Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Butcher's Wife

That's from January 7, 2007, "The Butcher's Wife."

About this drawing . . .

I've never hated a comic I drew more.

It's supposed to be Laura Bush; however, after I finished drawing it, I thought it looked more like Nancy Pelosi. I tried to fix it but it was too late.

This is my least favorite comic of all the ones I've ever done.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Sahwa is targeted today, the new US Ambassador to Iraq pounds the (new) war drums, the political stalemate continues, Iraqis weigh in on the drawdown, peace activists take a stand, and more.
Yesterday, Iraq was slammed with bombings and Jason Ditz ( counts 92 dead from violence with 379 more people left injured. The press consensus yesterday appeared to be that security personnel were the primary targets of yesterday's violence. Violence continues today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports a Baquba attack today has claimed 6 lives. The target? Sahwa members. Sahwa, also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq," are fighters (mainly Sunni -- but according to Gen David Petraeus's April 2008 Congressional testimonies, not exclusively Sunni) who were paid by the US military to stop attacking US military equipment and US military personnel. In 2008, as Congressional members began to get vocal about the financial cost of Sahwa (approximately $300 per member per month with over 96,000 Sahwa), the transition to Iraq's government or 'government' out of Baghdad picking up the bill was supposed to take place. Despite claims in November and again in early 2009, as late as the summer of 2009, the US was still footing the bill regularly for many Sahwa. Despite claims by Nouri that he would absorb a number of Sahwa (about 20%) into Iraq's security forces, that really didn't come to be and Sahwa members began waiting weeks and weeks for late monthly payments and then came the targeting of them, followed by attempts to disarm them, followed by more targeting.
Al Jazeera puts the number dead at 8 (cites police sources for the number) and notes that 52,000 Sahwa continue to remain unemployed/unabsorbed into Nouri's 'new Iraq." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) notes that al-Iraqiyah TV is reporting 8 deaths as well and reminds, "The U.S. hailed the decision of its Sunni Muslim members to turn against al-Qaeda as a key to a country-wide decline in attacks about a year later." The Morning Star also reports 8 dead and states that the bombing "killed four of the guards immeidately before gunmen reportedly finished off the survivors." Reuters adds, "A second simultaneous assault on another Sunni militia group in the same province was thwarted, with one attacker killed and two arrested, Interior Ministry and provincial officials said." AFP quotes police Cpt Firas al-Dulaimi stating, "Several members of al-Qaeda attacked a Sahwa office when nine people were inside. Six Sahwa were killed, two were wounded and one was unhurt."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 Sahwa killed in the attack and also notes a Diyala Province bombing in which 2 Iraqi soldiers were killed and two more were wounded. Reuters notes an Abu Saida clash in which 1 person was killed and two more were arrested as they attempt to assault Sahwa, a Mosul car bombing which injured Nezhat Ali of the Turkmen Front as well as five other people, a Hawija roadside bombing which injured one person and, dropping back to Wednesday night for the rest, a Mosul bombing which injured one adult and one child and Kirkuk attack in which one person was wounded in a shooting.
Meanwhile Arthur MacMillan (AFP) reports on Sahwa Sahwa reaction to the news of the drawdown which is fear in light of the targeting leading Sahwa's Samarra commander Majid Hassan to ask, "If our houses are being attacked and destroyed by the terrorists even before the withdrawal, what will happen to us when the US forces leave?" For Morning Edition (NPR), Mike Shuster files a report about other reactions to the waves of violence.
Mike Shuster: They did the bombings because of the Americans, said Abu Salman at his butcher shop in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad. They claim that when the Americans leave, there will be more bombs in Iraq. Abu Mohammed, a construction worker, agreed. "They do think the Americans are weaker now, so let's do it," he said. Abu Salman added, "They are getting stronger because there's no government and there's no protection in the street."
Meanwhile the Arab Times reports on a poll by Asharq Research Centre which surveyed 1,150 Iraqis (18 and older) from August 15th through 23rd and found:
* 59.8% stated that the it wasn't the right time for US forces to leave; 39.5% felt it was
* 53.1% did not agree that "combat" operations should end August 31st; 46.2% did agree
* 51% felt the drawdown would have a negative effect; 25.8% felt it would be positive
* Does Barack Obama care about the situation in Iraq? No = 41.9%; Yes = 39.8%; don't know = 15.5%
Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) observes, "The attacks exposed as a fiction the Obama administration's long-standing claim that the Iraqi forces were ready and able to take over from U.S. troops. While that claim may have played well with war-weary Americans, Iraqis have never been fooled: only last week, the commander of the Iraq military said his forces would not be fully ready until 2020. The bombings don't automatically mean all (or even much) of Iraq is once again in the grip of the insurgency. But they suggest the country is in for a great deal more violence in the months ahead." The Hindu adds, "The spate of murderous attacks in cities across the whole of Iraq over the last 10 days has taken the August 2010 death toll to 535, with nearly 400 wounded. This exceeds the July total of 500 deaths; the authorities attribute the bombings to Sunni-militant followers of al-Qaeda. Only one attacker was stopped in advance: in Mosul, Iraqi soldiers spotted and killed a suicide bomber before he could blow his car up. Above all, the intensified attacks show how little control the United States and the Iraqi authorities have."
Surveying the landscape, The Economist offers, "American commanders were quick to remind Iraqi and American audiences this week that their troops could still return to patrolling the streets if needed. That is meant to be reassuring, and to a growing number of Iraqis it is. But it does not address the underlying problem, namely the inability of the Iraqi state to function effectively, including running the police. Many Iraqis expect the police to respond to the latest attacks by hiding behind even more sandbags and blast walls." March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 19 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted.
