Sunday, October 23, 2011
James Fallows: Oh sure. It's not at all the way he expected to fulfill the promise. The reason there's going to be this complete -- or near complete withdrawal-- of US troops by the end of this year is not so much the commitment of the US government to wind things down as the view on the Iraqi side that they are not willing to keep US forces in their country any longer than the end of this year and the reason for that of course is the disagreement about whether US uniformed troops and also contractors would be subject to Iraqi law for things that went wrong while they were serving in that country.
-- All Things Considered (NPR) host Guy Raz and James Fallows discussing Iraq Saturday.
-- singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones to Lindy Burns on Australia's ABC radio program Drive with Lindy Burns, October 19th -- who also noted her excitement about the Occupy Wall St. protests.
Another late Sunday.
First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And what did we come up with?
And that's what we came up with. Hopefully something for you to enjoy.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
That attitude seems to be what the White House is hoping for as they and the press announce the 'end' of the Iraq War, that people will look at all the US contractors remaining in Iraq and take the attitude of they "signed up" -- meaning it's not really war or one to oppose when its contractors?
As John Glaser (Antiwar.com) pointed out:
The State Department is expected to have up to 17,000 employees and at least 5,000 military contractors -- consisting of private soldiers and retired army commanders -- for this ongoing diplomatic presence, which has been described as necessary to provide "situational awareness around the country, manage political crises in potential hotspots such as Kirkuk, and provide a platform for delivering economic, development and security assistance."
That was ignored, so much was ignored. As Rebecca pointed out, on Friday at the Barack Obama's press conference, the press refused to do their job and press to find out the numbers. They knew that not all US troops were leaving. But they refused to press on that. On Friday, Elaine asked the obvious question that the press ignored: What about the Air Force? Not usually lumped in with "soldiers" (which means Army), what about the US Air Force? How many members are staying because, not that long ago, a deplyment went to Iraq with the understanding that they wouldn't be leaving on December 31st. And, of course, C.I. didn't fall for the scam, didn't repeat the b.s.
She led the way. In Friday's snapshot, she noted the issue of contractors, she noted the issue of remaining troops and she pointed out that US negotiations were ongoing. She cited Pentagon, State Dept and White House sources in her snapshot. She credited the two members of the press who got it right -- two out of hundreds -- CBS News' Brian Montopoli and The New York Times' Mark Landler about negotiations.
Jim likes to check the count, the stats, for The Common Ills. C.I. doesn't care if he does as long as he doesn't tell her what they are. He asked her Saturday what she thought had happened on Friday? "I'm sure," she said, "we lost two-thirds of our normal page views." It was actually a little less than that. And she didn't give a damn because it's important to be truthful. She could have lied and kept 'circulation.' Instead, she grasped that truth about the ongoing war was more important than page views.
Last week, she wouldn't allow us to cover the negotiations issues here. (C.I. did not work on this editorial.) For those who have forgotten, The Associated Press reported October 15th that US negotations were over and all US forces would leave Iraq. C.I. responded the same day with her no-they're-not "US leaving Iraq?" That was two Saturdays ago. She refused to allow us to cover it last week noting she'd go out on a limb and not give a damn but she didn't want to drag anyone else out there with her.
On Friday, Barack gave his press conference and how the press did embarrass itself. The AP filed a story congratulating themselves. Tim Arango rushed to praise AP for their October 15th 'scoop.'
Let's check out this evening's front page of Antiwar.com.
Yeah, someone ended up right (C.I.) and many ended up wrong. Including AP which really needs to issue a correction now. But we won't hold our breath.
Yes, 'trainers' may yet remain in Iraq.
As usual, a lot of people gave you pleasing words that you felt so good reading over, you stroked yourself and told yourself the ass in the White House was Dear Leader.
And you cursed the only one who stood up and stood firmly (C.I.).
Do you feel good now? Do you?
"Even so, her point with The Common Ills was, 'Focus on what I'm saying, not on who I am.' January 2005, when she came to our campus to speak out against the war and I was assigned to cover it, I thought she was a great speaker (and I realized she was C.I. from her remarks). I still think that but I have been at many speeches she's given since and the question and answers and, yes, there are times when her celebrity distracts from what she's saying, when people focus on that and not the issue of Iraq. They're grasping at straws, these silly 'reporters.' The fact of the matter is that she's covered Iraq every day since 2004. She's never had a vacation from the online world. She's repeatedly taken the stands that others refused to and she's repeatedly been proven right. Yet again, she was right. The negotiations never stopped. I doubt Tim Arango, for example, will bother to Tweet 'C.I. was right!' But reporters like that are always the first to attack her, aren't they? The ones who get it wrong, the ones who repeatedly get it wrong, are always the first to attack. But her record stands. And their shame sticks to them."
Or as Elaine once observed, "Follow this, you bitches."
The Tuesday night show (which airs two back-to-back repeats this Tuesday, in case you need to catch up) revolves around Bridget who was set to testify against a mobster who runs a strip-joint, sells drugs and kills people. Bridget had protection but didn't think it was enough to keep her safe so, day of her testimony, she knocks out the man watching her and splits. She quickly meets up with her identical twin sister Siobhan in what the CW is calling a neo-noir but plays to us like one of those old Saturday serials with one cliff hanger after another.
As The Patty Duke Show long ago taught TV viewers, when one actress plays two roles, the characters are "different as night and day." So while Bridget's been a stripper and drugs -- not hot dogs -- make her lose control, Siobhan appears to have the perfect upper class, NYC socialite life. But heavens to Cathy Lane, Siobhan's life is actually as dark as Bridget's, possibly darker since Bridget's largely a victim of circumstance and Siobhan tends to victimize others.
