Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, empire gets discussed, Marcy Winograd has an announcement, Talabani doesn't want Nouri to face a vote of no confidence, Tareq al-Hashemi feels the continued drama surrounding him is about to wrap up, I offer my thoughs of (and support for) Chris Hayes, and more.
The Honorable Jonathan Sumption is not only a judge (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom), he's also a historian. Earlier this month, he delivered a [PDF format warning] speech to the London School of Economics' Department of Government
The extreme case is of course the choice between peace and war. In reviewing the military interventions of the English government, the courts have arrived at a position practically indistinguisable from the old non-justiciability rule, although justified on a different basis. The legality of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 was, to put it mildly, a matter of some controversy everywhere outside the United States. The great majority of international lawyers of repute considered it to be contrary to international law, in the absence of the United Nations authority and did not accept that any of the relevant resolutions conferred that authority. The United States was inclined to respond to this difficulty in the way that the British had done at the time of the Suez crisis of 1956, by simply ignoring it. In 1956, the Attorney-General, Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller and the Solicitor-General Sir Harry Hilton-Foster, both supported the invasion politically although both believed and told the Prime Minister that it was illegal. The Chief of Imperial General Staff, Sir Gerald Templer, issued the deployment orders without troubling himself with the legal issue. These are attitudes characteristic of an imperial power, and we should not be particularly surprised to find them adopted by the United States. It is a sign of how far the climate of British opinion had changed by 2003 that the Chiefs of Staff required an assurance from the Attorney-General that operations in Iraq were lawful. They famously received one that had been prepared on a basis not wholly consistent with his previously expressed views and supported by reasoning which provoked the resignation of one of the Foreign Office legal advisers and was rejected by every serious authority on international law.
David Swanson: You have left the fold of the Democratic Party and gone to the Green Party and after having been a candidate for Congress in Democratic primaries and done remarkably well against a well funded incumbent as a peace candidate. Why the -- Why the decision to go to the Green Party?
Marcy Winograd: David, it wasn't an easy decision and it was one I wrestled with for probably quite some time. But at the end of the day, the short answer is that I really didn't want to be aligned with a War Party any longer. Even if you're an insurgent in that war party, you're still in it. And as an insurgent, I challenged Jane Harman she was a big Hawk, supporter of the military industrial complex, I was on the floor of the Democratic Party convention in California introducing resolutions to end the war, the assault on Iraq. I was shut down, quoroms were called, quorom called, I introduced resolutions to censure senators like Dianne Feinstein when she waffled on whether water boarding was torture. There are many struggles to engage in as an insurgent within a party and I'm not saying that they're not worthy and that they're not of great value but at this point in my life, I really want to live inside my skin. I want to be authentic. And I also want to look towards the future. Face it, the American Empire is declining. This is it. We are collpasing. And we are watching the collapse of the US Empire. How long did it take other countries? Well ou know for some it took a century. For others it took just a few years. Look at the Soviet Union. Two years for the Soviet Union to collapse. A year for Portugal, 8 years for France. 17 years for Great Britain. There are historians. I interviewed one on [KPFK] Connect the Dots, Dr. Alfred McCoy who wrote in The Nation magazine who predicts that by 2025 it's over. Just 15 years from now, the empire will be over. So given that, the US Empire, with its military bases in 3/4 of the countries in the world is just not sustainable. It's imperative that we look to our future and embrace something positive. We know what we don't want. What do we want? And that's what attracted me to the Green Party.
David Swanson: Well clearly the US Empire could end in a variety of ways -- some softer and easier than others. Do you think that the Democratic Party and, in particular, President Obama are better or worse or about the same in relationship to the Republican Party and George W. Bush in terms of the manner in which the empire is over-extending itself and moving towards its collapse? In other words, would we be better off in these final years of empire to have the Democrats doing it or the Republicans?
