Friday, November 05, 2010

Carly and Joni

Bette Davis is very important to Carly Simon. “The way she talks is so individual. Nobody can imitate her. If I could imitate her, that’s all I would do with my life,” she laughs. Believe it or not Bette Davis, or more specifically, a movie inhabited by Bette Davis, is an integral part of Carly Simon’s new album, This Kind of Love. So is legendary Brazilian composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The unlikely proximity these two figures share should not surprise anyone familiar with the trajectory that Carly Simon has followed since her debut in 1971. She’s covered both Bob Marley and Stephen Sondheim, recorded the first “standards” album of the rock generation, wrote an opera, inspired Janet Jackson, serenaded James Bond, and created one of the longest-standing riddles in popular culture. To call the compass points of Carly Simon’s creativity “multi-directional” would be an understatement. The Brazilian flavor of This Kind of Love is yet another stroke in the Pollock-esque portrait of Carly Simon’s career.
There is variety even among the 13 tracks of newly written material, her first such album since The Bedroom Tapes (2000). When Carly Simon challenges me to guess which of the news songs is her favorite, I struggle in the way that guessing someone’s favorite dessert is often a fruitless exercise. How could any one of these exquisite tracks possibly stand out over another, especially when the choices are such a variegated bunch? I answer “Hola Soleil”, thinking its furious explosion of sunshine and samba would naturally bring Simon the ultimate satisfaction as a writer and musician. Though she does love that song, I’m wrong. “People Say a Lot” is the correct answer, but more on that later.

Marci, a huge Carly Simon fan, e-mailed to ask if I'd note Christian John Wikane (PopMatters) who interviewed Carly back in May 2008? Gladly. And, at the link, you also have Carly performing her early 80s British hit "Why?" -- the original video of that. I remember US magazine gave her a long third of the page for that video shoot in their equivalent of "Random Notes." She was eating an ice cream cone and it was a full shot of her lean and lanky body. I wish US still did the black & white photos because they really were powerful.

Like Marci, I'm a huge Carly fan. I'm also a huge fan of Joni Mitchell. And I'll note this by Kyle Cunningham on Joni's Blue album:

It's not an album for those who enjoy the computerized song process of today, that's for sure. "Blue" is shamelessly simple – with nothing more complex than an Appalachian dulcimer, Mitchell gives the album an easy-to-follow sound, which is good when you're writing heartfelt lyrics.
"That's why I became a confessional poet," Mitchell said to Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe in 1979. "I thought, ‘You better know who you're applauding up here.' It was a compulsion to be honest with my audience."
And how much more honest with yourself and your audience can you get then writing "Little Green," a song about the daughter Mitchell put up for adoption in 1964? The song was heart-wrenching enough before this piece of information crossed my eyes a while back. Now it's almost crippling.
"Call her green and the winters cannot fade her," Mitchell sings over a light and simple guitar part.

Blue is a great album. A classic. And, from year-to-year, my favorite track switches. I think "My Old Man" was my favorite last year. This year it's been the title track. And what's amazing is that, even now, all these years later, I still discover new things in the album.

Favorite Carly album of that period? That's tough. Anticipation is an amazing album. And No Secrets is a groundbreaker. But of that early 70s period, I think right now my favorite is 1975's Playing Possum. "After The Storm" is especially amazing.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the horror from Sunday's Baghdad attack continues to receive global (if not US) attention, turns out there will be NO Parliament meeting on Monday (start issuing those corrections, news agencies), the US military continues to refuse to address PTSD and the service members suffering from it, the US faces a tough audience in Geneva, and more.
Today on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) Frank Sesno filled in for Diane (who returns Monday) and he was joined for the second hour by Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Anne Gearan (AP) and Thom Shanker (New York Times). When Iraq was briefly mentioned? Excerpt in full:

Frank Sesno: Go to some phone calls in just a minute but, Abderrahim, there's been a very noticeable upsurge in violence in Iraq in the past week. Tell us what happened at that Church in Baghdad?
Abderrahim Foukara: Well basically a lot of Iraqi Christians were held hostage at that Church and when the Iraqi security forces tried to free them, the carnage ensued basically and many of the hostages themselves were killed. Look, we're talking about failed states. Yemen, in a lot of books, is a failed state. Somolia is certainly a failed state. There is a theory which says Iraq is also a failed state. Don't know if a lot of people would agree with that. But it has been described before as a failed state with oil. Iraq is at an impasse. I think the way that it has been described to people in this country, it has been described as a country that has been brought under control. But the violence in recent days has shown us that in addition to having spent seven months after the election without a government. Iraq remains a powder keg. Now the question is what happens down the road when the US completes its withdrawal of its forces?
Frank Sesno: Thom Shanker, you call the Pentagon your office, that's your beat.
Thom Shanker: Right.
Frank Sesno: How is the US military viewing what is happening in Iraq? Both in terms of what's actually happening on the ground and the status of stability there and in terms of how it might effect the continued withdrawal of US forces?
Thom Shanker: I mean, that's certainly the essential question. Not just at the Pentagon but I spent a couple of days talking to commanders in Iraq -- they're on the ground, we're here. And to the very good point that was just made, what they are saying, it's much like our discussion what level of violence is acceptable? They still maintain that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been knocked back, it doesn't have centralized command and control, most importantly it doesn't hold territory as it did in '05 and '06 when Anbar was the seat of power, Falluja was the capital, they're not a cellular organization, now shattered, but still capable and always will be of violence. So the American plan, as it draws down from 50,000 to a lower number next year, the counter-terrorism troops will be the last to leave.
And that was it. Time for a break. Time to move on. Do you really think they addressed the Sunday attack on Iraqi Christians? No, they didn't. Did they mention that as Tuesdays funerals were ending, Baghdad was slammed with bombings which claimed more lives than Sunday's assault? No, they didn't. They didn't discuss a damn thing.
What a load of crap. First Thom's long run-on sentence? I've made it that because NYT guidelines demand that it be made into a single sentence to convey it's what the US military thinks. He forgets mid-stream that he's not the US military, that's he's supposed to be a reporter. When, earlier in the broadcast, he's outlining what the US government MUST spend on (defense), he's also in opinion territory and coming off like an advocate and not like a reporter which, according to NYT's written guidelines, he's forbidden from doing.
NYT has no guidelines on stupidity but they should make it a firing offense. Talking about a drawdown and a withdrawal without noting what was stated at the State Dept briefing October 25th? That sort of ignorance should result in termination. But it's not ignorance, it's a wilful desire not to address the topic. You can refer to that day's "Iraq snapshot" and you can click here and go to the State Dept briefing. (You also have video on that link.) It's not that the press doesn't know what was said -- they were present, they asked the questions -- it's that they're not telling you what was said. Big difference.
If you're wondering where Anne was during the conversation, when Thom wasn't attacking her remarks (with his opinions hidden as facts), she wasn't allowed to speak for whole sections. It was rather sad, there was less sexism in the 1950s than what got exhibited on today's Diane Rehm Show. Thom would go on -- after a person called in -- to offer a single sentence on Sahwa which was so simplistic it was a falsehood and it's amazing he got away with that crap.
And tomorrow we might not be together
I'm no prophet and I don't know natures way
But I'll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here
'Cause these are the good old days
-- "Anticipation," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Anticipation album
Carly has often noted that she's more of a reporter in her lyrics -- for one example, see Stephen Holden's 1981 Rolling Stone cover story on Carly. She may have to change that self-description -- not because reporters are becoming more like poets, but because they're becoming so much less than reporters -- and we're not just talking about Thom Shanker. From this morning's second entry, word for word.
Wednesday's snapshot included: "Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) notes that Iraq's Parliament is currently set to meet on Monday -- that may or may not take place (court order not withstanding) -- and that it's possilbe a motion could be put forward favoring Nouri. Should that be attempted, it's equally possible that enough members could storm out of the session leaving the Parliament without a quorum." Quorum is in the news today. No, that's not being psychic, it's just paying attention and anyone can do it. Middle East Online informs today, "As a result, MPs are scheduled to convene on Monday to elect a speaker and two deputies, the first step toward forming a government. But with about 50 MPs on pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca, western Saudi Arabi, and other political groups unwilling to attend, it is unlikely to reach a quorum. The constitution stipulates that a speaker, president and prime minister must be elected in that order." Again, anyone should have known that it is possible -- especially after the strong arming required repeatedly in the last Parliament to reach a quorum -- that Monday's session may or may not go forward. There's reporting and there's predicting -- they are not the same thing.