The two go all Bette Davis Dead Ringer with a tense reunion on a boat which mainly consists of Bridget gushing and Siobhan smiling stiffly. Then, apparently exhausted from her emotional eruptions, Bridget nods off and when she awakes, on the boat, in the middle of the ocean, there's no Siobhan. She concludes Siobhan has taken her own life. On the run from both organized crime and the feds, Bridget figures what-the-hell and decides to pose as Siobhan.
The only one who knows the truth is Bridget's NA sponsor Malcolm (played by the under-utilized Mike Coulter). While Bridget decides to pursue a new identity, Malcolm's abducted, tortured and finally drugged by mobster Bodaway Macawi and his henchmen. As Malcolm's getting hooked on the drug he kicked, Bridget's easily blending into Siobhan's life. Andrew not only thinks she's his wife, he also believes she's pregnant. Best friend Gemma doesn't bat an eye. Lover Henry sees nothing different. Even her step-daughter doesn't notice any significant change which begs the question of whether Bridget's really that talented or if Siobhan was so unlikable that most people avoided her as much as possible?
It's a complicated show. You may, like us, be wondering how long Bridget can pull off the fake pregnancy? But there's so much more going on. Someone's trying to kill Siobhan. In fact, one hit man's already been killed and Bridget's hidden the body in a loft only to have it disappear. But maybe they're not trying to kill Siobhan, maybe they know the truth and they're trying trying to kill Bridget.
Who could know the truth?
Gemma did. When Gemma found out that Siobhan and her husband Henry had slept together, she confronted Bridget who then demonstrated Siobhan got all the brains in the family.
A woman is enraged that her husband has had an affair and there's Bridget deciding the thing to do is tell this angry woman that, yes, Siobhan had an affair with Henry but she's not Siobhan, she's Bridget pretending to be Siobhan. As if that makes everything alright? Did Bridget mistake raw hatred for a round of Truth or Dare? The scene would have played better if Bridget had been zonked out on drugs, that might have allowed for her thinking that my-sister-slept-with-your-husband-but-I'm-not-her-and-I-only-made-a-fool-of-you-by-pretending-to-be-your-best-friend-so-everything's-cool was the way to go. As Gemma turned around and attempted to blackmail her into sleeping with Henry (so Gemma could catch him and the pre-nup would kick in preventing him from getting a cent or custody of their child), it was rather obvious that Bridget should have just bit the bullet and said, "Yes, I, Siobhan, slept with your husband. I'm sorry but I did."
The blackmail scheme somehow ended with Gemma apparently dead.
Apparently because no body's been found. That is an important point because, see, dead Siobhan? She's alive. She's in Paris. Planning to take control of a large portion of Andrew's money. And she's not real pleased that her sister is impersonating her or that she's withdrawn some money Siobhan had hidden in a secret bank account. Siobhan planned her death and planned it in great detail. This was no accident and there are glimmers of ruthlessness as she attempts to grift her way through Paris always with one eye on what her husband's company is doing.
With it's shifting realities, continuing elements and, most of all, a sure-footed and often surprising performance by SMG, Ringer is addictive but every addiction comes with a nasty morning after. On Ringer, that's Nestor Carbonell as FBI agent Victor. Victor was working with Bridget to get her to testify. When she disappears, he goes to New York where Siobhan lives and asks a lot of questions and enters her various homes without her permission and tails her and does so many things that will have you wondering: Where's his supervisor?
Seems to us if a witness bolts you don't spend forever looking for them. You realize that, even if you find them, chances are they won't testify as you'd like and so you move on to another case. When Lt. Philip Gerard pursued Richard Kimble for four seasons on The Fugitive, Kimble was a convicted killer. Bridget's just a potential witness.
Making even less sense than his pursuit of Bridget is the actor who plays Victor, Nestor Carbonell. Luis and Suddenly Susan were many moons ago and it's not like his attempts at acting have improved in the ensuing years so all he has to offer is the surface. These days, Carbonell looks like an aged, male prostitute. A heavily made up street hustler. That's not just due to his 'eye lashes' but let's go there since he can't stop denying that he's done anything to them.
During the run of Suddenly Susan, his claims that his eye lashes were natural -- despite darkness -- was semi-believable. He was younger then. But as he's gotten older, it's gotten harder to believe, especially as the lower eyelashes are now a thick, dark ring where, in the 90s, they weren't so dark and had spaces between them. Most likely, Carbonell is dying his eyelashes. Even if he's not, make up people should have been instructed to normalize his eyes because there's nothing normal about an FBI agent who runs through the streets of New York looking like his eyes have been lined with coal as if he's about to exclaim, "I am the King of the Gypsies!".
Make up disaster more and more is the best term for Barack Obama's public appearances. With little public comment, Barack's skin has noticeably darkened in 2011. No, he hasn't been taking trips to the tanning salon. But he has been wearing a lot of make up.
Like any dewy starlet, in 2007 and 2008, he made due with a dab of lip gloss to mask the unnatural purple shade of his lips. That and, from time to time, a little under eye concealer was really all the fresh faced Barack needed. So the real issue here is not that he appears in public in make up but that he appears heavily made up and why he's doing that?
What's being hidden?
What's taken place under all that foundation?
We don't wonder how he ended up so badly made up because it's rather obvious. When Diana Ross and the Supremes made their first appearance on Ed Sullivan's show, the make up artists did their work and . . . the three Supremes looked like a cartoon version of Egyptians. Diana, Mary and Flo quickly wiped clean their faces and put on their own make up. Ed's artists really didn't know how to make up non-White faces.
