Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Francy Fox's Piven and the Schecters Who Love 'Em

I had other thngs I wanted to write about but then there's Dumb Ass Danny Schechter. Here's Fat Ass:

I have known Frances Fox Piven and her late colleague Richard Cloward for years. They have been brilliant and commited advocates of empowering the poor and have engaged in supporting community organizing and progressive social policies as intellectuals and activists. Suddenly, Frances has been thrust into the crosshairs of Glenn Beck’s latest smarmy crusade as a personality to be targeted, discredited and destroyed.
This is a vicious and dishonest effort focusing on an article from l966 and then tying it to a smear of the Obama campaign for Capital S Socialism/Communism/ Fascism and worse. It has focused around the the use of another one of those ACORN-like trash videos in which a righteous right-winger named Kyle Olson talked his way into her home and then videotaped her following her release from the hospital. This was a form of elder abuse among other things.


Dumb Ass Danny, Frances isn't a Democrat and you damn well now it. She's a radical and she came out for Barack early. Deal with it, s**t stain. I'm so sick of this crap.

She's an adult, she can have whatever view she wants. And she can be called out for her views. Too bad. She wrote a piece for The Nation years ago -- co-wrote with her husband -- that is the photography negative of Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism 'theory.' Naomi robbed blindly and willfully but what do you expect from a known liar like Klein?

Frances Fox Piven is a radical. She can be one. But she can also be criticized for her views. That's America and Danny's happy to do when his White Boy Wide Ass can scream "racism" over and over. (And I honestly know of few people as racist as Danny Schechter. I'm not the only African-American blogger or writer rendered invisible by the redneck Schechter. In fact, if we're not dead or in another country, we generally don't make it onto Danny's radar.)

Frances Fox Piven shouldn't have played Democrat on the world stage in 2008. I'm not surprised Glenn Beck's going after her now. I have a feeling others who lied and pretended they were Democrats -- maybe even Danny Schechter -- will soon be on the radar. And they should be. Don't lie about who you are.

And especially don't try to influence a political party's primary if you're not even a member of that political party.

The only real news in this is that Frances has gotten even uglier and who could've guessed that was possible.

Good to know she's in poor health. The left doesn't need political closet cases. (But if she told the truth about herself, Bill Moyers couldn't book on her PBS!!!!)

For those who've forgotten, Francy not only attacked Hillary, she attacked women supporting Hillary, she attacked feminists supporting Hillary. Francy Fox Piven is a piece of work. And like many a White radical, she reduces my race to caricatures but thinks it's okay because her stereotypes are 'nicer.' Stupid racist.

Again, I planned to write about other things tonight. But then Danny had to burp up his latest garbage. AY-YI-Yi.

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, attempts to countermand the will of the Iraqi people continues, press silence largely continues, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Continues, the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community continues, where's any of that "change" people were supposed to believe in?

Starting off with a question: What is the role of the press?

In the US, that can lead an esoteric discussion or emphasizing certain points such as we can debate the merits of this and that, the right not to reveal sources, the differences between reporting and opinion journalism, the increasing (and bad) tendency to label TV hosts "journalists" (they're not reporters and, no, they don't even qualify as journalists), etc. But that's in the US and it's true of many countries -- East and West -- with an existing and functioning press. What about a country being hailed as 'emerging' and as a 'democracy'?

What about Iraq?

What message has the US press sent since the last votes were cast on March 7th? First off, the press rushed to declare Nouri al-Maliki the winner. They rushed to do that on March 8th. The day after the election. With no results -- not even partial -- released. They did have a 'poll' that said Nouri was the leader . . . a poll done by Nouri. Often they forgot to include the source for the poll when citing its results. Those results weren't valid. But what message did that send to Iraqis? Remember that they've been very vocal about what happened with their own press. One example should suffice,
such as when Listening Post's (Al Jazeera) Richard Gizbert observed, "As they scan their new media landscape, Iraqis are under no illusions about what they see. They know the channels covering the elections had their favorite candidates as did the newspapers." If they were looking for any sings that this was not the way a functioning press behaves, they didn't find it from American outlets. Around the time the ballot count released reached 70%, each day had Nouri's political party ahead in the count or Ayad Allawi's. At that point, though a surprise could have still been in store, the press' back and forth was more understandable. But last Friday 100% of the vote count was released and how has the press -- the US press -- behaved since?

That tally found Allawi's slate had won two more seats in the Parliament than had Nouri's. Which meant Allawi had first dibs on attempting to put together a government. The US government will do business with whomever Iraq declares prime minister. That's reality. For the US press, objectivity shouldn't be hard in this instance (though they're declaring Nouri the winner on March 8th indicates otherwise) because it's not really a US issue. The individual -- whomever he (or in a better world) she is will continue relations with the US government. So the US press should have been able to have been objective. (That may be too high a goal for those who couldn't even be informed -- as the Friday roundup guests on The Diane Rehm Show at the start of this month demonstrated, few even bothered to learn basics.)

And just by being objective, they could have sent a message. Even now, they're not able to. In what country -- functioning democracy or 'democracy' or not -- is the sitting leader allowed to cast aspersions on the vote as freely as Nouri has? In what country would the sitting leader be allowed to benefit by the targeting of members of the winning's side -- targeting them with violence and political intimidation?

This is what's going on in Iraq and there's no disputing it. The US press probably couldn't change the realities on the ground (I doubt seriously that shaming works on Nouri -- if it did, he would have slit his wrists years ago). But it could help the Iraqi people. Instead of the diffident, lackadaisical attitude displayed by the US press, there could be expressions of outrage over what's happening. That it's not taking place sends a message to the Iraqi people that this is just how it's going to be, that this is how it is?

I don't believe you can make democracy somewhere else. I believe a people can make a democracy if they want it. The War Hawks -- including a large segment of the -- "CASE CLOSED!" -- US press -- believed democracy could be exported. I would assume that all but the most thick headed now realize it can't be. But I'd also -- apparently wrongly -- assume that the US press would grasp that their actions are being watched and that behaviors are modeled. So when they want to act as if it's perfectly normal that, for example, a member of Allawi's party was assassinated Sunday or that at least one -- possibly four -- members of Allawi's party are being smeared with the charge of "Ba'athist!" in order to sideline them, the message to the Iraqi people is, "That's just how it is."

I didn't and don't support the ongoing, illegal war. But I also don't believe the press should now tell the Iraqis that that's just the way things are and no sense getting outraged, no sense expecting more. That's the message being sent: This is all you can hope for. (Possibly with a subtext of: This all you're worth.) The entire international community should be vocal about these efforts to overturn the will of the people but the US press bears a special burden (in a court of law, the term for that 'burden' should be "culpable") since it did so much to help sell the Iraq War to begin with. And we're fully aware that the selling of the Iraq War didn't stop in March 2003. Waves of Operation Happy Talk kept the illegal war -- keeps it going -- for every Damien Cave or Alissa J. Rubin that did some strong work, you had ten and twenty Dexter Filkins lying in print over and over. You see a lot of that today if you pay attention, the Dexy pose, where they all want you to know -- now -- that things aren't that bad. Why, in 2006, . . . But check the archives, in real time, they weren't telling you about it when it was happening. Today they will because it helps sell the war. "It's better! Now it's better!"

So for those crimes and many more, the US press should feel a special obligation in terms of calling out outrages in Iraq. But they don't judging the near total silence.
A rare exception would be the Los Angeles Times editorial board:

Nevertheless, Maliki has been challenging the election results every which way, within the elastic boundaries of the law. He has tried but so far failed to secure a recount of what international observers determined to be a sufficiently fair and transparent vote. And just before the final results were released last week, the Supreme Court concluded, at Maliki's urging, that the right to form the next government could go to alliances and super-coalitions formed after the election, if they prove to have the most seats. Maliki promptly launched negotiations with other religious Shiite and Kurdish parties. Now the Accountability and Justice Commission, which already had banned scores of candidates with alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from the election, says six others slipped through the cracks, won seats and should be disqualified. Removing them would alter the outcome, because several appear to be from Allawi's Shiite-Sunni bloc (and because Allawi's coalition won by only two seats). Not incidentally, the commission's head, Ali Lami, belongs to a party that is reportedly in merger talks with Maliki. Perhaps some of this is just postelection posturing, but to us it looks like shenanigans. What's more, not only are these dubious maneuvers potentially destabilizing in such a fragile country, but they are probably unnecessary for Maliki's bloc to come out on top.


As the editorial board notes, there's a good chance State of Law would come out on top regardless. And that would be the process if it was done through horse trading, et al. But instead it's kill party members, tar them as "Ba'athists" and more. And none of that is about a fair and free election. Horse trading, et al? Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is deciding whom to throw their support behind.
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers reports that they've decided to put it to a vote and a referendum will be held Thursday and Friday where Sadr supporters will "choose one of five candidates" for prime minister and that's whom the Sadr bloc will then back and, in addition to the five -- "Nouri Al Maliki, Ayad Allawi, Vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi, former prime minister Ibrahim Al Jafary and Mohamed Jafar Al Sadr" -- there will be a blank space for a write-in. Besides putting the people back in charge, it may serve another purpose. Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reports on the referendum and notes that when Nouri signed off on the Status Of Forces Agreement, he agreed to put it to referendum, "The SOFA referendum was initially to be held in July, 2009, but Maliki managed to successfully put it off by claiming it would be "cheaper" to hold it in concert with the parliamentary election, held March 7. Needless to say the referendum never happened, and at this point it is safe to say it never will." Tim Arango (New York Times) adds that al-Sadr's office released a statment stating they were deliver "choice of prime minister in to the hands of the Iraqi public through a referendum for all Iraqi people." Arango goes on to call it one-part p.r. and one-part political gimmick. Based upon? Based upon the fact that the New York Times no longer grasps what reporting is. Among the many other posibilities -- including just thinking the people should decide and having no ulterior motives -- is that Moqtada al-Sadr has a good idea how the vote will go and wants to use the voters as cover to go with that decision.

