Sunday, March 17, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Since this is the tenth anniversary of the Bush war against Iraq, concerning Democratic Party support for it: On March 13, 2003 Congressman John Conyers convened an emergency meeting in Washington DC at a law firm right down the street from the White House on the Eve of War to consider, discuss and debate my draft Bill to impeach Bush and Cheney to try to stop that war. He invited Ramsey Clark and me to come in and debate the case for impeachment. The debate was 2 hours long. He also invited in about 40 top NGO honchos affiliated with the Democratic Party, including John Podesta, for the debate. I will not name the rest of them here, but I will never forget these pro-war cowards and hypocrites for the rest of my life-- not including Congressman Conyers. At the end of 2 hours of vigorous debating, we adjourned with my draft Bill of Impeachment sitting on the table. As Ramsey and I walked out of the building to take our separate cabs, I turned to him and said : “ Ramsey, I don’t understand it. Why didn’t those people take me up on my offer to stay here, polish up my Bill of Impeachment immediately, and put it in right away to try to stop this war?” And Ramsey replied: “I think most of the people there want a war.” The Democrats supported that war from the get-go. And this includes the Democratic National Committee. Podesta was there on their behalf and in the name of the DNC put the kybosh on my Bill of Impeachment designed to stop Bush’s war against Iraq.

-- Professor  Francis A. Boyle, international law and human rights expert, reflecting on the illegal war that began ten years ago.  

Truest statement of the week II

Ask yourself if the the rich elite, the 1%, are going to fund that.   Leave The Nation and Mother Jones on the shelf;  turn off Ed Schultz, Rachel Madow and Chris Hayes;  don’t open that barrage of email missives from Alternet, Media Matters, MoveOn, and the other think tanks;  and get your head out of the liberal blogosphere for a couple days.  Clear your mind and consider this:
The self-labeled Progressive Movement that has arisen over the past decade is primarily one big propaganda campaign serving the political interests of the the Democratic Party’s richest one-percent who created it.  The funders and owners of the Progressive Movement get richer and richer off Wall Street and the corporate system.  But they happen to be Democrats, cultural and social liberals who can’t stomach Republican policies, and so after bruising electoral defeats a decade ago they decided to buy a movement, one just like the Republicans, a copy.
The Progressive Movement that exists today is their success story.  The Democratic elite created  a mirror image of the type of astroturf front groups and think tanks long ago invented, funded and promoted by the Reaganites and the Koch brothers.  The liberal elite own the Progressive Movement.  Organizing for Action, the “non-partisan” slush fund to train the new leaders of the Progressive Movement is just the latest big money ploy to consolidate their control and keep the feed flowing into the trough.
The professional Progressive Movement that we see reflected in the pages of The Nation magazine, in the online marketing and campaigning of MoveOn and in the speeches of Van Jones, is primarily a political public relations creation of America’s richest corporate elite, the so-called 1%, who happen to bleed Blue because they have some degree of social and environmental consciousness, and don’t bleed Red.  But they are just as committed as the right to the overall corporate status quo, the maintenance of the American Empire, and the monopoly of the rich over the political process that serves their economic interests.

-- John Stauber, "The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week III

After the 2004 flop of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, luck shone on the Democrats.  The over-reach of the neoconservatives, the failure to find those weapons of mass deception (sic),  the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, turned American public opinion,  especially among the young, against the Republicans.  Growing anti-war sentiment, which had little to do with the organized anti-war movement, delivered to the Democrats what Governor Mario Cuomo called “The Gift.”  The horrific Iraq war, he explained to a Democracy Alliance gathering, was the gift that allowed the Democrats to take control of the US Congress.
It was at this point in early 2007 that the truly dark and cynical agenda of the professional Progressive Movement and the Democratic Party revealed itself.  Under Pelosi the Democrats could have cut off funding for Bush’s unpopular wars and foreign policy.  Instead,  with PR cover provided by MoveOn and their lobbyist Tom Matzzie, the Democratic Congress gave George Bush all the money he wanted to continue his wars.  For the previous five years MoveOn had branded itself as the leader of the anti-war movement, building lists of millions of liberals, raising millions of dollars, and establishing itself in the eyes of the corporate media as leaders of the US peace movement.  Now they helped the Democrats fund the war,  both betting that the same public opposition to the wars that helped them win control of the House in 2006 could win the Presidency in 2008.

-- John Stauber, "The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another 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),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
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?

Francis A. Boyle provides some basic facts regarding the Iraq War.
John Stauber had an incredible piece of writing last week.
So we highlighted it twice and could have done it 20 times.

Though they pretend to follow Iraq with their rush-to-write-a-column-about-what-happened-10-years-ago, they really don't know a damn thing about how bad Iraqis have it today.
Ava and C.I. cover Nikita.
This is how to write one of the bad columns you are finding everywhere these days -- uninformed columns that act as if Iraq ceased to exist when Bush left the White House.

The Iraqi protesters have a message for the world.

