Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bully Is . . . turning your back on the world

That's "Bully Is . . . turning your back on the world." Bully Boy and Condi Rice walk off into the sunset, arms wrapped around one another, as they ignore the world around them (see posters). That went up May 15, 2005. What stands out the most there was I learning to work with the online space which is very different from what I had been drawing with. I had also bought a new set of art pencils. Looking at the sun, I want to buy some more. (Time's the issue.) On time, I have at least one more comic in the series started Sunday -- maybe two. Again, time is the issue.

Offering up some community links:

Cedric's Big Mix
Paps of Peace
7 minutes ago

The Daily Jot
7 minutes ago

The Common Ills
Iraq snapshot
5 hours ago

Mikey Likes It!
Fouty and Jimenez families; bitter Ted
23 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
andy worthington on realities of guantanamo
23 hours ago

The attacks on Roland Burris never end
23 hours ago

Ruth's Report
Iraq, music, travel
23 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
Read Inside the Ropes
23 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Dennis Loo
23 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
On the road, newspapers
23 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Stevie Nicks
1 day ago

Trina's Kitchen
Jefferson Airplane
1 day ago

Third Estate Sunday Review
Truest statement of the week
3 days ago

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama is expected to announce a 'plan' for Iraq by week's end, a manhunt is underweigh in Iraq, Jack Straw faces intense criticism, the non-withdrawal 'withdrawal,' and more.

Appearing on NBC's
Today Show this morning, US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Matt Lauer and the issue of Iraq was raised at the end of the exchange when Lauer brought up the reports that US President Barack Obama would be announcing a draw down plan for some troops which would be done over a nineteen-month period:

Matt Lauer: Now you guys ran on a pledge to withdraw all US combat troops within 16 months. I'm not going to split hairs on the three months, I don't think anybody will, but I want to get these troop numbers down. That would not be a withdrawal of all combat troops, would it?

Joe Biden: Look, the president's going to make an announcement on Friday -- I believe it's Friday -- or very soon on this very point, Matt. And I'd rather have him speak to that and he'll speak to it in detail. I think the American public will be -- understand exactly what we're doing and they will be pleased.

Matt Lauer: But are we going -- are you keeping a campaign promise or breaking a campaign promise?

Joe Biden: We're keeping a campaign committment.

The question was necessary because, as
Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes, "When former President George W. Bush addressed the U.S. Congress in January 2008 he gave three pages of his speech to the Iraq war. On Tuesday night his successor Barack Obama spoke a single sentence." That was Barack's 52-minute speech last night, where he yet again made clear that the Iraq War isn't a topic he wants to be pinned down on despite the White House running to reporters all yesterday insisting Iraq would be part of the speech. And his inattention to the topic is being registering. Gordon Lubold and Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) report, "One Iraqi official says the US and Iraq have not yet begun negotiations on the size of the residual force, adding that the Obama administration, currently focused on the American economy and ramping up operations in Afghanistan, was far less engaged with Iraq policy than the previous administration." Yesterday on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, David Martin reported on the expected announcements regarding the draw down in Iraq, noting the speculation of insiders that Barack has elected to go with a 19-month timeline to withdraw "combat" troops from Iraq.David Martin: But there would still be tens of thousands of troops in Iraq, perhaps as many as 50,000. They would be formed into so-called 'training and assistance' brigades to support the Iraqi army and police but they would still be capable of conducting combat operations and would be able to call in strikes from carrier or land-based aircraft.

And, yes, there would be. ABC News' Martha Raddatz was raising that issue back in January on PBS'
Washington Week -- Ava and I noted it here:Martha Raddatz: They laid out plans or started to lay out plans for the sixteen-month withdrawal, which President Obama says he wants, or the three-year withdrawal which is the Status Of Forces Agreement that the US has gone into with the Iraqis. And they talked about the risks with each of those. Ray Odierno, who is the general in charge of Iraqi forces, said, 'If you run out in sixteen months -- if you get out in sixteen months, there are risks. The security gains could go down the tube. If you wait three years, there are other risks because you can't get forces into Afghanistan as quickly.' So President Obama made no decisions. Again, he's going to meet with Joint Chiefs next week and probably will make a military decision. But also a key there is how many troops he leaves behind. That's something we're not talking about so much, he's not talking about so much. This residual force that could be 50, 60, 70,000 troops even if he withdraws --Gwen Ifill: That's not exactly getting out of Iraq.Martha Raddatz: Not exactly getting out completely.This morning, Elisabeth Bumiller and Peter Baker (New York Times) reported that "defense officials said they did not know how many combat troops would stay behind in new missions as trainers, advisers or counterterrorism forces, at least some of whom would still be effectively in combat roles. Military planners have said that in order to meet withdrawal deadlines, they would reassign some combat troops to training and support of the Iraqis, even though the troops would still be armed and go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts." Ann Scott Tyson and Anne E. Kornblut (Washington Post) note that the possible Friday announcement could take place in North Carolina (Barack will be visiting bases) and that the 19-months being tossed around is "three months later than promised during his campaign". Depending on the news outlet, the estimates for the number of US troops currently on the ground in Iraq goes from approximately 142,000 (Ann Scott Tyson and Anne E. Kornblut as well as David Martin go with that figure) to 147,000 (especially popular with AFP and Scottish outlets). (Yes, the Pentagon should have a running count to clear the issue up.) Matt Lauer can decide he's not going to make an issue out of it -- as he demonstrated -- but he's a morning talk show host. He's not been elected by anyone to speak on behalf of Americans. He may be fine and dandy with three extra months (that will not even lead to a withdrawal) but let's be clear that three months could mean 44 dead Americans. That is the number of US service members who have died in Iraq in the last three months (February isn't done yet so the number could rise). Matt's fond of taking Jack along on interviews with Barack. If Jack Lauer were over in Iraq, possibly the thought of 44 more deaths might be of interest to Matt. You don't play the lotto with human lives. So, yes, three months do matter.