Tony Karon (Time magazine) notes the power plays going on:

Nor will Maliki be unhappy about the efforts of others to trim Allawi's advantage even before then. The Justice and Accountability (formerly De-Baathification) commission, which operates under the guidance of Ahmed Chalabi, the one-time Pentagon favorite now running on the Iran-backed Iraqi National Alliance (INA) slate, on Tuesday announced its intention to demand that the Supreme Court disqualify as ineligible three candidates on Allawi's list, because of alleged ties to the former regime of Saddam Hussein. If the court upholds this challenge -- and it has sympathetically received the Commission's previous effort to expel Sunni candidates -- Maliki's 89 seats could then, theoretically, be deemed to have finished first.



Quil Lawrence (NPR's Morning Edition -- link has audio and text) files a report the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission's efforts to disqualify members of Allawi's slate including Muhammad Authman is being targeted and Lawrence reports that he's traveled to Baghdad to appeal and wonders why, since he headed Diyala Province for the last years, no one targeted him back then. Michael Jansen (Irish Times) reports on Chalabi who calls the shots on the Justice and Accountability Commission:THE MOST controversial figure to secure election in Iraq's March 7th parliamentary poll was Ahmad Chalabi, the man who convinced the Bush administration to invade his country and topple the Baath party regime. Chalabi is both survivor and creature of contradictions. Once Washington's darling, Chalabi alienated the US by aligning himself with Iran. A secular politician, he ran on the ticket of the Shia fundamentalist Iraqi National Alliance (INA).Born in 1944 in Baghdad into a wealthy Shia clan, Chalabi and his family left Iraq when he was 12. He was educated in Britain and the US. He took his first degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earned a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, and taught for a time at the American University of Beirut.While in Lebanon, he married the daughter of a prominent Shia politician. In 1977, Chalabi established Petra Bank in Jordan but, a decade later, was smuggled out of the country in the boot of a car when the bank could not satisfy its creditors. The bank went bust and he was tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison for fraud.It's amazing how many University of Chicago connections there are -- and outside the economics division. Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports on rumors that Iran is attempting to determine Iraq's next prime minister and that the steady stream of Iraqi politicians to Iran demonstrates this. Meanwhile Iraqi journalist Sa'ad al-Izzi prepares to leave Iraq. al-Izzi has worked for, among others, the Washington Post and the New York Times during the Iraq War. At the Times' At War Blog today, al-Izzi writes about the numerous Iraqi politicians who do not live in Iraq and notes:


Rumors widely circulated on the Internet, and widely believed here, say that 29 of Iraq's ambassadors abroad hold dual citizenship in the country where they're posted.
Of course, most politicians find it convenient to pretend they live in Iraq, and would deny strenuously that their foreign homes are anything other than second residences. But in Iraq's tribal culture, where gossip is akin to a bloodsport, it's pretty hard to hide the fact that you're often never here.
As I prepare to leave Baghdad, the city in which I was born, raised, educated, where I worked and survived several bombings -- but a place I no longer feel I belong -- I look back and feel sorry that all those politicians who came from America, Britain, France and throughout the world were not able to give Baghdad the glimmer and glory it had decades ago when it was jewel in the crown of the Arab Capitals in the Middle East.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Reuters notes a Baaj bombing claimed 1 life.

Shootings?

Reuters notes a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman was killed and a Mosul drive-by in which 1 man was shot dead.

Iraq's LGBT community continues to be persecuted.
Iraqi LGBT issued the following:

Press statementFor immediate use 31 March
Change.org launch petition for Iraqi LGBT Green leader writes to Johnson Gay Iraqis praise 'our hero' The major American progressive organisation Change.org has launched a petition to British Home Secretary Alan Johnson to grant asylum to Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili. The petition allows supporter to send a personalised message to Johnson, whose decision is effecting the work of the group in drawing attention to atrocities against gays in Iraq. It was created by the website's leading gay author Michael Jones. A petition started by Iraqi LGBT has already drawn near 700 signatures in a few days, including many with moving comments from Iraqis who have been helped by Hili. One was from Khaldoon Abdulrazaq who wrote: "A message of support from inside iraq, ali you are our hero, our hope and the future you have in your vision for a better iraq will come one day, believe me. Please keep the faith, your fight is our fight, we all dream of a better world, a world with all people respect and love each other..." Campaign organisers say that 60 letters have already been sent to Gordon Brown demanding he intervene. On Monday the leader of the UK Green Party Caroline Lucas announced that she had written to Johnson. Lucas wrote: "I am writing with reference to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, currently living in exile in London. This application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel. This impacts not only on Ali himself but also limits his ability to raise the profile of how LGBT rights are oppressed on a daily basis in Iraq." "As I am sure you are aware, the group Iraqi LGBT estimates that over 700 LGBT people have been assassinated over the past few years. Human Rights Watch, working with the BBC for a report aired last year, confirmed that torture and persecution of the LGBT community is widespread and that many LGBT people claim life was safer during Saddam Hussein's regime. US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke last month of their concerns for LGBT both in Iraq and as refugees, in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-signed by 64 other Congress people." "Ali Hili, as a prominent campaigner for LGBT equality, will not be safe if he is returned to Iraq. He has received a fatwa from inside Iraq, as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police. Moreover, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has advised 'favourable consideration' for asylum claims because of the situation in Iraq. I would, therefore, urge you to ensure that Ali Hili's asylum claim is granted as a matter of urgency and his right to travel guaranteed." Documentary film maker David Grey of Village Films has released an appeal for Ali and Iraqi LGBT on YouTube. The video is titled 'Please help save gay lives in Iraq'. Campaigners for Hili said that they were awaiting confirmation of further invitations to travel - Hili was asked to do a speaking tour of the United States last year but had to decline. Hili's solicitor, Barry O'Leary, wrote to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August 2009 that: "he desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world's attention to their plight." Six months after his review application, the UKBA told O'Leary that: * the assistance which Hili has given to the Foreign Office "does not count" * the fatwa against him does not mean that Hili "falls within the classification of clear and immediate vulnerability" * that the delay in deciding Hili's asylum case (since July 2007) "is not in itself an exceptional circumstance" * his case is not "compelling" O'Leary said: "I have made UKBA aware of the detriment the nearly three year delay is having on the work of Iraqi LGBT. I have also stressed that this will be a straightforward matter given Mr Hili's very high profile and the documented risks to his life. Nevertheless they decided to leave him in the queue for a decision. This can only harm LGBT individuals in Iraq." ENDS For further information and requests for interviews and photographs contact:gayasylumuk@gmail.com or call (UK) 07986 008420 For comment on the legal issues contact: Barry O'Leary Wesley Gryk Solicitors Iraqi LGBT website ~~~~~~~ Visit our website, LGBT asylum news (formally Save Medhi Kazemi) http://www.medhikazemi.com Twitter http://twitter.com/LGBTAsylumNews


In US,
Sunday on CBS' The Morning Show, Kimberly Dozier filed a report (link has text and video) on the effects of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Kimberly Dozier: I have a personal interest in Sgt Presley's story. I first me her, in a manner of speaking, in 2006. She helped keep me alive when our CBS News team was hit by a car bomb in Baghdad.
Sgt Lacye Presley: You kept asking, "When are we getting out of here? When are we getting out of here?"
Kimberly Dozier: She was a medic.
Sgt Lacye Presley: [I told you] "Just hold on, we're getting out."
Kimberly Dozier: Sgt Presley was honored for her work saving lives that day -- mine included. Sgt Lacye Presley: The Army gave me a Bronze Star for my actions in that incident. And this is what they gave me for being gay.
Kimberly Dozier: This was an honorable discharge, given during her second tour in Iraq, after she reported a superior commander for suspected drug dealing and someone struck back.
Sgt Lacye Presley: I was called in to my First Sergeant's office and he told me that there was allegations that I was participating in homosexual conduct and that there were pictures -- they'd been sent to my battalion commander.
Kimberly Dozier: The pictures were of Presley and Tomson. Sgt Tomson was serving in another unit stateside handling bomb sniffing dogs. A decorated soldier in her own right. Kimberly Dozier: You're NCO of the year. So you were the Non-Commissioned Officer of the year.
[. . .]
Kimberly Dozier: She was also discharged.
Holly Tomson: I was planning on having a career in the military because I like it, I love the army.

Ian Thompson (ACLU Blog of Rights) writes:Fans of the CBS program Sunday Morning got to hear firsthand this week from two women whose military careers were prematurely ended because of the discriminatory and counterproductive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier profiled former Army Medic Sgt. Lacye Presley and her partner Sgt. Holly Tomson. In the report, Dozier discloses that Sgt. Presley helped to keep her alive in 2006 after her CBS News team was hit by a car bomb in Iraq. Presley was awarded the Bronze Star for her exemplary actions; however, she would go on shortly thereafter to be discharged because of her sexual orientation. Someone, in an apparent act of retaliation, sent pictures of Presley and Tomson, who was serving stateside handling bomb-sniffing dogs at the time, to Presley's battalion commander. This started the discharge process for both women.