Test, when Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) writes this:

Iraq's parliament elects a new speaker on Monday, eight months after an inconclusive election, in a move that could force Sunni forces to join a Shi'ite-Kurd alliance in a national unity government or risk falling apart.

is that reporting? No, it's predicting. Reuters does not know what's going to happen Monday. A new Speaker might be elected. Or Parliament might not reach a quorum. Or an earthquake could strike Baghdad. Or anything in the world can happen. Stating things will happen when they haven't yet is not, is never, reporting.
"I'm no prophet and I don't know nature's ways," as Carly sings. But I do know that which has not happened can never be reported as "will happen" because that's prophecy, not reporting. Since we made the above points this morning, that little thing called life has seen fit to give us some classroom teaching devices.
Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports -- yes, we can use the term accurately to describe what she does in this sentence -- on the latest developments, "The convening of Iraq's parliament was postponed as the country's political leaders failed to reach an agreement to form a new coalition that would eliminate an eight-month power vacuum." CNN reports (term used intentionally), "Kurdish lawmaker Mahmood Othman told CNN that a vote for a parliamentary speaker was postponed from Monday to Thursday so lawmakers can review a plan from Kurdish politicians to help jump-start government formation. Othman did not disclose any details of the Kurdish proposal." The Kurdish proposal? No one knows what it is. But friends at the State Dept say the Kurds have been making comments to the US State Dept all this week about being king makers and noting that they hold the seats to make either Iraqiya or State of Law the rulers. They appear to be, as one friend at the State Dept put it -- only cleaned up (use imaginations and you'll grasp what I cleaned easily), in a size match with Moqtada al-Sadr whom they still take offense to being hailed as a "king-maker" during parts ot the long stalemate. Which way will they go? No one really knows and, supposedly, they're having private meetings with people from Nouri's slate and from Allawi's slate as they attempt to determine who can offer the Kurds the best deal.
"The Iraqi parliament has held exactly one official session since the March 7th elections," Kelly McEvers observed on yesterday's All Things Considered (NPR, link has audio and text). "That session lasted 17 minutes. Since then, politicians can be seen at parliament from time to time, but those are mostly meetings about meetings." The Wichita Falls Times Record News' editorial board offers, "If you're looking for a job with great pay and perks and light duties -- none at all, in fact, since June -- you could do worse than be one of the 325 members of Iraq's parliament." Ammar Karim (AFP) quotes an unnamed MP 'jesting,' "All of the oil incomes is going into the parliament." It's doubtful the average Iraqi will laugh at that statement coming from an MP. Middle East Online notes the efforts of the Iraqi Civilian Initiative to Protect the Constitution to force the newly elected MPs to return their salaries. AP notes, "An Iraqi lawmaker's basic monthly salary is $10,000, just $4,500 short of that of rank-and-file members of the US Congress. In addition, Iraqi MPs get a $12,500 monthly allowance for housing and security arrangements, for a combined total of $22,500." And use the link for more because they provide a breakdown of tax breaks, per diems, pensions and more that the MPs receive. Meanwhile Charles McDermid and Nizar Latif (Time magazine) quote MP Aliya Nsayif on this week's violence, "Just a few weeks ago, the government said security was under control, but it doesn't look that way to me. It looks to me and to the public like politicians have abandoned their promises to protect the Iraqi people."

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-nine days and still counting.

Tonight, Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press) reports, a mass was scheduled in Warren, Michigan to remember "martyrs of Our Lady of Salvation Church" in Baghdad. St. Mary's Assyrian Chuch issued a statement that, following the mass, they would hold a mourning rally. Sunday in Baghdad, at least 58 peopled died after assailants took over Our Lady Salvation Church. Tuesday as funerals were wrapping up, Baghdad was slammed with multiple bombings. Arab News notes:

