Friday, April 11, 2008

Stevie Nicks, etc.

Barack Obama's battle to win the soul of blue-collar America suffered a major blow Friday when he claimed small-town Pennsylvanians "cling to" God, guns and hostility toward immigrants to cope with their bitterness over the economy.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain wasted little time in blasting Harvard-educated Obama of elitism, condescension and insensitivity to the little-town blues of working-class Americans.

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama told supporters at a San Francisco fundraiser Sunday, according to a transcript posted on the Huffington Post blog.

"It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," he added.

The above is from Glen Thursh's report at Newsday. Wasn't he supposed to be the 'unity' candidate? And what's with all his stereotyping. He really destroys himself more each day he continues his campaign. As with Jeremiah Wright's damning of America, look for Bambi to give a big speech in Philadelphia where he talks about . . . race and for all the gas bags in the media to tell you that Bambi's hatred of Small Town America is okay because slavery existed in this country long, long before he was ever born.

Here's an item from Spinner:

Deerhunter's singer bluntly declared his sexual status to Spin -- crediting cross-dressing Kurt Cobain and his kiss with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic with triggering his light bulb moment.

I don't see anything else online about that. Including at Spin. So let me explain for the very young, Kurt and Krist were performing on Saturday Night Live (yeah, the drummer was there but no one cared about him in real time either). Krist kissed both Kurt and the unnamed drummer. It was at the end of the show, the "goodnight" section. He was trying to freak out, flip off, the homophobes.

An e-mail asked about my trip to Ireland? I'm working out the details and will be going this month. But the site will have guest posts. I would prefer not to ask C.I. but I'm probably going to fall back on that.

Right now, it's the following:

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

and Wally of The Daily Jot.

Cedric and Wally would post on different days and not do a joint-post. Nor would they have to try to do humor posts. My only rule is that they keep it brief because I don't want them breaking their backs to fill in for me. Add Ruth of Ruth's Report. She asked me what I was writing and I filled her in. "Why didn't you ask me?" Because she has her own site now. She was very kind to grab a day last time I went to Ireland (2006). But she didn't have her own site then and I didn't want to ask. I actually just asked Betty to grab Mondays (as she had before). C.I. heard me on the phone (we were in a cab) and said, "I'll grab Fridays and any other days you need." I said no, but C.I. insisted so I said, "Fine, just Fridays." Betty called Cedric and Wally and they agreed and that was all lined up very quickly. Ruth says Wednesdays would be best and I know Cedric and Wally have Tuesdays and Thursdays (I'm not sure who has which) so that works out great. (Wednesdays was the day Ruth grabbed before.) So I am now officially coverad and thank you to all five for helping out. This won't be next week. It'll probably only be two weeks. It may go to three. I'll talk more about it as it approaches.

The other question I keep getting in e-mails is will there be a music review for April? I honestly think not. I may do one from Ireland but I may just wait until May.

This saddens me for selfish reasons, this news. From Howie Edelson's "Stevie Nicks Says Issues With Lindsey Buckingham Threaten Her Involvement With Fleetwood Mac" (KBS Radio):

Stevie Nicks says that ongoing problems with bandmate and one-time boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham may signal the end for her in Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks, who'll be hitting the road next week for a string of spring dates, told Q magazine that the band's tentative tour for next year is up in their air due to personality conflicts, revealing, "Lindsey knows that I did not have a great time during (2003's) Say You Will (album and tour)... He was not being very nice or friendly to me and at my old age I'm like 'Please! I can't do it.'I have a great, great, (solo) band... The only reason for me to do it is for my heart."
She went on to say, "I've always loved being in Fleetwood Mac and I'm never going to be the one to squash it... So if Lindsey Buckingham wants to be the Lindsey Buckingham that he was a long time ago -- and be happy with me and enjoy what I do, and enjoy my celebrity and just appreciate the marvelous gift of being in this elite band -- then I will do it again. I will also walk away so fast that the palm tree tops will fall on his head."

The selfish reason is that I was really hoping to review something by Stevie before we all step away from online. (Though, don't panic, we may not. There's a chance it will be extended past November 2008, if you saw the gina & krista round-robin where, in response to Krista's question, C.I. said, "I couldn't sign up for four more years but I might be able to do one more year and only one more year." If The Common Ills goes dark, most of us plan to.) In terms of Stevie, she needs to do what's right for her. She's taken enough s**t from Buckingham over the years. I'm thinking about Stevie right now and I might be able to review something of her's. That's not a promise. I don't which of the CDs already released. Probably one of the first three of her solo albums. I'll think about it this weekend and, if I can swing it, I may make that an April review. I've been able to review most of my favorites that are still alive. If you've read a few of my reviews, you've probably noticed that Stevie's always mentioned. I mention her over and over. She is one of my favorites.

We had her among the CDs on the road this week. Actually her boxed set, Enchanted. And I was really thinking, "Fleetwood Mac's going to release a new CD!" (The plan was to tour and do a CD.) But really, she needs to do what's best for her. While Prince Buckingham was too frail to work -- in the pre-fame days -- Stevie was waiting tables and cleaning houses to support them both. She worked her ass off for the Coffee Prince. He didn't appreciate it anymore than he appreciated the fact that if it weren't for her, he wouldn't have a career. He has insulted her, her songs, everything she is. He has been just hateful to her and that includes his dropping out of the Tango tour (which became the Shaking the Cage tour) and slamming her on a car hood as part of his 'announcement' that he was out of the group. He is an ungrateful man and a vain one. In 1984, he began shaving years off his age. (Which Rolling Stone -- in a non-cover story because Bucking ham solo isn't a cover -- was eager to assist him with.) He can't accept the fact that he's a quirk and Stevie Nicks is an artist.

Okay, here's Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Safe and Secure Communities" (

Previewing Today: Hillary delivers a "Solutions for Safe and Secure Communities Now" speech in West Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter and outlines her $4 billion a year crime-fighting plan...the plan cuts murders in half, and "put[s] 100,000 more cops on the streets, create[s] a $1 billion grant program to fight recidivism, and provide[s] more funds to combat gangs and drugs." Read more and more.
Recapping Yesterday: Hillary responded to President Bush's address on Iraq: "The President refuses to face the reality that we are confronted with in Iraq"..."Mrs. Clinton also dismissed Mr. McCain's housing market proposals as 'warmed-over' and 'half-hearted' versions of her own plans."
Read more.
Basking in Support: At last night's Allegheny County Democratic Dinner, Hillary "bask[ed] in support"... and "invoking her mother, her daughter and the other women in her family, Pittsburgh's first female mayor [Sophie Masloff] endorsed a candidate battling to be the first woman to preside in the Oval Office."
Read more.
Three In 36 Hours: Hillary received the support of three new automatic delegates over the past 36 hours...the campaign also announced that Hillary has now received the endorsement of over 270 elected officials in Pennsylvania.
Read more and more.
Renewing the American Dream: Yesterday, Hillary attended the Beaver County Democratic Dinner in Hopewell Township, where "she promised a boisterous Democratic audience that she'd renew the American dream and repeatedly said she could fix mistakes made by President Bush on the economy and the war in Iraq."
Read more.
On Tap in Indiana: Hillary will host "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Indianapolis, Mishawaka, and Valparaiso on Saturday. Sen. Bayh previewed the trip on a call with reporters.
Read more.
Standing Strong: Other elected officials, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are joining Hillary in her calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics because of the recent human rights violations committed by the Chinese government against Tibetan protestors.
Read more.
In Case You Missed It: Sen. Obama has lost the 10-point lead nationally over Sen. John McCain he had a month ago, while Hillary leads McCain 48% to 45% in the same poll.
View here.

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

Friday, April 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour week concludes, Najaf under curfer, and more.

Starting with war resistance. "As the Vietnam War fades into the past, the struggle for reinterpretation continues. One area that has received insufficient attention is war resistance. The script offered in public circles often reads like this: the war has ended for resisters; isolated numbers of people resisted military service, most of them 'draft dodgers'; all of the legal issues surrounding military resisters were resolved -- they eventually 'got off' and people only refuse military service when they face a draft. These myths, like most others about the war, are designed to influence future generations of potential warriors,"
reminds Harold Jordan (AFSC) in an essay reviewing the realities now fogged and ignored. Reality does make a difference and reality has been torn apart by those who continue to falsely insist that war resisters who went to Canada during Vietnam were just those avoiding the draft. Some had already been inducted into the service, some had deployed to Vietnam. There was never a procedure in Canada, during this period, where you had to state, "I left the service but I was drafted in!" It did not matter. In fact, it was assumed those going to Canada after serving in Vietnam were not only taking a courageous stand but were also bearing witness. Those who repeat the lies that it was just draft evaders have made the current climate in Canada more difficult as everyone latches on to the pot-hazed memories (of people who did not resist) as proof that the Vietnam era war resisters were only granted safe haven because there was a draft. The draft was not the issue, the illegal war was. As it is today.

James Burmeister is a class of 2007 war resister -- tranlation, Panhandle Media ignored him. While serving in Iraq, he saw the Bait and Kill teams -- US materials being planted (not just weapons, as the MSM reported when they picked up on the story in the fall of 2007) so that Iraqis could be shot when they touched US property. Burmeister returned to the US last winter, turned himself in at Fort Knox waiting to hear what happens next.
Courage to Resist posts an interview (audio) with him and his father Erich Burmeister. Asked whether or not Canada had placed "pressure on you to leave," James Burmeister explained, " Of course. You know, they kind of drag out the decision on whether or not they will let us stay. They make it hard for us to get jobs or financial assistance. We're kind of in the middle up here and that's how they pressure us, they don't really give us the status. They make it hard to live up here." Erich Burmeister spoke of the help Ann Wright and Anita Anderson Dennis (Darrell Anderson's mother) have provided. He also noted the kill teams.

