Saturday, January 02, 2010

US military announces a death, News Tribune plays dumb

Today USF announced the following: "BAGHDAD -- A United States Division - Baghdad Soldier died, Jan. 1, of non-combat related injuries. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4372. Of course, CNN doesn't think that death matters because it's being billed as 'non-combat related' (while under investigation).

The news media apparently doesn't think Iraqi deaths matter either. How else to explain the trumpeting of "new low for the year of 2009" by the hideous Iraqi Body Count? Reuters ran with that story Thursday night.

That would mean that IBC released their 'count' before the year ended. This is the same organization that frequently runs two weeks behind in their weekly tally? But we're supposed to believe that for once they got it enough together to not only be on time but also be ahead of schedule?

Forget that IBC does an undercount that's long been called out. Forget that the only 'expert' who has ever publicly endorsed IBC is George W. Bush, you can't authentically report on a year's violence before the year has ended. It just doesn't work that way. At best, IBC offered a 'work in progress,' something in need of an update (the report itself notes that their 'findings' only go through December 16th). At best. But logic and reasoning flew out the window as the press played like hungry pigs descending on the latest scraps tossed into their trough.

Today is Saturday -- it's actually Saturday night -- and some outlets only today were reporting Friday's violence. There was never any reason to run with IBC's silly numbers that exist only to get them more press. There was never any reason. And shame on those who did.

In the real world, the violence never stops.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad car bombings which claimed 1 life and left twenty-one people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded two people and, dropping back to Friday, one Baghdad roadside bombing wounded one police officer. Reuters notes a Falluja car bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured and a Mosul roadside bombing which injured one Iraqi soldier.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Iraqi military officer shot dead in Baghdad, 1 'suspect' shot dead by Mosul police and 1 'suspect' shot dead in Mosul during a grenade attack. Reuters notes 1 "goldsmith" was shot dead in Mosul by unknown assailants. DPA reports 2 police officers shot dead in Mosul.


DPA reports an Iraqi Christian male was kidnapped Friday in Mosul.

From the opening to the Los Angeles Times editorial "Toward a less deadly Iraq:"

Whenever we see a report on the declining violence in Iraq, we're reminded of the old book title, "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me." Take, for instance, the report that the civilian death toll fell in November to the lowest level since the 2003 U.S. invasion: 88 fatalities. That was after October bombings in Baghdad killed 155 people, and just ahead of December's two rounds of multiple car bombings in the capital that left at least 136 dead and hundreds wounded.

Meanwhile Scott Fontaine (McClatchy's News Tribune) doesn't seem to realize what he's reporting. Why are US forces moving through al Saltuin and questioning Iraqis? Didn't June 30th supposedly mean soverienty for the Iraqi people? Why are US forces stopping Iraqi civilians? That would be the first question that a reporter should be asking.

Are they responding to a bomb that just went off? No. Are they there because they're part of a convoy that was just targeted by a roadside bombing? No. Are they there because they were in pursuit of a 'suspect' who ran into al Saltuin with them following him or her? No.

So, Scott Fontaine, your first job as a reporter was to explain why they were there.

"They're questioning Iraqis!"

That's what they're doing, that's not why they're there.

"They're doing psy-ops!"

Again, that's what they're doing, that's not why they're there.

The press pimped the lie that June 30th meant something. So when the press reports on US forces harassing -- and it is harassment -- Iraqi civilians, the press needs to explain how the US got 'permission' to go off the bases they were supposedly confined to after June 30th. The press was more than happy to file one damn report after another claiming US troops were struggling to deal with all their down time and a whole lot of other crap to back up the claim that US forces were not freely roaming Iraq after June 30th. So how about you explain to us now what US forces are doing off their bases? Who gave them permission?

Some IDIOT at the News Tribune has titled Fontaine's article "Persuasion, not propaganda, in Iraq." Apparently, they don't read too well and haven't been educated. Psy-ops is, by it's very nature, PROPAGANDA. What a stupid idiot. What a STUPID, STUPID idiot. US Dept of Defense definition:

PSYOPS or Psychological Operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP. See also consolidation psychological operations; overt peacetime psychological operations programs; perception management.

"Persuasion, not propaganda"? Want to try to sell that crap again? How stupid are they at the News Tribune? How damn stupid do they think we are?

Let's look at Little Scotty's bulls**t article. From the crap:

For many, the idea of psyops still elicits the idea of broadcasting propaganda over the radio or blanketing leaflets across a town ahead of an impending attack. But Lt. Jose Perez, the brigade's psyops detachment commander, said his troops don’t really do that anymore. It's more about the art of gentle persuasion.
"If you want everyone in the room to stand on a chair, you can do it in a few ways," the 41-year-old Chicago resident said. "One would be to throw a bunch of thumbtacks on the floor. But we try to convince people standing on the chair is in their best interest. In a nutshell, it's advertising in a military way."

No, it's not 'advertising,' it's lying. It's attempting to control and even DUMB ASS Jose Perez gives that away in his example. His example is about the US military wanting everyone to stand on a chair and how the US military convinces the people to do so. That's control and manipulation plain and simple. It's a damn shame that so many journalists are so historically, socially and culturally ignorant. Blame it on the fact that journalism is not a real major.

That's proven in this section of Little Scotty's Little Jotting:

When five car bombs exploded in a coordinated attack across Baghdad on Dec. 8, the soldiers initiated a media blitz.
"We told them that the attackers targeted Iraq's culture and Iraq's history," Perez said. "We wanted people to know that it was way more than an attack on buildings and people."

The occupying force is attempting to tell the occupied what actions by Iraqis mean. That's propaganda and it's lying. Most importantly, it is never a foreigners 'role' to explain the meaning of a country to the people of that country. That is true regardless of whether a foreigner is part of an armed force or not. What authority are US forces supposedly operating under when running through this village? What authority gives them -- armed with weapons -- the right to bully and intimidate Iraqi civilians? That's what they're doing. When they, armed to the teeth, starting tossing out veiled threats about Iraqi children, that's what they're doing.

It's outrageous and I can't figure out if Scott Fontaine is actually that stupid or if he played dumb to get the story out?

Meanwhile Ralph Nader (at Information Clearing House) notes the new found 'lefties' who suddenly realize that (despite their lying, pimping and whoring for Barry O) he's really not all that. From Nader's "Breaking With Obama?":

Rest assured the liberal-progressive commentariat has another two years to engage in challenge and chagrin. For in 2012, silence will mute their criticisms as the stark choices of the two-party tyranny come into view and incarcerate their minds into the least-worst voting syndrome (just as they have done in recent Presidential election years).
It is hard to accord them any moral breaking point under such self-imposed censorship. Not much leverage in that approach, is there?

Year-end pieces: Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2009 in music" and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Brownie Approved" and his "The 2010 Plan" went up Friday. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" and "2009 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Thursday and "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" posted on Sunday. In addition, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's "DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) looks at DVDs. I did "The Year of Living Sickly" Friday and Trina examines the economy in "The economy," Marcia the 'message' sent to the LGBT community in "What I learned this year" and Rebecca notes how the sexism came from the top in "the 2009 take-away."