Making it infinitely worse is the statement by Al-Qaeda in Iraq claiming responsibility. It has declared war on half a million Iraqi Christians because two Egyptian women, who supposedly converted from Coptic Christianity to Islam, are rumored to be held prisoner by Coptic monks somewhere in Egypt.
The story may or may not be true. The reality may well be more prosaic and connected to the fact that Coptic women get round their church's ban on divorce by announcing they have converted to Islam and then reconvert (which is legal in Egypt) once they have secured a divorce. Whatever, the rumor is being stirred up by extremists for political gain. But it has nothing to do with Iraqi Catholics. Even if they and Egyptian Copts were one and the same — they are not — the reality is that people in Iraq have no control over what happens in Egypt and cannot be held responsible for it. To insist otherwise is no different from the twisted and bigoted thinking that demonizes all Saudis, all Arabs and Muslims, as terrorists because of the involvement of 17 of them in 9/11 attacks. That is repugnant and so is what Al-Qaeda claims in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians say they do not believe their government is serious about protecting them, according to the Christian Post. One Iraqi Christian leader said many officials have given their sympathy following Sunday's slaughter at a Baghdad church, but he does not believe any promises. "At the funeral there was the Shiite leader, the official spokesperson of the government ministers," said Bishop Georges Casmoussa of Iraq, according to Christian Today. "All the discussion was flippant - 'We are with you, we are all suffering,' etcetera, but we have demanded a serious investigation. We can't count on good words anymore. It's all air. We've heard enough." Violence has increased steadily against Christians in Iraq, and about the religious minority has fled the country since 2003. Sunday's attack by Islamic militants killed 58 people and wounded almost 80, making it the deadliest recorded attack on Christians yet.
Alan Holdren (Catholic News Agency) quotes Mosul's Father Firas Benoka stating, "Everyone watches as Christians are killed and no one tries to put an end to these attacks. This, for me, indicates the constant will to eliminate Iraqi Christians definitevely. So we are mistaken if we think that the recent attack on Christians will be the last." The Republican's editorial board offers, "It's not a good development for Iraq, because many of the country's doctors and professionals are Christian. But what angers us most is the fact that the Islamic militants who prepared this attack -- reportedly a group linked to al-Qaida -- consider themselves martyrs. According to news accounts of the attack, one of the priests murdered in the attack, Taher Saadallah Boutros told his killers, 'kill me but let the worshippers go in peace.' Those were the words of a true martyr." Lebanon's Daily Star notes the continued exodus of Christians from the Middle East, "In all, Christians used to comprise about 20 percent of the Middle East's residents 100 years ago; today the number has shrunk to about 5 percent. The peril in the disappearance of Christians is that this region, now dominated by Muslims, would lose a deeply meaningful part of its diversity as well as the beneficial interaction of cultures. Worse, the persecution of one minority always winds up leading to the hounding of other smaller groups; hwere in the Middle East, persecution of one religious minority always carries the danger of exploding into sectarian violence, a vicious cycle that needs to be snuffed out." Asia News reports that, in Jerusalem, Holy Land bishops are asking for "three days of prayer for Iraq" and issued a statement which includes the following:
Words of distress, condemnation and incrimination are no longer enough in the face of the horror that is taking place repeatedly in Iraq, especially with regard to Christians over the past years and which reached a pinnacle of savage insanity with the massacre on Sunday. [. . .] The Church of the Holy Land, reaching out to her sister in Iraq, appeals to the conscience of each and every one in authority there, starting with the Iraqi government, to be vigilant in protecting all her citizens, especially those who have no protection, those who have no weapons and no militias, their only guilt being that they maintain their faith, in the land of their fathers and grandfathers.
AFP quotes Mahmud Abbas, Palestinian President, stating, "People who commit such barbaric acts can in no way claim to be followers of the Koran or to be Muslims. Today the Palestinian people suffer the same pain as the Iraqi people."
Around the world what took place Sunday is huge news. It has huge implications. It's only the US press that refuses to address that. You saw in Thom Shanker's embarrassing babbles on The Diane Rehm Show today which didn't even acknowledge the deaths. You see it in coverage that wants to treat it as just another day or wave of violence. Religious persecution is taken seriously around the world because many people and regions have longer histories than the United States and have not had even lip service of religious freedom. Possibly because the US has had that, they're not understanding the global shudder that's taken place over the attack on a religious miniority, in their place of worship. In the US, a number of Christian communities are again voicing the belief that the US press refuses to cover such attacks because they're hostile to Christians. I'm not in the mood to defend the press so I'll just note that this reaction inside the US from a large number of Christians? Not at all surprising. And the reaction should have been factored into the coverage. Some outlets around the country -- the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News -- have beats that can cover this issue from a religious perspective and have done so. Those that don't? They should have worked harder at conveying the horror this attack had globally.
Around the world, you have seen government leaders and religious leaders and communities of all kinds and faiths speak out against the horror of a minority being attacked in a place of worship. It strikes fear around the world and unites people that often have no common ground. But here in the US, it's been treated by the press, largely, as just another day in Iraq. That not only does a disservice to the victims, it does a disservice to the world community which rallied from all sides on this issue and it divorces the United States news consumer from the realities and horrors that the rest of the world is experiencing. In no way, shape or form have the US outlets provided good journalism on what took place Sunday and what followed.

Of the latest waves of violence, The Economist points out:

The violence is still far less intense than it was three years ago.
But the security forces are plainly unable to stop the occasional big attack. Factionalism does not help, with branches of the forces loyal to different political leaders and ministries. Intelligence gathering, a crucial tool in counter-terrorism, is still patchy, because different branches are reluctant to share information with each other. American forces still share intelligence across the board, but have shifted many of their best people and units to Afghanistan.
In particular, the Sunnis are still underrepresented within the intelligence services. The Awakening Councils, drawn largely from Sunni former insurgents, whose recruitment by the American army was instrumental in lessening sectarian violence during the American military surge in 2007, have not been adequately incorporated into the Iraqi forces. As a result of the ensuing resentment, extremism may once again become more tolerated among Sunnis. Last year's budget freeze after the fall in oil prices in 2008 has left little money for training forces in intelligence. A new budget cannot be passed until a government is in place.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baquba car bombing which claimed 1 life and left eight more people injured, a Mosul bombing which wounded "three young siblings," and, dropping back to Thursday, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured five people. Reuters adds a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Sahwa leader. With more details on the Baquba bombing, Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports that nine people were wounded and the bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi security forces. Karadsheh adds, "According to local residents, the city has been on high alert since a series of coordinated bomb attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday. Many roads have been cut off and a vehicle ban has been imposed in some areas, including the main market."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 little boy shot dead in Mosul and a Wednesday Mosul drive-by which resulted in two Iraqi forces being injured.

