Friday, January 15, 2010

KPFA loves the male guests

KPFA's The Morning Show continued their week long love of male guests. Today we heard from 7 men and only 2 women. Do they really think no one notices this imbalance?

The first half hour had one man (Tom Ferguson and he was very short and rude "Let's just walk through . . ."); 1 man (talking about Haiti, WBAI reporter) for the second half hour, 1 man to talk about a Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival who brought 1 man and 1 woman with him (this was the show's strongest segment and the three guests had the most on the ball -- they also offered some great music 2 male guests; for the third half hour, 2 men and 1 woman; for the fourth half hour 1 man talking about a book.

The book, by the way, was about MLK. The man was White.

I'm not insulting him for that. I think it's great. I think we all need to talk about MLK.

But I'm thinking about C.I.'s marvelous "I Hate The War" last night and it makes me wonder why all races and genders can talk about the Civil Rights Movement but only women can talk about the feminist movement. I'm not talking three or four words in the midst of a run-on sentence the way David Swanson did (badly) this week. I'm talking really talk about it. The way people will really talk about MLK.

Their refusal to do so explains why our history (women's history) is so little known and why we are so little appreciated.

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

Friday, January 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a witness testifying before the Iraq Inquiry reveals either extreme ignorance or a wilful desire to lie, tensions continue to flare over the efforts to ban Sunnis from running for office, and more.

Starting with the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show when Iraq was addressed by Diane and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), a little bit by James Kitfield and who the hell knows what David Wood was smoking, but he's not just stupid, he's ass stupid. Let's check in.

Diane Rehm: And Iraq also, large portions of Baghdad, shut down earlier this week. Why David?

David Wood: Well there was an incredible plot that was uncovered this week -- uhm -- i-in-in which there were going to be bombings of Iraqi government ministry buildings and then followed by a wave of political assassinations which clearly would have ignited a huge violent uhm situation. The Iraqi police intercepted the bombers on the way to the government -- to bomb the government buildings -- and to sort of stop the plot cold but clearly it's a real tinderbox in Iraq with the uh elections coming up in March and uh we saw just this week even more political struggle as the official government elections commission uh struck about 500 people off the elections list because of ties -- alleged ties to Ba'athist organizations.

Diane Rehm: So what is that going to do to those kinds of sectarian tensions?

David Wood: I-I can't imagine that they wouldn't inflame them.

Diane Rehm: Well exactly.

David Wood: Already you have people, where there have been protests -- and people uh really getting pretty angry. Saw one Iraqi quoted as saying "The Iraqi street is boiling" which I think is a very good summation. [C.I. note: That quote is
from Nada Bakri's report last week for the New York Times.]

James Kitfield: It's very bad news when you start -- the whole idea of this election -- it's only the second major election -- general election -- since the invasion -- 2003. The first one was boycotted by the Sunnis. It just sort of totally disenfranchised a major element of Iraq. The hope for the Americans was this would sort of -- that the Sunnis were going to take part and uhm so this electoral commission decision is very unhelpful. There's three days to appeal. I still have hope that we'll have some kind of influence to get an appeal of this so not so many parties and so many candidates are uhm are excluded. I also noted this week there was suicide bombings in Najaf very close to the Iman ali shrine which is sort of the most revered shrine in the Shia religion. That's kind of scary. Najaf has been very quiet for about three years. It reminds me of the Golden Dome attack. Once they took a very serious Shi'ite mosque and holy place they really almost ignited that civil war a couple of years ago so it's clear that this Sunni-Ba'athist, you know, irreconcilables are still out there and the question is who has the upper hand and they have so far not been able to ignite the kinds of sectarian violence we saw in 2006 and 2007. But they're still trying.

Diane Rehm: But US troops are withdrawing from Anbar [Province] at the end of this month. Isn't that correct?

Karen DeYoung: That's right. This is part of the gradual withdrawal. They're supposed to have all what they call "combat forces" out by August leaving about 50,000 troops. I think it's a little disingenuis to distinguish between combat forces and other forces. There will still be 50,000 US troops after August until the end of next year in Iraq. But I think this -- the next several days will be fairly critical in seeing whether this ban on about 500 senior politicians is lifted. I mean, it includes the head of the National Dialogue Front which is the biggest Sunni alliance and it basically means that-that if it's allowed to stand the Sunnis have really no chance of capturing a significant portion of power there and kind of opens the door to the continuation of sectarian strife and obviously there are certain elements, presumably in the Sunni community, that-that are interested in promoting this kind of backlash on both sides.

Diane Rehm: And one other point, David Wood, on Thursday a Baghdad court sentenced 11 Iraqis to death. Why was that case so important?

David Wood: Well because, again, it's-it's -- you know -- Iraq is such a tinderbox and there's so -- such a struggle going on for power between the various sects that anything like that is a -- is a major excuse uh to take revenge.

Most of the time, I either know the guest or know of the guest on Diane's show. So when a friend with the show called to note Iraq was covered, I asked, "Who the hell is David Wood?" He writes for Politics Daily and, no, they don't have an Iraq correspondent. They don't cover Iraq. Everything the IDIOT said was never covered at the website. (It was never covered period because it's not factual.) Sweet Baby Dumb Ass writes 'pithy' little articles like "Taliban Cause Most Civilian Deaths, but U.S. Gets the Blame." Can we get that Debbie Downer sound in here?

Let's go through his nonsense:

Well there was an incredible plot that was uncovered this week -- uhm -- i-in-in which there were going to be bombings of Iraqi government ministry buildings and then followed by a wave of political assassinations which clearly would have ignited a huge violent uhm situation. The Iraqi police intercepted the bombers on the way to the government -- to bomb the government buildings -- and to sort of stop the plot cold but clearly it's a real tinderbox in Iraq with the uh elections coming up in March and uh we saw just this week even more political struggle as the official government elections commission uh struck about 500 people off the elections list because of ties -- alleged ties to Ba'athist organizations.

There is no proof of a plot. And there was no "interception." What supposedly happened is a tip -- and most reporters in the region believe the tip came in as a result of the fact that Nouri's now paying for tips -- and the tip may have been accurate, may not have been. Supposedly 25 would be criminals were arrested.

From the January 12th snapshot:

But the big news will probably be the ongoing crackdown in Iraq's capital.
Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report Baghdad is under curfew with at least 25 people arrested. What's known? Damn little. So you know the New York Times is all over it, pressed up against it, breathless and heavy panting. Today's groper is Timothy Williams. It's always cute when the paper goes weak knee-ed over claims instead of stating outright, "The following are claims by an installed government desperate to remain in office and we cannot verify any of what follows." So Nouri's image took a beating and now he claims he has stopped at least 4 -- count 'em, 4 -- suicide bombings today. You know what? The moon didn't crash into the earth today either. Maybe Nouri should claim credit for that as well. I'm sure the New York Times would breathlessly repeat it. The same Timmy that gushes today of how "the plot discovered by the Iraqi government on Tuesday would have been devastating if carried out." Much more devastating, of course, if it were a real plot. But Timmy can't verify that and why do reporting when there are so many fewer rules in 'reporting.' Besides, it's fun too! Watch: Timothy Williams denies rumors that he is pregnant with Nouri al-Maliki's child insisting that thus far, they've just done a half-and-half (mutual jackoff), government sources say. See! Fun!

An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers explains that the curfew lasted for two hours and that rumors flew like crazy:

["]The rumors today reminded me with those during Saddam regime when Saddam's followers used to spread rumors to control Iraqis and they strongly succeeded . Rumors are the most powerful weapons in Iraq an unfortunately, my people are very easy victims for this weapon.["]

Poor Timmy, from headline to text,
Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) does a much better job establishing what's known and what's claimed. Xinhua adds, "A police source told Xinhua that the Iraqi forces mainly focused their search operations on eastern Baghdad neighborhoods, including the Shiite bastion of Sadr City, which has long been the stronghold of Mahdi Army militia, loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

And let's note
Liz Sly and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report:
Whether the alleged plot has been fully thwarted is open to question, however.The quantities of explosives uncovered would barely equal that of one of the recent bombs. The government did not specify whether the security forces had found the bombs purported to be circulating.
Get it? David Wood doesn't. What an idiot. James gets a lucky break because I don't have the time to dissect him. (However, non-Iraq related, he got off a howler and we'll address that at Third.) We will know that only Karen DeYoung appears to grasp what an allegation is while the men were happy to fling very serious allegations -- none of which they can prove -- at Sunnis.
Let's turn the continuing story of the banning of Sunni politicians (made all the easier when 'journalists' bandy about charges as if they're facts).
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) notes:

The story, of course, is the Committee's surprising decision to disqualify some 500 politicians, including the Sunni leader Saleh al-Mutlak and the
current Minister of Defense Abdul-Qadir Jassem al-Obeidi, from contesting the upcoming Parliamentary elections on the grounds of alleged Baathist ties. The Higher Election Commission disappointed many observers by accepting the recommendation; the issue now goes to appeal. Mutlak's list -- which includes such figures as former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and current Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- is talking about boycotting the election, which many fear could have a major negative impact on the elections and on longer-term prospects for Iraqi political accommodation. Not bad work for a zombie!
I say that it's the work of a "zombie" because the Accountability and Justice Committee, a relic of the Bremer era rooted in the conceptually flawed and badly politicized De-Baathification Commission, should be dead. It is
basically continuing to operate because the early 2008 legislation establishing its replacement never got off the ground, so the old team just stayed in place. It's most unfortunate that such a relic has thrown more fuel onto the fire of mistrust and institutional dysfunction... but hardly a surprise in the thinly institutionalized and still deeply polarized and hotly politicized Iraqi scene.