A similar thing is going on with Barack's make up where it was decided that he'd look 'robust' with it darker. People who see him up close, face to face, are noting that the make up starts to run rather quickly and it's a thick coat of foundation.
Again, there's been very little public comment on this. If that surprises you, you missed the 80s when Ronald Reagan and his dyed hair were largely ignored by the press even when Reagan publicly insisted that he didn't dye his hair. The press that hid JFK's Addison's disease is the same press that hid Reagan's hair dye and FDR's wheel chair. The DC press has long considered itself to be part of the elite and acted as if their role was to keep information from the people.
Yesterday in his weekly address, Barack decided to share:
This week, we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world. I was proud to announce that -- as promised -- the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year. And in Libya, the death of Moammar Qadhafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do.
In Iraq, we've succeeded in our strategy to end the war. Last year, I announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq. We've already removed more than 100,000 troops, and Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for the security of their own country. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the Iraqi people have the chance to forge their own future. And now the rest of our troops will be home for the holidays.
What a liar. What a sad, sad, sad liar. Last week, Thursday, in fact, US forces on patrol in Mosul came under fire. "Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for their security"? What a sad, sad man. As for the rest of the troops, there will be no full withdrawal. "All" are not coming home. Over 500 soldiers will remain, an unknown number of Marines and, should negotiations prove successful for the US government, an unknown number of "trainers."
As for Libya, Gaddafi had left the palace some time ago. What his death last week proves? Not really much except that when savage behavior is encouraged by a host (the USA), its clients will act accordingly as the 'rebels' proved in behavior that allowed Gaddafi to die in their custody.
Neither action demonstrates leadership on the part of the White House but they do demonstrate spin on the part of the government.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the White House spin but that's an area that's supposed to be reality. What we admire in Ringer, what keeps us tuned in, is its ability to surprise and shock us. But, pay attention, with US presidents, we're not so big on slow reveals or shocks. We like to believe that we'll get whatever it is we thought we voted for.
100 years from now, the Iraq War will be seen as a defining moment for the US, a time when not only democracy was shredded but the republic saw journalists actively work overtime to sell a series of bad, bald lies and start an illegal war.
But that's not the moment the war ended, that's when it started.
One of the few books addressing the effects of the war on the ground -- as opposed to War Porn glorifying the US military 'kills' -- is Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity -- My Own and What it Means to be a Woman in Chaos which charts her journey to Iraq, as an American (and an Arab), to help the women of Iraq and what she ends up learning from and of Iraqi women. Omar was with the US Institute of Peace and in Baghdad from 2003 to 2005.
She writes of others attempting to help Iraqis, such as the late Fern Holland.
During my trips to the south-central governorates it became clear that i had to meet the womman who was quickly becoming a legend in the world of women's issues in Iraq: Fern Holland.
All of the women I interviewed, even in the most remote areas of Hillah, Karbala, and Al-Kut, mentioned Fern and her loe for Iraq and especially the women of Iraq. Women who met her explained how they were touched by her compassion and determination. They said that they found comfort in the fact that someone working with the United States was looking out for them. Even those women who complained about Fern would compliment her endlessly, only warning that her approach was too fast for the rural areas.
Later, many people tried to paint Fern, a lawyer by training, as a naive feminist idealist with little cultural sensititivyt. That description could not be further from the truth. Many times when I went to meet her in Hillah and Karbala, I would find her sitting on the curb and chatting with the guards. The Iraqis were touched by her humble nature and in awe of her fiery passion.
The first time I met Fern was inside the CPA compound in Hillah. As the petite blonde walted up to me, I could not help but think of the Iraqis' nickname for her: Barbie. Indeed, she looked like a small toy whipped up by Mattel. Yet the moment she spoke, all images of Barbie evaporated. Fern spoke with confidence, and she immediately demonstrated that she was a woman who liked to be in control.
She plopped down at the table where I was sitting and asked, "I need someone to cut through all the bullshit. Are you that person?"
She did not wait for an answer but instead launched into a tirade of how the window of opportunities to create a new Iraq was rapidly closing. She argued passionately that the people to pay the price were going to be the women of Iraq.
"Manal, I have met women engineers, lawyers, doctors -- absolutely amazing Iraqi women who would put most American women to shame. These women are unbelievably strong. And I am afraid we are setting them up for failure. We are giving them nothing but bricks and fancy equipment."
She spoke rapidly and quickly looked me over.
"But you know that better than I," she added under her breath as she continued to outline all the obvious mistakes the CPA, the U.S. Army, and the international organizations were making in their approach in Iraq.
Fern was well aware of the risks she was taking by speaking unequivocally about Iraqi women's rights, but she was desperate to make a difference during her time in Iraq. She believed the legacy the United States could leave behind was through Iraqi women. She was committed to establishing women's centers in the areas in which she worked.
Fern explained that she had heard about my initiatives and wanted to team up. She had the funds and she could get access to buildings and equipment for women's centers, but she needed someone to help with the softer side of the projects. She needed someone to create programs that would focus on providing women with the training and skills to manage the centers well.
March 9, 2004, Fern Holland, Robert J. Zangas and Salwa Ourmashi would be shot dead in their car outside Karbala. Many believed Holland was targeted for her work with Iraqi women. The dangers in doing that would eventually lead Manal M. Ombar to Jordan. Before that, there were attempts to help young Iraqi women that had her slamming into red tape, cultural notions and more. Such as when she tried to help "married, pregnant, teenage prostitute" Kalthoum, a sixteen-year-old who decides to sentence herself to an 'honor' killing:
Perhaps it was the fact that the drugs had worn off. Perhaps it was the pregnancy. I secretly believed her twenty minutes at the orphanage for disabled children had shocked her into the reality of her situation.