In related news, Al Bawaba reports, "On Wednesday afternoon, November 3, the subordinate forces of Nouri al-Maliki, in a new move against Camp Ashraf, blocked the road leading to the camp's cemetery and set up a check point searching vehicles and the residents visiting the cemetery. When the residents peacefully protested against this unjustified move, the Iraqi forces started insulting them and then beat them with cables, sticks and truncheons. One of the residents was wounded on his face during the attack and taken to hospital. Among the assailant forces, there was a man who spoke in Farsi and appeared to be a member of the terrorist Qods force. He was giving the instructions to the Iraqi forces and telling them that he was the commander in the field and tried to create a crisis. These forces said that the attack was ordered by Lieutenant Ahmad Hassan Khodheir of the Army's Intelligence under Maliki's command. He is a well-known agent of the Iranian regime whose affiliation to the regime has been exposed by the Iranian Resistance on number of occasions."
Moving to Geneva and, for background, dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:
Today in Geneva, [WikiLeaks] Julian Assange spoke to the press. CBS and AP report that he's calling for an investigation into the incidents documented in all the papers WikiLeaks has released on Iraq and Afghanistan. Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) quotes him stating, "It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up." Assange was in Geneva as the US prepares to face a UN Human Rights Council review tomorrow in Geneva. AFP notes that "human rights campaigners" are making public their disappointment with the White House and the ACLU's Jamal Dakwar is quoted stating of Barack, "We all thought that was a terrific beginning. However, we are now seeing that this administration is becoming an obstacle to achieving accountability in human rights."
Today, Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports, the US faced criticism from "friend and foe alike" as its human rights record was addressed by the UN Human Rights Council. Harold Hongju Koh, State Dept legal adviser, skirted reality with claims such as, "Let there be no doubt, the United States does not torture and it will not torture. Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, we have conducted hundreds of investigations regarding detainee abuse allegations and those have led to hundreds of disciplinary actions." Reality, as long as John Yoo freely roams the earth, the US does promote torture. "A few bad apples" at the top have been consistently and repeatedly excused, their crimes overlooked and ignored. Torture was the policy and, thank you, Harold, for the bedtime story, but we're not all eight-years-old. For some reality, refer to Andy Worthington's most recent writing on the topic.
Turning to the US, Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi and Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner covered the topic on WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio including during a conversation with Margaret Ratner-Kunstler which you can hear at the program's site by going into the archives and the program has also transcribed their discussion with Margaret and you can read it here. Nicole Colson (US Socialist Worker) spoke with Michael Ratner about the raids and you can also refer to that. Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted a development today, "We turn now to an update on the fallout from the FBI raids in late September that targeted antiwar activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury were served on thirteen people but later withdrawn when the activists asserted their right to remain silent. But this week the Justice Department said it intends to enforce the subpoenas for some of them and require them to appear before a grand jury. All those subpoenaed have been involved with antiwar activism that is critical of US foreign policy in Colombia and the Middle East." The National Lawyers Guild's Bruce Nestor joined the show briefly:
BRUCE NESTOR: Three people are now being -- looking at reappearing in front of the grand jury and likely being forced with the choice between talking about who they meet with, what the political beliefs of their friends and allies are, or perhaps risking contempt and sitting in jail for eighteen months. These are people who are deeply rooted in the progressive community in Chicago and Minneapolis. These are grandmothers, they're mothers, they're union activists. They were some of the organizers of the largest antiwar march at the 2008 Republican National Convention. And so -- and they're being prosecuted under this material support for terrorism law, a law that was really enhanced under the PATRIOT Act and that allows, in the government's own words, for people to be prosecuted for their speech if they coordinate it with a designated foreign terrorist organization. What you run the risk of there is that even if you state your own independent views about US foreign policy, but those views somehow reflect a group that the US has designated as a terrorist organization, you can be accused of coordinating your views and face, if not prosecution, at least investigation, search warrants, being summoned to a grand jury to talk about who your political allies and who your political friends are. So, so far, this law has largely been used against individuals, often Muslim Americans. Of course, Lynne Stewart --
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
BRUCE NESTOR: Lynne Stewart is one of the biggest cases. This is the first time that they're going directly after the antiwar and peace movement. It's something people really need to respond to. Go to for more information about what you can do.
For some time it's been a 'ten seconds' rule on stories that actually matter and 'ten seconds' certainly describes Amy's sorry coverage over the last three years of what was done to Lynne. Meanwhile Coffee Strong, the GI coffeehouse next to Fort Lewis, has issued a statement this week:
November 2, 2010 JOINT BASE LEWIS MCHORD, WASHINGTON – An anonymous group of soldiers in 4-9 Infantry Brigade have released a statement detailing how the Army drove one soldier to suicide. It details the humiliation that soldiers who seek help for mental problems face from their superiors. This comes on the heels of a rash of incidents involving soldiers from JBLM who had untreated mental issues, including one soldier who shot a police officer in Salt Lake City, UT. The letter reads:
"On March 17, 2010, Spc. Kirkland returned home from his second deployment to Iraq. Three days later he was dead—killed by the Army. Spc. Kirkland was sent home from Iraq because the burden of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became too great—so much that he wanted to take his own life. Many of us also struggle with the effects of PTSD, which is a completely natural, human response to what we are exposed to overseas. It is not a sign of weakness or cowardice, but the inevitable result of serving in combat. It is a burden we all share, and we all deserve adequate treatment and understanding for the sacrifices we have made.
Upon returning home, Spc. Kirkland was not more than three steps into the barracks before the acting First Sergeant publicly ridiculed him, calling him a "coward" and a "pussy," knowing full well that Kirkland was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. He was then carelessly assigned to a room by himself, and like every other soldier with PTSD, given substandard care by Army mental health doctors. Forty-eight hours after he was in the care of 4-9 Infantry, he was dead. Spc. Kirkland had a wife and young daughter. Before his blood had even dried off the floor, our respected leadership was already mocking his death.
Spc. Kirkland did not kill himself. He was killed by the Army. The Army inadequately treats PTSD, while it re-enforces a culture of humiliation for the soldiers who suffer from it. Spc. Kirkland was accused of faking his trauma. PTSD is a legitimate medical condition that is unavoidable in a combat zone. As soldiers who lay down our lives every day, we deserve adequate treatment for the wounds we receive in combat. We deserve to be treated for PTSD just like we would for a bullet wound or shrapnel. Spc. Kirkland received the opposite. But what happened to Spc. Kirkland is not an isolated incident. This is happening at such a high rate in the Army that it is becoming an epidemic. Now, more active duty soldiers commit suicide than are killed in combat. Every year, the number of suicides far surpasses the year before, and 2010 is already dwarfing last year's numbers.
How has the Army responded? Scandal after scandal has broken out about Army officers ordering doctors not to diagnose PTSD; to instead deny veterans the care they deserve, pump them full of pills, and return them to combat. It has become Army policy to do everything possible to avoid diagnosing PTSD. And when it is diagnosed, the care is inadequate.
Throughout the Army, soldiers have to fight for simple medical care. The Army doesn't care at all about us, our lives, or our families—and hundreds of us are dying because of it. We are denied care because the Army needs bodies to throw into two quagmires, and because the VA doesn't want to pay us the benefits we deserve. Maj. Keith Markham, Executive Director of 4-9 Infantry, put it very clearly in a private memo to his platoon leaders: "We have an unlimited supply of expendable labor." That's what we soldiers are to the Army and the Officer Corps: expendable labor. Spc. Kirkland was expendable, and we witness that fact every day. But soldiers all over the Army are standing up. At Ft. Hood, the base with the highest number of suicides, protests have been held both outside the base and in the hospitals, consisting of active duty soldiers demanding better treatment. All over the country soldiers are organizing in their units to fight for adequate care. The Army will never give us the care we deserve unless we force it to do so. As soldiers, we have rights. Mental health care is a right for the job we were made to do. We have the right to be adequately treated and compensated for PTSD -- but the Army is not doing that, so we have the right to collectively organize and demand proper treatment.
Actual defense spending in the U.S. is over 1 trillion dollars a year. Most of that money goes into the pockets of defense contractors, while only a tiny fraction is allocated for mental health care. There are hundreds of billions of dollars for new fighter jets, or to open Burger Kings and KBR facilities overseas, but when extra resources are needed to combat a suicide epidemic, we only get scraps from the table."
The Army has taken no disciplinary actions against the leadership involved with SPC Kirkland's death. Nor has the Army released any statements regarding the circumstances behind the incident.
GI Voice, DBA COFFEE STRONG, is a veteran owned and operated coffee house for soldiers, veterans, and military families to speak out about their experiences in a comfortable and safe environment. We provide free GI rights counseling, veterans benefit advocacy, and PTSD counseling for soldiers and veterans. Coffee Strong is located 300 meters from the Madigan Gate of Fort Lewis at 15109 Union Ave. SW Ste B.
For more information please contact:
Seth Manzel
Executive Director
At Truthout, Sarah Lazare reports on Iraq War and Afghanistan War veteran Jeff Hanks who has self checked-out in an attempt to get treatment for his PTSD. He tells Sarah, "I am just trying to get help. My goal in this situation is to simply heal. And they wonder why there are so many suicides." We'll note more on this next week but I just got a call about Coffee Strong's press release while I was finishing up dictating this snapshot and we are already long. Had I known about it going in, we would have opened with Coffee Strong. But we'll come back to the topic next week.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Peter Baker (New York Times), Michael Duffy (Time magazine), John Harris (Politico) and Karen Tumulty (Washington Post) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "The End of Prognostication: Five Answers from Election Night." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is on obesity and the way it's discussed. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "Terrorism and Yemen; an excerpt from the "Nature" episode "Braving Iraq," about restoring southern Iraq's marshes; obstructionism in the U.S. Senate. Also: Jon Meacham on the political environment of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's time vs. today." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