Erich Burmeister: It was more what he was involved in there. Particularly what really bothered him was the bait and kill thing which now is a pretty infamous subject which has come up in some of the trials of some of the soldiers that have been put on trial for murder. This sniper, you know, putting out pieces of equipment and waiting for someone to touch it and they shoot him. And that really, really bothered him. Plus the fact that when they would go through these neighborhoods and, you know, kick in people's doors and raid their houses and just loot their houses, and the terror that he saw on people's faces. He told me these things had really bothered him. And the devestation he saw around him. It was -- it was really hard for him to deal with that. He told me times that he would see people digging through garbage, women digging through garbage, and he couldn't believe the conditions that the Iraqis were forced to live under and he felt like he was somewhat responsible for this.

While Burmeister waits to find out what the military will do, war resisters in Canada wait to find out whether they will be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The week's biggest story is the death of 19 soldiers this week. Should have been but few seem aware of it (and, in fact, one news program yesterday evening said there were 16 deaths for the month so far, no, there have been 20 for the month thus far). ICCC has had problems (hacking their server) and possibly that's left some outlets confused. But yesterday's deaths resulted in 19. There are 20 for the month. The only death prior to this week was Travis L. Griffin who died in Baghdad from hostile fire on April 3rd. Clicking here will show you the 20 and the days they died. Starting Sunday (April 6th -- when 8 died), there have been 19 deaths. The deaths, little noticed and incorrectly counted when noted, came as The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour got some attention. But what would the reaction have been to the dog and pony show this week had most Americans read on the front page of their newspapers or heard at the start of their news broadcasts that 19 US service members were killed in Iraq this week thus far? Due to the media snoozing on the job, we can only guess.

On today's second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Demetri Sevastopulo (Finacial Times of London) and Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) about the week's events in the US and Iraq.

Diane Rehm: And this week, Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to call of the cease-fire. What is weighing, Nancy? And what does it mean for the security situation in Iraq?

Nancy A. Youssef: Well it's critical to the current, current political situation, because even the US conceeds that that cease-fire has been a key reason behind the recent drop in violence. This week Nouri al-Maliki threatened that anyone with any sort of militia behind them would not be able to participate in the elections and I think that's one reason Sadr is considering his actions this week. If he lifts it, it would substantially change the security situation and I think it would also raise questions about the directions he's headed in. When he declared the cease-fire, many interpreted Sadr as trying to rebrand himself as a Shia nationalist. He spent a lot of time in Iran building up his religious credentials if you will and if he lifts the cease-fire, I think that will put all of that into question. It would also say that he's pretty confident that he can control those forces which I think many people question right now whether he can.

Diane Rehm: The other question that arises, Demetri, is to what extent did the diminishment in violence that occurred in Iraq come about because of the surge or because Moqtada al-Sadr declared a cease-fire?

Demetri Sevastopulo: Well I think depending on when you asked the US military and the commanders this question, the answer had been different. For example, when President Bush went to Al Anbar Province last fall, as we were traveling out there, some officials said that the decline in violence there, the so-called Sunni "Awakening" where the shieks who had previously been fighting the Americans, allied themselves with Americans to take on al Qaeda. And we were told that that was in some ways serendipity and that surge was now going to have to build on that. Other officials said no, it wasn't serendipity, the surge created the situation or the platform for that to happen. I think it's very difficult to say. What you see at the moment is that the cease-fire is in danger of unraveling. Formally it's still in place. But the violence in Basra, the violence in Basra that has also spread to Baghdad is showing that it's very volatile. So I think, really, it's too early to tell and we're just going to have to wait and see. And General Petraeus yesterday warned that he was concerned the cease-fire could break.

Diane Rehm: So how did that upsurge in violence effect General Petraeus' comments, Ambassador Ryan Crocker's outlook?

Demetri Sevastopulo: It's been a difficult one for them to address because when it started in Basra, when Nouri al-Maliki launched his offensive, President Bush said this was a defining moment -- the Iraqi Prime Minister was showing the Iraqi people that the Iraqi troops were standing up on their own two feet, they were fighting for their country. On the other hand, Genereal Petraeus, he welcomed that, but he also pointed out that the operation was poorly planned that Mr. Maliki did not take his military advice and I've been told by some of my sources that Mr. Maliki also rejected offers of support from British forces who've been in Basra albiet pulled back at the airport.

[. . .]

Diane Rehm: Here's an e-mail from Josh in Athens, Ohio, Nancy, he says "What happened to the benchmarks that President Bush shared last year? Has anyone forgotten what he said about marked progress? How will we end this war?" Nancy?

Nancy A. Youssef: You know, it's funny, the benchmark question came up during testimony on Capitol Hill this week from some legislators asking that very thing. The administration says that the Iraqis have met three of the eighteen benchmarks. But Ryan Crocker, the Ambassador, was quick to point out that if the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that doesn't necessarily mean that the security situation will improve or that it will lead to political reconciliation -- which was very interesting. And he, essentially, in saying that, really questioned what the benchmarks were for? Was it for the Iraqis? Or was it for the US to say here's tangiable proof that the Iraqi government is working on something?

Diane Rehm: So how much of what we're seeing in this upsurge is political and how much of it is military, Michael?

Michael Hirsh: You mean in terms of the politics here?

Diane Rehm: Yes, exactly. Politics here and the politics there as well.

Michael Hirsh: I think it's equal parts both. Clearly Petreaus is very serious about pursuing the surge and believes that Iraq would fail, come apart, if US troops were not there in current strength. But at the same time Bush came out yesterday, essentially embraced Petraeus' recommendations, said there had been a strategic shift in Iraq and that we now had the initiative -- is how he put it -- and that's obviously a political message for the fall campaign for those who might be or might not be voting for McCain. John McCain's candidacy, and the Republican ascendancy, and, I think, Bush's legacy as he sees it is very much wrapped up in McCain being seen and Iraq being seen in a positive light as McCain goes into November.

Petreaus spoke with Katie Couric (CBS Evening News -- link has audio and text) for Thursday's broadcast and among the questions Couric put to him, "In our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly. More than half obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?" He replied with a denial statement insisting there was progress while acknowledging that "you have to leave that to the American people, who have to be the judge ultimately, who have to weigh all the different consequences along with of course our leaders." At the end of that segment, Couric notes, "General Petraeus also revealed for the first time that he's been engaged in secret diplomatic efforts. In recent months, he's quietly visited several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey, hoping to convince those governments to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq." And of course Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, plan to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Iraq. Which leads one to wonder exactly what is the US Secretary of State doing? As US Senator Chuck Hagel noted Tuesday during the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting Condi Rice doesn't appear to be doing anything "Kissinger-esque". The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday hearing was reported on by Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times), "Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del) noted that at least two of the presidential candidates disagreed with President Bush on overall Iraq policy. He warned David Satterfield, the State Department's top Iraq advisor, that 'if the president persists in this course, the Congress will insist on a role in approving or disapproving' the agreements. 'This is folly!' Biden said." The agreements sought by the White House are the Status of Forces Agreement and what's seen as a strategic framework agreement.

Bully Boy's bad speech yesterday dominated the bulk of the press. It was nothing new. As
US Senator Joe Biden noted of it, "The President confirmed what I've been saying for some time -- he has no plan to end this war. His plan is to muddle through and then to hand the problem off to his successor. So the result of the surge is that we're right back where we started before it began 15 months ago: with 140,000 troops in Iraq, spending $3 billion every week, losing 30 to 40 American lives every month -- and still no end in sight." After week long wave of Operation Happy Talk from the administration and its surrogates, what really happened? Peter Schmitz (Der Spiegel) observes, "Bush, in short, is changing nothing -- unless one counts the reduction in a tour of duty from 15 months to 12 months." And that change doesn't kick in until August 1st of this year. Anyone sent over prior to that date will be sent over on a 15 month term. Ann McFeatters (Scripps Howard News Service) pointed to the happiness of some, "[US Senator John] McCain exulted that progress has been made, even though Petraeus stressed it is 'fragile' and reversible.' . . . [McCain] and his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among few optimists left in Washington." While those two got happy in the Land of Denial, Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes John McCain's former National Security Assistant Anthony Cordsman declared this week, "The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camoflage a leadership vacuum."

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack on the Palestine Hotel that claimed 3 lives and left seven wounded, a rocket attack on the Green Zone, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted in 4 deaths and three people being injured, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives and left five people wounded, a Ramadi car bombing claimed the lives of 4 members of the "Awakening" Council members and left three people wounded, a Salahuddin Province car bombing that claimed the life of 1 "Awakening" Council member, 2 Diyala Province roadside bombings that claimed the lives of 1 child and 2 Iraqi soldiers and left six family members of the child injured. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack that left eleven people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Najaf assassination of Seyid Riyadh al-Noori ("brother in law to Seyid Muqtada al-Sadr") "as he was returning from Friday prayers." CBS and AP note that Najaf is now under curfew. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead outside Baiji and "three of his children" were wounded in the attack while, elsewhere in Mosul, 1 more person was shot dead.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse (police officer) in Kirkuk.