For whatever reasons, we stood at a crossroads. I called several Iraqi women's organizations for information, as I knew they would be the only people to tell me the truth about her situation. They all confirmed my worst fears: her return to her family would be a death sentence.
Yet Kalthoum was fully aware of this. In her heart of hearts, she seemed to believe it to be a reasonable sentence.
Over the span of a few days Kalthoum had developed a strong sense of the cosmic powers of karma, and she begged me to allow her to pay her dues to her family so that her suffering would end. She explained to me repeatedly that her life was over and that the decisions she made head left little room for her to start over.
However, she had four unmarried sisters at home. Her scandal had reached the tribe. Before, she believed that people would think she had been kidnapped or killed, and there would be no way to confirm she had abandoned her husband and broken the family honor. Now it was to be confirmed. If she were to go back to her family and face her sentence, then honor would be restored. If she were to run away, then her four unmarried sisters would pay the price. They would be shunned by society and would never marry because of their sister's tarnished reputation.
For 237 pages, this 2010 book explores topics most on Iraq have avoided. Did the Iraq War help Iraqi women? If you don't already know, you'll find the answer in the Barefoot in Baghdad. And you'll develop an admiration for Manal M. Omar who holds everything up to examination -- even herself and the work she attempts in Iraq.
In this series of ten important books of the last ten years, we've, so far, selected "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." Barefoot in Baghdad is our fifth pick, we've got five more to note. Due to the Great Recession, your local libraries are both overtaxed (seeing more patrons than ever before) and underfunded. Make a point to check out your local library or local branch of your library and consider letting your local representatives know that you support increasing the budget for the library.
Jim (Con't): One of the most important things to me last week was C.I.'s "The Turkish assault on northern Iraq continues" on Saturday. I thought it was important and that it needed to be said. For those who don't know the Turkish military is assaulting the mountains in northern Iraq, has been bombing them since August 17th in the latest wave of attacks, as they attempt to kill off a rebel group of Kurds called the PKK. Because that always works, right? When someone feels they are the victim of injustice, you bomb the hell out of them and they say, "Oh, I feel better now." Then all the problems melt away, right?
Isaiah: And C.I.'s been noting that conflict and applying something more than breathless, "Today . .. the Turkish military . . ." She's getting at the roots of the issue while most are ignoring even the daily events. And in the piece, she's noting that we're not getting that from our so-called left media, that instead Pacifica Radio, The Nation and everyone is wasting our time with horse race coverage of stupid elections when they should be addressing conflicts and how we move towards peace.
Marcia: I agree with what Isaiah and Jim are saying but the point of the piece wasn't just that we're not getting the information and tools we need, it was that we're being distracted and we're being presented with false targets -- misdirected. Jim told us he wanted this to be part of the roundtable as soon as we started planning the edition and I just want to ask Jim, in this roundtable, what exactly spoke to him about the piece?
Jim: I think it was the fact that The Nation could be leading the way towards something other than making excuses for Barack. And they're not leading. We're all on a treadmill, jogging in place, never getting forward. And that was driven home, to me, with the information -- I didn't know this before -- that a Secretary of Peace had been proposed as far back as 1793. That's 17 years after the start of the American Revolution.
Cedric: Benjamin Banneker. That's the person who proposed it in 1793. And that it was proposed in 1793 was as much a revelation to me as the fact that Banneker was a Black man. I had teachers who made a big deal out of Black History Month and really felt like I had a strong grounding in Black History. Obviously, that's not the case and I need to start supplementing what I was taught in school.
Ann: Well most of Cedric's Black history reading is on people from the Civil Rights Era. Such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth whose passing Ava and C.I. recently noted in "TV: That Bunny Won't Hop." There's a lot of history.
Cedric: There is but I think Banneker's contribution is sort of swept to the side the same way MLK's calls for peace, an end to war and economic justice get swept to the side.
Rebecca: And that's part of where the C.I. piece fits in. We're on the tread mill, as Jim was saying, we're not moving forward, not by the work of those that are supposedly helping us. I mean, go read Benjamin Banneker's suggestions for a Secretary of Peace. He's talking about how violence isn't the answer. That's 1793. Nearly 220 years later, saying that violence is not the answer still seems fresh which goes to just how little education we've had as a people about peace. The message remains the same, all this time later. Think of Michael Franti's "Bomb The World" with the lyrics, "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace."
C.I.: I think there's too much focus on that one entry. Certainly Rebecca's "the howling vigilantes" -- which predates mine by two nights -- has a great deal to say as well. She's taking on the embarrassment in the US where gas bags and officials turned into blood lusting zealots. I know Hillary, I like Hillary but she embarrassed herself with remarks about Muammar Gaddafi. She's better than that.
Betty: Amen to that. Yeah, I think I see your point, Rebecca is talking about this blood lust as well. And it is grotesque and it should leave us disgusted. But I do get Jim's point which is that you, as someone with more than one degree in political science, can talk about rebellions and revolutions and attacks in a way that others of us probably couldn't or wouldn't feel we could. And that doubt, going back to your Saturday piece, is fostered in us by the so-called left media which obsesses over Sarah Palin and defending the Corporatist War Hawk Barack while refusing to address issues that actually matter.