Military Families Speak Out's Elaine Brower (writing at World Can't Wait) has a son who is on his third tour of Iraq. It matters.

This is wrong. The occupation is wrong, and those of us in the anti-war movement have been screaming this at the top of our lungs for the last 6 years, even before the first boots were on the ground in Iraq. Even before the campaign of "shock and awe" even lit up the skies above innocent people. What the hell are we thinking?
Because it isn't Bush and Cheney, those loathsome characters we so love to hate that isn't doing this, it's OK? That because it isn't Don Rumsfeld, that warmongering war criminal of a pig, it's OK? Because the face of the occupation is now Barack Obama it's OK?
Well I have a newsflash, it's NOT OK! We have in our infinite wisdom killed over 1 million Iraqis, displaced 2 million, destroyed hospitals, mosques, historical sites, homes, agricultural, stolen natural resources, orphaned children, made widows, killed entire families, sent over 4,200 soldiers to their deaths, severly wounded another 50,000, not including those who have PTSD and are committing suicide in record-breaking amounts, and we think we shouldn't be out in the streets demanding an end to this now? Why is that?

It also matter that Barack left an impression with the American people as to his 'plan' -- left that impression throughout his primary and general campaigns (which is what Matt was trying to get to on Today this morning).
Thomas E. Ricks (author of The Gamble) appeared on CBS' Washington Unplugged (click here for just the Ricks' segment) two Fridays ago and explained how Barack's 'promise' came across to Americans:Thomas E. Ricks: I think there well indeed might be a clash by the end of the year. Obama's campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq in sixteen months was a fatuous promise. When Americans heard it, what they heard was 'I will have no American troops dying in 16 months.' But it was a false phraseology: "combat troops." Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat. General Odierno says in the book he'd like to see 35,000 troops there as late as 2015. Well into . . . it will be Obama's second term. So I think that at the end of this year, you're going to see a conflict. Obama's going to want to see troop numbers coming down. Odierno, the other big O, as they call him in Iraq, is going to say, "Wait a minute, you're holding general elections here in December, in Iraq. That's exactly the wrong time to take troops out."
Barack deliberately misled the American people -- a large faction was willing to be misled and wanted to be. Equally true is that, when pressed (he was rarely pressed), he would admit that he would not just stop withdrawing troops but reverse the direction (send more troops back in) depending upon 'the situation on the ground.' That was his policy -- outlined best to the New York Times -- in the transcript of the interview, not the bad write up and it was covered at length in the
November 2, 2007 snapshot -- and it can be boiled down as: "My concerns is if you draw down in response too rapidly, draw down in response to American political pressure, instead of as the Iraqis take over area, then there are other ares of Iraq that don't have a government presence that desperately need one, and rather than bring our forces home we should be moving into those areas. When we have all of Iraq with a security presence, that is significant enough to make a difference, then we can start drawing down . . . " And that quote? It's actually from Col Thomas Hammes (retired) and he explained the 'plan' on The NewsHour (PBS -- link has video and text) back in December 23, 2005. No, there's not a bit of difference between Barack and Bush.

And that was noticeable in November 2007. Tom Hayden showed up making like Helen Morgan and singing "The Man I Love" over the write-up Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did. Then, when the transcript was pointed out to him, he was a bit more somber and had one of those You-listen-to-me-Barack moments. (They fade quickly. And Billie Holiday also recorded a strong version of "The Man I Love," I just find it more apt to compare Tom-Tom to Helen Morgan.) It was always there: The bases around -- but not in -- Iraq, the need for a 'residual presence' even after 'withdrawal,' admitting he'd send US troops back into Iraq in the midst of 'withdrawal' dickering over terms to maintain 'combat troops' had been removed -- in fact, let's provide an example of that:

Obama: But they aren't necessarily military missions. NYT: But how do you go back into Iraq without military forces? Obama: No, no, no, no, no. You conflated three things. The latter two that you are talked about are not military missions. Let's just be clear about that. NYT: An armed escort is not a military mission?

Again, it was known. From
that day's snapshot:

Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over."
So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions.