In a piece entitled "
Iraq's witch hunt continues" (Al Jazeera), Hoda Hamid notes the bulk of those targeted with bannings are "surprise, surprise" Sunnis and that Saleh al-Mutlaq's National Dialogue Front is "broad based, non sectarian party . . . unheard of in the new democratic Iraq" and that Sunnis are being prevented from participating due to a witch hunt. Dale McFeatters (Scripps Howard News Service) offers, "In any case, the chance of a Baath renaissance is increasingly remote. The threat of renewed sectarian violence is not. There is still time for the commission to reverse its ban and al-Maliki, the U.S. and United Nations should persuade them to do so." Al-Ahram explains, "It is widely believed that it is this alliance with Allawi that has prompted the present ban. Shia groups that control both the parliament and the government fear that even a moderate success of the "Iraqi List" formed by Al-Mutlaq and Allawi last November could bring the Shia-controlled government down." Martin Chulov (Guardian) quotes Sunni politician Osama al-Najafi stating, "There has been a drastic change in the political situation in Iraq. There will be a severe public backlash to this, reconciliation will end, and the election will fail. Any results will clearly be seen as illegitimate." Anthony Shadid (New York Times) offers, "Western officials and some Iraqi politicians have questioned whether the decisions by the Accountability and Justice Commission are even binding, and critics have acused its director, Ali Faisal al-Lami, of carrying out agendas of various Iraqi politicians and of Iran. A former chairman of the De-Baathifcation Comission, now disbanded, Mr. Lami spent a year in American detention on suspicion of aiding Iran." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council member Mohammad al-Haidari claims, "The Baath party is worse than the Nazi pary." NPR's Quil Lawrence reported on the situation for All Things Considered today and noted that al-Mutlaq has his supporters including a man who "draws a distinction between al-Mutlaq -- who never left Iraq -- and exiles -- many of them Shi'ites -- who returned with the American invasion." He also has his detractors including an adviser to Nouri al-Maliki who sees al-Mutlaq as a Ba'athist and part of an effort to return to power.

Turning to London where the
Iraq Inquiry heard from Maj Gen Graham Binns and Lt Gen John Reith -- link goes to video and transcript option -- sort of. Reith demanded to testify in private and his wish was granted -- they did publish a transcript of Reith's testimony.

Chair John Chilcot: There are, as you see, no members of the public in the hearing room for this session and it is not being recorded for broadcast. However, after the session, we will be publishing a transcript of the evidence you give, so that, at that stage, your appearance before us will become publicly known. Before the New Year, we heard from a number of military officers involved at senior levels in the planning of operations against Iraq, including the Chief of Defence Staff at the time, Lordy Boyce, and one of your deputies, General Fry. So this session will cover 2002 up to and beyond the invasion, covering the period of your tenure as Chief of Joint Operations. I remind every witness that he will later be asked to sign a transcript of evidence to the effect that the evidence they have given is truthful, fair and accurate. With that, I will hand over to Sir Lawrence Freedman. Sir Lawrence?

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Sir, I think the easiest way to start is perhaps if you could just take us through how you became aware of the potential need for planning in -- for military action in Iraq, and your awareness of the American plans. It would probably be best if you just take us through from the start.

Gen John Reith: May I just start by giving you sort of mood music at the time and our situation with the Americans at the time, so you get a better understanding, if that would be helpful?

So he gets to demand that he testify off-camera and he gets to decide how he'll start his testimony? Some call the Iraq Inquiry "the Chilcot Inquiry" -- apparently it should also be called "the Reith Inquiry."

He prattled on and on about his special relationship with US Gen Tommy Franks ("So I forged quite a good relationship with him, and, in fact, he jokingly used to call me his deputy commander, and I was very much seen by the Americans as the UK's global combatant commander.")

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Can I just pull you back a bit on that? Because there is a meeting at Chequers, I think just before the Prime Minister goes to Crawford, where Alastair Campbell, in fact, reports in his diaries about Tommy Franks' view from "our military man based in Tampa", which I think was Cedric.

Gen John Reith: It would have been Cedric at the time, yes.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: And CDS was there and I think Tony Pigott as well. So what were they reporting on?

Gen John Reith: Cedric never gave me anything relating to Iraq. I presume that Cedric, again, had credibility with Tommy Franks, [redacted] and he may have given an opion, but it would have been a personal opinion, but he never actually raised it at as an issue with me.

The redacted portion is 36 spaces. For all the world knows, he was describing a deep, soul kiss with Tommy Franks. He was obsessed with Tommy Franks.

Gen John Reith: I tended to be very candid with Tommy Franks and I made it clear that there was no commitment from the UK. He used to rib me regularly that he was having to produce two plans, one with and one without the UK, but that he couldn't conceive that America's closest ally wouldn't go with them into Iraq if they went. That was his perspective. So, as we were developing plans --

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: How did you respond to that?

Gen John Reith: I responded to it. I mean it was all done in a very jocular way, but I responded to it that nothing in this life is certain.

And, yes, that is accurate portrayal of the entire hearing. He did not know about the Crawford, Texas meeting between Bully Boy Bush and then Prime Minister Tony Blair "until somebody mentioned it to me yesterday."

The jaw should drop at that one. Now some may rush to Gen Reith and say, "Well of course he knew his prime minister was in the US at that time. He just means that, until yesterday, he had no idea it was at this meeting that Blair told Bush England would give whatever needed to the Iraq War" (one with no UN approval at that point and that would never get UN approval). You can say that. It's not very likely, but you can say that.

Reality: The Crawford meeting has been big news, BIG NEWS, in England throughout the Inquiry. Don't say, "Oh, yes, yes, with Alastair Campbell this week." No. Not just this week.

The committee members and witnesses have raised it repeatedly. David Manning testified November 30th (see
that day's snapshot). In his testimony, he noted:

The first evening, the President and the Prime Minister dined on their own, and when we had a more formal meeting on Saturday morning, which I think was the 6th, it was in the President's study at the ranch. There were, as I recall -- and I may be wrong about this -- three a side. I think it was the President, his Chief of Staff, Andy Card, and Dr [Condi] Rice and on our side, as I recall, it was the Prime Minister, his Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, and myself. We convened about half past nine, after breakfast, and began with the President giving a brief account of the discussion that he and the Prime Minister had had on their own the previous evening over dinner. He said that they had discussed Iraq over dinner. He told us that there was no war plan for Iraq, but he had set up a small cell in Central Command in Florida and he had asked Central Command to do some planning and to think through the various options. When they had done that, he would examine these options. The Prime Minister added that he had been saying to the President it was important to go back to the United Nations and to present going back to the United Nations as an opportunity for Saddam to cooperate.

That was the take-away from Manning's testimony and the press (the British press) were covering it like crazy. You can refer to
Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video), Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror), Kevin Schofield (Daily Record), Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian), David Brown (Times of London), Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) and Jonathan Steele (Guardian) just to start with. And this wasn't the first time it dominated the news cycle for the Inquiry. That was the week before when Christopher Meyer testified about Blair and Bush's agreement "signed in blood" (it really wasn't signed in blood, he was using that expression) and that got a huge amount of attention from the press.

Where has Reith been throughout all of this? If he's not even able to follow the headlines in the last weeks, how on the ball is he? It's just as likely -- some might say more likely -- that he's being dishonest. I don't know but it doesn't make sense and those who feel he may have been less than honest can refer to his exchanges with Committee Member Roderic Lyne where even the most basic questions (Lyne lays his questions out very clearly) were met with evasions and stumbles. Lyne would have to repeatedly clarify after a respone (usually in this form, "But . . . ") and the question he'd just asked was completely clear.

Maj Gen Graham Binns was much more straighforward and forthcoming with his answers. We'll note this passage on Basra.

Maj Gen Graham Binns: The security situation was difficult for us. Every move outside our bases required detailed planning and was high-risk. I thought that we were having limited effect on improving the security situation in Basra. 90 per cent of the violence was directed against us, politically there was no contact between us and the local provincial government, and coaltion-sponsored reconstruction had almost ceased.

That was how things were when he arrived but he credited his predecessor with putting in place a plan that allowed for some improvements. How much of an improvement? Asked how things were when he left, he replied, "So -- but I think it is fair to say that the security situation was such that we spent a lot of our time protecting ourselves."

Turning to US politics and the decade ended. A friend asked that we note Katha Pollitt -- a friend at The Nation -- from part one of her two part piece.
From Part one:

Sonia Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court. Before that, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin showed how far we've come--and how far we haven't. Between them they normalized forever the idea of a woman running for president and withstood a ridiculous amount of sexist garbage, from nasty cracks (from both sexes) about Clinton's legs, clothes, voice and laugh to tinfoil-hat accusations that Palin's baby was actually her daughter's.

Good for Katha for decrying the sexism aimed at Palin -- a first for The Nation -- and for bringing up the nasty and disgusting rumors about Trig. Better if she'd named the pig who glommed on them in the fall of 2008 and continues to repeat them to this day -- at The Atlantic. What she won't scrawl across the women's room stall, we will: ANDREW SULLIVAN. That's the pig. For many years Anne Kornblut worked for the New York Times, she's now at the Washington Post. She has a new book out
Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win and she weighs in on the campaigns at wowOwow:

Covering the 2008 campaign day-to-day, it rarely felt as if Clinton or Palin was having a harder time of it than the male candidates Рwho were also under constant scrutiny. I was as skeptical as anyone of Clinton's claim, after one of the Democratic debates, that all the male candidates were engaging in the "politics of pile-on." Really? She was a woman under siege? She had been the frontrunner for nearly a year, raising record-breaking amounts of money. Later on, I was among the reporters who challenged the McCain campaign's complaint that Obama was referring to Palin when he talked about putting "lipstick on a pig." Really? Wasn't he using a common clich̩ to describe a policy proposal?
When I went back after the campaign was over, however, and read through all the transcripts, columns and stump speeches, interviewing dozens of campaign
aides who advised the candidates and prominent women who watched the race from the sidelines, there was just too much evidence pointing to the influence gender had on the race to pretend that it had been otherwise. Clinton was often reluctant to talk about being a woman, and worked so hard to compensate for the perceived shortcoming of being female that she came off looking, to many, too tough. "She didn't get there on her own," was a refrain I heard repeatedly, which although factually true failed to take into account the fact that she had, just a decade earlier, been criticized for not being enough of a housewife. Here she was taking heat for being too much of one.
Palin failed to prepare for the extra layer of questions that women get – as mothers, as wives, as candidates who are sometimes perceived as being less qualified – and was shell-shocked after her daughter's pregnancy was revealed, and when critics called her inexperienced despite her tenure as governor. She shouldn't have been so surprised; female candidates across the country had been through similar ordeals. But Palin and the McCain team learned the hard way that crying "it's not fair" is not a winning political strategy.

