Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kat's Korner: Break Up The Ass Kiss

Kat: Chrissie Hynde is one sick f**k.

If there's a kinder way to put it, it's escaping me.

That can be her charm (such as when she finds a way to capture a moment in song that no one else could) or it can be her downfall (her infamous brawl at a Joni Mitchell concert last decade where she attacked fellow music stars). Mainly it accounts for how she could become the biggest pot head in the world. Some may attempt to argue that assertion and want hard data on exactly how much weed Chrissie's consumed on a daily basis. I think that's the wrong measurement. Back when Paul McCartney was spouting his 'pipes of peace' and getting busted in Japan, he still found time to regularly produce music. Chrissie? As she's said countless times, she's happy just lighting up a spiff and staring at the walls. What hard drugs did to Sly Stone, soft drugs appear to have done to Chrissie.

One of the greatest talents of the last three decades is also one of the most maddening and there's a tendency, when she surfaces musically, to treat her like a groundhog and avoid criticizing her because it might scare her back into her room for another four years.

Break Up The Concrete

She's surfaced with eleven new tracks (ten of which she wrote) on a new CD entitled Break Up The Concrete and a band she's calling "Pretenders." The first clue that it's not Pretenders is probably the fact that the band's not listed until page 19 of the CD booklet. There's no one from the original Pretenders (granted two members o.d.ed long ago) and no one from any of her eighties groupings. At this point, a Pretenders CD is a bit like a Temptations concert -- if you'll accept an approximation of the sound and ignore all the new faces, you can lull yourself into self-delusion.

Let's start with the bad. Is there a more uneducated adult in the world currently writing for the masses? In the past, a lot of Chrissie's quirks could be excused by the fact that she was allegedly a "punk." Pretenders came along too late for the punk scene (which had already blossomed into "New Wave" in the US by the time the group was recording in England) but Chrissie did grasp hype. Her years of music journalism in England had at least taught her that.

If that seems cruel, so does Chrissie. Her uneducated mind is exposed and if anyone can excuse it, have at it. She's like some dottering bigot at this point and I expect few to muster a defense of her. Chrissie is infamous for urging bombings on McDonalds. 'Punk' Chrissie punked-out when McDonald's attorneys started talking to her and she quickly issued a 'clarification.' But she's supposedly our environmental warrior. So why the hell is she writing an ode to "Boots of Chinese Plastic"? Its one thing for her to wear leather -- to her that is rock and roll. Plastic boots? No excuse for it. Then there's the title track which is Chrissie's ignorance and nothing but.

On "Break Up The Concrete," she appears to want to weigh in on JFK's assassination. Why? Maybe someone just informed her he was shot? So she's making a ninny of herself writing and singing about the book "depot" and insisting it was built by "slaves" and JFK was killed because "Texans" refused to "ever get into a carriage or anything that might lead to an interracial marriage." Yes, she truly is that ignorant. The Rainman of Rock.

The "book depot" (Texas School Book Depository) was built in 1901. What "slaves," Chrissie? As for 'interracial marriage,' considering that it's not generally floated as a conspiracy theory and that Loving vs. Virginia (which legalizes interracial marriage throughout the US) is in 1967 -- while Johnson is president -- and that LBJ is actually the president who signs Civil Rights legislation into law and is never assassinated, it's a bit hard to go with Chrissie's stoner 'smarts.' Facts don't matter when the mind is baked and you want to prove how 'pro-Black' you are (and have everyone forget your multiple racist remarks in interviews well into 1983?). Facts especially don't matter when you're the type who makes the characters into This Is Spinal Tap look like geniuses.

"Boots of Chinese Plastic" and "Break Up The Concrete" are two of the three songs Chrissie most likely thinks are 'heavy' on this CD. The third is "Don't Cut Your Hair."

She must have really been toked when she wrote and recorded this little ditty. "Any guy is lying if he says he doesn't want it." She likes that line so much she repeats it. What does it mean? I think we're supposed to believe it means every guy wants some female tail and that's part of why Chrissie is so hopelessly out of date and the Pretenders did the fade they did. (No, not every guy is interested in women.) However, mere seconds later she wants to insist "all the guys are gay, it's the way today." Which is it? You're wasting your time if you're thinking there's some sort of logical, 'if . . . then' thread to Chrissie's purple haze. Both lines are insulting and she's too old (and punk has been dead for too long) to continue to get excuses. And probably by the time you're 'talent' is offering up such lyrical 'gems' as "shake it, bake it," you really don't deserve any more excuses.

All of this goes a long way towards explaining how Chrissie could applaud a man in her life who does nothing ("The Nothing Maker"). What Lennon and McCartney would have dubbed a "Nowhere Man," Chrissie's drooling over. Can I get some of what she's been smoking?

It's idiotic and it's also what she does best these days. Sing about love. When she sticks with love, it doesn't matter that she no longer has one coherent thought left in her mind. Building on her own body of work, she opens a song with "lover's of today . . ." ("Love's a Mystery") that's the sort of light-tempo song she can turn (churn?) out these days with little effort and maximum results. Don't pay attention to the words, just listen to that marvelous voice and grasp that she's whipped this new band into shape.