Dona: Well let's set up the current conflict just so everyone's on the same page. The Kurds are the largest minority in the world without a homeland. In Turkey, they are among many groups that the government has oppressed over the many years. The PKK is an armed group which fights for Kurdish rights and autonomy. They emerge in 1984. It is their actions, and not the kindness of the Turkish government, that eventually forces a few minor concessions but, following the 2009 elections, those concessions turn out to be less than even meager scraps. One example, 'We won't officially ban the Kurdish language in Turkey anymore.' Okay, but you did that on a national level and did nothing to stop the local governments from banning its use. In addition, the Turkish government thinks it has the right to insist that the KRG, a semin-autonomous region of Iraq, never becomes autonomous and independent. They border northern Iraq and fear that the Kurdish Regional Government becoming independent -- possible were Iraq to become a federation -- means that it would result in calls by Kurds in Turkey for more rights and possibly their own region.
Elaine: What this conflict boils down to, what most conflicts boil down to, is a dispute over access and resources. The US government loves to inflate opponents to Hitler -- whether it's Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi or whomever -- but a true Hitler is less common that White House speak would have you believe. One of the things that we would need to see, in order to resolves conflicts, is that, in most cases, you do not have one side that is pure good and another that is pure evil. You have a side that needs to be included and a side that doesn't want to. A lot of time the fear is that there is not enough to share or that, in sharing, they will lose control of the resource. Using the Palestinian issue, the Israeli government needs more pressure on it and it also needs to grasp -- as does the Palestinian side -- that they truly need neutral brokers to secure a peace. They can't do it on their own as evidenced by the fact that they still haven't. If magazines like The Nation were truly dedicated to peace -- and Katrina vanden Heuvel's a War Hawk, so they're not truly dedicated -- they would be teaching basic building blocks in every issue. Instead, they traffic in demonization. Jim, I want to come back to that later in the discussion, okay? If we had the basic building blocks and they were in use in every day conversations, we could move on to exploring whether the UN or some other body -- temporary or permanent -- could act as neutral brokers in assisting warring countries and bodies in resolving disputes.
Mike: I know where Elaine's going to go in a bit so I'll stay with the basic building blocks issue. Without them, the left will forever be on the treadmill. But, and this is what I liked about C.I.'s piece, she didn't shy from pointing out that this is where a number of 'leaders' want us. If we were off the treadmill, the leaders might not be mini-power brokers, able to influence an election. That's really all it's about to them. And that's why they act like they are outraged by homophobia from a Republican, but never say one word when Barack brings homophobes on stage to preach homophobia at an official campaign event.
Ty: Exactly. And they seem surprised when the few building blocks they have shared get used against them. For example, FAIR and Amy Goodman hectoring others on the importance of disclosures yet pissy and pissed when their own failures on that issue are called out. There are very few outlets I go to anymore. Forget ZNet. They continue to publish Juan Cole even after he revealed he is paid by the CIA. I won't go there at all. There are very outlets I go to.
Trina: I want to jump in there. That demonstrates just how corrupted the left establishment has become. Juan Cole is on the CIA payroll. He's a contractor for the CIA. And Amy Goodman and ZNet still treat him as a respected critic. A) He's working for the government so he's not independent at all. B) It's the CIA. Even 20 years ago, that would have prompted a huge outrage and they would have been forced to exile him -- as they should. But the CIA is their thing these days. Barack worked for a CIA cut-out after college and, of course, his mother worked with the agency as well. It would appear the Mighty Wurlitzer includes Amy Goodman.
Ruth: Well there has always been the talk, going back to the 50s in my lifetime, that the two sides of the coin politically weren't that different and that they were both about oppression. Looking back on my long life, I can see how each instilled distrust and dislike in the other side. I can't see how any of the real goals were accomplished by either major political party. The older I get, the more it seems as if We The People are just pawns in the game, even to those who supposedly want to speak for us.
Jim: Interesting. We seem to be on the demonization issue that you wanted to pick up later, Elaine, so how about you put it in now?
Elaine: Sure. Last week, C.I. called out Jason Ditz turning the Camp Ashraf issue into "terrorists!" I support that call. I am damn tired of people screaming "terrorist!" at whichever enemy they want to destroy. The MEK is labeled a terrorist organization. They are Iranian dissidents. Going back several decades, members of the MEK were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein. At the start of the US invasion, they, these residents of Camp Ashraf, were asked to disarm by the US military and, in the exchanges that followed, became protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. They have twice been brutally assaulted by Nouri al-Maliki's troops -- once in 2009, once in April of this year. The United Nations has spoken out against the assualt and they aren't the only ones. Scott Horton, of Antiwar Radio, and the MEK have some back and forth and threats against one another going. And it's been allowed to poison most of Antiwar.com, the website Jason Ditz writes at, against Camp Ashraf or fairness for that matter. Which is how the residents of Camp Ashraf being in danger becomes time for Jason Ditz to screech against the MEK and to scream "terrorist!"
I'm sick of it.
Ava: It's a conversation enders and it's meant to be. I agree with Elaine, I expect more from Antiwar.com. That's really disappointing.
Jess: I'll agree and I'll bring it back to the focus Jim was starting with. If we knew the building blocks needed, would we really need a Katrina vanden Heuvel? Let's be honest that this is why they don't impart real wisdom. They're second-rate columnists, bad writers, and they need an audience. They don't want to teach you anything but dependence upon them. So teaching you how you could impact peace is just beyond them.