No offense to Anne but what women cried sexism -- or men for that matter -- with either campaign? While the campaigns were going on? Give me some names. Because as I recall it, sexism was fine and dandy and no one objected. Bill Moyers, for example, willfully and happily engaged in sexism on the tax payer dime and PBS airwaves (which, thankfully, he's now leaving). As I recall the same Bill Moyers couldn't stop screaming "racism!" One ism was to be called out, the other to be ignored or (in Moyers' case) added to. I appreciate what Anne's saying and I think her book's a strong read that many will enjoy but the above excerpt does not fully capture the landscape (which is difficult to capture in so short a space) and this goes to what we value and what we don't (
see last night's entry) and how a pedophile can be busted twice and still be treated as a 'good guy' and trusted voice. His third bust? Strange, Amy Goodman couldn't stop bringing the pedophile on her show but she hasn't found time in her headlines to note he Pig Ritter just got busted a third time. Or take FAIR -- allegedly Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting -- allegedly a media watchdog. One that didn't bark at sexism in 2008. Every week, the hosts of FAIR's radio show (Counterspin) noted real and imagined racism in the press that was harming St. Barack. Every damn week. Let's go to May 25th when Ava and I noted Counterspin's finally noting sexism against Hillary Clinton:

Last week, we noted that FAIR's radio program CounterSpin is happy to ignore sexism and, at the top of Friday's show, they appeared bound and determined to prove us wrong.Peter Hart: One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are. Not everyone's so out in the open. MSNBC host Chris Matthews opened his May 18th show wondering how Barack Obama would connect with regular Democrats? Obviously code for working class Whites. This would seem to make the millions of Obama voters so far irregular. But then consider the May 14th op-ed by Washington Post Writers Group Kathleen Parker. She wrote about 'full bloodness' and the patriot divide between Obama and John McCain offering that there is "different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines through generations of sacrifice." This makes Obama less American than his likely Republican rival and his success part of a larger threat "There is a very real sense that once upon a time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity." Well thanks to The Washington Post, Parker's rant appeared in newspapers around the country including the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. We're not sure what those papers used for a headline but one blogger suggest [nonsense] would do. Parker's attack wasn't even new. Before in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wondered if Obama had ever gotten misty thinking about his country's rich heritage. John McCain by contrast "carries it in his bones." There's an appetite in corporate media for such repellent ideas as Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell recalled, Noonan's column was praised by NBC's anchor Brian Williams as Pulitzer worthy.

And that was it. 25 words. Counterspin's ENTIRE 'coverage' of the sexism aimed at Hillary during her lengthy campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Even when they finally noted sexism (one example of it), notice that (a) they didn't tell you who made the remark, (b) they didn't tell you what program it was made on and (c) when they finally give (limited) time to sexism, they offer 25 words while providing -- in the same news item -- over 230 words on racism. But you do that and you note who said it and where when it's something that actually matters to you. When it doesn't really matter to you, you just toss out 25 words and pretend like you did a damn thing worthy of note. To provide some more context, if Keith Olbermann had said someone needs to take Barack into a room and only one of them comes out alive, FAIR would have screamed their heads off, but when he said about Hillary? Not a peep. Not a protest. That's how it went. Over and over throughout 2008. The sexism never ended, many of the 'left' took part in it and media watchdogs repeatedly looked the other way. Repeatedly? Maybe, like Barack, I should say "periodically"? Barack: "
I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal." Or when he said "the claws come out"? One of the strong women (there were a few) in 2008 was Marie Cocco and we'll make the time now to note how she wasn't silent. Marie Cocco "Misogny I Won't Miss" (May 15, 2008, Washington Post).

"I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign."

Marie Cocco's "
Obama's Abortion Stance When 'Feeling Blue'" (Washington Post Writers Group July 8, 2008).

Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating. During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure. One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."

And when the sexism was aimed at Palin, Cocco didn't play dumb or didn't go silent.
Marie Cocco, "
Sexism Again" (September 16, 2008, Washington Post Writers Group):

This has a lot to do with a graphic image of Palin I just saw in which she is dressed in a black bustier, adorned with long, black gloves and wielding a whip. The image appeared in the Internet magazine Salon to illustrate a column titled: "The dominatrix," by Gary Kamiya. Kamiya calls Palin a "pinup queen," and says she not only tantalized the Republican National Convention with political red meat, but that her "babalicious" presence hypercharged the place with sexual energy, and naughty energy at that. "You could practically feel the crowd getting a collective woody as Palin bent Obama and the Democrats over, shoved a leather gag in their mouths and flogged them as un-American wimps, appeasers and losers." That's some sexual mother lode. Dare I point out that I have never -- ever -- in three decades of covering politics seen a male politician's style, even one with an earthy demeanor, described this way? Salon editor Joan Walsh says she agrees the "dominatrix" piece had a "provocative cover,'' and that her columnists enjoy great freedom. "One day Gary (Kamiya) called Palin a dominatrix, the next day Camille Paglia called her a feminist." The magazine exists, Walsh says, to "push the envelope."No sooner did Walsh give me this explanation than another Salon contributor, Cintra Wilson, pushed that envelope again. Wilson described Palin as follows: an "f---able ... Christian Stepford wife in a 'sexy librarian' costume" who is, for ideological Republicans, a "hardcore pornographic centerfold spread." That is, when Palin is not coming across as one of those "cutthroat Texas cheerleader stage moms." What is it about a woman candidate that sends the media into weird Freudian frenzies?

Related, at
Women's eNew, Lisa Nuss calls out the bad makeover that turned high powered attorney and board member Michelle Obama into June Cleaver:

During Barbara Walters' interview with Michelle Obama last month, I never heard Walters say why she chose the first lady as the most fascinating person of the year.
I dug up the transcript, watched the video and confirmed that Walters never said why.
Michelle Obama did a lot that was fascinating before 2009.
After bootstrapping her way to an elite college and law school where she was outspoken about racism, she left corporate law for high-profile policy work in politics and health care and won a powerful corporate board position.
All the while she battled her husband to pick up his slack on the parenting and insisted on her own demanding career after his election to the U.S. Senate. She told Vogue in 2007, "The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill." She said she loved her work challenges "that have nothing to do with my husband and children."
Am I the only one who misses that formidable woman?

Ava and I observed of Barbara Walters' special, "Michelle Obama was the person of the year. Now that had us wondering because, outside of Lady Gaga and Sarah Palin, we were having trouble grasping what the women did in 2009 that made them fascinating? Gosselin is apparently fascinating because her marriage ended. The wife of a governor was termed fascinating by Barbara Walters because . . . her husband cheated on her? And she lived through it? (Was she supposed to commit suicide? After the special was broadcast, the woman announced she was divorcing the governor.) Silly us, we would have thought a person (male or female) actually had to do something in order to qualify as 'fascinating'."

TV notes and humor!
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and this week's program explores . . . Let's let them tell it:Is good journalism going extinct? Fractured audiences and tight budgets have downsized or sunk many of the fourth estate's major battleships, including this very program.This week, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to professor Bob McChesney and journalist John Nichols about the perils of a shrinking news media landscape, and their bold proposal to save journalism with government subsidies. Their new book is "The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again."John Nichols? He's an ethical voice? The idiot who said Wesley Clark was only running for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential election because he wanted Bush to win? (That's noted in the 2008 year-in-review with the title of the segment but we're not linking to trash so Google if you want it.) Remember when Barack got exposed for reassuring Stephen Harper's conservative government in Canada that although he was saying he'd do away with NAFTA he wouldn't. Johnny 5 Cents insisted that was a lie! And Barack would do away with NAFTA! And Hillary Clinton was the one behind this nasty rumor! And the one who was really talking to Canada! And he had the proof! And would be writing the expose! Of course, he never wrote s**t because he was lying through his teeth (egged on by Amy Goodman before the show aired -- though the crazy 2004 talk took place on air with Amy in December 2003 and he didn't need egging for that). John Nichols is a liar and an idiot. This is the man who -- when Samantha Power stepped down (she was not fired) from Barack's campaign for telling the BBC that his promise on ending the war in Iraq wasn't a promise -- published fan fiction as fact. One lie after another. (And he avoided the issue of Iraq.) He insisted that Samantha and Hillary were best friends! For years! They'd met once and only once. A fact Samantha herself had already revealed weeks prior on The Charlie Rose Show. But facts be damned, John Nichols had purple prose to produce.We've covered all the above in real time. We've even covered who he aimed all his anger and rage out for Congress' vote to approve the 2002 Iraq resolution. (Which member of Congress got trashed? Oh, not a member of Congress. It was Barbra Streisand's fault to hear crazy ass John Nichols tell it at The Nation.) [Her 'crime' was in donating her money how she wanted to and not getting permission first from John Nichols.]NOW ponders, "Should journalism get the next government bailout?" If John Nichols is your example of the heart and soul of journalism, not only should they not receive a bailout but they should also be shut down.Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Melinda Henneberger, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
HaitiNews from the earthquake decimated country.
Football Island60 Minutes goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America. Scott Pelley reports.
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Thank you to
Trina and Mike and all the people in their Iraq study group for listening to me on the Iraq Inquiry and then helping me decide which points to hit in the snapshot. Thank you.

nprthe diane rehm show
sky newsruth barnett
richard norton-taylorthe guardian
martin chulov
60 minutescbs newspbsnow on pbsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week
anthony shadidthe new york times
the los angeles timesliz sly
anne e. kornblut
nada bakri
quil lawrence
al jazeera
marie cocco

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ugly stats

Who is Doug Heye? I have no idea. He's probably a conservative. He writes "Obama’s Vaunted Foreign Popularity Fails Again" at US News & World Reports:

If there's one narrative that has been drilled to our collective head, it's that President Barack Obama's popularity overseas would pay big dividends for the United States. That it's become accepted conventional wisdom isn't shocking­—Candidate Obama turning out record crowds in Berlin (becoming David Hasselhoff for a day) only confirmed the notion.
We're also told that where George W. Bush was popular—Africa, for example—Obama's popularity would exceed Bush's and usher in a new era of international cooperation. Indeed, when President Obama visited the West African nation of Ghana last July, a country where Bush enjoyed great popularity, Obama was treated as a hero. Not surprisingly, Obama returned the affection, offering praise not only to the people of Ghana but also the new government that took power last February. American relations with Africa, we were told, entered a new, more hopeful era.

I'm not suggesting "He writes like a conservative." I just know most of the center and center-left people can't call Barry O out. You have to get way way to the left of the mainstream to find criticism of Barack. Unless it's right-wing criticism. Regardless of what he is, I enjoyed the opening above.

Okay, KPFA's The Morning Show. Yesterday? First half hour: 1 man, 1 woman; 2nd half hour 1 man; 3rd half hour 2 women and 1 man; 4th half-hour 1 woman. Today? 1st half hour: 2 men; 2nd half hour: 2 men, 3rd half hour 1 man and fourth half hour 1 man.

Did you catch that? No women. None. Zippo.

You think they'll ever have a broadcast, a two hour broadcast where it's all women? Me neither.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Najaf is rocked by bombings, Nouri targets more political opponents, more Iraqi executions announced, exploring the opposition to Avatar, Pig gets arrested (again!) for being a sexual predator (again!), and more.