President Obama
President Obama takes questions from Steve Kroft in his first one-on-one interview since his party's midterm election defeat in the House.

Boxing sensation Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao has done it all in the ring, winning world championships in seven different weight divisions. He'll go for an eighth title next week, but will his new job as a Philippine politician hurt his career? Bob Simon reports.

60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Isaiah, Cher and more

The Aftermath

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Aftermath" went up last night and it's priceless. I hope you saw it already but, if not, there it is. And it is a bonus. He's still planning to do a Sunday comic.

I saw this at Vanity Fair online about their cover story on Cher:

Cher tells Vanity Fair West Coast editor Krista Smith that she can’t believe “Sonny and I still aren’t in the [Rock and Roll] Hall of Fame, and it just seems kind of rude. Sonny was a good writer, and we started something that no one else was doing. We were weird hippies before there was a name for it, when the Beatles were wearing sweet little haircuts and round-collared suits…. We influenced a generation, and it’s like: What more do you want?”

Exactly. And how do you explain Cher not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Cher not being in there. It's ridiculous. They're putting people like Abba in and Cher's not rock enough for them?

In other news, if you have only one friend, you want it to be C.I. Early this morning a friend called about her son. He couldn't get back to the US. He could get out of Iraq (on a pass) but he couldn't get back to the US. So C.I. told her to find out where he could get within a few hours. And unless she called, C.I. sent everyone to voice mail. She used her other cell and my phone, Ava's and Wally's to call everyone in the world basically. She didn't mind chartering one herself but didn't know in terms of that area. So she had a call in for that but a friend with ____ (big corp) called back and said they had a company jet that was headed back and that they would gladly give the service member a ride at no cost. (Which was very nice of them. And C.I. even offered to give them a plug but her friend said no, it was the least they could do.) So then everything was set up. Now the service member's going to be able to spend more time with his family. This is actually his Thanksgiving visit, they're going to do it early. He then will be back in Iraq and completing his fourth (and hopefully last) tour of Iraq.

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

Thursday November 4, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the stalemate continues, Allawi states Iranian officials do not want him to be prime minister (of Iraq), Barack mouths on about Don't Ask, Don't Tell but can't speak of Iraqi Christians (and it's been noticed), Julian Assange holds a press conference calling for an investigation into the incidents recorded in the documents WikiLeaks, the body of a fallen US soldier makes it home, a case is filed questioning the legality of the Iraq War, and more.

Friday October 22nd, WikiLeaks released 391,832 US military documents on the Iraq War. The documents -- US military field reports -- reveal torture and abuse and the ignoring of both. They reveal ongoing policies passed from the Bush administration onto the Obama one. They reveal that both administrations ignored and ignore international laws and conventions on torture. They reveal a much higher civilian death toll than was ever admitted to. Laura Oliver ( reports on Global Investigative Journalism Network's petition in support of WikiLeaks and quotes from the petition:

We, journalists and journalist organisations from many countries, express our support for Mr Assange and Wikileaks. We believe that Mr Assange has made an outstanding contribution to transparency and accountability on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, subjects where transparency and accountability has been severely restricted by government secrecy and accountability has been severely restricted by government secrecy and media control. He is being attacked for releasing information that should never have been withheld from the public.
We believe Wikileaks had the right to post confidential military documents because it was in the interest of the public to know what was happening. The documents show evidence that the US Government has misled the public about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and that war crimes may have been committed.