Unbelievable is the only term for the administration's pretense as "openess."
A picture alarmed in January but the media just accepts it these days.

I (Jim) participated in this along with Ava and C.I. which makes it a Third piece needing to be posted here as well.  It was a strong roundtable and it was insightful not to be the moderator and watch how another person handles the duties.
Short feature.
Repost of Great Britain's Socialist Worker. 
Workers World repost.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Iraq ignored by the media

Human Rights Watch is calling for  an investigation into the March 8th assault on protesters in Mosul.  This follows their call last month for an investigation into the January 25th assault on protesters in Falluja.

There has been no investigation into either.  In both cases, Prime Minister and Chief Thug Nouri al-Maliki's forces assaulted protesters.  There has been no condemnation of Nouri from the White House for these assaults.

Amnesty International issued a report  [PDF format warning] "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses" last week and how the media rushed to avoid it.

That's The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS Evening News, ABC World News, Democracy Now!, The Progressive, In These Times, Z-Net, The Nation, . . .

They didn't care enough to cover it.

Like the ongoing protests which they ignore with very few exceptions.


That's a screen snap of Mosul last Friday from a video posted by Iraqi Spring MC.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Guardian) reflected on the protests:

Every Friday, thousands of peaceful demonstrators have poured into the streets of Ramadi, Mosul and Falluja mimicking the Arab spring protests elsewhere in the region.
In Mosul and Falluja, tent cities have sprung up in public squares. Some have even demonstrated in Sunni areas of Baghdad, braving the draconian Friday security measures imposed on them.

 Since December, these protests have been going on.  Some estimates have 10% of the population participating.  And yet the media ignores them over and over.

Remember Egypt?  How you couldn't get away from it on your television?

Try finding what's happening in Iraq on your TV.

Iraq was important enough to invade, it was important enough to drop bombs on, it was important enough to destroy.  But now the same media that once sold the illegal war wants nothing to do with Iraq.  They avoid it like the criminals they are, afraid to return to the scene of their crime.

TV: Nikita's greatest foe

Friday night The CW aired "The Life We've Chosen," an episode of Nikita, it's spy show. 

It was a win-some-lose-some episode.  Former head of Division and all around baddie Amanda (Melinda Clarke) had shot dead two police officers to kidnap Division agent Alex (Lyndsy Fonesca) on the previous episode and was now calling Division agent Nikita (Maggie Q) to tell her she would trade Alex for Russian spy Ari (Peter Outerbridge) who had been Amanda's lover of many years until she recently decided to steal his money and try to kill him.

Ari went running to Division which is how he ended up with Nikita and her gang.  As things heated up, Alex was rescued but adamant about going back to rescue a doctor that had helped her while Nikita was insisting that they had to follow Amanda and get Ari back.  Alex's lover Sean (Dillon Casey) sided with Alex and they went off together leaving Nikita with Owen (Devon Sawa) and not enough people to execute the plan they'd come up with.

Nikita and Alex divided are of no help to anyone.  That's long been the message of the show.  Friday night was no different.  The doctor died in a fire, Ari died shot in the back by Amanda.

As the episode wound down, no one with a brain was grinning.  Nikita was explaining to Michel (Shane West) just how badly it had gone.

Nikita:  Alex left and we lost.

Alex walks up and looks over at Nikita who stares back at her.  Michael looks from one to the other.

Michael:  I'll be in Ops.

As he walks off, the two women stare at each other for a moment more before speaking.

Alex:  So.

Nikita:  So. 

Ryan comes through, looks from one to the other.

Ryan:  I just want to say, job well done.  Look, I know we had some differences over tactics, but we got Alex back and we recovered the black box.  I cannot argue with those results.  You guys really do make a great team.

He walks off while Alex and Nikita continue to stare at one another.

Nikita is now in its third season.  The show is based on the USA series La Femme Nikita starring Peta Wilson and the US film Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda and the 1990 French film Nikita starring Anne Parillaud.  The first episode of Nikita messed with you.  Like the ones before, it involved a break-in and a shoot out.  But the young woman injured was Alex.  Nikita has already been trained by Division (a spy agency working with the US government) and has already bailed on them.  She wants to get Alex inside the fortress that is Division so she can work on bringing it down.

Making Nikita a mentor and not someone struggling to learn spycraft wasn't the only change, there's also Maggie Q.


In the US versions, Nikita's been blonde.  In all three previous versions, Nikita's been White.  Maggie Q is bi-racial.  With a White father and a Vietnamese mother, she's Asian-American.  And carrying her own show.

August 27, 1951, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong aired its first episode.  That DuMont Network program featured Asian-American actress and star Anna May Wong.  Wong had found fame in silent films, then moved on to talkies before pursuing the stage and overseas films. At the age of 46, she began starring in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong which was the first TV series in the US to star an Asian-American woman.  And her character?  A spy.

Much is rightly made of African-American Kerry Washington being the star of ABC's one hour drama Scandal.  Similar attention should focus on Maggie Q's accomplishment.