Starting in Iraq where
Hannah Allam and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that any hopes last week's announcement of parties and politicians banned from Iraq's elections (expected to be held in March) would be overturned appear to be over as it now appears that an additional 100 candidates may be announced banned shortly. Faraj al Haidari (Independent High Electoral Commission) attempts to spin frantically insisting that the efforts to disenfranchise are not aimed only as Sunnis. In 2005, a large number of Sunnis boycotted the national elections and hopes of higher participation this go round appear in doubt. Salam Faraj (AFP) reports a banning has been announced and quotes IHEC's Hamdia Husseini stating, "We have decided this afternoon to exclude around 500 names and political entities from the list of candidates." Michael Jansen (Middle East Views) sees no attempts at equality or protecting the public, only efforts to target Sunnis and eliminate them from the process: Whether this proposal is accepted or not by the election commission, it is clear that the US-installed Shiite-Kurdish rulers of Iraq do not intend to share power with anyone else. The de-Baathification committee -- renamed the Justice and Accountability Board - made this recommendation although its chief target, Saleh Mutlaq, was cleared to stand in Iraq's 2005 election and his National Dialogue Front won 11 seats in the 275-member assembly. Ali Lami, head of the panel, claims new information reveals that Mutlaq "is a Baathist and nominated himself as a Baathist." Mutlaq dismissed the allegation as "rubbish". He left the Baath party in 1977 before Saddam seized power, established a large farming business in the south, and made a great deal of money. His supporters point out that Lami has close relations with pro-Iranian factions and only retained his post because there was no agreement on a replacement. It may be significant that the new charge against Mutlaq surfaced after Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki paid a visit to Baghdad. Afif Sarhan ( notes, "Experts believe the ban would also stir a political storm for the Nuri Al-Maliki government" and quotes Ibrahim Suwa'id stating, "A ban like this, a couple of months before parliamentary elections, can bring a chaotic situation that the government will feel hard to succeed." Zainab Naji and Ali Kareem (Global Arab Network -- backed by US funds, FYI) note an emerging opinion that Nouri's worried that Ayad Allawi (who was prime minister before Nouri) could replace him and they quote Iraqi Organization for Media Development's Wathiq al-Hashemi stating, "Allawi's alliance poses a threat to other political powers, so any ban on one of his leaders [al-Mutlaq] is in the best interests of those powers [in power currently]. If Allawi withdraws from the elections, the political process will be in serious danger." Rebecca Santana (AP) interviewed Allawi today and he calls out the targeting of Sunnis: "This is a process of severe intimidation and threats. It's clear that they want to get rid of their opponents."

Leila Fadel and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) were observing, "Another major attack would have been particularly damaging to members of Maliki's coalition running in parliamentary elections. The coalition's candidates are campaigning on a security platform." Nouri's grandstanding for elections, as he tries desperately to regain his (false) image as the person who gave Iraq security, coincides with the announcement of executions. Al Jazeera reports that 11 men have been sentenced to death for the August 19th Baghdad bombings ("Black Wednesday") and quotes the judicial body's spokesperson Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar stating, "Today an Iraqi criminal court imposed a death sentence against 11 criminals who have been convicted of implementing, planning and funding the bomb events that targeted the finance and foreign ministries." Nada Bakri (New York Times) states al-Beeraqdar declared that an investigation into the August bombings were conducted for over three weeks -- turning up 'evidence' on the men -- and then the 11 men faced a trial. A two-week trial. A two-week trial. And all are convicted to death by execution? How very fortunate for Nouri's efforts to hang on as prime minister (the prime minister is selected by Parliament, FYI). The 11 sentenced to die join a long, long list of other guilty or 'guilty' persons in Iraq facing execution. Last month, Amnesty International issued the following:

Iraq is preparing to execute hundreds of prisoners, including 17 women, warned Amnesty International today, as it issued an 'urgent action' appeal to try to prevent the deaths. The 900-plus prisoners have exhausted all their appeals and their death sentences are said to have been ratified by the Presidential Council, meaning that they could be executed at any time. Amnesty supporters are contacting Iraqi embassies around the world, including that in London, in a bid to stop the executions. The condemned prisoners have been convicted of offences such as murder and kidnapping, but many are likely to have been sentenced after unfair trials. The 17 women are thought to include a group known to have been held on death row at the 5th section (al-Shu'ba al-Khamissa) of Baghdad's al-Kadhimiya Prison. Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said: 'This is a staggering number of people facing execution and the fact that the government may be playing politics over these cases is truly frightening. 'Wholesale use of the death penalty was one of the worst aspects of Saddam Hussein's regime and the present government should stop aping his behaviour. 'Instead of sending nearly a thousand people to a grisly death by hanging, the Iraqi authorities should halt all executions and impose an immediate death penalty moratorium.'Iraqi media reports suggest that the Iraqi government is currently trying to present itself as 'tough' on crime ahead of national elections scheduled for January. Iraqi opposition politicians have expressed concern that executions may be carried out to give the ruling party a political advantage ahead of the elections, and there have been calls for the government to temporarily suspend all executions. Amnesty is warning that Iraq's use of capital punishment is already spiralling. At least 120 people are known to have been executed in Iraq this year, greatly up on the 34 executions recorded during 2008. Iraq is now one of the world's heaviest users of the death penalty. After the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority suspended the death penalty following the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003, Iraq's subsequent reintroduction of capital punishment led to a rapid acceleration in death sentences and executions. Despite this, and contrary to some claims made by the Iraqi authorities, use of the death penalty has not seen a drop in crime levels in the country, with rises and falls in insurgency violence having no discernible relation to execution rates.

Violence begats violence?
Qassim Zein and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report Najaf was rocked by three bombings -- one right after the other -- as the day ended with 25 dead. Vendor Mohammed Sami was wounded in the bombings and he tells Adam Schreck, Sameer N. Yacoub and Hamid Ahmed (AP), "Many people came to save me. But after a few minutes the second explosion occurred and we all ran to the nearest alley to hide." The Hindu explains, "One of the blasts targeted a street leading to an important Shiite Muslim shrine, and two others hit a crowded vegetable market, together killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 more." Press TV's Wisam al-Bayati adds, "The market placed was packed with people when the explosion took place and most of the casualties were women and children." Leila Fadel and Saad Serhan (Washington Post) describe "body parts, broken glass and metal scrap from the car littered the street". Xinhua reminds, "Najaf is home to the mausoleum of Iman Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Mohammed. It attracts thousand of pilgrims every year."

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured one Iraqi soldier. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports a Baquba cart bombing has claimed 2 lives with ten more people wounded in a market and six shops destroyed.


Reuters notes 1 man was shot dead in Mosul and a drive-by shooting claimed the lives of 1 man and 1 woman in Mosul. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports high schooler Sameer Aziz was shot dead in Khalis ("Aziz's Sunni family was displaced for two years from their home during the sectarian strife in the past years and his family has just returned home as the city witnessed a relative calm in recent few months, the source said.") and, dropping back to Wednesday night, Sahwa leader Khalid Hardan was shot dead in Edhaim (his uncle was also wounded).

All last month, we had to endure a bunch of liars or idiots insisting the US was so 'noble' or uninterested in Iraq oil (hard to tell which assertion produces more laughs) and that was demonstrated by the US not being involved in recent biddings. You had to be really stupid not to notice the board of directors of those companies (identified as 'foreign' by the US press, they sure had a lot of Americans on their boards). Apparently all the laughs that could be have been wrung out of that so today
Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports, "A wave of American companies have been arriving in Iraq in recent months to pursue what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar bonanza of projects to revive the country's stagnant petroleum industry, as Iraq seeks to establish itself as a rival to Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer."

Meanwhile in the US former journalist Thomas E. Ricks has taken to huffing publicly about James Cameron's box office smash
Avatar. (Disclosure, I know Cameron and consider him a friend.) What could make a pudgy former journalist so angry? The answer is staring everyone in the face. Last week, Ruth noted WBAI's The Arts Magazine (airs each Tuesday from two in the afternoon until three in the afternoon) when Louis Proyect was the guest for the first half-hour.

Louis Proyect: And even though it's set some time in the distant future and on a distant planet, it's very obvious that it's about what's happening now in Iraq and Afghanistan. It just amazes me that anybody you know could think otherwise about this movie.

Prairie Miller: Yeah and then there's this attitude of rejecting this film outright because there's money behind it, there's Rupert Murdoch and whatever happened to the notion, the Marxist notion, of seizing the means of production? In this case of cultural production, you know, for other means. I mean this is amazing. He, Cameron has said about his film that there's a sense of e -- "There's a sense of entitlement. 'We're here, we're big, we've got the guns and, therefore, are entitled to every damn thing on the planet'." And incidentally, Cameron, who's a Canadian, he admirably dropped his application for American citizenship after Bush was elected in 2004 so there's much more than meets the eye concerning the attacks on this film.

Louis Proyect: Yeah. I'm glad we're in 100% agreement on this one because I thought we would be, Prairie.

Prarie Miller: Now you came up with some study about anthropological imperialist invasions. What was that about?

Louis Proyect: Yeah, right now, you have people working in Afghanistan -- and I think they were in Iraq as well -- who were anthropology professors who agreed to work with the military to win the hearts and minds of 'the natives.' And there's a huge controversy about this. They just had a convention of the American Anthropological Association where they-they went on record as being opposed to that. The idea is that what they want to use are what you might call professional techniques to figure out how to control a population combining measures that might improve their life somewhat but at the same time soften them up to accept a military occupation. And quite frankly, the-the anthropologists who are involved in this business are, you know, I don't think they have the right to teach. I mean, what they're doing, I think it's a kind of war crime. And Avatar deals with this because Sigorney Weaver, who's one of the major characters, is an anthropologist trying to pacify the local population. Well, I think your listeners would want to see the movie. I don't want to give too much away, too much of the plot. But it just has to do with how the professions in the United States, including psychologists by the way, who worked in Guantanamo, to-to get -- to make sure that torture was being carried out in such a way that people wouldn't be completely broken and capable of giving information. I mean, this is just horrible.

That edition of The Arts Magazine is
available at the WBAI archives for 80 more days.
To refresh, from the
December 3rd snapshot:

American Anthropological Association's annual meeting started yesterday in Philadelphia and continues through Sunday. Today the association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued their [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program." The 74-page report is a blow to War Criminals and their cheerleaders who have long thought that the social science could be abused or that the social sciences were pseudo sciences.

