Friday, February 27, 2009

Iraq roundtable

Rebecca: We're doing an unplanned roundtable and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava and Jim, me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Ruth of Ruth's Report. I wanted to invite Jim to participate and he and Betty are on the phone from C.I.'s house on the West Coast. Cedric is participating by phone and all the rest -- including C.I. -- are here at Trina's home on the East Coast. I hope I remembered everyone This is another Iraq roundtable. Ruth, why don't you explain the reason for it?

Ruth: Today at Camp Leujune in North Carolina, President Barack Obama revealed his Iraq 'plan' and C.I. covers it in today's snapshot for those who need a reference or additional information. We are seeing the usual faux lefties, the usual play-members of the 'anti-war' movement emerge with their simpering statements and we are also seeing others make statements that are very disturbing. We are not cowards and we are not idiots so it is important that we speak up at a time when alleged voices of peace refuse to do so.

Rebecca: There are several people attempting to speak right now. I'm going with Jim who is not attempting to speak because of the fact that we're going with the speech and additional comments elaborating on Ruth can come in later. Jim?

Jim: Okay, I think the way this works is we're going to talk about the speech. And, I'll start with where I'm confused. We looked to see which 'left' outlets were talking about it. The Nation has an article by Robert Dreyfuss that does call out the speech and we don't normally link to him but it's "Obama's Iraq Plan Ain't It." But Dreyfuss writes, "Obama didn't say anything about the US-Iraq accord signed last year that sets a 2011 deadline for the departure of all US forces." Is that right?

C.I.: No, that's incorrect. I don't what's going on. Maybe he couldn't make it through the speech but he is wrong. Early in the speech Barack says, "And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011." That's not the only reference and, I believe this in the snapshot, the White House today has a set of talking points including Gates' press conference and including Barack's endorsement of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. I don't know Robert Dreyfuss, I have no idea why he made that claim. I can provide other examples if needed but the speech is supposed to be up at the White House website and we can link to it. Barack addressed it. That's not defending Barack. The treaty's a joke, we've all said that since before it passed the Iraqi Parliament. I am not trying to pick apart Robert Dreyfuss' analysis -- which I haven't read and wasn't aware of before Jim brought it up just now -- but I am stating that Barack mentioned the SOFA. It's in the speech.

Jim: Dreyfuss doesn't buy the SOFA either and goes on to write, "Now, of course, that deadline was always seen, by both sides, as (shall we say?) 'flexible.' Prime Minister Maliki, bowing to the rising nationalist trend in Iraq, made it seem like that he wants American forces to leave, but he doesn't. In fact, his top aides have told people in Washington that they want American troops to remain in Iraq for much longer, as long as they continue to build up Maliki's armed forces." Comment?

Ava: I'm jumping in because C.I. and I are taking notes and C.I.'s giving me a look. We have heard -- C.I. and I, Kat and Wally -- what Dreyfuss is saying, we've heard that repeatedly from members of Congress and others. Is it true? We assume it is. That's always been the speculation in DC.

Rebecca: Okay. Stan?

Stan: I looked up The Progressive. They've got nothing on the speech. They've got movie talk. Ruth Conniff offered her stale attacks on Bill Clinton. Everything about Ruth Conniff is dead on arrival. So she's at the right magazine. It's not just that they don't have anything on the speech, they've got nothing on Iraq on their main page. They really are useless.

Rebecca: World Can't Wait?

Cedric: I had them and can't get them to display.

Mike: I'm having that problem too. Cedric texted me on and I tried to. I noticed this last week too, that Fridays the site doesn't load.

Cedric: But a link for them, please. They're not going to play Barack suck up. Elaine?

Elaine: I had United for Peace and Justice and they have nothing on the speech but I did find it curious that they refuse to take part in the March 21st action but are suddenly encouraging local actions. That doesn't just strike me as counter-productive, I see it as destructive, an effort to harm what The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War are organizing. From IVAW's announcement:

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

Rebecca: I agree with you, Elaine, that does seem like United for Peace & Justice -- long hostile to A.N.S.W.E.R. and filled with Barack enablers and cheerleaders -- Carl, Tom, Leslie, etc. -- are attempting to harm the turnout for the planned March action. Typical garbage from faux 'leaders.' Speaking of faux 'leaders,' another 'anti-war' group is CODESTINK. Trina?

