Friday, February 27, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 27, 2009.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces another death, Barack remembers a war drags on in Iraq (even if he forgets his campaign promise), Robert Gates goes off script, Susan Rice turns herself into the United Nations laughingstock, John Walsh replies to a war enabler, and much more. 
Of all the things the left and the 'left' will have to live with in the next years, chief among them will be War Hawk Susan Rice whom they refused to call out.  As Mike noted last night, she's already echoing the last White House with her threats on Iran.  CNN reports that in her same UN speech she "briefly" made time for Iraqi refugees: "She called on the international community to provide greater support to the millions of Iraqi refugees who have been displaced because of the war."  She called on others?
How typical of Susan Rice.  The US has done damn little and until the most recent fiscal year, didn't even meet their quota for allowing Iraqi refugees into this country. The international community has done for more for the Iraqi refugees.  Last week, the International Oranization of Migration declared Syria was home to 80% of the Iraqi refugees.  Syria, Susan Rice, not the United States.  Mundher Sahwi (Azzaman) reported Wednesday that Syria was stating their resources were "strapped" as a result of "spending up to $2 billion a year on Iraqi refugees and that its efforts to persuade donor countries and international aid organizations for help have almost gone unheeded." Syria, Susan Rice says you need to do more.  Susan Rice, that's who.  No, we're not particularly impressed with her here in the United States either.  Yes, she has a highly abusive relationship with the truth.
Quote: "And we encourage members states to help Iraq strengthen its democratic institutions, bring its displaced citizens back home . . ."  Stop the tape.  That's what the War Hawk said at the United Nations yesterday.  The International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations, and assorted other groups and organizations have made very clear that Iraqi refugees cannot go back.  But that's what Susan Rice said yesterday.   And everyone's talking about it.  She made a FOOL out of herself and is now the talk of the UN.  She DISGRACED the country by looking like the uninformed idiot she is.  (Her quote was supplied by a friend at the UN.) 
On Sunday, Rebecca Webber (Parade magazine) reported on an Iraqi who was a US translator and recently left with his family: "They joined more than 4 million other Iraqis -- about one in six of the country's pre-war population -- who have fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis of the past decade.  More than half of the refugees moved to safer areas in Iraq; a small number of those people live in makeshift camps.  Two milliion Iraqis have left the country entirely.  About 1.2 million are in Syria, half a million are in Jordan, and tens of thousands have ended up in Iraqn, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, according to the most recent numbers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)." 
While Susan was lying through her teeth, Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, was informing the United Nations Security Council that, "We have grounds for optimism" in Iraq.  He did not push or allued to a need for refugees to return.  In fact, none of the speakers made idiots of themselves the way Susan Rice did.  Japan, Russia, China, Vietnam, Turkey, France, Uganda and others spoke.  And only the United States is being laughed at because we sent an idiot who either is so dumb she doesn't know the fact she's supposedly addressing or she just doesn't give a damn.  She's been dubbed "Condi II."  Her big UN appearance, fresh in her job and she's the laugh of the United Nations.  Well done, Barack Obama, way to change the face of the United States.
Refugees International currently has a form at their website allowing you to send a letter to US President Obama:
Five million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes and are living in desperate circumstances.  By helping displaced Iraqis, the U.S. will help ensure a stable Iraq.  
I urge you to craft a new U.S. policy to:  
1. Assist Iraqi refugees. 
2. Ensure a safe, voluntary return home when possible.   
3. Pressure Iraq to meet its responsibilities to its own people.  
4. Increase resettlement for those who can't go home.  
Please show real leadership to resolve this humanitarian crisis.
Maybe point five could be added: "Please ask Susan Rice to step down before she turns the US into a big mockery"? The illegal war started in March 2003.  Refugees International noted in July of last year that the US had allowed "around 10,000 refugees" to come to the US and noted "the U.S. response is incommensurate with the scope of the need. . . . While the U.S. may achieve its goal of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees here in the current fiscal year" it did," the needs are much greater.  We ask the U.S. to reconsider resettling 105,500 refugees from Iraq and, if necessary, to reassess this number for the next few years."  Last August, Aaron Brown hosted a Wide Angle (PBS) on the Iraqi refugees.  (Click here for recent episodes. Here for the specific episode.)