Turning to US presidential politics. "I believe that impeachment was taken off the table because it's far easier to distance one's self from the American people than it is to distance one's self from the corridors of power,"
Cynthia McKinney declares to Cindy Piester (video only). McKinney is running for the presidential nomination from the Green Party. In a wide ranging interview, Piester takes you through McKinney's long years of public service, in Georgia's state legisture, in the US Congress and the social justice issues that matter to her campaign. Kevin Zeese (Dissident Voice) writes of McKinney, "McKinney served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where she urged an end to the Iraq occupation, advocated for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, sought release of 9/11 Commission's underlying data, advocated on behalf of Katrina victims and sought to cut the bloated military budget. Twice she was defeated in the primary by a Democratic Party leadership approved candidate who worked with Republican cross-over voters for her defeat. She registered Green in September and became a candidate in a 'Power to the People' campaign in October. She is the putative nominee of the Green Party and will be on the ballot in almost all states." Stephanie M. Lee (The Daily Californian) reports on Wednesday's political forum at UC Berkeley and notes: "Larry Shoup, a local activist backing Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, said preserving minority viewpoints is crucial in a democracy. 'Once (Clinton or Obama) are elected, in our view they're going to move to the center,' Shoup said. 'The only way we can keep them honest and moving toward good positions is if we have an independent movement." How might Obama respond to that? "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"? Susan UnPC (No Quarter) notes that statement of Obama's that's raising eyebrows. Hillary Clinton's response is: "I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

Judi Panasik (The Weekly Reader) points out, "Obama, like the last two Bush campaigns, is playing off of the fears and concerns of voters with no real merit behind what he is saying. . . . And correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it Bush that convinced us the country was divided and that he would be the one to bring us all together?" From Obama to a candidate who actually stands for something . . . Ralph Nader is running for president. He has selected Matt Gonzalez as his running mate. Angelica Dongallo (The Daily Californian) reports that Gonzalez spoke about Obama's voting record:

"I'm picking on Senator Obama ... because your professor told me this is a pretty strong Obama crowd," Gonzalez said. "It says something about a candidate that can stand in front of you and repeatedly say, 'I can change the culture of Washington, (D.C.)' ... without giving you an accounting of what is going on here. What are these votes about?"

Earlier this week, Foon Rhee was 'covering' (not covering) Senator Hillary Clinton's proposals for breast cancer research. Rhee (Boston Globe) is back to gloat that Nader's campaign "is off to a slow start filling its campaign coffers" having pulled in $321,700 through February. Though not the millions the 2008 Democratic and GOP races that began in 2007 has gotten many to accustomed to, that's an impressive amount for a third party candidate. Rhee seems unaware when Nader declared he was running for president -- February 23rd. Again, that is an impressive amount to have pulled in. Ralph Nader writes: "

April 15 is around the corner.
Could the corporate executives of this country please stand up and show a little appreciation?
To the taxpayers who subsidize them? And bail them out?
How about the $30 billion bailout of reckless Bear Stearns as the most recent and egregious example?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, handouts and other forms of corporate welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.

US Senator Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Nichola Gutgold (WMC) compares and contrasts the way Clinton and Obama are speaking to voters in Pennsylvania and determines Hillary's is more effective and cites this example of Hillary connecting with voters:

I met with a group of truck drivers in Harrisburg yesterday. They are pretty fed up with high fuel prices and they were making their opinions known. Who is listening? I'm listening, but it doesn't seem like the White House is listening. The president is too busy holding hands with the Saudis to care about American truck drivers who can't afford to fill up their tank any longer. I meet workers all over Pennsylvania and elsewhere who lost their pensions; they have seen companies go into bankruptcy and discharge their obligations. We have a vice president, who, when he was CEO of Halliburton--which now gets all these no bid contracts, don't they, from the government?--workers lost $25 billion in pensions. But Dick Cheney got to strap on a golden parachute worth $20 million. You get tax breaks to people who don't need them while our children get stuck with the bill.

Also at WMC,
Peggy Simpson interviews pioneer and political scientist Jo Freeman about the 2008 race. One point not made in the must-read-article is that, should Clinton win the nomination, November would find two women on the ballot for president -- Clinton and McKinney. Meanwhile Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) weighs in on the insulting way Obama's been speaking to women lately. Nancy Reyes (Blogger News Network) notes a poll by Lifetime TV. The poll had an interesting finding that some reports are mentioning but no one is highlighting. This finding directly contradicts everything the MSM has repeatedly told news consumers. From Ellen Wulfhorst (Reuters):

As to Obama, 23 percent said they liked him more now than in January, citing his personal characteristics, while 22 percent said they liked him less. Of those, the most common reason was the Illinois senator's controversial relationship with the outspoken Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That would be the 'non-issue' Wright who damned the United States from the front of his church in the midst of a sermon. One who did get it was Stuart Taylor Jr. and
click here for his piece Monday for National Journal (that was noted in Tuesday's snapshot but the link didn't make it into the snapshot).

Tonight (in most markets)
NOW on PBS explores poverty. Bill Moyers Journal (also PBS and also tonight in most markets) looks at hunger in America. On the issue of economic realities David Bacon examines day laborers as he continues to report on immigrants and, in September, his latest book is released on this topic: Illegal Workers -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). You can also see his work here at Political Affairs magazine. Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Andrew Andrew and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):Adam Mansbach talks about his new novel, "The End of the Jews"; Stephen Frailey, head of the Department of Photography at the School of Visual Arts discusses "The 2008 Mentors Exhibition"; and painter Simon Dinnerstein discusses his collaboration with his daughter, virtuoso pianist Simone Dinnerstein and radio star Robin Quivers on "A Night of Music & Art with the Dinnersteins," a fundraiser for Healing Bridges, an organization creating jobs for women in Africa.

mcclatchy newspapers

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hillary and Elton

The "HUBdate: Commander-in-Chief on Day One" from Howard Wolfson:

Ready to be Commander-in-Chief: Yesterday, Hillary hosted a "Solutions for a Strong Military" town hall in Aliquippa, PA...Standing alongside retired Generals and Admirals, and local PA vets, Hillary discussed her "agenda to improve veterans services." Read more.
Calling on President Bush: At yesterday’s event, Clinton also "demanded that President Bush disclose his ‘endgame’ in Iraq...She also asked Bush to pledge in a speech today on Iraqi policy that he would allow Congress to 'review and vote on' any long-term security pact the administration negotiates with the Iraqi government."
Read more and more.
Setting the Record Straight: In a new 60-second radio ad, the Clinton campaign aims to set the record straight on Sen. Obama’s energy record. A misleading television ad claims Sen. Obama doesn’t take money from oil companies when in fact "Obama has accepted more than $213,000 from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses." Read the
fact check. Listen here.
New Endorsement: Former Pittsburgh Mayor and superdelegate, Sophie Masloff, endorsed Hillary today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Read more.
Strong in Puerto Rico: A new Puerto Rico poll conducted by Research & Research shows Hillary with a 13-point lead over Sen. Obama.
Results here.
Partner in Democracy: Yesterday, as "part of a whirlwind tour of eastern Pennsylvania...[former Secretary of State Madeleine] Albright told a group of about 75 people gathered in a classroom…'We had a partnership. [Hillary] was able to deliver a tough message to leaders and then go out to the countryside and meet with women’s groups and show her human side."
Read more.
Smart, Tough, and Committed: In a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, a supporter says of Hillary: "She still believes that ideas matter. She is intellectually brainy and emotionally brawny. She has the kind of remarkable endurance that makes it possible for her to press on, despite the klieg lights of controversy and criticism almost always trained in her direction. These are critical attributes for a world leader, and a U.S. president."
Read more.
Rocket Man Lends Star Power: Sir Elton John performed at a Hillary event at Radio City Music Hall in New York, raising more that $2.5 million for her campaign.
Read more.
Today in PA: Hillary attends the Beaver County Democratic Dinner in Hopewell Township, and gives remarks at the Allegheny County Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Pittsburgh.
On Tap: Hillary will campaign in the Philadelphia area on Friday and in Indiana on Saturday.
In Case You Missed It: The McCain campaign is renewing criticisms of Sen. Barack Obama for "deriding the public financing system for presidential[ing] it the latest signal that the Democratic candidate may abandon a promise to participate in the system, should he become the Democratic nominee."
Read more.

Reuters reports:

At the fund-raiser which Clinton's campaign manager said raised $2.5 million, John said there was no one more qualified to lead the United States into the next era.
"Having said that, I never cease to be amazed at the misogynistic attitude of some people in this country. And I say to hell with them," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
"The reason I'm here tonight is to play music, but more importantly as someone who comes from abroad, and is in America quite a lot of the time (and) is extremely interested in the political process because it effects the whole world."

When you're right, you're right. I find it hilarious that the pathetic TalkingPointsMemo is trying to equate Elton John with Jeremiah Wright. They just don't get it or are so used to lying that they don't care. Wright damned America. Wright spewed hate. No one in this community has disputed the points on racism (we have disputed claims that AIDS was a conspiracy). No one in this community was offended by his racial critique. But damning the United States in your role as pastor, at the front of your church, is serious. I guess they don't go to church at TalkingPointsMemo. My grandmother would call them "Godless." (She's dead now.)