Trina: The surprise here is that I'm going to ask for a link. They actually did something, I was surprised as I'm sure most of you are. They call Barack's speech today a, this is a quote, "broken promise." Good for them. Of course, I-Need-Attention Benjamin has to be her usual little suck up self and supply what I will term a whorish statement. She's useless, she needs to shut the hell up and take herself a long vaction -- provided her handlers will approve it for her. But Dana Balicki has a good quote on the speech at the start and then she goes all Medea on us: "And there hasn't been any word on military bases left in Iraq that will continue to drain billions of dollars from US taxpayers at a time where that money is very much needed at home. But the withdrawal, and a time line, is a baby step forward from past policies. As citizens, it's our job to move Obama to take giant strides." That's the full quote.

Kat: I'm reading I-Need-Attention Benjamin's nonsense over Trina's shoulder. That is such garbage that if I was standing in a room with Medea, I would pie her lying ass myself. Her premise is that after George W. we should be grateful. Meada, you stupid idiot, are you trying to sound like Nancy Pelosi? Answer that question. Shame on Medea, shame on everyone for acting like George W. Bush is the baseline. Were the last eight years that we objected objecting because Bush was an underachiever? No, it was because he was a criminal. It's not good enough for the left to say, "Barack's a little better than Bush." No, Bush is a criminal. Any sane person should be a little better. A little better doesn't cut it. The country should never again suffer under anyone like W. And we don't grade by comparison. We don't take the worst occupant of the Oval Office -- worse than Nixon according to John Dean -- and use him as the baseline. That's like saying, "We had a serial killer for a president but now we just have an arsonist so let's all be happy!" No, it's unacceptable. Just like Medea's cowardly bulls**t. Call him out. Stop this sniveling and cowardice, I'm damn sick of it.

Stan: I think Kat just nailed one of our problems. We had a psychotic, crazed killer in the White House and some want to act like since Barack manages to wipe away his drool on his own, we should be grateful. That is completely screwed up. Thank you for pointing that out.

Kat: C.I. on impeachment this morning. And I'm being nodded at by C.I. to explain. Bush is a criminal who should have been impeached. If we refuse to hold him accountable -- as may happen -- we're saying Bush acted 'normal' and 'acceptable.' When we use him as a comparison for Barack, to argue that Barack's better than Bush, we are degrading ourselves as a country and as a people. That's not good enough, that's not a standard. That is embracing and okaying the crimes of George W. Bush because we are treating them as normal by being 'grateful' that Barack doesn't do them.

Ruth: And I will add that the speech resulted in a standing ovation. Kat has done a wonderful summary but I do not believe it was planned. C.I. was answering a question --

Ava: About John Walsh's "Indict Bush and Impeach Obama: Liberal Leaders Betray Antiwar Cause To Serve Dems and Obama -- Again."

Ruth: Yes. And in the reply just took off.

C.I.: It wasn't planned, the energy in the room created it. Credit the people present for it.

Rebecca: C.I.'s being modest, as usual. It really was something and Kat's right to apply it here because CODESTINK is saying that they think George W. Bush is acceptable. When they offer those wimpy, 'it's a move finally,' embarrassing statements, they are putting a "CODESTINK approved" sticker on George W. Bush. They need to think about their actions -- but thinking has never been Medea's strong suit or Jodie's.

Trina: Do we want to link? We don't have to.

Rebecca: I'm gesturing to those present and everyone's shrugging so unless Betty, Jim or Cedric have an objection, the answer will be yes. At least they called it a broken promise and we'll applaud that they've finally done something, no matter how minor, with the hope that something else will follow. If it doesn't, screw 'em. But no one can claim we didn't attempt to be fair even with a group we've grown to despise. Marcia, you also had a website to check.

Marcia: I had which is a site run by a libertarian, Justin Raimondo and he has a column entitled "The Silence of the Liberals." And I want to emphasize one section of it here:

Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?

Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."

In short: we aren't leaving.

Marcia (Con't): It's a very strong piece and Justin had a really strong article. And, I'm blanking on what Geoff Morrell said they'd do. But didn't he list it?