Marcy Winograd: That's a very tough question, isn't it? I know that I will not be voting for Barack Obama for president. And I did support him when he ran previously. But this time I am going to be voting for the Green Party nominee because I really do want a different vision for our country and now's the time for us to speak out and say this is the alternative vision: a party of non-violence, a party that opposes weapon sales to other countries, a party that wants to build sustainable communities and invest in our communities, not extract wealth and send jobs to other countries. I think, at the end of the day, that it's very dangerous to have somebody in the White House who people don't necessarily who people don't necessarily know or understand and who may project an image of concilation and partnership but in reality is escalating what began under former President George Bush. I'm talking about this "war on terror." Right after Obama took office, he escalated the drone attacks on Pakistan. We now have an increase in Joint-Special Operations Command Forces in other countries -- from 60 countries under Bush to 75 countries. We have codified indefiniate detention, extraordinary rendetion and targeted assassination. We have moved beyond what was considered under the Bush administration as an order for hot pursuit. In other words, if somebody attacked us or an ally, we could cross a border in hot pursuit. Now the whole world is a war theater under Barack Obama. So I'm afraid that under the Democratic leadership -- both in Congress and in the White House -- we are not seeing what we think we want to see or what we think we are seeing. Instead, we're seeing increased militarism. So I think it's very dangerous to think that this is an alternative path. In fact, I think under President Obama, we've seen the Democrats able to advance a Republican agenda, at least on the foreign policy side, at least better than the Republicans could.
Green Party of Michigan Presidential Nominating Convention Saturday
Mt. Pleasant) - This Saturday marks the beginning of the Green Party's nominating convention at the university's campus in Mt. Pleasant which will last through Sunday afternoon. Excitement for the event has been building for months as the presidential candidates have been particularly exciting among members this year.
Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts has been travelling throughout the country to stand in
solidarity with Occupy movements, to speak at Green conventions and events and has most recently walked with those protesting the PGA in Benton Harbor. A long-time activist and dedicated member of the Green Party, Dr. Stein is currently the forerunner in the nomination pool.
Comedienne and activist Roseanne Barr of California has likewise been a long-time
supporter of grassroots movements. Her rallies in California have drawn hundreds of
supporters. Although she was the last candidate to announce her running, she has made a
strong showing in state polls.
Dr. Kent Mesplay of California was the first to announce his candidacy and has
remained a strong contender as a long-time Green. Having also vied for the presidential
nomination in 2008, he is the candidate with the most experience. As the son of missionaries, he grew up alongside native peoples in a nature-centered environment. This has shaped the focus of his message.
The three contenders for the presidential nomination will be speaking remotely at the
convention on Saturday afternoon. Candidates for state and some local offices will also be
nominated this weekend. The straw poll for the presidential nomination will take place on
Saturday with the results being announced on Sunday. The decision of the straw poll will guide the choice the delegates will make at the National Convention in Baltimore, MD on July 12-15.
Highlights of the convention will also include entertainment Saturday evening by musical
acts Stephen Colarelli, a singer/songwriter, Rope and the Rulers, and Poor Player.
The Members of the Green Party of Michigan have been active in petition drives to have
several critical issues placed on the November ballot including the Emergency Manager repeal which was thrown out on a questionable technical objection and the current ban on fracking petition gaining strength and support throughout the state.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Green Party or want to learn more
Your vote is your vote. Use it as you want. Like Marcy, I cannot vote for Barack Obama. I don't reward War Hawks. As I've stated before, I think I'll just sit out the voting for that office. That's what I'm doing, you do what you want, if you're voting you're an adult so you should be able to figure out who speaks to you (if anyone does) and vote (or vote by not voting) accordingly. (And for more on the Green Party race, you can refer to this post by Ian Wilder at On The Wilder Side.)
But it's difficult to tell who's the bigger joke: Nouri al-Maliki or the UN. Martin Kolber is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy to Iraq. Having sat through Martin Kobler's presentation to the UN Security Council April 10th and seeing the single sentence that couldn't use the term "gay" but hinted that the targeting of Emo and LGBT youth (and those perceived as such) would be addressed in the report (the one released today), this report's an embarrassment. That section is the smallest section of today's report, it's buried deep.
10. Attacks on persons for reason of their sexual orientation
The topic of homosexuality is largely taboo in Iraq. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community usually keep their sexual orientation secret and live in constant fear of discrimination, rejection by family members, social exclusion, intimidation and violence. While the Iraqi penal code does not expressly prohibit homosexual relations between consenting adults, a variety of less specific, flexible provisions in the penal code leave room for active discrimination and prosecution of LGBT persons and feeds societal intolerance.
During the reporting period, UNAMI continued to receive reports of attacks against individuals based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation. In one case, a 17 year old boy was relocated with assistance from an NGO after his family tried to kill him on the basis of the boy's perceived homosexuality. The Government takes no action to protect people from violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there are few social services available.
What pretty words. What a shame his Special Envoy to Iraq spits on those words, betrays Iraq's LGBT community, stays silent as they're targeted and killed, ignores the persecution.