If any of the above surprises you, you can scream at the media (and should) but it's also time for you to take a little accountability for your own willful ignorance. Moving to some calling out the nonsense today and starting with
Chris Floyd (via CounterPunch) who was one of the few calling it out when it mattered:

It would be surperflous in us to point out that a plan to "end" a war which includes the continued garrisoning of up to 50,000 troops in a hostile land is, in reality, a continuation of that war, not its cessation. To produce such a plan and claim that it "ends" a war is the precise equivalent of, say, relieving one's bladder on the back of one's neighbor and telling him that the liquid is actually life-giving rain.
But this is exactly what we are going to get from the Obama Administration in Iraq. Word has now come from on high -- that is, from "senior administration officials" using "respectable newspapers" as a wholly uncritical conduit for government spin -- that President Obama has reached a grand compromise with his generals (or rather, the generals and Pentagon poobahs he has inherited -- and eagerly retained -- from George W. Bush) on a plan to withdraw some American troops from the country that the United States destroyed in an unprovoked war of aggression.

John Walsh (Dissident Voice) notes how cozy and familiar with the right-wing Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher of The Nation magazine) and Leslie Cagan (pension drawer in retirement pretending to lead an 'anti-war' movement):

Vanden Heuvel's most recent piece in The Nation runs under a title in the form of a query, "Obama's War?" Whose war does she think it is anyway? Even the mainstream media calls it Obama's war -- sans question mark. Her piece ran shortly after Obama ordered 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan and almost a month after both Afghan and Pakistani civilians were first bombed at Obama's orders. She concludes her piece, after citing the deployment of additional troops, "Up to this point the Afghan war belonged to George W. Bush, but Obama's escalation threatens to make it his own. There's still time to change direction. President Obama don't make this your war"! (Emphasis mine. If escalation of the AfPak war (the war on Afghanistan and Pakistan) only "threatens" to make the war Obama's, what will it take to give him ownership?)
Having supported Obama during the election when he was very clear about his coming Crusade in Afghanistan and having made no demands in exchange for their support, the liberals are now reduced, their leverage gone, to begging for a change in course. Pity, pathos, disgust or a sense of betrayal -- it is hard to know what to feel when one encounters this stuff.
Similarly Cagan's United for Peace and Justice, dominated by the "Progressive" Democrats of America ("P"DA) and the "Communist" Party of the U.S.A ("C"PUSA) -- more or less the same thing, not because "P"DA is radical but because the "C"PUSA is not -- has been all too silent on Obama's AfPak War. As a result there have been discordant rumblings among the rank and file about UFPJ's failure to call a national demonstration against the wars flaring from Iraq to Pakistan and refusal to join the only one called, that by ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism) for March 21.

The March 21st action around the corner and organizations participating include
The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Michael Collins (Dissident Voice) asks why aren't the Iraqi people consulted on this issue: "Who asked the Iraqi people about the withdrawal schedule? As the self-proclaimed proponents for democracy and human rights, shouldn't the United States inquire as to the will of the people before initiating any policy changes? . . . Relying on the ever-shifting positions of a very unpopular Iraqi government is useless in assessing the will of the Iraqi people. The only way to determine their will is through a national election."

No democracy, no real justice system. The latter is being found out by Mohammad al-Daini, a Sunni member of the Iraqi Parliament. As
Marc Santora (New York Times) reported this morning, al-Daini was publicly accused Sunday of various crimes including bombing Parliament in 2007 and MP Saleh al-Mulaq is calling for "a full investigation fo the Shiite leaders of government for their links to violence" and states, "Let's begin a real effort to disclose information about those involved in killings and sectarian displacement. Then we will discover that there are leaders inside the political process who took part in these events." Ahmed Rasheed and Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) report that al-Daini was due to land in Jordan this morning; however, al-Maliki's government ordered that the plane return to Iraq which it did. The reporters also note that Parliament voted to lift his legal immunity (as an MP, he did have legal immunity). Tina Susman and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report that "Daini's whereabouts remain a mystery as the political clamor over his alleged crimes, everything from murder to gold heists, escalates and threatens to rev up sectarian polarization in parliament. The plainclothes security guard who escorted Daini, a Sunni Arab politician, off the plane was part of his personal security contingent, as were the security officers who drove away with him shortly before a nationwide manhunt began."

In other news . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which left six people injured, a Mosul car bombing that resulted in the death of the driver and a Mosul grenade attack that injured two people.


Reuters notes that Tuesday night in Kirkuk "a prominent business man" was shot dead.


Reuters notes that "three employees of Iraq's state-run Northern Oil Company' and one other person were kidnapped in Rashad today.

Yesterday's snapshot noted the death of a US soldier. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) was the first reporter with a US paper to file on it (as Ruth pointed out last night): "A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed today and three American troops were injured when gunmen, who officials said wore Iraqi police uniforms, fired on them in the northern city of Mosul. It was the third time since November that men in Iraqi security forces uniforms have attacked American forces in Nineveh province." Those waking up with today's New York Times could read Marc Santora's print article on the incident where he sketched out what was known and what was supsected. The Kansas City Star has to run an article by Brian Murphy (AP) because, despite being a McClatchy outlet, there was no McClatchy story to carry. Meanwhile Matthew D. LePlante (Salt Lake Tribune) reports the passing of a local resident:

The students in Micheal Alleman's class didn't take kindly to the news.It was the middle of the school year, and the popular fifth-grade teacher was leaving his career as an educator to join the Army. He told the class he wanted to be like the nation's first president, who left his career as a Virginia planter to take up arms against the British monarchy."He said that George Washington was his hero," said Samantha Larkin, 11, a student in Alleman's class at Nibley Elementary School in Cache County, last year. "But it was a little bit confusing to us."On Tuesday, Alleman's former students were among those in several Utah communities coming to terms with a revelation that was even more difficult to accept: The teacher-turned-soldier had been killed in Iraq.

