Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Airhead Speaks

Community member Billie heard a radio program and thought it was national and I might be interested so she e-mailed me about it.  It's the Writers Studio.

It's not national. It's Billie's local area (Dallas) producing the program.  Their station is KERA which does not have audio archives that I could find and I found no audio at the Writers Studio link.

I e-mailed Billie and told her I'd call or she could call but let's discuss the program.  So we spoke on the phone including Billie playing me 20 minutes of the audio she had recorded of the program.

First off, why Candace Bushnell?

Who gives a damn what that piece of trash has to say?

If you don't know her, she was a journalist -- though she claimed in her speech that those were fiction pieces and she couldn't get paid for writing fiction so she pretended they were journalism -- whose bad columns were turned into the bad TV show Sex In The City -- inflicting Sarah Jessica Parker's horse face and that awful chin wart on generations.  (SJP finally had the chin wart removed.)

She wanted to talk 'politics' and of course she's an airhead.  So all she had to offer were a few snide remarks about Sarah Palin.  They weren't funny or informed.  But it was clear Candace thinks Palin is beneath her.

Honey, nothing is beneath you, you are trash.

She's trash and she wrote trash.  It was well marketed and became a huge cable TV show (which means it would have ranked 60 or 70 for the week if it had aired on broadcast TV).  They managed to turn it into one hit movie but then came the second movie and people weren't ready for more racism from Candace and the girls.

Yeah, racist.  I said it.  Candace is responsible for one of the most racist shows around.  Can four White women in the 90s be friends in an All White NYC except for the occasional token Black boyfriend?

So while Candace may think she's better than Sarah Palin, I'll note I've never heard of or seen anything on the news about Palin that's suggested to me she's racist but everything about Candace screams "RACISM!"

The key to the TV show was that the men weren't disguised as old women (Golden Girls) but as middle aged ones.  It was novel! And different!  And pretending to be about liberation!  Via shoes!
And soliloquies!

What an awful woman.

And she writes trashy books that lack the humanity Jackie Collins provides.  I'm serious.  I can read Jackie Collins any day of the week.  I don't mistake her for Proust.  But I also don't devalue the fact that her page turners are about breathing people, real ones.  They may be dressed up as a movie star or a singer, but they come through as breathing people.

Candace Bushnell's crap is so awful that it's as if you're reading sixth-person removed narration.  It's completely lifeless and limp.

(While built to reassure middle aged women that they're still sexual and sexual appealing.)

Around the time Edith Wharton's name was invoked -- as someone who writes like Bushnall! -- I stopped rolling my eyes and started gagging.

Equally astounding was to hear an airhead who knows nothing think she can lecture.  Did you know what started upward mobility?  The gold digger of the 1920s.  Didn't the airhead just mention Edith Wharton?

See unlike the airhead, I have read Wharton.  Do you know Undine?  I do.  She's the lead character in my favorite Wharton novel (The Custom of the Country).  Undine marries up.  (Marries up repeatedly.)  The novel is set in the late 1800s and was published in 1913 -- clearly predating the gold diggers of the 1920s.

And gold diggers of the 1920s?  That's such a perfect example for Candace because that's all she's about: Greed.  And all her characters are about as well.

However, the most off putting thing about Candace is that she not only believes herself to be a writer on the level of Wharton (did I miss Candace's Pulitzer win for literature?) but also that she thinks she has something great to impart, something so great, that she must repeatedly declare "one' as in "When one writes one asks herself what one going through such a situation would feel?"

The airhead may have thought it made her sound educated but I'm sure I'm not the only one who was thinking, "So that's what Lorelie Lei would have sounded like if Marilyn Monroe had been unattractive and tired."

