Iraq at the end of this year.
This amendment is a sense of the congress. On the one hand, it states that it is a sense of the Congress that we work with the UN to extend the United Nations mandate for up to an additional year, giving us some addition international authority for being in Iraq, taking away the pressure of this timeline that could be used to justify an agreement that the Congress has not had the ability to examine. It also says that an extension of the United Nations mandate would end at such time as a strategic framework agreement and a status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq are mutually agreed upon.
The amendment also makes the point that the strategic framework agreement now being negotiated between the United States and Iraq poses significant long-term national security implications for this country. We need a sense of the Congress. We need to be saying that. The Iraqis need to hear it. The amendment also puts the Congress on record, and the Administration on record, to the reality that the Bush Administration has fully agreed to consult with the Congress regarding all the details of the strategic framework agreement and the status of forces agreement and that there will be copies of the full text of these agreements provided to the chiarman and ranking minority members of the approriate committees in the house and senate prior to the entry into either of those agreements.
Importantly, it also says that any strategic framework agreement that has been mutally agreed upon by negotiators from our executive branch and the Iraqi government officials will cease to have effect unless it is approved by the Congress within 180 days of the entry into force of that agreement.
So, Mr. President, on the one hand this amendment recognizes the realities of where we are in terms of time lines. But, on the other, it protects the constituational process by which we are entering into long-term relationships with other countries, whether it is Iraq or Cameroon or Burudni, pick a country. We need to preserve the process. And it does it in a way that would not disrupt our operations in Iraq. I would urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment and protect the prerogatives under the Constitution of the United States Congress. With that, I yield the floor.

The White House continues its attempt to circumvent the Constitution while pretending that (a) it's not a treaty and (b) they share, they really, really share with Congress. Which explains Sean McCormack's song and dance before the press today at the US State Dept which included saying that Secretary of State Condi Rice is reaching out to various Senators and Reps and so is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Asked what she told them, McCormak responded, "Talked about the text of the agreement and -- [asked if "agreement" was Rice's word] -- I don't know if she used that word. That's my word." He decided to stick with text and not agreement: "I'm sticking with text. I like the word text. And she also talked about the process, where we stand in the process. The process is ongoing. The Iraqis are considering the text. We are talking to the Iraqis. No news to announce in that regard. The process continues." By her phone calls, McCormack stated, we can surmise Rice supports the text. She wouldn't make phone calls if she didn't support it! Pressed on that, McCormack finally said, "Sure, sure. She supports the text, yes."

McCormack, in the same press confrence, made a badly worded statement when asked about Governor Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential nominee, not being briefed when Senators Barack Obama, Joe Bide and John McCain have: "She -- if you hadn't noticed, she's a governor, not a sentor or congressman." I don't see how Palin could ever be a Congressman. She could be a Congress woman. She could be a member of Congress. She could be a US House Rep. But there was so much in that press conference. McCormack was asked didn't the Senate have approval and he responded, "Well, my understanding -- and you can check with the White House on this -- is this is not, it's not a treaty, so it doesn't require Congressional approval. And I think if you look back on the history of SOFA agreements, they are not traditionally things that have required Congressional approval. Of course, since this is a, you know, foreign policy, national security issues are issues of concern to all branches of government. And importantly, in this case, to the Legislative and the Executive Branches, there is a briefing process that's going on." After declaring that, he was asked six questions -- and answered none -- about complaints from members of Congress which led him to state, "I've -- you know, again, I've said what I'm going to say on the matter." At the White House, Dana Perino addressed the press and took questions and maintained that Congress is being briefed. Over and over, she maintained that. That's not advise and consent. As
Karen DeYoung noted, "None of the actuald raft wording has yet been made public or unveiled to Congress".

From the Constitutional crisis to the Mosul crisis. Christians have been forced to flee from the Iraqi city as a result of attacks on them.
Ed West (UK's Catholic Herald via Catholic Online) explains, "The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a 'desperate' situation." The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following this morning, attributed to spokesperson Ron Redmond:UNHCR is concerned about the displacement of Christian Iraqis from Mosul which started last week. We have received information from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) in Mosul that approximately 1,560 families (some 9,360 people) have been displaced so far, although UNHCR cannot confirm this number. The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area. In recent days, we have sent at least 10 field assessment missions to areas surrounding Mosul, including Telesquf, Batnaya, Bartilla, Baashiqa, Akre, Shekhan. We've also had UNHCR teams in areas of Dahuk and Erbil, where Christians have sought refuge. According to initial reports, most Christian Iraqis decided to leave Mosul following direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation. One of those interviewed witnessed the killing of a Christian Iraqi on the street, while several of the displaced told us they had received printed threats at the university campus, in their homes and through text messages on their mobiles. Several others told our teams that they left when they heard news of 11 reported killings of Christians in Mosul. Others were warned by family members, friends and neighbours of potential threats and decided to leave before it was too late. Most of the families who fled are staying with extended family members, friends within the host community or in collective community buildings, including church facilities. There is an urgent need for food, clothes, non-food items (such as blankets, mattresses, and stoves), health facilities, hygiene kits, clean water and access to school. Over the past week, UNHCR and our partner, International Medical Corps (IMC), have distributed non-food items to a total of 802 families (about 4,800 people). We expect to have reached over 1,500 families by early next week, both new arrivals as well as those displaced people we have not been able to reach yet. Food and kerosene and additional assistance have been distributed by other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and local authorities. A decision was also taken on Wednesday by the Ministers of Displacement and Migration and Defence to make available an immediate cash grant of 300,000 -- 500,000 Iraqi dinars ( $250-$425 ) to the displaced families, and another 1.5 million dinars ($1,250) to those who decide to return. For now, most of the displaced we spoke to do not envisage return to their homes as an immediate option, as they fear for their lives. A few told us that they will only return if and when their safety and security can be assured by the local authorities. UNHCR's led protection and assistant centres in Kirkuk and Mosul will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground.