Q's carried the series for three years.  She's played a vengeful and untrusting Nikita who wanted to bring down Division who managed to transform into a team leader in the second season and to someone with an ever increasing sense of right and wrong in the third season.  She's handled each evolution with skill and careful shading, forever finding new dimensions in Nikita -- the trained assassin who fights her way back to humanity.

If Nikita could go hand-to-hand with her worst enemy, The CW would be gasping for breath and begging for mercy.  The CW qualifies as worst enemy because its spent this season forever undermining the show via scheduling.  Once you put a show on Fridays, you need to stand by it.  Standing by it is not stops-and-starts.  Ratings show a season high for Friday night.  So how sad that this Friday won't feature a new episode.  This has happened too often in season three.  The show builds up steam and excitement and the ratings begin to rise and then it's time for the show to be off the air or for a repeat.

Maybe The CW needs to order more then 22 episodes of Nikita?  We're not talking about the 23 episodes it ordered for season two.  Up the order to 30.  Take a winter break of four weeks off and air the first half before the winter break and the second half after.  30 episodes with no repeats?  The CW could see Nikita build real traction.

Season four certainly has enough twists and turns in store.  For example, Ryan.

Back on October 27th, Mike (who covers Nikita at his site) noted, "But Ryan's turning bad.  [. . .]  He's becoming Percy.  He's shutting people out of the decision process, he's doing questionable things arguing that it's the only way, it's probably exactly how Percy started."

Ryan Fletcher (Noah Bean) was a CIA agent who became aware of Division and an ally of Nikita in her seasons one and two efforts to bring it down.  At the end of season two, to keep the government from killing the rogue agents of Division (who aren't aware that they're rogue and were led to believe they were on official, government missions), Michael, Nikita and Ryan agreed to run to Division.  Since Ryan had been a CIA analyst and not an agent, he didn't have the training for the field missions that Nikita, Michael, Alex and Owen did.  So he ended up running things.

And what the audience has seen is that Ryan is okay with killing children, he's okay with putting kill chips in the heads of people.  All the things Percy (who came before Amanda) and Amanada once used to justify their actions are slowly the things Ryan is grasping for.

How do you fight your friend when you friend becomes the monster?  If Division is the all corrupting -- as it appears to be -- how do you do anything but dismantle it in order to save the ones you love?

These are the choices Nikita will likely be facing in season four.  Fortunately, Maggie Q and the rest of the cast (especially West, Fonseca, Clarke and Casey) have demonstrated they can play complexities.  Season four should be the best season of Nikita so far.  In the meantime, take comfort in the fact that while the show's benched this Friday, the following Friday (March 29th), The CW spends the next eight weeks with a new episode of Nikita every Friday.  Trust us, you won't want to miss this.

How to write an Iraq anniversary column*

Start with the premise that, for the good of the earth, you must recyle.

Iraq was a resource war, specifically an oil war.  Your efforts to re-use the same crap you offered in 2003 and 2004 means no new crap has to be produced.  And are you aware of just how bad crap is for the environment?  Did you not read Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet?  All the cow patties cattle produce are like enough to burn their own hole in the ozone.  So, for the love of all that is holy, please re-use your old crap, don't create new crap.

Although Democrats could have stopped the war on Iraq before it started by any number of means -- including impeachment -- remember to pin all the blame on Bully Boy Bush.  Sheeple aren't too smart.   Blaming Bully Boy Bush and Democrats might confuse some of the sheeple whose veal like minds have been steadily fed a steady diet of MSNBC.  Just act like it's 2005.

Although then-Senator Barack Obama never met an Iaq War funding measure he couldn't dry hump, be sure not to mention that.  Part of his gloss and sheen derives from the lie that he opposed the Iraq War.

In fact, don't mention Barack Obama at all.  It's better that way.  Iraq's become a real tragedy and better not to link him and Iraq because we don't want voters to hold him responsible for his actions: Like backing Nouri al-Maliki for a second term even though Nouri came in second in the 2010 elecitons.

Elections?  If you're writing for a newspaper or general interest magazine or website, maybe mention the purple fingers and a gneral statement about democracy -- don't define it, don't nail it down.  Let it be as free floating as "change" was in 2008.

Refusing to nail things down means you won't have any errors.  Facts and figures should always be avoided for that reason.  If there's a fact to share, chances are you can quote old Joe from the General Hardware Store downtown or some other character who can provide local color.  If not, don't quote it. 

If you're writing for The Nation or The Progressive, skip elections and focus on Saddam Hussein being gone.  Don't give him a title (unless you're comfortable with "dictator") and follow Colin Powell's lead and strip him of his last name so that he's just "Saddam." (If you're going to deliver your commentary on TV, radio or streaming online, be sure to say it "Sodom" -- just like Colin Powell does.  It really gets a message across.)