Along with Michael Alleman, Michael L. Mayne and Zachary Norman were killed in Iraq on Monday.
WTHR-TV notes Indianapolis reaction to Zachary Norman's death:

"It was sad for his instructors and I know sad for his family. At three o'clock today there is a gonna be a moment of silence for him as students dismiss. We will ask students to do the moment of silence and to think about the sacrifices that Zach and other veterans have made for our freedom," said Cheri O'Day, Ben Davis High School.
Ben Davis will also add Zachary Nordmeyer's name to a wall of honor for its graduates that have died in the line of duty. Nordmeyer becomes the 18th former student who made the ultimate sacrifice.

May 12, 2007 an al-Taqa attack on US soldiers took place resulting in 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator being killed immediately and three US soldiers missing. The three missing were Jospeh Anzack, Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. In May of 2007 (23rd), the family of Joseph Anzack was informed his body had been identifed. Still missing were Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. July 11, 2008 the press reported (citing Byron Fouty's step-father for confirmation) that the remains of both soldiers had been identified. That afternoon the US Dept of Defense released a statement: "The Department of Defense today announced the deaths of two soldiers previously listed as "Missing-Captured" while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. On July 10, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner positively identified human remains recovered in Iraq July 9 to be those of two soldiers who had been previously listed as 'Missing-Captured.' . . . Jimenez and Fouty were part of a patrol that was ambushed by enemy forces south of Baghdad on May 12, 2007. They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y. The Department of Defense previously announced the names of soldiers killed in the attack. They were Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack, Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell, Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn.; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich.; Cpl. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va.; and Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev." Last night, Mike highlighted Brian MacQuarrie (Boston Globe, Feb. 18, 2009) article on Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez' families holding a service at Arlington National Cemetary:

One stone will mark the resting place for Jimenez, 25, and Fouty, 19.Rest, also, could come for two families who endured nearly 14 months of agony until, after a massive manhunt involving 4,000 troops, the bodies of the soldiers were discovered at last on July 8, 2008. A native of Pembroke, Mass., Private Matthew Bean, died after being shot by a sniper during the search.The remains that could be identified had already been buried: Jimenez's in Farmingdale, N.Y., near his mother's home; Fouty's in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.A second funeral, however, proved no easier for parents and loved ones living with recurring, excruciating thoughts of the suffering that their soldiers probably endured."It's very difficult, because we know that part of him is in there," said Jimenez's mother, Maria Duran of Queens, N.Y., as she nodded toward the casket during a wake the previous night.

In England yesterday there was huge news and one of the few US outlets to cover the story today is the
Dallas Morning News which notes, "Britain's justice secretary overturned an order Tuesday that would have forced the government to make public the formal minutes of two contentious Cabinet discussions held before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The minutes detail advice the Cabinet was receiving on the legality of the Iraq war." That secretary is Jack Straw and Gary Slapper (Times of London) declares he "has violated a key principle of the British constitution. The principle is nemo judex in sua causa: no-one should be aj udge in his own case. Mr Straw stands personally to gain by continuing secrecy of the cabinet papers. The war in Iraq has been described by Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the former senior law lord, as "a serious violation of international law". The British public has a legitimate interest in knowing how its government came to have entered it. Jack Straw was Foreign Secretary at the key time." At the UK's Military Families Against the War, Rose Gentle (whose son Gordon Gentle died in Iraq) asks:

What is the point of a freedom of information act if there is a escape clause in it just for government? Do they have something to hide?
They did say when the troops where out that they would have an Inquiry into the war. Will people ever trust a government again?
All we want to know is why our troops where sent in to Iraq -- this country has the right to know what is in those minutes. I have the right to know why my son was sent there to die. We all know it definitely wasn't for WMD -- lets hope one day their kids or grand kids don't go to a war looking for WMD

Sam Coates (Times of London) reveals Straw, by his own words, is "considering a clampdown on freedom of information laws".

matt lauergwen ifillpbswashington weekcbs newswashington unpluggedthe cbs evening news with katie couricthe new york timeselisabeth bumiller
marc santorapeter bakerthomas e. ricks
the washington postann scott tysonanne e. kornblut
the los angeles timestina susman
chris floyd
john walsh
michael d. laplante
gary slapper
ross colvin
mikey likes itruths report

Read on ...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Swingin' John Bolton eyes the U.N.

That's "Swingin' John Bolton eyes the U.N." and it went up May 12, 2005. Bolton grabs/fondles the United Nations and asks, "Hey baby, want to party with NATO? How bout you, me and the Europen Union?" Raw Story and other outlets were reporting on Bolton's alleged real life swinging when I did that comic.

C.I.'s "Dropping Campbell Robertson off at school" has me laughing this morning so be sure to check that out. Mike's "Interview with Isaiah" is up as well. And I'll include the snapshot and not just a link to it so you can see what I'm talking about. (Added: Thank you to C.I. who returned my call and gave me a tip on scaling down the image so it would all fit on the screen. C.I. dictated a source code to me. When I use the photo option in Blogger, even if I check "small," it posts the illustration huge.)