Aaron Brown: There's much we can argue about where the Iraq War is concerned but we can't argue about this: Millions of Iraqis now live as refugees because of the war. Hundreds of thousands have come here to Jordan and many, many more ended up in Syria a few hours away. [. . .] By my thinking, it's the most underreported story of the war because the consequences won't be appreciated for years to come.  They were some of Iraq's best educated people. Its lawyers, its doctors, its teachers and accountants, some of the wealthiest but also some of the poorest. Sunni and Shia and Christian -- all religions really.  Before the war some of them worked for Saddam's old Baathist regime, after the invasion, some worked for the Americans.  Many were just caught in between.  But here, they are all the same.  They can't get jobs, their children have trouble getting into schools, families get separated, people get desperate.  We've seen it time and again in our stay here.
UNHCR's Oula Ramadan is a registration clerk in Jordan and she explains that they are seen by refugees as the only ones who might be able to help, "so they come with hope.  They tell you everything about their lives in Iraq, about their stories, about what happened to them there.  And when you hear about the torture, when you hear about kidnapping, about killing in the streets, about militias, you feel like there is a lot of things you don't know if you don't get into these stories."  Queen Noor of Jordan discussed the issue with Aaron Brown.
Queen Noor: The social exclusion and marginalization of young people as well as their parents, I think, is a very serious problem with potentially dangerous consequences.  No one can afford to have a huge number of people feeling alienated and humiliated and desperate and hopeless.
Aaron Brown: People don't want to think of the consequences of this kind of neglect, but the consequences of hopelessness are real.
Queen Noor: I believe that in host countries like Syria and Jordan, if we are not able to attend to their basic needs and help to instill a sense of hope for the future we will face an even more uncertained and dangerous future.
Aaron Brown: Are you getting the attention you need from the Western countries, from America?
Queen Noor: The industrialized countries -- many feel that the United States and Great Britain and others have a special responsibility because it was their -- their policies in Iraq that -- that resulted in -- in these humanitarian consequences.  There seems to be a lack of understanding of what the humanitarian consequences might be and what ultimately the political consequences might be of these humanitarian tragedies.  It has to be looked at as in all of our interests to ensure that it doesn't further destabilize a region that is already racked with so much instability -- instability that has spilled over it's borders and outside of this region for far too long now.  That I think is -- is something that I worry about every day.
In August, Brown noted that the United States had then accepted only 9,000 Iraqi refugees -- which was approximately one-third of the more than 30,000 referred to the US by the UNHCR.  And Susan Rice wants to stand before the UN yesterday and insist that other countries need to do more?
Yesterday, Susan Carroll (Houston Chronicle) reported on Rand Hikmat-Mahmood and her family -- a husband, a teenage son -- who are struggling in Houston and can't find employment:
Next month, Hikmat-Mahmood's family will reach the end of their rental assistance, and they still have no job prospects.  She and a growing number of refugees are finding themselves in precarious financial situations as the economy has soured, and competition for once-plentiful entry-level jobs has grown amid rising unemployment.  
Resettlement organizations are still reporting success in getting refugees employed on their way to self-sufficiency.  But it's taking longer, and it's more difficult.  Instead of having about 90 percent of refugees in jobs within about 45 days, the time frame now is about three or four months, Jolick said.   
Himat-Mahmood didn't expect that she and her husband, who both hold doctorates in political science and taught in universities in Baghdad, would find jobs on par with those they left behind after fleeing Iraq for Jordan in 2006. 
But they had hopes to find something by now.  
"I didn't expect the situation would be so difficult," she said.
If something doesn't turn up soon, Carroll informs, the family will have to return to Iraq.  How does Susan Rice intend to help that family?
And why is someone sending them to Houston?  Fort Worth would seem to be only one example of a better location in that region due to the military bases because, with US troops to remain in Iraq for some time, it seems obvious that Iraqis could be utilized in training sessions informing service members of the customs, the reactions, the lay of the land.  Rand Hikmat-Mahmood and her husband are educators and used to working with adults.  It would seem a natural job for them to be working on a US base (if they wanted to) providing insight into Iraq and its regional neighbors.  Susan Rice, are you going to do anything about that?
While Susan Rice laughable calls for a return to an unsafe land, Mundher al-Shawfi (Azzaman) reports today that Abdulsamad Sultan, Iraq's Displacement and Migration Minister, has declared his ministry has no money and "could not afford paying the travel expenses of Iraqi refugees willing to return home." Sultan points out, "Iraqi authorities have done almost nothing to help Iraqi refugees in neighboring states despite unprecedented oil revenues in the past two years."  For those who've forgotten, from the Feb. 18th snapshot: "And proving just how the al-Maliki government refuses to help the people of Iraq,  Press TV reports that Iraq's Deputy Minister of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Asghar al-Moussawi is scapegoating those attempting to assist Iraqi Christians by insisting, 'To encourage a group of any particular faith to leave the country is against international law, and causes more harm than benefit to those people'."  So said the Deputy Minister of a broke agency.  Broke and broken.