Gulf Daily News reports, "Lebanese political figure Amin Gemayel on Friday warned against attacks targeting Christians in Iraq, according to media reports. Gemayel was quoted by media as saying that a campaign targeting Iraqi Christians was 'part of a campaign to displace them, similar to displacing of Palestinians' by Israel'." Lebanon's Naharnet Newsdesk quotes Gemayel calling it "racial cleansing" and stating, "What sparks suspicion is that the campaign of racial cleansing targeting Iraqi Christians is underway as the security situation in Iraq is achieving progress. It is regretful that this campaign is underway while the new Iraqi regime and the American forces are watching." Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman) provides a unflinching look at the current state of Iraq which includes asking about the alleged 'strength' of Iraq: "Is it our political stability and security? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and police as well as 150,00 U.S. Marines cannot stop the persecution of Iraqi Christians in the city of Mosul." Also refusing to blink is Sami Moubayed (Asia Times):

Ever since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Christians have complained that they are being persecuted by Islamic militias. In some cases, many Christians were killed, churches attacked and women raped for walking outdoors without wearing headscarves. Over the past 10 days, 12 Iraqi Christians have been found dead in Iraq, angering the prime minister, who created a senior ministerial delegation to investigate the crimes. The group is composed of the ministers of defense, industry, planning and refugees. The depiction of Maliki's Iraq as a theocracy where freedom of religion is not tolerated is a terrible setback for Maliki, and is tarnishing his image in the United States and Europe. Ordinary Iraqis - mainly Christian - cannot but compare him with Saddam Hussein, who despite all the faults of his dictatorship, upheld religious diversity in Iraq and protected Iraqi Christians from fundamentalist threats.

Prior to the most recent outbreak of violence in Mosul, Iraqi Christians and other minorities were publicly demonstrating against the decision to strip Article 50 out of the legislation for provincial elections. Article 50 provided minority representation.
Newsday reports, "The president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the omission of a minority quota in a recently passed elections law was a 'big mistake.' Barzani also promised to help the federal government in its 'efforts to provide the equivalent protection for our Christian brothers.' Kurdistan borders Nineveh province, which includes Mosul. More than 1,400 families have fled Mosul to nearby villages and towns, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said." Add Barzani to the long list -- which includes puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani -- of people calling the elimination of Article 50 out . . . after the bill was signed into law. Saad Abedine (CNN) reports 4 males have been arrested today under suspicion of taking part in the attacks on Iraqi Christians and quotes Maj Gen Mohammed al-Askari stating, "We know that they are part of a criminal gang that has been committing criminal acts in Mosul and we will do our best to arrest the rest."

Today the
United Nations HCR noted a new report: "A UN refugee agency report released on Friday shows that the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in industrialized countries dropped in the first six months of this year, but they were still by far the top nationality seeking asylum in these destinations. According to the asylum trends report, the number of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 2008, was higher than the combined number of asylum claims submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China (8,700), the second and third most important source countries. Other important countries of origin of asylum seekers were Somalia (7,400), Pakistan and Afghanistan (6,300 each)." The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries" and it examines the statistics on "asylum claims submitted in Europe and selected non-European countries during the first six months of 2008." The US and Canada rank first for asylum claims (not asylum granted, applications). France and the UK are third and fourth. The report notes that Iraq was the country of origin for most aslyum-seekers as it has been since 2006. For all of 2007, there were 45,000 asylum claims by Iraqis. For the first half of this year, there were 19,500 claims. The report is 25 pages and the bulk of it is tables.

While Iraq remains the number one refugee crisis in the world (and figures above were on external refugees making claims), tension remain between Iraq and it's northern neighbor Turkey.
CNN reports that Turkish military planes again bombing northern Iraq today and notes that there are no known/confirmed deaths from the bombing. Reuters adds, "The general staff said on its website that the Turkish jets hit PKK bases in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains on Friday and that all planes had returned to their bases. Military sources, who declined to be named, earlier told Reuters that four PKK guerrillas were killed and several wounded in the bombardment of Qandil mountains."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and wounded four people and a Falluja bombing at the home of Sheikh Suleiman Ahmed al-Jumaili claimed the Sheikh's life as well as a man suspected of being the bomber. Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left one person injured, 2 more Mosul roadside bombing that resulted in 1 Iraqi soldier losing his life, four more wounded, two police officers and three civilians being injured and a roadside bombing outside Falluja that left three police officers injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Qadir Aziz, a guard in a driver training establishment" was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Reuters notes the corpse of 1 "pregnant woman" was found in Kut ("gunshot wounds").

Turning to the US presidential race.
Yesterday's snapshot mentions a debate at Columbia. Maria Recio's "Third-party debate's only confirmed participant: the moderator" (McClatchy Newspapers) informs that it's iffy with Cynthia McKinney saying she's doing another debate, Ralph Nader hedging and apparently no real desire for it. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today Nader writes "In the Public Interest: Closing the Courthouse Door:"

"Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government." George W. Bush February 26, 2001.
Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports: "Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states."
What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America's civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.
The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In "The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety" legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write: "In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct." (See:
And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said: "In effect the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits." Mr. Weisbrod added: "Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers." The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: "Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability" – this report is available at:
Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans' cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.
Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants' lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.
When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has "seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being: medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day."
Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate.

Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will participate in a webcast forum for presidential candidates on Sunday, October 19, to be aired 7 to 9 pm on
Cynthia McKinney will join other candidates who've been invited to the online
forum, which has been organized by's Trevor Lyman.
Ms. McKinney will not appear at a candidates' forum at Columbia University on
the evening of October 19. The news of Ms. McKinney's participation in the Columbia event was released to the media in error by persons who are unassociated with the McKinney campaign, and who had not confirmed such
an appearance with Ms. McKinney or her staff.
"We invite everyone to go online, tune in to, and listen to
Cynthia McKinney and the other candidates debate real issues. We'll hear Ms. McKinney offer ideas that have been censored from the McCain-Obama debates -- ideas that most Americans support, like bringing our troops home now, health care for everyone, and help for working Americans facing financial difficulty instead of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street," said John Judge, media secretary for the McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Committee.
Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated by the Green Party at the Green National Convention in Chicago this past July.
"A vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente is an investment in a growing progressive antiwar party that accepts no corporate contributions. No other candidate in the 2008 election offers the hope of a permanent alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests that the two established parties serve. The Green Party isn't an alternative, it's an imperative," said Ms. Clemente.
Greens and other Americans have objected to the format of the McCain-Obama debates, which were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and which excluded all candidates except the Democratic and Republican nominee.
The CPD, which sets rules for candidate participation, is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, which have an interest in excluding all candidates except their own. Greens noted that the CPD is funded through contributions from corporations, which have their own interests in limiting the candidates who participate in the debates.

Democracy Now! -- no link to trash -- had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney on yesterday.
Cynthia is the Green Party presidential candidate and wisely refused to take part in defending a White man who instigated more serious acts of violence than have the still persecuted Black Panthers (much to Goody's regret, Cynthia refused to rush to defend Bill Ayers). Ignoring Goody's need to for White privilege, McKinney responded:CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that's not the case. There's something else that's a bit more troubling. I've also been talking about election integrity as I've gone across this country. But, you know, I really don't like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people. In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn't work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren't familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000. In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren't even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes. And now we've got voter ID laws across the country, and we've got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files. So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted? McKinney's running mate is Rosa Clemente. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Ralph took the bait so we won't note his exchange on that issue. Instead, we'll note this from him: RALPH NADER: There's no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn't determine the costs. There's no free collective bargaining for workers. That's a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There's no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There's no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions. Second, these-NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature. That's what we've got to do. And our website,, has ample information on this process. If you're in the mood to wade through garbage, you know where to go find the audio and video. Cynthia McKinney has the transcript posted at her campaign website. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. In terms of the 'questions' Goody came up with, Ava and I will address that garbage on Sunday at Third.
Meghan McCain ( offers her evaluation today on the debate Wednesday between her father, GOP presidential candidate John McCain, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "My father nothing short of ROCKED Wednesday night's debate and I have never been more proud. He got up and showed this country why he is the right person to lead it into the future, and open the door to reinvention of the Republican Party. I am always proud of my Dad but even more so when he lets his maverick tendencies show so clearly. Eighteen more days to go and this election is nowhere near over!!!" McCain's running mate is Governor Sarah Palin. The McCain-Palin campaign has issued a press release that there's not room for in full. We'll quote from the top and include as much as possible (ues the link to read in full):

OBAMA MEDICARE MALPRACTICE #1: The Very Same Reforms That Barack Obama Calls "Cuts" Under John McCain, He Says Will "Strengthen" Medicare Under His Program
THE MALPRACTICE: While Saying Today That John McCain's Reforms Will "Cut" Medicare Spending, Barack Obama Says He Will "Strengthen" Medicare With His Reforms. OBAMA: "So what would Senator McCain's cuts mean for Medicare at a time when more and more Americans are relying on it? It would mean a cut of more than 20 percent in Medicare benefits next year. ... I think every single American has a right to affordable accessible health care. We can strengthen Medicare by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big HMOs in Medicare, and making sure seniors can access home-based care, and letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies for better prices. That's the kind of change we need." (Barack Obama, Remarks As Prepared For Delivery, Roanoke, VA, 10/17/08)
THE TRUTH: Just Two Days Ago, Barack Obama Highlighted His Own "Cut" To Medicare Spending. OBAMA: "And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn't -- under the Medicare plan -- it doesn't help seniors get any better. It's not improving our health care system. It's just a giveaway." (CNN, Presidential Candidate Debate, Hempstead, NY, 10/15/08)
THE TRUTH: One Such "Cut" That John McCain Must Support Under Barack Obama's Logic Is A Reform That Today, Barack Obama Said Would "Strengthen" Medicare. MCCAIN: "Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, called PACE, that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care- related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities. In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appeared to be misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems." (John McCain, Remarks, Tampa, FL, 4/29/08)

the washington postkaren deyoungjim muirsami moubayed
ed westasia times
mcclatchy newspapersmaria recio
Closing with C.I.'s "

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One more truth teller: P. Jerome