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US goes it alone (officially) and more questions for Tony Blair

The British said cheerio back in July, around the same time the Romanians cleared out "Camp Dracula," their compound on a U.S. base in southern Iraq. Tonga and Kazakhstan left ages ago, and no one seems to remember if any Icelandic forces ever made it to Iraq.
It doesn't matter now, anyway, because as of Friday, former president George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" formally ceased to exist, leaving only the U.S. military's 130,000 or so forces to shepherd their Iraqi counterparts through a volatile election season before a full American troop withdrawal that's expected by the end of 2011.
U.S. commanders officially disbanded the Multinational Force Iraq, or MNF-I, and introduce the USF-I, or U.S. Force Iraq, at a ceremony Friday in Baghdad. American soldiers and officers said the transition is largely a formality because they've been going it alone since the summer.
Iraqis also said the change barely registers. To them, there's never been a question that Americans were in charge for these tumultuous past six years.

The above is from Hannah Allem's "The 'coalition of the willing' in Iraq becomes an army of one" (McClatchy Newspapers) or as M-NF puts it:

MNF-I is now United States Forces – Iraq, and we have moved! CLICK HERE to visit our new Website! Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 December 2009

Please visit us at the new USF-Iraq Website:

Let's stay with England where John Major (UK Prime Minister before Tony Blair) was interviewed by the BBC's Today (link has text and audio). Excerpt:

John Major: I supported the Iraq War because I believed what the Prime Minister [Tony Blair] said. I had myself been prime minister in the first Gulf War and I knew that when I said something I was utterly certain that I knew it was correct and I said less than I know. I assumed the same thing had happened and on that basis I supported, reluctantly, the second Iraq War. It now seem listening to the Chilcot Inquiry, which is proving more fascinating by the day, that there were questions about whether there were Weapons of Mass Destruction. In which case, obvious points arise. Why was the matter not referred back to [UN weapons inspector] Hans Blix to take a longer look before we engaged in a war? Why did nobody go back to the United Nations seeking a proper resolution? Did the cabinet know that there were doubts about whether there were Weapons of Mass Destruction? The supisicoun arises that this was more about regime change than it was about Weapons of Mass Destruction. And there is a bit of history here which I-I'm not sure that many people have yet heard. When President Clinton was in office, America passed an act called the Iraq Liberation Act which committed the US to regime change long before President [George W.] Bush acutally came into power. We, of course, had no comparative law in this country. Some time, I think in the mid-90s, officials, not Presidnet Clinton, officials approached the UK to discuss ideas about regime change and my officials at that time replied that of course Saddam [Hussein] is a bad man and we need to get rid of him but that isn't the most important point. It has to be legal, it has to be viable and, crucially, what happens after you have removed him? After the 91 conflict many people were criticizi- critical of Geroge Bush and I for stopping. I think they now why we stopped [. . .] I think they now know why we stopped. Would have been illegal to go on and the moment that you go on, you have to run the country.

Major refused to address issues of illegality while the hearing was ongoing but did state that (what is perceived as Tony Blair's position, based on Blair's remarks to the BBC last month), "The idea that Saddam Hussein was a bad man and simply most go won't hold." The Iraq Inquiry resumes public hearings on Monday. Wales News notes that Tony Blair will be called to testify:

He will be the star witness when the inquiry turns to the politicians, having so far heard from a succession of diplomats, officials and military top brass.
The picture they have painted is one of concern within Whitehall at both the legality and the wider political legitimacy of military action to oust Saddam Hussein, combined with almost complete lack of planning for the aftermath.
Mr Blair will, no doubt, face questions about whether he could have used his leverage as America’s key ally to ensure that more was done to prevent Iraq spiralling into violence and chaos following the invasion.
But the main issue will be the central decision to go to war in the first place and whether he took the country into conflict on the basis of a "lie" regarding Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In particular, he will be asked about what exactly was "signed in blood" -- in the words of Britain’s then Ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer -- when he met George Bush at the president’s Texas ranch in April 2002, 11 months before the invasion.

The Iraq Inquiry resumes their public hearings Monday and the three scheduled witness for that day are William Patey, Gen Nicholas Houghton, Vice Adm Charles Style and Simon McDonald. December 23rd, the Inquiry issued the following press release:

New witnesses named

23 December 2009

The Iraq Inquiry has released the names of witnesses for the public hearings in January and early February 2010. These witnesses include some of the most senior decision makers in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and the following years up to and including the military withdrawal in July 2009. The public hearings will break in February in the months leading up to the General Election. They will resume after the election.

Sir John Chilcot stated on 17 December that the Committee is “determined to remain firmly outside party politics” and that “the Inquiry should not be used as a political platform for political advantage.” For this reason, the Committee has decided to wait until after the election to hear from those Ministers who are currently serving in the roles about which the Committee wishes to question them. The Committee believes that only after the General Election can these Ministers give their evidence fully without the hearings being used as a platform for political advantage.

The Ministers to whom this applies are the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, and the Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander. These Ministers will be invited to appear in public when the Iraq Inquiry public hearings resume.

The dates when witnesses will appear in January and February will be published on the Iraq Inquiry website one week in advance, normally on a Monday.

Witness names for January and early February 2010

Witnesses Relevant Role
Rt Hon. Margaret Beckett secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Rt Hon Hilary Benn Secretary of State for International Development
Rt Hon. Tony Blair Prime Minister
Rt Hon. Des Browne Secretary of State for Defence
David Brummell Legal Secretary to the Law Officers
Alastair Campbell Director of Communications and Strategy to the Prime Minister
Sir Suma Chakrabarti Permanent Secretary, DFID
Rt Hon. Ann Clwyd Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Iraq
Lord Goldsmith Attorney General
Rt Hon. Geoffrey Hoon Secretary of State for Defence
Rt Hon. John Hutton Secretary of State for Defence
Lord Jay Permanent Secretary, FCO
Sir Bill Jeffrey Permanent Secretary, MOD
Sir Nicholas Macpherson Permanent Secretary, HMT
Sir David Omand Permanent Secretary
Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator
Jonathan Powell Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
Rt Hon. Dr John Reid Secretary of State for Defence
Sir Peter Ricketts Permanent Secretary, FCO
Nemat Shafik Permanent Secretary, DFID
Rt Hon. Clare Short Secretary of State for International Development
Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup Chief of the Defence Staff
Rt Hon. Jack Straw Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Sir Kevin Tebbit Permanent Secretary, MOD
Lord Turnbull Cabinet Secretary
Lord Walker Chief of the Defence Staff
Elizabeth Wilmshurst Deputy Legal Adviser, FCO
Sir Michael Wood Legal Adviser, FCO

The Inquiry will also hear from further witnesses to establish the chronological narrative from 2001-2009. It was not possible for practical reasons to hear from these witnesses earlier:

Witnesses Relevant Role
Maj Gen Graham Binns General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division South East
Mark Lyall-Grant Director General Political, FCO
General Sir John McColl Senior British Military Representative in Iraq

For more information contact the Iraq Inquiry Press Office (020) 7276 0311

Meanwhile David Harrison (Telegraph of London) reports newly released David Moore (held hostage by the League of Righteous) for over two years will stay in a British safe house for "at least a week" to decompress. Hala Jabar (Times of London)adds:

Amid the euphoria over Moore’s sudden release, the kidnappers are hanging on to the body of Alan McMenemy, one of the four bodyguards taken with him.
They say they will not release the body until a senior leader of their hardline Islamic group, Qais al-Khazali, the Shi’ite cleric, is freed from Iraqi custody.
This is anticipated within the next few days. “Alan is being held back as an assurance that the deal is finally complete with the release of Sheikh Qais,” said a source close to the group.