Iraq snapshot
Thursday, February 19, 2009. Chaos and violence continue,election results are released (yes, the results to January 31st elections), Iraq still has no Speaker of Parliament, the Kurds ask for the Constitution to be followed and the "Awakening" Council's cheif cheerleader rushes to tell the world violence is a'coming, Muntadhar al-Zeidi gets a day in court (one) and much more.

Starting with today's Most Needy (the intelligent deficient), little Eric Stoner, come on down. Eric was one of Katrina's coffee fetchers nearly three years ago and that task provides no on the job training. Now he 'works' at Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box -- in fact, word is he has cleaning duties. Taking his recycled blog post and limited intelligence to the Labour Party's party organ (Guardian -- you can catch it at ZNet which we will link to), Stoner (was a last name ever more apt) babbles about Blackwater between the muchies. Like the gut over the belly young 'dude' he fancies himself, Stoner knows, just knows, where there are problems, there is a woman causing it all. So the Barack Cult Member whines that mercenaries are still in Iraq:

Hillary Clinton offerred a glimmer of hope when she endorsed this bill during her campaign for the presidency. But as Obama's secretary of state, she has quickly abandoned her commitment to "show these contractors the door."

Oh, that awful Hillary! Cursing her must give Stoner something to focus on while digging the sand and tar out from underneath Arianna's toe nails (or is that hooves?). Reality, Stoner, Hillary's 'glimmer of hope' was a bill she supported as a Senator. And she was slimed by Jeremy Scahill and others while your poster boy Barry got yet another pass. Did you forget that? Or just ignore it? Samantha Power pulled a charm offensive (yes, that is scary) and purred in Jeremy's ears and he felt so 'included' and couldn't shut up about his 'secret source,' his 'high level source.' It didn't matter that Our Modern Day Carrie Nation Sammy Power was telling him that Barack wouldn't support the bill, what mattered to Jeremy was attacking Hillary. So he hissed at her bill and he invented motives (some fed to him by Sammy) for Hillary. Anything to make Barry look better.

That was a Senate proposal. Barack didn't get on board. It died. Barack is the president. Hillary is the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State does not make policy -- she or he implements it. Is that too complex for you, Stoner? Translation, Barack didn't support Hillary's bill during the Democratic Party primaries and he doesn't support it now that he's president. If you're unhappy with that fact, the blame goes to Barry. Not to Hillary. The blame goes to Barry and all the Cult Members who lied and covered for him and continue to do so -- like you, Eric Stoner.

Feb. 13th, Blackwater made the news for changing its name to Xe -- in an attempt to run from their blood crimes. For those late to the party, Steve Grant (Comic Book Resources) provides this recap: "Remember Blackwater, the third-party army serving as mercena -- whoops, I mean 'civilian contractors' -- in Iraq for the occupation, as well as building private prisons and other interesting activities here in the States (no word on the future of those now that their government contracts are theoretically all dried up)? Blackwater is no more! It has 'rebranded itself' Xe, pronounced Z, apparently to shake off their war-built image as civilian-murdering thugs. As long as they're updating their image, they might want to rethink the busines cards printed with human blood, too..." The Fayetteville Observer makes a prediction, "The company does, after all, have an image problem -- thanks, among other things, to accusations that its employees were rampaging Dirty Harrys in Iraq, gunning down innocent civilians. We doubt that the public will quickly adopt Xe, any more than it has embraced Altria as the new name for Philip Morris." Al Arabiya quotes Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrell whining, "We were defined as a security company, we never were a security company. We offer a lot of other services. But Blackwater became synonymous with our security work." Nathan Hodge (Wired) reports the mercenary corporation has just completed another "round of layoffs". Name changes and layoffs don't wipe away the September 16, 2007 slaughter in Baghdad. Del Quentin Wilber (Washington Post) reported US District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina refused the motion to dismiss the charges against five Blackwater employees and notes, "The charges were brought under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, which allows U.S. prosecutors to charge American service members, their family members and those employed by the military for illegal acts committed overseas." The Virginian-Pilot notes that the judge also dismissed the motion by the defense to move the trial to Utah.

From the criminal Blackwater to he-should-be-set-free Muntadhar. Muntadhar al-Zeidi garnered international attention for the events of December 14th. Then Bully Boy of the United States George W. Bush had traveled to Iraq for photo-ops with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki as the two singed the Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Bully Boy was just declaring, "The war is not yet over -- but with the conclusion of these agreements and the courage of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi troops and American troops and civilian personnel, it is decisively on its way to being won" -- just declaring that when . . . it was as though someone cranked up Carly Simon's "De Bat (Fly In Me Face)" as one-shoe, two-shoe was hurled by the journalist who explained, "This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog" and (with the second shoe) "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Neither shoe hit Bully Boy and, apart from Nouri soiling his pants, neither man suffered physically. Bully Boy, in fact, was laughing, "Okay, everybody calm down for a minute. First of all thank you for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. And if you want some -- if you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw." Bully Boy and everyone else had a good laugh -- everyone except Muntadhar who was being attacked by Nouri's thugs -- thugs who grabbed the moment to show the world what thugs they were and how the US installed strong man of Baghdad resorts to violence as they beat the journalist down. He was whisked away and only allowed one visit with his family and his attorney before this month -- and that visit only came about after the press covered the fact that he was being denied visits.