A candidate for office can only be judged on what he/she says he believes and says he will do, and on his/her track recrod. We have nothing else. In the case of Obama, we are supposed to believe he says and acts on motives other than his core beliefs for unstated other reasons. This is, I respectfully submit, nonsense.
When he voted for the wiretap bill, he said he wanted to have all "necessary tools" at his disposal for an Obama presidency. When he calls for more "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, or for "missile strikes" in Pakistan, or "keeping the nuclear option on the table" in Iran, he means what he is saying. His vision is of an imperial America on the march, waging war in pursuit of unspecified "threats" with a bigger, better managed military. That vision includes domestic spying and austerity budgets for the foreseeable future.
So where does this leave that part of America that opposes wars of aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, and the war on terror? Where does it leave people who want to resist domestic wiretapping or oppose sacrificing our futures for Wall Street profits? I know the drill: hold your nose and vote Democratic ...again.
No, not this time, and never again. The majority of us do not have a dog in this billion-dollar electoral fight, and the majority will not vote at all, and why should they? If McCain wins, more war and more austerity. If Obama wins, even more war and even more austerity, but with no political opposition. By November 5, the same people will be controlling our lives, regardless of the election outcome. Real power never gets voted out of office. It must be confronted and overturned.

That's from P. Jerome's "No Dog in this Fight" (Information Clearing House) and isn't it good to know that there are still a few left voices who can tell the damn truth?

I'm not joking about being embarrassed and ashamed of what passes for 'left' these days. We have seen the bulk of our 'voices' sell/whore themselves and the left out. It has not been pretty.

I'm reminded of a Heart song.

Who will you run to
When it falls down
Who's going to pick your heart
Up off the ground

The left has damn little left. (That's Heart's "Who Will You Run To?") They've sold out every belief they ever had in order to pimp Barack. It has been embarrassing to watch.

There are two outcomes for Barack to the election: He wins or he loses.

If he loses, Panhandle Media will insist they were right all along. If he wins, life will be very hard for Panhandle Media because no one's going to want to listen to those stupid liars again. Patricia Williams, Laura Flanders, Matthew Rothschild, Amy Goodman, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Nichols, Katha Pollitt, Robert Parry, Robert Scheer and all the other losers will be remembered as the whores who sold a corporatist War Hawk on an unsuspecting public.

I'm supporting Ralph Nader. They could have supported him or Cynthia McKinney. In either case, they would have had a candidate who stands for the things they claim to. However, issues no longer mattered. Just spin.

The same Panhandle Media that spent years calling out spinmeisters like James Carville proved they could spin, they could outright lie better than anyone working for a campaign.

"Panhandle Media" is something Ava and C.I. wrote and I know I speak for many when I say, "Imagine how much worse 2008 would have been without those two?" Ava and C.I. never lied, never hopped on board Bambi bus. They never forgot that ending the illegal war matters and that there is no excuse for lying for a War Hawk posing as a dove.

They called out the liars and the lies. And, in doing so, they created a body of work that stands. For the bulk of the left, 2008 was about destroying and ripping apart their past work.

Along with Ava and C.I. and P. Jerome, there is also John Pilger, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Paul Street, Adolph Reed and a few others. What's been especially disgusting has been seeing the likes of Ron Jacobs who previously had avoided the election topic (because he's too smart to believe elections lead to movements) take to schilling for Barack. A lot of people have shamed themselves. They all need to be held accountable.

I understand Katrina's got huge problems. As C.I. noted months ago (at Third), her support and benefactor would be dead before this year ended and circulation was tanking for The Nation. Heads should roll. Hopefully Katty-van-van's will be among the first.

It's really strange to hear all these people continue to beg for money claiming that what they do is needed and rare when all they've done in 2008 is be front men for Barack.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 16, 2008. Chaos and violence continued, the US military announces two more deaths, the crisis in Mosul continues and there's news or not news on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.

At the US State Dept today, Sean McCormack held a press briefing and was immediately pressed on the issue of the treaty masquerading as SOFA. "Nothing new on the SOFA," McCormack declared. "We'll just get that out of the way. . . . Nothing new. . . . No, I have nothing -- I have nothing new to report. The process continues." He did say that US Secretary of State Condi Rice had been on the phone "with some of the Iraqi leaders yesterday" and listed the ones he believed she spoke with but stated he would provide a list later. The list provided had Rice speaking with KRG President Masoud Barzani, Iraq President Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president Adil Abd al-Mahdi and Iraq's Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashami. McCormack repeatedly stressed the SOFA such as when asked if Rice was focused on any other issue and he responded, "The focus -- her focus is on moving this SOFA process forward." Asked if there was a Plan B, McCormack replied, "We're focused on moving the SOFA process forward." Tossed out the possibility of an extension of the UN mandate (due to expire December 31st), McCormack responded, "I'm not aware of any serious contemplation of anything other than getting the SOFA done on our side. Again, I don't have perfect knowledge, but I'm not aware of any contemplation of anything other than getting the SOFA done. Asked if there was the possibilities of other options, McCormack replied, "I think the option is get the SOFA done."

Alissa J. Rubin and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) detail the draft of the treaty between the White House and the puppet of the occupation (passed off as a SOFA) being whispered about but notes that there are many hurdles and also notes, "The Iraqis did not provide details about the language of the draft, and it is unclear whether it says the pullout would be based on conditions on the ground." Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman tells the paper, "In Parliament it will face a lot of opposition. Some of the nationalists won't like it and some other groups, too. They won't oppose it as such, by they will say they don't like this article or that article. Maybe it will pass, but it will take some time." Richard Beeston and Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explain, "The deal, yet to be approved by Iraqi leaders, the Cabinet and parliament, must be in place by December 31, when the existing UN Security Council mandate expires. An agreement between the two sides would open the way for a separate arrangement to allow 4,000 British Forces and other smaller coalition members to remain in Iraq."