Speaking of, Barack went to Camp Lejeune today and gave a speech.  Pretty words. Let's give Barack some praise before divining into the ugly realities.  He used "drawdown" repeatedly (and the White House wants that spelled as one word), more so than "withdrawal."  It is a draw down that he is promising to begin.  He (briefly) noted Chris Hill's many qualifications to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.  And he spoke much more wisely about Iraqi refugees than did Susan Rice:
Diplomacy and assistance is also required to help the millions of displaced Iraqis.  These men, women and children are a living consequence of this war and a challenge to stability in the region, and they must become a part of Iraq's reconciliation and recovery.  America has a strategic interest -- and a moral responsibility -- to act.  In the coming months, my administration will provide more assistance and take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting refugees; we'll cooperate with others to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees and displaced Iraqis within Iraq -- because there are few more powerful indicators of lasting peace than displaced citizens returning home.
"Few more powerful indicators of lasting peace than displaced citizens returning home"?  So Barack's now supporting the right-of-return for all Palestinians?  Good to know.  (No, he's not supporting it.) Susan Rice, note Barack's words about "and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees and displaced Iraqis within Iraq" -- no one's laughing at him at the UN today.  He's not been dubbed "Condi II." 
Barack attempted to justify his breaking of his 'promise' during the campaign of 16-months withdrawal by pushing the blame onto the military commanders.  Guess Barack's not "the decider."  (When he introduced that element -- July 2008 -- into his talking points, Tom Hayden suffered an online meltdown but quickly recovered and returned to be Barack's "sweet ass girl.") In part of the speech, Barack attempted to speak to Iraqis directly and made assurances that really can't be made after you've indicated to the New York Times (as he did in 2007) that you'd like bases outside of Iraq -- Kuwait.  When you've made that clear, your words about "no claim on your territory" aren't not going to be seen as genuine.  If Barack was genuine, he should have added "or neighboring areas."  Barack declared to the US military, "We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Huessein's regime -- and you got the job done.  We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government -- and you got the job done."  Uh, no. 
WMD was the stated reason for the start of the illegal war and it's really beneath Barack's media image for him to lie like that.  It's insulting and indicates a real lack of respect for the US military.  There is no sovereign government in Iraq -- there's a puppet government that we propped up and the vice president of the United States is very aware of that and has spoken of it many times including publicly.  But let's zoom in on "and you got the job done" to both.  If the job's done, why aren't all US troops leaving Iraq right now?
Barack also declared that the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement will be followed and means that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.  That is laughable to anyone with a memory.  During the campaign of the general election, Barack joined Joe Biden in calling that treaty out, stated it was unconstitutional and declared he would fight any effort by Bully Boy Bush to push it through.  Maybe the cobbled together speech (with poor transitions) left him doubtful?  Best allusion in the speech?  To Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and The Carpenter -- how appropriate that the absurd speech references Carroll who was far better social critic than was Orwell -- "Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end."  Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.
Someone ripped off Barack's wings and he can't fly.  The person was US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who held a lengthy press conference at Camp Lejeune today.  Status of Forces Agreement?  What SOFA?  Gates: "I think what he was referring to was that under the terms of the Status Of Forces Agreement, which is what we are operating under now, all US forces must be out by the end of 2011.  It will require a new agreement -- or it would require a new agreement, a new negotiation -- almost certainly an Iraqi initiative -- to provide for some presence beyond the end of 2011.  So in the absence of that agreement, in the absence of any negotiation for such an agreement, it is in keeping with the SOFA that, to say definitively, that we will be out at the end of 2011."  Did you catch the qualifiers?  Asked could the US remain in Iraq past 2011, Gates responded, "Well, I think we'll have to wait and see.  I mean, it's a hypothetical.  The Iraqis have not said anything about that at this point.  So it remains to be seen whether they will take an initiative.  I think what we should be -- my own view would be that we should be prepared to have some very modest-sized presence for training and helping them with their new equipment and providing, perhaps, intelligence support and so on beyond that.  But again, it's hypothetical, because such a -- no such request has been made, and no indication that it will be at this point." 
For the record, the White House is very proud of Gates' press conference and referring reporters to it.  Leading everyone to ask: Did they monitor it?  Do they have any idea what Gates said?
Barack stood up at the base -- in front of the world -- and said, that come 2011 all US troops out!  And Gates is saying that, well, maybe they will be, and, maybe they won't be, and these things need to be negoitated, and . . .
Gates was asked about flexibility and on that he stuck to a talking points.  He avoided noting that Barack has stated many times if things go badly, US forces go back in.  Barack left that out of today's big speech as well.    The press is running with the number 50,000 as the number of US troops left behind in Iraq after the draw down is completed.  That is most likely a low-balled figure.  (Friends in the administration tell me it's 60,000 -- leading me to believe it's actually 70,000.)
Until all US troops are out, they're at risk.  Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died Feb. 26 from combat related injuries while conducting a patrol in Baghdad. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4252. And for those paying attention, since Saturday, there have been seven deaths of US service members in Iraq announced.
We'll come back to the speech but let's first note that March 21st an action takes place and organizations participating include The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action:   