Kat: And though this has turned a bit from where Jim probably wanted, it's also true that we have a companion piece for this roundtable that will focus more on what Jim probably wanted. So I think offering the critique, which is really what's come through here, is as important. And as disappointing as Pacifia Radio killing their peace program -- their only national peace program -- while the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War continued, I think it's also disappointing that the host of that program can be found in 2010 doing a 'story' on Sarah Palin's pregnancy with Trig where she and the guest 'explore' how Palin really wasn't pregant. What a bunch of trash. A) I don't believe it. B) Were it true, it would have no impact at all. There are serious issues, that isn't one of them. And even more upsetting to me was learning that the guest on that segment had gone public hours after his interview with the fact that he sent around his talking points about Palin's 'false' pregnancy to several radio hosts and Verna Avery-Brown was the only one to interview him. That's nothing to brag about and the fact that she arranged the interview for that topic should have her fired from Pacifica and all of its outlets because I can't think of a greater waste of air time.
Stan: If The Nation and others spent time talking about peace and how to achieve peace, it would not only inform their own readers, it would lead to recognition from other media. I was thinking about the point that Ava and C.I. made early on when The Nation kept whining about the attention Sarah Palin was getting in 2009. Well who was writing about her non-stop? The Nation. And then they want to whine that big media's doing the same? What you cover can influence what others cover and its past time that people realized that.
Wally: Yeah, that's a good point from Stan. Dona just handed me a note saying she was about to tell Jim to wrap it up and I needed to speak first so I'm speaking. Here's the treadmill, that'll be my contribution: 'You must vote for Cruz. You must vote for him because of A, B, and C that all matter this year. You must vote for him to save the republic, the world, the universe. And 2 years from now, when we tell you that you must vote for someone else and give you a different list of reasons, you must follow that list. Everything is a factoid and there's no ethical underpinnings to what we pimp.' So much time is wasted by these outlets trying to convince you how to vote -- in an election that will soon be forgotten -- that there's never time to address the issues that threaten our very existence.
Jim: Thank you, Wally, for giving us such a strong conclusion as we wrap up. Again, this is a rush transcript.
In fact, online, there is NPR Music. Last week, NPR's World Cafe hit the twenty year mark. The WXPN produced program is a daily (Monday through Friday) show featuring interviews and performances with musical artists. David Dye has been the host since the show began.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Friday's broadcast featured rebroadcasts of interviews with singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Jackson Browne as well as genre mascot James Taylor.
"They're going to have, they're going to have to pay me," Browne said wasting his time and everyone else's. Money, is that what it's really about, Jackson?
In the 2008 interview, he was presenting himself as someone who objected to candidates -- specifically Republican candidates in one state -- using his music for campaign commercials. It really brought up just how disappointing Jackson has become.
He went from "gimmie money!" -- semi-understandable if a song is used in a commercial on radio, TV or the web -- to "Don't use my song at rallies!" as 2008 progressed. And we don't support the latter. This site supports independent and third party candidates and it's a short slide from "No Republicans can use my music at rallies!" to "Only Democrats can use my music at rallies!"
It's also true that Jackson may kid himself but he did have Republican listeners. His clutch-the-pearls, girlish whine probably ran most off but we know of a few who were former Marines and had agreed with Jackson on geo-political issues.
As he talked about global warming and nuclear plants, we were reminded that he did recently do a weak effort to raise attention about nuclear energy and its dangers -- but who's pushing for nuclear plants? Barack Obama. Still waiting for Jackie Browne to find his spine there. And who's ignored global warming in his entire term thus far? Again, Barack. What say you, Jackie?
James Taylor, of course, had his only number one hit with a cover of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend." Taylor is also famous for having been married to singer-songwriter Carly Simon and for his vanity being skewered in songs such as former lover Joni Mitchell "dreaming of the pleasure I'm going to have watching your hairline recede, my vain darling" (Joni's "Just Like This Train"). Carly is one of the landmark singer-songwriters and her honors include an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and Grammys. Hits she wrote and recorded include "You're So Vain," "Haven't Got Time For The Pain," "The Right Thing To Do," "Coming Around Again," "Jesse," "Anticipation," "Let The River Run," "You Belong To Me," "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," "Give Me All Night," "Better Not Tell Her," "Legend In Your Own Time," "Holding Me Tonight" and "All I Want Is You."
With Carly, James co-wrote two memorable songs: "Terra Nova" and "Forever My Love." With Carly, he had a top 5 hit with a cover of Charles & Inez Fox's "Mockingbird" and a top 40 hit with a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Devoted To You." On his own, along with his hit cover of "You've Got A Friend," he charted in the top ten with other remakes including Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You" and Jimmy Jones' "Handy Man." By 1979, his modern day Pat Boone act of vanilla soul had grown tired and his cover of the Drifters' "Up On The Roof" only made it to number 28.* The closet thing he'd ever have to a hit again was his 1985 cover of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" which made it to 61.
Fittingly, World Cafe caught up with the highly derivative Taylor in 2008 when he released his twelve track album Covers, quickly followed by his seven track album Other Covers.
David Dye: In terms of the material, have your tastes changed over the years since you were younger?
James Taylor: Uh, no, no, they haven't. I-I-I think I was formed, uhm, uh, by about by the age of twenty. I was probably kind of formed musically.
From gadfly to artist, Dye wrapped things up with a 1994 interview of Joni Mitchell.
It's an interesting, enlightening and entertaining 46 minutes and 22 second broadcast. And that's true of most World Cafe broadcasts. If your local NPR outlet doesn't carry the program, you can stream it online.
1) I will keep my hands and feet to myself.
That would tend to nullify the case for an invading army sent into Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else.
2) I will take turns with others.
Realizing I can't always be first would be a big step for many countries, including the US, to take.
3) I will share with others.