If you can sustain that limited expectations, you can be overjoyed by Break Up The Concrete. You can enjoy the fifties "Sea of Love" type "Don't Lose Faith In Me" (and never notice how little sense it makes), the aspiring to Miles Davis aspects of "Almost Perfect" . . . But only from a distance.

Get to close to the latter, for example, and prepare to immediately recoil. Of a woman "with two black eyes," Chrissie explains, "She's already been told twice." Again, there's no excuse for Chrissie's ignorance and there's no excuse for her offensive nature. Allowing that punk was one of the most racist and sexist musical movements -- it was, kiddies, that's why disco was its great enemy, a musical format featuring predominately African-Americans and females at that -- still doesn't allow for Chrissie the wanna be punk to be embarrassing herself over thirty years later.

If you pay attention to the album in full, you grasp that it's a revisionary history on race relations, a vocal expression and endorsement of homophobia and misogyny and that, basically, it's the soundtrack to Barack Obama's campaign -- all the various strands gathered in all their non-glory.

I think the music critics have been far too easy on Chrissie since slamming her hard on Packed! From 1980 to 1990, Pretenders (various line ups, always including Chrissie) released five album and the fifth, 1990's Packed!, was the first to really get a critical drumming. This album found Chrissie raiding the melodies and chord progressions of songs she'd written for the previous four albums. Eighteen years have passed since Chrissie was rightly called out and she's released only four albums, approximately half the output she offered while a critical darling. This adds into a belief by some critics that they must find a way to praise her because, as one friend who reviews for a monthly put it, "She's such an important talent." She's a half-baked genius. She's right about half the time and glaring wrong the other half. She, more than any other artist working today, proves Bob Dylan's "Trust the art, not the artist" commandment.

And she also proves that critics can't really baby the artists they review. If Chrissie hadn't been babied for so long, she wouldn't think she could get away with something as offensive as justifying domestic abuse or homophobia in 2008. She thinks she can get away with it in part because she lives in a non-stop pot haze but also because when rock's own groundhog briefly resurfaces, everyone kisses her ass. Don't think she doesn't grasp that or that the knowledge of that wasn't behind her televised 1995 mooning. And don't think continuing to blindly kiss her ass is doing her, her music or music criticism any favors.

[Kat reviewed Labelle's Back to Now here yesterday.]

Other Items

Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres began a three-day stay in Iraq that ended Thursday. Gutteres was in the country to address the issue of the internally displaced refugees (over to two million people). Wednesday he would explain that "We are now expanding our presence inside Iraq. We will have prescence in 14 governorates by early next year, including Ramadi." Thursday would find him meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf to discuss the UNHCR's increase presence in Iraq and how they intended to increase thier current budget as they increased their number of offices (from ten to fourteen).

Today Reuters reports an attack in the Green Zone near the UN headquarters which accounted for the deaths of two people (according to the UN which also states that they were not UN employees -- three people is the count offered by others with fifteen more people wounded in the bombing). Al Jazeera states it was a rocket attack on that it was on the UN headquarters: "A UN official said several of the injured in the rocket attack on the organisation's compound are in serious condition and that the death toll might rise." BBC echoes Al Jazeera: "Two foreign contractors working for the UN have been killed and 15 wounded in a rocket attack on Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, the UN says. "

On the topic of the UN, a friend (with the UN) steers to a press release I missed in real time. The UN issued this November 25th (in PDF form):

"Violence against Iraqi women continues unabated", says UN expert
GENEVA – "Iraqi women have seen their rights eroded in all areas of life while the world observes from afar," warns the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Yakin Ertürk, on the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November).
"The ongoing conflict, high levels of insecurity, widespread impunity, collapsing economic conditions and rising social conservatism are impacting directly on the daily lives of Iraqi women and placing them under increased vulnerability to all forms of violence within and outside their home", says Ms. Ertürk.
Although too often overlooked, "violence against Iraqi women is committed by numerous actors, such as militia groups, insurgents, Islamic extremists, law enforcement personnel, members of the family as well as the community", laments the UN Special Rapporteur.
Women are victims of rape, sex trafficking, forced and early marriages, murder, and abduction for sectarian or criminal reasons; many are driven or forced into prostitution. Women also fall victims to the disproportionate use of force by members of Iraqi and multi-national forces (MNFI), including during raids on private homes. To escape the cycle of violence many women turn to suicide, sending a clear message of despair to their society.
"I am also concerned by the increased violence within the family", says Ms. Ertürk. The so-called 'honour killings' appear to be on the rise and are largely committed with impunity. On the rare occasions where perpetrators are arrested and charged, they are given lenient punishments under the Iraqi Penal Code. As a result, women and girls are reluctant to even report sexual attacks for fear of then being ostracized or even killed by their family.
'Honour killings' are among the primary causes of unnatural deaths among women in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, and a number of reports are also documenting the practice of female genital mutilation. Medical personnel operating in Iraqi Kurdistan and women's rights activists report that incidents of self-immolation are on the increase, with at least one case reported daily and many more remaining either unreported or concealed as accidents.
Iraq, as a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, must protect women from violations by State agents and private actors, whether they are family members or armed groups. The Security Council, in its Resolution 1820 further demands that all parties to an armed conflict cease all acts of sexual violence against civilians, especially women and children.
"I urge the Iraqi government and the international community to prevent women and girls from being the 'soft targets' of violence and the invisible victims of the conflict in Iraq.", concluded the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms. Yakin Ertürk.