I'm not an elitist and am not opposed to popular fiction even of the trash genre that Bushnell hails from.  But there are masters of that genre and she's not one of them.  They should have booked Jackie Collins who, no doubt, would have been as lively as her books.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Friday, February 24, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the press loves to play, can you be both something and also linked to that something (no), Iraqi youths turn out to protest and make new demands, the 2012 budget is finally passed in Iraq, Veterans For Peace calls on the White House to drop the charges against Bradley Manning, and more.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports the US Embassy in Iraq has issued a statement on yesterday's attacks throughout the country which includes, "These heinous acts targeted people going to work and shopping, children going to school and security forces working to protect the citizenry." Yes, that would be wrong. Which is why, of course, that the US government evacuated every Iraqi out of the country in February 2003 in anticipation of the invasion. It's why the US ensured that no one was in Falluja before they started their November 2004 assault. What's that? Oh, right. The US government didn't do either of those things. It launched a war and didn't give a damn about children going to school or people going to work or people shopping or anything. It launched an illegal war of choice and now it thinks there's some high ground that can be stood on? There is none.
Last December, Iraq War veteran Ross Caputi (Guardian) wrote about the November 2004 attack on Falluja:
I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead American Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns. The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we opprssed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujahs. The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of "hero" bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.
What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudcies that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would ahve done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.
I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims. I understand the justifications and defense mechanisms. I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you. But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.
Ross Caputi is the founding director of the Justice for Fallujah Project. And the birth defects that continue to be found in the children born in the area after the 2004 assault is not something Iraqis have forgotten or will. Alsumaria TV's most watched report this month was this report on the birth defects in Falluja. Last week, Matthis Chiroux spoke at the Occupy Military Recruiters actions in Manhattan (link is video at World Can't Wait).
Matthis Chiroux: Hey everybody, I'm Matthis. I haven't spoken out in awhile. I've been going to college and learning about the corruption in the market places and the courthouse and right here in these military recruiting centers. And on these US military bases all over the world. These abuses are not part of the story these recruiters are trying to sell your kids. They're trying to sell your kids the Boy Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Girl Scouts. They're trying to sell your kids the Peace Corps. The mission they are selling is to engage and destroy so called enemies of the United States of America. Killing bombing writing through streets with guns doesn't help people, is not the Boy Scouts, is not the Girl Scouts, is not fostering democracy. It's fostering a lot of debt. It's fostering a lot of hatred. It's fostering a lot of abuse. And the military, it bears the face of that abuse You see it in vets who come home and can't ever feel normal again. You've seen soldiers who are still in the military can't picture a life without war.
Matthis is an Afghanistan War veteran and Iraq War resister. He and Ross Caputi made some very important observations that appeared to escape our 'wise' press. Fortunately, on the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Moises Naim (El Pais) were able to discuss yesterday's violent attack across Iraq in an adult manner.
Abderrahim Foukara: Obviously, these bombings in Iraq have happened in a very interesting context because Maliki has been touting himself as the leader of the Iraqi Spring. He's been saying, 'My government' which is a Shi'ite dominated government 'has brought stability to Iraq.' The Iraqis are actually gearing up for hosting the Arab Summit in Baghdad as another sign that the government in Iraq thinks that Iraq is stable. The Saudis, to placate the Iraqis and reward them for joining the boycott of the sanctions against Syria, have said that they will actually -- that they have actually appointed an ambassador for the first time to Iraq since 1990. So I think this spate of bombings is really the answer to all this talk coming out of Baghdad that the situation is under control.
Diane Rehm: Could this be sectarian warfare?
Abderrhaim Foukara: There is definitely sectarian warfare. Nouri's government is Shi'ite dominated government and it's seen by many Sunnis -- not just in Iraq but also in the neighborhood of Iraq -- it's seen as a proxy of Iran.
Moises Naim: It is sectarian and has sectarian elements but let's remember it is also about power. These are the use of sectarian sentiments and manipulation of religious feelings and ethnic divides this is a very, very basic fight for power and how to share power between different groups that are jockeying to dominate politics and government in Iraq.
So what do you know, there are political aspects and social aspects and things that go so far beyound the simplistic narrative of "al Qaeda branch" and "al Qaeda llinked" and "al Qaeda adjacent with a stunning turn of the century cottage out back." Reality, the attacks were carried out by Iraqis. It sure makes things simpler if you just pin it all on "al Qaeda" and deny the reality that there are serious splits in Iraq to this day and deny that there is strong opposition to the Nouri al-Maliki government on the part of some Iraqis. If you ignore that, of course, then you'll never, ever have to way in on how authoritarian his goverment has gotten. Which is what most of the US press does over and over. They avoid the issues, they avoid exploration because crowing "al Qaeda! al Qaeda!" means you can have 'fun' conversations where you pretend what if you were an FBI agent tracking a terrorist or 'terrorist' and how you'd conduct yourself. By all means, sit on the couch and explore your own personal fantasies -- but with Oprah off daytime, maybe you should take those sessions to a licensed therapist and instead use media time to discuss realities in Iraq?
Lara Jakes apparently needs therapy desperately. She opens her AP report with, "A spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq" -- not linked, not branch, not franchise, not chain food establishment, it is, Lara Jakes tells us, "al-Qaida in Iraq." Strangely, in her very next paragraph she insists that Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, the spokesperson she's referring to, is the "spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq." Which is it? Is it al Qaeda or is al Qaeda linked? Can we at least whatever today's lie is straight? Is that too much to ask?
Reading Jakes' report is distressing on every level including on the news consumer level.