Are the water wars to be the resource war of the 21st century? Time will tell. If that happens, issues like Iran's building dams to lessen the amount of water flowing into Iraq via rivers is something that could be resolved if Iran could learn to share with others.
4) I will leave dirt and rocks on the ground.
And from there, it's not a big leap to: "And I will leave mountain tops on mountains."
5) I will clean up what I mess up.
Which would both cut down on pollution and make governments like the US less likely to use outlawed weapons (for example White Phosphorus) if they were responsible for the clean up.
6) I will be a good listener.
And if you could include listening to yourself when you speak, it would probably curtail a great deal of the blood lusting comments Turkish governmental officials made last Wednesday and Thursday.
7) I will keep my area neat.
Which will mean my neighbors will not have to worry about pollution or toxins flowing into their areas.
8) I will be helpful.
As opposed to John Bolton or Susan Rice combative.
9) I will say "I'm sorry" when I hurt someone's feelings.
Meaning I take responsibility for my actions.
10) I will do my best to have fun.
One of the most important rules and the absence of fun will lead to an increase in hostilities.
On last week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights and co-author with Magaret Ratner Kunstler of the new book Hell No, Your Right To Dissent) -- the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki was addressed.
Michael Ratner: Now, of course, if you were an American citizen fighting on behalf of the Nazis in the Second World War, you know they could just shoot you if you were in a uniform, sitting on the other side shooting. But the distinction which you're making, one because an American citizen is significance, but it also that he wasn't in a war. This guy was sitting in Yemen, in civilian clothes, just sitting there and they launch -- put him on an assassination list and launch a drone against the guy. And so, yes, the American citizen and the Fifth Amendment protects him but he's also protected by fundamental laws of humanitarian law, the Laws of War and human rights.
Michael S. Smith: He's also protected because there's a law against the president of the United States ordering an assassination. That's a recent law. There's also another law: murder is against the law.
Michael Ratner: So that's what you have. I know last time [at the start of the program last week] you read the op-ed that I wrote on al-Awlaki which is in the Guardian, which people can go to our website and get. It was widely read about my opposition and the Center for Constitutional Rights which brought a lawsuit to try and stop the assassination. And now it's again all over the news. And what's interesting, it's getting more attention in a somewhat favorable way than I expected. People are upset by the fact that the administration hasn't really given its reasons for killing him. They've come out with some broad b.s. and there was a press conference the other day with the president's press guy, went four minutes and there was one reporting pressing him, 'What's the evidence? What's you have on him?' And the guy just -- he was befuddled, he didn't know what to say. And they still didn't come out with the evidence. Recently the [New York] Times published part of the memo that the US says would justify his killing from a legal point of view, but only part, so we don't know the whole thing. And low and behold, Michael Smith was about to address this issue, the Times prints an editorial about his murder, al-Awlaki's murder.
Michael S. Smith: If you need further evidence of the hypocrisy of the liberal New York Times, all you gotta do is read the editorial in the October 12th issue of the Times. Office of Legal Counsel, you'll remember, Michael, is the outfit that wrote the famous torture memos. They were asked to justify torture and they wrote these twisted memos concluding what Bush and the others wanted them to conclude: That it's legal to torture people. Well this time, the Times is very happy because again the Office of Legal Counsel which advises the president took three months and wrote a "detailed and cautious memorandum" to justify the decision to assassinate al-Awlaki. So the Times thinks it's good because at least they wrote a detailed memorandum before they killed the man! And they say, here's the conclusion, "Mr. Awlaki was not entitled to full protections [. . .] but as an American, he was entitled to some." Is that the defintion of a liberal trimmer or what?
Michael Ratner: Which ones? The right to a decent burieal? The right to have somebody scrape up his body parts? What are the ones they're talking about? How about the right to life? The one protection that everyone is entitled to.
Michael S. Smith: The Fifth Amendment.
Michael Ratner: Michael, I -- The Fifth Amendment is there. Yes, you need Due Process. But I want to emphasize, I think al-Awlaki should have been protected even if he wasn't a US citizen. I don't like naorrowing the law to a US citizen.
Michael S. Smith: I totally agree with you.
Michael Ratner: For litigation in the US court, yes, I have to use the Constitution to protect al-Awlaki but in fact the only time you're allowed to kill people is in a shooting war and then you have the right to shoot people on the other side who are shooting at you or in a war against you. But, short of that, unless someone is about to toss a bomb at you on the street and you have to use force to stop that, you don't have the right to just shoot people.
Michael S. Smith: Well the United States justifies this based on the Declaration of War in 2001, after 9-11.
Michael Ratner: So the question for you and I is if we sat here spouting the stuff that al-Awlaki spouted and, you know, had some meetings and some stuff like that -- if he did -- would they have the right to drone attack kill me in New York? And the answer?
Michael S. Smith: Well that's exactly the question.
Michael Ratner: The answer, under their theory, is yes.
Michael S. Smith: Yes. That the country where the person had his feet planted when he was blown sky high is irrelevant. The fact is there's a Declaration of War, after 9-11, ten years ago they made a Declaration of War against terrorism -- whatever that means -- they can go out and kill people. That's what they're basing it on. I'd like to see this legal memorandum.
Michael Ratner: So if people are interested in the fact that the US can drop drones on almost anyone -- on anyone -- citizen, non-citizen, where ever they are, Yemen, United States, we want you to go to www.dronedetector.com where you can purchase a drone detector [starts laughing]. Michael and I, we just made that up. But anyway, get your drone detector now.
Michael S. Smith: Well, if you want to learn more about it, go to the Center's website which is, Michael?