Today Muntadhar was in court. AP's Sinan Salaheddin quotes him declaring, "What made me do it was the humiliation Iraq has been subjected to due to the U.S. occupation and the murder of innocent people. I wanted to restore the pride of the Iraqis in any way possible, apart from using weapons." Tina Susman and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) explain the hearing lasted 90 minutes, that there were three witnesses and that the trial is adjourned "until March 12". Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has text and video) reported on the trial noting that Muntadhar declared, "I don't know what acomplishments he [Bush] was talking about. The accomplishments I could see were the more than 1 million martyrs and a sea of blood. There are more than 5 million Iraqi orphans because of the occupation. . . . More than a million widows and more than 3 million displaced because of the occupation."

Jomana Karadsheh: He was very calm and he spoke mainly about what motivated him to throw his shoes at former president Bush. What he said was,he was sitting throughout the press conference -- if you remember the incident happened at a press conference -- right after former president Bush finished speaking. And he said former president Bush was speaking about his accomplishments and victories in Iraq an al Zaidi said the 'accomplishments' for him, in his view, were the one-million widows in Iraq, the orphans, the martyrs and what he called violations committed against the Iraqi people. He referred to president Bush as the commander of the occupying forces here and this is what really, he says, like pushed him. He said "I could see the blood that was spilled in Iraq while he was speaking. He was justifying. He showed no remorse or regret for what was done. On the other hand he was trying to also explain that president Bush to him was not a guest of Iraq. He was saying "they are here, the US forces are in Iraq. They are an occupying force. So he does not see him as a visitor who should be -- who should be diginifed by Iraqis. As he was -- After the session ended -- for technical reasons basically -- the judge decided that they want to get more information from the prime minister's office on whether president Bush was here on an official or non-official visit.

Many of the reports are noting claims of torture taking place while Muntadher was in custody. Liz Sly (Chicago Tribune) gets specific explaining that silly statements (silly on the face) were introduced by the prosecution and Muntadher explained they were "untrue and had been extracted under torture including electric shocks." Register that and grasp that Iraq has a long history of torturing prisoners -- both before and after the start of the war. So when Samira Ahmed Jassim al-Azzawi is arrested by police on January 21st and February 3rd -- 13 days later -- the police suddenly wants to tell the world they arrested her and also offer a 'confession' she's made -- grasp that there's a good chance she made no 'confession' freely. (Late to the party? Feb. 3rd snapshot, Feb. 4th morning entry, Feb. 4th snapshot.) Originally, al-Azzawi allegedly recruited and trained the women. As the lurid details piled on, she was organizing the rapes of the female bombers. It was lurid, it was sleazy, it was unverifiable and it required more suspension of disbelief than any film that provides Clint Eastwood with a love interest under 60. Now why was that? And why was it necessary to paint the female bombers -- who had previously been portrayed as widows by Iraqi MPs -- as rape victims (which is 'shameful' for women in Iraq -- not for the rapists, just for the women)?

Thom Shanker (New York Times) explains the way it works. A young woman came forward -- this is the woman Leila Fadel covered non-stop (in what should have been the left's final clue as to how entwined with US military propaganda McClatchy was becoming) -- who had a story and the US military commanders "convened sessions with Iraqi politicians, activists and journalists" and, much to their surprise, they didn't have to pay for coverage or write it themselves (as they had in the past) because it was "the content" itself that was of interest. Col Darryl Williams explains, "We supplied suggestions, informations. But we had no control over editorial content." No, you were the source and a lot more than that because you had the counter-insurgency 'gurus' advising you -- a fact Shanker either was unaware of or preferred to avoid. Shanker does note that Williams "ran the division's unit that analyzed the effects of combt and noncombat operations" and maybe Shanker believes that passes for using the term "counter-insurgency"? Shanker tells you, "The Iraqi news media leapt on the story" -- well they did and so did Leila. Most outlets filed one story. Leila was writing stories, doing blog posts. She was a one woman Voice of America. Shanker informs that the US military wanted to use the fifteen-year-old girl "to spread the word that Rania and others appeared not to have been willing bombers and that the killing of innocent Iraqis could not be defended as an approved religious act. But they wanted to do so without American fingerprints that might undermine the message." Without American military fingerprints.

Which brings us back to al-Azzawi who was a societal nightmare with all of the allegations hurled at her. When a story seems too good to be true, it probably is. The Iraqis kept piling on lurid details -- a lot like they did when they pimped The Myth of the Great Return in late 2007. That started out with a very small group of Iraqis returning and, much to their surprise, it got press, positive press. From Saturday to Sunday evening, the same group had grown from 2,000 to 20,000 and was still growing the next day. That's your first tip that a story is false. When the 'facts' change that quickly in a matter of days, that's your first clue. Fortunately Damien Cave and Cara Buckley (New York Times) had the guts to report the truth and bury The Myth of the Great Return. And let's note that again: Damien Cave and Cara Buckley. They did so as November ended. For weeks, the myth was pimped and it was pimped by Big Media and Panhandle Media. We saw no bravery in our so-called 'independent' and 'alternative' media. Remember, The Nation didn't fight that myth, Amy Goodman didn't question it -- two reporters for the New York Times did.