While the stalemate goes on, the US Ambassador -- new US Ambassador -- to Iraq, James Jeffrey is getting 'comfortable.' You've been advised to pay attention to his background ("national security") and to who's running things on the US side now. If you have, you'll find the report by Michael Christie and Jon Hemming (Reuters) not at all surprising, if you haven't, your jaw may drop. War with/on Iran can't just spring up, it has to be sold. Today Jeffrey informed the reporters that "he believed groups backed by Iran were responsible for a quarter of U.S. casualties in the Iraq war but that Tehran was not as infuential in Iraq as thought." Give the 'diplomat' time, he'll offer more 'thoughts' and 'beliefs' and watch the way they skew.
As Kat explained last night, "First off, Margaret Warner (The NewsHour, PBS) is in Iraq and if you have a question about the war, you can write her and there going to pick through the questions." The NewsHour notes: "You can e-mail your question, name and hometown to or send a tweet to @NewsHour. We'll collect questions for a few days, and Margaret will answer as many as she can here on The Rundown."
In the US, Marisa Guthrie (Broadcast & Cable) reports, "On Aug. 31, President Obama will deliver a primetime speech from the Oval Office about the end of combat operations in Iraq. The speech, which will be about 15 minutes long, will begin at 8 p.m ET. All of the major networks will carry it live. Diane Sawyer will anchor ABC's coverage of the speech. She'll be joined by George Stephanopoulos. Brian Williams will anchor NBC's coverage, and Harry Smith will be on hand for CBS' coverage. Fox, which has on occasion demurred in handing over prime-time for the President's addresses, also will carry the speech live." The drawdown didn't end the Iraq War and repeating the lie it did effects many. Ann Rubin (KSDK) reports some soldiers in Iraq are afraid their pay is going to be cut as a result of the creative terminology the spin is pushing. US House Rep Russ Carnahan tells Rubin, "The bottom line is they're in a dangerous part of the world, but we've got to continue to do everything we can to be sure they get that support." Meanwhile Jarrod Wise (KXAN) reports that 800 members of the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division are preparing to deploy to Iraq where they will be stationed in Basra and the 800 include people like Bank of America's Charles Clemons and police officer Stephanie Dugan. Jennie Huerta (KVUE) adds that the 800 head to Fort Lewis at the end of next month and will be in Iraq following Thanksgiving for what "is only the second major deployment of the 36th Infantry Division headquarters since World War II, when the T-Patch soldiers were the first American troops to land in Europe." Nikasha Dicks (Augusta Chronicle) notes that the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion's Bravo Company had a send-off ceremony on Saturday as Bravo Company prepares for a year-long deployment in Iraq and quotes Colen Ortiz whose husband Sgt Ortiz is among those deploying, "The very first three [deployments], I just had to worry about myself. Now I have someone else to worry about." Colen Ortiz "is expecting the couple's first child in October." Heath Druzin (Stars and Stripes) explains, "On Sept. 1, the date the U.S. mission in Iraq officially changes, troops will still patrol the dusty fringes of this violent insurgent stronghold. They may raid the house of a suspected terrorist. They will continue to face the ever-present danger of roadside bombs. What they won't do is conduct combat operations, at least on paper." At least on paper. The Iraq War didn't end and won't end September 1st.
Early Monday morning, a major action took place as a group of activists joined in an action to block a troop deployment at Fort Hood in Texas. They chanted and held a huge banner "TELL THE BRASS: KISS MY ASS YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU MORE." The group was originally longer but the time on Sunday for the troops to leave in their bus was repeatedly changed. It left early in the morning and several dedicated activists were still present. Stephen C. Webster was present to report for Raw Story (and was among those harassed by the police) amd reports that the activists managed to halt the deployment "for approximately 10 seconds while police and military personnel shoved them out of the road," that those participating feel it was a success (it was, my opinion) and that "not a single one of them was arrested." One of those participating in the action was Matthis Chiroux who explains (along with others at the link) why he participated:
I am a former Army sergeant and war resister. I was press-ganged into the Army by the Alabama Juvenile "Justice" System in 2002. While in the military, I occupied the nations of Japan and Germany for more than four years, with shorter tours in the Philippines and Afghanistan.
I was a Public Affairs noncommissioned officer specializing in strategic communications. In reality, I was a propaganda artist. I was discharged honorably to the Individual Ready Reserve in 2007.
While I have always been against the war in Iraq, I began resisting it actively in 2008, after I received mobilization orders for a year-long deployment to Iraq. I refused those orders in Congress in May of 2008, calling my orders illegal and unconstitutional. I believed appealing to Congress would end the war. When 13 Members signed a letter of support for my decision and sent it to Bush, I thought we had won a victory for peace. This was more than two years ago. The president has changed, and the wars and destruction drag on.
Today, I am blocking the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment with my fellow vets and military family members because the wars will continue to victimize our communities until we halt this bloody machine from within. I am putting my body on the line in solidarity with the people of the Middle East, whose bodies have been shot, burned, tortured, raped, and violated by our men and women in and out of uniform. I cannot willfully allow Americans in uniform to put their lives and the lives of Iraqis in jeopardy for a crime. We are here because we have a responsibility to ourselves as veterans and as humans of the world. I will not rest until my people, ALL PEOPLE, are free.
The others participating who write of their actions are Bobby Whittenberg-James, Crystal Colon and Cynthia Thomas. Monday, World Can't Wait reported, "Five peace activists successfully blockaded six buses carrying Fort Hood Soldiers deploying to Iraq outside Fort Hood's Clarke gate this morning at around 4 a.m." Alice Embree (The Rag Blog) reports:
Under darkness at about 4 a.m. this morning, buses carrying the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) to planes were stopped by a group of five protesters that included two Iraq veterans, one Afghanistan veteran, and one military spouse whose husband had been deployed to Iraq three times.