As Holly Near sings, "The war against women marches on, beware of the fairy tale." On a semi-related topic, Nancy Benac (AP) reviews the sexist attacks against Hillary during the primaries, the woman now mentioned as potential Secretary of State:

Last spring, though, Clinton was targeted with a steady stream of criticism via conference call, e-mail and campaign-trail digs from the Obama camp, all aimed at shredding her self-portrait as an experienced and confident leader on the international stage. Some of those doing the sniping will be taking up key positions -- most likely along with Clinton -- in the new Obama administration.
Greg Craig, selected to serve as White House counsel in the Obama administration, delivered a withering attack during the primaries on Clinton's claims that she could rightfully share in the credit for some of the foreign policy successes of her husband's presidency.
"She did not sit in on any National Security Council meetings when she was first lady," Craig insisted in one conference call. He went on to knock down Clinton's claims to influence in the Northern Ireland peace process, opening borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, and making a dangerous visit to Bosnia.
"There is no reason to believe ... that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration," Craig wrote in a campaign memo.
Susan Rice, an Obama adviser who could land a spot in the new administration, mocked the idea that Clinton could lay claim to foreign policy credentials by marriage.

The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;
and Stan's Oh Boy It Never Ends

Kat reviewed Labelle's Back to Now here yesterday and her latest CD review goes up after this.


thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends

Steven Lee Myers: A Damn Liar

After the prayers, the several hundred worshipers had planned to march in protest against the security agreement, which still requires approval from Iraq's presidency council. The Sadrists have long opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Sadr issued a statement through his key aides Friday, calling for three days of mourning and peaceful demonstrations against the pact.

[. . .]
In the city of Kufa, also in southern Iraq, about 500 Sadrists carrying black flags and photos of Sadr demonstrated against the pact after Friday prayers. "No, no agreement!" and "Death, death to those who signed the agreement!" they chanted. "We shall continue to protest the agreement because it does not serve Iraq or its people," said Kadhim Alwan, 25, a protester. "We reject this agreement because we have our own beliefs, and we do not want to be tied down to the West and its culture."

The above is from Sudarsan Raghavan and Saad Sarhan's "Bombing At Mosque In Iraq" (Washington Post) so that protests against the treaty reported in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk thus far. But, hey, pull a Bremer, it can't hurt anyone, right? (And for the record, Paul Bremer's de-Baathification came with White House knowledge and approval. He was not a 'lone gun'.)

Let's turn to stupidity. That trip takes us naturally to the New York Times. Today, Steven Lee Myers offers up "A Loosely Drawn American Victory" which maintains victory in Iraq. Is he going to get away with that? Probably because he is a 'he.' Dropping back to the September 25th snapshot:

Turning to the US presidential race. Yesterday The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured part one of an interview (link has text and video) with Governor Sarah Palin (part-two airs tonight), the GOP vice presidential candidate. Howard Kurtz (Washington Post) thinks he's found a mis-step in Palin's remarks, specifically in this section: "So, again, I believe that . . . a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq. And as I say, Katie, that we cannot afford to retreat, to withdraw in Iraq." Kurtz offers, "The vice-presidential nominee may have misspoken in an attempt to say that President Bush's military surge in Iraq has been a success, but she did not qualify her remarks." While she may have misspoken, there's nothing in her remarks that indicates she has. In fact, her remarks are perfectly in keeping with top-of-the-ticket GOP nominee John McCain. In the last months McCain has repeatedly declared victory in Iraq but the press has rarely paid attention. There was some attention to his May 15th speech in Ohio which included, "The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a function democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent . . ." Speech in full (text and video) at the McCain-Palin 2008 website. Based on that and other speeches McCain has given over the summer, there is nothing inconsistent with Palin's answer. (I don't happen to agree with her or McCain. That's not the issue. The issue is did she know what she was saying? Why assume she didn't? No one assumed he didn't, now did they? McCain's repeatedly made those type of remarks and there's been no questioning of them.) Let's stay with McCain's remarks for a moment because they have been noted in the snapshots. McCain's statements on withdrawal are that most US servicemembers would be out by 2013. What is "most"? That's why the press should have focused on his repeated statements that the Iraq War had been "won." (We're not going into the nonsense of 100-years which was a deliberate distortion of what McCain said.) Presumably, McCain favors US service members stationed at the US Embassy in Iraq -- US service members are stationed at all US embassies. What else does he support? That's where the press has failed by refusing to explore. And the most important question is: "If the war is won, why are US troops still in Iraq and when will they begin leaving?" McCain's actually not fenced in with his remarks and the questions wouldn't be "gotcha" in nature. He can sincerely believe the Iraq War has been won. (I obviously disagree and do not think the illegal war can be won.) But, as was pointed out in numerous snapshots, when you declare the war won then you're obligated to address what happens next.