Patient exhibits the signs of dissociative identity disorder as evidenced by her appearing to speak in one voice and then quickly shifting to another voice. The first voice maintains a man is the spokesperson for al Qaeda in Iraq. The second voice, or personality, chimes in that he is a spokesperson for "the al-Qaieda-linked." Neither personality appears aware of what the other stated. At this stage in the treatment it's too soon to determine if either is the host personality. Possible etiological roots of the reporter's disease may stem from her long-term assignment to conflicts and war zones which may have created higher levels of stress than the host personality could handle, causing a disruption which manifested itself in at least one additional personality.
You're either "linked to" or you "are" them. You can't be both. So let's try to figure out what today's lie is before rushing copy off to the wires, okay?
Lara Jakes does, fortunately, tell us that the translated remarks she's parading came from Rita Katz's SITE Intelligence Group. Ugly Rita's done a great deal of damage over the years. Robert F. Worth gushes about Rita and what a big help she was to him when he was covering Iraq, "Rita really knows what she's talking about -- who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization and what's not." Does she? Because I'm not remembering any great arrests resulting from Rita's 'information.'
But in this community, we remember 'reporter' Robert F. Worth and his accomplice Carolyn Marshall. We remember them in relation to their coverage -- excuse me, their pre-coverage -- of an Article 32 hearing into the March 12, 2006 gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and the murder of her five-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza. These crimes were War Crimes and the criminals were US soldiers. We may have last noted Robert and Carolyn's 'amazing' 'reporting' in the April 6, 2009 snapshot:
Friday, June 20, 2006, Steven D. Green was arrested in the US (Asheville, North Carolina) having already been discharged in May. He was charged with murder and with rape. Green appeared in a Kentucky federal court November 8, 2006 and entered a plea of not guilty. Green was out of the US military, Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker were still in. An Article 32 hearing was scheduled for August (2006) and, strangely, Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall (New York Times), ahead of the Article 32 hearing, presented the defense's argument. That was strange not only because the defense hadn't presented their argument yet but also because the defense argument was a strange one. After the defense had made the argument,
Andy Mosher (Washington Post) would quote the go-to-military law expert for the press, Eugene Fidell stating, "This is not a defense known to the law. But this kind of evidence could come in during the court-martial, and it might be pertinent to the sentence. They could be setting the stage to avoid a death penalty." Wow. So will Robert F. Worth and Carolyn Marshall ever be asked to explain how they offered the defense -- excuse me, how they made the defense argument in an alleged article of reporting? They didn't quote the defense. They didn't have to. They didn't present this as an argument, they presented it as what happened.
Talk about great reporting, Robert and Carolyn knew the defense's strategy before the defense revealed it. Or, possibly, lazy writers like Robert need someone to present them with a framework to put their easy conclusions into. So it's Rita Katz or it's whispers (uncredited in the article) from the defense. Once upon a time, if you presented the defense's case (before they did) in an article, if you made their case or tried to in what supposed to be a report, your editor would ask you who your source was. And if your source was the defense, if you were turning over your space in the paper to allow the defense to fight their case and you weren't even noting that you'd gotten this from the defense, you'd be out of a job. Rita Katz is the 'answer' for reporters who don't like questions and don't like doing real work. Just run with what Rita tells you and try to ignore the long, long history of grudge f**king she's done to that region and that she'll never get over Daddy being executed for being an Israeli spy.
And that suspect motive (I say her entire motive for breathing), but that suspect motive, that used to be enough to get you considered questionable as a source. And that's before you go on 60 Minutes pretending to be someone other than who you are.
It says a great deal about the lack of standards on the part of AP, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others using Rita's 'reports' and 'information.' It also says a great deal about their Islamophobia. And let's be very clear that we have objected to this for years publicly and we're not the only ones. When history reviews this time period and recoils in disgust at the witch hunts which took place, when those news outlets try to pretend that it was 'normal' and complaints were never raised about Rita Katz and her demented "Terrorist! Everywhere!" (she's sort of like Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady on The Simpsons), let it be known that those outlets are liars and that they were urged repeatedly to stop using the work of a woman who was well and widely known for her prejudice against Muslims. They were urged to but they chose to continue to use it and they made sure that they participated in this modern day McCarthyism. They'll try to turn Rita Katz into the great villain when they're the people who give her the megaphone.
Standards don't matter when the press is feeling frisky and wants to play. Charles Duelfer recalls (at the Washington Post) how a press corps entertaining itself (my description, not his) ended up having real world consequences on Iraq. He concludes his piece with: "It is worth recalling this today as we discuss equally signficant decisions regarding Iran and, in many ways, are equally ignorant about Iranian leadership -- and vice versa." Also worried about how the press could influence a war on Iran, Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi (Huffington Post) stress the need for the media to explore:
According to the Congressional Research Service, total war-related funding for Iraq has exceeded $800 billion -- an average of approximately $100 billion per year. With these numbers in mind -- and at a time of over 8 percent unemployment and unprecedented government bailouts -- how will we pay for a war with Iran?
Looking back at America's recent wars, the American people trusted that their elected leaders accurately assessed the pros and cons of their policies. It didn't take long before protracted quagmires collapsed that trust. With the notable exception of neoconservatives, most Americans eventually realized the sad truth: their leaders didn't have a plan beyond bombing; they knew little if anything about the country in question; and they failed to conduct a realistic cost assessment -- in both blood and treasure -- of the endeavor. By the time Americans realized all of this, the damage had already been done.
Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed. It will require a media that doesn't permit a question of life and death to be framed in a simplistic manner that leaves the U.S. with a false choice of either bombing Iran or accepting an Iranian bomb. It is the responsibility of reporters -- not congressmen, senators, neoconservatives or foreign governments -- to not only get answers to their questions, but also to define the questions properly.
On Iraq, the mainstream media did not ask the right questions until disaster was a reality. On Iran, those questions need to be asked now so that disaster can be avoided.
Friday, February 25, 2011, protesters turned out throughout Iraq and they would continue to protest each subsequent Friday. In Baghdad, they gathered in Tahrir Square. Many were beaten, many were killed (at least 16 were killed). A number of journalists covering the demonstrations were later rounded up and tortured. That included Hadi al-Mahdi who was assassinated September 8th in his Baghdad home.