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)                                 
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or
The speech was a bunch of pretty words short on facts and not bound to reality.  Look for Tom Hayden to have a wet dream in print over it. Congressional Democrats have voiced differences.  Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been clear since Wendesday that she does not favor leaving such a huge number of 'non-combat' troops in Iraq -- Anne E. Kornblut and Paul Kane (Washington Post) note Pelosi and others today.  Yesterday US Senator Russ Feingold issued this statement on Barack's 'withdrawal:'

After years of failed Iraq policies, I am pleased by reports that President Obama plans to significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by August 2010. Our presence in Iraq has cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives, overburdened our military, fueled anti-Americanism and distracted us from the global threat posed by al Qaeda. I am concerned, however, by reports that tens of thousands of U.S. troops may remain in Iraq beyond August 2010. I question whether such a large force is needed to combat any al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq or whether it will contribute to stability in the region.
Readers of the New York Times in print get Peter Baker's "Some Democrats Say Obama's Plan Would Leave Too Many Troops in Iraq." It's apparently a very bad report that must be buried so it's been vanished online. This is not it, nor is this. Harry Reid's quoted in the article stating, "I have been one for a long time who has called for significant cutbacks in Iraq. I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I anticipated." Patty Murray states, "I want to hear what the president has to say about justifying whatever number it is that he has. I do think we have to look carefully at the numbers that are there and do it as quickly as we can." Charles Schumer declares, "Fifty thousand is more than I would have thought. We await the justification for why that would be." Only Jack Reed plays happy, of all the senators quoted, only Jack Reed wallows in his own (and Barack's) filth. It's a shame the paper has decided to bury Baker's story. Readers of the national edition will find it on A8.  It was buried this morning, it still does not exist online at the New York Times; however, an NYT friend points out it is available at NYT's International Herald Tribune -- under the same headline.  And for what reason would the paper toss it to an expected foreign audience and hide it from domestic online readers?  "No comment."
"Non-combat."  "Combat" forces are being withdrawn.  Gates and Barack were on the same page with that talking point.  Thomas E. Ricks (author of the new book The Gamble) appeared on CBS' Washington Unplugged (click here for just the Ricks' segment) earlier this month and explained how Barack's 'promise' came across to Americans and 'combat' troops:

Thomas E. Ricks: I think there well indeed might be a clash by the end of the year. Obama's campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq in sixteen months was a fatuous promise. When Americans heard it, what they heard was I will have no American troops dying in 16 months. But it was a false phraseology: "combat troops." Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat. General Odierno says in the book he'd like to see 35,000 troops there as late as 2015. Well into . . . it will be Obama's second term. So I think that at the end of this year, you're going to see a conflict. Obama's going to want to see troop numbers coming down. Odierno, the other big O, as they call him in Iraq, is going to say, "Wait a minute, you're holding general elections here in December, in Iraq. That's exactly the wrong time to take troops out."
Ricks' new book has been discussed at Foreign Policy and Ricks has joined in on the book discussion.  Regarding the SOFA, he write that "I just don't think it is that meaningful. As I watched it come together in Baghdad, it appeared to me to simply be a way of taking the American military presence off the table as a divisive issue in Iraqi politics. That is, it was much more about 2009 than about 2011. So I make less of it than others do. I might be wrong. Yes, I know a tremendous amount of time was spent on this at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, because I kept on hearing about it as I did my interviews last year. But expenditure of words is no indication of historical significance-just look at how screamingly irrelevant NATO is becoming, despite many speeches given in Brussels and at summit conferences. Similarly, in the book I didn't discuss the much-ballyhooed war czar, Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, because I didn't see that he mattered much to the course of the war."  Prior to the speech by Barack today, he offered this predicition, "So I think he will have troops fighting and dying in Iraq for many years to come.  Yes, he will get the troop numbers down.  But no, he won't get out."  Get out of what exactly?  What is Iraq today?  Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) wrestles with that question and offers (piece is clearly labeled commentary) his opinion:
Yes, Baghdad is better.
Still, there are hundreds of Iraqi soldiers in the crowded streets, armed and armored, checking parked car after parked car. Manning checkpoints that bring traffic to a standstill. Piled into the beds of pickup trucks, thickets of AK-47 rifles pointing out.
The blast this morning was close, a block away. It was right around 7 a.m. I was asleep. A boom, the rattle of the windows, the slight contraction of the chest that comes when a blast is near. This used to be how I'd wake every morning here.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Thursday Mosul bombing that resulted in two Iraqi service members being wounded.
Turning to war resistance news, AP reports that war resister Cliff Cornell, who turned himself in Feb. 10th at Fort Stewart, has been charged with desertion.  James Branum is his attorney.  PDF format warning, Branum recently wrote an article for On Watch (go through this link if PDF won't display) which Susan Basein has updated.  The article is entitled "AWOL from the Army" and explains in the introduction:
This article is intended to provide an overview of the process that a lawyer or a lay military counselor would use in assisting a soldier who is AWOL (absent without leave), or considering going AWOL, from the US Army.  While some of the ideas discussed here would be applicable to other branches of the military, it is imperative to understand that many of the procedures discussed below are unique to the Army and that anyone who is assisting a servicemember from another branch should get the latest information on AWOL/UA (unauthorized absence) policies from the sources listed in the addendum to this article.
We'll note another section, "VI. Mitigation and how to prepare it:"
In all AWOL cases, be it PCF or non-PCF eligible soldiers, mitigation is the key to getting your client the best outcome possible.  Mitigation is a very broad concept, including almost anything that would help to explain why an offense should not be punished or should be punished with less severity than might otherwise be justified.  Generally anything that would be grounds for a discharge (physical or mental health issues, family hardship, etc.) would be appropriate as mitigation, along with anything that would otherwise generate sympathy or understanding by the decision-makers in a case (e.g., command mistreatment of a soldier, failure of a command to stop mistreatment by fellow soldiers, etc.).
Cliff Cornell has explained in a PSA (see December 19, 2007 snapshot for more on the PSA), "My first sergeant who's my higher supervisor, he got up in front of a formation and basically told us there was like two guys who applied for [CO] status.  He got up there and told us those two guys who applied for it and that he didn't want anyone else to apply for it because we was going to Iraq whether we liked it or not."  Cornell hails from Arkansas and self checked-out of the military January 8, 2005.  Kristoffer Walker is the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran who announced he would not return to Iraq. Green Bay Post-Gazette reports, "Army Spc. Kristoffer Walker is trying to hire an attorney with experience dealing with the military in the wake of his decision not to return to his unit in Iraq."
Meanwhile Antony DiMaggio (CounterPunch) explores the sameness at the White House and notes:
Despite the public's long-standing opposition to the war and support for a short timetable for withdrawal, Obama and his generals continue to defy public wishes as they debate whether the occupation will continue for another three years, six years, or indefinitely into the future.  Much of the justification for this obstinacy is based on manipulation of available intelligence and from deceptively simplistic arguments that the 2007 troop surge "worked."  Detailed analysis reveals that this deception is wide-ranging, as support for the surge spans across liberal and conservative mainstream media outlets.
The escalation ("surge") did not work.  Those unhappy with the spin need to take it up with Barack who refused to answer that question repeatedly.  Then he's saying the "surge" worked.  Barack popularized that myth.  (We can -- and have -- offered a detailed explanation of how the "surge" failed.  We can also shorthand it: Bush started the "surge" so that the "benchmarks" could be reached -- they were not reached.  Therefore the objective of the "surge" was not achieved.  The "surge" was a failure.)  That's a reality.  More realities were in John Walsh's "Indict Bush and Impeach Obama: Liberal Leaders Betray Antiwar Cause To Serve Dems and Obama -- Again" (Dissident Voice) and even more in his reply to PDA hack Laura Bonham (see yesterday's snapshot for more on Bohham). This is Walsh reply to Bonham:

John Walsh said on February 26th, 2009 at 12:51pm #
"P"DA is complicit in war.
In response to Laura Bonham's claim that "P"DA is principled and consistent on the question of war, I have to ask, Is she kidding? Or whom does she think she is kidding?
"P"DA supported John Kerry in 2004 when he ran on a prowar platform.
"P"DA supported Barack Obama in 2008 - even as he called for a 100,000 increase in men and women in the active duty army and marines and even as he called to step up the war on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So far as I know, "P"DA will not be joining the March 21 national mobilization in DC against what the mainstream media call Obama's war.
Obama has been bombing Pakistan, an act of war, without any Congressional declaration of war, an impeachable offense. "P"DA has not called for impeachment.
If Bush were doing any of this "P"DA would be yelling at the top of its lungs. But I hear only quiet when Obama does these things -- perhaps a few statements on the web site to cover their ass, but no action at all.
As Eugene McCarthy, echoing Daniel Webster, said of the war on Vietnam, it went on because too many placed party over principle. That is exactly what "P"DA is doing.
john walsh
Meanwhile in labor news, David Bacon offers "Strawberry Workers in Santa Maria" (Political Affairs Magazine -- photos and text) which follows Guillermina Arzola of San Sebastian del Monte in Oaxaca as he and other immigrant workers toil in Santa Maria, California in the berry fields.  As always, Bacon illuminates the realities in this 'hot-button' issue that tends to reduce the humanity at other outlets (intentionally or not -- but I'm not feeling very generous this morning so I'll say intentionally).  These are very moving photos.  David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).
Public broadcasting notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings) and they explore "Retirement at Risk:"

In this struggling economy, boomers are rightfully worried about the funds they were counting on to carry them through the rest of their lives. Will they be able to afford their own retirement?
NOW turns to two experts for help and insight: Amy Domini, a pioneer in the field of socially responsible investing; and journalist Dan Gross, who covers the economy for Slate and Newsweek.
Read an excerpt from Daniel Gross' new book: "Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation"

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and I hesitate to say it but it has the makings of being a show worth watching this week. Dan Balz (Washington Post), Peter Baker (New York Times) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) will be on. Baker has been covering Barack's plan for 'withdrawal' and Martha, of course, famously told Washington Week viewers last month what was going to take place. From the last Washington Week for January -- Ava and I noted it here:

Martha Raddatz: They laid out plans or started to lay out plans for the sixteen-month withdrawal, which President Obama says he wants, or the three-year withdrawal which is the Status Of Forces Agreement that the US has gone into with the Iraqis. And they talked about the risks with each of those. Ray Odierno, who is the general in charge of Iraqi forces, said, 'If you run out in sixteen months -- if you get out in sixteen months, there are risks. The security gains could go down the tube. If you wait three years, there are other risks because you can't get forces into Afghanistan as quickly.' So President Obama made no decisions. Again, he's going to meet with Joint Chiefs next week and probably will make a military decision. But also a key there is how many troops he leaves behind. That's something we're not talking about so much, he's not talking about so much. This residual force that could be 50, 60, 70,000 troops even if he withdraws --

Gwen Ifill: That's not exactly getting out of Iraq.