Palin declares victory and she's raked over the coals. McCain does it over for months (starting in the spring of 2008) and no one bats an eye. So Myers will probably get away with it. It's apparently only troubling when a woman declares "victory" in Iraq. There is no victory in Iraq but if the Times couldn't pimp the lie that it was, they might have to shut up shop (something they should seriously consider doing) seeing how they, more than any other outlet, are responsible for the US being in Iraq today. (That is getting the US over there as well as the lies that have kept the US over there.)

Myers pimps the Council For A Liveable World as a 'peace organization.' They're nothing but a war hawk front group to elect Democrats, in the tank with Kurdistan independence on top of everything. What a joke. The chair is Gary Hart (I know and like Hart; however, he is not now nor has he ever been a peace activist) and the officers are a motley crew of military War Hawks and civilian War Hawks. Their National Advisory Board includes Freaks and Liars like Sarah Sewall aka Sarah Sewar who declared publicly at the close of 2007 that the Iraq War could not be called a failure because if it were called that, future wars would be more difficult for the US to start. Sarah Sewer oversaw the counter-insurgency manual for the military and there is nothing 'peaceful' about that. Sarah's roll dog (emphasis on "dog") is Monty McFate whose sister was also a 'peace activist' until she got exposed this year for being a right-wing subsersive attempting to disrupt the peace movement. Like Sewar, Monty works on counter-insurgency and betrays her field and all the ethical standards it is supposed to uphold. (A hilarious NPR moment found Monty insisting that ethical standards were maintained in Afghanistan only to then have a New York Times reporter join the conversation late -- unaware of what Monty had stated -- and go on to explain how, in fact, ethical standards -- including basic disclosures -- were not followed in Monty's Afghanistan programs.) The McFates were never popular in the Bay Area (hence Monty's need to lie and inflate her standing in the community) but they have become a popular joke as it appears every member has publicly disgraced themselves this year.

And Myers? He's a damn liar and he thinks you're a lousy fool that he can trick into believing a Democratic Party front group staffed with War Hawks is a 'peace organization.'

When this illegal war continues to drag on, remember how many of our 'voices' and 'outlets' failed us -- the ones who are supposed to counter the corporate media's propaganda but were all too busy offering something else, some diversion, not reality, not anything that did a damn thing to help end the illegal war. They can jerk off, they just can't expose anything other than themselves.

Let's move over to Campbell Robertson (because I'm not wasting my morning on Myers). Robertson offers up "Wary Iraqis Weigh Deal That Shapes Their Future" which states that "in interviews with Iraqis in cities around the country, there was less concern about the agreement itself than there was a wisdespread skepticisim that the Americans would actually adhere to its rules." In cities? The Times is only aware of a protest yesterday in Baghdad or else they are choosing not to report the protest in Basra (or Kirkuk). That makes it a little difficult to believe Robertson's claim about "widespread" anything.

Alissa J. Rubin offers "Bomber Kills 12 at Shiite Mosque Before March Against a New Security Pact" and that's yesterday's mosque bombing which features an AFP/Getty Images photo by Mohammed Sawaf and that may be all that can be recommended of the article. It's not even a coherent report, it's so patched together that, were it a film, we'd be talking about it's jump-cuts.

Yesterday, Kat reviewed Labelle's Back to Now here and, after this morning's two entries go up, Kat's latest review follows. She repeats, "I would like to do three reviews; however, barring a miracle, this second one is probably it."

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 28, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the so-called 'coalition' continues shrinking, the press pimps spin for the White House, and more.
Yesterday, the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement passed the Iraqi Parliament and some form of the treaty was also released in English (finally) by the White House. While the White House issued a fact-free feel-good from the Bully Boy of the United States and the press, always desperate to fit in, copped a few feels of their own, the reaction was not as universal aclaim in Iraq.  Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reports approximately 9,000 people gathered to protest in Sadr City and another 2,500 in Basra.  AP adds, "Al-Sadr's statement calls for "peaceful public protests" and the display of black banners as a sign of mourning. But it doesn't repeat his threat to unleash militia fighters to attack U.S. forces if they don't leave immediately."
The treaty passed but no seems concerned and you have to wonder who in the US administration (or the press) is paying attention.  The UN warned this month that violence would most likely increase as a result of Parliamentary elections being (finally) scheduled for next year.  Was it really the time to antagonize Iraqis further?  Will the treaty be looked at in a year or  two the same way Paul L. Bremer's decision to de-Baathify the Iraqi government was?  Will it be the failure that people point to and marvel over how the US just had to keep pushing, just had to poke the bear.  Was it worth the anger and the ill will?  No one wants to debate that or acknowledge it.  The press is on their cop-a-feel high.  Take Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) who breathlessly pants the vote was "historic".  Historic? 149 members of Parliament voted for the treaty.  There are 275 members of Parliament.  That's barely over half.  Historic?  Really?  The Scotsman explains the treaty better than any domestic outlet: "On Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers approved a pact allowing US forces to stay in Iraq for three more years."  The domestic press outlets are too busy parroting the White House to note much reality.  AFP explains, "The United States on Thursday hailed the Iraqi parliament's approval of a landmark accord for US troops to leave the country in three years, but a referendum on the deal next year could complicate withdrawal plans for the next US president."  Ignore the referendum, ignore that the majority of Iraqis want the US out now, ignore that the backdoor deals that the US crafted to push the treaty through are not unknown in Iraq . . .  On that last point, Iran's Press TV reports:
"Washington echelons repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iraqi government if they continued their opposition to the security deal," said Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.