Michael Ratner: ccrjustice.org, ccrjustice.org. We brought a case with the ACLU to try and stop the killing of al-Awlaki . We were thrown out of court. The judge considered it serious -- but, of course, that's again typical -- serious but no relief. It's an executive [branch] decision and, of course, the executive made the decision, Obama, basically pushed the big red button, drone, drone, drone.
Michael S. Smith: And this is the guy that was supposed to be an improvement, the pendulum was going to swing back, Obama's going to get elected and Civil Liberties are going to get better. So, instead of torturing people, he's now assassinating them. This is the liberal definition of "better."
Thursday, October 20, 2011 (202) 224-2834
Chairman Murray Passes Veterans Cost-of-Living Increase to Allow Veterans to Share in Critical Benefit Boost for the First Time in Two Years
Murray's bill, which passed the Senate yesterday, would result in more money in the pockets of millions of veterans across the country
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, announced that a bill that she sponsored to provide a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for America's veterans has passed the U.S. Senate. The COLA for veterans will match the 3.6 percent annual increase provided to Social Security recipients, which on Wednesday was announced will happen this year for the first time since 2009. The Veterans COLA would affect several important benefits, including veterans' disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. It is projected that over 3.9 million veterans and survivors will receive compensation benefits in Fiscal Year 2012.
"A cost-of-living increase for our veterans is long overdue and well deserved," said Senator Murray. "Particularly in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet. This is an important step for our veterans, especially on the heels of news that a COLA will be provided for the first time since 2009."
The COLA is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living over time. The COLA rate is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
- press office
The imperialists murder Gadhafi
News spread around the world on Oct. 20-21 that NATO planes had struck a car caravan leaving Sirte in Libya, wounding Moammar Gadhafi, and that the Libyan leader was captured alive and subsequently killed. The details of his death are sketchy and may be purposely distorted or obscured by his killers. This main fact stands out: It took the intervention of the imperialist air forces — including a U.S. Predator drone and a French warplane — to end the life of this African leader.
Thus the assassination of Gadhafi was like the rest of the so-called uprising in Libya: a complete creation of the imperialist powers in NATO. As we have stated in this column before, the “rebels” — the Transitional National Council leaders, the monarchists from Benghasi and whatever other forces joined the rag-tag anti-government crusade in Libya — could not have won one battle without the air power, reconnaissance, logistics, funding, planning and direct intervention of NATO.
That means that especially France, Britain and Italy, with full U.S. logistical support, carried out a war — using meager Libyan puppet forces — in an attempt to recolonize Libya, just as these imperialists have attempted to recolonize Iraq and Afghanistan. As of yet none of these attempts have completely succeeded in subjugating the people, who are still resisting heroically in each location. True, the imperialists have brought misery wherever they sunk their claws, but nowhere is their rule secure.
Those who deceived themselves into believing this was an honest popular uprising in Libya — like those in neighboring Egypt or Tunisia — have to feel humiliated listening to the triumphant speeches today of NATO heads of government Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Silvio Berlusconi and Barack Obama. The words of the imperialist leaders ranting against the Gadhafi they murdered is proof enough that the Libyan leader died trying to fight for his oil-rich country’s independence from these very same predatory world powers.
The even more important lesson, however, is that the imperialist states and their leaders have no compunction about using force, breaking international laws and simply carrying out murders of government leaders. They are war criminals. They deserve no respect. They deserve instead to be put on trial.
In the past weeks hundreds of thousands of young people have been occupying the squares or demonstrating in the main cities of the countries headed by these imperialists. This latest murder should strengthen their determination to rid the world of the capitalist system, which not only robs them of their future at home but brings pain and misery to much of humanity.
Long live the struggle to liberate Libya, and the world, from imperialism and the banks and corporations that own it!
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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"Iraq snapshot," "Nouri says negotiations continue, Moqtada wants an emergeny session of Parliament and "I Hate The War" -- three most requested highlights by readers of this site.
What do you do?," "What end to the Iraq War?," "Idiot of the week"and "What about the Air Force?" -- Trina, Rebecca, Kat, Marcia, Mike and Elaine on the Iraq War.
"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on a Congressional hearing into the Miami VA Medical Center where money is wasted and veterans put at risk but the same director remains at the facility, with a new contract for $2.5 million in office renovations.
"Rickie Lee Jones" -- Kat covers a radio interview with Rickie Lee Jones.
"Oh, Spike" -- a half-assed director makes a full ass of himself.
"No jobs" -- Trina on the realities.
"As phoney as his foundation" -- Betty on the princess.
"They can't die soon enough" -- Chris Hedges says the establishment Liberal Class is dying, Elaine feels they can't die soon enough.
''THIS JUST IN! A LITTLE SUNLIGHT PEEKS IN!" and "THE 1/2 MAN JAY CARNEY" -- Wally and Cedric on Jay Carney's pathetic attempt to argue with a reporter who thought Barack had low energy levels.
"Body of Proof," "The Good Wife," "Desperate Housewives," "community," "Fire Seth Meyers" and
"Fringe" -- Stan, Betty, Rebecca and Mike cover TV while Ann covers radio:
"Good for Libby Liberal" -- Trina offers some applause for Libby Liberal.
"Zach Quinto" -- Marica on Quinto coming out.
"Martin Sheen's full of crap" and "Martin Sheen's Full Of Crap II" -- Elaine on the nonsense that Martin Sheen spewed last week which revealed him to be a fake and a fraud when it comes to human rights.
"Maxine" -- Betty salutes the strongest woman in the House.