Whatever you do, do not mention actual Iraqis.  After all we in the US have been through, the last thing we need to do is note any Iraqis because haven't we done enough already?  Where is the gratitude?  In fact "Where Is The Gratitude?" would be a great topic if you're writing a column on Iraq for The Weekly Standard.

If you follow the above advice, you'll have a column that's read, praised and linked to by all the people who make it a point to avoid covering Iraq these days -- in other words, approximately 99% of the working press today.


We would label this article "parody" but, sadly, it is how the Iraq commentary is going.

Photo of the Week

From Samarra من سامراء

In Iraq, the protests have been taking place since December and growing in number each week.  Above, protesters in Samarra carry a message for the world  (this photo belongs to Iraqi Spring MC).

The large sign reads:  "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us? Wake Up, this is an IRAQI REVOLUTION Not a Sectarian One! Iraqis Did not Vote for an Iranian Dictatorship Women Rights in Democratic Iraq Are NON-EXISTENT!"

Beyond Gall & Evil


Did you catch Tracy Russo's post last week?  It opened:

As President Barack Obama has stated, “Openness will strengthen our democracy, and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” This week, we celebrate Sunshine Week — an appropriate time to discuss the importance of open government and freedom of information, and to take stock of how far we have come, and think about what more can be done.  

It was so 'important,' it was posted at the White House website as well as at the Justice Department's website.

It wasn't 'important' to the administration at all.  Just more pretty words.

If you doubt that, while they were stressing the importance of "openness,"  a federal court judge was making it clear that they needed to lose the hyper-secrecy regarding the drones.

“It is neither logical nor plausible for the CIA to maintain that it would reveal anything not already in the public domain to say the Agency at least has an intelligence interest in such strikes,” said Chief Judge Merrick Garland. “The defendant is, after all, the Central Intelligence Agency.”

 It takes a lot of gall to hide reality from the American people and the courts.  It takes something even greater than gall to do so while you're having your flunkies praise you publicly for your commitment to "openess."


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Flatter Than A Ken Doll."  Judge's quote from David G. Savage's "Federal court rejects CIA's denial of drone strikes as 'fiction'" (Los Angeles Times).

Sexism in the White House


Remember January 13th when this well discussed White House photo (above) was getting some attention?  "The real War on Women," we called our piece. May 13th, we were offering "Barack and his sexism captured in photo."

We keep offering these features because the White House keeps making it clear that sexism rules in their world.

Last month the White House released this official photograph.

3 women

The topic being addressed?  Immigration.  15 men are advising Barack.  Only 3 women.

Why didn't that send up any red flags?

Still want to pretend sexism isn't pervasive in the White House?

The Iraq Roundtable

C.I.: This is an Iraq roundtable.  From time to time, over the years, we've done these on Iraq and on Afghanistan.  This roundtable will go up at all the sites of the people participating.  It was last minute.  Here's who is participating:  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim 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; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts; Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and
I'm C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review.  A few basics.  Ava is taking notes.  When I'm not speaking, I'll be helping her there.  We thank her for the note taking.  Her stipulation for participation was she didn't want to speak.  That's more than fine.

 From Samarra من سامراء

C.I. (Con't): We're using as an illustration a photograph of brave Iraqis in Samarra holding a message for the world -- and this photo belongs to Iraqi Spring MC. They are the official voice for the Iraqi Spring.  The message is four sentences: "Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us? Wake Up, this is an IRAQI REVOLUTION Not a Sectarian One! Iraqis Did not Vote for an Iranian Dictatorship Women Rights in Democratic Iraq Are NON-EXISTENT!"

Marcia: What I found interesting was that the sign was in English -- and I was briefly puzzled, but then Ava told me --

Ava: To get the message out in the US, you pretty much have to put it in English.  We're not France or Germany in that we can claim to speak multiple languages in large numbers.

Marcia: And of everyone participating in this, C.I.'s the only one who reads and speaks Arabic.  Let me clear that up, we don't read it and we don't speak it.  Rebecca, Elaine, Ann, Ruth, Ava and Wally speak more than one language.  And for a group our size, that may be out of the norm -- we should probably, to be fully representative of America, have fewer who speak more than just English.  But that was smart of the protesters to realize that and I really love that we'll all be reposting this roundtable at our sites and the thing that even the casual observer will see is this massive protest in Samarra and the sign they're holding.

Ann: I think it was also smart to put Barack Obama into the sign.  It's smart because he does have a responsibility but it's also smart because it grabs Americans and plays on the reality that we are responsible -- along with England and Australia -- for the illegal war.  I think it's smart and great that it gets Barack's name up there right at the start.

C.I.: You're saying, Ann, that there is guilt to be shared in America and that it plays to that guilt.

Ann: Right.  It pulls you in.  As an American, I read it and know my country started this continuing crime against the Iraqi people and by bringing in the American leader and basically saying, "What are you going to do?" -- it kicks the responsibility over to where it belongs. 

 Ruth: I agree and I am also impressed with the size of the turnout.  This has been going on for months now, correct?