The Fort Hood Disobeys group clambered down from a highway overpass where supporters held banners and signs. Holding banners that said, "Occupation is a Crime" and "Please Don't Make the Same Mistake We Did. RESIST NOW," the protesters spread across Clarke Road. Police with automatic weapons and dogs beat them out of the roadway. They were not arrested.
You can find photos of the action taken by Malachi Muncey here, photos by Jeff Zavala here, Cindy Beringer (US Socialist Worker) quotes attorney James Branum stating, "The most amazing thing was troops in buses raising clinched fists as buses drove by the protest. Solidarity!"
In a video Jeff Zavala made about the issue several of the activists share their thoughts. This is an excerpt:
Geoff Gernant: I think it's important people resist the occupations -- the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think it's important to do that in a such way that it's the people themselves resisting in a direct action and not doing something like lobbying Congress or writing letters to Congressmen or relying on politicians to do something -- which they've shown that they're not willing to do which is end this war. We all need to start doing, actively opposing it ourselves. And I've been involved in activsim here, Under The Hood, for like a year or so.

Crystal Colon: Because I think it's time that people do something about these wars. I don't feel like there's enough support for the wars in the American population. But there aren't enough people actually getting out there and doing something about it, trying to stop it. And I want to be one of the people that goes out there and says, you know, "This is exactly what I think, this is how I feel about this and I am going to try and stop you from doing this anyway I possibly can. I came out to Under The Hood -- I've been here since June for two months just organizing around Fort Hood, doing all the protests that we've done, like the one at the East Gate and the Col Allen banner that we made specifically for the 3rd ACR. I just really want these soldiers to know that this is not something that they have to do because I know if someone would have done this for me when I was in, I wouldn't have gone back a second time. I probably wouldn't have gone the first time if someone would have done this for me back in '06. So I really just want soldiers to know there's support for them out there, that what they're feeling -- If they're feeling like this is not what they want to do, this is against their moral values and it's against their feelings and they feel like this is not the right thing for them to do, we are there to support them and that's what I want them to see.
Bobby Whittenberg: War in our time always kills innocent civilians, it kills children, it kills women and it destroys families both in the Middle East and here in the United States. The United States has always been predatory, has always been violent -- a country built on the land of slaughtered Native people. It was built by slaves. The United States is always killing innocent people to take things that do not belong to them. I do not lend my consent to the actions of the United States government. I'm here today to say no more. A lot of us have just been talking and, you know, holding signs -- that's great. But we decided that it's time that we moved beyond that and what we're planning is totally non-violent but it's definitely a sign to say that we've had enough and that we can't trust the politicians, the capitalists to end these wars because they make them more wealthy and consolidate their power. So if we want to see any change, we have to do it ourselves. They always say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. Right? That's what we're doing, do it yourself.

New York State Green Party US Senate Candidate Cecile Lawrence Says that the War in Iraq Continues Despite Fanfare over departure of "last" Combat Troops

New York State peace and social justice activist Cecile Lawrence and Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate remembers being amazed at former President Bush's advice to Americans after planes hit the towers at the bottom of Manhattan that we all should go shopping.
Less than two years later, the U.S. attacked Iraq in an invasion dubbed "Shock and Awe." Major cities in Iraq were later bombed into the Middle Ages, as at least one commentator put it.
Dr. Lawrence, running for the seat to which Kisten Gillibrand was appointed by Governor Paterson last year, is aghast at the likelihood that the Obama administration is playing with words by announcing that he's ending the war in Iraq with the departure from that country of the last full Army combat brigade. With 50,000 members of the U.S. military to remain in Iraq, Lawrence is convinced that the war continues but just under a new label.
Lawrence added that every since Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed Senator, she has regularly voted for more funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From Lawrence's perspective, this move of some military out of Iraq is a game of smoke and mirrors. According to the State Department the numbers of private security guards will be massively increased and a "small army" of contractors will remain. Lawrence noted that a member of the military commented, "Combat operations is a sort of relative term." Lawrence also noted that the American people have no clear picture of the roles of these private security guards and contractors, who are highly specialized and well trained. Their private status excludes them from the scrutiny that troops would have. Lawrence agrees with the conclusion that this move is simply a privatization of the occupation.
Lastly, on another topics, Alexandra Tweten explores suffrage in "The Echoes of Suffrage" (Ms. magazine) which is fitting considering today. Women's Voices, Women's Vote explains:
Today is Equality Day, the celebration of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Join the celebration by registering to vote, or by encouraging the women in your life to register to vote.

Did You Know?

Ninety years ago, one mother's plea to her son helped pass the 19th Amendment by one vote and gave American women the vote. After thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states had ratified the amendment, the battle came to Nashville, Tennessee. One young legislator, 24 year-old Harry Burns, had previously voted with the anti-suffrage forces. But a telegram from his mother urging him to vote for the amendment and for suffrage made the difference. Burns broke a 48 to 48 tie making Tennessee the 36th and deciding state to ratify. One vote does matter. Your vote matters. Today, even though women turnout at equal or great numbers than men on election day, more than one in four American women is still not registered to vote. If you're one of them, celebrate Equality Day today by visting Women's Voices. Women's Vote website and
registering to vote. If you are already registered, use your voice to talk to five women you know about the importance of voting.

Read more on Equality Day from
Women's Voices. Women Vote President Page Gardner on Huffington Post.

Read on ...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Miss Congenital Liar

Again, I used to love to do movie themes. This one is from December 24th.

Miss Congenital Liar. Get it? Like Sandra Bullock'smovie.

To be honest with you, when I got an idea for this one, I knew it would be a breeze. Movie posters usually are.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 19, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Michael Gordon offers a critique of electronic media, Tony Blair tries to wash the blood away, and more.
Today on PRI's The Takeaway, John Hockenberry spoke with Michael R. Gordon of the New Yourk Times.
John Hockenberry: When we say noncombat troops -- it almost sounds like an oxymoron -- but noncombat troops, is that a semantic distinction or is there something real in that term.
Michael R. Gordon: Well it's not even accurate. I think that what happened yesterday was largely symbolic and to some extent hyped by the electronic media. The uh -- What's happening is there are combat troops remaining in Iraq. The 50,000 troops include six brigades which are essentially combat brigades. But these combat brigades have been renamed assist-and-advise brigades and they've been given a task of helping to train the Iraqi army but that doesn't mean they're not made up of combat troops. They are. And in addition, the US is still helping the Iraqi special forces carry out counter-terrorism missions against al-Qaeda operatives and all of that and that fits my definition of "combat."
Before we get to that, we're again dropping back to Monday's State Dept press briefing by the "Near Eastern and North African Affairs Bureau Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Michael Corbin and Defense Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Middle East Affairs Colin Kahl." So that's US State Dept and DoD both represented. We've covered it repeatedly and probably will again in the future. So the two were explaining the militarization of diplomacy in Iraq. Here's Corbin:

We're going to have two consulates in Iraq, and the Council of Ministers recently signed off on having two consulates -- one in Basra and one in the north, in Erbil. And these consulates provide a recognized important diplomatic platform for all the types of programs that we want to do now and that we'll want to do in the future. And consulates around the world used to be a very key element of our diplomatic presence. We'll have two of those consulates. And obviously, one is in the Kurdish region in the north and the other is in Basra, which has enormous economic importance as the -- being close to Umm Qasr, the only -- Iraq's only port, being close to the new oil fields, the ones that have been exposed in the latest oil bid rounds. So we're going to have different interests in these consulates, but they serve as platforms for us to apply all the tools of a diplomatic presence.