As we noted yesterday, the Special Envoy Martin Kobler appeared Tuesday before the United Nations Security Council where he yammered away for approximately 20 minutes and also handed in a written report/statement which was 17 pages long. Though he was supposedly concerned about violence and targeted groups and though he made his focus the first three months of the year, he couldn't bring himself to mention the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community. He could talk about the so-called 'honor' killings but not in relation to gay men or lesbians. Ban Ki-moon assured the world's LGBT community just last month that they were not alone. Just yesterday, his Special Envoy to Iraq, made clear that, in fact, Iraq's LGBTs are very much alone. Martin Kobler made very clear that the United Nations, as represented by him in Iraq, will gladly and always look the other way while thugs go on killing sprees. One of the slogan of the United Nations is, "It's your world." But apparently that doesn't apply for LGBTs. Someone with the UN to address whether Ban Ki-moon was lying or if Martin Kobler just doesn't understand how offensive what he did yesterday was?
Excuse me, I though Ban Ki-moon was saying LGBT rights were human rights. But that's not what I got from Kobler's presentation or from this report released today. Either UNAMI intends to seriously address the targeting or it intends not to.
For those who missed it, Emo and LGBT were lumped together. LGBT is, of course, a sexual orientation. Emo is more of a social scene. In Iraq, the two were lumped together and worse. Worse? The Iraqi youth were supposedly also practicing witchcraft and also they were vampires as evidenced by the fact that they drank blood.
Did they drink blood?
Years and years ago, have I told this story, there was a presenation on gangs to a group of concerned lawmakers (state lawmakers). A friend who works with gangs couldn't make it and asked if I'd fill in. That's not my area but I was adequate if not good. But what stood out to me was the guy who had never spoken to a teen in a gang but 'knew' everything. It was that "Calvin Kline" who was making people gang members because it helped sell his clothes. It gets better (or at least more humorous), rap artists "like Cindy Lauper" (Cyndi Lauper) were also glamorizing gangs. This man was completely serious. He thought he had studied and arrived at logical conclusions. (Calvin Klein was pushing underwear and baggy jeans at that time, if he was pushing anything. Cyndi Lauper is not now and never has been a rap artist.) This man was so uninformed that he made my adequate presentation seem like an informed lecture.
And the point here is two-fold. First, this isn't ha-ha, we're so much smarter than the Iraqis. No. Humanity's all basically on the same page with some people in every area reading just a little bit ahead of the others. Second, a lot of people (in every country all over the world) hear a topic mentioned and think they're an expert. Emos have been demonized around the world, not just in the MidEast, in Mexico as well. And that panic mind set allows some really stupid things to be said by supposed experts.
In the case of Iraq, it was the Ministry of Interior that went into the schools and demonized Emos (who again are also wrongly said to be gay -- you can be Emo and gay, you can also be Emo and straight). Let's drop back to March 9th:
Meanwhile Kitabat notes that the Interior Ministry is declaring there have been no deaths and this is all a media creation. That would be the same Ministry of Interior that, please note, was declaring earlier this week that Emo was the number one threat to Iraq. Guess someone got the message about how badly this was making Iraq look to the rest of the world? Now the still headless ministry (Nouri never appointed a minister to head it) wants to insist that it is only a small number of Iraqi youth who are even into Emo. The ministry insists that the only truth on the subject of Emo is that which the government tells. But the Parliament's Security and Defense Commission also spoke to the media on Thursday and they spoke of the discovery of 15 corpses of young Iraqis -- Emos or thought to be -- discovered in one Baghdad neighborhood. Activist Hanaa Edwar also speaks of the large number of Iraqi Emo youths being targeted. Al Mada notes the Parliament committee stated that the security forces have failed to protect the Emo youth. Dar Addustour reports that activists Mohammed al-Kazimi has pointed out that the constitution of Iraq guarantees Iraqis the right to freedom of expression and that Emo youth are not unconstitutional.
When this was going on, Iraqi youth were pretty much on their own. Iraqi groups and activists did speak out but internationally you had a lot of silence. (Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were not silent.) And the US State Dept refused to speak of it but was kind enough to leak an e-mail when pressure was coming to bear on the administration. If that e-mail had not been treated like something amazing (it wasn't) by the LGBT press in America, the administration might have been forced to make a public statement. And as silent as the State Dept was the United Nations.
Iraqi youths were being killed. To be really clear, if you are a gay Iraqi youth, that doesn't mean you can be killed. That's not acceptable. That's not something the world should ever look the other way on. But damned if they didn't try, these supposed groups and governmental agencies there to help.