Last week, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivered a speech offering minor, cosmetic changes to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This was one week after Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Piertrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence to protest and was, in part, an attempt to clamp down on the protest and unrest. Sunday Katie Nelson (New York Daily News) spoke with Dan Choi who explained how unimpressive Gates' 'changes' were and noted, "The reason why 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is so repugnant is because it forces people to be in the closet and lie, and that hasn't changed. The real price of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is that it institutionalizes shame." Eve Conant interviewed Dan Choi for Newsweek and then they let gym bunny take a whack at Dan. Remember Gym Bunny? If I call someone out here, I've got my reasons. They may not reveal themselves while I'm calling them out but they do reveal themselves. The hateful little Gym Bunny was noted last July:

Voices of Honor is a group we'll note sometimes and not others. As explained, we're not interested in a group trying to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell which can't tell meaning the efforts of some to hide gayness. You won't overturn the policy by hiding in a closet or with talking points of, "It's not about being gay." It's exactly about being gay. If people weren't gay, they wouldn't be kicked out. A member of the group made really insulting remarks (publicly) about Ellen Tauscher when she was still in Congress. He trashed her for showing up -- the only member of Congress to show up -- at one of the events to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He trashed her, he mocked -- publicly -- and did so because she wouldn't treat the issue as if people were being discharged because they had sniffles. Gym Bunny apparently has a self-loathing issue and that's his issue but Voices of Honor was launched only weeks ago and it's already offended a huge number of gays and lesbians with efforts to act as if the gay issue is something to run from. When they're running from it, we're not covering them. And we will not now, or ever, mention Gym Bunny or quote him or do anything to promote him.Ellen (I know Ellen, I've known her for years) went to that public event and was the only member of Congress to do so. She spoke at that event, she spoke movingly about the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She didn't deserve to be trashed. I don't put up with bad manners and that was bad manners to the max. The group (this is just months ago) needed all the Congressional help it could get and they needed a name at their event to get them any coverage. Ellen's got a life. She went on her own time. And her thanks for that is to be trashed because she talked about the issue and she noted it is an issue for the lesbian and gay community? (Causing Gym Bunny to snort that it's not a gay issue. It's a gay issue, Dumb Ass. People are being kicked out because they're gay.)

Gym Bunny thinks the way to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell is to lie. To leave out that whole messy gay thing because being gay, it's just a minor side-issue, right? Never having lived his life with any dignity, it's no surprise he trashes Dan. Go work some more on your pecs -- after all someone has to take over
Dollywood some day and you appear well on your way, Gym Bunny. Where's the suction cups from the first aid kit for a snake bite, oh, that's right, Gym Bunny attached them to his nipples (it makes 'em bigger!). WalkOn, WalkOn.org. A moratorium on Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the bare minimum Barack Obama, President of the United States, should be offering right now. Sunday at Third, we noted some of the supporters of a moratorium:

US House Representative
Loretta Sanchez issued the following statement after Gates' announcement, "Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' is the right thing to do. We should be recognizing our men and women in uniform for their service, not their sexual orientation. The Pentagon's decision to relax its 'don't ask, don't tell' rules is a step in the right direction, and deserves to be recognized as such. But it's not enough. No individual should have to hide who they are to serve their country, which is why Congress needs to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' once and for all." Sanchez is correct, it's not enough. And who's running this country which supposedly is a democracy and not a junta, which supposedly has civilian control of the military? March 18th, Senator Roland Burris again publicly stated that a moratorium was needed on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. March 3rd, US House Representative Susan Davis declared, "A moratorium on discharges would be an appropriate action to take while the Department decides how to implement repeal." Senators Carl Levin and Mark Udall are also on record supporting a moratorium.

And we noted that
Barack was happy to attack abortion rights on behalf of 14 members of Congress for his ObamaCare with an executive order. An executive order is all that's needed for a moratorium. Honestly, an executive order is all that's needed to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He could issue an executive order declaring that all could serve openly. Executive Order is how then-President Harry Truman integrated the military. So for 14 members of Congress, he'll sign an executive order attacking abortion rights but he won't do a damn thing to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell or even halt discharges under it?

And on the topic of abortion rights, we will close with
this from Debra Sweet (World Can't Wait):

The film
Abortion, Morality and the Liberation of Women is being seen by people via YouTube and through organized showings, including at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro last month. This is exactly the kind of conversation we're trying to spark with this film:
"I brought up the three points... that should serve as a foundational basis of what we stand for: a fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators, and talked about how those points are probably completely non-controversial amongst the people in the room, but which had been compromised and diluted to near meaninglessness by the sections of the movement that are subservient to the Democratic Party.

There was some back and forth about this, leading to a bit of discussion over who we're trying to win over, and what we're saying to do so. One student suggested that more people would agree that a first trimester fetus is not viable, and therefore we could maybe get people to at least agree that abortions at this stage should stay legal. Another student challenged that idea..."
Read more.

Have you hosted a viewing of this film? Watched it at home? Send us your
feedback This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Buy a copy of the DVD here.

iraq
the los angeles times
the irish timesmichael jansen
time magazinetony karonnprmorning editionquil lawrence
antiwar.comjason ditz
alsumaria tv
mcclatchy newspapersthe telegraph of londonrichard spencer
the new york times
saad al-izzi
cbs newsthe morning showkimberly dozierian thompson
debra sweetthe world cant wait

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky and Erykah

Ricky Martin? Ruth's "Out FM and Ricky Martin" yesterday said it all.

Shouldn't we be happy for him as a person?

I heard that at work.

I'm not not happy for him, I'm not ecstatic for him.

I think he should have come out in his 20s and certainly when he was a hitmaker.

But his coming out does very little. He's probably got some scandal about to break or is heading off a coming out story in the tabloids.

But for when his coming out could have made a difference?

How about when he was number one?

I'm reminded of Sandra Bullock's Miss Congeniality and how, near the end, someone (Miss New York?) gets disqualified and, as she's leaving, she comes out on national TV.

Good for her.

Ricky Martin could have come out a long time ago.

Personally?

He probably hurt himself by not doing so.

He's out now.

I don't hate him. But k.d. lange, for example, didn't wait until her career was over to come out.

I don't hate him. I don't wish ill of him. But his coming out was a little sad, my opinion. Not saying he should have stayed in just that he should have done it sooner.

Embarrassing? Nope. That would be Erykah Badu's video. Betty may write about this tonight too because she and I have been on the phone all day asking, "What was that girl thinking?" My own contribution? When your belly sticks out more than your boobs, you shouldn't flirt with public nudity. She says she filmed it on a Saturday. (She strips naked in her new video as she walks -- in Dallas -- along the route JFK was assassinated on.)

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Chris Hill self-embarrasses yet again, Nouri continues attempts to knock out the results of the election, and more.

"What if you have an election and nobody wins?" asked Warren Olney on today's
To The Point (PRI). He explored that in multiple segments and we'll note the section where he spoke with Ned Parker.

Warren Olney: The party of former prime minister Ayad Allawi won 2 more seats in this month's Parliamentary elections than the party of current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. al-Maliki has called the outcome a fraud and demanded a recount. Today Allawi claimed that Iran is trying to prevent him from forming a government. Ned Parker's in Baghdad for the Los Angeles Times and, Ned, it's good to have you back on our program. Tell us what Allawi means and how he's trying to prove the point that Iran is trying to prevent him from forming a government?

Ned Parker: Well, uhm, thanks for having me back. That's a good question. What Awad Allawi is referring to is the influence Iran has on many of the players in Iraqi politics and, in the last week, there's been a shuffle -- a shuttle of Iraqi politicians to Iran. Some to meet with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr whose followers have about 40 seats in the Parliament. And then others who were going to Iran to celebrate the Iranian New Year, Nowruz. So it's a very tight race to form a new government -- next government. Malliki, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's list has 89 seats, Ayad Allawi has 91. And they're competing essentially for the same -- same blocs. And whoever these blocs choose -- which is a rival Shi'ite list to Minister Nouri Maliki's -- and a Kurdish bloc with 43 seats but with an additional Kurdish parties really another -- potentially 60 seats of Kurdish parliamentarians. Whoever can win those seats or a large number of them will get to form the next government. And Iran, I think it's fair to say, feels more comfortable with a government controlled by Shi'ite religious parties or led by them even if there are other candidates in the list. So Allwawi is the antithesis of what they want and he knows that and it's an issue that also plays well on the Iraqi street because Iran is seen as meddling by most Iraqis and it's something that routed people to Allawi.

Warren Olney: Okay, a little background here. Allawi, you say, is the antithesis of what the Iranians would like to see. He is a Shi'ite but he is a secular Shi'ite. Is that the main thing that concerns them?

Ned Parker: Well . . . it's -- people have commented and I think it's quite valid in many ways Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi who is a former prime minister who was prime minister in the interum period after the US occupation ended in June 2004 through the election that Iraq had in January of '05. That's when Allawi servied. And he represents a secular stream in the Iraqi politics but it's also one that's comfortable with the former members of the Ba'ath Party of former members or leadership of the Ba'ath Party of Saddam Hussein. And Allawi has also cultivated Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan -- and those countries have never really been comfortable with the post-2003 government which had been led by Shi'ite religious parties that often had -- were based in Iran during Saddam Hussein's years. So all of that creates a picture of Allawi as a Trojan horse for those who were in the elite of Saddam Hussein's regime. And that makes some Shi'ites, Iraqis, nervous. Not all. Many find Allawi's vision of sort of a secular, Iraq, nationalistic Iraq that's very Arab as appealing but it also makes people nervous and I think it makes Iran nervous. And Allawi, also it's been said, has been trying to reach out to Iran to assure them that if he does become prime minister, they would be comfortable with him, that he would not be a threat.

Warren Olney: Okay, we are reminded once again of the enomorous complexity of the political situation in Iraq. We also have another well known voice, that of Mr. Chalabi, well known in this country as the man who helped persuade the Bush administration to go into Iraq in the first place, then became persona nongrata at the Pentagon. In fact, they even searched his house at one point for evidence that he was dealing with Iran. Now he's in charge of the Electoral Commission and I take it that al-Maliki on him to disqualify even more of Allawi's people than he already has.