At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Geoff Morrell declared that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "is in the process of consulting closely with members of Congress, those who have jurisdiction over this building. And, in fact, he has begun making a number of phone calls today to committee leaders and is intent on fulfilling his pledge to them to consult with them on this document before it is finalized." Two things, Democrats head all committees. They are "committee leaders." They can allow anything to go through or be stopped cold. Second, what Gates is doing is certainly admirable; however, it does not pass for "advise and consent" as outlined in the Constitution. From the
March 6th snapshot:

Congress held several hearings today and we're noting two. Background for the first,
Reuters reported this morning, "The U.S. military has authority to conduct combat operations in Iraq beyond the end of this year, even though a United Nations mandate for force ends then, a State Department official said on Wednesday. David Satterfield, the State Department's coordinator for Iraq, said Congress had authorized U.S. combat in Iraq back in 2002, and the Bush administration did not believe it needed to seek 'explicit additional authorization' from Congress for U.S. combat beyond the end of this year." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported that "[t]he Bush administration yesterday adavanced a new argument for why it does not require congressional approval to strike a long-term security agreement with Iraq, stating that Congress had already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution . . . Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), whose questions at a House hearing Tuesday elicted the administration statement, described it as an 'open-ended, never-ending authority for the administration to be at war in Iraq forever with no limitations.' The conditions of 2002 no longer exist, he said." This afternoon the US House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia held a hearing that David Satterfield again showed up for (but couldn't really answer anymore than on Tuesday) as did Mary Beth Long the Asst. Secretary of Defense for International Affairs.

Satterfield attempted repeatedly to claim everything was a hypothetical and refuse to answer. A lively exchange took place between Gary Ackerman and Satterield. Asked specific questions, Satterfield declared, "I will respond more formally to that question subsequent to this hearing" leading Ackerman to ask, "When will we hold that hearing?" At another point Satterfield attempted to hide by declaring, "I'm not a constitutional expert" leading Ackerman to respond, "Neither is anyone else" in the administration "apparently."

The basic principles here (outlined many times before) is whether or not Bully Boy and Nouri al-Maliki can enter into a treaty without Congressional/Parliamentary approval. The constitutions for both the United States and Iraq say "NO!" But that hasn't stopped the White House from attempting to circumvent the US Constitution. As Ackerman noted when Satterfield repeatedly declared questions "hypotheticals," "The Constitution is a document. It is not a hypothetical." Her futher noted, "The problem with the administration is that it thinks the Constituion is optional." Ackerman noted that everything was undefined -- now and in the lead-up to the illegal war. He noted that now Iraq was apparently a 'threat' to the US in some of the vague responses from Satterfield and that "threat" seems to change from moment to moment leading Satterfield to snap "No, Mister Chairman," the administration has clearly defined threats. Ackerman asked, "Is it this adminstration's belief that you have ongoing authorization in perpetuity?" and "Is Iraq about to attack the United States?" Ackerman noted that it appeared the White House had redefined the mission in Iraq so that "as long as there is trouble in Iraq" the US must remain in "a never ending process".

As the committee told Sattefield, it appeared he arrived with an attitude of he would talk about what he wanted to and not answer the questions posed. In a milder but still comical moment, Mary Beth Long attempted to compare the agreement Bully Boy and al-Maliki are trying to impose with agreements the US has with Belize. Bill Delahunt noted that nothing with Belize talks "about search and destroy actions" such as what takes place in Iraq and Long had to admit that they didn't. US House Rep Rosa DeLauro was brought into the meeting with the approval of other committee members (she's not a member of the subcommitte) and she noted that this wasn't a "typical" SOFA agreement and that "we should not rush to approve" it, that it is in the best interests of both countries not to rush. As Satterfield continued to obsfucate, DeLauro noted that, "We're not going to get any straight answers on this." While Rep Bill Delahunt had noted earlier -- when Satterfield again attempted to propose a closed door briefing -- "The American people deserve to hear what you have to say." The hearing ended with Ackerman having extracted the promise that Satterfield would have answers to the questions asked no later than three p.m. Friday.

Reps DeLauro and Delahunt have led in Congress on this issue and they addressed the issue in "
The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post):

The Post argued that barring a "formal commitment to defend Iraq from external aggression," congressional approval of the agreement is not required. Yet constitutional scholars testifying before the oversight subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have stated that "the authority to fight" that the administration seeks from Iraq does indeed require congressional approval. Requiring international legal approval of combat is what makes this agreement anything but what the administration incorrectly calls it: a "status of forces agreement." The U.N. mandate provides the last legal thread of domestic U.S. authority for combat because "enforcing relevant U.N. resolutions" was one of the two activities cited by the 2002 vote in Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq (the other being to dispose of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein). If the U.N. mandate expires on Dec. 31, so does domestic authority for our troops to fight, along with their immunity from Iraqi prosecution. This is precisely the "legal vacuum" that constitutional scholars Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway detailed in an April 5 op-ed, " The War's Expiration Date," on We have proposed an alternative that would serve our interests and those of the Iraqis far better: extending the U.N. mandate in Iraq for six months, as has been done before, so that the new president and Congress can work with Iraq's leaders to determine the next agreement. Second, The Post failed to appreciate the exclusivist manner in which the administration has pursued this agreement. Congress was broadsided by the "declaration of principles," outlining the negotiating parameters, signed by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in November. Lawmakers have since been denied access to information on the U.S. negotiating position and even on U.S. goals. This is a key reason that not just Democrats but also Republicans have expressed reservations.