Today, the first anniversary is being observed. Kitabat notes that the protesters were demanding change and reform and that, back then, Moqtada al-Sadr was describing Nouri as a dictator. (Notice Nouri never went after Moqtada the way he has Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.) A protester states that there demands were not met and that they will continue protesting until they are. AFP reports that police officers and the military made their presence known in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today with weapons ("wooden clubs, pistols and assault rifles . . . police vehicles mounted with machine guns"). They quote chant leader Muayid al-Tayyeb stating that "when the government faced these demands with repression, our request became new elections." Anissa Haddadi (International Business Times) notes, "Youth and pro-reform movements took to the streets in Baghdad to call for greater political reform and new elections." Aswat al-Iraq notes the protesters plan to "continue their protests on Saturday (Feb. 25) in memory of the first demonstration against corruption" and that on February 27th of last year, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave his cabinet 100 days to improve the delivery of services to Iraq's people or face 'changes,' but no one was ultimately fired." Nor were the services improved. Al Mada reports today saw crowds and verbal exchanges and scuffles and that the protest was no different than the ones which came before. But one thing, the paper reports, did change and that was the number attending which was far greater than the number who took part last Friday. The protesters noted the expected national conference (to resovle the political crisis) and stated if the conference should fail, Iraq would have no choice but to call new elections. They also called for a public debate between one of their own and Nouri to address issues such as Nouri's authoritarian rule. Dar Addustour also reports on the call for a public debate.
In other news, Iraq's finally approved their 2012 federal budget. The Great Iraqi Revolution posted a photo of a school to underscore how the money doesn't make it to the people. Aseel Kami (Reuters) notes the budget is $100 billion US dollars. Aswat al-Iraq adds that $17 billion of that is for "defense." KUNA explains the 2012 budget is "22 percent higher" than last year's budget. Kitabat breaks money issues down in real world terms , yesterday the Parliament voted to spend approximately $50 million (US) on 350 armored vehicles for their own members while Iraq citizens have no such protection, while Iraqi citizens receive no protection. But don't worry, the ruling elite will continue to live high on the hog and safely. At McClatchy's Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent weighs in on the planned purchase:
I am speechless. I have no real words can describe my feelings now. Those people who claimed they would work for Iraqis think about no one but themselves. While the bodies of the people who voted for them scattered to pieces, they think about nothing but gaining more and more before the coming parliamentary election.
I felt so ashamed when I read the news about approving this law especially when i read sentence (the Iraqi parliament) because those group of people who carry the Iraqi citizenship prove with no doubt they are Iraqis only because they carry official Iraqi documents not because they are real Iraqis who care about Iraq and Iraqis.
Al Mada notes that the Sadr bloc (Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives) did put forward a motion (which passed) that 25% of oil export revenues to spending on the Iraqi people (Al Rafidayn states it's 20%); however, though it passed, the measure would still need the approval of Nouri's Cabinet.
Veterans for Peace has issued a press release on Bradley Manning, they are calling for all charges to be dropped:
In May 2010, the Army arrested PFC Manning, then 22, in Iraq, where he was working as a low level intelligence analyst. He is accused of leaking classified information, including an Army video that shows US soldiers in Baghdad shooting down unarmed civilians, including two Reuters employees, from an Apache helicopter. The video, dubbed "Collateral Murder," has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
Prosecutors have also accused Manning of giving Wikileaks thousands of Army diaries from its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army's own reports reveal that the killing of civilians was a regular occurence and that the Army regularly lied about it. The diaries also show that the Armyw as lying to the American people about the progress of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is not a crime to reveal evidence of war crimes, but it is a crime to cover up evidence of war crimes, as the Army has apparently done," said Leah Bolger, a former Navy Commander who was recently elected the first woman president of Veterans For Peace. "The American people deserve to know the truth about the wars being waged in our name," continued Bolger. "Our soldiers should not be asked to die for a lie, and those who tell us the truth should not be the ones being punished."
Bradley Manning has been confined for 21 months, including 8 months in solitary confinement at the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, where reports of his abuse bordering on torture caused an international outcry. Manning is now at another military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Quantico brig has been closed down. The US government has declined repeated requests by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to interview PFC Manning privately about his treatment.
Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, has complained on his blog that most of his requested defense witnesses were denied by the Army judge, while all of the prosecution witnesses were allowed.
"This is a kangaroo court martial," said Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace. "It is now obvious that the US Army will not give PFC Manning a fair trial. That is why Veterans For Peace is calling on Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Defense Secretary Leon Panneta, and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama to drop all the charges against Bradley Manning."
At its national convention in 2010, Veterans For Peace awarded Bradley Manning for his courage. "If he actually did what he is accused of doing, then he is a hero," said Mike Ferner, Interim Director of Veterans For Peace.
US political prisoner and attorney, grandmother and breast cancer survivor Lynne Stewart remains behind bars for the 'crime' of issuing a press release. Her sentecing is the subject of a hearing on February 29th. Before that:
FREE LYNNE STEWART!!!!
Come and Support Lynne's appeal!
VIGIL -- February 28, 2012 sundown until @ Tom Paine Park, NYC
OCCUPY THE COURTS
February 29, 2012 -- Lynne's Appeal @ 500 Pearl Street, NYC 9am
Lynne says:
"A Large Outpouring of Support in Folely Square and Tom Paine Park and in the Courtroom will signal to these abriters of 'Justice' that attention must be paid, the 99% are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken."
Lynne's a very strong woman. I don't think many people could survive what she has -- the attacks from the Bush administration (the witchhunt against her, the desire to punish her for 'crimes' the Clinton Justice Department had already ruled weren't crimes -- the press release) and then the Barack administration which increased her sentence. But she can because she's strong. The thing is, with all she's given to so many people over the years, she really shouldn't have to be strong. After her dedication to helping the poor and the ones who would have no attorney and no legal voice, she really should be able to be home rallying NYC to support OWS and other things. Ralph Poynter, her husband, is no weakling either. But it is very hard on him to see his life partner and best friend locked away on these ridiculous 'crimes'. Stephen Lendman (URUKNET) writes about what's at stake and, most importantly, he writes about the meaning of an attorney like Lynne and why they would be targeted to begin with. Excerpt:
For 30 years, Stewart worked tirelessly defending America's poor, underprivileged, and unwanted. They're never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her.