Only a small number of outlets have covered the AAA's findings. First up were
Patricia Cohen (New York Times), Dan Vergano (USA Today), Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (Science Magazine) and Steve Kolowich (Inside HigherEd). Another wave followed which included Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) reporting, "Today the program enjoys a core of supporters, but it's done little to address the concerns of anthropologists and, now, rising military complaints that the program has slowed the growth of the military's ability to train culturally sensitive warriors." Christopher Shay (Time magazine) added:

Two years ago, the AAA condemned the HTS program, but this month's 72-page report goes into much greater detail about the potential for the military to misuse information that social scientists gather; some anthropologists involved in the report say it's already happening. David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martins University in Washington and one of the co-authors of the AAA report, says the army appears to be using the anthropological information to better target the enemy, which, if true, would be a gross violation of the anthropological code. One Human Terrain anthropologist told the Dallas Morning News that she wasn't worried if the information she provided was used to kill or capture an insurgent. "The reality is there are people out there who are looking for bad guys to kill," she said. "I'd rather they did not operate in a vacuum." Price and other critics see this as proof that the anthropologists don't have full control over the information they gather and that commanders can use it to kill. "The real fault with Human Terrain is that it doesn't even try to protect the people being studied," says Price. "I don't think it's accidental that [the Pentagon] didn't come up with ethical guidelines."

David Price is a member of AAA and with
Network of Concerned Anthropologists. He reviewed Avatar:

Fans of Avatar are understandably being moved by the story's romantic anthropological message favoring the rights of people to not have their culture weaponized against them by would be foreign conquerors, occupiers and betrayers. It is worth noting some of the obvious the parallels between these elements in this virtual film world, and those found in our world of real bullets and anthropologists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2007, the occupying U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan have deployed Human Terrain Teams (HTT), complete with HTT "social scientists" using anthropological-ish methods and theories to ease the conquest and occupation of these lands. HTT has no avatared-humans; just supposed "social scientists" who embed with battalions working to reduce friction so that the military can get on with its mission without interference from local populations. For most anthropologists these HTT programs are an outrageous abuse of anthropology, and earlier this month a lengthy report by a commission of the American Anthropological Association (of which I was a member and report co-author) concluded that the Human Terrain program crossed all sorts of ethical, political and methodological lines, finding that:
"when ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment -- all characteristic factors of the HTT concept and its application -- it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology." The American Anthropological Association's executive board found Human Terrain to be a "mistaken form of anthropology". But even with these harsh findings, the Obama administration's call for increased counterinsurgency will increase demands for such non-anthropological uses of ethnography for pacification.

Thomas E. Ricks hates Avatar (and huffs and blogs to be sure we all know). Here's what those paying attention know: Ricks is this century's Walter Lippmann and that's not a compliment. He left journalism to whore for counter-insurgency. He has no ethical training and he thinks that general studies major (journalism degree) qualifies him for something. It doesn't qualify him for humanity and he's unable to address ethics. (Don't forget his stamping of feet at the AP last year.) He's a joke. He's a War Criminal now and he's joke.
Kelley B. Vlahos (Antiwar) addressed Ricks most recently earlier this week:In high school, there are always the Cool Kids. In the Washington military establishment, there are always the Cool Kids. Walking conflict ofinterest Tom Ricks loves to write breathlessly about Washington's prevailing Gang with the Name -- the COINdinistas -- most of whom now roost in the Pentagon or at the Center for a New American Security, which hired Ricks away from a full-time job at the Washington Post to do just what he's doing now: shamelessly promoting the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).But even the cool kids will eventually fall out of style. Like haughty Heidi Klum says, "In fashion, one day you're in, the next day you're out!" Perhaps that's why Ricks' latest Foreign Policy panegyric to his friends seems even more cringe-worthy and awkward than usual, mainly because this gushing yearbook entry -- dated December 2009 -- could have been written a year ago. Today, it tastes like slightly overdone steak. Stick a fork in it… you get the picture. Under the subheading, "Who knows everything there is to know and more about counterinsurgency and its current role in U.S. military strategy? These guys," Ricks effuses: "Pushed and prodded by a wonky group of Ph.D.s, the U.S. military has in the last year decisively embraced a Big Idea: counterinsurgency. Not everyone in uniform is a fan, but David Petraeus and the other generals in charge of America's wars are solidly behind it. Here are the brains behind counterinsurgency's rise from forgotten doctrine to the centerpiece of the world's most powerful military…"No. 1 on the list: Petraeus, or "King David," "who rules the roost," according to Ricks. He's followed by John Nagl, the former Army officer and Rumsfeld aide who now "beats the COIN drum" and might find himself in a "top Pentagon slot in a year or two"; Australian COIN-whisperer David Kilcullen, currently one of McChrystal's key eggheads, whom Ricks calls "the Crocodile Dundee of counterinsurgency"; Janine Davidson, a Pentagon policy-pusher who Ricks says is "now sitting at the adult table"; Dave Dilegge, editor of Small Wars Journal, which is "avidly read by everyone from four-star generals to captains on the ground in Iraq"; and Andrew Exum, another CNAS wonk, Iraq vet, and blogger, who "in his spare time has been known to play paintball against Hezbollah – no joke."

Little lesson today in: You are who you get in bed with. You are everything they were exposed to. So when someone's already has two arrests -- pay attention, Amy Goodman -- for attempting to have sex with a minor, you avoid them. You don't promote them as 'good' people. We've gone over that repeatedly but have to hit on it again today because Pig got busted and charged again.
Laura Rozen (Politico) notes it here. If we had a working left, a functioing one, Pig would have been shunned long ago. But see, when the victims would be female, so much of the left doesn't give a damn. That includes women, we've named Amy Goodman. There's Laura Flanders as well. Rachel Maddow. All these 'strong' women who couldn't say no to Pig and kept booking him on their shows. We've called it out repeatedly here while so many women have WHORED themselves and others. That's not to let the men off. But it's especially disgusting when women -- hey, Lila Garrett -- we're talking about your WHORING ASS too -- give space for sexual predators. From the February 5, 2008 snapshot:

What the election cycle has demonstrated on the Democratic side is how much women are still devalued and hated. Don't kid that it's not so. Like Laura Flanders has no problem bringing the Pig (twice busted for attempting to set up sex with an underage female online) onto her radio program, Common Dreams has no problem posting him. They've got him up today. But they didn't post Steinem and they didn't post Morgan. With Pig, we're supposed to overlook the busts. It's more important that his 'voice' be heard than that he's a predator and, thing is, women know that argument because we've heard it over and over, decade after decade. Gender is the greatest barrier. All women are told to wait -- over and over. Ask Flanders why she was so offended about Gary Glitter but thought nothing of repeatedly booking Pig on her program? Ask her to explain that. Ask Amy Goodman to. Ask Katrina vanden Heuvel why she, the mother of a teenage daughter, thinks his rambles are worth carrying at The Nation? Big media had the sense to wash their hands of him when the arrests came out. Not little media. Because you've got a lot of queen bees who won't use their voices, they don't want to look 'bitchy' or 'assertive' or 'demanding.' How's that working out for you?

For those who don't know, Laura wouldn't join us in protesting Pig. She kept bringing Pig on air. But in the dying days of her bad radio show, she wanted to insist that a sports team stop using a Gary Glitter song because . . . Gary was a sexual predator. It offends her . . . at sporting events. Apparently. Lila Garrett, Laura Flanders, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Amy Goodman and a host of others better be willing to note Pig's latest arrest -- this would be his third sexual predator arrest for those paying attention -- and maybe explain why they continued to publish him or bring him on as a guest? They also never called him out when he attacked
Cindy Sheehan. From the May 29, 2007 snapshot:

Now here's how polite society worked once upon a time, when someone was reported to have been twice busted for pedophilia, that was really it for them. They didn't get write ups, they didn't pen op-eds. They weren't invited on programs to chat. But for some reason, Pig Ritter is seen as a voice the 'left' needs to adopt. Scott Ritter was allowed to repeatedly attack Cindy Sheehan on his joint-tour in 2006 (The Sky is Falling Tour -- DVD set retails for $19.99 unless you're going for the NC-17 version) and everyone looked the other way and most of the press (big and small) just chuckled. That's why he felt brave enough to issue the nonsense in an interview proper (and one that didn't require him to be handcuffed -- how novel that must have been for him).The peace movement needs to be inclusive, no question, but that doesn't translate as: "Because we have the Peace Mom, we need to have the Pedophile Man." That's not inclusion, that's stupidity on ever level (including legal liabilities should anything happen to an underage female). We washed our hands of him a long time ago in this community. He is "pig" when noted here for any reason. His name is being mentioned here (for the first time since he went public in attacking Sheehan) only because there are some who seem unable to believe it could be true. Well it is. And it's equally true that you need to ask your outlets why they have repeatedly featured a man who will not explain his criminal busts and allows to stand the mainstream media's reporting that they were for attempting to hook up with young (underage) girls online. It is amazing that the same independent media that wants to scream 'crackpot' and 'crazy' to make sure they are not associated with certain groups is perfectly happy to break bread with a pedophile. Repeatedly.

The Sky Is Falling Tour? He did that with Sy Hersh. And I'd love for Hersh to claim he had no idea about Pig's history. He knew all about Pig's history and I'm laughing, Sy, because a lot of us warned you Pig would get arrested again. It's on you, Seymour, it's on your reputation now. We've noted this topic too many times to count and there's good chance we'll return to it tonight for "I Hate The War."

Wrapping up with two other things. First, independent journalist
David Bacon reports on the San Francisco Hotel Arrests (link goes to IATSE Local 477):

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm joined 1400 hotel workers and their supporters last week, as they rallied and marched to the San Francisco Hilton demanding a fair contract. Over 100 protesters, including Trumka and Wilhelm, were then arrested for sitting in and blocking the doors. The action culminated in the launch of a boycott of the hotel, one of the city's most luxurious.The Hilton march and arrests are a preview of a spring of growing conflict between workers and the giant chains that now own and operate the city's Class A hotels. Although San Francisco has seen more of that conflict over the last six months than other cities, it is now spreading around the country. By the summer, it may involve a confrontation between the hotels and over 40,000 workers in at least nine cities.