Iraq's al-Morsad reported on Oct. 10 that US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had warned that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be 'ousted' unless he signed the US-proposed security pact.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has also claimed that the Bush administration had threatened to cut off vital services to Baghdad if it further delayed the accord, saying the threats were akin to 'political blackmail'.

"It was really shocking for us…Many people are looking to this attitude as a matter of blackmailing," al-Hashimi said on Oct. 26.
Ignore all of that and ignore that all of this is one big pressure cooker.  It really is just like when Bremer disbanded the Baath Party and the real-time press rushed to hail that too.  Let's drop back to the April 10 Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations hearing chaired by Joe Biden who noted "We've pledged we're not only going to consult when there is an outside threat, but also when there is an inside threat.  We've just witnessed when Mr. Maliki engaged in the use of force against another Shia group in the south, is this an inside threat? . . . [that the proposed treaty requires the US] to take sides in Iraq's civil war [and that]  there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out. . . .  Just understand my frustration: We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."  Senator Russ Feingold agreed noting, "Given the fact that the Maliki government doesn't represent a true colation, won't this agreement [make it appear] we are taking sides in the civil war especially when most Iraqi Parliamentarians have called for the withdrawal of troops?"  But the press, reflecting their 'betters' in the administration, rush to ignore those basic facts.  Feingold's question bears repeating, "Are you not concerned at all that the majority of the Iraqi Parliament has called for withdrawal?"  Apparently the press isn't concerned but they're not free press, they can't report, they can only reflect the spin coming out of the White House. 
None more so than the media crack whore Alissa J. Rubin who joins with Campbell Robertson (New York Times) to pimp one lie after another and, most notoriously, the lie that the treaty "goes into effect on Januray 1, 2009, when the current United Nations mandate that currently governs American troop operations in the country expires."  Put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard, Alissa J.  The treaty now goes to the presidency council where the three members may approve it or they may shoot it down (only one vote is required to nix the treaty).  Translation, at this point, nothing goes into effect on January 1, 2009.  Don't get stoned and try to 'report,' Alissa, it only embarrasses yourself, the paper and everyone else.  Who, what, when and where, not predicitions passed off as facts.  She's far from the only cop-a-feel-pimper, but she is the worst.  The Washington Post manages to include (buried deep) the following on the treaty:
". . .  the pact also allows the Iraqi government to negotiate with the United States to extend the presence of U.S. troops if conditions on the ground are not stable. The  Los Angeles Times manages to note: "The pact allows for amendments if both sides agree to them. U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting an extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi forces in charge.  'There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides,' one U.S. official said."  While the Iraqi Parliament has now approved the treaty, the White House thinks they can get away with circumventing the Constitution and refusing to allow the treaty to go before the US Congress.  American Freedom Campaign picks the lack of US Congressional input into the treaty as the abuse of the week:

Iraq Parliament to vote on U.S.-Iraq agreement, while Congress has no input
During the Bush administration, the power of the executive branch has been greatly expanded. At times, President Bush has treated Congress like an inferior branch of government – and, to be honest, Congress has done very little to demonstrate it minds being treated that way.         
Case in point: On November 17, the New York Times
reported that the U.S. and Iraq had reached an agreement setting the terms of the U.S.'s presence in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate on December 31. Although the Bush administration is calling this agreement a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a category of international agreement that does not require congressional approval, it is clear that the agreement goes well beyond a traditional SOFA.    
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has no plans to seek congressional approval. What makes this even worse is that under the Iraqi constitution, this kind of agreement must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. So we are left with a situation in which the Iraqi Parliament is voting on an agreement that will affect the lives of U.S. soldiers, but Congress has no voice at all in the process. And what is Congress doing about this? Very, very little so far…

And while Biden could express frustration April 10th over the treaty and object to it, while Barack Obama could do the same as he was running in the Democratic Party primary for the presidential nomination, while he could show boat and pretend he shared Hillary Clinton's objection to a treaty without Congressional approval (even becoming one of the 13 co-sponsors of the bill she put foward), while Biden and Obama could run in the general election insisting that the treaty must have Congressional approval, that was then.  Every time a Barack wins an election, a Barack loses a spine.  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) shares this today:

His transition team will now be poring over every word of the document to see what it will mean for those soldiers who may remain in Iraq for up to three years after the expiry of the UN mandate on December 31. Mr Obama, a lawyer, will be anxious to see that American troops remaining in the country do not fall foul of Iraqi or international law.