In the US, Caro of MakeThemAccountable observes of the gas bags on the 'left':

The biggest irony, to me, of the used-to-love-Obama reformers is this:
They were the biggest complainers that after the reasons to attack Iraq were shown to be lies, those who said they were lies BEFORE the invasion were STILL banned from the “serious” media.
Similarly, they were the biggest complainers that after the financial meltdown, those who saw it coming are STILL banned from the “serious” media.
So how hypocritical is it that they STILL ban those of us who saw Obama early on for the fake that he is?

If she'd written that Friday (and I'd seen it), I would've included it in the year-in-review. She is of course, correct. And the banning she's speaking of, it is part of the sickness. They were wrong, they refuse to take accountability.

And they are the same group that regularly likes to trot out a list of people in the MSM who got it wrong on any issue and beoman that they those bad, bad MSMers can't ever admit that they were wrong. Their sickness prevents them from seeing how much like the MSM they are and how everyone paying attention know they haven't taken accountability themselves.

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Ann and Stan on the year in DVDs

From Thursday, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's"DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) is below:

Ann and Stan: Movies. In a sucking economy. That means for most people, you 'go to the movies' on the couch with a DVD rental or purchase. We use Redbox, Netflix, various independent rental stores and, in a pinch, Blockbuster -- though, on the last one, mainly to buy used DVDs cheap.

The two best DVD releases of 2009 are an action-adventure and a romantic comedy. We'll start with the action-adventure.

Terminator Salvation is a great film once you get past Christian Bale. His well reported tantrums on the set apparently left him too drained to work up emotions when the cameras were rolling. We actually can't think of a worse actor than Bale but McG's film is a pleasure ride.

Sam Worthington is amazing as a machine with human tissues who doesn't know he's a machine. In fact, he's got more emotions than the mechanical Bale and you might wish they'd flipped the roles. It could have used more of Moon Bloodgood who plays Blair and is amazing throughout but probably owns the scene at the end involving the big sacrifice.

To really appreciate it, you should watch it a few times so you can grasp just how much Worthington delivers in every scene. McG delivers as well but could have used a Drew Barrymore in the lead role because Bale really misfires as John Connor. (McG directed Drew in the Charlie's Angeles films.)

Like the action-adventure film, the romantic comedy manages to rip at your heart.


That's Sandra Bullock and 2009 was her year. She gave amazing performances but don't think that The Proposal was a lesser performance than her big football drama just because it was comedy. The Proposal was an amazing comedy with an amazing performance from Bullock.

And we think Ryan Reynolds may be the first co-star she's had chemistry with since Keanu Reeves. (Hugh Grant is entertaining but always self-amused. If she had chemistry with Benjamin Bratt, who could tell? The shock from that body scarring, self-mutliation the actor apparently does in real life -- revealed when he's in a shirtless scene -- pretty much nullifies any chemistry.)

This is a movie that has you laughing, that has you rooting and that really touches you. It's the biggest film so far of Sandra's career and if you don't understand why, it's only because you haven't seen it. And credit to Anne Fletcher who directed this wonderful comedy.

Meanwhile Nine just opened and is already being pulled. We didn't even know Nicole Kidman was in Nine until after we heard it was being pulled. We might have seen it just for Nicole. We'll see it on DVD but that goes to the biggest problem of 2009, bad advertising. They don't seem to know how to hook you with trailers. We had no idea, until we saw it on DVD, that we'd like Terminator Salvation. The trailer was a bunch of nonsense.

But, like most, we see movies in the bad economy via DVD rentals and one of the best things about Netflix (we're plugging but we're not getting anything for it -- not even a free rental!!!!) is that if it's on DVD, Netflix tends to have it. So you're not limited to this month's releases. You're not limited at all. So you can delve into film past and see the classics and also see the audience pleasers because, sometimes, the films that are 'good for you' aren't the most entertaining.

To round out our ten, here are eight films we enjoyed seeing on DVD this year.

1) Mildred Pierce. Joan Crawford won the Oscar for this one and deserved it. Amazing performance and amazing film.

2) Boy Did I Get A Wrong Number. A Bob Hope caper film with strong support from a hilarious Phyllis Diller whose best scene may be her washing or 'washing' the dishes.

3) A Place In The Sun. Elizabeth Taylor is still a beautiful woman and we honestly assumed she was always the best looking person in any of her films. Then we saw this. She's still beautiful but Montgomery Clift manages to outshine her. (In looks. In acting, she holds her own and remains one of the most underrated actresses.)

4) These Old Broads. We love Elizabeth Taylor. And we go through Netflix to find films featuring her. Ann: "I called Stan and asked, 'What's These Old Broads? Cedric and I are thinking of renting it." Stan: "And I had no idea either." It's a TV movie co-written by Carrie Fisher that we both missed in 2001. Jonathan Silverman delivers his best performance we've ever seen. He plays Shirley MacLaine's son and she's just magnificent. She's an actress teaming up with two former co-stars: Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins. Joan frequently steals the show. Debbie's given the thankless role of straight woman for most of the film (she and Joan do a great job singing "Get Happy" in a club) but she gets one really strong scene with a woman who stole her husband. Playing that part is Elizabeth Taylor. Carrie Fisher is the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. And Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor (who left Eddie Fisher for Richard Burton). So that scene has a huge subtext. As wonderful as all the women are (Debbie's best moment other than her scene with Elizabeth is the sequence where Joan Collins' lover dies and they have to deal with the corpse), Elizabeth Taylor is just delightful as the three actresses' long time agent. She's got this hilarious voice and she's just wonderful and you wonder why more character roles aren't given to her. This is a woman who won not one but two Oscars.

5) Thoroughly Modern Millie. This film stars Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing. We love it. We love Millie (Andrews) and we love Miss Dorothy (Mary). We love the daring and the comedy and the way Judith pops up early in the film but we're not sure everyone catches that. It's a funny film. Is it a great one? If you measure great by pleasure provided, we'd say yes.

6) Ocean's 11. The original. Proving how much stronger the earlier version was. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson and Shirley MacLaine are among the stars in this film. And it's got a ton more tension than the remake. If you enjoyed Clooney's film, see the original. It's like watching a high school production of Grease (Clooney) and then seeing the actual film (the original).

7) Dark Victory. Betty recommended this Bette Davis film to us early in the year. We'd seen many Bette Davis films and always enjoyed them but we'd never seen this one. Bette plays a wealthy socialite who has everything you could ever want and learns she's dying. It's a tear jerker and they really don't make those anymore. This is an amazing film.

8) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Amazing comedic film starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as two best friends. Famous for Marilyn's performance of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" (which Russell also performs when she pretends to be Marilyn). If there's anything more wonderful than watching the film, it's picturing a remake. We like to picture Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the roles of the gold digger and her best friend and would love to see Ben sing "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love?"

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 31, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, questions are being raised in Iran and England about the release of a British hostage, questions in the US seemingly don't exist, can you be commander in chief while sending the message that you don't take seriously the loss of US troops, a new poll finds the bulk of Americans see no improvement in Iraq in the coming year, and more.

Peter Moore is alive. Alan McMenemy's status is unknown. The same as it was during
yesterday's snapshot. May 29, 2007, the two men were kidnapped at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad along with three other British citizens: Jason Crewswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan. The League of Righteous staged the kidnapping using official vehicles of the Baghdad security forces and using official uniforms of the Baghdad security forces. Moore was released yesterday, Alan McMenemy's status remains unknown and the other three men are dead.