Where others wouldn't go, she did courageously, defending controversial figures like Weather Underground's David Gilbert, United Freedom Front's Richard Williams, Black Liberation Army members Sekou Odinga and Nasser Ahmed, and many more like them. She knew the risks, but took them fearlessly and courageously until wrongfully indicted for doing her job.

Her case sent a chilling message to other lawyers that it's dangerous defending unpopular clients ruthless prosecutors want to convict.

Throughout her career, she scrupulously observed the American Bar Association's Model Rules. They obligate lawyers to:

"devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."

She did that and much more. She's a model attorney and human being. Now she's wrongfully imprisoned for 10 years. On February 29, her skilled legal team will argue persuasively for justice. For Lynne, it's long overdue.

Her original sentence was unjust. Increasing it fourfold constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth Amendment prohibits it.

A single prison day ignores her lifetime commitment to community, the rule of law, society's poor, underprivileged and unwanted, and the profession she chose to represent them honorably and courageously.

Many worldwide support Lynne. This writer's proud to call her a friend. On February 29, join others in Manhattan's federal court on her behalf.

Lynne says her case is "bigger than just (her) personally." She'll always struggle for justice and urges others to as well in her signature comment, saying:

"Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate."

"Love Struggle"

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whitney

Whitney airs each Wednesday on NBC.

I'll grab Lily and Neil.

They're engaged to be married.

Or were.

Neil wants a prenup.  Lily thinks it will jinx their relationship.

He tells her it's like getting auto insurance and you get that to be safe, not because you're going to have an accident.  Lily tells him, "Well that's a terrible metaphor because I'm a bad driver. I don't need insurance on my relationships because I'm excellent at love."

Turns out, as Roxanne discovers, it's also got some stuff to do with the fact that she's not been completely upfront.




Roxanne: What are you doing? 


Lily: What?


Roxanne:  I know for a fact that you have 7 grand in credit card debt.


Lily: Oh, yeah, well there's some things about me Neil doesn't know. Maybe a little mystery is good. Like he doesn't know that I'm five foot three or that I dabbled in Scientology.


Roxanne: What?  Okay when do you plan on telling him all of this?


Lily: Once we're married, none of that stuff is going to matter.  He'll be less judgmental and I'll be pregnant. 

I laughed so hard at that.  Cedric and I did not have a prenup.  But he was surprised, after we married, when he found out how much student loan debt I had.  I didn't tell him.  Why would I?  I'd paid off over two-thirds of it before we met and was going to pay off the rest.  I assumed he would have some debts as well -- credit cards, or car loans or whatever.

Some people take that very seriously.  (Like Neil and, turns out, like Cedric.)  So I really identified with Lily's "once we're married none of that stuff is going to matter."

She and Neil have a big argument which includes Lily saying she's tired of having to pretend to be something she's not.  She blurts out,  "I voted for Nader!"

I know this season has to end with them getting married so I'm not going to worry about their fight.



This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, February 23, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, a wave of attacks hit Iraq, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani again sees one of his clerics targeted, Iraqiya calls for the government to provide protection or resign, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc lashes out at the United Nations over Camp Ashraft, and more.