Idiots like Joshy Marshy B.C. think they can just erase the Bambi issue and make it go away. It's not going away. This is from Mark Caserta's "Sen. Obama has serious credibility problems" (The Herald Dispatch) and notice how he mentions Wright:

In an October 2006 interview with Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," he was asked if he would serve his full six-year term as the United States senator from Illinois.
The senator responded, "Absolutely ... I will serve out my full six-year term."
Russert dialed down further, "So you will not run for the president or vice president in 2008?"
Sen. Obama affirmed, "I will not!"
Does he plan on holding down two jobs until 2010?
Perhaps "change" refers to the change in his positions.
Then there's the whole nasty ordeal with his pastor.
Sen. Obama, to this day, expects the American people to believe that in more than 20 years of having a personal and pastoral relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; a man that in Obama's own words, "is like an old uncle;" he was unaware of the reverend's deeply embedded contempt for our government.
The Rev. Wright doesn't strike me as a man who could easily hide a fire burning so fiercely inside him for 20 years, from anyone.
Most recently, Sen. Obama re-positioned himself on the proposal he made in February 2007 to use public financing for his presidential campaign, should he be the Democratic nominee.

All that's happened is that the screamers have made people go underground with their offense at Wright. It's there and they will tell you that one on one. But it's why McCain's now beating Obama in the polls. The press has no one to blame but themselves. They spent weeks telling people, who were offended, that they shouldn't be offended. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, what happens in Iraq come December 31st, Senate hearings, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War resistance includes resisting moves to put the draft back in place in the US so consider The Huffington Post no friend to war resisters since they insist upon running the crazy scribbles of a Bambi groupie named Frank Schaeffer who argues "progressives" (I guess that's to include the Closet Political Types and not just liberals) must support the draft and that the lack of a draft is why the illegal war drags on and that's due to an elevation of the military. What? Joe Lieberman tossed the 2000 election on NBC's Meet the Press when he waived all voting rules and regulations for those serving in the military who voted in Florida. That had nothing to do with the Iraq War. There is a glorification of the military (though not of individuals actually serving in the ranks who are ignored repeatedly in the press), there always has been. It helps sell wars. It's how corporations work. Maybe Right Wing Daddy hit Frankie too hard one day but the last thing the US needs is a draft. Wouldn't that argument, though, come from someone safely out of the age of a draft? Yeah, it would.

The lack of a draft isn't why the illegal war has dragged on. Were there a draft in place and able to immediately implement a draft lottery on March 1, 2003, it still wouldn't have made a difference in the illegal war going on currently. The Bully Boy believes in outsourcing. He believes in corporate welfare. The mercenaries (such as Blackwater) in Iraq currently would still be there even if there was a draft because the whole point -- something many generals objected to in real time (but Frankie forgets that) -- was to do the war on the cheap and to put as few boots on the ground as possible. So a draft is nonsense, it wouldn't have made a difference. Bully Boy wouldn't have activated it. I'm really sick of all the closeted types hiding behind the label "progressive" but the reality is there is nothing in it for the left in calling for a draft. That is so offensive and it would have to come from an idiot raised by a right-wing radical. There are no standards at The Huffington Post. We've seen that over and over. We've seen mentally disabled children MADE FUN of by those posting articles (not comments, articles) at The Huffington Post. There are NO standards. Crazy Frankie loves Bambi Obama and that's good enough for Arianna. We're not linking to that crap site. When they thought it was okay to make fun of mentally disabled children, they crossed a serious line. We're done with them. And we're obviously not missing anything since Fundamentalist Frankie is a featured writer there. (You'll note, Frankie's not a Democrat. If they had to depend upon actual Democrats to voice support for Barack, you'd hear nothing but crickets chirping.) The US doesn't need a draft and the left needs to loudly call that nonsense out.

They also need to pay attention to Canada. War resisters in Canada are attempting to be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Hearings went on today regarding Iraq and we'll note them after the reported violence in Iraq but first we'll note that, yesterday, the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations held a meeting presided over by Senator Bill Nelson. Among those testifying was Mary Beth Kineston who noted at the start:

I hold a commercial truck driver's license and my husband John and I joined KBR on January 19, 2004 in order to go to Iraq and work for KBR at Camp Anaconda in what appeared to be an exciting and well paying truck driving job. I would earn compensation at the rate of about $84,000.00 per year tax free when employed at KBR. When I was hired I expected that KBR would protect my physical safety while working as far as it was able and I did not expect any special treatment merely because I was a female. I am a hard worker and a loyal employee and can deal with my share of hardships as evidenced by the fact I voluntarily agreed to work for KBR at a forward combat basein a war zone in Iraq as a condition of my employment. It is undisputed I was qualified for KBR employment as a truck driver at all times relevant. However, that being said, I was not expecting to trade my self respect or right to be free from sexual assault as a condition of continued KBR employment and I did not view myself as selling my human dignity as a female employee when I accepted KBR paychecks. I also expected that when I made a complaint about such activity, it would be thoroughly investigated in good faith, that is, with an intent to resolve the problem immediately, and that I would be protected from the perpetrator in the mean time. I also expected that if the laws were broken by KBR relative to gender discrimination or if I were a victim of a crime I would have an adequate legal remedy for the offense. I expected that given KBR had a sexual harassment policy and given KBR was obligated to abide by federal civil rights laws regarding gender discrimination it would protect me in the event I was a target of any sexual misconduct by co-workers. I can assure this Committee that none of my expectations about KBR were fulfilled.

Along with illegal sexual harassment, being denied access to restrooms, food and water, Kineston was raped and sexually assaulted after. She noted, "The perpetrators in my case have not spent a day in jail although they committed crimes on what amounts to in effect U.S. soil and committed acts that in this country would enver be tolerated."

"The bottom line,"
Senator Nelson stated, "is that American women working in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be assaulted while their assailants continue to go free. Either the U.S. government has the authority to prosecute contractors for sexual assault and is failing to do so, or it doesn't have the authority or resources it needs and hasn't come to Congress. Either way, it is a travesty." Lesley Clark (Miami Herald) reports: "An attorney with the Defense Department told Nelson the Pentagon is ramping up efforts to stamp out sexual harassment among government contractors." That would be Assoc Dept General Counsel for Military Justice and Personnel Policy at the Dept of Defense Robert Reed who declared, "The Department of Defense has engaged in a concerted effort to combat sexual assaults within our stateside and overseas military communities. Beginning in early 2005, over a dozen policy memorandums were issued that addressed sexual assault issues and care for victims of sexual assalt. The Department established a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to further these policy issues and, by June 2006, issued a DoD directive and DoD Instruction on the Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response Program. The Program includes a netowrk of Sexual Assault and Response Coordinators and Sexual Assalut Victim Advocates who assist victims of sexual assault." That's blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Memos? They issued memos? Well that certainly is cover-your-own-ass-we've-got-documentation. But it's not addressing the situation and they have refused to address the situation. The programs are underfunded. The victims are discouraged from them. The 'justice' is non-existant. Kim Wendel (WKYC) notes that Dawn Leamon testified of how "she was sodomized and forced to have oral sex with a soldier and a co-worker after she drank a cocktail that made her feel strange." Maddy Sauer (ABC News) reports that when Leamon reported the sexual assaults, she was encouraged not to report it ("You know what will happen if you do") by KBR, she was "then assigned full-time security guards to her which gave her no privacy to talk about the incident, and her movements around camp were restricted, yet her attackers' movements were unrestricted." If it sounds familiar, you may be thinking back to December when Brian Ross, Maddy Sauer and Justin Rood were reporting on 22-year-old Jamie Leigh Jones who went to Iraq to work but ended up getting gang-raped by employees for Halliburton/KBR. The rape was folloed by KBR holding Jones in a pod and denying her food, water and contact with the outside world. A sympathetic co-worker passed her a cell phone allowing her to phone her father, "I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave." As US Senator Hillary Clinton [PDF format warning] noted then:

As I hope you are all aware, recent news accounts indicate that Ms. Jones, a Halliburton/KBR employee in Baghdad, alleges she was gang-raped by her fellow employees and then held under guard against her will in a shipping container in order to prevent her from reporting the horrific crime. She states that she was denied food and water during her detention and told that she would be fired if she left Iraq to seek medical attention. More than two years later, news reports state that no U.S. government agency or department has undertaken a proper investigation of the incident. These claims must be taken seriously and the U.S. government must act immediately to investigate Ms. Jones' claims. These allegations implicate all three of your departments. If one of your departments has already launched a private investigation, I urge you to disclose your findings without delay. If no investigation has been started, I urge you to decide the proper course for an inquiry into these claims and to commence your investigation with the utmost urgency.

In Iraq,
Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "Since March 25, when clashes with the Mahdi Army started in Basra, Baghdad, and other parts of southern Iraq, at least 142 people have been killed and 800 wounded in Sadr City alone, according to Qassim al-Suwaidi, the hospital's director [Iman Ali Hospital]. Nearly one-third of the victims have been women and children, he says. On Thursday, US air strikes continued to hit buildings in Sadr City and at least 15 people were killed in the district, the Mahdi Army's main Baghdad stronghold. The US military says it is targeting 'criminals'." Targeting 'criminals'? You heard the same excuse from the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki during the assault on Basra. A McClatchy Newspapers Iraqi correspondent visits the area and writes (at Inside Iraq):

When I passed the small bridge towards the new bus station, I noticed that I couldn't hear the shouting of the drivers. I kept walking for about five minutes and I reached the area I couldn't find the buses. I asked a young man and he told me that they were ordered by the American and the Iraqi forces not to stop in the place and more. I saw few American military vehicles. The street was empty. The Youngman told me "if you plan to walk, go through the bystreets because the American snipers may shoot you."