Ned Parker: That's right. Well Chalabi is the chairman of the de-Ba'athification Commission or it's called the Accountability and Justice Commission now which is charged with purging high ranking members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party from public life, from senior positions in the government, high positions within the security forces, what have you. So what happened is Chalabi was also a candidate, he was elected to this Parliament and with the rival slate of Mr. Maliki's. So it's a very complicated game that's going on right now. And with it, the head -- the director-general of the Accountablity and Justice Commission which is supposed to purge former members of the Ba'ath Party from government or from running for office, they've banned many candidates before the election, replacements were found but there was, among the replacements, shortly before the actual election this commission, which Chalabi chairs, said there were 52 people who should not be able to run. The electoral board said to wait until after the election, so yesterday the director Chalabi's assistant on the Accountability and Justice said these people who were elected would not be allowed to participate. And this now goes to a court which will rule. And this suits Chalabi's interests, it also suits Mallaki's interests because they both see Allawi as a threat to their own power. I think Chalabi himself, even if he would deny it, still has ambitions to be prime minister. I think he probably believes if Malliki is thwarted in his bid for a second term as prime minister that the candidate will likely come from Chalabi's list which is the other main Shi'ite alliance that ran in the elections. And there there are so many candidates but all of them have baggage So I think potentiall even Ahmed Chalabi is thinking if he is the last man standing maybe he could really end up being the prime minister. He's the darkhorse candidate.

We'll stop there with the excerpt. (Ned Parker begins another sentence but the phone call is lost in the middle of it.) For more audio (and to underscore some reporting is going on even if you can't find it on your usual programs), we'll note this from yesterday's
The World (PRI):


Ben Gilbert: No single party mustered the 163 Parliamentary seats necessary to form a government in Iraq's elections and that came as no surprise. But few predicted that Ayad Allawi would do so well. The former prime minister's Iraqiya list garnered 91 seats that's 2 more than sitting prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc won. Maliki plans to challenge the results and he says he expects Iraq's electoral commission to take his complaints seriously.

Nouri al-Maliki: The future of the political democratic process and the future of the country depend on this.

Ben Gilbert: Prime Minister Maliki has hinted that, as the commander of the armed forces, he has a responsibility to maintain order in case the election was stolen. Meanwhile Maliki and Allawi are wooing lawmakers from other blocs to try to bolster their numbers. Allawi is even courting his main rival.

Ayad Allawi: Our Iraqiya list is open to all parties beginning with the State of Law bloc of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and with all the other political blocs.

Ben Gilbert: Allawi has a reputation for being open to all sides. He's a non-practicing Shi'ite Muslim but, in this election, his supporters were mostly Sunni Muslims. Sunnis mostly boycotted the elections in 2005 and then went on to make up the bulk of the insurgency. Now both current Prime Minister Maliki and former Prime Minister Allawi will have to appeal to all of Iraq's ethnic and religous groups in order to gain majority in the Parliament and form a government.

Saad Hussein (Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies): We are in a critical moment Don't you know in Iraq there is potential civil war in Iraq every time. This happened in 2006 and maybe it will return back in such a way even now after the election.

Ben Gilbert: Still Hussein considers the large turnout for Allawi a vote for secularism and he says that's a sign of progress from the previous elections

Saad Hussein: Before 2005, liberals and others they didn't get anything. All the sectarian and ethnic groups they were very powerful in 2005. Now they are weaker than before. People they want change, they want something else, and they see it in the secular candidates.

Ben Gilbert: It will be weeks if not months before the negotiations result in concrete alliances. All this comes as the US hopes to draw-down its troops from the current level of 95,000 to 50,000 by this fall. For The World, I'm Ben Gilbert.

And personal note to NPR friends, you're not doing your job. NPR friends would prefer I not note PRI which competes with them for servicing local public radio stations with programming. And until this year, I ignored PRI programs. Even when asked to note them here. But NPR's not providing an Iraq focus -- if I wanted to be really pointed I'd note -- ticking off all of today's programs -- how laughable that two suicide bombers in Moscow get so much NPR attention when Iraq has how many suicide bombers a year and has to fight to get even ten minutes a day from NPR? -- so we'll note PRI. And let me go further on that. If you're local NPR doesn't carry To The Point, for example, or The World, remember you can always call them and request that they do. They might have to drop some programs -- maybe they can
retire Terry Gross' insipid sex talk, insults to the disabled (calling them the r-word on air and then insisting it's a joke should have got her ass fired this month), fart jokes, picking the nose talk and all the rest -- but they can carry these programs and will if they get enough requests to do so. Your local public radio station is supposed to serve you the listener. And let's quote that sick old hag with the r-word, ". . . so this ended up being a very controversial scene because of the use of the word r**arded. So I just want to warn our listeners, for anybody who finds that word, like, really, you know, insulting, that this is a comedy. This is a parody." Oh, that's a warning? "For anyone who finds the word, like, really, you know, insulting." The one you just tossed out, Terry? NPR has no functioning ombudsperson. They have a body that takes up space, but they have no functioning ombudsperson. Terry Gross little antics have demonstrated that for months now.

They say this train don't give out rides, it don't worry me,
And all the world is taking sides, it don't worry me.
Cause in my empire, life is sweet, just ask any bum you meet.
Life may be a one way street, but it don't worry me.
It don't worry me, it don't worry me.
You may say I ain't free, but it don't worry me.
-- "It Don't Worry Me," words and music by Keith Carradine

Who knew Chris Hill would make like
Barbara Harris in Robert Altman's Nashville and run around singing "It Don't Worry Me"? Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq and, apparently, a huge Altman fan. Yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, Noah Adams spoke (link has text and audio) with Hill:

ADAMS: Now, the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he's just not happy at all. He wants a manual recount. He's putting a lot of pressure on the election officials. He said, no way will we accept the results, he said that flatly. And he likes to remind people that he is, indeed, the commander-in-chief. If you're an Iraqi citizen, aren't you figuring he's going to take this election any way he can?
Ambassador HILL: Well, I think, you know, anyone who's lost an election by 0.045 percent probably is feeling a little grouchy that day. And so I think Mr. Maliki was probably not very happy to see those results. On the other hand, he has made clear that what's necessary is that everybody needs to follow the law, including himself. But, you know, he's going to challenge some of the results, I think as any candidate would. And the key thing here is not that he doesnt have a right to challenge results in specific areas, but he needs to do it lawfully according to the procedures. Nouri's just a grouchy bear, insists Chris Hill, as if Little Nouri was awakened from naptime too quickly and just as soon as he finishes his juice box and sugar cookies, he'll play nice. Strangely, Iraq's neighbors do not see it the same way.
Lebanon's Daily Star editorializes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is moving onto very thin ice with his rejection of his country's elections -- and the entire country could well take a plunge with him. It is one thing if Maliki simply expressed his opposition to the leader who won the elections, Iraqiya head Iyad Allawi; however, Maliki is denouncing and challenging the whole elections as fraudulent." So that's one of Iraq's neighbors and Caryle Murphy (UAE's the National Newspaper) notes that another neighbor, Saudi Arabia, contains many people who are excited by the prospects of Allawi being the winner and "If Mr al Maliki stays in power, Mr Eshki added, Iraq will continue to suffer from terrorism because 'the Baathists … don't like him'. But with Mr Allawi at Iraq's helm, 'the terrorists will not find any group that will welcome them'." And Duraid Al Baik (Gulf News) reports on Iraqi attitudes towards Allawi's slate's apparent victory (they won the count released last Friday), fear as they see his supporters targeted, fear "that Al Maliki and his supporters will not hand over authority peacefully."

Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports that Iraq's Justice and Accountability Commission -- a paralegal committee whose mandate expired many years ago and whose membership was not appointed by Parliament -- has decided to disqualify six winners in the Parliamentary elections and this "could prove critical to the election's outcome because the political alliance headed by Ayad Allawi, the country's former interim prime minister, won only two seats more than Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's coalition in the March 7 contest." McClatchy's Hannah Allam (Christian Science Monitor) notes that if the "federal court upholds" the barring, not only would Allawi's slate lead their lead but it also "could threaten hopes that the elections would pave the way to a new unity government". As the Washington Post's editorial board observes, "On Monday, the pernicious Iranian-backed Accountability and Justice Commission piped up again, seeking to purge six winners it considers tainted by past association with Saddam Hussein; not coincidentally, the purging could be useful to politicians who run the commission." Martin Chulov (Guardian) adds, "The vanquished Maliki continues to show signs that he will not fade away, describing as "impossible" Allawi's attempts to build a coalition. Maliki made the comment in a television interview, in which he also said "the game is still very much on", in relation to who will be Iraq's new leader." Ned Parker and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report on the tensions arising from the para-legal body's latest move:A senior Iraqiya member reacted furiously Monday, seeing the announcement as an effort to undermine the slate's quest to assemble a coalition of 163 seats to form the next government. He warned of dire consequences if the judiciary rules in Lami's favor and takes away Iraqiya seats."No doubt, if they try to isolate Iraqiya then definitely the aim of doing that is to push the country toward civil war. . . . Maybe this is the intention of Iran. They want their people to control Iraq for another four years," said Iraqiya member Falah Naquib. "Maybe half the country or more will not accept what they are trying to do."Leila Fadel (Washington Post) quotes Falah al-Naqib as well and he tells her that if the banning is approved by the court and if it robs Allawi's slate of their lead, "It would be civil war, absolutely no doubt. I think the United States and other allies should find a solution for this problem. Otherwise, we're seriously going for a civil war, and this time, it's a big mess." NPR's Deborah Amos' Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East has just arrived in stores. Writing at Global Post,she explains:

Stung by his loss, Maliki rejected the official tally and invoked his status as commander-in-chief as he warned of violence. Maliki's top aide, Ali al-Adeed, was more explicit when he said Iraq's Shiites would not accept the legitimacy of Allawi's victory. Maliki's warnings prompted an unusual on-the-record observation from a senior U.S. embassy official, Gary Grappo, who acknowledged that Maliki's coalition would "take advantage of all means at their disposal to try to eke out a victory." While Grappo went on to express confidence that Maliki and his allies would work within the judicial system, the system has been far from neutral, both before and after the election. Power in Iraq centers around personalities rather than institutions. As long as Maliki remains in office, he can manipulate government resources to press his advantage. On the day before the election results were announced, the Supreme Court interpreted an ambiguous constitutional clause in a way that gives Maliki an edge. While the constitution stipulates the largest bloc in parliament gets the first chance to form a government, it is unclear whether the largest bloc is determined by the vote or groups that merge after the election. The judges ruled that the later is permissible, which means if Maliki can convince smaller blocs to join him in the next few days, he can deny Allawi the first shot at forming a government.