C.I.: Yes, since December 21st.  Prior to that, in December, Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader, had been insulted by Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister.  This had led his followers to take to the streets in large numbers.  But in terms of ongoing protests, it's December 21st.

Ruth: And they have grown.  They are sizable and this despite the fact that these protesters are targeted by Nouri's forces.

Cedric:  January 25th, they were assaulted in Falluja and nine were killed.  March 8th, 3 were killed in the attack in Mosul. And they were attacked by Nouri's forces.  It's really amazing that we're sending Nouri weapons, we're spending billions of US dollars to prop up his government and he's attacking his own people.

Kat: It really is pathetic.  And we were forewarned.  What did Joe Biden say?

C.I.: When he was still in the Senate?

Kat: Uh-huh.

C.I.: April 10, 2008 he noted that the US was being asked "to take sides in Iraq's civil war" and, among other things, "We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."

Kat: And now he's vice president.  And I'd just love an interviewer to read those comments back to him and ask him what the hell he thinks the US is doing in Iraq today?  And I'm sick of liars like R. Jeffrey Smith -- in fact, since 2008, the so-called Center for Public Integrity has been one big joke.

Jim: I agree with you about the laughable Center for Public Integrity.  What did Smith do?

Kat: Wrote an idiotic article.  To believe his garbage and others, you have to be monumentally stupid and believe the US stopped spending money in Iraq under Bush.  It didn't stop spending in 2011.  It still spends.  And we've got no real oversight of that money so you'd think a real reporter would be noting that.  R. Jeffrey Smith is just another partisan whore, he's not a reporter.

Trina: Like Kat, I'm sick of all that crud.  I'm sick of these jerks and asses who think they can write their anti-Bush rhetoric and pretend like they did something.

Ava: Jumping in again even though I said I wouldn't.  Trina, you're not saying you're pro-Bush, clarify that because some reader will misunderstand.

Trina: Thank you.  No, I'm not pro-Bush.  But I'm sick of these writer who write their partisan whoring.  There's a lot to blame Barack on -- and not just voting on all the funding as a senator.  There's a lot to blame him on as president.  It's when he's president that Nouri loses the vote but Barack forces him off on Iraqis -- via The Erbil Agreement -- as a prime minister for another term.  It is under Barack, not Bully Boy Bush, that Iraq's Emo youth and LGBT community is targeted with death in such ghastly and public ways that it actually gets serious media attention.  And the White House response?  Never to speak of it.

Marcia: I see something like that and just wonder how anyone can get away with that.  Barack has been so awful for human rights around the world.  And with Iraq wanting those F-16s next year -- over 30 in all -- I'd say the White House could do a lot to improve human rights in Iraq by setting serious conditions before the delivery of even one jet.

C.I.: Last week, Ruth wrote "Brett McGurk spits in Iraqi women's faces,"  Rebecca, any thoughts?

Rebecca: Brett McGurk was Barack's third nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq in Barack's first term.  He didn't become the ambassador.  Turned out, he had an inappropriate relationship with a reporter, Gina Chon, while he was in Iraq during the Bush years.  In Iraq, there is such a thing as 'honor' killings.  That's where someone thinks I've brought disgrace to our family so a family member kills me.  Brett McGurk is now known in Iraq as the adulterer.  As the American who came to Iraq and didn't respect the sanctity of marriage.  To be clear, I've divorced multiple times.  I'm not talking here about my own values.  I'm talking about Iraq.  Which would have been the host country if McGurk had been confirmed as ambassador.  Now it's being reported that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran will be McGurk.  As you've pointed out, there's no way he goes to Iraq and women are comfortable around him.  They have a private meeting with him and it's "Slut! You've disgraced the family!"  And the woman could be killed just for meeting -- or being thought to have met -- with Brett McGurk.  Why would you want to select anyone for a post if you knew that half the country would be unable to interact with the person?

Isaiah: What McGurk has going for him in Barack's mind is that McGurk and Nouri are tight.  Iraqiya lodged a complaint when the administration first announced McGurk was the nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq.  This time around, I think if they were to launch a campaign like, "Keep Iraqi women safe, Keep Brett McGurk out of Iraq," it would be enough to kill his chances of being the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran.

C.I.: Isaiah, why do you feel that Barack sees the close relationship McGurk and Nouri have as a good thing?

Isaiah: Because Barack's primary goal is to preserve Nouri as prime minister.

Wally: Right, they're not even -- the administration -- saying anything about Nouri's decision to run for a third term.  That's not announced but it's known by the fact that the law Parliament just passed limiting the prime minister to two terms is one Nouri keeps appealing to the federal court.

Stan: And as Wally knows, it also -- that law -- covers the president of Iraq and the Speaker of Parliment.  All three are limited to two terms.  The Constitution already limited the president.

Wally: Right.  What we see under Barack is a disregard for the safety and comfort of the Iraqi people.  He just wants to keep the puppet installed and he will -- and he has -- overlook anything in order to keep Nouri in power.