Today in Geneva, Julian Assange spoke to the press. CBS and AP report that he's calling for an investigation into the incidents documented in all the papers WikiLeaks has released on Iraq and Afghanistan. Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) quotes him stating, "It is time the United States opened up instead of covering up." Assange was in Geneva as the US prepares to face a UN Human Rights Council review tomorrow in Geneva. AFP notes that "human rights campaigners" are making public their disappointment with the White House and the ACLU's Jamal Dakwar is quoted stating of Barack, "We all thought that was a terrific beginning. However, we are now seeing that this administration is becoming an obstacle to achieving accountability in human rights."

In other legal news, the Rutgers School of Law-Newark issued the following today:

The Rutgers School of Law-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinci today filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court in a case challenging the invasion of Iraq by President Bush in the absence of a Declaration of War by Congress.
The Plaintiffs in the case are New Jersey Peace Action, a 50-year-old anti-war organization; William Joseph Wheeler, an Iraq war veteran; and two morthers whose sons had been deployed in Iraq -- Anna Berlinrut of Nutley, New Jersey and Paula Rogovin of Teaneck, New Jersey.
The case was dismissed by both the Federal District Court in Newark and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits of the constitutional claim.
The plaintiffs are represented by Rutgers Professor Frank Askin, Directof or the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and Newark attorney Bennet Zuofsky, and students in the Rutgers Law School clinic, who have worked on the case for the past three years.
Plaintiffs' case is based on the original intent of the Framers of the Constitution to take the power of peace and war out of the hands of a single executive and place it in the hands of Congress. Plaintiffs' arguments rely heavily on the records of the Constitutional Convention on June 1, 1787, and the rulings of the Supreme Court in the first half of the 19th century.
The petition notes that since the end of World War II, U.S. presidents have regularly ignored the intent of the Framers and instituted foreign hostilities without obtaining a Declaration of War from Congress. However, the petition also says that in none of the prior wars did the President take the initiative to invade a sovereign nation without provocation. According to the petition, in the first half of the 19th century, the Supreme Court emphasized that the plain language of the Constitution meant that the President could not launch an all-out war in the absence of a Congressional Declaration.
The petition also notes that no federal court has ever examined the debates at the Constitutional Convention on June 1, 1787, when the decision as to the constitutional allocation of the war powers was decided, and asks the Supreme Court to at last take up the issue. Since World War II, the lower federal courts have dismissed suits challening the President's authority to wage war on technical procedural grounds.
The case raises fundamental issues concerning the intent of the Framers of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court as the ultimate interpreter of our national charter. The petition reminds the Court of the famous words of Thomas Jefferson that in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution the Framers had provided "an effectual check to the Dog of War by transferring the power of letting it loose from Executive to Legislative body, from those are to spend to those who are to pay."
Media Contact: Professor Frank Askin
Contact: Janet Donohue

Noah Cohen (Teaneck Patch) adds, "Teaneck-resident Paula Rogovin and Anna Berlinrut, of Nutley, both with sons who were deployed in Iraq, are part of the group filing suit. Rogovin has organized weekly vigils protesting the war outside the Teaneck Armory."

Sunday an attack on a church in Baghdad left at least 58 dead. Tuesday Al Jazeera's Inside Story addressed the assault.

Dareen Aboughaida: An al Qaeda-linked group called the Islamic State of Iraq claims responsibility for attacking the Catholic Church in Baghdad on Sunday. Situated close to the Green Zone, the gunmen held more than a hundred people hostage for hours before security forces stormed the church. The kidnappers were demanding the release of al Qaeda prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian jails. They also threatened the Coptic Church of Egypt for allegedly detaining female Muslims against their will. The attack is being described as the bloodiest against Iraq's dwindling Christian community since the 2003 US-led invasion. Joining us to discuss this, our guests: In Erbil, Aziz Emmanuel Zedari -- he's a member of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Council -- that's an NGO seeking to enhance the rights of Christians in Iraq; in London, we have Iraq Affairs Analyst Abdulmunaem Almula; and in Washington DC, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, he's the director for the Center of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation For Defence of Democracies. Gentlemen, welcome all to the program, thank you very much for your time on Inside Story. Abdulmunaem Almula, let me begin with you and discuss the actual mechanics of the attacks. Now the assailants first battled security at the stock exchange building then it's reported the men fled to the nearby church where they took those people hostage. So what do you make of this? Was the target the stock exchange or was it the Church to avenge for those al Qaeda members held in prisons in Iraq that we were talking about in the introduction?

Abdulmunaem Almula: Well to be honest with you, if anything this operation will demonstrate -- it will demonstrate the lack of professionalism and the training of the Iraqi security forces. Also it will further demonstrate that the-the-the lack of ability of this Iraqi government to handle such a situation. For me, I can look at the attack as it came from a common -- common murderers, common criminals that were trying to-to attack the-the Iraqi Exchange Centre or one of the Iraqi business centers next to the Salvation Church and then they scaled on the wall of the-the Church and they start to-to shoot the civilians there. For me, I think it is -- whoever the group behind this attack -- either al Qaeda or any other terrorists groups -- it is a terrorist act and the only destination that we can blame is the -- is the Iraqi government and the Iraqi security forces.

Dareen Aboughaida: Aziz Emmanuel Zedari --

Abdulmunaem Almula: So many

Dareen Aboughaida: Aziz Emmanuel Zedari, let me bring you in right now. How should we read this attack in your opinion? What significance is it that a Church was attacked?

Aziz Emmanuel Zedari: First of all, I would like to express my condolences for the victims of the largest terrorist attack on the Christian community on the Church in Baghdad. Well the reason the attack is the last in a series of regular and well organized attacks on the Christian community in Iraq with an aim to drive the Christian community from Iraq.

Dareen Aboughaida: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Washington, al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for this attack so does the operation carry the hallmarks of al Qaeda in your opinion?

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross: It's difficult to say in this case. There's certain al Qaeda hallmarks that you can attach to well coordinated terrorist attacks. For example, bombings that are near simultaneous in multiple parts of the city. That has the hallmark of al Qaeda. In this case, storming a church? Tactically, strategically, it's something that al Qaeda certainly has done, it's something that they're capable of but one can't tell just by the signature of this attack -- at least not without getting much deeper into tactics, techniques and procedures than has been reported publicly.