There are things in the report that will be noticing this week.
But here, I called out Martin Kobler repeatedly for his silence at the UN briefing. And I heard from UN friends about how it's 'referred' to in the written report. No, it's noted that this issue will be dealt with in an upcoming report. That report was the one released today. Two pathetic paragraphs is not dealing with it. Failure to even use the term "Emo" is pretty sad. Failure to note the Ministry of the Interior went into schools and asked for names is shameful.
I took Kobler to task several days in a row here and only stopped when UN friends swore the report would go into what was taking place. The report's out today and yet again, YET AGAIN, the United Nations has failed the LGBT in Iraq (as well as those perceived to be). In failing them, it failed every LGBT. Because it sent the message that though the UN will give lip service and pretend that they give a damn about LGBT rights, the reality is they'll only mention it in a report if they're forced to and, even then, they'll rush through it and ignore most facts and events.
What I've written isn't all that damning (though I'll get phone calls for it). What's really damning is that the United Nations is supposed to help those in need, those in crisis but, read their report, the only one who got helped was a 17-year-old who was helped not by the UN but by an NGO. That pretty much says everything that needs to be said about where the United Nations stands today on LGBT issues.
Alsumaria reports Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi states he will return to Iraq soon and that the targeting of Baghdad provincial council member Laith al-Dulaimi (arrested on Nouri's orders by Nouri's forces who tortured him) confirms much of what al-Hashemi has stated about being targeted. Specifically, al-Hashemi states it confirms what he has stated about human rights, about the lack of justice, about the judiciary being politicized and about torture being a key characteristic of Iraqi imprisonment. In protest of the proceedings, al-Hashemi's attorneys walked out May 20th on the trial against him. Like Laith al-Dulaimi, the Vice President is accused of terrorism. Like Laith al-Dulaimi, the Vice President is a member of Iraqiya.
Iraqiya's big 'crime' appears to be coming in first in the March 7, 2010 elections. For months before the election, Nouri al-Maliki attempted to demonize them, had them arrested, had them kicked out of the race and someone -- Nouri? -- was also having the assassinated in the lead-up to the elections. Nouri 'promised' -- the media swore to us -- that there would be no third term. But as we have repeatedly noted, that line has been walked back and walked back. And, no, we didn't fall for the claim when he made it. We questioned it even then pointing out that in the original assertion, he'd left himself wiggle room.
Among the current issues that various blocs can agree upon is that Nouri should have no third term. The one that can't agree with that is Nouri.
If you'll think back to the lead-up to the 2010 elections, you'll remember Nouri was convinced his State of Law would win overwhelmingly. But the reality was they didn't even win by a hair. It's possible that the attacks currently are part of his attempts for the next round of parlimentary elections (which are now supposed to take place in 2014) or even to influence the provincial elections (scheduled for next year currently). Nouri does have problems with the provinces. He's got a war going on with Ethyl al-Nujaifi who is the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. Ehtyl is also the Governor of Nineveh Province and Nouri -- who is so shocked that people are calling for him to step down -- has twice called for al-Nujaifi to step down as governor.
Al Rafidayn notes the real purpose of Nouri's holding the Council of Ministers meeting in Mosul (as opposed to Baghdad) yesterday: He met with tribal leaders in Nineveh in an attempt to shore up support for him as moves are made to push for a no-confidence vote which would, if succeessful, remove him from the post of prime minister. Nouri also again launched an attack on Osama al-Nujaifi. Which really doesn't seem smart in the province that elected his brother governor. But Nouri's not know for his wisdom.
To distract from the push for a no-confidence vote in him, Nouri and flunkies recently announced there was a push for a no-confidence vote in Osama al-Nujaifi. However, the National Alliance (a Shi'ite grouping of political parties which includes Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc, Ibraham al-Jaafari's group, Nouri's State of Law and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq among others) publicly dismissed that. They noted that the National Alliance was not calling for a move against al-Nujaifi. They noted that State of Law had not even made a proposal to the National Alliance about such a move. And the press kindly let the matter die instead of pointing out that Nouri had been caught in yet another lie.
Today a new reason for the ongoing political crisis is given: Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria reports that State of Law states Osama al-Nujaifi attempted to call for a no-confidence vote but Talabani stopped it. If true, that conditional is always needed when speaking of State of Law, it's time for Jalal to go. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) also reports that Jalal Talabani rejected the call for a no-confidence vote and cites Kurdish MP Mahmud Othman as the source.