The contract with San Francisco's hotel union, UNITE HERE Local 2, expired on August 14. Since then, Local 2 has been trying to bargain a new agreement in the middle of an economic depression. Last fall Local 2 members struck, and then began boycotts, at three other Class A hotels - the Grand Hyatt, the Palace and the St. Francis.
San Francisco's largest hotels are demanding cuts in health and retirement benefits, and increased workloads, saying that the economic crisis has reduced tourism in the city. The luxury chains want workers to begin paying for their healthcare premiums -- $35/month this year, $115/month next year, and $200/month the year after. A typical San Francisco hotel worker earns $30,000 per year, and many can't work a full 40-hour week.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

Lastly, the
Detroit Green Party issued the following:For Immediate Release: January 10, 2010For More Information Contact:----------------------------Name: Derek GrigsbyCell Phone: 313-706-2985E-mail: dereknjck@yahoo.comDetroit Green Party calls for outlawing of utility shutoffs===========================================================Stop the killing of our innocent sisters and brothers!Outlaw utility shut-offs now!Detroit, MI January 10, 2010 – In the week that ushered in the New Year, at least eight people died in four Detroit fires.Why does this happen every winter in Detroit, over and over again?"Detroit is a city with poor people often unable to pay their utilities. If they get behind in their payments; it's pretty difficult to get caught up. So when water or gas or electricity is turned off, they have a choice of doing without or rigging something up. This kind of access to power leads to fires every winter," stated Detroit Green Party spokesperson Derek Grigsby. "DTE should be prevented from shutting-off electricity in the middle of winter. We should put the needs of ordinary people before the profits of a wealthy few."'In the latest case, the three people who died were using walkers. They weren't nimble enough to exit the house. By the time firefighters pulled two of the three out of the house and rushed them to nearby hospitals, they were pronounced dead.While the immediate cause of the fire remains under investigation, the underlying cause is that in the midst of a deep economic crisis, where effectively half the city's adult residents are unemployed, utilities are shut off for non-payment. Instead of a business-as-usual approach to people's needs, we need to adopt a strategy of saving people's lives by having a moratorium on the shut off of utilities and foreclosures.In the latest case, Marvin Allen, 62, and his brother Tyrone Allen, 61, both handicapped, along with Tyrone's girlfriend, Lyn Grier, 59, died without any insurance. The family asked that donations be made for funeral services to the Allen Memorial Fund at any Comerica Bank Branch. The Detroit Greens has made a contribution, and encourages others, including DTE, to do so.Detroit Green Party, a local of the Green Party of Michigan

mcclatchy newspaperssahar issahannah allemmiddle east viewsmichael jansenafif sarhanal jazeera
the washington post
leila fadel
aziz alwan
antiwarkelley b. vlahos
rebecca santana
nada bakri
timothy williamsthe new york times
zhang xiangxinhua
david baconkpfathe morning show

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

That sick Terry Gross

I was listening to Terry Gross' Fresh Air after Ava and C.I.'s "Who's in charge? (Ava and C.I.)," Trina's "Fire Terry Gross" and Rebecca's "terri gross whores for the insurance companies." Just sampling online and came across one of her 'holiday' specials -- an old broadcast she served up over the Christmas break. It had that awful Patton Oswald from King of Queens promoting that bad movie he did about a sports fan.

He's performing his awful character Spence in the film -- not a new character. But Terry's apparently too good to ever catch King of Queens so she was raving over Patton's 'performance' and aksing him how he got so deep with the character. It is the same character as Spence and the same performance.

But Terry's an idiot.

And she really drove that home when the director and Patton started talking about a stripper. Should I use exotic dancer? She didn't. They didn't. But she laughed and laughed at women stripping. And she wanted all about lap dances. And how "creepy" it was. And she laughed and she laughed some more. And then after ten minutes, when you think she's done with lapdances and the director tries to go to another topic, she wants to keep talking about lapdances. To the point that he finally suggests she go get a lapdance.

Excuse me, but they're on to talk about a film and does America really need Terry Gross acting horny on the radio?

I'm so sick of that woman. She is every nightmare that Ava, C.I., Trina and Rebecca outlined.

KPFA's The Morning Show?

I left my purse at work. My post it with the breakdown is in my purse.

Aimee Allison -- not doing the breakdown tonight, I'll note the numbers tomorrow -- interviewed a woman in the last segment and asked some important questions (including on the death penalty) so I'll note that. David Bacon interpreted for a guest from Mexico during Bacon's segment. I'll do the numbers tomorrow. But I listen at work and just jot down on the post it.

I left my purse because everyone at work is in high drama. Our supervisor's retiring at the end of the month. Apparently, it's going to "Roz." Everyone's freaking out at Roz being our supervisor.

I call her "Roz" because she's like Roz in 9 to 5. The office spy. So after dealing with everyone's drama all day, when it was finally time to leave, I grabbed my keys and my sunglasses and got out of there without looking back.

Will it be a nightmare? Maybe, maybe not. And she may not even be our supervisor. It's just office gossip at this point. But it's high drama at work.

(I lock my purse in my desk. I wasn't thinking about anything but leaving when five rolled around and a woman was headed towards my desk and I was not going to get trapped for another discussion on this topic.)

If you haven't already, please read Ruth's "Sexism plays on The Morning Show." In last night's "KPFA tackles racism," I cover David Swanson some. But he really ticked me off and I wanted to be sure it wasn't just me being mad at him (for reasons outlined last night) and asked Ruth if she would listen to that segment if she had time. She did and she wrote about it. (Thank you, Ruth!)

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq Inquiry hears some hearsay as well as some actual testimony, Barack wants more war money, demands are made in England for Gordon Brown to testify, while another prime minister (in the Netherlands) admits that the Iraq War did not have legal backing, and more.

Starting in London with the
Iraq Inquiry. For any who missed yesterday's hearing and to give credit to an outlet for covering the events, we'll note this from yesterday's Pacifica Evening News (broadcast on KPFA and KPFK -- as well as other stations -- KPFA archives for 14 days, KPFK for 59):'s

John Hamilton: Prime Minister Tony Blair told then-president George W. Bush in 2002 that Britain would back military action if diplomatic efforts to disarm Iraq's Saddam Hussein failed. That's according to testimony today by Blair's former communications chief as he appeared before a public inquiry into the Iraq War in London. Alastair Campbell said there never was a precipitant rush to war despite the close ties between Blair and Bush; however, Campbell said that Blair wrote personally to Bush to offer his support for military action if Saddam did not accede to the United Nations demands on disarmament before the March 2003 invasion. Here he describes the content of secret letters from Blair to the former president pledging British support for an invasion as early as 2002.Alastair Campbell: We share the analysis. We share the concern. We're absolutely with you in making sure that Saddam Hussein is -- face up to his obligations and Iraq is disarmed. If that cannot be done diplomatically, it has to be done mila-militarily. Britain will be there. That will definitely be the tenor of his communications to the president.John Hamilton: Campbell is a former journalist who was one of Blair's closest advisers from 1994 to 2003. He insisted today that Blair tried all along to disarm Saddam by diplomatic means. His testimony conflicted with widespread reports that a British intelligence dossier on Iraq's pre-war capabilities to produce Weapons of Mass Destruction was "sexed up" on Campbell's orders to make Saddam Hussein appear to be more of a threat to national security. Those reports were reinforced this week when the British Guardian newspaper reported that those who drafted the dossier were immediately asked to compare British claims against a 2002 speech to the United Nations by then-president George W. Bush. In that speech, the former president claimed Iraq would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. The next day, the [British] dossier's timeline was halved to claimed Iraq could get the bomb within a year. Campbell today dismissed such reports.Alastair Campbell: But at no point did anybody from the prime minister down say to anybody within intelligence services, 'Look, you've got to sort of tailor it to fit this argument.' I defend every single word of the dossier I defend every single part of the process.John Hamilton: The five-person Iraq Inquiry also known as the Chilcot Inquiry was called by current Prime Minister Gordon Brown to examine the run up to the 2003 invasion. Critics point out that witness are not sworn to testify under oath. And others have criticized the panel's members for their lack of prosecutorial skills.

Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror) observes of Capmbell's testimony, "The Godfather of Spin bobbed and weaved his way through a five-hour long grilling without once displaying a hint of humility or a glimmer of self-doubt." Tom Newton Dunn (The Sun) zooms in on this detail, "Mr Campbell revealed Gordon Brown was in Tony Blair's 'inner circle' when the decision was made to go to war. The revelation is an embarrassment to the then-Chancellor who has long tried to distance himself." Before we get to today's hearing, we're going to stay with Gordon Brown and today's news. Brown came under pressure today regarding the Iraq Inquiry. Andrew Porter (Telegraph of London) reports, "Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, used Prime Minister's Questions to demand that the Prime Minister face questions from Sir John Chilcot's inquiry team in the coming weeks." Porter quotes Clegg stating, "Given everything that has come to light in the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War, will you now do the decent thing and volunteer to give evidence to the inquiry before people decide how to vote? When the decisions were taken to launch this illegal war, you weren't only in the room - you were the one who signed the cheques. People are entitled to know, before they decide how to vote in a general election, what your role was in this Government's most disastrous decision. What have you got to hide?" The Guardian of England has a web poll on the issue currently and, as this is dictated, the non-scientific results are 15% say that Brown shouldn't testify before the election and 85% say, "Yes. Voters hvae a right to know his responsibility." Tim Castle (Reuters) reports that Gordon Brown danced around the issue today declaring, "I have nothing to hide on this matter, I am happy to give eivdence." But that's not saying, "Fine, I'll do it." Helene Mulhooland (Guardian) adds, "Brown was also asked if he had any regrets regarding the war, and said he had already put on the record that he felt that the reconstruction of the country had been mismanaged. But he said he stood by all the decisions he was involved in during the run-up to the invasion in 2003."

The Liberal Democrats issued the following:

Following today's Prime Minister's Questions, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg is writing to Gordon Brown, urging him to indicate to the Chilcot Inquiry that he would prefer to appear before it ahead of the election.
The text of the letter is as follows: Dear Gordon,
I am writing to urge you to indicate immediately to Sir John Chilcot that it is your
strong preference to go before the Iraq Inquiry ahead of the General Election.

Follwoing developments yesterday at Alastair Campbell's hearing, your personal
role in decisions that led to the war in Iraq has now come under the spotlight. The
notion that you hearing should take place after the election in order that the Inquiry
remains outside of party politics therefore no longer holds. On the contrary, the
sense that you have been granted special treatment because of your position as
Prime Minister will only serve to undermine the perceived independence of the

As I said to you across the floor of the Commons today, people have a right
to know the truth about the part you played in this war before they cast their
verdict on your Government's record. I urge you to confirm publicly that should Sir
John Chilcot invite you to give evidence to the Inquiry ahead of the election you
will agree to do so.