July 29th, the families and loved ones of the five held a press conference. The bodies of the two Jasons had been turned over and there were rumors that Alan and Alec were dead as well.

Haley Williams: These reports are the worst possible news for us but we continue to hope that they cannot be true. But whatever Alec's condition, he no longer should remain in Iraq. We appeal to those holding him to please send him home to us. I speak to you as the mother of Alec's son. We are not the people holding your men but I do understand your feelings cause you're going through the same pain we are going through. If we had any influence over the release of your men, we would release them to you but we don't. Please send him home because as a family we can't cope with this anymore.

That is what Haley Williams stated. But, as noted in the
July 29th snapshot, American audiences didn't get to hear all of Haley's statement. Most outlets ignored it and CNN cesnored it, stripping out this section: "We are not the people holding your men but I do understand your feelings cause you're going through the same pain we are going through. If we had any influence over the release of your men, we would release them to you but we don't." American audiences couldn't be told that the five British citizens were being used as barganining chips by the League of Righteousness. [See Deborah Haynes (Times of London link has text and also has video of the press conference) report for the families statements.]

Now that's really important. And it's important to what's happening right now and it's important to understanding how the whole thing played out. The British government never wanted publicity. They told the families -- they LIED to the families -- that going public would risk the lives of the five. They weren't trying to save the five. They never managed to, in fact. If Alan's alive and they save him, he'll be the first one they saved.

The British government was inept and it may have been criminally negligent. The kidnapping was high profile and the British government -- already being run out of parts of southern Iraq with their base destroyed and used as lumber by the Iraqi resistance -- had enough embarrassments on its hands. The government's request for a media blackout was never about the five men, never about saving them. It was always about saving Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from any further embarrassments. That's why Gordon Brown, current prime minister of England, could grand stand yesterday and speak of "Peter" yet only weeks before he refused to meet with Peter Moore's father.

They never wanted to talk about it to the media or to the families but when they think they have a photo op Brown and his administration are all over the press bragging and self-congratulating. For what? They didn't accomplish a damn thing and shouldn't be allowed to use Peter Moore as a shield to hide behind. Three British citizens are dead and on one knows Alan's state.

When the families held their press conference at the end of July, they did so over the objections of the British government. Why CNN elected to censor what was said is a question that everyone needs to be asking and part of the answer goes to the fact that few want to talk about how Peter Moore and three corpses were released. From the
June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "
U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
The League of Righteous conveyed to the British government (which should be asked about those 'channels' of communication) that as long as their leader, his brother and other members of the League of Righteous were held in US-run prisons in Iraq, the five British hostages would remain hostages. That was their demand, that was the kidnapper's ransom. It's awfully silly for CNN to leave that out when the families of the kidnapped are making an appeal to the kidnappers. It explains to CNN viewers what the kidnappers want. But it got censored right out of the story at the request of the White House. CNN needs to explain that. They need to explain, first of all, why they're allowing the White House or any government body to determine what they broadcast when the First Amendment exists to make sure that doesn't happen. Then they need to explain specifically why they were told they couldn't air any reference to release of prisoners?

In ten years, you'll probably read the whys to both in a New York Times column because that's how CNN works. The British government never wanted press coverage of the kidnappings (until the poll challenged Gordon Brown could hide behind Peter Moore like he did yesterday) and the US government didn't want coverage after Barack Obama became president. The Bush White House never gave 'notes' to CNN on this story. Not when the kidnapping took place, not any time after. But CNN took notes from the Obama White House including from Barack himself. Anyone going to get honest about that?

For the British, it was an embarrassment. Under Bush, the following was conveyed to the British government (through various channels including the State Dept and the White House itself): US forces will patrol and look, special forces can be deployed for search missions, but NO Iraqi prisoners will be traded for the British hostages. That was the policy under Bush. And the weak and inept British government couldn't do a thing to save their own citizens. With Barack, who fancies himself President of the World and not President of the United States, an appeal was made.

The appeals started before Barack was sworn in and there's confusion as to the dead. It's thought, in retrospect, that when the talks began that only one was known/assumed dead (although two on Barack transition team state it may have been known/assumed that two were dead) but before the June release of prisoners, it was known that three were dead and a fourth was assumed. Before the US released the prisoners in June, it was known that only Peter Moore might be alive.

Peter Moore is a British citizen. It was the responsibility of the British government to work to secure his release. That can include asking other governments for help. In Barack's case? The prisoners were responsible for a raid on a US base and the deaths of 5 US service members. The Iraq War had not ended nor had the Afghansitan War. Meaning, you still have boots on the ground, you're still sending people over there. As President of the United States, his first duty was to the American people. That includes the five US service members who died and it includes their families and their friends. It also includes all of the men and women he is deploying to war zones.

Barack Obama's actions spit on the military. There's no way to pretty that up. The scheme/scam never should have been entered into. George W. Bush was, by no means, the brightest bulb in the lamp, but even he grasped the issues on this.

Barack Obama is commander of chief of the US military. The military's commander made 2009 about saying that the lives of US troops do not matter. The actions he took state that 1 British citizen is more important than 5 dead Americans. He was elected to be president of the United States, it was a job he wanted and it was a job he said he was up for. He's clearly failed throughout 2009 at his job. But how do you, as commander in chief, now ask any other service member to deploy?

How do you do it? You've just 1 British life trumps five American soldiers. How do you do it? How you earn their trust now? How do you tell him the crap about fight with honor when everyone knows that the US military held the ringleader of the attack on the US base in prison and you ordered his release?

In the US, the media's largely avoided the story. Despite this, when we speak to the military or military families about the Iraq War, since July, this topic has regularly been raised by them. This under-reported issue of the US release is known and discussed.

Barack Obama has falsely accused the left of spitting on soldiers after Vietnam. Barack has a habit of accusing others of what he does. It's called projection and this habit became obvious during the 2008 primary campaign. While he was making that statement this year, he had already engaged in spitting on the troops.