Stan: I feel very sorry for the Iraqi people.

Wally: Support.

Stan: They went to the polls in 2010 and their voters were tossed aside because Barack had to have Nouri get a second term.  Can you imagine that? Some pushy foreigners invade your country, tear it apart and tell you, 'hey, we brought you democracy!'  Then you go to vote in the elections, you risk violence, and what happens is that your vote gets tossed aside because those same damn foreigners who invaded now refuse to let your country's voice be heard.  How could you even use the term democracy after that except as a punch line to a bad joke?

C.I.: Strong points all.  Stan, last week you wrote about counter-insurgency in  "What the US government did in Iraq," Did you want to talk about that?

Stan: Well you and Ava covered the documentary  James Steele: America's Myster Man In Iraq   in "TV: The War Crimes Documentary" and I think that really captures it.  My point in writing that post was really just to be on record calling out counter-insurgency.  And I think if people really gave a damn about political prisoner and whistle blower Bradley Manning, they would talk about the realities of counter-insurgency.  That doesn't happen and so I wanted to be on record and I also wanted to back up you and Elaine who have covered this topic for years.

C.I.: I agree with you, Stan, it is important to be on the record opposing counter-insurgency.  It amazes me that we think a 'debate' is on whether it's effective or not and not on how outrageous war on a native people itself is.  Mike, Elaine and Betty haven't spoken yet.  So, as we wind down, I want to toss to them.  What is the story that stands out most to you with regards to the Iraq War?  Betty, would you like to go first?

Betty: I certainly would.  I'll go with  the March 12, 2006, gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi.  To me that really was one of the biggest stories.  Also one of the most telling.  For any who don't know, Abeer was a young teenager.  14-years-old.  And American soldiers, with Steven D. Green as ringleader, plotted to rape her.  They entered her family home, the gang-rape began with two soldiers -- one holding Abeer down while the other had his turn at rape -- and Green went into the other room with the parents and Abeer's five-year-old sister.  Abeer was being raped and could hear the gun shots -- and probably the screams -- of her parents and her baby sister as she was being raped.  And how awful that she's being gang-raped but she also knows that she's going to die.  At that moment, she knows.  "I must get out of this"?  That line from Tori Amos' "Me and A Gun."  Where the woman is getting raped and she's thinking about bisquits and anything else to try to leave her body during this horrific crime and she's telling herself "I must get out of this."  But before the gang-rape was over, Abeer knew she wouldn't.  She heard the gun shots and I'm sure there were screams and cries and that she heard those as well. 

Mike: Right.  She hears all of that, like Betty said.  And I agree, there were screams and cries.  Steven D. Green is shooting the little five-year-old girl, the mother and the father.  I would assume that the father being the strongest that he shoots him first.  And that has the mother and daughter screaming and crying.  And Abeer hears that gun shot and the cries and screams.  Then another gun shot.  Then a third.  And nothing.  And then Steven D. Green's in the room and the other two US soldiers step away and Green begins raping Abeer.  And she knows this man raping her is the man who just killed her parents and her kid sister.  And she knows he's going to kill her.  And he does.  Then, to try to hide their War Crimes, they set her body on fire.  It's just disgusting.  And it's really like the story of the illegal war.  America was going to 'help.' And Green was stationed in the corner of Abeer's block to provide security, to 'help.'  And instead, he starts lusting after this 14-year-old girl, staring at her, he can't keep his hands to himself and she complains to her parents and they get a relative who'll take Abeer in.  But the night before she leaves, Green and company break into her house and that's that.

Elaine: I'm going to agree with Betty and Mike.  I think it was telling.  I think Mike's right about how it is basically a metaphor for the US actions in Iraq.   I agree with Betty's logical conclusion that Abeer heard screams and cries while she was being raped -- and gun shots.  But what I'd point out was that we saw the reaction to Abeer.

C.I.: Which was?

Elaine: Silence.  Jane Fonda gave a great speech about her.  But Women's Media Center, which Fonda's a part of, could have amplified the speech, could have given the story life.  They ignored it.  So many other outlets did as well.  There were several military trials of the soldiers involved.  Steven D. Green, the ringleader, had a civilian trial because he'd already left the military.  There was no rush to cover it.  This is after the others have confessed their crimes.  Green is the last one tried.  The Nation wasn't interested, Democracy Now! didn't give a damn.  That's just to name a few.  My point being that the War Crimes -- and that's what was done to Abeer and her family, War Crimes -- were ignored by the bulk of the media.  This let us know how unimportant Iraq was to so many in the press -- no matter how often they used it during a pledge cycle to beg for more money.

C.I.: Okay.  If I missed anyone, now's your chance to say so?  No one.  Okay, I promised Jim he could wrap it up.