Back to Muntadher and Liz Sly who describes the court scene: "Baghdad's Central Criminal Court, located inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, erupted in chants and cheers from Zaidi's relatives when he entered the room. His aunts and sisters ululated, and one of them thrust into Zaidi's hands an Iraqi flag, which he kissed and then draped around his shoulders." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) explains three judges presided over the case and al-Zaidi's lawyers are attempting to argue (one of many points) that Bush was not on an official visit to Iraq. NPR's Corey Flintoff (All Things Considered -- link has text and will have audio) adds of the attorneys, "Police added extra chairs behind the defense table to accomodate some 20 volunteer lawyers who wanted to be part of the defense team, which is led by the president of the Iraqi Bar Association." Ernesto Londono and Zaid Sabah (Washington Post) describe Muntadhar's court room appearance: "leather shoes, a pressed beige suit and a scarf emblazoned with the Iraq flag". And those who need to pretend there is a justice system in place in Iraq should skip the next part: Muntadar testified "from a wooden cage before a packed courtroom." From a wooden cage.

No justice, no democracy. Xinhua reports that the 'official' 'results' to the 14 provincial elections on January 31st were released today (Iraq has 18 provinces) by the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq (the group that responds to threats of violence by awarding votes to those who make the threats). Dalwat al-Qanun (State of Law -- proving Nouri al-Maliki does have a sense of humor -- who knew?) didn't do wonderful. In Baghdad, they won half the seats (28 of 57). Baghdad's the seat of al-Maliki's power. In Basra, Dalwat won 20 of the 36 seats. Missy Ryan, Waleed Ibrahim, Michael Christie and Jon Boyle (Reuters) report,"In the western desert province of Anbar, Sunni tribal chiefs who helped U.S. forces drive out Islamist militants like al Qaeda, and who had threatened to take up arms again if they did not win political power, got the most seats. It was a surprise after the tribal chiefs placed second in preliminary results. The tribal chiefs, with 8 out of 29 council seats, plan to form an alliance with a secular Sunni group." Yes, that was surprising. And completely unbelievable. Nouri al-Maliki was not a candidate in the race (though he did use his office in an unethical manner and did offer bribes for votes) but his party didn't do very well. They will have to form consensus governments with other parties in order to rule. That's not a majority. That's nothing. So Iraq remains lukewarm on al-Maliki. And you can remember that when you read Lyndon LaRouche proteges offering their garbage on the elections and the 'meaning' for Iraq -- 4 provinces haven't voted (and Dalwat is not expected to do well in any of the four) and, even in Baghdad, Dalwat limped along.

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports signs of a war between Kurds and Arabs in Iraq -- information, no doubt, supplied to her by the "Awakeing" leaders she chums around with. UPI reports today on Nerchirvan Barzani's statements from days ago that the US should address the regional disputes (primarily oil-rich Kirkuk) before withdrawing (the US isn't going anywhere). (See Feb. 17th snapshot, when Prime Minister Barazani made the remarks, for more.) The issue of Kirkuk -- per Iraq's Constitution -- was supposed to have been addressed no later than December 31, 2007. Juan Cole of course cheerleaded the illegal war at various points -- and got snippy with CounterSpin when that cheerleading was pointed out. Always one to jump on a bandwagon (he has no clue what's going on in Iraq -- he's been focused on Palestine and he's not all that bright to begin with), Juan rushes to back up Leila with . . . well nothing. Juan, the news broke Tuesday. Trying to run with it today only yet again reveals how out of it you are. So do statements like, "If the Kurdish-Arab hostility rises further, the US could be drawn right back into Iraq." Uh, Juan, when did the US leave? Huh? We know when you lost interest, but when did US troops -- approximately 145,000 of them -- leave Iraq? (No link to garbage.) And PLEASE GET THIS, the Kurds ask for what is written in the Constitution and notice all the Nervous Nellies reaching for the vapors. Neither Leila nor Juan were at all alarmed when Anbar's Thug Sheik was threatening violence. But the Kurdish Regional Government pointing out that the Constitution needs to be followed is suddenly cause for an alarm. You'd think the KRG's Prime Minister had threatened violence the way Leila and Juan clutch the pearls. They really ought to be ashamed of themselves but neither is capable of shame (which is why they're such wonderful propagandists). Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) hat tips Juan and Leila -- Thomas, you're usually so much smarter. From his blog post:

Salon just carried an insightful review of my book that triggered a mudslide of nasty letters from the magazine's readers.
"If you enjoyed 'Fiasco,' thrilled to have your prejudices about the clueless Bush administration confirmed, it's your responsibility to read 'The Gamble' to have some prejudices challenged," wrote the reviewer, Joan Walsh, Salon's editor-in-chief. I think she really captured the ambivalence at the heart of the book, the sense that staying in Iraq is far from appealing, but may be the least worst choice available. Her review concludes that, "I still want troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. But reading this well-reported book may have changed even my notion of what that means."

The Gamble is a book worth reading -- the best on Iraq. A reader can learn a tremendous amount from the book and still disagree with some or all of Ricks' personal opinions. It's an important book. I may write about it tonight or in tomorrow's snapshot.