Last night, Alice Fordham's "
Peter Moore freed after US hands over Iraqi insurgent" (Times of London) reported:The British hostage Peter Moore was dramatically set free yesterday after the United States handed over an Iraqi insurgent suspected of planning the deaths of five American servicemen. Mr Moore, an IT consultant, was freed by League of the Righteous, or Asaib al-Haq (AAH) -- an extremist Shia group allied to Iran -- after 31 months and spent his first night of freedom at the British Embassy in Baghdad. He is expected to fly home today. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said that officials had worked tirelessly to secure his release but strongly denied that the British Government had given ground to his captors. He said: "There were no concessions in this case. There was no -- quote, unquote -- deal." Foreign and Commonwealth Office sources confirmed, however, that the transfer from US custody a few days ago of Qais al-Khazali, a cleric and commander of AAH, helped to pave the way for Mr Moore's release. They also admitted that British diplomats had been pressing the US to hand over al-Khazali to the Iraqi administration. Today Suadad al-Salhy, Mohammed Abbas, Khalid al-Ansary, Missy Ryan, Mohammed Abbas and David Stamp (Reuters) report, "Iraq said on Thursday its judges could soon free the leader of a Shi'ite group believed to be behind the 2007 kidnapping of Briton Peter Moore if they found no criminal evidence, only a day after the hostage was released." Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane and Guy Grandjean (Guardian) report:The men -- including Peter Moore, who was released yesterday after more than two years in captivity -- were taken to Iran within a day of their kidnapping from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007, several senior sources in Iraq and Iran have told the Guardian. They were held in prisons run by al-Quds Force, a Revolutionary Guard unit that specialises in foreign operations on behalf of the Iranian government.
[. . .]
One of the kidnappers told the Guardian that three of the Britons – Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan – were killed after the British government refused to take ransom demands seriously.Part of the deal leading to the release of Moore involved
the handing over of the young Shia cleric Qais al-Khazali, a leading figure in the Righteous League.Let's zoom in on the Iranian issue. First, some question the Guardian story. BBC News' Fred Gardner (link has text and video) offers, "The findings in the Guardian's year-long investigation into alleged Iranian involvement in kidnapping Britons in Iraq are being disputed by both British and Iraqi government officials. A senior Foreign Office official said that while it was 'not impossible' that the British hostages had, at some stage, been taken across the border into Iran, that did not mean the Iranian authorities themselves were behind the kidnapping. The British government view remains that there is no firm evidence to suggest Iranian government involvement." Second, whether or not the Iranian government was involved, it shouldn't be used to push for war on Iran from the US. Though war on Iran is wanted by the White House, the reality is that the Obama administration was not forced into the deal. This deal has nothing to do with the United States until Barack made the call to release the prisoners. That decision was idiotic and stupid. But he wasn't forced into it and it's not a reflection on Iran or a reason for war with them. That's why we're stressing the White House deal right now and stressing it firmly. What was a few remarks in passing to many has now become a steady drip and as more and more talk about the deal, some in the press will report it and some factions will seize upon it saying, "We must go to war with Iran!" No, that's not what it says. Iran had nothing to blackmail the US with, had nothing to force the US. Barack made the decision to release the prisoners. Don't mistake his weak actions for an attack on the US by Iran. While the government of England and Iran are in denial about what took place, notice that in the US no one's even forcing the White House to go on record.

Meanwhile the world gets ready for a new year and that's true in Iraq as well.
Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) notes wishes of some Iraqs such as school teacher Ali Abbas, "I wish the new year will bring peace and security improvement to my people, and I wish that all Iraqis will take part in the vital parliamentary election which we hope it will draw better future. I wish my people will elect the right people for the coming parliament because we have suffered enough by the existing politicians. The ball is in my people's field, hopefully we will have for better future." That wish could be heard in any country. Ali Abbas isn't an enemy of anyone. The US government declared war on Iraq and it's the Iraqis who suffer. And the American citizens. The US government doesn't really suffer, now does it? Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio Nora Barrows-Friedman spoke with the program's Iraq correspondent Ahmed Habib and we'll note a section of that (this broadcast is archived at KPFA and Flashpoints Radio).

Ahmed Habib: The bombings, the violence, that we witnessed today, of course, is another chapter in the destruction of Iraq for the last seven years. We've seen over one million people die. Five million people have become refugees in a record time. We see that the infrastructure of the country has not only not been rebuilt but in fact been destroyed. The systematic theft of Iraq by American military contractors, by a corrupt government, has really left the Iraqi people in a situation where survival is their upmost priority. And of course, in contrast to that, we see an Iraqi government that seems adament at trying to project itself as a democratic institution. We just now, of course in the last few months of the year the Iraqi Parliament was able to get itself together and pass an election law and really these elections, what they're going to translate in terms of reality and people's lives in Iraq is that there's going to be an increase in violence. The way that politics under -- sort of unfolds itself in Iraq -- as perhaps not what our listeners in the United States are used to, you know, in terms of expensive television commercials or boring debates. But in Iraq, unfortunately, these sort of differences are dealt with through violence, bombings, car bombings. And, you know, in the last few months of the year, we saw bombings that ripped through the heart of Baghdad and I think that's a real sign that the election campaign in Iraq is under way. And the Iraqi Parliament? Last week there was a session held in the Iraqi Parliament that was going to discuss the budget for Iraq in 2010 and a whopping number of 12 members of Parliament showed up so I think it's really indicative of how serious the Iraqi government is about governing Iraq. Again the most important indicators of success in Iraq unfortunately are ones perhaps that aren't found only in the number of people killed but acts of violence are also buried in the chronic failure of the Iraqi govenrment to provide for its people. In the city of Baghdad, the capitol city of Iraq, the city of five million people, there is still a shortage of electricity, some areas of the city get only up to five or six hours a day of power, there is a complete lack of health care in a country that has already been destroyed by over a decade of genocidal sanctions that killed over one million people. And the lack of basic services and education and of course we've seen that Iraqi youths wander the streets of Baghdad searching for bread crumbs, searching for dignity and employment. And those are the real indicators that we should be looking at -- not election dates, not how many members of Parliament are running for which party. That is the kind of language and discourse that the Iraqi government, in conjunction with their American occupiers, are very busy trying to push but the people of Iraq are very cognitive of what the reality on the ground is. It's corruption, it's killing, it's chaos. And although people that have been reporting from outside of Baghdad are sort of trying to portray, have been trying to portray, an image of relative calm and improvement in the situation with security -- and that might be the case compared to the horrifying conditions that Iraqis lived in at the peak of the so-called sectarin violence in 2007 but that is not a reason or an accurate descrition that should lead us into a state of complacency thinking things in Iraq are heading in the right direction. The Constitution, which is sectarian in its most fundamental ethos, is still at the heart of the decisions in the way that political power is being divided. We seethe sell off of Iraq resources in the absence of legal mechanism to measure the transparnacye of such decision is now really being highlighted with the dozens of oil contracts that have either been signed or about to be signed . And I think that it important for people in the west, particularly to our listeners in the United States to hold their government accountable for their war profiteering and the destruction of Iraqi society that we're seeing. And, of course,the way to look at Iraq is not to look at it in a vaccum but to look at it within the context of Israeli apartheid, within the context of the occupation of Afghanistan, within the contest of the war mongering -- the beating of the war drums with countries we're seeing like Iran, with countries like Yemen. And I think it's important to look at it as another tragic episode in this so-called war on terror which is really a war of terror itself.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: That's the voice of our special correspondent Ahmed Habib speaking to us from Doha. Ahmed, let's talk more about the Obama administration's agendas over the past year. Obama inherited this occupation and has only sought to expand the war budget, continue the occupation, continue the policies of his predecessor, hire more private contractors. What are your biggest concerns and also what are your wildest dreams for your country, for Iraq, as 2009 draws to a close? Talk about the concept of revolution in a time of great suffering and deep despair in your country. Talk about that.