The treaty was yet another 'present' vote for Barack. He couldn't stand up, he couldn't do a damn thing.  When you've built your own myth around your so-called judgment and the only thing you have to remotely base that claim on is a 2002 speech, you're paralyzed and that's what Barack's rushing to enshrine: a paralyzed presidency. 
Meanwhile further tensions on the horizon as Reuters reports, "Oil contracts signed by the Kurdish regional government (KRG) with foreign oil companies are not recognised by central government in Baghdad, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani said on Friday.
In other news the so-called coalition of the willing continues shrinking.  CNN reports Japan is ending their air mission in Iraq as 2008 draws to a close.  Takashi Hirokawa and Sachiko Sakamaki (Bloomberg News) note that "Japan Air Self-Defense Force will terminate the airlifts, which started in March 2004 and are designed to help reconstruction work".  UPI adds that Yasukazu Hamada, Japan's Defense Minister, "said Japan's air self-defense force mission had helped in imporving the Iraqi situation, Kydo news service reported."  Deborah Haynes (Times of London) observes, "President Bush's 'coalition of the willing' is set to all but disappear from Iraq by the end of the year, with 13 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Moldova and Tonga preparing to withdraw their few remaining troops.  Britian, Australia, Romania, Estonia and El Salvador are the only nations, apart from the US, that plan to remain after a UN mandate authorising their presence expires on December 31."
Some of today's reported violence?
BBC notes 9 dead (plus the bomber for 10) and fifteen wounded in a Musayib mosque bombing. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the mosque death toll rose to 13 ("12 worshipers" plus the bomber) and notes a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 others while leaving fourteen wounded as well as a Diyala Province house bombing that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with three more injured.
In music news, I Am Three announces there new digital download available here or here which includes the tracks "Burning Me," "Fell Over," "I Try," "Monkeyphonics," "Nostalgia," "Worth It" and "Strange addiction."  In addition, Kat reviews Labelle's Back to Now here. In non-music news check out  Gaza Strip: a catastrophic human toll - by Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse.

Kat's Korner: Labelle's neither "back" nor "now"

Kat: The good news is Labelle's sort-of 'back.' The bad news is that after decades apart, they couldn't pull together a solid album.


Patti LaBell is in fine voice throughout and that will, no doubt, please many and be more than enough to results in some sales and downloads. Labelle fans, however, may be thinking, "Uh, what is this? Diana Ross & the Supremes?"

"& the Supremes" comes along when the girl group is over and it's just about Diana. (And that's not specific to Diana Ross despite what the revisionary history would have you believe. "& the Miracles" also demonstrates Berry Gordy's efforts to single out a solo performer.) Labelle started out as the girl group The Bluebelles and morphed into Labelle -- a group where Patti was surely the dominant voice but not the sole one.

Today Labelle's work is largely reduced to two artifacts: the disco single "Lady Marmalade" and Gonna Take A Miracle. The former may be seen as a Patti solo single but the latter, an album the group did with Laura Nyro, shows off the group dynamics that made Labelle such a force.

The new CD is Back to Now and it demonstrates very little awareness of group dynamics. It's basically a Patti solo album that Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash do some guest backing vocals on. The album kicks off with "Candlelight" which keeps Patti front and center vocally but has enough intricate backing vocal work that you are aware Labelle is a group. Too many other tracks treat legendary pioneers (and equals) Dash and Hendryx as if they were the invisible but talented back up group The Sweeties (a backing group Patti has frequently used throughout her solo career).

The album could have used a lead turn at the mike by all three ladies but that was not to be and it goes to someone's ignorance of what the group was and what it respresented. That ignorance is on grand display in the album's worst track: "Rollout." "Rollout" isn't just bad, it's offensive.

"Ladies, ladies, there comes a time in your life when you got to do some things that you never thought you would have to do!" Patti LaBelle announces at the top of the track and who knew she was referrring to abusing and diminishing the act of singing, disgracing women with half-baked empowerment and plagiarism?

Starting with the first, it is appalling that the CD which refuses to treat Dash and Hendryx as equal partners in their own group is more than happy to tweak Patti's voice with various special effects that make her sound less than human. Moving to disgracing women with half-baked empowerment but still with this first point, Patti starts out singing, "I ain't your super woman, I ain't your Wonder Woman, I ain't gonna wash your clothes, I ain't the floor you're walking on . . ." Oh, goodness, Patti's doing a song about a woman who can stand up for herself, right? Hell no. We've got Wyclef ruining the whole song with his 'rap'. Is the song supposed to be saying women are so disgustingly pathetic that they need a man to defend them?

Seriously, don't give me this s**t about female empowerment and then turn the song over to a man. Would Helen Reddy have been fine singing just the verses while turning the chorus of "I Am Woman" over to Paul Anka? Hell no. And I'll be damned if I review this CD and not point out that a song about strong women damn well doesn't turn the song over to a man. It especially doesn't do that when it has nothing to offer Sarah and Nona. Sarah and Nona are rendered invisible on this song -- as they are on far too many other tracks -- but there's time to bring on Wyclef to 'rap' about female self-empowerment?