And, in case you're wondering, in Baghdad -- the Green Zone section -- the US Embassy will remain. So three buildings -- Nope. Citing "this transition from the military to civilians" as the reason more is needed, he explained their would be "embassy branch offices" "in Kirkuk and in Mosul . . . An embassy branch office is a diplomatic termthat is recognized as a way diplomats can have presence, but these are going to be temporary presences, as Deputy Secretary Lew has explained. These are a three to five-year presence . . ." If you're trying to calculate, he's referring to 2011 (or 2012) so add three and five years to that.
Asked about the air space and Iraq needing the US to continue to provide protection for the air space, Kahl responded, "You're right about the air sovereignty, what the U.S. military calls the air sovereignty gap. For all the right reasons, we've focused on building Iraq's ground forces to provide for internal security and be able to conduct counterinsurgency operations. We've also made a lot of progress in building up their air force, but largely kind of the foundation for a capable force, as opposed to one that can fully exercise and enforce Iraq's air sovereignty. We can expect that the Iraqis will have requirements for air sovereignty that extend beyond 2011, which is one of the reasons they've expressed interest in purchasing a multi-role fighter to provide for their own security. All their neighbors have it, et cetera." Asked to elaborate on "provide assistance," Kahl responded, " You're right about the air sovereignty, what the U.S. military calls the air sovereignty gap. For all the right reasons, we've focused on building Iraq's ground forces to provide for internal security and be able to conduct counterinsurgency operations. We've also made a lot of progress in building up their air force, but largely kind of the foundation for a capable force, as opposed to one that can fully exercise and enforce Iraq's air sovereignty. We can expect that the Iraqis will have requirements for air sovereignty that extend beyond 2011, which is one of the reasons they've expressed interest in purchasing a multi-role fighter to provide for their own security. All their neighbors have it, et cetera."

With that background, today Michael R. Gordon reports on the current realities.Speaking to Ryan Crocker -- the former US Ambassador to Iraq -- Gordon is informed that the US needs to be flexible and that a request to extend the SOFA would be in the US' "strategic interest." From Gordon's article:

With the Obama administration in campaign mode for the coming midterm elections and Iraqi politicians yet to form a government, the question of what future military presence might be needed has been all but banished from public discussion.
"The administration does not want to touch this question right now," said one administration official involved in Iraq issues, adding that military officers had suggested that 5,000 to 10,000 troops might be needed. "It runs counter to their political argument that we are getting out of these messy places," the official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, added. "And it would be quite counterproductive to talk this way in front of the Iraqis. If the Iraqis want us, they should be the demandeur."
This morning, Ross Colvin (Reuters) provided an analysis on the possibility that US would withdraw in 2011 and notes various public statements but here's the key passage:

The U.S.-Iraq military pact that came into force in 2009 provides the legal basis for U.S. troops to be in Iraq. Under the agreement, all U.S. troops must be out by 2012. But U.S. negotiators say that even as the pact was being negotiated, it was considered likely it would be quietly revised later to allow a longer-term, although much smaller, force to remain.

And now we go back to PRI's The Takeaway:
John Hockenberry: First of all, do you see no US military presence in Iraq for America after 2011, is that possible?
Michael R. Gordon: I think it's unlikely. And in the view of a lot of Iraqis and people like Ambassador Ryan Crocker -- who served as abassador in Iraq from 2007 to 2009 -- undesirable. The Bush administration signed an agreement to get all troops out by the end of 2011. The Obama administration is -- which is in a campaign mode now as it approaches the midterm elections, has promised to honor that but, really, there are going to be a lot of tasks that remain. For example, Iraq will have no air force. Well who's going to patrol the Iraqi skies? It almost certainly will be the United States. Iraq is buying M1 tanks and artillery. Well who's going to help them field it and learn how to operate it? It's almost certainly going to be the United States. al Qaeda militants and Iranian-backed militias are going to remain in Iraq in some measure. They've been attacking US forces over the last several months. Certainly, it seems very likely that there will be some sort of US role in advising or helping Iraqi special operation forces to go after them. And there's going to be a very large civilian role. There's going to be 2,400 odd civilians -- State Dept and other officials carrying out functions not only in Baghdad but in Kirkuk and Mosul, trying to tamp down Kurdish-Arab tensions. And they're going to rely, under current plans, on private security contractors. It's kind of ironic that the Obama administraion is going to be preside over a more than doubling of private security contractors in Iraq, but that's the current plan. If we negotiatea new agreement with Iraq to keep some US forces there, maybe that burden will be reduced somewhat.
As Gordon notes, electronic media is making a big deal about the departure of combat brigades. Setting aside the theatrics of renaming, did the last US 'combat' brigade pull out of Iraq as everyone's insisting? Apparently not. Xinhua reports, "An U.S. official from the Defense Ministry has denied that the U.S. combat troops have completed withdrawal from Iraq, the official Iraqia television reported Thursday. 'What happened was a reorganization for these troops as some 4,000 soldiers had been pulled out and the rest of the combat troops (will leave) at the end of this month,' Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was quoted as saying. His comments came after some U.S. media said earlier that the last brigade from the combat troops has left Iraq Thursday morning two weeks before the deadline of Aug. 31." Calling it the "second fake end to Iraq War," Jason Ditz ( observes:

Officials have been pretty straightforward about what really happened, not that it has been picked up by the media, which has preferred the more pleasant narrative of a decisive military victory. Instead, the US simply "redefined" the vast majority of its combat troops as "transitional troops," then removed a brigade that they didn't relabel, so they could claim that was the "last one." Even this comes with the assumption that the State Department, and a new army of contractors, will take over for years after the military operations end, assuming they ever do.

And it worked, at least for now. All is right with the world and the war is over, at least so far as anyone could tell from the TV news shows.