Ahmed Habib: There is no doubt that the Iraqi people have a great tradition and history of revolution. And the people of Iraq hold an immense ability to be resisting in the face of this violence and brutality that has gone hand-in-hand with the American occupation -- an extension, of course, of the kind of genocide Iraqis experienced under the sanctions and of course an extension of the genocide that they experienced under the American-sponsored dictorship of Saddam Huseein as well. So there is no doubt that the Iraqi people will be able to overcome these conditions and will talk later about some of the tremendous things that are happening in Iraqi communities and the diaspora. But I think it's important for our listeners to sort of dispell many of the myths that had been promoted by the Obama adminstration with regards to their attempts to "end the war in Iraq." The Obama administration has not only inherented many of the same policies that were adopted by the Bush administration and we saw early on in the year the Obama administration's refusal to publish images of people that had been tortured and de-humanized and bases that had become prisons throughout Iraq and of course in Afghanistan as well. But we also saw the emergence and sort of the truth unveiled about the Status Of Force Agreement -- known as SOFA in the American media. And this agreement was, of course, was supposed to be the agreement that would embody the withdraw of American troops from Iraq and subsequently lead to the end the occupation. What many people didn't know is that within this agreement there are clauses that will not only keep permanent military bases in Iraq but will give the America the ability to conduct military operations without the permission of the Iraqi government, that America will control air space above a certain altitude in Iraq, and, of course, America's political strangle-hold on the Iraqi government through, as you were mentioning, the ascent of thousands of military contractors in Iraq, through the privatization of the most fundamental sectors of Iraqi economy are the real elements of the American occupation here. We see, for example in Iraq, fundamental sectors such as agriculture and education -- ironically in a country that invented both agriculture and education -- now being sold off to American corporations under the guise of of American occupation. We also heard early on in 2003, Colin Powell speak about how NGOs are part of the American occupation and, in fact, on the front line. And this has become very true in Iraq as well. And the American occupation of Iraq is perhaps no longer constituted by American soldiers on the ground raping, killing and maiming Iraqi civilians but now has really taken on a much scarier and more longterm identity in terms of the strangle-hold it has on many of Iraq in terms of all the things I have mentioned but also in terms of how Iraqi politics and the day to day running of the government also unfolds.

Meanwhile a new Associated Press-GfK poll [PDF format warning,
click here] found that 65% of respondents rate the Iraq War as "extremely/ver important" -- the same number who stated they oppose the Iraq War. (5% said the illegal war was "not at all important"), only 49% approve of Barack's handling of the Iraq War (40% disapprove). Asked if they thought conditions in Iraq would improve in 2010, get worse or stay the same, 53% stated things would stay the same.

In other news, 5 Blackwater mercenaries received news today that there would be no prosecutions for the September 16, 2007 massacre in Baghdad.
BBC News reports that Judge Ricardo Urbina reviewed the evidence submitted by the prosecution and found it was built around statements the five made to US State Dept staffers -- despite the five being told that any statements to the State Dept would not be used against them. There will be a lot of disgust over Urbina's decision; however, Urbina's not the problem. If that was the agreement with the State Dept and that's what the prosecution relied upon, the charges had to be tossed aside (and, like it or not, it was fair). The problem has to do with the decision to grant immunity to begin with -- a decision that was called out in real time. So Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten and Paul Slough walk. And the judge's decision was a fair and accurate one. After blaming Condi and others at the top of State in 2007, the blame should then go to the current Justice Dept which damn well should have known not to use those statements. Ball, Heard, Liberty, Slatten and Slough start the new year with this legally behind them.

alice fordham
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Friday, January 01, 2010

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The 2010 Plan"

The 2010 Plan

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The 2010 Plan." Pulling off his shirt, Barack knows it's going to take more than the man boobs and he explains, "As my popularity continued to fade in 2009, I realized I was letting my base down. So in 2010, I'll give my fans what they want: Full Frontal." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

2009: The Year of Living Sickly

2009 played out like a non-stop, recurrent major depressive episode for the left's clerical pool posing as 'leadership.' It was noticeable throughout 2008 as well but what we might write off as tension, stress or fear before the 2008 election was clearly a psycho-social disorder afterwards. 2009 was when the clerical pool publicly begged their relatives to be institutionalized on a daily basis as they had one hateful episode after another, took to wide-eyed ravings and conspiracy talk and went around in a never-ending funk.

Everyone noticed, many pretended not to. Those not used to pulling out the DSM can phrase the question in more popular vernacular: If it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?

Dr. Sheryl Crow first posed the question in 1997 but the doctor was apparently suffering her own delusions and therefore unable to diagnose as evidenced by her non-ironic performance of "A Change Would Do You Good" [in Denver at the 2008 DNC convention]. Long before 2009 demonstrated to the Cult of St. Barack that there would be no change from the previous administration, they were still the most grouchy, touchy and whiny bunch the world may have ever seen.

A large number of the Cult of St. Barack can't remember a Democratic president in their adult lifetime so possibly they just don't know better. But for those with experience and/or historical knowledge, 2009 is not how the winning side behaves.

It was so bad that a left voice with a slew of books to his name suggested privately, "You get the feeling sometimes around them that they actually didn't want Barack Obama to survive the campaign, they wanted a martyr instead." When it was pointed out (by three people including myself) that the observation was worthy of putting to paper, the left voice insisted he couldn't. And that moment illustrated the sickness as well: Even those who knew of the huge problem refused to address it. It was the elephant in the room and suddenly it was time to choose sides with most suiting up for NYT Co-Dependents and LA Enablers. Very few wanted to join The Interventions.

Which is how the left was allowed to get sicker and sicker all year long.

In 2008, strains of sexism and homophobia dominated. From the left. That's the kicker, from the left. Was it stress? Was it tension? Fear over the outcome? Could have been. But when 2009 rolled around and we were still seeing it on a daily basis, it was obvious that the two forms of bigotry were deeply entwined in the DNA of many on the left and 'left.'

Let's start with sexism. In 2008, Sarah Palin's positions were repeatedly (and intentionally) distorted. She was the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee. Surely, with the Barack Obama - Joe Biden ticket winning the 2008 election, the record would be corrected in 2009 because good sports don't repeatedly lie about people. Not only could they not stop lying, they couldn't stop attacking. The woman was the governor of Alaska, something the Democratic Party spent forever in 2008 mocking as unimportant. Then why the need to tear this woman down on a daily basis? It's a question that especially should have been asked when Palin stepped down as governor.

Shushannah Walshe became a mini-hero to some on the left when the former Fox "News" reporter co-wrote a book on Palin with Scott Conroy. The book attempted to play it even and fair. Whether it did or not is open to debate. What's not open to debate is the hatred Walshe had for Palin, the hatred she began expressing in interviews throughout the year. Throughout the year, various friends would send copies of these awful interviews -- not because they thought it was funny but because they couldn't believe how Walshe was self-presenting on the book trail. The all time worst took place in December when she appeared on KERA's Think (I am not sure if it was aired on the radio station or the TV station -- it was most likely aired on radio with plans for it to be aired on TV at some point -- I was sent the interview on DVD).

Walshe lied repeatedly to the point that there is no excuse for it. There is no, "Oh, she's been on the road . . ." There's no, "Oh, you know, she's a little punch drunk . . ." You self-present as an expert on Sarah Palin you better know your damn facts. Walshe actually did know them, she just didn't share them. She lied. She lied and she lied again. So, for example, when the treatment of Palin's son Trig was raised by a listener, Walshe insisted it was just some 'blog gossip' that started online and quickly died. The Atlantic Monthly is not just 'some blog.' It is one of the oldest magazines in the country and it is respected by many (not by me, never by me). It is from The Atlantic Monthly that HIV-positive bareback rider Andrew Sullivan launched his non-stop, never ending assault on Trig Palin. As the year drew to a close, Sullivan could still be found insisting that there was no proof that Trig was Sarah Palin's son. It was not 'blog gossip' that quickly died. It has been kept alive with non-stop lies and from some of the most name-brand of outlets.