Other leaders on the issue include Senator Hillary Clinton who raised the issue
April 8th in a Senate hearing to US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. Hillary noted that the White House "is planning to make an agreement with Iraq" and Crocker confirmed that it would "be submitted to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification" but, when asked by Hillary if the White House intended "to submit the agreement to our Congress," Crocker replied no. As Hillary noted that "seems odd to Americans . . . [that] the Iraqi Parliamnet may have a chance to consider this agreement" but "the United States Congress does not." [December 7th of last year, Hillary introduced legislation that would require Bully Boy to get "Congressional approval for any agreement that would extend the US military commitment to Iraq."] April 9th, US House Rep Susan Davis would echo Clinton's points and point out that allowing the Iraqi Parliament a say while the US Congress gets none (under the White House plan) "strikes people in our districts as strange." Senator Joe Biden (now the Democratic vice presidential nominee) pointed out in an April 10th hearing, "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." In that hearing Senator Jim Webb would also insist the "document" would need the consent of the Senate. From the April 10th snapshot:

Biden spoke of how US Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the committee on Tuesday that this was about setting "forth a vision, to use his words, of our relationship with Iraq" but "one of the problems . . . is the visition this administrations shares for Iraq is not shared by two of the thee" current candidates for president in the Democratic and Republican Parties -- referring to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Biden noted that those appearing before Congress keep stating that the agreements "aren't binding to us but, in Iraq, they think we mean it . . . because otherwise we wouldn't be having this kind of discussion." Biden noted the "internal threat" aspect being proposed and how these requires the US "to support the Iraqi government in its battle with all 'outlaw groups' -- that's a pretty expansive commitment." He noted that it requires the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and that "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out."

"Just understand my frustration," Biden explained. "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist." Senator Russ Feingold wanted to know if there were "any conditions that the Iraq government must meet?" No, that thought never occurred to the White House. "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation," Feingold asked, "won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?" The two witnesses didn't appear to have heard that fact before. Feingold repeated and asked, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal" Satterfield feels the US and the agreement "will enjoy broad popular support" in Iraq. Satterfield kept saying the agreement wasn't binding. And Feingold pointed out, "The agreement will not bind the Congress either, if the Congress were to" pass a law overriding it which seemed to confuse Satterfield requiring that Feingold again point that out and ask him if "Congress passed a clear law overriding the agreement, would the law override the agreement." Satterfield felt the White House "would have to look carefully at it at the time" because "it would propose difficult questions for us."

"I would suggest," Feingold responded, "your difficulties are with the nature of our Constitution. If we pass a law overiding it . . . that's the law." The treaty and the efforts to bypass the Senate's advise & consent role was something that bothered senators on both sides of the aisle. Senators Norm Coleman and Johnny Isakson also addressed it. Republican Isaskson wanted to know if the agreement being pushed could be cancelled "by either at any time". "Yes, sir," Satterfield responded. Isakson noted the "pending elections" and couldn't remember a time when anything like that had happened before, where you'd put forth an agreement like this so close to the end of term. Mary Beth Long wasn't aware of a precedent either. Sentor Coleman was also concerned with the timing.

This is not a minor issue. And if something is agreed upon between the puppet and the White House and, by some miracle, it manages to clear the Iraqi chains of approval quickly, you could have Bully Boy putting it into effect before the election or immediately after -- while Congress is out of session. It seems very unlikely that it could go through the approval process in Iraq that quickly; however, if it were to, Congress isn't even in session currently. Or, as Dana Perino worded it at the White House press briefing today (speaking of the economy), "Well, obvioulsy Congress isn't here [DC], but we try to keep in touch with them on a range of issues. . . . So Congress isn't even going to be back here until about November 17th." Morrell declared at the Pentagon today that there was agreement and that the treaty was just in the process of being reviewed by both sides. Where's the Congress on this? Where's the leadership?

In Iraq, the crisis continues for Iraqi Christians. Despite Nouri al-Maliki stating over the weekend the crisis would be addressed,
Mazin Yahya (AP) reports that today the puppet government finally managed to send "blankets and food . . . to help thousands of Christians" who fled Mosul. Assyrian International News Agency reports "Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Bakir al-Nassiri issued a fatwa (religious decree) yesterday stating the Christians whose lives are subjected to threats in the city of Mosul should be provided with aid and patronzage, calling on the Iraqi government to take all the necessary measures to protect them." As noted in yesterday's snapshot, in Canterbury, religious leaders ended a three-day conference. Ethan Cole (Christian Post) reports:

The 17 prominent Muslims, joined by 19 Christian leaders, denounced the
persecution of Iraqi Christians in their communiqué, released Wednesday at an interfaith conference hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to Episcopal News Service.
It was deeply troubling, the leaders expressed, to learn of the situation in Mosul where more than 8,300 Christians have been forced to flee due to violence from Islamic extremists in the last two weeks.
"We are profoundly conscious of the terrible suffering endured by Iraqi people of every creed in recent years and wish to express our solidarity with them," the Muslims and Christians leader at the meeting stated. "We find no justification in Islam or Christianity for those promoting the insecurity or perpetrating the violence evident in parts of Iraq."