[. . .]

I know there is an ongoing fight between the American and the Iraqi forces from one side and the gunmen from Sadr City on the other side but I also know very well that there are thousands of families sponsors need to leave Sadr City to work in other places. Their life and their families needs depend on their daily wages they get. No daily wages may mean no lunch or no dinner for these families. People in Sadr City now suffer from the lack of food substances. Everybody knows that empty stomachs are always angry and dangerous. I believe that the military commanders who decided to impose the blockade on Sadr City know very well that women, old men, infants and children of Sadr City don't fight them. What is going on now in Sadr City is seems like mass punishment. It's not fair to punish the innocent and treat them as insurgents because they are not.

Anwar Ali (NYT's Baghdad Bureau) wrote Tuesday, "At the beginning we thought that maybe things would settle down within a few days, and we would again be busy following other usual problems like mortar shells, car boms, suicide bombers and I.E.D.s. In fact most of the people in most of the Shiite neighborhoods like ours are Sadrist, if not Mahdi Army, and they are very many. So we thought that the government would not do anything serious here because the Sadrists are the majority, and we can find them even within the army and the police. . . . In fact I realized that we still want to believe that the security situation is imporving and that those clashes are an illusion, and that the concrete proof of this is that we are still alive no matter what is going on around us." Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reports, "The Iraqi capital remains under curfew after another round of bloodshed in which mortar rounds landed in Sadr City, killing seven people, including two children, and injuring 24 others. Further gunfights in the sprawling Shia slum led to six more dying and 15 others being wounded. The area is a centre of support for the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and came after days of clashes between his militia, the Mehdi Army, and Iraqi government forces in which 55 people have been killed and more than 200 injured. The Shia fighters vowed last night that retribution would be taken for the 'unprovoked attack' in Sadr City which they claimed was the responsibility of the US forces." As Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) noted earlier this week, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker was telling the US Congress this week that the passage of a bill calling for provincial elections was progress (those elections may or may not take place) but "[m]any Sadr loyalists viewed the offensive" currently going on in Iraq "as an attempt by Maliki's Dawa party and the Shiite rivals of the Sadr movement to undercut the much more popular Shiite movement prior to elections in October." Of planned elections, Mariam Karouny (Reuters) explains that, "Major players -- such as the movement of populist Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Sunni Arab tribal groups -- will be competing for the first time and are expected to make gains at the expense of those now in power. . . . The results will provide early clues on how parties will far in parliamentary elections scheduled for 2009 -- polls that will determine if Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki retains power or another leader takes his place." Citing "an Iraqi Interior Ministry official," UPI reveals that 6 civilians have died in "the past 24 hours from two U.S. air strikes in Sadr City area in Baghdad". Presna Latina reports, "The US warplanes continue targeting civilian areas, claiming that those opposed to the Iraqi government and the foreign occupation, as the Mahdi Army militants loyal to Shia Muslim clergyman Moqtada al Sadr, are hidden there." Iran's Press TV speaks to Salman al-Fraiji who "noted that three million inhabitants of Sadr City are presently under siege. They are prevented from leaving and from reaching food supplies" and quotes him stating, "We will obey the orders of Moqtada al-Sadr but if the violence against the Iraqis continues, if the blood of Iraqis continues to be spilled, the ceasefire will definitely be lifted." AFP cites, "An AFP reporter who toured Sadr City in the afternoon said streets were shaken sporadically by the sound of automatic gunfire while loud explosions were heard from time to time. The main streets were deserted. Residents said the roadways are primed with bombs placed by Shiite militiamen fighting US forces. US Apache helicopters were seen flying high overhead while the sound of warplanes could be heard."

In some of the other reported violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that left eight people wounded, an attempted assassination via bombing in Salahuddin Province on the "Head of the Muncipal Council of Dor" that he survived, a Mosul mortar attack that left eleven people wounded and 2 car bombings in Mosul that claimed 4 lives (three police officers, one civilian) and left twenty-five people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a PUK member was shot dead in Nineveh province today, two children were shot dead in Kirkuk today and 1 representative of the Ministry of Interior was shot dead in Salahudding Province along "with one of his relatives". Reuters notes that the Kirkuk shooting that killed the two boys also wounded their parents.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 33 corpses were discovered in Mahmudiyah.

Today the
US military announced: "A Coalition force Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle during convoy operations in central Baghdad April 9." ICCC's total is 4032 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 19 of those announced beginning on Sunday.

In Iraqi legal news,
Free Bilal. As Reporters Without Borders notes AP photographer, Pulitzer Prize winner, Bilal Hussein has been found not guilty of charges in the Iraqi courts -- trumped up charges the US has hidden behind to imprison him since April 12, 2006. Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that the court found Bilal "should be 'immediately' released" and yet the US military has not released him. Noah Barkin (Reuters) reports the US military is tating that they will 'review' his status.

Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports: "A secret draft agreement is being drawn up to allow United States forces to remain in Iraq indefinitely, it has been reported. The document, which was written a month ago and is and marked 'secret' and 'sensitive,' is intended to replace the United Nations mandate for coalition troops, including British forces, to remain in Iraq, which expires at the end of the year. The draft authorisation would allow for the US to 'conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security'." That sets the stage for this morning's hearing by the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations. Senator Joe Biden is the chair of that committee and it has been addressing Iraq this week and last. McElroy was reporting on the treaty the White House wants to sign with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, the one they're calling a Status of Forces Agreement. As the hearing wound down, Biden informed David Satterfield (US State Department) and Mary Beth Long (US Defense Dept), "I respectfully suggest that you don't have a Constitutional leg to stand on."

But that was the conclusion. The hearing started with Biden noting the Declaration of Principles that Bully Boy and al-Maliki put their names to in November which sent up "many red flags with me and other Americans. We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat. We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat?

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

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.

Senator Robert Menendez pointed out that renewing the UN authorization would mean there was no need for an agreement. "Many of us on both sides of the aisle," Menendez stated, "believe that such an agreement needs to come before Congress." Menendez also felt that things were being offered without any bargaining being made, that "a tremendous leverage opportunity" was being wasted and, in doing so, "undermining a critical opportunity to make the Iraqi government make the hard choices." Senator Jim Webb built upon the legal issues. "In your view," he asked Satterfield, "the international authority after December 31st would come from what document?" Satterfield attempted to bob and weave to duck the issue but Webb pursued the topic forcing Satterfield to finally answer that it would be the executive agreement that would be "binding."

"What you're maintaining," Webb pointed out, "is that an executive agreement can bind us -- let me use a better word -- can authorize a continue military presence in Iraq?" Satterfield hemmed and hawwed but finally agreed leading Webb to stress that if "it's an essential document . . . I would argue it's a document that needs Senate consent."

Webb: What is a premanent base?

Satterfield: Senator the administration has made clear that we're not seeking permanent bases in Iraq.

Webb continued to explore the meaning of "permanent base" and asked Long, "Are there permanent bases in Japan?" Webb explained, "It's sort of a dead word, it doesn't really mean anything" noting the whole concept of 'permanence' and that "to say that these won't be permanent bases really doesn't go to what they will be. What we're saying won't be -- it's a dead word." He then noted that the Status of Forces Agreement the White House wants is said to "reflect all the major parties of Iraq but at this point it does not reflect all the major parties in the US."

As the hearing wound down, Biden pointed out, "Truth is, when this UN authorization expires in January, no other foreign forces are allowed to be in Iraq unless the Iraqi government" enters into contracts "with those countries" because they "can't piggyback on the agreement" the White House wants to make. He then took up the issue of the 2002 resolution and noted that if the US is creating an agreement "with a government in Iraq, it's not longer a threat ."

"That's an awful hard case to explain to the American people," Biden stressed, pointing to the death toll, the number wounded and how "if that ain't enough then guess what? If the Iraqi Parliament votes for us to go home, guess what? I predict 89% of Republicans, 95% of the Democrats [and --% of the independnets) will say, 'Hey, man, they don't want us? We're out of there."

This afternoon (and it's still going on as I dictate this), the US Senate Armed Services Committee heard from Sec of Defense Robert Gates and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen. Senator Carl Levin is the chair of the committee. As Gates and Mullen completed their opening statements, Levin pointed out to Gates, "There's no way you can paper over the difference between" his view and that of Gen Petraeus over the brief pause in withdrawing the troops added in Iraq for the escalation/surge. Gates agreed that "there certainly is a difference in the way we described it" but felt it was just a misunderstanding and offered the most convulated justification (that included "I talked to the press at the time, I continue to believe . . . while we use different words") tried to say they were on the same page and that "I believe," come September, Petraeus will be on the same page with Gates but Petraeus needs to time to think. He's such a rebel, that Davy Petraeus. In fact, Gates was making like Darlene Love and singing, "He's a Rebel" to Congress. Levin wasn't buying it, "General Petraeus' testimony is very different from what you're saying hearing." Still sounding like a sap (or speaking for the girl groups of the 60s), Gates insisted it wasn't any different, he and Davy were just alike but "one of the benefits" to being Gates "is I'm allowed to hope more than" he does. "I hope that you're doing more than hoping," Levin deadpanned noting that Gates' job was to give a clear assessment to the president.