And James Denselow (at Huffington Post) notes, "As US combat units pulled back into Kuwait today a single soldiers was spotted shouting 'we won, we won'. What has been won is perhaps the narrative which states that despite regular bloodletting, Iraq is a success that the US can depart from with honor." northsum32 (All Voices) explains, "To move around Iraq without United States troops, the State Department plans to acquire 60 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, called MRAPs, from the Pentagon; expand its inventory of armored cars to 1,320; and create a mini-air fleet by buying three plans to add to its lone aircraft. Its helicopter fleet, which will be piloted by contractors, will grow to 29 choppers from 17. There are to be 6 to 7 thousand private security contractors. This is bound to cause conflict with the Iraqi government which has been very critical of private security firms." For more on that topic, refer to Michele Kelemen's report for All Things Considered (NPR).
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 12 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted. Today the New York Times' Anthony Shadid spoke with Steve Inskeep about the stalemate for NPR's Morning Edition:
Mr. SHADID: Well I think, Steve there's a real question here about power and the question of power. How powerful is the prime minister? How powerful is the cabinet? Basically what system is going to arise here that's going to govern this country? Those questions are unanswered. They're at the core of the negotiations. There's a lot of disputes on where to go and how to get there. But I think there's even a deeper question here, and I think this is whats alarming to a lot people who have spent a lot of time here, and that's the almost utter disenchantment among the public for the political elite. There's a real divorce here, between governed and governors, between ruler and ruled. And that, I think, is one of the more unpredictable factors we see going on right now.
INSKEEP: In a few seconds - are people thinking again, as they were a few years ago, about the country falling apart?
Mr. SHADID: You know, there's a lot of worry that the longer this stalemate goes on, the worse it's going to get.
Today David Ignatius (Washington Post) observes, "It's now five months after the March elections that gave a narrow victory to former prime minister Ayad Allawi over incumbent Nouri al-Maliki. The Shiite parties that were once allied with Maliki have mostly abandoned him, yet he hangs on as though he were prime minister for life, Arab-style. Meanwhile, the bombs keep going off in Baghdad." And the violence continued today with at least 8 reported deaths and seven reported wounded.
Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports a Ramadi roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers and a Falluja sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and three Mosul roadside bombings which injured four police officers.
Reuters notes a Kirkuk attack on "the headquarters of the Kurdish intelligence services" in which 1 assailant was shot dead (and injured another), 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Kirkuk, 1 civilian shot dead in Mosul and 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.
Turning to England where Tony Blair's latest 'antics' have caused further uproar. The War Hawk and former prime minister is publishing his autobiography -- not titled, despite rumors, What I Did For Love and George W. Bush -- and apparently hoping for some good press, he decided he would donate the profits from the book for a military rehabilitation facility. The editorial board of the Independent of London notes the current political stalemate in Iraq, the rise in violence and concludes, "As the impassioned response to Mr Blair's donation has shown, however, this war remains as fresh in the memory -- and almost as divisive as it was when it began. That there will now be a positive aspect to Mr Blair's legacy, and one that implicitly recognises the human cost of his fateful decision, deserves to be recognised. But it cannot erase, nor will it compensate for, the irreversible damage that has been done." At The Economist blog Britain Blightly, J.G. blogs this thought, "The alternative criticism, that the donation is just a cynical PR stunt, seems less wilfully deluded. But it still strikes me as mistaken. Mr Blair is portrayed as both a shallow, image-conscious salesman and as a messianic ideologue driven by stupidly fixed convictions. He cannot be both." Yes, he can. The term would be "dichotomy." I thought the British were supposed to be good with the English language. Not to mention good at drama since dichotomy's lend themselves so well to portraits of tragic figures. At England's Stop The War, we'll note this from Robin Beste's "All Neptune's oceans could not wash the blood from Blair's hands:"

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hands? asks the mass murderer Macbeth in Shakespeare's play.

Tony Blair clearly thinks that by donating the millions he is being paid for his memoirs to the British Legion he will wash his hands clean of the hundreds of thousands of civilians and the 179 British soldiers killed as a result of war in Iraq.

It won't stop Peter Brierley, whose son was killed in Iraq, who says his aim is still; "that one day we will see Tony Blair in court for the crimes he committed. Peter famously refused to shake Blair's hand at a memorial service for soldiers who died in Iraq, saying, "Don't you dare. "You have my son's blood on your hands."

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son, Fusilier Gordon Gentle, was killed in Basra in 2004, said she was pleased injured troops would benefit but said it would not change the way she felt about Blair. "It is OK doing this now but it was decisions Blair made when he was prime minister that got us into this situation. I still hold him responsible for the death of my son."

The money Blair is donating from his memoirs will be welcome for those soldiers it helps who have been seriously injured in Britain's wars.

But no amount of money can buy Blair innocence or forgiveness for the series of lies he told against the best legal advice which told him the war was illegal under international law, or for his defiance of the vast majority of people in Britain, who protested in unprecedented numbers to tell Blair that his warmongering was "not in our name".

And before anyone gets duped by the "generosity" of Blair's donation, we need to recall how shamelessly he has exploited the contacts he made from his war crimes.

And as we're all supposed to pretend the illegal war ended today, we'll instead close with reality from Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's "Racketeers for Capitalism by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box):

I happen to believe that the wars and everything else became Obama's problems on January 20, 2009, but in reading comments about today's carnage on that bastion of centrism, the Huffington Post -- many people either believe that the Afghanistan occupation just became Obama's War today, or that (in the case of at least one commenter) -- Obama was forced to send more troops, and when one sends more troops, more of them will die. The matter-of-fact callousness of this remark stung like a hornet to me, and I bet the mothers of numbers 1227, 1228, and 1229 did not feel so cavalier when the Grim Reapers in dress khakis knocked on their doors today.
As little as we hear about U.S. troops, as is our custom here in the Empire, the tragic slaughter of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan doesn't even deserve a blip on our radar screens. I watched three hours of MSDNC(MSNBC) tonight and the manipulative gyrations to find out how many ways that they could talk about the "distraction" of the "mosque" at ground zero without talking about the one-million plus Arabs (Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc) that the psychopathic U.S. response to September 11, 2001 has killed, was pathetic and frustrating to watch.
There has been a bumper sticker saying for years that goes: "What if they gave a war and no one showed up?"
Well, "they," the ones that give the wars are not going to stop. "They""have too much at stake to give up the cash cow of wars for Imperial Profit, Power, and Expansion. "They" use the toady media to whip up nationalistic and patriotic fervor to get our kids to be thrown together with the victims in a meat grinder of destruction and we just sit here and allow them to do it.

Read on ...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Condi Rice for LIAR-ALL Bully Products

That's "Condi Rice for LIAR-ALL Bully Products." From December 23, 2006.

Condi says, "Over 655,000 Iraqis dead. Over $11 million U.S. tax dollars spent every hour. 2964 American troops dead. Me and the illegal war are worth it."

I don't even remember that one until I look at the drawing. I remember drawing the picture but that's about it.