Press TV reported Saturday that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was calling for a national conference again. He's been calling for that since December 21st. How long he'll continue to call, who knows?
His son, of course, just spent over a million dollars on a DC home (the six bedroom and six bath house -- not all six baths are full bathrooms -- is on Daniel Road in Chevy Chase, Maryland and they closed on it January 27th agreeing to the price of $1,155,000). I guess if I were a child of Talabani's and I was seeing exactly how ineffective he had become, I think I'd probably decide to spend money on a home in another country as well. It is interesting that a public servant like Talabani can afford to purchase a home in that neighborhood. You wouldn't assume that being the KRG lobbyist in the US would pay enough to warrant a million-dollar home.
I think someone should ask Talabani why his son purchased a home in the US -- you can lease in that area -- and how large of a salary his son draws?
He's swearing to Kurds that he's going to stand with them but even PUK (the political party he heads) doubts that. They're starting to point out the obvious: Is Jalal really in a position to demand that Nouri not seek a third term? If he takes up that position, doesn't that mean that Talabani can't seek a third term as president of Iraq?
Without that position, he's just the aged head of political party he's led to lower and lower turnout. The PUK needs new leadership.
Talabani is just Nouri in a ceremonial post. Why did Iraq have elections? To get a new speaker of Parliament? That's really all that changed despite the results.
In news of violence, Alsumaria reports that a roadside bombing today in Ramadi claimed 1 life and left two other people injured. In addition, Al Rafidayn notes that a bridge connecting Anbar Province and Salah ad-Din Province was blown up today. In addition, Alsumaria notes 1 person was shot dead as he left his southern Baghdad home yesterday.
Lastly, I'm offering my opinion on Chris Hayes. The short version is, he didn't do anything wrong. He's apologized for what he stated and I believe that was sincere, he's generally a sincere person. But what he said before his apology? If that was a shock to you, you don't really know a wide cross-section of people who've lost a loved one to war. You may know many, but you apparently only know one grouping. Chris Hayes' comments weren't at all shocking to me. I speak to pro and anti and in-between veterans groups and there's a wide range of opinions out there. I'll assume that those who objected online to what Chris said on his MSNBC program were being sincere. But I think they would have been better served -- and our national dialogue would have been -- if they'd grasped that their opinion isn't the only one out there. I'm not the voice of veterans, I don't present myself as such.
Would I have said what he did? No. I wouldn't have ventured an opinion on the topic and don't believe I ever have. I'm more interested in hearing what people think than sharing my own opinions (and I don't have an opinion on everything or rush to form one). I'm mainly weighing in today on Chris because a writer slammed me in an series of e-mails today on how I hadn't come to his (the writer's) defense. And my reaction to that is, "I don't know your soap opera. I don't have time to research your last three years and all the people you've pissed off. But I do know that woman at the New York Times that won't take your calls anymore? Your rage frightens her. And she's not the only one." But being read ___'s attacks over the phone by Martha (who got the 'joy' of being the one to open those foul e-mails -- thank you, Martha for all you do) with their f-you and the rest attacking me for not coming to his defense (over problems I wasn't even aware of -- I didn't even know he was lying about me -- which he also admits in his e-mails -- in 2011 online until today), I thought finally, "You're on your own." And that made me think, the people who really do care and really don't try to hurt people, those are the ones who deserve support. And that's the type of person Chris Hayes is.
There are a lot of people who don't care. They go on TV and they really don't care. It's a party and a game, they say their piece and they go home and don't even think about it again. (For those who take that as a slam on the right -- I know many people on TV on the left and in the center. I can't speak to the right-wing TV pundits and wouldn't presume to being unfamiliar with them and their lives.) Whether you agree with Chris or not, he does give a great deal of thought to not only events but to how he impacts them and whether or not he said the right thing or communicated correctly. He does not set out to be controversial or to hurt anyone. He's not trying to 'play with the format.' He's honestly attempting to communicate. He meant no harm and he was speaking -- whether he knew it or not -- for a group of people around the country who were mourning the fallen and whose feelings about their loved one are just as valid as those who disagreed with Chris.
If you were honestly bothered by Chris' opinion -- which he identified as such -- he's offered a sincere apology and if the attacks on him continue, I'll assume you're not sincere but working some political angle or trying to. He's done everything he can and then some at this point so if you've got a problem, it's beyond Chris and on you. There are a lot of people I wouldn't vouch for. When I was making a list of that as Martha read the series of e-mails from ____, I immediately thought of Chris Hayes and how he's someone who is worth vouching for.