But though she didn't have time for the facts, Shushannah Walshe was happy to step into Palin's mind. Some mistake Walshe for a book author when, in fact, she's apparently a 'reader'. Any event in the news? Walshe knows what Palin would say and what Palin would do. Walshe and Conroy churned out a glorified clip-job. These are not authors who spent years, decades, researching the person they wrote about. But NPR stations were thrilled to have Walshe stop by and spread the sickness.

It's a sickness. In the spring, Naomi Klein goes to the 'celebration' of The Progressive (what the magazine's calling it's 100th anniversary) and she's speaking to a progressive, left crowd. She can speak on anything in the world. But she decides the way to 'reach people' is to engage in a one-sided cat fight. She decides to be the stereotypical harpy and fails to grasp that the chuckles and applause she's getting for being a Bitch? It's the same sort of response Joan Rivers used to get. The same Joan Rivers who can't land a TV job today. Bitchy has a short shelf-life, ask John Simon.

The speech was as hateful and bitchy as the crap Laura Flanders used to do about Liz Cheney. But, in 2004 and 2005, Dems didn't control the White House (or both houses of Congress). Bitterness comes with the losing side. Which doesn't explain why it was served up repeatedly in 2009. Alleged thinker Naomi Klein is addressing a liberal audience with a speech and the best she can do is bitchy little remarks about Sarah Palin?

There is no universal, single-payer health care being proposed by the Congress. And there's a lot of misinformation out there about what is being proposed. Possibly if people like Naomi Klein had spent their time in a productive manner, 2009 wouldn't be so bad it feels like a Bush year. But they were all too busy daily ripping apart Sarah Palin. They knew they could get away with it and they ran with it. In the process, they revealed themselves to be very, very ugly people.

Doubt it? The year ended with no objection from the left to Jonathan Raban disgusting "Sarah and Her Tribe" (New York Review of Books). The article is the biggest reason for mandatory retirement. It's offensive in every way but Raban probably could have gotten away with it and been applauded for it back in the sixties. The money paragraph, the cum-shot if Raban could still get it up, is no doubt supposed to be this one:

She's back: reviving the book business in provincial towns from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Richland, Washington; working on her keynote address to the Tea Party movement's national convention, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, in February; tweeting daily, sometimes hourly, to her followers about the state of the nation; and everywhere parading her Down's syndrome son, Trig, along with her most photogenic daughter, Piper, as living testaments to herself as the model pro-life mother. What she's running for is not yet clear, but she's evidently running for something.

Insulting Grand Rapids? What a proud moment for the Seattle dweller. Hint to the British transplant, when you look down your nose, generally you have to be elevated above those you're looking down on. But that's small potatoes, check out the waffle fries: "parading her Down's syndrome son, Trig." This crap has been going on for over a year now.

Trig was born in 2008. He's still an infant. He's not even a toddler yet. Sarah Palin is the mother of a young child. Her being seen with her young child isn't surprising to anyone who's ever raised a child. All of these 'parading her Down's syndrome son' remarks really testify to the bigotry on the part a large number of people to special-needs children. Palin's never applauded for this. And a special-needs child is repeatedly the butt of rude, bitchy remarks. That's not a reflection on Trig Palin, that's a reflection on sickos like Jonathan Raban.

As for Piper, I wouldn't evaluate the looks of any young child in a publication. I don't think most of us would. So I'm not going to weigh in on whether she's the most attractive or not. But I will point out that she's Sarah Palin's youngest daughter. Bristol is an adult, Willow's 14 years old. Piper's seven-years-old. If Piper's on the road with her mother (if, I have no idea, I don't spend my time stalking Sarah Palin), it's perfectly understandable. Her other children are teenagers or older and don't want to come along with Mom (because no teenager wants to leave their friends for long periods of time to travel with a parent). Her two youngest children -- her infant son and her seven-year-old daughter -- go with her on the road because Sarah Palin's sharing this with her children and also parenting her children.

I can name a lot of women who took their children on the road with them. I took mine with me. I remember before I ever had kids, a strategy session Jane Fonda was leading and, while she was leading it, Vanessa Vadim (Jane's daughter) was asleep in the drawer that had been pulled out from a desk. No one thought Jane was a bad mother for that and it impressed a great many of us and impressed on us that we can juggle and our lives didn't have to be either/or, that our lives could be both-and.

I have never been disgusted to see a mother or a father take their children along with them. But Sarah Palin is repeatedly attacked and slimed for doing this and, in the attacks, her son is attacked, a special-needs child is attacked.

What kind of a s**t do you have to be to attack a special-needs child?

I would love for someone to explain the hatred and self-hatred that must consume a person like Jonathan Raban.

As well as the sickness that allows Raban's attack to only be one in a long line of attacks on Trig Palin, a small child who's never hurt anyone in his life.

What so much of the left's clerical pool fed on and found funny in 2009 is the same thing that makes me cry. I guess it's me and I'm just missing the 'funny' in mocking a child, in sneering at him and using him to attack an adult.

In 2008, Newsweek almost ran a cover of Barack that some could see as racist (I saw the intended cover as racist) but a wife-of prevented that from happening. Sadly, no wife-of was as concerned about women which is how in 2009, Newsweek ridiculed Sarah Palin by using a photo she posed for (for a workout magazine) in running gear. And it wasn't just the cover. It was the sneering, leering copy and it was illustrations presenting Palin as a doll or choosing to illustrate her speaking by rendering her headless in a photo that you use to show some leg. In 2009, so many women just went along with the sexism.

In fairness to those who were silent because they were frightened, 2008 was all about rewarding the women who turned on women and attacking the women who supported women -- whether those women supported Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Cynthia McKinney or all three. And when women see other women attacked they watch very closely. In 2008, too many feminist 'leaders' sent the message that we respond to attacks by backing down. Translation, when Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem will not defend themselves but will quickly fall in line, how can they expect other women to stand up? When women who are seen as assured and empowered can't speak up it sends a message.

Let's turn to homophobia.

Homophobia ran free and unchecked throughout 2007 and 2008. Never before had a Democratic candidate for the party's presidential nomination so embraced homophobia. Barack putting homophobes on stage as 2007 drew to a close was echoed by his 'swing state' strategy featuring homophobic speakers in the last six weeks of the general campaign. It wasn't at all different from his having homophobe Rick Warren speak at the January 2009 inauguration. It wasn't at all different from his refusal to do anything to help the LGBT community -- even though both he and Michelle would insist he was the strongest advocate on LGBT rights. When it's time to drum up donations, suddenly Barry O's Super Straight Guy, Friend To All Gays. But when it's time to actually do something or, heaven forbid, lead, Barack's somewhere outside the auditorium having yet another smoke.

And his own embrace of homophobia allowed various lefties to begin embracing in 2008. They continue to do so today.

There's a term we don't use here and no one should have been using it as an insult. If it's a sexual practice they enjoy, by all means talk about it with friends and lovers. What we do in the bedroom, all of us, what gets us off, is rather curious and rather strange. That's true even if your activities are confined to the missionary position. There's a reason, pay attention, children giggle and point when they see members of the animal kingdom engaged in sex. And jokes about sex and sexual anxiety have long been comic gold.

With all that said, when you take a practice that is a predominately same-sex (male) practice and use it to ridicule people you loathe, you're engaging in homophobia.

It's not complicated.

And the t-word? It's become the new n-word and it's just as ugly.