Doing a weekly comic for TCI and comics for the community newsletters, think can tend to blur. Condi was a popular one for me to draw, popular with the readers and popular with me. I don't think there's anyone like that in the current White House. Maybe Gibbs is sort of like that. But Condi was the White House as much as Bush was. The two really represented the White House and the Bush doctrine. And I honestly miss the character Condi because there were many Sundays when I'd have nothing, no idea at all and I'd think about Condi and get a comic.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues, the spinning continues, Robert Gates lets some 'withdrawal' talk slip, Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach takes on the Air Force, Big Oil gets richer, and more.
Today Teri Weaver (Stars and Stripes) quotes US Maj Gen Terry Wolff stating, "The ministries are still operating. It's not like they're shut down." What the heck is he talking about? He's minimizing the political stalemate. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 5 days.
And the ministries are not 'still operating.' There's no Minister of Electricity and if any Ministry in Iraq needs leadership, it would be the Ministery of Electricity. Iraq is plauged with blackouts, has electricity in most areas for only a few hours each day. There is no Minister of Electricity. He tendered his resignation months ago. Nouri al-Maliki has one of his cronies acting as the minister but the Constitution is very clear that ministers are approved by Parliament and Parliament's never approved this 'acting' minister who is also the Minister of Oil. Erdal Safak (Sabah) explains, "The Iraqis have access to electricity for only three or four hours a day and they do not have access to [potable] water. Iraqi politicians gather every day and negotiate for hours and hours. Although five months have passed since the elections in Iraq, the chances that a government will form are bleak. President Obama is so desperate that he sent a top secret letter to Shiite leader Ali al-Sistani, encouraging him to step in and use his influence."
What a stupid thing to say, "The ministries are still operating. It's not like they're shut down." The elections were supposed to take place in 2009. Everyone's ignoring the fact that Nouri is operating in some quasi-legal territory when he pretends to be Prime Minister. His term expired. Can you imagine the outcry if, in the US, Bully Boy Bush had attempted to occupy the White House through May 2009?
If oil is all that matters, Maj Gen Terry Wolf, then you are indeed sitting pretty. Jung Seung-hyun (JoongAng Daily) reports on the announcement by the Korea National Oil Corporation, "After 10 months of work drilling 3,847 meters (12,621.4 feet) into the earth from October 2009 to August this year, the KNOC estimated a maximum 970 barrels of crude oil and 3 million cubic meters of natural gas could be produced at the site every day. The average daily production expectancy for crude oil was placed at 200 barrels per day." Meanwhile London South East reports, "Shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum rise as much as 9 percent touch a year high after the oil explorer says tests at its Shaikan-1 well in Iraq's Kurdistan show a ten-fold increase in flow rates, raising expectations for future production rates." AMEinfo explains, "Baker Hughes announced it has signed a three-year strategic alliance with Iraq's South Oil Company (SOC) to provide technical services to SOC's wireline logging department in Burj Esya, Basra south Iraq. Under the terms of the technical services agreement (TSA), Baker Hughes will supply wireline technologies to SOC and other Iraqi oil and gas producers as well as help develop local Iraqi wireline logging capabilities." Dow Jones notes that the Kirkuk pipeline that was carrying oil from Kirkuk to Turkey and was bombed earlier this week is 'back in business' having "resumed the pumping at 11 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Wednesday." And Al Bawaba notes:
The exploration of Iraq's rich oil and gas fields will be under the spotlight during a top meeting of oil executives and Iraqi energy regulators in Istanbul in October as global companies that have won contracts prepare to start the development of various fields.
The programme director of Iraq Future Energy 2010, Claire Pallen, says "with the recent awarding of rights to develop various oil and gas fields in Iraq the world's oil and gas executives now await the formation of the government bodies following the recent general elections as well as the eagerly awaited third licensing round that is scheduled for September. Top representatives from global oil giants as well as lawmakers from Iraq will meet in October to prepare for the road ahead with regards to the short to medium term development of Iraq's oil and gas sector".
Of course, Iraqis can't eat oil and the tag sale on their national assets will ensure that the Iraqi people don't profit from the boomtown. And IRIN notes that over "a tenth of Iraq's 2009-2010 wheat crop has been infected by a killer fungus, according to authorities." But Maj Gen Terry Wolf thinks Iraq's functioning just fine. How Iraq's functioning was addressed today on Morning Edition (NPR -- link has audio and text) when Steve Inskeep discussed the country's current status with Thomas E. Ricks.
Thomas E. Ricks: The problem in Iraq is none of the basic political questions facing the country have been solved, and this is one reason that weve gone so many months now without the formation of an Iraqi government. But the basic questions are: How are these three major groups in Iraq going to get along? How are they going to live together? Are they going to live together? How are you going to share the oil revenue? What's the form of Iraqi government? Will it have a strong central government or be a loose confederation? What's the role of neighboring countries, most especially Iran, which is stepping up its relationship with Iraq right now, even as Uncle Sam tries to step down its relationship?
All these questions have been hanging fire in Iraq for several years, in fact before the surge.
Steve Inskeep: Aren't --
Thomas E. Ricks: All of them have led to violence in the past and all could easily lead to violence again. The only thing changing in the Iraqi security equation right now is Uncle Sam is trying to get out.
Steve Inskeep: Aren't these last few months helpful in some way? Ambassador Hill in his interview suggested that while Iraqis have gone months since this election without forming a government, at least they're talking and maybe making progress.
Thomas E. Ricks: Yeah. It strikes me as whistling past the graveyard. I think what's happening in Iraq is everybody is waiting for Uncle Sam to get out of the way so they can get on with their business. No one wants get in a fight with Uncle Sam again. The American troops know Iraq well, the commanders know how to operate there, and they can smack down anybody who turns violent. But President Obama has said we're not going to get involved in that. And so I think a lot of people in Iraq are simply keeping their powder dry.
Steve Inskeep: Is America really getting out of the way? There still going to be 50,000 troops there, for example.
Thomas E. Ricks: Yeah. And actually, the mission becomes more violent and more dangerous with the passage of time, not less violent. I would much rather be on an American combat infantry patrol than, say, be with an advisor to Iraqi forces. That's a more dangerous position to be in. Also, as you draw down American forces, you withdraw a lot of the forces that make things safe and/or limit the consequences of violence. For example, a medical evacuation of wounded people. Intelligence - these are the type of support functions that get cut because youre trying to bring down the troop numbers but are essential to somebody whos wounded, to getting them treatment quickly and getting them out of the country.
As Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells Gilbert (Johnny Depp), "We're not going anywhere, Gilbert. We're not going anywhere, you know? We're not going anywhere" (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?), Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports:

Iraq will need U.S. military support for up to another decade to defend its borders because the Iraqi army won't be ready to guard the country when American troops leave at the end of 2011, according to U.S. and Iraqi commanders.
Commanders say they are reasonably confident in the Iraqi security forces' ability to keep order while facing insurgents or other internal threats. But when it comes to their capacity to protect against attacks from other nations, it is inconceivable that the Iraqi army will be able to stand alone by the time U.S. troops go home, said Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, commander of the U.S. military training program in Iraq.