Senator Bill Nelson stressed the issue of reimbursment and wanted to know about that. He pressed Gates to figure out what "could be reimbursable by the Iraqis so that they don't come at the expense of the American taxpayers borrowing on future generations." Gates noted that "the subject of them reimbursing us . . . has not been broached yet." Nor apparently even considered due to "this focus on reconstruction and military equipment but" cheerily Gates added "based on this hearing, I'm more than happy to take this back to the administration."

As part of the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk, today Bully Boy gave a speech. Instead of recounting his nonsense, we'll note
Senator Hillary Clinton's response:

Today, President Bush delivered yet another address on Iraq -- but we've heard enough speeches that are long on promises, short on facts.
And the fact is, there will probably be more troops in Iraq after the surge than before the surge. Iraq has barely moved toward political reconciliation, meeting only a few of the benchmarks set out by the Bush Administration at the start of the surge. And violence has once again spiked in Baghdad and Basra.
On Tuesday, I asked General Petraeus when he came before the Senate Armed Services Committee what conditions would mean we should change course, given that the surge has failed to achieve political reconciliation. He did not answer.
Yesterday I called on President Bush to answer the question General Petraeus did not. But the President refuses to face reality.
I want to commend President Bush for agreeing to cut the length of deployments from 15 to 12 months. But it is deeply unfortunate that the President only made this change when the strain he placed on our forces required it.
Now, once again President Bush is asking Americans for time and patience -- but the American people are saying he's had enough of both.
Our troops have done all that's been asked of them and more. It's time for the President to answer the question being asked of him: in the wake of the failed surge, what is the endgame in Iraq?
As President, I will do what this president has failed to do: recognize reality and end the war responsibly.

mcclatchy newspapers

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Doug Thompson embraces & hugs sexism

Doug Thomspon's on a high horse about how great he thinks he and his website (Capitol Hill Blue) are. Today he's noting their policy "Posts that contain racism, homophobia, bigotry or Antisemitism will be removed and the posters banned." Notice what's missing? Sexism. But Capitol Hill Blue loves to traffic in sexism. Which is why a T. J. Flapsaddle can post to that crappy website:

Perhaps if her mother had not spent so much of her married life enabling her father's philandering, Chelsea Clinton might be fielding other questions instead of those referring to Monica Lewinsky.

T.J. gets called on his sexism and responds:

There's a division of responsibility here. Bill Clinton shouldn't have done it, and Hillary Clinton shouldn't have helped rake it under the rug.
I have suggested that Hillary Clinton made a Faustian bargain to put up with her husband's antics simply because he was ultimately her road to the White House.

Here's little Dougie himself expressing his feelings about the woman in the race and catch his LIE in this:

Also ironic is her campaign's coining of the "Tanya Harding Strategy" to describe their plans to "kneecap" Barack Obama and destroy his credibility before the convention. Harding, a third-tier Olympic skating hopeful, hatched a plan to injure rival Nancy Kerrigan by busting her knee with a baseball bat so she couldn't compete on the ice.
Harding was, and probably still is, a cold, calculating, scheming blond bitch. Is that really the comparison the Clinton campaign wants?

Barack Obama coined "The Tanya Harding Strategy" in 2007, to a reporter. It's published, Dougie. Reading's hard. Too many words and some written by women!

What a sexist pig.

Here's a typical and 'loveable' comment:

According to Joyce's notes she found a belligerent bitch instead of a new first lady and tried to get out of the assignment.

And Dougie writes about a "political whore" and includes this: "Claiming Bush is worse than Clinton when it comes to corruption and scandal is like saying Britney Spears is more of a slut than Paris Hilton." I'm really not sure where Dougie gets off calling either woman a s**t. I don't follow Britty but I wasn't aware she was sleeping around in extreme (I kind of thought she had some mental issues that had nothing to do with sex) but it's nice to Father Dougie can peer into the bedroom windows of her soul. As for Paris, where does he get off? (Alone in his own bed, most likely.) Notice women can be called sluts and bitches and much more at his site. That's because sexism is encouraged by Dougie. How about this gem: "and Pelousy - hell - I wouldn't touch that slut with a ten foot cattle prod." Pelosi's a slut as well? I don't care for Pelosi but, and I live in her district, I've never her sexual rumors about her. So he just applies "slut" willy nilly?
Remember, sexism a-okay at Capitol Hill Blue. Dougie loves sexism, he breathes it, he is it.

I bumped that up when it was pointed out to me. That's my lead. Here's what I had been writing.

I got back to the hotel about a half hour ago and have booted up the laptop and stared at the TV. Not even news. Just flipping the channels trying to find something that would inspire me to write while I searched around online (also hoping for inspiration). Nothing appears to be arriving.

Ava and C.I. just got back (I skipped the evening speaking to eat and then I wondered around soaking up the local scene) and Ava says, "Jeremiah Wright, the fun never ends." She suggested I check out Caryl Rivers who fancies herself a journalist. Rivers quotes 'expert' Melissa Harris Lacewell. That's cute. Rivers should have told readers that Melissa Harris Lacewell campaigns for Bambi Obama and has done so since 2007. She is part of the campaign and should be identified as such. Caryl Rivers, that's journalism rule one. (No link, I don't link to The Huffington Post -- too many crazies and too much trash.)

Rev. Wallace E. Joice writes The Joplin Globe to express his distate for Wright's statements (he's Native American as well as a pastor). This is from the ABC News blog:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was forced to deal with another question about the racially polarizing Minister Louis Farrakhan out on the stump in Levittown, Pennsylvania, a town with it's own history of racial tensions.
Obama was asked about his church's magazine giving Louis Farrakhan an award, saying he "epitomized greatness."
The questioner at the town hall was referencing Trumpet Newmagazine, launched by Obama's Trinty United chuch in Chicago, which used to be headed by Obama's controversial former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The newsmagazine was published by Wright’s daughters.
"How can praise for any anti-Semitic demagogue be considered a minor difference between you and the reverend?" the woman asked.

Meanwhile James Kirchick (The Advocate) writes:

In October, Barack Obama's presidential campaign invited Donnie McClurkin -- a notorious "ex-gay" singer and minister -- to participate in its Southern Gospel Tour event in South Carolina. McClurkin claims that homosexuality can be "cured" through prayer and that gay people are "trying to kill our children." While Obama later claimed that he did not agree with McClurkin about gays, he had no problem giving the performer a platform to preach his bigotry, knowing that such views are widely held among the conservative Southern black voters whose support he needs to win the Democratic nomination.

Here's the latest "HUBdate: Commander-in-Chief on Day One" (

Commander-in-Chief: Hillary hosts a town hall with senior retired military officers and Keystone State veterans in Aliquippa, PA.
Strong on Iraq: At yesterday's Senate hearings with General David Petraeus and Ambassador David Crocker, Hillary said, "The administration and supporters of the administration’s policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater costs of continuing the same failed policy." TIME's Jay Carney on Clinton: "In tone, demeanor and command of the facts, she was - I thought - very impressive."
Watch here.
On Air: Hillary launches five new ads in Pennsylvania. Watch
Get it Done, Spectacular, Scranton, Falling Through, and Nuestra Amiga. Read more.
Hoosiers for Hillary: Yesterday, Hillary released her 'Blueprint for Indiana's Economic Future,' her plan to put the American Dream back within the reach of middle class Indianans. Volunteers at phone banks in six cities across the state spread the word.
Read her plan.
Offices in Indiana: The campaign opened offices yesterday in Kokomo, Marion, and Lafayette bringing the total number to 21.
Read more. Volunteers across the state today will gather to answer more than 6,000 questions that have been submitted since the launch of last Friday. Said one voter, "Hillary is not only prepared to listen; she is prepared to offer real solutions to the real problems experienced by real people."
Read more.
Real Differences in Oregon: Hillary has supported the rights of local communities to locate liquefied natural gas facilities. Senator Obama supported the Bush-Cheney energy policy that removed that right.
Read more.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary delivers the keynote address at the Allegheny County Democratic Committee’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Pittsburgh, PA.
Unifying Force?: "Senator Barack Obama has asked voters to see him as a unifying force...Unfortunately, Obama has failed in his first test to unify his own party. His campaign has failed to recognize the results of the Florida primary -- and Michigan -- for political gain...a decision that could disgruntle Democratic voters in Florida in November and years beyond."
Read more.

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continues, the US military announces more deaths, The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour continues, and more.

Starting with war resistance. The
Guardian of London notes Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Key is an Iraq War veteran who returned to the US on leave, spoke with his wife Brandi and they decided to go underground rather than for Joshua to continue fighting an illegal war. Eventually, they and their children moved to Canada. Key suffers PTSD and is haunted by his time in Iraq. From his book (written with Lawrence Hill), pp. 98-99:

Not long into our second tour of duty in Ramadi, I was working at a traffic control point, pulling over vehicles. The standard practice was to order everybody out of the car and to have the driver open the hood and the trunk. A black, four-door Mercedes-Benz pulled up carrying a driver and three male adult passengers. Glancing inside the car, I spotted four grenades tucked between the two front seats.
The driver was a young man, and he didn't say or do anything to provoke me. However, the mere presence of those grenades set me off. I hauled him from the car and began kicking and punching him. An older man in the car began screaming at me in Arabic. I could not understand a word he said, and he would not shut up, so I beat him badly too. By the time I finished with them, both men were bleeding profusely. With the help of my squad mates, I zipcuffed the men, threw one of them in the trunk, and stuffed the other three in the backseat.
Sergeant Fadinetz got into the passenger seat, I jumped into the front, and we drove ten minutes through Ramadi to the police station, where we turned over the men for arrest. I have no idea what became of them, but I do know what happened to their car: I stole it for the use of my squad. We had no keys, so I hot-wired it and attached a switch to make it easy for my squad mates to start. We kept the Mercedes and used it on our house raids, preferring to arrive in an unmarked vehicle to disguise our approach.
When I beat up the two me, I justified it to myself on the grounds that they had grenades in the car. But the truth was that, strange as it may seem to someone just outside the war, grenades were everyday items in Iraq, just like the rifles we routinely left behind on our house raids. Although we always confiscated grenades, I had no good reason to attack the men. My own moral judgement was disintegrating under the pressure of being a soldier, feeling vulnerable, and having no clear enemy to kill in Iraq. We were encouraged to beat up on the enemy; given the absence of any clearly understood enemy, we picked our fights with civilians who were powerless to resist. We knew that we would not have to account for our actions. Because we were fearful, sleep-deprived, and jacked up on caffeine, adrenaline, and testosterone, and because our officers constantly reminded us that all Iraqis were our enemies, civilians included, it was tempting to steal, no big deal to punch, and easy to kill. We were Americans in Iraq and we could do anything we wanted to do.