Nick Clegg

Along with Brown's testimony, there is great interest around Tony Blair's testimony (Blair is scheduled to testify later this month).
Catherine Mayer (Time magazine) notes:Blair's star turn is expected to be so heavily subscribed that the inquiry has launched a public ballot for seats. A key question will be at what point the British government gave pledges to Washington about taking part in military action. The inquiry panel's questions to Campbell revealed for the first time the existence of private letters in 2002 from Blair to U.S. President George W. Bush. The "tenor" of these letters, said Campbell, was "We are going to be with you making sure that Saddam Hussein faces up to his obligations and that Iraq is disarmed. If that cannot be done diplomatically and it is to be done militarily, Britain will be there."

Daily Mirror offers, "A little humility might have been appropriate when considering the dire situation Iraq is now in but perhaps we're expecting too much." Campbell has no humility. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger notes that Campbell insists he ignored the morning papers in which case he might wish to know that BBC News offers a press roundup of coverage (with links). Meanwhile Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) notes Campbell's taken to blog to toss out the Bible to hide behind. The Guardian's Nicholas Watt also caught Campbell's self-dramatizing posts:

So, once again, we are treated to some
"unadulterated, bilious shite" on Alastair Campbell's blog today.
OK, that language is a bit over the top. But those are the exact words Campbell once used in public to dismiss a Guardian piece I had written.
Tony Blair's former communications director is denouncing the media in general for its coverage of his appearance before the Iraq inquiry yesterday. He has taken exception to the way the press highlighted a series of notes Blair wrote to George Bush in the run-up to the war in 2003.

Campbell's post is rather amazing for its inability to grasp reality and for little tidbits that say so much. An example of the latter, Campbell spent last night seeing The Misanthrope. But possibly Campbell's really not familiar with Moliere and missed those points. (In his post, he's obssessed with Keira Knightley and Damian Lewis.)

Today the Inquiry heard from
Nemat Shafik and Andrew Turnbull (link goes to video and transcript options). Turnbull was Tony Blair's Cabinet Secretary (September 2002 to 2005).

Chair John Chilcot: I think we are coming to the end of this session. We have learned from this session a number of lessons and you may have others to suggest and certainly some last reflections.

Andrew Turnbull: Well, I have got one in particular. That is -- the perception in the British public is, we said he had weapons of mass destruction and we went to war in order to find them and disarm them, and we didn't find them. Thererfore, the 179 people [British troops] who died, many more injured, their sacrfice is in vain. That's a very kind of popular view. What I find extraordinary is that -- how little knowledge there is of what the answer to this story is, and I hope that this Inquiry will devote some time to explaining what we now know about what actually happened, the two main sources being the Iraq Survey Group and the debriefing of Saddam Hussein. If I said to people, "Who is George Piro?", I don't think one in 60 million would know -- do you know who George Piro is? George Piro is the FBI agent who debriefed Saddam Hussein over a perid of five months. So there is a sense that we do know the answer, and --

We stop there. We're not interested in garbage and it's a damn shame the Inquiry let him yammer on. Saddam Hussein was crossed or felt crossed by the George H.W. Bush administration (when H.W. Bush was president). He's captured by US forces after the illegal war has started. You think he's going to tell the truth? He's got a good guess he's going to be dying (he was executed). You think he's not going to taunt his interrogators?

While the Inquiry does not swear anyone in (or make them affirm to tell the truth), witnesses need to offer testimony on what they observed. Turnbull was not present for the interrogation. He's referring to an American FBI agent's observations. Bring that FBI agent forward if you want to hear what the FBI heard from Saddam. But don't let witnesses continue this crap. There was a passage last week, of testimony, that was so tempting to use because it would be perfect for the snapshot and back up several assertions we've long made. It never made it in the snapshot because the witness 'testifying' wasn't present for what he was describing. The committee doesn't need to be composed of attorneys to grasp that you don't rely on hearsay evidence.

They need to put their foot down on this because it's happening more and more as the Inquiry goes on and you better believe those who are coming in know it. Turnbull knew it. He knew he could go on (and on and on -- from where we cut him off he speaks for another page and six more lines before being interrupted). He offered nothing of value. What he didn't witness, he didn't witness. Early in his testimony, he told Chilcot, "I thought Alastair Campbell's description of Clare Short as untrustworthy was very poor. I didn't agree with that." Fine. That's his observation. He's making that call based on what he saw. He did not see Saddam Hussein interrogated and he doesn't need to be pinning his hopes that the illegal war was 'good' onto testimony he can't back up because he didn't witness it.

Andrew Turnbull: I think there were two problems. One was the US. The other is we made -- along with that -- when we allocated, we made some incorrect assumptions. There was a belief that we would succeed in persuading -- since we had persuaded the US to go the UN route on the confrontation of Saddam Hussein, they would buy into the UN route for the post-crisis. I think Bush -- when Bush said the UN will have a vital role (inaudible), he was fobbing us off, and he meant the UN agencies would have a vital role, but he was absolutely resistant. So we took false comfort from that. We took false comfort from the fact that there are papers which say, "This is a well-educated socity" and there were words around in the papers which say "with a functioning, public -- relatively functioning public sector". It turned out that it partly collapsed of its own accord and then Bremer destroyed what was left. We had underestimated the discord that would arise. In a sense, we were preparing, but we didn't -- there were lots of things we didn't forsee and it was getting the -- an arrangment with US apparatus that was the thing that was realy difficult. [. . .] No, what we did not get were large numbers of internal displaced people and we did not get hunger, and I have come to the view that the UN, when they said they were feeding 60 per cent of the population, they were boasting. Valerie Amos went to Basra in June/early Jule and reported that the markets were simply flowing with produce. So I don't think we were looking at a much, much worse scenario on those two fronts. What we did not anticipate was the collapse of civil order, and you could say this comes back to the fact that the one assumption that was absolutely correct in this whol thing was that Saddam Hussein could be toppled very quickly with a surprisingly small number of people, but the number of people required to topple him in three weeks was far les than the number required to occupy what was left. That was a major strategic miscalculation, not principally of our doing.

Turnbull stated that if they'd gone with another war option, the British could have utilized "warships and airships" but far less boots on the ground.

Andrew Turnbull: Whether people really understood that significance, I don't know. Maybe they did, but they understimated just how difficult it was going to be, and one of the reasons we underestimated it was, in my view, that the emigre groups had the ear of the people that mattered in the Pentago who said, once you have decapitated the Saddam regime, it will not be difficult to create a functioning Iraqi society. We were overconfident in that and didn't forsee -- this whole idea -- we didn't forsee that we would be in the midst of an extreme security problem. We didn't foresee that the Iranians would meddle as much as they meddled. It goes back almost to that point, but I think we seriously failed to see what was the real problem. The real problem was security and we probably spent too much time on humanitarian -- the movement of people, refugee camps, safe havens and the food supply issues, and we didn't catch this other issue that, if we didn't establish security, nothing else counted for anything.

This is in contrast to Shafik's earlier testimony and Chilcot pointed that out to Turnbull before noting that Shafik wasn't there (and Turnbull was) so obviously on some level John Chilcott does grasp that people need to be testifying to what they witnessed. I was not impressed with Shafik's testimony and we're not emphasizing it.
Iraq Inquiry Blogger weighs in on Turnbull's testimony:

In the event it was a fascinating session. He attacked Alastair Campbell for describing Clare Short as untrustworthy ("very poor"), criticised Blair for allowing the 'culture of challenge' to ebb from Cabinet life and introduced the new (to me) phrase "granny's footsteps" to describe the troubling way the September dossier was pieced together by No 10 and the spooks.
How was Middle East security ever going to be improved, he asked, by taking out Saddam Hussein and leaving Iran with a neighbour newly run by 15 million Shia?
Perhaps most moving were his remarks about the late Robin Cook. A number of commentators have said the former Foreign Secretary wasn't always the easiest of people to get on with; I interviewed him once and was left with the distinct impression that mine were by some considerable degree by far the stupidest questions he'd ever been asked (then again maybe they were).
But Turnbull's description of the "quite remarkable" man was highly affectionate. Alone in a Cabinet that had bought the case for war, Cook was the only person who wasn't convinced about WMD or the failure of containment "and I'm sorry he isn't around to take the credit for that".

Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) focuses on the legal opinion given the Cabinet before the start of the illegal war:

Lord Turnbull, the cabinet secretary at the time, who gave the inquiry unprecedented insights into how the Blair government took the country to war in 2003, said there were significant differences between the final legal opinion Lord Goldsmith presented to the cabinet, and an earlier version he gave privately to
Tony Blair.
"It was not, in my view, a summary of what had been produced 10 days earlier. It was materially different in some respects because of the passage of time. Certain things had changed," he said.
Blair has argued that the short statement Goldsmith subsequently gave the cabinet on the eve of the invasion was a "fair summary" of the attorney general's latest legal advice. However, it is now known that the only official legal opinion Goldsmith drew up was the one dated 7 March, which contained serious caveats about the lawfulness of an invasion.

David Brown (Times of London) adds, "Lord Turnbull said that the final legal opinion presented to the Cabinet 'was not, in my view, a summary of what had been produced ten days earlier. It was materially different in some respects because of the passage of time. Certain things had changed'." For Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry) the most telling moment of the hearing was that Turnbull became yet another who had faith in Blair early on but now didn't know what to make (he told the Inquiry he was confused by Tony Blair's recent claims that he would have invaded Iraq whether or not he thought it had WMD) and, "The trouble for Blair is that if the cabinet secretary didn't know what the true aim of his policy was, the evidence of all of the officials further away from him who have sworn that the objective of the policy was disarmament becomes worthless."

Back to yesterday's Pacifica Evening News (broadcast on
KPFA and KPFK -- as well as other stations -- KPFA archives for 14 days, KPFK for 59) for other governmental bodies and the Iraq War:

John Hamilton: Also today an official Dutch investigation into the Iraq War concluded that the Hague government supported the war without legal backing, it did not fully inform Parliament about its plans. The committee's scathing report -- whose release was broadcast live on state television -- said the US led invasion probably targeted regime change in Iraq but military intervention for this reason was not supported by international law and the Dutch government was aware of that case.