We started with the above for a reason. If you believe al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is responsible for the attacks -- I'm not saying you should believe that or shouldn't, make up your own mind -- than you take the statement they issued. You don't get to go 'buffet style' and claim that al Qaeda is responsible but they did it for reasons other than what they listed in their note. A reporter reported on one of the dead priests. We ignored the story. I'm not blasting the reporter for what he filed and am all for reporters filing often and filing completely. But I didn't find it of value and knew how it would be used. Unless you're giving the priest the gift of prophecy -- in which case, start the canonization -- you're giving too much weight to his 'vision' (fear). And a number of articles are being filed claiming that the priest's fear is what happened. Again, if you accept al Qaeda in Iraq as the culprit, they have posted a statement online. They stated their reasons in that posting. If it's not in their posting, there's a reason it's not.

Jim Kouri (NWV) is not being referred to with the above, however, his piece has a headline that the "
Christian bloodbath [is] ignored by Obama White House." I'm aware of the NSC making a statement. I'm not aware of the White House -- or Barack himself -- making a statement. And I'm including Kouri's story because this is why there is a perception about Barack. A slaughter took place. Has he commented? If not, then he doesn't need to be surprised when American Christians, so used to him weighing in on Muslim issues, have questions about his devotion or identification to his proclaimed faith.

Barack has no made no comment. November 1st, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs issued the following:

The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Iraq that occurred Sunday in Baghdad killing so many innocent Iraqis. Our hearts go out to the people of Iraq who have suffered so much from these attacks. We offer sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and to all the people of Iraq who are targeted by these cowardly acts of terrorism. We know the overwhelming majority of Iraqis from all its communities reject violence and we stand with them as we work together to combat terrorism and protect the people of our two nations.

The US Embassy in Iraq offered this statement from National Security Council Spokesperson Mike Hammer:

The United States strongly condemns the vicious violence witnessed today, November 2, as a result of multiple terrorist attacks in Baghdad that killed scores of innocent Iraqis and wounded hundreds more. We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims' families and to all Iraqis who suffer from terrorism. We have confidence that the people of Iraq will remain steadfast in their rejection of efforts by extremists to spark sectarian tension. These attacks will not stop Iraq's progress. The United States stands with the people of Iraq and remains committeed to our strong and long-term partnership.

And that's it. And notice, I keep saying to pay attention to this, NSC -- you need to pay attention to the national security council types. That's who's controlling Iraq for the US. It's not out of the State Dept -- despite the lies -- it's the NSC and it's been Samantha Power's baby for some time. AFP reports that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, "criticised the Iraqi government on Thursday for failing to protect religious communities" and they quote her stating, "I believe much more could have been done to protect groups which are clearly targets and who are particularly vulnerable. It is imperative that the Iraqi government intervenes decisively and impartially at the first sign of incitement to hostility and violence against any religious groups or minorities. The authorities should ensure that religious sites and other likely targets are adequately protected, and reach out and demonstrate to different communities that their safety is of paramount concern to the government." And yet Barack remains silent. That's fine if that's what he wants to do but he can then turn around and whine that no one believes him about his religion and expect any sympathy beyond the Cult of St. Barack.

Today Reuters notes that there is a movement in Iraq to take newly elected MPs to court in order "to recover salaries and benefits of almost $250,000 paid to politicians who have barely worked since an inconclusive March election that has yet to produce a new government." Inconclusive?

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-eight days and still counting.

Kelly McEvers (NPR's All Things Considered) reports some believe the violence may force the parties to sit down and form a government and quotes an Iraqi wondering pointing out that Nouri might remain prime minister and yet he can't even secure Iraq currently. And Nouri's not the only one claiming he won't leave. Rudaw is reporting Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq, is stating that he will remain president and not surrender his post to a non-Kurd. This statement would appear to squelch US government hopes that they could slide Allawi into that position -- beefed up or not -- as a consolation prize for Allawi getting more votes but the US government determined to have Nouri remain prime minister. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) interviews Allawi today who tells him Tehran officials/leaders will not allow him to be the leader and who is quoted stating, "It's very sad. I always maintained that the security improvement was only fragile. . . . Unless the political landscape is changed, then all the surges and awakenings are not going to bring sustainable results. That's why we have been witnessing an escalation of violence. . . . What we have seen and what we know is only the tip of the iceberg. We haven't yet seen the whole iceberg. Assassinations are now a flourishing business throughout the country. There are explosions and violence. But now I think it will continue to take a sharper bend toward the worst."

Turning to today's violence . . .


Reuters notes 3 Hit roadside bombings which left six people (four Iraqi soldiers, two police officers) injured, a Mosul bombing which wounded three children, a Shirqtat bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers with six more injured, 2 Hit roadside bombings claimed the lives of the May of Kubaisa, Ziyad Rzayij, and his driver and a Baghdad sticky bombing left two employees of the Ministry of the Interiror injured as well as three bystanders.


Reuters notes an attack on a Falluja police checkpoint which left three police officers wounded and, due to a bombing that went off when the Iraqi military attempted to provide backup, three soldiers were also injured.


Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.

Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) surveys the recent violence and makes some observations including that "more than 150 Iraqis have been killed since Friday".

Moving to the United States. Yesterday, Barack held forth at the White House. This is part of his exchange with CNN's Ed Henry.

Ed Henry: And just on the policy front, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is something that you promised to end. And when you had 60 votes and 59 votes in the Senate -- it's a tough issue -- you haven't been able to do it. Do you now have to tell your liberal base that with maybe 52 or 53 votes in the Senate, you're just not going to be able to get it done in the next two years?

Barack Obama: Well let me take the second issue first. I've been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation. And since there's been a lot of discussion about polls over the last 48 hours, I think it's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way. It's the right thing to do. Now, as commander in chief, I've said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion. I've worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary [of Defense Robert] gates, worked with Adm [Mike] Mullen [Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] to make sure that we are looking at this in a systematic way that maintains good order and discipline but that we need to change this policy. There's going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month [of December] that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully. But that will give us time to act in -- potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy. Keep in mind we've got a bunch of court cases that are out as well. And something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we've got this issue bouncing around in teh courts, as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn't know at any given what rules they're working under.

That's a damn lie. The Pentagon, as a result of Judge Virginia Phillips, stopped discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell and had to go through the recruitment proces of those who stated they were gay. There was no confusion, the sun didn't crash into the earth and the whole world didn't turn upside down. The change came from Barack -- oh look it, he actually delivered a change! -- when he made the decision that the administration would fight -- not just appeal, but fight -- Judge Phillip's decision. That's when confusion set in. Didn't he want gays to have the ability to serve openly?