But Chris Hill is not troubled. Proving that the simplest mind sleeps easiest. As the US State Dept today, Chris Hill spoke via video link (and
click here for State Dept video and transcript). Hey, remember when Chris Hill told All Things Considered yesterday:

I will say that as in any close election, it's not easy to lose a close election. If you look at the differential, it was some 0.045 percent. That's not fun to lose an election like that. So I don't think people should be too surprised that there are some comments that reflect the anguish of losing.

You're nodding. No. That's from today's press briefing. Sounds just the same, I know. That's because he can almost manage to memorize scripted soundbytes. Almost.

CNN's Elise Labott asked what happens if Nouri loses out to Allawi (as the count indicates his party should) and yet refuses to "secede power"?

Chris Hill: Well, again, these are -- this is kind of speculation. What if? What if he doesn't? What if he does? What if he -- will he resign from the position if he's unable to put together a coalition? All I can say is he has been very, very clear with us in private, very clear in public, that he will follow the law. I want to make very clear this is something that when you look around the landscape of this part of the world, you don't see too many examples of this actually happening. Yet I think the Iraqi people went to the polls in great numbers and I think the Iraqi people expect all of their politicians, whether it's the seated prime minister or whether it's the challengers, to follow the letter of the law. And I think that is a widespread expectation and I would expect everyone to do that. I mean, if we have problems in the future, we'll deal with problems in the future. But right now, I think what people are saying is the right thing, which his to observe the law and observe the procedures.

Are you on the floor rolling yet? If not, it's probably because you're thinking of the actions of the Justice and Accountability Commission (and for those who keep e-mailing about that commission, that is it's English translation -- for some reason some press outlets want to go alphabetical, it's Justice and Accountability). Reuters' Susan Cornwell immediately raised that issue.

Chris Hill: Well, let me just say that certainly political commentators here in Iraq sort of look at a challenge like that and wonder to what extent it reflects a political challenge. Certainly, I think the UN has made very clear that this is no time to be challenging people who have won seats. But I think the UN has also made very clear that the proper place for any such challenges is to the courts. If they want to sue the IHEC, they can do that and let the courts take this up. I think going forward, certainly for the next election, certainly for the next period of Iraq's history, they're going to have to deal with this whole issue about accountability and justice. They're going to have to deal with the issue of what to do with people who have ties to the Baathist regime in the past, how they're going to deal with this, whether a South African model or some other model. But certainly, what we want to see in the future is something that is transparent and something that does not appear to many people to have politics written all over it.

Oops, the manic half of his manic-depression appears to be fading. Like a
Joyce Carol Oates character, he's going lethargic leading all to wonder, "What is he saying? What does he mean?" (Nod to JCO's "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?")

Chris Hill appears to be saying that without UN approval no candidates will be banned. And that if an Iraqi official doesn't like that, he can take the UN to court. That's what he appears to be saying.

But I've been on the phone with two friends at the UN and they say that's news to them. Not only is that news to them, Hill establishes that as 'reality' one minute and then appears to forget what he just said.

Seconds later McClatchy's Warren P. Strobel asks him about violence and how Allawi supporters are stating/worrying that violence could/would return if "the results of the accountability commission come back to where he's below Mr. Maliki." Do you understand what Strobel just said? It's fairly clear. But maybe it was lost on Hill? Strobel asked about Allawi being knocked out of the lead -- his party leads by two seats, remember -- if the accountability commission -- not a UN body nor a court of law in Iraq -- should ban or pull some of the ones elected on Allawi's slate. That was the question.

Here's Hill in full -- or, here's the fool in full:

Well, look, this is a country that has had a recent history with violence. I mean, we all know about the violence in Iraq. It's something we've all been very aware of for some time. So it is quite understandable that people look at this question, that people speculate about it, that the issue of violence gets raised in the news. I would say, however, that I would be careful, though, to suggest that a coalition that has won less than a third of the seats and clearly needs to reach out and get still another 80 percent of what the coalition is -- that is, Mr. Allawi's coalition has 91 seats. He needs at least another 70-plus seats if he's going to make a -- if he's going to be able to form a government. Well, I think his ability to do that will depend on his ability to work with coalitions, to decide who wants what ministry, to really sit down and negotiate. So I think this is really a political question and my sense is people understand that this is a political question. I think what is necessary at the end of the day, though, is to see that all elements of this society, whether it's Kurdish, whether it's Sunni, whether it's Shia or secular, that all of these people, all of these communities, really, have a potential to participate in the political life of this country. I think everyone is aware of this issue in this country. I mean, I don't hear of anyone saying, "Well, let's form a government and drop one significant group out of it." You don't hear any of that. So we'll have to see. We obviously monitor these things very carefully. We're very aware of the levels of violence. But so far, it is very much on a political track, which is where we want to keep it.

Whether it's Sunni, whether it's Shia -- forget Barbara Harris' character, now he's sounding like Miles Monroe in Sleeper when Miles believes he's in a Miss America contest. If Chris Hill told the truth (I know, I'm laughing too) the first time, then his reply to Strobel would have been consistent, he would have again replied that the UN would be the final say and that if someone was unhappy with the UN's decision they could go through the Iraqi courts. But he didn't say that. Chris Hill . . . At some point the chuckles fade and he just becomes an international embarrassment.

And if you doubt that, grasp that the idiot who didn't understand Kirkuk in his confirmation hearing, referred to it today in the press conference as "the so-called disputed internal boundary"? So-called? Baghdad claims it, the KRG claims it. It's disputed, moron, there's nothing in doubt about the fact that it's disputed. The only doubt is over whether the issue will be resolved (it was supposed to have been resolved three years ago). If it weren't for the fact that I sat through the idiot's confirmation hearing, I'd think he was trying to take sides with his choice of words but Hill -- and look at the rest of his answer -- clearly didn't and doesn't understand Kirkuk even after being the US Ambassador to Iraq for nearly a year now.

Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Tal Afar and 2 men were shot dead in front of their Mosul home.

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Commission on Wartime Conracting in Iraq and Afghanistan in DC. Kat covered it last night in "Commission on Wartime Contracting," Ava covered it at Trina's site with "Fraud and waste" and Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "The arrogance and waste of KBR."


And we'll close with this from
Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Outlaws" (World Can't Wait):The day after I got out of jail, I decided to go to the Hill to attend a robotic warfare hearing and I quickly made a small sign that said: "Drones Kill Kids," and I was holding it quietly in my lap as I listened to the testimony. Holding small signs is generally tolerated, if you don't wave it, or hold it up and block anybody's view. Having no intention of interrupting the hearing since I was interested in the topic, I was surprised when a staffer of the Chairman, John Tierney, approached me and told me to put the sign away, or I would be kicked out, along with my colleague, Josh Smith who was sitting next to me and also holding a sign. I patiently explained to her that holding a sign was my right and I was being quiet and respectful. Sure enough, during the break, the Capital Hill police came to eject us from the hearing. The next day, we found out that Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were testifying on the 33 billion dollar supplemental war-funding bill. The hearing was changed from a Senate office building to the Capitol building and put into a small, small room. We decided that we would try to at least get close to the closed hearing to express our freedom of speech, so we headed to the Capitol and got in line at the visitor center. About eight of us were in line for about three minutes when a phalanx of Capitol Hill police (including motorcycle and bike cops) approached us and asked what our "intentions" were. I said that if they didn't ask everyone in line that same question, their presence and interrogation bordered on "harassment." A female cop averred that she didn't think it was "harassment"-- isn't that nice, a harasser doesn't think she's harassing? After standing in line to get in, then standing in line to get a ticket for the Capitol Hill tour, and then watching a movie about our wonderful Congress and the wonderful things it does and has done, (even bragging about the brutal Indian Removal Act of 1830) we got into the Capitol and were followed by the same phalanx of cops. At one point, I peeled off and went up a staircase and a member of our group heard a cop say: "oh, oh, we lost Cindy." Needless to say, we were all promptly rounded up and escorted out of the building.

iraqthe daily starthe national newspapercaryle murphygulf newsduraid al baiknprall things considerednoah adamsglobal postdeborah amosthe new york timestimothy williams
mcclatchy newspapershannah allemcaesar ahmed
the los angeles times
ned parker
the guardianmartin chulovthe washington postleila fadelcindy sheehan

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who he donated to, who he threatened?

Norman Leboon. Do you know him? A crazy who threatened to kill a member of Congress. Strangely Gail Russell Chaddock (Christian Science Monitor) forgets to inform that he's a Barack supporter. Anita Kumar (Washington Post) forgets to infrom that as well of this man who threatened to kill Republican Congress member Eric Cantor. Washington Independent's David Weigel offers up:

I’ll be interested to see what conservatives do with the information that Leboon donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign — that decision aside, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the threats Leboon would make, looking into a camera, as the self-appointed “messiah.”