Martha Raddatz: Not exactly getting out completely.

Washington Week also notes that Jim Lehrer will have an exclusive interview with Barack Obama on this evening's NewsHour.

Moving over to broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, on 60 Minutes:

The Man Who Knew
Harry Markopolos repeatedly told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernie Madoff's investment fund was a fraud. He was ignored, however, and investors lost billions of dollars. Steve Kroft reports.
Mexico's War
Drug-cartel fueled violence has turned into a war in Mexico, with thousands of deaths and the government battling well-armed gangs whose military-quality weapons come mostly from U.S. dealers. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports.
Bobby Jindal
He's been called the Republican Obama and some think he may run for the presidency some day. But his opposition speech after the president's address to Congress this week caused some to say he's too young and inexperienced. Morley Safer profiles the governor of Louisiana.
60 Minutes, Sunday, March 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Wrapping up, Liza Minelli tells Liz Smith, "If you've got one foot in yesterday, and one foot in tomorrow, you're pissing all over today!"  I know and like Liza and that's our entry point for a friend at wowOwow (which previews Liz's interview with Liza for Parade -- see your Sunday paper if it's one of the many that carries Parade or use link and Liz is now a contributing editor for Parade) who has asked twice this week that something be noted.  wowOwow was mentioned in the New York Times this week as a result of the New York Post dumping Liz Smith's column (apparently under the belief that words confuse Post readers).  Liz's columns will now appear at wowOwow (and across the country, she remains syndicated, in various newspapers).  Joni Evans explained, "Beginning next week Liz Smith will be posting more news, hot gossip and opinions all the time on wowOwow -- free from the constraints of newspaper deadlines.  Thursday" that's yesterday "will be the last Liz Smith column for The New York Post -- the first time in 33 years that Liz Smith's column will not be in a New York newspaper.  This sad news for the New York print business is spectacular news for us.  Our fabulous and beloved Diva of Dish will be here on wowOwow, posting exclusive-to-Liz breaking celebrity news as it happens.  It will, occassionally, be highlighted with audio and film and all the tools of an Internet entrepreneur."  Marlo Thomas, Cynthia McFadden, Joan Ganz Cooney, Joan Juliet Buck, Sheila Nevins and others try their hand at a Liz Smith type item at wowOwow today.  For strangers who ask that something to be noted, even friends get put on hold.  Again, I've been asked to note this all week and haven't had the time.  It's better to note it today because Liz Smith hasn't died, she hasn't retired and, as she says today, in her first column free from the Post, "I have decided it is quite exhilarating to be fired, at the age of 86, from a job you've had for 14 yeras.  Fortunately, I seem to be healthy so I'm forging ahead.  I do want to say that I am in love all over again with ABC-TV's Bill Ritter, guardian of the six and 11 PM news in NYC, because in discussing the end of my affair with the New York Post tabloid, he described me as 'Eighty-six -- going on 40!' It was almost worth losing a salary and a daily tenure of 33 years in New York newspapers just to hear those words."  We used to Liza as an entry point, we'll use someone else I know as an exit.  Dee Dee Myers is the author of Why Women Should Rule the World -- just out in softcover after being a bestseller in hardcover --  and at wowOwow she elaborates on the book's topic and on Elena Kagan being named the US solicitor general:
The simple fact is: Men and women often experience the world differently. And that experience influences what we buy, what we read and what we watch, who we vote for and how we lead. It shapes our priorities and values. It makes us who we are. And when we include -- and respect -- these different points of view, we broaden the dialogue, expand the scope of inquiry, change the way we think. We make business more efficient. We make government more responsive. We get better science, better schools and better courts. It matters that there will be a woman in the solicitor general's office. And in the secretary of state's office. And in the speaker's office. And in countless other offices across the country.   
It matters not only because the women can do their jobs as well as their male predecessors. It also matters because they see things differently. Even if those differences start with something as simple as a tampon.