Al Jazeera adds:

A top White House advisor meanwhile suggested that the US military presence in Iraq after the main pullout in 2011 could be limited to "dozens" or "hundreds" of troops under the embassy's authority.
"We'll be doing in Iraq what we do in many countries around the world with which we have a security relationship that involves selling American equipment or training their forces, that is establishing some connecting tissue," said Anthony Blinken, national security advisor for vice president Joe Biden.
"When I say small, I'm not talking thousands, I'm talking dozens or maybe hundreds, that's typically how much we would see."

Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "On Wednesday, a senior Iraqi military leader, Gen. Babaker Zubari, stated publicly what most Iraqi officials say more privately – that he believed there would need to be a continuing US presence here after 2011. Under current plans to expand Iraq's armed forces, destroyed and dismantled by the US in the war, Iraq will not have the capability to secure its land borders and air space for almost another decade." Bob Higgins offers his take at Veterans Today. Hugh Sykes (BBC News) offers his take here (sidebar mid-page). Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports, "The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has made a sudden visit to senior defence officials a day after the country's most senior soldier declared his forces would not be capable of securing Iraq's borders until 2020." As the White House and Nouri continue to soft-peddle a US presence/occupation after 2011, Lara Jakes (AP) reports on what slipped out of the cabinet today:
But within hours, while talking to Pentagon reporters en route to a military ceremony in Tampa, Fla., Defense Secretary Robert Gates left open the door that troops could stay in Iraq as long as Baghdad asks for them.
"We have an agreement with the Iraqis that both governments have agreed to that we will be out of Iraq at the end of 2011," Gates said. "If a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we're obviously open to that discussion."
"But that initiative will have to come from the Iraqis," he said.
Joseph A. Kechichian (Gulf News) offers, "A beaming US Commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, freshly reiterated that US forces will stay as long as the Iraqi government wishes them to, ostensibly to deny foreign powers -- read Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- from meddling in the country's internal affairs. Still, it was unclear what that actually meant, especially after President Barack Obama prognosticated that the US has not 'seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq'. While few should expect a White House banner on August 31 to claim 'Mission Accomplished', combat missions will then fall under a new soubriquet: training Iraqis to fight on their own." Meanwhile the US is avoided by Iraqi candidates the way Democrats in tight races avoid Barack Obama. Rahmat al-Salaam (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports that Iraqiya's Jamal "Al-Battikh criticized the US role and said 'the United States is the origin of the disease afflicting Iraq, especially as it has helped complicate the situation', adding that 'it wants a candidate acceptable to Iran and a friend to it and this is what it is working for behind the scenes'." Meanwhile Stephen Farrell (New York Times) gauges Iraqi reactions via the media, "This year the Iraqi channel Al Sharqiya has been promoting a satirical comedy, 'Kursi Tamleek.' Roughly translated as 'Holding on to the Chair', it is a sideswipe at Iraq's reluctant-to-depart caretaker government headed by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. A musical number from the show has already become popular and made its way onto YouTube." And an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shares this at Inside Iraq:

Since the March election, we have been waiting for the new government forming and it looks that we are going to wait for another month or maybe even more. Every day, we hear and read news about new agreements and new negotiations among the political parties but nothing really happens, no progress at all. Today and while I was watching TV at the office, a politicians said during an interview on TV that forming the government might not take place before the new year.
In spite of this long period and although the winning blocs are only four main blocs that represent most of the Iraqi people, they could not reach any kind of agreement about anything and they are still blaming each other for the delay. Each bloc claims that it is the patriotic one and that it is the one that aim to (SERVE THE IRAQI PEOPLE) The painful truth is the following. These blocs which fight now for the privilege of ( SERVING IRAQIS ) are the very same blocs which formed the government in 2005. The very same government that did nothing for Iraqis.
No one is expecting any announcement on a government in the coming days or weeks. For one thing, many Iraqis are in the midst of regligious observation. Yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered this message:

On behalf of the United States Department of State, I wish all Muslims around the world a happy and blessed Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and sharing. American Muslims make valuable contributions to our country every day and millions will honor this month with acts of service and giving back to their communities.

Along with dozens of our Embassies, I will host an Iftar in Washington, DC, for Muslims and non-Muslims to join together and reflect on our common values, faith and the gifts of the past year. At our Iftar, we will also celebrate dozens of young American Muslims who are helping shape the future of our country with their energy and spirit. These young business and social entrepreneurs, academics, spiritual leaders, and other young Muslims around the world are leading the way to a new era of mutual respect and cooperation among all the citizens of our world.

During this month of peace and renewal, I wish the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world Ramadan Kareem.