I'm more curious, David, as to why the MSM doesn't mention it?

But I'm grateful to David for allowing several videos of the crazy. Why?

Look, I'm sorry, but whenever there's a major kook or criminal, my first thought is always, "Please don't let it be an African-American, please don't let it be an African-American." We already suffer enough as a race without having every kook which means we'd only get stereotyped even more. (There can five million White kooks and it will never stick to the White race. And, to be clear, I'm not saying that it should. I just wish that the same thing worked with regards to my race.) So I was very relieved to discover the kook was White.

I'll note this from Justin Elliott (TPM) which notes that the kook has also apparently or possibly threatened Barack (I haven't watched the video -- I only watched a moment of videos to determine that he's White):

In yet another video, Leboon seems to threaten Obama.
"President Obama, you and Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and your Security Council say very bad things about me," he says "Your punishment is coming, the swine, it will be severe, and you will beg for mercy to your god. It will be severe, you will know god's swine, god has warned you."


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

Monday, March 29, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri rages and refuses to step down, Iraq's LGBT community remains targeted, KBR steals $193 million (they didn't earn it, it's theft) from the American tax payers and the government employees evaluating KBR continue to give it high marks (despite only "average" reports in real time), and more.

The latest instalmment of
Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) began airing Friday evening and Jasim al-Azawi was joined by the Royal Institute of International Affairs' Burhan al-Chalabi, Baghdad University's Professor Saad Naji Jawad and the Institute for Peace and War reporting's Hiwa Osman

Jasim al-Azawi: . . . what is your assessment how they handled the election? According to Hiwa, they contributed slightly, not much, to the understanding.

Saad Naji Jawad: Well, Jasim, I believe the question should be: Is there really an objective or some objective or an objective media in the world? We all remember how the British and the American media dealt with the question of the invasion of Iraq, how they twisted rights, how they twisted facts and how they supported an illegal, unjustified war on Iraq. Before that how they justified the inhuman sanctions on Iraq which claimed the lives of 1,800,000 people. So I don't think this is the question and to say that -- or after saying that, I think it will be too much, too optimistic to ask the media of the Third World and Iraq to be objective and to contribute objectively when we all know how sectarian division, ethnical division, how political division is ruling the country. You also know that in Iraq now there is no independent channel whatsoever or no independent newspaper. All newspapers, all major, I should say, newspapers are all supported, financed by parties and we all heard how some people got millions to contribute to their campaign from foriegn powers. So I think in such an atmosphere it will be cynical to say that the Iraqi media was objective or that it contributed -- Every major candidate has his own TV channel and it always -- if you listen to them, you can never see or listen to an objective analysis of what is happening. The only interesting thing I found was the attitude of the major or the first newspaper in Iraq al-Sabah. It was the only mouthpiece of the government, it should be the mouthpiece of the government, I was expecting it to support the government.

Jasim al-Azawi: Burhan al-Chalabi, we -- He just mentioned something very challenging perhaps when he said it is only expected that newspapers as well as satellite channels belonging to that particular party or that particular person is to toe the line of that particular party and not to give a credit to the others. This, in such partisan and such very narrowd minded direction, how do you expect Iraqis to get to the truth? To get to the program of a specific list. or a specific party and make an educated decision?

Burhan al-Chalabi: I think we need to go much more fundamental than this. I take the view that the media and the journalists in Iraq are divided along within the divisions of Iraq. That is you're either -- bear in two camps. The minority camps which is for the occupation and the majority camps which are against the occupation. Unfortunately for the independent and patriotic journalists and the media people, they haven't had the opprotunity in order to discharge their duties because they have been labeled "the other" by the regimes -- with allegations that make them targets to sectarian militias and to the regime itself. And it is a common fact. And it's been widely reported that more than 250 journalists have been assassinated and kidnapped and threatened. Therefore -- or the others have lost their jobs. So really, there isn't anybody now in Iraq who can, from the independent or patriotic journalists who is in a position in order to discharge their duties by explaining to the Iraqis and to the outside world, what is it like to be under the occupation. And the other media -- which represents the first camp, which is the pro-occupation maybe they have been limited use to the regime because they have filled the printed press with disinformation and propaganda and maybe they have consumed airtime on the radio and television in order to give the impression that Iraq under the occupation is all well but we all know it isn't.

The broadcast is worth catching. We generally offer more transcription wise but one guest (not quoted above) couldn't wait his turn. Repeatedly. He cross-talks non-stop. At one point, he goes on speaking for approximately three minutes while another person, asked a question by host Jasim, is speaking. He also refuses to yield to Jasim. It did not improve the image of the Institute for Peace and War Reporting. But little could and possibly next time someone from that outfit wants to be a whiny baby, they should grasp that most people do not seem them as a real or independent organization.

We're moving on to the topic of Iraq elections.

Commission Clark Kent Ervin: You reference the political uncertainty now, given the outcome of the election, the fact that former prime minister Allawi appears to be in the ahead, et cetra, there's increasing violence in Iraq, there's the possibility at least that the Iraqi government would ask us to stay beyond the time that we've committed to stay per the terms of the agreement. What plans does AMC [Army Material Command] have to continue contractor support beyond the drop-dead dealine

Lt Gen James Pillsbury: Sir, right now we are planning like I said earlier, August 10 and December 11, your question is fair, we do not have plans because of the uncertainty; however, we feel because of the contracts that we have are flexible enough to be able to provide uninterrupted support if necessary.

That's from today's Commission on Wartime Contracting hearing and we'll come back to it later in the snapshot but (a) it does note the elections and (b) it will be ignored by all outlets. Ervin's been in government service forever and a day (and he's a national security analyst for CNN). He's asking questions for a reason. It's not a minor point. If it were, he wouldn't be bringing it up. The answer he sought is, "Yes, contractors can remain in Iraq after the draw-down and withdrawal dates should the Iraqi government ask that US forces stay longer."

As Ervin pointed out, Allawi's slate won the most seats in the March 7th election (this was announced
Friday). If you thought things would go smoothly over the weekend, you don't know Nouri. Marie Colvin (Times of London) reported, "A power struggle between Iyad Allawi, the secular strongman who narrowly won Iraq's general election, and Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister, has threatened to dash hopes of a stable new government." Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported Saturday, "On Thursday, a day before the results were announced, he quietly persuaded the Iraqi supreme court to issue a ruling that potentially allows him to choose the new government instead of awarding the right to the winner of the election, the former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi." Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) interviewed Allawi who stated, "I'm worried" because Nouri is "not acting responsibly. We need to have a peaceful transition to power . . . not have a leader who clings to power forever." Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observed, "Yet the Maliki government is being even more brazen than this, it would seem, as reports have emerged out of Diyala Province that four Sunni MP-elects from Allawi's bloc are being targeted by security forces. One has already been captured and is being held incommunicado by the Maliki government, two others have gone into hiding, and the fourth is nowhere to be found."

While that and more took place (we'll get to more in a moment), Chris Hill, US Ambassador and Flake to Iraq, continued to wander around in his Mister Magoo like stupor.
Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reports that Hill has declared the election results indicate that "there is democracy in this country." Hannah Allem and Mohammed al-Dulaimey (McClatchy Newspapers) report: on the 4 candidates who won seats from Allawi's slate and how Nouri's now targeting them with one "being held incommunicado in a Baghdad jail, two other winners are on the run and the whereabouts of the fourth, a woman, are unknown." Martin Chuolv (Guardian) reports:Maliki still wants the top job, despite his loss. He plans to mount a rearguard campaign that positions him as the only viable option for prime minister, because Allawi's support came largely from Sunni provinces and not the Shia majority heartland that held the reins of power for the past four years. But Najafi said: "Anyone who says we do not have a claim to the prime minister's office is behaving in a clearly sectarian way. It is in the constitution that the victor has the right to form a government. Iran fears that their role will be weaker now and that is very clear. But that will not stop us talking with anyone, even Maliki, to form a government."Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) interviewed professional 'date' with Tehran Ahmed Chalabi who said that "allowing him [Allawi] to form a new government would be dangerous for Iraq because of what he claims are active elements of Saddam Hussein's Baathist party within Mr. Allawi's Sunni-heavy alliance." Allawi is all crying "Ba'athists." So often that many are beginning to suspect it's his safe word. Alice Fordham (Times of London) reports, "The Justice and Accountability Commission, which recommended that hundreds of candidates be barred before the polls, did not specify yesterday how many elected candidates it would now try to dismiss. Ayad Allawi, leader of the winning bloc, warned over the weekend that it might seek to disqualify more candidates from his Iraqia grouping." In addition, Sunday saw an attack on a member of Ayad Allawi's slate which left the politician Ghanim Radh dead. Leila Fadel and Uthman Mukhtar (Washington Post) report, "The attacks, which wounded 26 people, exacerbated fears that the outcome of Iraq's March 7 parliamentary elections will continue to trigger unrest as Iraqi politicians begin to assemble a new government. Allawi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are vying to get a majority of parliamentarians on their side in order to be appointed prime minister for the next four years."

Meanwhile violence continues in Iraq.

Bombings?

Kerbala was slammed by twin car bombings.
Reuters reports the death tolls stands at 5 thus far with at least sixty-four injured. Katarina Kratovac (AP) adds that the second bombing followed the first blast by "minutes." Reuters also notes a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded two people, a second Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 employee of the Ministry of Finance and, dropping back to Sunday, two Baquba roadside bombings left six people injured.

Shootings?

Reuters notes a Sunday armed clash in Kirkuk in which one police officer was left injured.

Corpses?

Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.

While the 'winner' of the elections may now be in question, one 'winner' is not in question and
Queerty announces that 'winner' is . . . : "We're sure the Jamaicans might have something to say about it, but Iraq has won the prestigious award of being dubbed "the most dangerous place on Earth for gays." For stuff like this. Congratulations!" As noted Saturday, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News reposts Paul Canning's "Iraq is the most dangerous place on Earth for gays:"It often shocks people to hear this but talk to Iraqi gays who've made it out and they'll tell you -- Life was better under Saddam. Baghdad played the role that Beirut does now as a sanctuary for Middle Eastern gay life with clubs which men from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia flocked to. In sharp contrast, for the past six years Iraq has been the worst place in the entire world to be gay. Far, far worse than Uganda or even Iran. Hundreds of gays, lesbians and transgender people have been hunted down and killed in the most vile ways imaginable -- and imagination is the right word. Doctors have confirmed reports of men have had their anuses glued shut by militia forces and others have accused the government of being involved. No one has been prosecuted and the Iraqi government has failed to do anything to stop it. So Iraqi gays have helped themselves. They have created safe houses, although many have been discovered and become a new killing field. Many have fled but they have faced a cold wall of indifference and they have needed friends and luck to actually make it to sanctuary. Our government, the British government, has turned its back on those who have arrived here. All have initially been refused asylum. The system instead has told them that Iraq is safe and they should go home.Ali Hili is an Iraqi attempting to be granted asylum in England, he is also the head of Iraqi LGBT. It is past time for Congress to hold a hearing on the issue of the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community. Among those who have spoken out publicly against the targeting are US House Reps Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin and Alcee Hastings and US Senator Kirsten Gilibrand. Gilibran and Baldwin led on an effort last month. From the Gilibrand press release, we'll note the letter she and other members of Congress sent to the US Secretary of State:
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State of the United States of America
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520-0099
Dear Madam Secretary,
We are writing to share our concerns about the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in countries where these individuals' health and lives are threatened and governments provide inadequate protection. Our concern was sparked most recently by accounts of LGBT individuals from Iraq and Iran who have had to flee after being severely beaten or worse, or because they face a significant risk of such persecution. Unfortunately, this situation is not unique to Iraq and Iran. LGBT individuals in a number of other countries are also under threat. Moreover, we are troubled by the fact that a number of countries criminalize or are taking steps to increase penalties against the LGBT community.
We know you share our concern. We appreciate the attention that the United States Government has paid to the special circumstances of people fleeing countries where they face persecution due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, particularly Iraq and Iran. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, for example, has raised the unsolved attacks on gay men with the Ministry of Interior and the Human Rights Ministry. While we value these steps, we remain concerned about people's safety in both these and other countries with reports of persecution of LGBT individuals and/or groups. We are likewise very troubled that LGBT refugees from Iraq and Iran and possibly other countries face risks in first asylum countries where refugees often remain for years, and which are often nearly as hostile to the LGBT community as their home countries.
Therefore we respectfully request you to consider several ways in which your leadership and guidance would improve protection for LGBT individuals in both the countries where they are targeted and the first asylum countries where their safety is in question.
1. United States Ambassadors in countries of concern should strongly and consistently raise the fact that laws targeting homosexual activity and a lack of protection for LGBT individuals or groups violate international human rights law.
2. United Nations and its appropriate agencies, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, should increase their promotion of the human rights of LGBT individuals and ensure that appropriate programs are focused on support of such individuals and groups.
3. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should increase the training of all of its employees, contractors and implementing partners following its Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. UNHCR should maximize its implementation of this important guidance so that LGBT refugees are not disadvantaged by inappropriate conduct or inadequate processing by UNHCR employees or implementing partners. It appears that additional LGBT refugee protection tools would need to be developed. As the largest donor, the U.S. could help foster an appropriate focus on this issue.
4. Ffor LGBT individuals, such as those from Iran and Iraq, who face risks in the countries of first asylum, as well as inside their home countries, resettlement processing should be expedited. This can be done in a number of ways, including:
a. Those LGBT refugees who can articulate a serious protection concern because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the country of first asylum can be designated "refugees of special humanitarian concern" so they are eligible for Priority 2, or direct processing to the U.S. refugee admissions program. The United States already designated several groups of at-risk U.S.-affiliated Iraqis as P2-eligible in 2007 and 2008, and has used the designation for refugees from other countries in the past. We appreciate that this category of direct-access eligibility is reserved for some of the most at-risk groups and must be carefully crafted to identify a discrete group.
b. Processing of LGBT refugee applications can be expedited by UNHCR or the Department of State entering into agreements with qualified non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify or screen refugees who need to be taken immediately out of harm's way. Those LGBT refugees with serious protection concerns who are so identified by NGOs -- or who are otherwise known to UNHCR or the U.S. Government -- should be "fast tracked" by UNHCR or the State Department, as appropriate.
c. In appropriate cases, individuals might be moved by UNHCR to its emergency transit centers (ETCs) in order to ensure their safety during refugee processing. Our understanding is that such transit centers are currently used to house populations whose safety cannot be guaranteed while they are in refugee processing. If such centers are used to temporarily house LGBT refugees, UNHCR would need to take steps to ensure that the centers are sensitive to the protection needs of LGBT individuals. In cases where evacuation to an ETC is not practicable, we urge you to work with the Secretary of Homeland Security to expeditiously parole or conditionally admit particularly vulnerable refugees to the United States for processing, as the United States did with applicants evacuated from northern Iraq in 1996 and Macedonia in 1999.
d. Finally, the U.S. agencies involved in the security clearance procedures required as part of the refugee resettlement process should continue to improve coordination in order to enable these procedures to be completed in a timely manner.
Again, thank you for your attention to this matter. We would be very pleased to work with you and support you in any way we can.
Sincerely,
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senator Daniel K. AkakaUnited States SenatorJeff BingamanUnited States SenatorSherrod BrownUnited States SenatorRobert P. Casey Jr.
United States SenatorRussell D. FeingoldUnited States SenatorFrank R. LautenbergUnited States SenatorJoseph L. Lieberman
United States SenatorJeff Merkley
United States SenatorCharles E. Schumer
United States SenatorRon WydenUnited States Senator
Tammy BaldwinUnited States RepresentativeJared PolisUnited States Representative
Barney FrankUnited States RepresentativeJan SchakowskyUnited States RepresentativeJerrold NadlerUnited States RepresentativeMichael M. HondaUnited States RepresentativeLois CappsUnited States RepresentativeJames P. MoranUnited States RepresentativeZoe LofgrenUnited States RepresentativeDavid WuUnited States RepresentativeEdolphus TownsUnited States RepresentativeCarolyn MaloneyUnited States RepresentativeAlcee HastingsUnited States RepresentativeJohn ConyersUnited States RepresentativeLuis GutierrezUnited States RepresentativeBill DelahuntUnited States RepresentativeEliot EngelUnited States RepresentativeRa├║l M. GrijalvaUnited States RepresentativeChellie PingreeUnited States RepresentativeJoseph CrowleyUnited States RepresentativeGary AckermanUnited States RepresentativeAnthony WeinerUnited States RepresentativeMaurice HincheyUnited States RepresentativeSteven RothmanUnited States RepresentativeJames P. McGovernUnited States RepresentativeLynn WoolseyUnited States RepresentativePaul TonkoUnited States RepresentativeMike QuigleyUnited States RepresentativeSteve IsraelUnited States RepresentativeHoward BermanUnited States RepresentativeHenry WaxmanUnited States RepresentativeBrad ShermanUnited States RepresentativeCongress -- especially the DPC -- has had hearings into waste and fraud. It's past time that hearings took place about human rights. Paul Canning believes one of the most helpful things that can be done presently for Ali Hili and Iraq's LGBT community is for the US Congress to invite him to testify before them. To contact
Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis and Kirsten Gillibrand visit their websites. To contact the DPC (Democratic Policy Committee), click here. To request that the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs take up the issue, click here.

"We are here today" Christopher Shays declared in DC this morning, "to talk about transitions in Iraq. March 20 was the seventh anniversary of the US, British and other allies invasion of Iraq. American combat operations there have lasted almost twice as long as the American Civil War or US involvement in WWII."

Shays was reading the opening remarks of the commissioners of the Commission on Wartime Conracting in Iraq and Afghanistan as they held another of there oh-so-rare hearings. Shays explained the Commission was concerned that contractors -- such as KBR "whose employees account for half of all contractors in the country" -- were keeping accurate numbers of their employees -- and didn't have "unnecessary staff hanging around" -- since each one can cost the US tax payer approximately $1,000 a month. In addition, "We also want to explore what appears to be alarming data revealed in audits by the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense."

Adam Weinstein (Mother Jones) reported earlier this month, "It was just a single contract for a single job on a single base in Iraq. The Deparmtne of Defense agreed to pay the megacontractor KBR $5 million a year to repair tactical vehicles, from Humvees to big rigs, at Joint Base Balad, a large airfield and supply center north of Baghdad. Yet according to a new Pentagon report [PDF], what the military got was as many as 144 civilian mechanics, each doing as little as 43 minutes of work a month, with virtually no oversight. The report, issued March 3 by the DoD's Inspector General, found that between late 2008 and mid-2009, KBR performed less than 7 percent of the work it was expected to do, but still got paid in full."

The Commission heard from two panels. The first was governmental -- Lt Gen James Pillsbury, DCAA's Patrick J. Fitzgerald and RICC's James Loehr. The second was KBR execs Doug Horn and Guy H.A. Laboa. All the witnesses were sworn in -- and sworn in at the start of the hearing. Shays is one of the co-chairs of the Commission, Michael Thibault is another. Thibault declared in the first round of questioning that he was "on a tear about efficiency and economy." He noted Loehr's report which found KBR was repeatedly late with providing cost updating, that they were overstaffed and that they were mismanaged.