And Tony Blair may be involved with this one as well. First,
Dutch News reports a bitter split/argument "between the Labour party and the prime minister" with Parliament demanding Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkeneede issue some sort of a statement on the new findings. Afua Hirsch (Guardian) pronounces them to be "damning findings" and explains the inquiry had a mysterious document that is being kept secret: "The document – allegedly a letter from Tony Blair asking for the support of the Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende – was handed over in a breach of diplomatic protocol and on the basis that it was for Balkenende's eyes only, an inquiry official told the Guardian." Andrew Porter (Telegraph of London) adds of the report:It stated: "The United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq from the 1990s did not give a mandate to the US-British military intervention in 2003."Mr Balkenende joined the "coalition of the willing" because he said Saddam Hussein had repeatedly flouted UN resolutions. Dutch MPs opposed the move.The report said the Dutch government did not adequately inform parliament in 2002 and 2003 about a US request for support for the invasion.Willibrord Davids, the committee chairman, said: "It could have been much more complete. Information from intelligence and security services was handed out selectively."
Radio Netherlands reports the Dutch Prime Minister has written a letter to Parliament in which he "admitted that a better mandate in international law was required to begin a war against Iraq in 2003."
In Iraq, Nouri's up to something but who knows what? On yesterday's crackdown, we'll again turn to Pacifica Evening News (broacast on
KPFA and KPFK -- as well as other stations -- KPFA archives for 14 days, KPFK for 59).Mark Mericle: Iraq's military seized a large cache of explosives and arrested suspected insurgents allegedly planning to target government ministries today in a crackdown across the capital that brought parts of the city to a standstill. The security measures demonstrated the ever present fear that insurgents will carry out more bombings like the ones against government buildings in past months that killed hundreds ahead of the March elections. The government's announcement that it had arrested 25 suspects and seized 400 kilograms of military grade explosives also set off bitter accusations from some Sunni politicians that the government had exaggerated the incident to burnish its security credentials. The deputy head of Parliament Security and Defense Committee said the insurgnents were explanning to target goverment ministries although he did not have details on which ones. There was now to independently verify the reports.On the crackdown and claims, Liz Sly and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report that Iraqi state TV immediately began announcing there was no military coup taking place in an attempt to calm the residents and that state TV then began broadcasting claims of an allegedly foiled plot. They report:Whether the alleged plot has been fully thwarted is open to question, however.The quantities of explosives uncovered would barely equal that of one of the recent bombs. The government did not specify whether the security forces had found the bombs purported to be circulating.But the panic showed how jittery the city is as the elections approach. Though most roads were reopened by midmorning, schools were closed and some neighborhoods were sealed off into the evening. By nightfall, streets that would normally be bustling with traffic were almost deserted."People are feeling very nervous about the security situation and also about the political situation, which is getting more complicated every day," said Nabil Salim, a political scientist at Baghdad University.

Real violence continues in Iraq.


Xinhua reports "a roadside bomb went off near a U.S. military patrol near the city of Khalis". Press TV adds a bomber in Saqlawiya (Anbar Province) took his/her own life not far from a police station and killed 7 other people as well. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Anbar bombing left six people wounded and that a Baghdad roadside bombing injured 2 people. Mohammed Hussein and Timothy Williams (New York Times) report that the bomber used a vehicle ("water truck") and that it "was allowed to enter the compound because it was believed to be part of rebuilding efforts there, the authorities said."


Xinhua reports 1 person has been shot dead (a second wounded) in Baquba today while an Iraqi soldier was wounded in a Sa'diyah shooting. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on a Kirkuk Sahwa checkpoint in which 1 Sahwa was injured.

Alsumaria TV reported that 1 Iraqi Christian -- 50-year-old Hikamt Elias -- was shot dead in Mosul yesterday. Tom McGregor (Dallas Blog) puts the latest assault on Iraqi Christians into persepctive noting the other assaults in the region (he gives the murdered the age of 75 and notes the name is Hikmat Sleiman):.

At the
New York Times' At War Blog, two Iraqi correspondents for the paper share their thoughts on the region. In Anbar, the correspondent sees violence returning but hopes for improvements this year and has hopes for the elections scheduled for March. In Tikrit, the correspondent sees continued corruption, lack of basic services "and chaos" and a split between the people with some missing "the past under the rule of Saddam Hussein". On the subject of the intended elections, Reidar Visser (Iraq and Gulf Analsyis) weighs in on the efforts to ban a number of politicians (including the popular Salih al-Mutlak) and political parties:

Much of the lack of clarity relates to the essentially transitional character of the Iraqi de-Baathification process. The old de-Baathification committee, created on the basis of ideas from Paul Bremer and headed since 2004 by Ali Faysal al-Lami -- a Shiite political operator with particularly close ties to Iran -- is supposed to be replaced by a new "justice and accountability board" pursuant to the "justice and accountability act" passed in early 2008. However, Iraqi parliamentarians have been wrangling about who should sit on the new board, with a government proposal for a Maliki ally (Walid al-Hilli) to take over its leadership so far having been rejected in parliament, partly due to internal Shiite opposition. In the meanwhile, Lami, apparently in dialogue with the "justice and accountability committee" of the Iraqi parliament, continues to wield considerable influence in issues relating to de-Baathification.
It is Lami and the committee that appear to be the driving force behind the latest proposal to exclude Mutlak. It may be useful, therefore, to have a brief look at the political affiliations of these individuals. Lami has ties to Ahmad Chalabi, the Sadrist breakaway faction Asaib Ahl al-Haqq (involved in the Qays al-Khazaali case and the abductions and murder of British hostages), and Iran. As for the parliamentary committee, it is headed by a Sadrist, with a Badr member as number two. The other members are from the PUK, Daawa and yet another Sadrist who together form the majority (hence, the "Watani" alliance is stronger on the committee than Daawa as far as the Shiites are concerned). Additionally, there is a minority of two secularists on the committee, plus Rashid al-Azzawi who represents Tawafuq (and who on some issues may well find common ground with the Shiite Islamists rather than with the secularists).
The main problem with the proposal to exclude Mutlak is of course its abrupt, ad hoc nature, and the fact that it emerges in the middle of a period of transition for the de-Baathification bureaucracy. Firstly, why has not this been dealt with earlier? The fact is that Mutlak and his party have been an important part of Iraqi democracy for four years, and that they have played a key role on numerous occasions in furthering the democratic process -- for example when they along with other opposition parties demanded a timeline for local elections when the provincial powers law was adopted in February 2008. Mutlak has also been crucial in keeping the issue of Kirkuk on the agenda as a question of national concern, and was talking about "putting Iraq first" when this kind of approach was very unfashionable back in 2006 (of course, in a very predictable way, the Western mainstream media is still today obsessed with him as a "Sunni"). Thus, the very sudden singling out of him as a potential neo-Baathist (ostensibly on the basis of "new documents" that, of course, have not been made public) smacks of a highly politicised decision that can only weaken the public trust in the democratic process. With the exception of some Sadrists (especially locally in Amara), it took more than two weeks before the other Shiite Islamists began reacting in an audible fashion to the
Iranian occupation of al-Fakka, and one cannot help wonder whether this latest move may reflect a certain panic over the way this issue has played into the hands of nationalists like Mutlak. Conversely, Mutlak's bloc, Iraqiyya, has once more highlighted its non-sectarian, Iraqi nationalist orientation by promptly and strongly rejecting slander by Saudi clerics against the (Shiite) Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

In the United States,
Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) notes another broken promise from President Barack Obama:
The administration came in promising not only to curb the drastic rise in military spending since 2001 but also to account for war spending transparently and on budget. Shortly after taking office, the White House requested $537 billion for the Pentagon as well as $128 billion for the wars in 2010, but stated in its budget documents that war funding is expected to go down to $50 billion for each year afterwards.
Well, so much for that. In addition to another $33 billion the administration will ask for in 2010 money to pay for the Afghanistan surge, the White House is seeking $159 billion for war operations in the 2011 budget request, according to
this AP story. So the Obama team was only off by about $110 billion.What's more, the total $708 billion Pentagon request for 2011 would give about $549 billion for regular military operations, the largest total in history. Although to be fair, that's only about a 2 percent increase, which roughly matches the rate of inflation.

Also in the US, Tavis Smiley has cancelled his long running, yearly State Of The Black Union conference.
Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report) weighs in on that decision:

Tavis can't stack the panels to exclude or silence the critics. How can he tell Cornel West, for example to stay home or stay quiet? He knows his panelists, he knows his audience, and he knows his politics. Even if no panelist dropped more than one of these points, the effect on Democrats and on the White House of any two or three of them, of public black criticism aired on TV in front of millions of African Americans would be catastrophic. The solid black support the Obama administration enjoys depends on excluding, marginalizing, and hiding any viewpoints to the left of corporate mainstream Democrats. As long as the only opponents of the president allowed access to the mic are Republicans, Obamites can demand that African Americans continue to circle the wagons around the president no matter how much he ignores the actual wishes of what is supposedly his core constituency.
A 2010 State of the Black Union would be an uncontrollable source of public, highly visible leftward pressure aligned with longstanding and deeply held political stands in the black America upon the Obama administration, something corporate media are intent on preventing. And nobody personifies corporate media more than the C-SPAN, the public voice of the cable TV industry, whose biggest player, Comcast is now poised to merge with NBC.
Tavis mumbles every now and then about speaking truth to power. But the last time he expressed even a mild disagreement with Barack Obama he was hounded off the Tom Joyner Morning show as a "hater" and forced to apologize. Speaking truth to power has its costs, and Tavis may be reluctant to pony up. It's like Tavis said. Ten years ago, when he started SOBU, we didn't have a black president.

I know
Tavis and I like him. But I'm adding what I'm adding because the above isn't quite true. He wasn't just "hounded" for his remarks. He was targeted by Barack Obama's self-appointed Ambassador to Youth who had earlier worked successful astroturf campaigns to get James Carville and Ugh (I hate Paul) removed from CNN (accusing them of being Hillary supporters -- no one worried about Donna Brazile -- but no one ever has, she's led a very pathetic and lonely life) and worked the successful attack campaign on Gloria Steinem which included the professor penning columns that ran under student bylines. We don't praise Lie Face here and we never will. When students began ratting her out, it was over for Lie Face. She not only led the astroturf campaign against Tavis, she got to go on PBS and bring up the campaign against Tavis while not only not revealing her hidden part in it but also 'forgetting' to note that she wrote "Who died and made Tavis King?" -- the only real online post attacking Tavis. The Dixie Chicks were targeted by an astroturf campaign that got them forced off the air. The same sort of campaign was worked from the 'left' to go after Tavis. Other than that, Bruce Dixon's opinions are fine but I will not be silent while Missy Harris Lacewell thinks she can escape the blame for what she did. All that whoring and it really didn't get her anything other than the 'power' of posting online at The Nation. There's a term for a whore who can't even make a living wage but that's for another day.

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