On the last part, there apparently wasn't time to write a full song. The song lists five writers including all three members of Labelle as well as Wyclef and Jerry Dupplesiss. Where are the names Marcus Miller and Mark Stephens? Seems to me when you rip them off for basically your entire song, you damn well give credit or risk charges of plagiarism (and a lawsuit). Miller and Stephens wrote Roberta Flack's hit "Oasis" and, if you've forgotten that minor eighties masterpiece, just give a listen to "Rollout" and you'll be singing "Oasis" all over again. This isn't a 'borrow,' this isn't a shout-out, it is out and out theft and no jury would hear it as anything else.

This track is the one that destroys the album for all three reasons noted. I heard the album at C.I.'s Halloween party and was ready to write a rave but I only heard parts of it. C.I. had programmed certain tracks for the guests and mingled them with tracks from other albums. Wisely, "Rollout" was avoided. The first time I heard it, I was bouncing along in the car seat with it but thinking, "Who are they ripping off?" Roberta Flack, that's who.

The standout track on this CD is "Superlover" which the group wrote with Camus Celli. For four minutes and fourteen seconds, you realize how great the group is (and that 'just backup' can add up to so much more). "System" isn't on that level but was worthy of recording and Nona wrote it years ago (when Carter was president) though it sounds surprisingly topical. "Truth Will Set You Free," by contrast, sounds like the worst of faceless-70s corporate rock. Why anyone thought there was a song in repeating a title over and over in front of an awkward beat that only the boys of Chicago would find 'funky' is beyond me. And that's what the real problem is. With just Nona and themselves as writers, they could have ended up with a solid and satisfying album. It might not have scaled new heights, but it would have satisified. Instead, on an album that makes very little time for two members of the group, they waste everyone's time bringing in second-rate hacks who have nothing to add. The extreme highs are: "Superlover," "Candlelight" and "Dear Rosa" in that order. "System" and "Miss Otis Regrets" minor gems.

Tracks like "Rollout" and "Truth Will Set You Free" aren't just bad, they're really bad. So bad, they sour the entire project. "Without You In My Life," for example, has trite lyrics (heard in top 40 songs for the last four decades) and a melody that echoes every hit James Ingram and Patti Austin ever recorded. But if it were the worst, it would just roll past you. Due to the extreme bad on the album, listeners are apt to be openly hostile and when they get done listening to the final track and realize that Sarah and Nona have been relegated to extras on their own alleged comeback album, Back to Now isn't worth purchasing.

That's a real shame because the three gems and two minor ones are strong enough to really let you know what could have been. You have to wonder how a 'reunion' album could have resulted in yet another Patti solo album? If you like Labelle, you can download those five track at iTunes and enjoy but you should avoid the CD. See them live, by all means. They're going to be touring and they will no doubt rock the house. If we're really lucky, they'll record the concerts for a live album. That's the reunion that the devoted (include me in that) want. Not hacks with 'names' butting into the process. Three strong women on the stage won't need any man intruding as they get down.

Other Items

Some 9,000 people protested in Baghdad's Shi'ite slum of Sadr City after Friday prayers, burning a U.S. flag and holding banners reading "No, no to the agreement". About 2,500 people held a similar rally in the southern city of Basra.
"I express my condolences to the Iraqi people on this grave occasion, in which they are harmed by the ... pact of shame and degradation," Sadr, whose militia has fought U.S. troops many times, said in a statement read to followers on his behalf.

That's from Wisam Mohammed's "Thousands of Iraqis protest US security pact" (Reuters) and no, not everyone's on the crack high over the treaty that Alissa J. is. AP adds, "Al-Sadr's statement calls for "peaceful public protests" and the display of black banners as a sign of mourning. But it doesn't repeat his threat to unleash militia fighters to attack U.S. forces if they don't leave immediately."

Meanwhile the BBC counts 9 dead and fifteen wounded in a bombing on a Baghdad mosque today -- a 'suicide' bombing which puts the death count at ten.

In print, Katherine Zoepf and Riyadh Mohammed offer "Amnesty Plan In Iraq Draws 18 Insurgents" in this morning's New York Times and appear to believe the story is that 18 women (the first women) have utilized the program; somehow the fact that the US is requiring loyalty oaths of all applicants flies right over the reporters heads. Loyalty oaths. The applicants must "sign a statement saying that they will be loyal to the Iraqi government and that they will participate in the political process". The government? Senators Joe Biden and Russ Feingold -- among many others -- have publicly noted that there is no government in Iraq, only a side that the US shored up and installed. What did the US teach Iraqis about 'democracy'? Loyalty Oaths! is today's chirpy answer.

For those who have forgotten, lazy ass Barack -- who is spineless -- made a point to showboat and hop on Hillary's resolution regarding the treaty with Iraq needing Congressional approval. That was then. The Corporatist War Hawk got installed and it all changed. Once upon a time, it was no treaty without Senate approval -- which is what the Constitution requires. These days? He just shuts his mouth and plays Ultimate Coward. Laugh as Deborah Haynes (Times of London) shares this today:

His transition team will now be poring over every word of the document to see what it will mean for those soldiers who may remain in Iraq for up to three years after the expiry of the UN mandate on December 31. Mr Obama, a lawyer, will be anxious to see that American troops remaining in the country do not fall foul of Iraqi or international law.