War resisters in Canada are attempting to be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour continued its Congressional tour. Performances were held for the US House Armed Services Committee in the morning and the US House Committee On Foreign Affairs. Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker stuck to the same scripts; however, Crocker tried to spice up today's matinee performances by introducing a character tic (no doubt borrowed from US Senator Barack Obama's performance yesterday) by repeated usage of the words of "Uh" and "Uhm." In additition to allowing him to add a layer of stumbling buffoon to his performance, it also proved a time eater (think of it as Word Helper from Betty Crocker). Since the five minute rule was enforced in both hearings, it allowed Crocker to avoid answering many things.

Ike Skelton chairs the House Armed Services Committee and he opened the hearings this morning noting, among other things, "We should not begin this hearing without recalling how we got here. Iraq was invaded on incorrect information. The turbulent aftermath following the initial military victory was not considered, despite warnings of the aftermath, including two such warnings from me. Now we are in our sixth year of attempting to quell this horrendous aftermath. Preparing for this hearing, I went back and read my opening statement from our last hearing with you in September. I think I could have delivered the same statement today as I did then, which means either I repeat myself, or things haven't changed that much in Iraq."

After Petraeus and Crocker made the same prepared opening statements. To comments that the US could 'stand down' when Iraq 'stood up,' Skelton would point out "we've been at this for years" (Iraq War) so "how do you do that? How do you take the training wheels off?" Gen David Petraeus didn't get a laugh from this yesterday but seems sure there's a laugh in somewhere, so he repeated that al-Maliki's puppet government 'stood up' in Basra ("That's exactly what Prime Minister Maliki" did "as commander in chief in Iraq!"). He stuck to the script of the puppet of the occupation deciding to assault Basra all by himself, "That was not something that we pushed him to do, candidly. ... That's something they wanted to do" and insisting that this was not a case of "us twisting their hand." Basra, for al-Maliki, was a failure. Petraeus might try mugging in a Norman Fell manner the next time he delivers this line.

US House Rep Solomon Ortiz noted the human costs and that the alleged "security gains are arguable" as well as the crisis in readiness for the military. House Rep Silvestre Reyes would probe the issue of withdrawal and the buzz words of this tour "conditions-based" (which really needs a big production number). By the testimony being offered by Petraeus, Reyes felt that if violence flared up in one area, Petraeus would be arguing to "reinstate the sruge" and Petraeus felt that wasn't likely and stated anything like that was something that the puppet government could take care of.

US House Rep Ellen Tauscher noted the opposition to the Iraq War, that more people are saying (in polls) that the Iraq war was "not worth it) and how "my constituents repeatedly tell me that we can't sustain" the costs (human and monetary). Tauscher noted that a new president would be elected in November and sworn in at the start of 2009. "If you report to a commander-in-chief . . . that wants a plan" for withdrawal "what would you advise?" Petraeus stated, "My response would be dialogue again on what the risk would be." He then tried to take the curtness off his response by noting the US military is under civilian control: "we are not self-employed, we take orders and we obey." Tauscher moved on, "Mr. Crocker, considering that we will have a new president on January 20 . . . what would you advise the president on what would be available and how we could" withdraw? Crocker's response was hilarious.

"That's looking fairly far into the future uh and I've uh learned to keep my timelines short when it uh comes to do with things in Iraq."

He can't see that 'far' into the future? Eight months from now? It's like bad Woody Allen parody. Manhattan, Diane Keaton plays Mary, Allen's Isaac. Mary's decided to leave Isaac for Yale who is married.

Isaac: I give the whole thing . . . four weeks.

Mary: I can't plan that far in advance.

Isaac: You can't plan four weeks in advance?

Mary: No.

Isaac: What kind of foresight is that?

The US Ambassador to Iraq can not ponder how he would advise the next president (elections are less than seven months away) on how to go about withdrawal if that was his or her determination. He can't think that far ahead.

US House Rep Robert Andrews attempted to pin Petraeus and Crocker on the lack of political/diplomatic process in Iraq. Crocker used a lot of words (and "uh"s and "uhm"s) to say nothing. At one point, he declared, "The most important power they [Iraqis] have is access to resources" which led Andrews to point out, "At this point and time the most important resource in Iraq is oil" and there's been no sharing agreement passed. ("No, it hasn't," Crocker admitted.) Crocker had tried to pitch the de-de-Baathification law but Andrews pointed out that this non-implemented legislation bans "former members of the Baath Party" from the military and defense occupations. He noted that it's now five years with no progress and "why should the American people wait five more minutes for that to happen?"

US House Rep J. Randy Forbes expressed his worries about "housewives" and "premature withdrawal." He appeared to be confused at what hearing he was attending and what topics were being discussed.

US House Rep Susan Davis noted Senator Hillary Clinton's questions to Petraeus and Crocker yesterday in the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treaty the White House wants which they call a Status of Force Agreement.
Yesterday Clinton had noted that "it seems odd to Americans" that "the Iraqi Parliament may have a chance to consider this agreement" while "the United States Congress does not." Davis referenced that and noted, "That strikes people in our districts as strange. I wonder if you could talk on that" and how such an agreement might or might not "be used as leverage?"

Crocker attempted to eat up time via "Some uh uh 80 other agreements with different countries uh uh each other country has different aspects us uh . . . uh uh this one will have uh uh . . . " Davis wanted to know if the Status of Force Agreement was "a vehicle for leverage that would actually bring about a result that would not occur without the agreement?" Crocker responded with, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Again, he was eating up time. Davis restated again (this was really the third time she'd done so), "I'm interested in knowing how we use the State of Force Agreements for leverage?"

Crocker went back to his same nonsense, "I think that like other agreements, this is a geustion of mutal agreements uh uh we both have interests in uh uh . . . it's not a question of uh uh having something to give to them uh uh . . ." Davis noted, "The public believes that there is some role that we [Congress] should be playing to be a larger part of that aggreement" but "going back to the Awakening Councils . . . I think others are concerned that the 80,000 or so of indivduals that are not going to be included in the army or police that that, perhaps, marriage of convenience is going to shift back" to violence and "is that a concern to you?" Crocker replied, "Actually Congresswoman, we've had that discussion with the Prime Minister" who "is commited to ensuring that the remainder receive employment in the civilian sector," that they receive "job training and employment opportunites." These are the 91,000 thugs that are costing the US $16 million a month (as Wolf Blitzer noted on CNN -- and he was referenced in the hearing for noting that the bought loyalties could easily turn). Petreaus and Crocker repeated their points from yesterday about how, by paying them, US vehicles aren't damaged. Again, it's the strategy of fork over your lunch money to avoid getting beat on the playground -- a strategy that must make everyone proud.

Howard Berman chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and he noted at the start of the afternoon hearing, "Our witnesses are in the home stretch of a congressional testimony marathon; to some, this hearing may even seem like the fourth time around an endless loop. That's why we are asking both Ambarassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus more or less to summarize the main points of their testimony, at their discretion, a report to Congress that has been heard once in the House and twice in the Senate already. This way, we'll move along more quickly to the questions posed by members of the committee." He also noted that "the surge was intended to quell the violence primarily in order to create political space for Iraqis to move on toward national reconcilliation" but that hasn't happened.

US House Rep Gary Ackerman observed that "we seem to have gotten ourselves into a fix and we don't really know how to get ourselves out of it or unfix it." He noted the many "reasons we've gotten into this mess" including non-existant WMDs, 'democracy,' "getting rid of Saddam." After all of those various reasons, "it seems that we've achieved all of our golas and every time we do, a new goal comes up." Ethnic violence appears to be the new excuse. While Crocker and Petraeus have their jobs, Congress does as well and "our job is just the opposite, our job is to question. Our job is to raise those points". He compared the circular nonsense going on today with a WWII military song: "We're heare because we're here." "Why are the troops there? Because we went there. So we're there because we're there and we're there because we're there." Which raises the question of "How do you fix it?" Ackerman compared it to Sisyphus struggle in Greek mythology (every day he attempts to roll a rock up a mountain and has to start from the beginning each day). So "when you can stop pushing it? . . . When does this end? When do you stop pushing that big stone up the hill? And the answer is you really can't see beyond that big stone . . . You can't see around it." He noted that while the escalation/surge provides a "re-do," those who have died do not get a re-do. What is winning? Ackerman pointed out, "How do you know we've won because at the end of this thing, unless we decide it's an end, nobody's going to hand you a revolver, nobody's going to hand you a sword. Nobody seems to know the answer to that question."