Jim: The big takeaway for me with Iraq isn't that the US screwed things up in 2003.  It's that the US continues to screw things up.  The US government has prevented the 2010 election results from being honored, to give one example.  And there's been too much appeasing Nouri.  I want everyone reading this to get that we have called out the appeasement of Nouri al-Maliki. If he gets a third term, as he wants, he's in for life.  He moves from Little Saddam to Big Saddam.  I want people to realize that and realize that it was called out in real time.  The US puppets don't turn into tyrants over time.  They're selected to be installed because they already are tyrants.  And 20 years from now when President Lady GaGa is saying we have to invade Iraq to save the Iraqis from Nouri al-Maliki, I want people to remember that everyone didn't stick their heads in the sand and play dumb in real time.

C.I.: Alright.  Thank you, Jim.  This is a rush transcript and we thank everyone who participated.  Most of all, we thank the Iraqi people for their courage and strength to go on day after day, even after repeatedly facing the wrath of the US government.

Does this mean he'll be sleeping on the couch?


The body language couldn't be any clearer.   What did he do to get put in the doghouse?

Iraq -- How the West Lost (UK Socialist Worker)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Iraq was supposed to be the war that finally erased the memory of defeat in Vietnam but intead, says Simon Assaf, ten years on it is clear that the conflict dealt another blow to imperialism
It was a war designed to demonstrate US military power, but ended exposing its limits. The invasion of Iraq ten years ago was sold on lies. There was a heady optimism that Iraq would become a model for neoliberal success—and that invasion would give a hard lesson to those who challenged US imperialism.

By December 2011, when the last US combat troops left, Iraq had replaced Vietnam as the symbol of imperial disaster. The country suffered over one million dead, countless wounded, maimed and displaced.

Far from the shining example of success, the US emerged from the occupation with few tangible gains. The much sought after oil fields of southern Iraq are now under the control of Chinese companies. In the north, Turkish companies have swept up many of the lucrative reconstruction contracts.

The foundation for the failure of the Iraq war was laid before the first Western soldier fired a bullet.
 The invasion began on 20 March 2003. Iraq had already been ruined by a decade of punitive economic sanctions aimed at the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein.

The West had armed and courted Hussein for years until he invaded Kuwait. Sanctions were put in place following the 1990 Gulf War. They reversed decades of social and economic progress.
The country experienced an epidemic of poverty and shortages, and the destruction of its infrastructure.

The “shock and awe” barrage of cruise missiles unleashed by the US in the lead up to the ground invasion destroyed what little remained.


When Western troops poured into the country they were able to drive into Baghdad with barely a fight. The demoralised Iraqi army melted away.

The speed of the initial victory led US president George Bush to make his now infamous “mission accomplished” speech. According to the neo-cons in the US government, the war seemed to vindicate their strategy of the “light footprint”—invade, destroy the enemy and leave in its place a compliant puppet regime.

The US and its allies hoped to replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with exiles. Iraq would undergo “neoliberal shock therapy” that would “reform” whatever institutions and economy survived sanctions and war.

But instead of vast throngs of welcoming locals, the country descended into anarchy.

Crowds of looters stripped bare ministries, hospitals, schools and universities. Whatever remained of the infrastructure was quickly cannibalised.

For the exiled Iraqi politicians, the post-Saddam era did not play out as planned. On the surface they appeared to have gained everything they wanted—from ministerial portfolios to lucrative reconstruction contracts.

Both US officials and their allies suffered from the same delusion— that there was no need to build a constituency in Iraq as long as they had one in Washington.

But having disbanded the Iraqi army in May 2003, the US discovered there was no army or police left on which to build a puppet regime.

A few weeks after Bush’s declaration of victory, Western troops faced waves of demonstrations demanding an end to the occupation.

The following should be read alongside this article:
Fallujah fight showed unity
The limits of the resistance in Iraq
Chaos and conflict in Iraq
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

Picking up Harriet's Rifle (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

‘Picking up Harriet’s Rifle’

By on March 16, 2013 » Add the first comment.

Under the theme “Picking up Harriet’s Rifle!” an amazing and inspiring intergenerational panel of Black female revolutionaries gathered in Philadelphia at the Rotunda on March 12 to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman. Before a packed room, five “old school” and five younger activists shared a dialog on the unique and important position of being a Black woman in today’s struggle.

Organized by Patrice K. Armstead, from Building People’s Power, and Irisha Picot, with Books
Through Bars and a MOVE 9 supporter, the panel of seasoned revolutionaries included Sacaree Rhodes, former organizer with the Wilmington 10 and founder of African Daughters of Fine Lineage; Theresa Shoats, daughter of political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoats and an organizer with the Human Rights Coalition for Prisoners; Dr. Regina Jennings, author and former soldier in the Black Panther Party; Basiymah Muhammad-Bey, with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the International Black Cross Nurses; and Pam Africa, Minister of Confrontation for MOVE and chairwoman of  the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is affectionately known in the movement as “Mama Pam.”