CNN reports that a curfew has been imposed in Mosul and that "At least 6,000 Christians have fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in the past week because of killings and death threats, Iraq's Ministry of Immigration and Displaced Persons said Thursday." Alsumaria reports that Iraqi Christians and "tribal figures" protested in Baghdad against the attacks on Christians in Mosul yesterday: "The Secretary General of the national council for tribes and awakening leaders council Mostapha Kamel expressed soldiarity with Christians." And while the puppet government finally made times -- all these days later -- to send food and blankets (things relief agencies were begging for as early as Monday morning), that's about all al-Maliki has managed. Except words. Qassim Khidhir (Kurdish Globe) quotes Father Rafael Benjamin declaring, "Up to this point, the Iraqi government has not found any solution to end the hostile acts against Iraqi Christians." Other than putting up some barriers (some more barriers) yesterday, the puppet government really can't claim much. In the face of a crisis.

Turning to other reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two Iraqi service members, a Baghdad car bombing ('sticky' bomb) that wounded three people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 "6 year old child . . . and his brother, a 7 year old child, was injured while they were herding their sheep in the area," and a Salahuddin car bombing that left four police officers injured. Reuters notes a Mosul hand grenade attack that left seven Iraqi service members wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that left two people injured and another Mosul bombing that left two children injured.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead by police in Kirkuk, 1 person shot dead in Shorash, Lt Col Mohammed Said shot dead in Kirkuk. Reuters notes "Iraqi troops fired shots into the air in eastern Mosul" and wounded four people.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps - Iraq Soldier died of non-battle related causes at approximately 10 p.m. Oct. 15 in Baghdad." And they announced, "A Coalition force Soldier was killed in an indirect fire attack Oct. 16 in Diyala." The announcements bring to 4185 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Yesterday the Republican and the Democratic presidential candidate were invited to a debate that barred all other presidential candidates. Barack Obama, Democratic candidate, and John McCain took part in a debate hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer --
here for transcript (and video), here for Katherine Q. Seelye's live blogging at the New York Times. Among the issues Schieffer probed was abortion. For those who've forgotten, Barack always knew he could use sexism throughout the primary because he had the club of "What will happen to Roe!" He knew -- or thought he did -- that women would have to flock to him -- like a battered wife to an abuser? -- because they had no where else to go. Mike caught the moment, "Mainly we got to see Barack was even more right-wing than we knew as he talked about 'partial-birth abortions' and said he wanted to end late-term abortions (except for health!). Except for health? He's already made clear what he thinks about that. So he's going to chip away at abortion rights the same way the Supreme Court has. Barack's apparently pro-life on the installment plan. He'll do away with Roe bit by bit if elected. There's no Democrat in the presidential race, sadly." Madamab (The Confluence) also points to Barack's embarrassing answer, "Didja catch that, ladies? First the veiled threat about Roe v. Wade, which events in the past eight years have proven to be fearmongering of the most despicable type. Then, Obama assumes that before making a decision about our own bodies and our own babies, we naturally "consult with" an entire committee of people. Does he actually know anyone who's had to deal with this choice? (At least he has finally realized that some women are not Christian! Mr. Sensitivity has substituted the words 'religious advisers' for the more exclusive word 'pastors.') It never occurs to Senator Obama that women can make these decisions without "consulting with" anyone. It never occurs to Senator Obama that some women would not dream of going to any religious figures to ask whether or not to get an abortion, because some women are atheists or agnostic, or know that their 'religious advisors' would not support them in their decision. (DUUUUHHHH.) And it never occurs to Senator Obama that some women are pregnant BY members of their families, and that going to their families would be the LAST thing they would do in that case. Anyone who is at all familiar with the attempts by the religious right to try to force women to get the consent of their parents before getting an abortion, would be aware of that fact. (Double DUUUUUHHHHHH.)" Heidi Li (Heidi Li's Potpourri) wonders why Barack refuses to make support for Roe v. Wade a litmus test when appointing Supreme Court justices if he's elected: "What does matter is that Senator Obama, whose party is committed to upholding Roe, refused to commit to treating that as a make or break issue when it would come to his judicial appointments. And another thing: why does Senator Obama think that women need to consult with doctors, families, and religious advisers when deciding what to do with their own bodies? I have no objection to anybody consulting with anybody about any decision, but Senator Obama's committee of consultants approach suggests that once again he misses the point when it comes to women's empowerment." Lambert (Corrente) explains, "Either the woman is in the 'best position,' or a sort of committee, composed of the woman (indeed, we've come a long way), her family, and various religious and medical experts is in the 'best position.' Why would Obama believe that a committee is in the 'best position' instead of the woman herself?"