Certainly Crocker and Petraeus didn't know the answer to that question.

US House Rep Brad Sherman provided a summary of points raised such as, "As the chair pointed out, in our war with Saddam, it's possible the winner has been Iran." He declared ("as Mr. Ackerman pointed out") that, "We're there because we're there." And moved to the Status of Force of Agreement wanting to know, "Will there be anything in this agreement that ties the new president's hand?"

Ryan Crocker: Congressman, uh uh, in a word, uh, no.

He asked Petraeus, "Will you begin on November 5th . . . to prepare plans to execute the policies of the incoming president or alternatively, will the incoming president . . . find a dilemma where if they order immediate withdrawal it will be an unplanned withdrawal" which would lead to more of the same currently going on (stuck in a quagmire).

Petraeus: Congressman, I can only serve one boss at a time.

"As a transition approaches," he continued, "obviously there is going to be back and forth to facilitate and not me, this will be the Secretary of Defense, the chair of the Joint Chiefs and, at some point, there will be contingency plans directed."

Brad Sherman asked, "So you would expect to get contingency plans?" And David Petraeus replied, "I'm very uncomfortable candidly describing" this. He spooks so easy.
He wanted Crocker to explain, considering the price of oil per barrel, "Why are we paying everything that we're paying" in Iraq? But he was out of time. US House Rep Dana Orbacher followed up on Sherman's questions and cautioned that "any Status of Force Agreement with Iraq" should "include a provision that the Iraqi government pay for any security that we're providing them with." Crocker replied, "Uh, Congressman, in the last few days, uh, uhm, had that message emphasized loud and clear. . . . That's uh something" to be discussed. Orbarcher responded that the correct answer was "yes" and "If not there's going to be trouble on the Republican side as well as the Democratic side" when the next war funding bill comes through.

"General, we often hear President Bush and [Senator John] McCain say we must win in Iraq," US House Rep Robert Wexler noted. "What is the definition of 'winning'?"

Wexler explained that he had sought out input from his constituents as to what question they would be asking if they were on the committee. Stuart Wolfer, 36-years-old, died in Iraq on Sunday. He was a major on his second tour of Iraq and "his family was relieved that he was in the Green Zone because they hoped he would be safe there." He was killed in an attack on the Green Zone. He leaves behind a wife Lee Anne Wolfer and three daughters. His parents, Esther and Len Wolfer, live in Boca Raton. Len Wolfer wanted Wexler to ask, "For what?" Wexler explained, "For what had he lost his son? What has all this been for and please, respectfully, don't tell us as you told Senator [John] Warner [yesterday] to remove a brutal dictator. What did Stuart Wolfer and the . . . others die for?"

David Petreaus: National interests.

Petreaus defined 'winning' as Iraq being "a country that is at peace with itself and its neighbors." Gee, when does the US make that a goal for itself?

US House Rep Eliot Engel noted the Status of Force Agreement proposal and how when Seantor Clinton noted it yesterday, she was told that "it was unclear whether they [al-Maliki] would bring it to a vote or simply read it to the Iraqi Parliament"; however, the Iraqi Constitution require it to be brought to the Parliament. So, Engel wanted to know, "If the Maliki governemtn bypasses the Iraqi Parliament and approves this agreement unilaterally, will the Bush administration . . . reject any agreement?" Time ran out and no answer was provided.

US House Rep Sheila Jackson opened with, "May I ask a simple question? How do we get out of this mess?" She showed photos of a recent trip to Iraq (noting that the photos weren't classified) and how she saw quality of life needs throughout her visit (trash, lack of potable water, etc.). She noted the Iraqis she spoke with and how Nouri al-Maliki is seen not as a leader of Iraq but as a sectarian leader. The 2002 Iraq resolution required UN approval, she pointed out, which never took place. "Now Saddam is gone, there's been a democratic election," she noted, so why is the US still in Iraq? Petraeus tried to avoid her questions including the most basic ones about whether al Qaeda exists outside of Iraq. "Certainly," he replied after dodging. "Let me say that I frankly believe we are operating without authority, the 2002 authorization has been completed . . . We should now bring our troops home."

Underscoring Sheila Jackson Lee's point, the
US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from non-combat related injuries at approximately 6:30 a.m. April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from non-combat related injuries at approximately 5:30 a.m. April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in Salah ad Din Province, April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device attack at approximately 2 p.m. in northeastern Baghdad." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack while conducting operations east of Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom April 8." Sunday saw at least 5 deaths announced, Monday saw 4, yesterday saw 2 and today sees 5. ICCC lists 19 for the month thus far and only one of those was before Sunday. So that's 18 announced dead so far this week. ICCC's current total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 4031.

Today, the fifth anniversary of the staged photo-op of the US military taking down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad to the cheering of . . . a few Iraqi exiles shipped in that weekend, was supposed to see a massive demonstration by Moqtada al-Sadr; however, he called off the action.
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that while Petraeus and Crocker were hitting the war drums for war on Iran yesterday:
As they spoke, firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr threatened to unleash his Mahdi Army militia against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Once again, it was Iran that stepped into the political vacuum and urged a halt to militia attacks into the heavily fortified Green Zone, where U.S. and Iraqi officials, including Petraeus and Crocker, have their offices. The Iranian foreign ministry called for "restraint and prudence of various Iraqi groups," an implicit rebuke of Sadr, who is living and studying in Iran.

In some of today's other reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks on the Green Zone today. Reuters notes 2 Mosul car bombings that claimed the lives of 3 police officers and 1 civilian and left twenty people wounded. CBS and AP report 7 dead in a Sadr City mortar attack (three were children) on a home.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in the Sadr City section of Baghdad that left three people wounded. Reuters notes a Sadr City armed clash that resulted in 23 deaths and eighty-three people being injured, 1 police officer shot dead and 1 civilian in Tuz Khurmato, and 1 person shot dead in Tal al-Hadeed.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 discovered in Kirkuk.

Turning to US presidential primary news, "I don't actually think it's a bad idea to have an open convention, where we actually got to hash out what the differences [between the candidates] were and how important they are." That's
Elizabeth Edwards speaking on ABC's Good Morning America today (link has text and video). Edwards endorsed no one and her husband (John Edwards) hasn't either. She did endorse Senator Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan, declaring, "You need that universality in order to get the cost savings. . . . I just have more confidence in Senator Clinton's policy than Senator Obama's on this particular issue." On her own health, she stated, "I'm doing great. I still have cancer in my bone. I get tested periodically. But it's under control. It doesn't seem to be growing, knock on wood. And i'm continuing taking some sort of treatment for the rest of my life, and hope that medicine catches up with my disease." Edwards was interviewed by GMA's Robin Roberts who had surgery last year for cancer. It is not a minor issue, and we'll again note "Clinton Unveils Plan To Find Cure For Breast Cancer On The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Plan Includes $300 Million in Increased Funding For Research Annually And Increased Access To Treatment And Screening Services." Somehow, the news outlets couldn't give attention to that, couldn't acknowledge it. Though it effects many women, it just wasn't important apparently. Or it wasn't important to them. How nice it must be to be them.

At 11:30 a.m. EST tomorrow, the Bully Boy will prance in front of America to claim the illegal war is 'winnable' and more fairy tales.
Hillary has released a statement on the Iraq War today:

"Yesterday in the Senate Armed Services Committee, I asked General Petraeus for the conditions under which he would actually support a change of course in Iraq, and to begin a drawdown of our troops, given that the surge has failed to achieve its stated goal of political reconciliation among the Iraqis. Well, he didn't really answer me.
"I also asked Ambassador Crocker if the United States Congress would have the same opportunity as the Iraqi Parliament will have to review any agreement or long-term security pact that President Bush is negotiating with the Iraqis. Ambassador Crocker said that the Congress, your representatives, would not have that chance.
"I have two requests of President Bush for his speech on Thursday. First, I call on the President to answer the question that General Petraeus did not. What is our end game in Iraq given the failure of surge to achieve the objective that the president outlined for it? Second, I call on President Bush to pledge to the American people, who have sacrificed greatly for this effort that the United States Congress will have the chance to review and vote on any long-term security agreement he has negotiated with the Iraqis.
"President Bush must not saddle the next president with an agreement that extends our involvement in Iraq beyond his presidency. We have lost more than 4,000 of our best sons and daughters. They have given their lives in service to our country in honor and for the objective of giving the Iraqi people the greatest gift another human being can bestow - the gift of freedom. Tens of thousands of our young men and women have suffered - wounds both visible and invisible - to their bodies, their minds and their hearts.
"This war has cost more than $1 trillion if you factor in the lifetime of care and support that is due to our returning veterans, and of course, we must. Our ongoing military involvement in Iraq has also undermined our efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week that our continued involvement in Iraq has meant we cannot deploy the forces we need to that country.
"There has been a harsh and daily toll on our men and women in uniform, many of whom are on their second, third, and even fourth tours of duty. Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress, according to an official Army survey of our soldiers' mental health. And we cannot forget the toll on military families. When fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives sign up to serve our country, their families sign up, too.
"So it is vital for our national security -- and for the health and safety of our men and women in uniform -- that we begin to end the war in Iraq and rebuild our military. A great Pennsylvanian, Benjamin Franklin once said, 'Well done is better than well-said.'"

mcclatchy newspapers