Waleed Ibrahim, Aseel Kami, Missy Ryan, Michael Christie and Victoria Main (Reuters) report that despite the lack of Speaker, they plan to tackle the 2009 budget next week. Yep, the 2009 budget. Yes, most countries have that place before the fiscal year starts let alone the calendar year. But, hey, Nouri's itty-bitty feelings get hurt when anyone points out the reality of how little 'progress' is being made so maybe we're all supposed to look the other way? The reporters inform, "Work on the budget, an important task as Iraq confronts sharply lower oil revenues at a time when it desperately needs funds to rebuild after six years of war, has been held up by parliament's inability to agree on a new speaker."


Reuters notes a Balad Ruz roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers, a Garma roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left eight people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured and a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer with seven people left injured. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul suicide bomber who took his/her own life as well as the life of 1 police officer with seven more people wounded and a Falluja sticky bombing that claimed 2 lives (a "policeman's father and wife") and left 1 person (police officer) injured.


Reuters notes 1 shop owner shot dead in Mosul, 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and 1 man shot dead in Mosul (and his car stolen).

Turning to the United States, Sean Hannley (People's Weekly World Newspaper) reports on a February 15th teach-in at Howard University organized and sponsored by Latim American Solidarity Coalition, the North American Congress on Latin America, SOA Watch, CISPES, the Alliance for Globa Justice and others where Father Roy Bourgeois and others spoke. We'll note this section:

Professor Lesley Gill, the chair of the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, questioned whether or not we are likely to see much promised "change" from president Obama in Latin American policy. She pointed out that he has already begun hostile rhetoric towards Venezuela and promised to continue the Cuba embargo. She pointed out that the United States has been a destabilizing force in Latin America for decades; however, the Left is on the rise all over Latin America. Latin America has become more economically independent from the US, with the Bank of the South, UNASUR and access to new markets in Europe and China.

Argentina has begun to prosecute offenders from the "dirty war" and democratic governments throughout the region have started to deal with issues of inequity. She told the audience that Bush's response to this was aggressive. He responded with more intervention in the region: supporting coups in Haiti and Venezuela, viewing people in Latin America as a security threat, and continuing "Plan Colombia", a program which has the stated purpose to combat drugs, but ends up funneling money to paramilitaries. These paramilitaries make alliances with drug lords, murder civilians and burn through the country side.

She told the group how private security forces (such as Blackwater, one of the groups under investigation for crimes in Iraq) have been used in Colombia. These groups have no accountability for murder and human rights violations and have become the "[US] empire's paramilitaries" in the region. She told the crowd how Obama needs to be "pushed from below" in order to address problems such as our "divide and conquer" strategy in the region and to accept the center-left governments which have come to power in the region. She told the audience that US policies, namely agricultural "dumping" (where subsidized US crops destroy a country's agricultural base) create huge unemployment, which forces people to become migrant workers or drug traffickers.

She made note that Obama is one of the historical revisionists who claim that US torture began after 9/11 when, in fact, the US has always employed torture. She said his anti-torture policies, while a step in the right direction, do not address the other countries we have trained in torture including Colombia and Israel.

The 'post-racial' 'peace' movement sold its soul and also the lives of people in Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq and Latin America. That's the reality. Leslie Cagan, you're United For Death and Destruction and don't think you can waltz your way out of this one.

del quentin wilber
the washington post
the los angeles times
tina susman
raheem salman
muntadhar al-zeidi
sinan salaheddin
jomana karadsheh
liz sly
 gina chon
 the wall street journal
 all things considered
corey flintoff

ernesto londono
zaid sabah
waleed ibrahim
aseel kami
missy ryan
michael christie
the new york times
thom shanker">

Read on ...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bully is . . .

Bully is . . .

That is the second comic I did. From May 8, 2005. If you use the link, you'll see it slightly different. When I started out, I would use a large piece of drawing paper and use a great deal of space (waste). And it would look fine on my end but when it was scanned and then e-mailed to the site (Hello! required you e-mail the illustrations) it would sometimes be hard to read and I'd wish it was bigger. When we went to DC in January 2007, I brought it and we were going to crop it. But it got misplaced. So tonight C.I. took it to Flickr and cropped it there.

It's spoofing the "Love is . . ." comics. Condi Rice and Bully Boy. "Bully is . . . plotting destruction together."

Two things. I did an interview with Mike that will be up later tonight so check his site. I explain why I'm not reposting the snapshot but I also know I can still link to it. C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" has everything you need to know about Iraq. Go check it out. Read on ...

Condi Rice, Dangerous Fashion Plate

That was the first comic I did for The Common Ills (though not first illustration for the site). I had no idea what I was going for in terms of The World Today Just Nuts. The press then was going ga-ga over Condi's fashions and that was the premise for the comic. C.I. noted, "Secretary of State Condi Rice expresses her view of Latin America (which she holds in her hands) and the press just wants to focus on her wardrobe." The female photographer asks, "What's Condi got in her hands?" Another photographer asks, "Who cares? She looks fabulous! Condi! Condi." A third photographer also calls out, "Condi! Condi!" That was May 2, 2005 that the comic went up. A long, long time ago. The early ones don't have titles so I'll create one now: "Condi Rice, Dangerous Fashion Plate." Click on the illustration if it cuts off on your computer. Read on ...
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