Another exchange was focused on by
Cedric and Wally (joint-post) and by Kat. This was when Barack refused to call out his supporters wearing t-shirts proclaiming Governor Sarah Palin was a c**nt or yelling to "stone her, old style." Instead Barack elected to lie. In fact, it was the Tawana Brawley campaign tactic. Play Barack as the victim and drive up the sympathy factor. Barack yammered on in that annoying uh way of uh his and at some point declared "all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him' . . ." As Ava and I noted Sunday, " Based on one report (in The Washington Post), Goody tried to tease out a story of Governor Sarah Palin speaking to a crowd that yelled 'Kill him!' about Barack Obama. That didn't happen and your first clue is that only one outlet covering the speech mentioned it. Your second clue came when the Secret Service investigated the paper's allegation and found no evidence to support it." Eileen Sullivan's "Secret Service looking into Obama threat at rally" (Associated Press) reported yesterday, "Last week, The Washington Post reported a similar incident during a Palin rally in Clearwater, Fla. The Secret service investigated that allegation and found no indication that 'kill him' was ever said, or if it was said, that the remark was directed at Obama. Listening to tapes of that rally, the Secret Service heard 'tell him' or 'tell them,' but agents never heard 'kill him,' Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told The Associated Press on Wednesday." Sullivan also noted a media claim that it had taken place in Scranton and that the Secret Service was now investigating. Gqmartinez (Corrente) wonders, "Are we going to trivialize death threats the same way we trivialized racism? If Obama does win and we disagree with his policies, are we going to be called racists or, worse, be implicated in plots against him? Death threats are real and, in my view, very serious. Throwing out unfounded allegations to tarnish the opposition is not only a disgusting tactics, but it takes away focus from the real threats that may be out there." And Gqmartinez highlights Andrew M. Seder's "Secret Service says 'Kill him' allegation unfounded" (Scranton Times-Leader). Seder advises that the Scranton Times-Tribune reported that 'kill him' was cried "while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd"; however, "[t]he agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled 'kill him' when presidential hopeful Barack Obama's name was mentioned during Tuesday's Sarah Palin rally are unfounded." Seder goes not to note the way various outlets began 'reporting' it after the Times-Tribune's error. (Language Warning) Joseph (Cannonfire) also notes the Times-Leader article and compiles the threats against Hillary Clinton before wondering, "The disgusting behavior of the Obama culstists should have been an issue of national discussion -- and would have been, had the media deigned to cover the story. Why didn't they?" So let's review. Two published reports of one person yelling "kill him" and two investigations that found no proof of the claim. But it sure was a nice talking point for Barack last night. Ruth pointed out the best moment in the debate, when John McCain declared, "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have done it four years ago."
Elaine focused on Barack's refusal to answer the question regarding mandates (a mandate does mean those not in compliance will be penalized and that's generally a fine but maybe it's jail time as well? Barack was happy to insist to Tim Russert that Hillary would fine because she had a mandate but he never wants anyone pointing out that his health care for children is mandated as well). Rebecca called the debate for McCain and noted how the forum was not to Barack's benefit. (For the perfect example of that, watch or read The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric's "Candidates Discuss Why Politicians Cheat" -- and those dependent upon the transcript should know it is very kind to Barack, leaving out all his uh-uh-uhs.)

Still on the topic of the debates, Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and
his campaign issued the following which provides perspective on Barack's claims during last night's debate:

Donate $3 to Nader/Gonzalez now.
Well, on three key issues last night -- energy, health insurance, corporate crime -- Obama stood with the corporations against the interests of the American people.
Compare Nader to Obama.
Last night, McCain challenged Obama.
Tell me one time you have stood up to the leaders of your party, McCain said.
Obama couldn't name one time when he stood up to the corporations that control his party.
So, instead he named a couple of times when he stood with the corporations.
And against the interests of the American people.
I voted for tort reform, Obama said.
Brave of you Barack.
You stood with the National Association of Manufacturers against injured people.
I support clean coal technology, Obama said.
Wow Barack, you stood with the polluting coal industry against people who suffer the consequences.
When McCain accused Obama of supporting a single payer, Canadian style national health insurance system, Obama said he didn't.
And he doesn't.
Despite the fact that a majority of doctors, nurses and the American people want it.
On national health insurance, Obama stands with the insurance industry and against the American people who are demanding single payer.
Over 5,000 U.S. physicians have signed an open letter calling on the candidates for president and Congress "to stand up for the health of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national health insurance system." (
Here's the ad that ran in the New Yorker magazine.)
Obama says no.
McCain says no.
Nader/Gonzalez says yes.
Yes to single payer.
Yes to solar and no to coal.
Yes to protecting the American people from corporate recklessness and crime, no to tort deform.
donate $3 to the candidacy that is not on the debate stage.
But that is right on the issues.
Today, while Obama fronts for his corporate donors, Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez and the Nader Team will be on Wall Street protesting corporate America's sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior.
Nader/Gonzalez continues to stand with the people.
Against the corporate criminals and their candidates in the two major parties.
Onward to November.

Shorter version,
via Mike, "There's no Democrat in the presidential race, sadly." Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, John McCain and Barack Obama are all invited to a presidential debate Sunday. Austin Cassidy's Independent Political Report explains that the debate will take place at Columbia University from eight to ten p.m. (EST) and that the moderator will be Amy Goodman -- "CSPAN will cover the debate and live radio broadcasts are expected." Commenting on the exclusion of Cynthia McKinney (the only female presidential candidate this year), Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) noted, "This year, one of the pre-debate educational events at Hofstra University in Long Island will include a historical re-enactment presentation entitled 'Women's Rights: Conflicts and Schisms', which will include the character of Victoria Woodhull. Though, would Victoria Victoria Woodhull, a third party presidential candidate, have been allowed to participate in the Presidential Debates at Hofstra? If Victoria Woodhull was excluded -- as modern, woman presidnetial candidate Cynthia McKinney is slated to be -- what would Victoria Woodhull have done?" And, of course, Cynthia was excluded last night. File it under hypocrisy and see Marcia's post on hypocrisy in the 2008 election.

McCain-Palin Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker weighs in on last night's debate:

"John McCain won tonight's debate with strong, clear straight talk about setting a new direction for our country and fighting for working families. He outlined a specific, bold plan for creating jobs, helping those near retirement, keeping people in their homes, curbing spending, lowering health care costs and achieving energy independence. He vowed to fight for 'Joe the Plumber' every day he is President and he affirmed his belief that we shouldn't raise taxes just to 'spread the wealth.' While Barack Obama is measuring the drapes and campaigning against a man not even on the ballot, John McCain demonstrated that he has the experience, judgment, independence and courage to fight for every American."

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