In violence being reported today, Reuters notes an attack on a Mosul checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (one more injured), a Baaj car bombing yesterday which injured four people and an attack on a Garma police checkpoint yesterday which claimed the life of 1 police officer and injured five people. "Almost daily attacks on police and traffic police in Baghdad and Anbar Province west of the capital in the past two weeks have killed almost 30 police," Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) observes.
Yesterday Barack Obama had a "national security" meeting on Iraq at the White House and it's telling that whatever outlet you go to (try here, for example, or here), you fail to get a complete listing of who attended the meeting. What did Jackson Browne once say? "I want to know who the men in the shadows are, I want to hear someone asking them why, they can be counted on to tell us who are enemies are but they're never the ones to fight or to die." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) notes one attendant, NSA James L. Jones, and his recap he offered on CNN (blather) as well as his remarks on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Read the following that he stated on CNN and see if you don't find it offensive: "The standard for service in the armed forces of the United States ought to be based on good order and discipline. And we found ways to modify eligibility to serve in the armed forces for other groups, you know, whether it was based on race or religion or whatever." Eligibility was 'modified'? As if "race or religion or whatever" couldn't meet the benchmark? As though the problem wasn't the racism, wasn't the religious bias? There was never any reason that, for example, an African-American male couldn't serve except for racism. And there's no reason today that a gay man or lesbian can't serve except for homophobia. Or, in the words of the White House philosopher James L. Jones, "whatever."
"Whatever." It's not whatever to the many men and women losing their jobs and, in many cases, their identies because they see themselves as members of the military but the military can only see them as gay or lesbian. Lt Dan Choi is an Iraq War veteran. He is also a strong fighter who publicly fought the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. July 22nd, he learned he had been discharged for the 'crime' of being gay. The following day, he appeared on PRI's The Takeaway.
Lt Dan Choi: A big surprise. It's painful as much as much as I'm prepared for that. Anytime somebody knowingly breaks Don't Ask, Don't Tell for the sake of integrity and telling the truth about who we are, we still have to be prepared for the consequences --
John Hockenberry: Which were what? What did your commander say to you?
Lt Dan Choi: He said that I'd been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
John Hockenberry: You're out.
Lt Dan Choi: I'm fired.
John Hockenberry: He said fired or he just said -- 'You're being honorably discharged'?
Lt Dan Choi: I'm being honorably discharged. That is an end to an entire era that I've started since I was age 18 --
John Hockenberry: How long have you been in the service?
Lt Dan Choi: -- I'm sorry. I have not been a civilian since then. And as much as you might be interested in how it was said and what was in the letter, to me, it's all a summation of the entire journey and it says it's all over. As much as you can prepare yourself and build up the armor to get ready for that, it's hard, it's very painful to deal with that. I think about every moment of being in the military since starting from West Point eleven years ago and preparing for deployments and infantry training and then going to Iraq and coming back and then starting a relationship and then all of the emotions of this entire journey just came right back at that moment when he said that your - your - your service is now terminated. I got the letter. He e-mailed me the letter, I got the letter yesterday morning, and in very cold words, it just said that I'm finished.
Earlier this month, Trina addressed the homophobia involved in these discharges and the systematic hatred behind them. Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach is taking the issue to the courts as the Air Force attempts to discharge him for the 'crime' of being gay. Servicemember Legal Defense Network (which is representing him) explains the basics:
* Lt. Col. Fehrenbach will reach his 20-year retirement in September of 2011; just 14 months from now. He has been on desk duty at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho awaiting the results of nearly two years of investigations and discharge proceedings. If Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is discharged, he will lose his retirement benefits.
* In May of 2008, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was notified that his commander was seeking to separate him from the US Air Force under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) after the Air Force received information from a civilian. He decided to fight his discharge after hearing then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama pledge to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
* Lt. Col. Fehrenbach served in the Former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He flew the longest combat sorties in his squadron's history, destroying Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. And after the Sept. 11th attacks, Fehrenbach was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C.
* Lt. Col. Fehrenbach's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, nine Air Medals -- including one for Heroism -- the Aerial Achievement Medal, five Air Force Commendation Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal.
James Dao (New York Times) reports, "Lawyers for Colonel Fehrenbach assert that his case is among the most egregious applications of the policy in their experience. The Air Force investigation into his sexuality began with a complaint from a civilian that was eventually dismissed by the Idaho police and the local prosecutor as unfounded, according to court papers. Colonel Fehrenbach has never publicly said that he is gay. However, during an interview with an Idaho law enforcement official, he acknowledged having consensual sex with his accuser. Colonel Fehrenbach's lawyers say he did not realize Air Force investigators were observing that interview; his admission led the Air Force to open its 'don't ask' investigation."
In other news, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is on a diplomatic mission to Denver this week (he's D.C. based most weeks) and Al Bawaba notes, "In addition to his official events and meetings, Mr. Talabani's top priority while in Colorado is to express the deepest gratitude from the people of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to the U.S. Military and their families for their role in liberating Iraq from tyranny. While in Colorado, he will also visit with families who paid the ultimate price of losing a loved one in the fight for Iraq's freedom and democracy."
We'll note this from Debra Sweet's "How YOU Can Help People See the Truth Exposed by Wikileaks" (World Can't Wait):

When an activist from World Can't Wait sent me a link to Thursday's Pentagon press conference, and called Geoff Morell, their spokesman a "pompus ass," I thought that wasn't really a news flash.

But really, to get the full impact of the government's threat to Julian Assange & Wikileaks for revealing the government's "property," you have to see Morell's sneer as the Pentagon reacted to Wikileak's posting of its huge "insurance" file, presumably designed to make sure the information is still available if their sites are shut down, or they are rounded up.
Tired of Democrats who abandon their base, who mock the left and sneer at it? There are many other choices -- including choosing not to vote. Mid-terms can be the ideal time to send Democrats in office the message that if they don't work for you, you'll hire/elect someone who will. And with that, we'll close with this from the Green Party of Michigan:

Green Party of Michigan
** News Release **
** ------------ **
August 11, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Dianne Feeley
(734) 272-7651

John A. La Pietra, Elections Co-ordinator / GPMI
(269) 781-9478

Green Party of Michigan Holds Nominating Convention
(Lansing) -- The Green Party of Michigan selected candidates over the July 31-August 1 weekend at its nominating convention in Lansing. Harley G. Mikkelson, from Caro, is the Green Party's candidate for governor with Lynn Meadows, from Ann Arbor, as lieutenant governor.

In the wake of the oil spill on the Kalamazoo River, Mikkelson pointed out that "accidents always happen" when our society is dependent on oil and coal. "In a state known for its manufacturing we have to prioritize an alternative energy policy. Manufacturing plants running under capacity or closed should be converted into building mass transit. If private business is unable to do this, the state government should be working with communities and the work force to begin this transition."

The oil spill points to the intersection of two central issues in the 2010 Green Party campaign: tying the need for jobs to the need for move away from using non-renewable energy, whether oil or hydrocarbons, and transitioning toward wind, water and geothermal power. The party also opposes nuclear energy as a solution -- it also poses grave safety issues.

In the interim, as Julia Williams, of Fraser, who is running for U.S.

Congress in the 12th District, pointed out, regulations must be strengthened: "We need to get away from allowing corporations to write the laws. They can't be dictating our future. That means tough regulations and an oversight process that prioritizes safety and sustainability. We need to walk the walk when we talk about protecting our water and our air."

It was clear to Green Party activists attending the convention that both the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and the 35-mile long Enbridge Energy Company spill along the Kalamazoo River are the result of depending on corporate promises to do the right thing. But both cases are examples of how inadequate and unprepared the corporations really are. Both have been cited by various agencies but did not face immediate shutdown or takeover.

For those who ask, "Where can the money come from to convert our manufacturing?", Green Party candidates point to a federal war budget that only brings more war and destruction as well as starves our social programs and infrastructure. As Harley Mikkelson remarked: "The first priority naturally has to be people. We need to make education, continuing education and early education, more and more available. That has to be the number one priority, that and the environment, passing on an environment that's better than what was passed on to us."

For more information about all Green Party candidates in Michigan, go to:
# # #
created/distributed using donated labor
Green Party of Michigan
548 South Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental
issues in Michigan politics. Greens are organized
in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each
state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its
own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

Ecological Wisdom
Grassroots Democracy
Social Justice
Community Economics
Respect for Diversity
Personal/Global Responsibility
Future Focus/Sustainability
the takeaway
john hockenberry

Read on ...
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