The fact that Rachel Maddow popularized it doesn't mean a damn thing. Maddow is a lesbian, she's not a gay man. (Yes, some gay men -- like the one who wrote the Time magazine piece raving over how sexy Ann Coulter allegedly was -- call Rachel an "angel" -- direct quote -- but she's not the spokesperson for gay men.) She's also a notorious suck up. That's how she got her own show on Air America Radio while others were kicked to the curb. (Her original show had two other hosts. Suck up Rachel repeated every lie Air America wanted her to on air to explain the absences as the show -- unknown to listeners -- wound down.) She angled for an MSNBC show by attacking Chris Matthews as a sexist (he is one) and, as soon as MSNBC did the deal on her own show, she immediately began walking back her comments on Chris Matthews publicly. Rachel Maddow is nothing but a trained seal who performs when coins are tossed her way. When MSNBC cancels her low-rated show, the world will be a lot better off.

As the token lesbian at MSNBC, Rachel's use of the t-word allowed White straight males to do likewise -- she provided the cover for them to hide behind. And suddenly the t-word was all the rage.

"That's so gay." Have you ever heard that? It and similar statements became popular in the nineties. I heard them and was appalled (my children weren't adults yet). I didn't allow my children to say that and I objected to people (adults or children) who used that. People knew not to say it around me. To insult something by saying, "That's so gay," is to express homophobia because you're likening a same-sex attraction to something stupid, dumb or bad. That's the reality of what that statement expresses.

By the same token to call Republicans the t-word as an insult, to laugh at them and scoff at them with the t-word, is to traffic in homophobia. And to claim that calling out homophobia spoils your shot at fun? That doesn't wash with the n-word and it won't wash with homophobia.

More and more when the left clerical pool wants to go nuts in public, they head to KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett and Ruth caught Jeff Cohen making a perfect idiot out of himself. Worse than that, he was outright lying. He couldn't take accountability, he couldn't even admit to his role in the 2008 election. Ava and I offered "Not So Fast Jeff Cohen (Ava and C.I.)" and then, as Ruth pointed out earlier this week, he shows up with a column. Ruth: "In fact, the whole thing reads like he is attempting to convince people Ava and C.I. were wrong. That makes his sad column even funnier."

And it does. Except for one point that I told Ruth I was planning to tackle in the year-in-review. He's still using the t-word. In his new column, he's still using it.

It's not funny, it's not cute, it's hateful. And not hate aimed at an individual who may have earned it (say Bully Boy Bush) but hate aimed at a group of people already scapegoated in this society and already denied equality. On top of all that, Jeff Cohen's going to insult gay men?

Ava and I pointed out earlier this month:

Just as the use of "tea b**gers" by 'progressives' like Jeffy Cohen today indicates there's no real acceptance of out-gays and lesbians in the 'progressive' circles, their embrace of sexism demonstrates there's no real place for women who value women on the left either.

He can't stop using it, he can't stop spewing hatred at groups of people, people who are not in power, people who do not decide whether or not this country goes to war, for example.

Why did the left clerical pool masquerading as leaders start 2009 with a chip on their shoulders when they should have been dancing in the street? Why were they instead snarling and attacking and, basically, scrawling "KILLJOY WAS HERE" on any blank space?

Because they're sick. They're not healthy and they shouldn't be even trying to lead a movement. They are sick. Past leaders lifted the people up, past leaders celebrated differences and demanded equality. Today's clerical pool sneers at the average person, isn't interested in equality and stigmatizes differences.

They don't need to assume leadership roles, they need to seek professional help. Even when they should have been dancing in the streets, they couldn't be happy. They're sick and they are active in their diseases and, as a result, they will pull everyone else down with them.

Before that happens they will lie, due to their sickness. December 17th, you may have seen, heard or read an example of that:

The New York Times is reporting an influential American diplomat working for the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan tried to enlist the White House in a plan to replace Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The diplomat, Peter Galbraith, made headlines in September after he was fired from his position as the second-top UN official in Afghanistan. Galbraith said his superior, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, was covering up widespread electoral fraud in Karzai's re-election. But Eide now says Galbraith was fired after proposing to replace Karzai with a "more Western-friendly figure." The US embassy in Kabul has also confirmed Galbraith presented the plan, but that it was rejected. Although Karzai has long been linked to corruption and fraud, US scrutiny greatly increased after Karzai began criticizing deadly US air strikes and discussing a timetable for withdrawing foreign troops. Galbraith has also come under recent scrutiny after it was revealed he stands to reap a $100 million windfall from oil reforms he helped push through as an adviser to the Iraqi Kurdish government. Galbraith was working for a Norwegian oil company at the same time as he took part in talks on key oil measures in Iraq’s constitution.

That's Amy Goodman doing headlines on Democracy Now! And by itself, that's the headline in full, there's nothing strange about it. By itself. And nothing all that strange about the little smirk from Amy, celebrating in someone else's apparent embarrassment. What's strange is that this diplomat, he was on Democracy Now! before. Amy Goodman always self-plugs. Always links to past interviews when guests are in the news. She didn't mention this one.

Did she forget? That's hard to believe it was just October 5th when she spoke with Galbraith on the program. If your memory needs jogging, that segment was entitled "Fired UN Official Peter Galbraith Accuses the United Nations of Helping Cover Up Electoral Fraud Committed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai." That segment requires accountability when Goody's parading a story weeks later discrediting her guest. Galbraith may have been telling the truth in the interview, he may not have been. He's not the issue here. The issue is Amy Goodman is promoting a New York Times storyline discrediting Peter Galbraith and she forgets to inform her audience that she gave Galbraith a platform mere weeks ago to advance claims that the paper states are false.

That's part of her sickness. A refusal to take accountability for actions from only weeks before. The left's not going anywhere because the clerical pool wanting to lead it is sick and needs help. They can't take accountability for any of their actions and their actions in 2008 destroyed the left. They cannot heal, they cannot lead.

And as long as they're allowed to pretend 2008 didn't happen, they infect the entire left. If you doubt that, look at 2009 and see what the clerical pool elected to write and gas bag about: insults to gays, insults to women, non-stop attacks on Sarah Palin who holds no office currently. What did they accomplish?

The Iraq War has not ended. The Afghanistan War has not ended. The Guantanamo prison system has not been closed. Illegal warrantless spying has not ceased. The Patriot Act was not overturned or allowed to sunset out of existence.

What did they accomplish?

Not a damn thing except to drive up support for Palin. That really wasn't supposed to be the point of their attacks on Palin, was it? If there's a lesson for 2010, it's that the sick can't lead and it's time to tell them, "Get help or get lost. We can't afford you." For more on the clerical pool, see this piece by Ralph Nader who is far kinder than I would be if I were him.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2009 in music" and Ruth's "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Brownie Approved" went up earlier today. Kat's "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" and "2009 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Thursday and "Reflecting on 2009 (Beth)" posted on Sunday. In addition, Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's "DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) looks at DVDs. Isaiah started the morning with a look at this year and ends it with a look at next which posts after this.

Added: 1-2-10, the opening of paragraph 19 has been corrected to "As for Willow, . . ." I had mistakenly said "As for Bristol, . . ." Thank you to community member Dustin for catching that. Added: 1-4-10, the opening paragraph 19 has been corrected to "As for Piper, . . ." Thank you to community member Ned for catching that.
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