Mike: Yes, yesterday's snapshot contains that. This is Morrell at the Pentagon Thursday when CNN's Barbara Starr was asking the hard questions. Morrell, "And the three basic areas where those forces would concentrate -- and, again, this is something the president and the secretary have spoken to -- are, number one, continuing to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continuting to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continue to help them train and equip, and support them in their operations. Number two, this force of whatever size it turns out to be would also conduct intelligence-driven, warrant-based combat operations against -- against terrorists, and tehy would do so assisting Iraqi security forces, who would be in the lead. And lastly, they would be required to protect American personnel and other U.S. assets in Iraq. So those are the three fundamental areas. But, you know, I've heard all this talk about it's diseingenous to say that combat forces are being drawn down; all forces are combat forces, and those that remain will be combat forces."

Betty: It's so stupid and this was the point that we all raised repeatedly -- with C.I. leading -- that it is word games. "Combat" or "non-combat." It's just a way to reclassify and keep troops on the ground. I want to insert Thomas E. Ricks speaking on Washington Unplugged, CBS News' online show, earlier this month, "But it was a false phraseology: 'combat troops.' Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat." It's word games and people are willing to play along. And they're taking his bad speech that they applauded today at face value. This is the same man who told them during the campaigns that he would put a 16-month plan into effect. He only hedged and hemmed when Hillary was out of the race. I don't know why we believe a word out of his mouth to begin with but when someone promises you 16-months and then they up it to 19, there's a problem if you can't grasp that you've been lied to and if you can't grasp that you need to be a little wary about future 'promises' from the same person.

Rebecca: Agreed. And we'll stay with Betty because she was the brave one who agreed to step into Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box to see how they handled it.

Betty: Well Arianna stuck her as in the air, scratched her paws in the kitty litter and walked off leaving her mess to stink up the entire net. Barack's speech is being treated as news and by that I mean they offer news links to it but apparently can't actually comment on it except for the rah-rah-rah VoteVets -- a Democratic Party enabler of some time. There is no critique, there is nothing. Apparently when she feels it is time to mock special-needs children, Arianna can go full out. When it's time to speak out against politicians who sell out the people and continue the illegal war, she needs to spend several hours with her scratching post first.

Rebecca: And Mike was going to check out Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Mike: They have a strong statement and I want to emphasize this section:

We must ensure that U.S. control of Iraq, which today is accomplished primarily through military force, is not maintained over the longer term through the use of more subtle legal, financial, economic, or political means. "The Iraqi people deserve the dignity of full sovereignty and control of their own nation," says Kelly Doughery, Executive Director of IVAW and former Military Police Sergeant, "and the only way to give this to them is by the immediate and complete withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq – this means withdrawing all military personnel, troops, and defense contractors, closing all military bases, ceasing air operations, and removing American interests intent on controlling Iraqi oil resources."

Mike (Con't): I wanted to include that section because there's a site that never cares about Iraq -- I believe it last wrote about Iraq . . . never. But this site is pushing the angle that Kelly Doughery is on board with Barack's 'plan' and she's not.

Ava: Mike, just to be clear, you're pronouncing her last name that way because?

Mike: That's how IVAW has it.

Ava: It must be a typo. We'll leave it that way in the quote from IVAW but her name is Kelly Dougherty -- with a "t" in the last name. It's not the end of the world and typos aren't uncommon in this community but when you said "Doughery" the second time, C.I. and I were wondering what was up with that.

Rebecca: Okay, Stan, I'm tossing to you for a grade.

Stan: CODESTINK gets a thumbs up for calling it out in an action alert that works if you pull out the quotes. We graded generously. Robert Dreyfuss is the only 'front pager' at a left site who called it out. We'll give him an A+. We give that grade out to IVAW and as well. The Progressive, The Huffington Post and United for Peace and Justice receive failing grades.

Rebecca: I need Ruth, Trina and Cedric to speak during this section. We're getting close to the end and I need you three to up your participation. How about your impressions of the speech or 'plan' and I want to start with Cedric because he's participating by phone.

Cedric: I was honestly hoping he would surprise us. I was hoping what had come all week before his speech would end up being some elaborate fake out on the press and he would declare something that we -- those who want to end the illegal war -- could take some pride in. Why was I thinking that? There was no reason to think that and Barack certainly has done nothing to warrant hope. But it's the six year mark next month and I was honestly hoping that he would actually do something. It was fantasy, I wasn't being reality based. But I was hoping to find something to praise and I read the speech this afternoon and there was nothing to praise in it. It was very disappointing.