Commissioner Michael Thibault: So my question, Mr. Loehr, is, please, what's going on here?

James Loehrl: Okay, um. What that PEB [Performance Evaluation Board] is is that's a monthly assessment that the Defense Contract Management Agency's ACO's perform with KBR in theater on a monthly basis to give the contractor feedback. And as you said, all of that leads -- flows into the bi-annual award fee process. Uh, some of what is in there very clearly, if what the ACL is reporting there was correct and KBR is not implementing ACL changes and getting those ACL changes incorporated into the base line, then that is an issue and the proper way to be addressing them is at that PEB form so the KBR understands that that is then going to flow into their award fee evaluation and effect their profitability. And so that is what that process is going on. I believe that particular PEB was one on the core logistics, then calls into the same thing Mr. Fitzgerald brought up with that DCAA report regarding that staffing of that logistic's mission. So I think two of those --

Thibault cut him off and noted the problems outlined before stating, "Multi-billion dollar and my sensitivity is if you don't have the kind of score keeping, sir, that you need, in order to do your job, how are we going to get it?" His time was up but he noted Shays had indicated he wanted to pursue the line of questioning when his turn rolled around. Pointing to one report regarding staffing, Commission Robert Henke noted over $190 million in waste of the tax payer dollar by KBR and he wanted to know if "the Army or the Army Material Command has responded to this report? If someone would write me a report that said, 'You can save $193 million,' I'd write 'em back and say I agree or disagree. Sir, has the Army responded?" Lt Gen James Pillsbury reponded, "I will take that for the record. I don't know if we have responded exactly to-to it. I know that we are taking actions to drawdown" contractors. Henke then asked Fitzgerald if the Army had "responded formally to the report?"

Patrick Fitzgerald: Sir, if you mean formally in writing --

Commissioner Robert Henke: Yeah.

Patrick Fitzgerald: No. [. . .]

Commissioner Robert Henke: General, since the Army hasn't responded to the audit, could you do that here?


Lt Gen James Pillsbury: Uhm. Again, sir, the-the-the drawdown in Iraq is-is on pace. Uhm, given the DCAA audit and the fact that General [Ray] Odierno [top US commander in Iraq] has said that we would draw down by 5%, the actions of -- that I believe are ongoing -- are prudent. Now, I am not an auditor. I am an operational logistician and requirements in a flowing battlefield, in a flowing theater, especially when its drawing down, are very difficult to put your arms around. So I will say to you, sir, I will take this for the record and get back to you with a written response from AMC with what are actions are for the audit but-but I will tell you sir, the situtations on the ground are somewhat fluid as you well know.

Commissioner Robert Henke: I-I-I appreciate that entirely but you're telling me that AMC has a comprehensive plan to drawdown contracts and contractos and the single biggest contractor in theater is KBR with 15,000 direct hires and 30,000 other peopl. I would think if an auditor would tell you, "There's a chance to save $193 million" that someone in the system would feel compelled to respond. I'm disappointed that the Army has not. We had the LOGCAP program manager up here before the Commission in December, asked him his response -- the report was just out -- so this is not new material. In fact, the point of the audit is that the savings are going, going gone. If the army had acted the savings could have been achieved but since the Army or the DoD hasn't responded, the savings are effectively gone. So my question to you, sir, is who is responsible for cost efficiency, for cost awarenss of expensive contracts in theater.

Lt Gen James Pillsbury: The Army Material Command leadership is as you well know. The contract oversight, we depend on our partners at DCMA and DCAA. [. . . . ]

Commissioner Katherine Schinasi returned to the PEB and wanted to know what the government did in terms of consequences for those who failed? She noted that the government has written to KBR: "You're not being pro-active enough, you're not taking the initative." So after they've been given instructive criticism, "what is the consequence if they don't do that?" James Loehr fell back on that this was part of their award fee criteria.

Commissioner Katherine Schinasi: And have you withheld award fee for that purpose? Because they have not done that?

James Loehr: Uhm. Yes. I think if you go back and look at the award fee evaluation, you'll find that K -- KBR, I don't think, has ever -- very rarely -- gets 100% in that category.

Commissioner Katherine Schinasi: Close to 100%?

James Loehr: Uhm. I think -- I'd have to get back to you for that specifically but they are generally in that-that high-very good, though, excellent range that category.

In other words, KBR suffers no real penalty. And they keep getting contracts. And Inspector General reports keep coming out calling out KBR. But it's calling out not just KBR but these people who are supposed to be watching this in real time, doing these PEBs in real time. But KBR gets to skate. It's already stolen $193 million from the US tax payers on one deal alone and James Loehr and others work real hard to ensure it's high rated -- despite only average reports -- so that it gets the bulk of its award fee.
Kat intends to cover some aspects of the hearing at her site tonight.

Returning to the election results by way of media criticism. Iraq War veteran
Nick Miano (Technican) explores the media's walk-away from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars:This leads to questions about what the media's purpose is in covering these wars. Is it to help the public form an informed opinion? Is it to generate some kind emotional response? Or is it merely to report statistical information and indulge the public with pictures of violence, albeit heavily censored violence? These wars, much like Vietnam, have been heavily televised (until recently). The difference however, is that the endless stream of violent imagery coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan has only desensitized a public with little or no vested interest in the conflicts; while the nightly televising of the Vietnam War influenced a public who had a direct interest in the events of the war.Unless someone has such a direct interest in the subject, how can we expect that the information being given to him or her will carry any real meaning? The daily reporting of the number of war dead, whether they are civilians, soldiers or insurgents, is merely an abstraction of the real suffering that occurs. As an abstraction, this information is ultimately meaningless for anyone who digests it unless he or she is directly involved in the conflicts. For the larger public, war coverage is just an endless stream of noise that the mind eventually tunes out. The concept of war itself is an abstraction to those who have no emotional investment in it. This is not an altogether negative idea; I would love to eventually live in a society in which the word "war" is completely eradicated from the lexicon. However, in the meantime this lack of real interest in the subject only leads to a sense of ambivalence about the circumstances that our soldiers, Iraqi and Afghani civilians, and "enemy" combatants find themselves in.Does the media not cover Iraq? That's sarcasm. We noted NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in Friday's snapshot because Williams and Richard Engel covered Iraq.Brian Williams: Richard, you were saying earlier in the newsroom today, people rooting for the US-side of the equation would be dancing in the streets of Baghdad at this result. What did you mean by that?Richard Engel: This was an incredibly significant day, perhaps the most important one in the last several years in Iraq. Ayad Allawi won these elections. Now he is a Shi'ite, he's secular and he's pro-American and he's very anti-Iran. The current government in Iraq right now is a religious state that leans toward Iran. So if Ayad Allawi can hold on to this position, that he gained today, he still has to form a government and face off challenges by the current prime minister, then we could see a major change in direction in Iraq.Brian Williams: Dancing in the street with those cement blast walls in the background, kind of a reminder that it's still a dangerous state.The link in Friday's snapshot was mixed up. We're fixing it here. And Engel and Williams' segment continued beyond the excerpt. But what did the other networks do?
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer? Sawyer was off. David Muir and his beautician filled in. The hair looked wonderful but the news suffered. Half-way into the program, Muir and that head of hair finally got around to Iraq and . . . stayed on it for 15 seconds. You get the idea Muir spends more time than that each hour dragging a brush through those shimmering highlights. Harry Smith will never have Muir's hair problems and possibly that's why he was able to offer his bit much earlier in the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric when he filled in for Katie on Friday. Along with getting to the story sooner, he also offered a few second more -- fourteen seconds more. CBS gave it 29 seconds.Brian Williams was the only anchor not on vacation Friday and Nightly News was the only commercial network evening news show that treated Iraq as significant. No surprise, PBS' NewsHour devoted much more time to the issue
click here for video, audio and transcript options for the Iraq segments by Jeffrey Brown -- first segment is one minute and forty-five seconds, second segment (discussion with Ryan Crocker -- former US Ambassador to Iraq -- and Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group) is nearly nine minutes. From the second segment, we'll note this:JEFFREY BROWN: But -- but, staying with you, how hard will this process be? And what becomes the role of key other players, like Muqtada al-Sadr, in helping to either join or not join one of these groups and therefore forming a coalition, forming a government? RYAN CROCKER: It -- it is going to be difficult. There is no combination of coalitions right now that I would rule out. And there's also no assurance that the coalitions that came together for the elections will stay together for the process of government formation. We may see the Sadrists, for example, split with the rest of the Iraqi National Alliance, as they seek advantage in the -- in these politics of government formation. So, just about everything and everybody is on the table. The small parties may hold the critical weight in determining who gets to be prime minister. And, again, it's helpful to remember what happened in 2006, when the man who emerged at the end of the day was on no one's lips as the process started. That man, of course, was Nouri al-Maliki. JEFFREY BROWN: But, Joost Hiltermann, is -- is renewed sectarian violence on the table or a possibility here? JOOST HILTERMANN: Well, I don't think it's safe to rule it out, but I hope not. And it doesn't look like it right now. But, if Prime Minister Maliki rejects the results, and decides to act on it, we could get in a dangerous situation. Likewise, if -- if Prime Minister Allawi -- not Prime Minister -- former Prime Minister Allawi seeks to form a government, and fails to bring together a ruling coalition, and has to give over that -- that role to someone else, say Mr. Maliki, and he doesn't accept those results, you could see a reversion to violence. But, so far, the pressure on all the actors has been considerable from both the United Nations and the United States, and, in fact, from political opponents on both, especially on Maliki right now, to play by the rules of the game.


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