No, not really. He wanted to get Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the law books (hold on) and then leave it up to the military. That's not what he promised. And because he wanted that, what the House passed was basically what had been drafted three previous times but had always included that it was discrimination. Not now. And that was the real problem the White House had with Judge Phillip's decision. It didn't just end Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it ruled it was unconstitutional as well. Again, the plan is just to get Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the Congressional side and then allow the military to decide what to do. And by ignoring the discrimination issue, by refusing to address that, it is just a policy and a policy can be changed. So nothing's addressed or dealt with.

Nancy A. Youssef and David Lightman (McClatchy Newspapers) report someone's notion -- unidentified -- that any repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is now dead in Congress. I'm not disputing that possibility -- we noted that was likely to happen after the midterms back in April of 2009 because we didn't snort or inject the Hopium and believe the whole world had changed (or even the tenor of the White House) following the 2008 elections. I am disputing what appears to be Youssef and Lightman's reasoning:

Among the losers in the House of Representatives were at least 10 Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, including Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri. Two-term Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., an Iraq war veteran who added an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have repealed "don't ask, don't tell," also lost.
Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., 72, a nine-term veteran, is expected to replace Skelton as committee chairman. Wednesday, McKeon called for leaving military spending largely intact. Previously, he said he favored leaving "don't ask, don't tell" on the books.

What's the point? Ike was against repeal, Patrick was for it. I don't see that in the above. Nor do I see any understanding that a lame duck Congress will sit between now and January. I don't doubt the possibility that it's dead -- that's why we were repeatedly warning against all the crap that all the Cult of St. Barack groupies were promoting. That's why we wrote the piece we did at Third on Sunday noting that Barack was not planning on ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He was going to have Congress overturn it but what to do was going to be left to the military. If anything was done, it would be the military and not the Congress (or the courts) and refusal to address this in terms of legalities is how Don't Ask, Don't Tell popped up to begin with and that's why those of us who had some legal knowledge of the history of this issue never fell for Barack's song and dance. I like Patrick Murphy (I consider Ike Skelton's defeat a huge loss for the Congress) but all the obits on him are floating off the earth and not bound by gravity or reality. In part that's due to the fact that a lot of idiots covered DADT. Patrick did not do a great job. He built on the hard work of Ellen Tauscher and gym bunnies wanting to be part of the movement were thrilled because they found Patrick cute and they loathed Ellen. (Apparently just because she was a woman.) Patrick was really good at repeating White House talking points, he just didn't grasp he was being played for a fool. The whole -- quickly dropped when a large number of us began objecting -- "Let's tour the US for months and we'll built support for the repeal!" was nothing but a distraction, a delaying tactic and he realized that far too late. Just like he was out of the loop when he was being told that Ted Kennedy would lead in the Senate (we called that out in real time and noted the reality that no one wanted to speak at that moment, Ted was terminal and was showing up for hearings or doing any Congressional business). I can give 20 times off the top of my head where Patrick Murphy repeated publicly what the White House told him -- repeated it as fact -- when it was an outright lie. He had energy and he had dedication but he lacked perspective and he lacked knowledge.For more on the smoke and mirror games the White House has played on DADT see Third's "
Barack, Pelosi and the other damn, dirty liars."

21-year-old Pfc David R. Jones died on October 24th while serving in Iraq. How? As we've noted before: No one in the government knows or is willing to tell. Tuesday the Utica Observer-Dispatch editorial board weighed in:

The Bennetts initially were told the death was a suicide, but a family member told the Albany Times Union last week that Theresa Bennett received a copy of a text message from a soldier who worked with Jones in Iraq stating that her nephew was one of five people killed or wounded in a shooting "rampage" on a U.S. military base in Baghdad.
[. . .]
A full accounting of Jones' death must be provided. The death of a soldier in the service of his country is a tragedy under any circumstance, and it must not be made worse by shrouding it in mystery. The family and the larger community who knew and loved David Jones deserve answers.

Albany's CBS 6 (link has text and video) reported
the soldier's body is expected to arrive today at Griffiss International Airport and that "police and Patriot Guard riders will escort Jones back to Johnsville." And WNYT reports that the airport arrival and escort back to Johnsville has taken place. Dennis Yusko (Albany Times Union) adds, "Several hundred people from the area braved falling rain and cold temperatures for more than an hour to line the main street in the village to glimpse the white hearse that brought Jones home for the last time. Schools closed and workers and families came from all over to witness the procession." Subrina Dhammi (WNYT) sketches out the details, "The weather Thursday fit the mood of the small, close-knit village of St. Johnsville. Residents braved the cold and steady rain to line the street waiting to welcome home a fallen soldier. School children proudly displayed signs saying 'we will never forget you'." There will be a viewing held tomorrow at St. John's Reformed Church (one to three p.m. and five to seven p.m.) with funeral services to be held Saturday (also at St. John's Reformed Church, starting at 11:00 a.m.). From the young man's obituary:

David enjoyed many activities and sports including soccer, running, and making music with his friends. David loved hanging out with family and friends and watching sports with his loved ones. He was very proud of being in the military and to have the opportunity to serve and honor his country. He will be missed by his family members and many friends. David was extremely close with all of the members of his St. Johnsville High School graduating class of 2008. Family came first in David's life and he leaves his loved ones and friends with countless memories. He was a fun-loving individual and was kind, caring and energetic.
Survivors include his beloved family; his mother: Theresa Ann Bennett of St. Johnsville; his father, George Arthur Bennett, Jr., of St. Johnsville ; his fiance: Britany Winton of Gloversville; his biological father, David Richard Jones; brothers: Timothy Bennett, Nick Bennett, Georgie Bennett III, Chris Bennett, Bernie Bennett and Alexander Jones; his grandmother: Alice Jones, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was predeceased by his paternal grandfather, George Bennett; maternal grandfather: Henry Jones; paternal grandmother: Arthella Bennett and by his uncles: Garry and Arthur Bennett and Timothy Jones.

It's amazing Barack Obama's had time to fly all over the country campaigning but not to demand that the military under him provide the family of David Jones with an answer.

Closing with community sites:

Plus Betty's "Melissa Harris-Lacewell hides her White Mommy," Mike's "Preview" Stan's "White Like Melissa Harris-Lacewell-Perry" and Trina's "Not crying."

al jazeera
inside story
dareen aboughaida
jim kouri
the telegraph of london
richard spencer
aid to the church in need

the utica observer-dispatch
elizabeth mission
mcclatchy newspapers
nancy a. youssef
david lightman

the albany times union
dennis yusko

subrina dhammi

all things considered
kelly mcevers

jomana karadsheh
the los angeles times
ned parker