Ruth: Cedric, can I ask a question?

Cedric: Sure.

Ruth: You say this was a fantasy and it seems rather elaborate. Were you thinking of "I was wrong" statements?

Cedric: Absolutely. I was. I had this whole unrealistic day dream where I would have to post, "Hey, I was completely about Barack. Glad to be. I was a fool and I missed it." I actually did entertain thoughts that I would have to write something like that. So it wasn't a passing fancy, it was rather elaborate. It wasn't reality-based but, yeah, I was hoping that somehow the war would end.

Ruth: I can understand that. I'll focus on the actual remarks in terms of what the word assembly said to me. "Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end." How pompous can you be? I loved C.I. comparing it to the famous passage in Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and The Carpenter. That comparison works because that is a story geared for children and Barack gave a speech that was like he was speaking down to the country. I detected a lot of Bully Boy George W. in the speech. "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." That is just an annoying sentence to hear, just the word choice and the order. It grates on the ears. "Let me say this as plainly as I can". I believe that the statement which follows should make clear whether the words were plain. It was a bad speech and that section was like in a film where the leads have no chemistry so they have to keep telling the audience, "I am falling in love with you. I think we're in love. We are so happy." These are things you should be able to tell on your own. Trina:

Trina: Well, I didn't have the elaborate fantasy that Cedric did; however, there were times, brief periods of what-if in the lead up to today. Periods where I thought, "Maybe he'll surprise us." And, like Cedric, it had to do with my just wanting the illegal war to be over. It wasn't based on reality. It was more a desire to see the Iraq War ended. From the start, it was obvious nothing had changed. What worried me the most, at the end of the speech, was I couldn't tell if he believes most Americans are idiots or if he just doesn't care. The only reason that matters is because it might help for some level of understanding. But the 'plan' was a broken promise, it does nothing but continue the illegal war and it's not what 'anti-war' voters voting for him thought they were getting.

Cedric: Trina, you say a few minutes you'd have this fantasy. I was about three sentences in when I realized no fantasies were coming true. For you, when did the realization hit?

Trina: I watched it on TV and so for me the cue was the visual. He was doing that weird, snobby thing with his head. When I saw that posing, I knew nothing was going to change.

Rebecca: Jim had a question or comment -- probably for C.I. -- and I'm sliding to Jim while I try to figure out who else needs to speak. Elaine has a cold and I promised her she didn't have to worry so her one comment will be it unless she decides otherwise and she's shaking her head "no" so that's it from her. Jim?

Jim: The one area you, C.I., graded him well on was the refugees. I was wondering about that.

C.I.: Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, made a fool and ass of herself at the United Nations yesterday speaking on that subject. Barack spoke better on that section. That wasn't me saying, "Great speech, Barack."

Jim: I know that. I'm just wanting to get this on the record because someone's going to e-mail.

C.I.: I did not think that was a great speech. The section highlighted was highlighted in contrast to Susan Rice's remarks which were supposed to be reflective of the White House and were not.

Rebecca: Okay. Betty, I'm looking at Ava and C.I.'s first pages and not seeing much by you. So how about you grade Barack and I'm sorry if someone else got left out.

Betty: I agree with C.I. on the refugee thing. And just to explain that, Susan Rice -- Condi II -- was calling for Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq. It is not safe for them to return. It wasn't just stupid -- her remarks -- they were dangerous statements. So, yes, I would say it's good to know that Barack's not trying to shove all the refugees back in Iraq the way Rice was. I agree with Ruth that it was poor word choices and poor assembly for the entire speech. He really reminded me of George W. Bush. He showed up to break a promise and tried to con us. Typical of the last eight years.

Rebecca: Okay and that's going to be it. Thank you to everyone who participated. All who read, whatever your own thoughts on today's 'plan' are, please make a point to discuss it with at least one person and help get Iraq in the focus.

Jim: Jumping in quick. Rush transcript. Typos are for your reading enjoyment.

Rebecca: Thank you! I forgot that. And at all sites but The Common Ills, today's Iraq snapshot will immediately follow.