In addition to Armstead and Picot, younger women, who took turns introducing the seasoned activists, included Shesheena Bray, co-director of the Philadelphia chapter of Sankofa Community Empowerment and a member of the Askia (Sabur) Coalition Against Police Brutality; Natasha Butler, a member of the Uhuru Movement; and Lori Chambers, a young educator who helped start Finding Empowerment through Education.

Rhodes began the dialog with an account of what it was like to grow up in North Carolina during the Civil Rights movement. She recounted the extreme racism and indignity her family endured under Jim Crow segregation and the murders and brutal assaults many African Americans experienced. After becoming active with the Wilmington 10 Freedom School, Rhodes was forced to flee to the North when death threats were made against her.

Shoats described how the experience of having her political activist father imprisoned for life opened her eyes to “just how corrupt and unjust this criminal ‘justice’ system is.” Shoats described the impact of racism on subsequent generations in Black communities, which often leads to conflict between elders and youth. She spoke of the negative impact the economy is having on youth today, from the closure of 23 schools, mostly in Black neighborhoods, to the outpouring of mainly white youth during Occupy, who suddenly found themselves locked out of jobs. “We can’t keep letting this system go on — we have to take a stand,” she said.

From her experience as a young revolutionary in the Black Panther Party in California and Philadelphia, to her tenure as the first Black professor at Franklin and Marshall College, Jennings stressed the importance for young activists today to know their history. “It has always bothered me that the Panthers weren’t honored. The memory of the Black Panther Party should be taught in schools. What we did as Marxists, socialists and African-centered activists was to take a stand. If the police were going to go into Black communities and shoot someone, they had to go through us and we shot back.”

Jennings, who started the African-American Studies Department at her college, warned that similar programs are under attack at campuses all over the U.S., including at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The importance of finding out what happened to your family during slavery and the Diaspora was a central theme of Muhammad-Bey’s remarks. “We need to know what happened to our families during slavery,” she said. Defending the right to bear arms, she added, “In tribute to our warrior-sister Harriet, I thought about coming with my shotgun tonight.”

Muhammad-Bey later sang her version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” to cheers from the audience.

Lori Chambers, noting that she was born in 1985 — the year of the city’s fire bombing of the MOVE house — introduced Sister Pam Africa. Africa explained that she wasn’t always a revolutionary. “Before 1977 my hair was blond, I didn’t know about the Black Panthers, and I didn’t believe there was such a thing as police brutality. … Harriet Tubman was known for bringing up people who were unaware that they were slaves, and MOVE was my Harriet Tubman. They opened my eyes.”
Africa also stressed the importance of self-defense. “In 1977 MOVE took a stand, brandishing guns. Look at North Korea today — they are openly arming themselves against U.S. aggression. They aren’t giving up anything.”

After their formal presentations, the panelists engaged in a lively discussion on many topics, including dealing with stress in their political activism and daily lives, and what it means to raise children in the midst of today’s struggle.

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Senate hearing on assault and rape" and "All the chatter (Ava)" -- C.I., Kat and Ava report on Congressional hearings.

"Iraq Roundtable," "Iraq roundtable,"  "Talking Iraq roundtable," "The roundtable on Iraq." "a roundtable on iraq," "Iraq," "Roundtable on Iraq,"  "A roundtable on Iraq,"  "The Iraq Roundtable,"
"The Iraq Roundtable," "Iraq Roundtable," "Talking Iraq Roundtable," "Talking Iraq" and "THIS JUST IN! IRAQ!" -- C.I., Ava, Trina, Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Ruth, Kat, Marcia, Stan, Isaiah, Elaine, Mike, Cedric, Wally and Jim hold a roundtable on Iraq.

"Whitney," "Whitney," "Whitney," "It just gets Whiter,"  "Smash," "Yes, add Brooke!,"  "Deception," "revenge," "The Client List (spoilers)" and "The Good Wife" -- Betty, Ann, Marcia, Stan, Elaine, Rebecca and Ruth cover TV.

"THIS JUST IN! CHARM CLUB!" and "Princess Charming"-- Wally and Cedric on the charm offensive launched by the White House.

"Oz" and "Oz" -- Elaine and Mike go to the movies.

"But picture the car chase" and "the government gets really tacky" -- Ruth and Rebecca take on the ridiculous moments from our government.

 "Curiosity's latest discovery" -- Betty continues to cover Mars.

"No Arrow, but X-Men next month" -- Stan covers the heroes.

"Photo-Op This!" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

 "Mayor Poppins" -- Elaine on Bloomberg's set-back.

"Joe Biden goes after the press" -- Kat on Biden.

 "Pope Francis" -- Mike on the new pope.

"He readies for the swimsuit competition"  and "THIS JUST IN! TIME TO DIET!"-- Killer Barry will not be shown up.

"Rita Moreno" -- Ann notes a legend.

"Ramen for the White House" -- Betty suggests that the White House tighten its belt.

"Back in the day . . ."  -- Trina recalls when things actually mattered.

"Matt Lauer tries to do damage control" and "That embarrassing Jon Lee Anderson" -- Kat and Marcia offer media criticism.

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