Today a series of spectacular attacks struck Iraq. Martin Kobler, the United Nations' Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, declared, "The continuing violent attacks on Iraqis are totally unacceptable and have to stop. I call on the Iraqi authorities to fully investigate these outrageous acts of violence and bring the criminals to justice. Today's despicable attacks are an assault on human life and death. They are meant to hinder the achievement of national unity and stability." At the US State Dept, spokesperson Mark C. Toner (link is text and video) stated, "Obviously, these were horrible, even heinous, acts that took place today. We strongly condemn these acts of violence and obviously offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. Frankly, we view these as desperate attempts by terrorist groups to sow fear and undermine Iraqi democracy at what everyone recognizes is really a critical juncture in their -- in the Iraqi political process." Obviously, the US goes to the 'terrorist' well at the drop of the hat. Having installed a puppet government of exiles and ignored Iraqi will (in the 2010 elections, Iraqis voted Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya ahead of Nouri's State of Law but the White House demanded that Nouri remain prime minister -- in spite of the will of the Iraqi people, in spite of the Iraqi Constitution), the US government has left Iraqis not thrilled with an ineffective government composed of exiles few avenues to pursue to effect change. (Had they honored the will of the Iraqi people expressed in the 2010 elections, there might be more faith in elections within Iraq. The US government is 100% to blame for the attitude in Iraq that elections change nothing.)


The Washington Post's Asaad Alazawi and Ernesto Londono observe, "Iraqi officials did not provide an official death toll, and few appeared on television to speak about, or condemn, the attacks. Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraq parliament's Speaker, said the attacks represented an attempt to 'flare up strife' among Iraqis."


The wave of attacks were spread across ten locations. RT notes, "The violence started with a drive-by shooting in Baghdad and was followed by blasts inside and outside the capital." Salam Faraj and Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) count 16 car bombings and 8 roadside bombings and note Baghdad, Babil, Diyala, Slaheddin, Kirkuk and Nineveh were all hit. Rick Dewsbury (Daily Mail) notes, "The coordinated bombings and shootings unfolded over four hours in the capital Baghdad -- where most deaths were -- and 11 other cities. They struck government offices, restaurants and one in the town of Musayyib hit close to a primary school." Vatican Radio (link is audio) reported on the atta


Charles Collins: It was one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since US troops pulled out in mid-December. In Baghdad, at least 10 explosions tore through mainly Shia neighborhoods during rush hour and other attacks targeted police patrols, commuters and crowds gathered in shopping areas. One bomb went off near a school injuring several children. There were also attacks in Baquba, Mosul and Kirkuk and the province of Salaheddin. Tensions have grown since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against senior members of a predominantly Sunni political bloc, accusing them of ties to death squads. The blasts hit just weeks before Baghdad plans to host an Arab League Summit which was cancelled last year due to fears of violence in the county.


Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph of London) observes of Baghdad, "Witnesses spoke of seeing wrecked cars and blood stains on the floors and chains of an ice cream shop. One attack claimed six lives in Kadhimiya district, where bombs exploded along a restaurant lined street filled with people having breakfast and morning coffees." 50 dead and "hundreds injured" throughout the country. Asaad Alazawi and Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) count 52 dead and add, "The majority of attacks, which were carried out with car bombs and small arms, appeared to target security forces in the capital and other cities, authorities said." The death toll continued to rise throughout the day. Kareem Raheem (Reuters) noted the death toll has risen to 60. By the end of the day, the Wall St. Journal was reporting the deaths had risen to 70.


BBC News offers a series of photos of the aftermath here. Globe and Mail offers four photos here. The Telegraph of London offers video here. Jack Healy (New York Times) notes mourners in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood where 16-year-old Sajad Montasire died waiting "for a minibus to take him to school" and quotes his brother Mustafa explaining, "He just had his breakfast, took his books and left walking. I heard the explosion, I ran into the street, and I found his shoe." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains Sunnis were targeted (not just Shi'ites) and quotes Iraq Body Count's Hamit Dardagan stating, "The situation is worsening [January's count of over 400 dead] shows a constant level of violence that doesn't seem to let up." Al Arabiya notes the death toll from today's attacks has risen to 70. Nizar Latif (The National Newspaper) notes that the Interior Ministry rushed to blame al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but MP Hassan Jihad -- who serves on the Parliament's Security and Defense Committee -- notes that "the attacks show that the Iraqi armed forces and the country's security apparatus were not where they need to be." It should be noted that the Deputy Minister at the Interior Ministry feels Iraq's security forces have had enough training. (He advised the US government to spend the money for training Iraqi security forces on something in the United States instead.) It should also be noted that he unofficially runs the Ministry of the Interior. That's because, in his second term as prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has refused to appoint a Minister of the Interior. In addition, Nouri's refused to appoint a Minster of Defense or a Minister of National Security. (Technically, he's refused to nominate. Parliament votes up or down on the nominee. But Nouri's refused to offer nominees to head those three security ministries.) Nouri's named prime minister-designate in November 2010. Per the Constitution, he is to form a (full) Cabinet -- that includes each nominee being approved by Parliament. At the end of December 2010, he was unconstitutionally moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister despite having failed at the Cabinet (which should have meant President Jalal Talabani named a new prime-minister designate who would then have 30 days to try to form a Cabinet). During this period with no heads of the three security ministries, violence has been on the rise. Over a year later, Nouri has still not named people to head the security ministries and a National Alliance member recently revealed that the National Alliance (Nouri's State of Law, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc and the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq are the three biggest blocs in the National Alliance) doesn't want anyone named to the posts. They'd prefer that, for the duration of Nouri's term, the ministries remain headless.


Press TV emphasizes that today's "deadly violence comes weeks before an Arab League summit scheduled to be held in Iraq at the end of March." Al Mada notes that 13 Arab leaders are expected to participate in the summit and that the US has had "a big role" in persuading Arab leaders to attend. Ali A. Nabhan, Sam Dagher and Jabbar Yaseen (Wall St. Journal) explain:


The latest violence also casts a shadow over Iraq's quest to host the Arab League's summit of leaders on March 29. It would be the first such meeting since uprisings swept through the Arab world, toppling four leaders and besieging the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Last year's summit was postponed because of the events. Iraq has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into preparations for the summit and a team from the Arab League met with Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Monday to discuss security and other arrangements.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad reaction to today's attacks:


"What are the security officials doing?" shouted Hadi Abdulwahab, a father of four whose shop in Karrada isn't far from the site of one of the car bombings. "This is proof that they are not in control. The armed groups are in control."
Only luck, he said, kept him alive. The insurgents "hit when and where they want," he said. "There is no security plan. There is no security. We are alive only because we weren't hit -- this time. We leave our homes in the morning not knowing whether we will return or not."



Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) quotes shop owner Ali Sabah Qadim stating, "These explosions increase our concern that security in Baghdad is still not good. What is the guilt of those innocent children who were going to their schools? Today we have a new number to be added to the orphans, widows and handicapped in Iraq."
Al Jazeera and the Christian Science Monitor correspondent Jane Arraf Tweeted:

#Iraq #Sadr bloc, Iraqiya fault Iraqi government and intel services for not stopping wave of attacks, interior ministry blames al-Qaeda.



Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The official spokesperson of al-Iraqiya Bloc, Mayson al-Damlouji, demanded the government to bear responsibility and stop bloodshed or to present its resignation." The editorial board of the National Newspaper has a very strong editorial which includes:



The increase in attacks on Shia communities also corresponded with Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, the leader of the Shia State of Law coalition, consolidating power at the expense of the opposition Iraqiya party and accusing leading Sunni politicians of planning the violence. Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi, a Sunni who fled to the Kurdish Autonomous Region, again maintained his innocence this week after Iraq's top judicial court formally accused him of sectarian violence.
Whether Mr Al Hashimi is guilty or not (and it is difficult to judge in this poisoned political atmosphere), the political feuding and sectarian murders are closely related. As long as Mr Al Maliki's government continues to marginalise non-Shiites, there will be no lasting security solution in Iraq.


No one's tying in the violence to the ongoing crackdowns in Iraq. That ongoing crackdown would include the 92 people Al Sabaah reports Nouri had arrested yesterday. In addition, Yasser Talal (Dar Addustour) reports that more warrants are coming and that Nouri's claiming there's a plot to assassinate him. Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq and chief drama queen.


Nouri lashed out at many members of Iraqiya in the last months, none more so than Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi whom he accused of terrorism. Last week, 9 judges from Nouri's kangaroo court in Baghdad declared al-Hashemi guilty (despite not having had a trial and despite what Article 19 of the Iraqi Constitution dictates: All are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law). Al Sabaah cites unnamed gossips in Parliament who are insisting that, in three more sessions, Parliament will be declaring a death sentence for al-Hashemi. This despite the fact that Parliament's not holding a hearing and most likely doesn't have the votes to put that forward?


In other violence, Al Rafidayn reports that a cleric of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was targeted for assassination yesterday with a hand grenade as he finished morning prayers and was leaving a mosque in Najaf. He wasn't harmed in the attack. This attack comes after a series of attacks over the weekend on al-Sistanti clerics. Friday Kitabat reported that Supreme Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani accused party officials of widespread corruption -- financial and administrative. Saturday Kitabat reported that six homes in Nasiriyah and Diwaniyah Provinces belonging to representatives of al-Sistani were attacked with hand grenades and bullets. No one was harmed in the attacks which would appear to indicate the attacks were not to harm but to send a message. A warning could be sent for any number of reasons but it is curious that he decries corruption among politicians and the next day homes of his representatives are attacked. Aswat al-Iraq noted 2 of the homes attacked in Diwaniyah Province and that a mosque in the area was also attacked.


Meanwhile
Al Rafidayn reports United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq's spokesperson Claire Bergoa issued a statement in which she declared there are 5.1 million internally displaced Iraqis (internal refugees) and that 3.1 million became displaced in 2006 or after. The statement on internal refugees comes as the Sadr bloc lashes out at Iranian refugees in Iraq. Ahlul Bayt News Agency quotes Rassem al-Marvani, Cultural Advisor of the Sadr bloc, stating that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "is actually implementing other's policies which are against Iraq's freedom and independence since there is no law that allows Ban Ki-moon to comment on the presence of the MKO in Iraq or their leaving the country." He's referring to Camp Ashraf residents. He accuses Ban Ki-moon of being in league with the US and Europe.



Camp Ashraf houses a group of Iranian dissidents (approximately 3,000 people -- 400 were moved to Camp Liberty last week). Iranian dissidents were welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp attacked twice. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observesthat "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."


Yesterday afternoon, international law attorney Allan Gerson (Huffington Post) addressed the planned relocation of all Camp Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty:



In 1932, the eminent theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote "Moral Man and Immoral Society" warning of the tendency of institutions to lose their sense of humanity. How better to explain today's actions of the US State Department in toying with the lives and hopes of over 3000 Iranian dissidents being "voluntarily" relocated from Camp Ashraf , a small city 40 miles north of Baghdad, where they have lived for the last 25 years? From there they are being moved to a small isolated section of Camp Liberty, an abandoned American base, looted by the Iraqis, with no basic amenities and under the watchful eyes of Iraqi police who have viciously attacked them before.

In the State Department's view, they are doing these dissidents, members of the MEK (The Mujahedeen-e Khalq), a favor and are not dishonoring a solemn commitment made to them by the US Army in July 2004 when it promised that they would be treated as Protected Persons under the Geneva Conventions in return for the MEK's surrendering their means of self-protection. But, sad to say, the State Department's benevolent view is seriously flawed.
In reality, it has, as Niebuhr warned, lost its sense of humanity and has shown instead that US assurances of protection cannot be taken seriously in the face of institutional interests.


The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom issued the following today:


Press release
A letter signed by 110 cross-Party MPs and Peers was on Thursday delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Lancaster House urging him to ensure United Nations protection for 3,400 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.
A delegation led by David Amess MP (Con) delivered the letter which was supported by senior Parliamentarians including Former Home Secretary Lord Waddington QC, former Labour Party chairman Lord Clarke of Hampstead, former House of Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd, LibDem deputy leader Lord Dholakia, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC (former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation), former Lord Advocate for Scotland Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC, Sir Roger Gale MP, Stephen McCabe MP, Brian Binley MP, and Sir Bob Russell MP. The Parliamentarians expressed "deep concern regarding the relocation of the first group of 400 residents of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty", a former US base near Baghdad airport now a de facto prison used by Iraq to house the dissidents.
The MPs and Peers' letter said: "A group of 400 residents showed utmost flexibility and prepared themselves to move to Camp Liberty on 17 February. This was at a time when many basic necessities at the new camp were clearly lacking. This gesture of goodwill by these residents was responded to by the Iraqi government ordering its police at the new camp to be offensive and hostile."
"Iraqi forces in the presence of UN monitors prevented the residents from transferring medication and medical supplies, a generator, office equipment including chairs, tables and photocopiers, a water heater and hygiene products. "
Camp Liberty, contrary to UNAMI's 31 January statement, does not conform to international standards from the point of view of infrastructure. Upon arrival residents found that there was no electricity or water and its hygienic services were filthy and unusable. "
With Mrs Rajavi having convinced the residents to accept this risky transfer, the current conditions at the camp are totally unacceptable. We expect the United Nations, with the support of the US government and the European Union to make a clear stand against the limitations that the Iraqi government is imposing on the residents. The UN, US and EU must ensure the human rights of the residents are met. UNAMI cannot justify a stance which is clearly not neutral as a result of Iraqi pressure.
"We urge you firstly to ensure that the Iraqi police station and its forces leave the camp and are stationed outside the perimeter of it. Furthermore, you must guarantee the safety and well being of the residents by ensuring they have direct and free access to medical services and that their freedom of movement is secured. UNAMI must keep the gates of Camp Liberty open to reporters, lawyers and the families of the residents. "
In such circumstances there can be no further transfer of residents to Camp Liberty until such time as the current 400 residents at Camp Liberty have been safely transferred to third party states", the letter said. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom 23 February 2012



In other news, Al Mada reports an Iraqi exile -- one who left Iraq in the eighties -- recently returned from Paris for a visit, hoping to see the home he knew in Baghdad. Instead, what he found shocked him and he declared he was troubled to see Baghdad, the city of art and science, now become a city of sorrow and ignorance and the concept of flirtation has returned to the Dark Ages (in his time, he states, young women spoke throughout Baghdad, fanning themselves with fans in the doorways of restaurants and clubs). He is returning to Paris and states of Baghdad, 'This is not my city."



We'll close with this from John Glaser's "Extrajudicial Execution at President's Whim" (Antiwar.com):


The Obama administration's top Pentagon lawyer on Wednesday said that courts
have no business questioning executive branch decisions about whom to target for extra-judicial execution in the war on terror, even if that target is an American citizen.
"Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives," said Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department general counsel, in a speech at Yale Law School.

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