The treaty was apparently a 'present' vote for Barack. He's not sure how he would have voted on the 2002 Iraq War authorization, but Americans should be. He's yet again made it clear: He can't stand up. He is the Ultimate Coward. Staying with Puss In Boots, Miley notes Murphy's "Message to the Base: You’ve been HAD!" (PUMA PAC):

As you probably know, a team of Puma PAC volunteers has been poring over the obama campaign finance reports looking for glaring discrepancies. Since late last week they have found over $320,000 worth of donations that are over the $4,600 limit and many obviously bogus identities, including one from a person named E. Z., occupation Blogger.
One person in Florida donated $20,600 as an individual. Wow.
And then there’s Kathie O’Dwyer, also of Florida, who must have been experiencing Paroxysms of Obamadoration on June 11th. When the kool-aid high was all over, she woke up with $5,900 hangover.

Stan's "8, er 9, things I'm thankful for" went up yesterday as did:

Mikey Likes It!
Mike Whitney, Ralph Nader, etc.
8 hours ago

Cedric's Big Mix
Barack sings "Hero"
8 hours ago

The Daily Jot
8 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
10 hours ago

Trina's Kitchen
Snapshot in the Kitchen
10 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
Thanksgiving and Iraq
10 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Thanksgiving 'dinner'
10 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
treaty passes, white house releases copy
10 hours ago

The snapshot
10 hours ago

Ruth's Report
10 hours ago

And Trina's "Comics in the Kitchen" went up yesterday as well (she posted twice). Kat has a review that goes up after this. She says she would like to do a review a day over the next two but "get real." The e-mail address for this site is

the new york times
katherine zoepf

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends

Alissa J. Rubin, the paper's media crack whore

Alissa J. Rubin's tag-line these days is apparently, "If I have only one life to live, let me live it as a Judith Miller." The fates have bowed to her wishes. Bowed to her wishes and then some because if Judy Miller was so frequently referred to as a (media) whore, Alissa J. Rubin is a media crack whore.

So desperate for a fix, she's sold everything she has several times over and stares past you with glassy eyes and a zonked out expression. It results in non-reporting like "Iraq Approves Deal Charting End Of U.S. Role" (New York Times) which she writes with Campbell Robertson. Yes, it's time to lie about the treaty but you don't have to know that to grasp how far from reporting Alissa is. Take for example this alleged piece of 'reporting': "Since then the [Iraqi] government has furiously worked to gain approval of the measure, which goes into effect on January 1, 2009, when the current United Nations mandate the currently governs American troop operations in the country expires."

Media crack whore needs to put down her pipe and the paper needs to stop enabling her. The treay was approved by al-Maliki's cabinet and (yesterday) was voted on by the Parliament. But a reporter (shake Alissa, she's nodding off like the junkie she is) cannot, at this point, say that it "goes into effect on January 1, 2009" because it still has to win the approval of the presidency council.

Was she so desperate for a fix that she didn't grasp that? She can type up that sentence after the council approves it (if they do) but, at this point, that's a prediction, it's not reporting.

She drags her knees across the carpet to offer up that "the vote on Thursday represent a coming of age for the three-year-old Parliament." Really? You know that is just what the Middle East needs, more pompous asshole Westerners determining when they 'mature' and when they don't. Look up Ugly America and you'll see a picture of Alissa J. today (though the photo might not be suitable for all ages).

It's all so much garbage from the person in charge of the paper's Baghdad coverage.

We'll ignore the others on the garbage chain -- there are many. But remember it wasn't just Judith Miller that sold the illegal war. It took an entire network of people willing to pass off stenography as reporting and that's what's taking place today.

They can't even --check your outlet -- note the actual news of how, yesterday, the White House finally released some version of the treaty in English. But noting it might require that they actually have to read it and, as their 'reporting' has repeatedly indicated, they have no desire to do that when they can just ask the administration what to write.

In the world and climate of media whoring, it makes the actual few independent journalists all the more important, appreciated and something to be thankful for. One such person is John Pilger and this is from his "The Corruption That Makes Unpeople Of An Entire Nation" (Information Clearing House):

I went to the Houses of Parliament on 22 October to join a disconsolate group of shivering people who had arrived from a faraway tropical place and were being prevented from entering the Public Gallery to hear their fate. This was not headline news; the BBC reporter seemed almost embarrassed. Crimes of such magnitude are not news when they are ours, and neither is injustice or corruption at the apex of British power.
Lizette Talatte was there, her tiny frail self swallowed by the cavernous stone grey of Westminster Hall. I first saw her in a Colonial Office film from the 1950s which described her homeland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as a paradise long settled by people "born and brought up in conditions most tranquil and benign". Lizette was then 14 years old. She remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, "Keep smiling, girls!" When we met in Mauritius, four years ago, she said: "We didn't need to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego Garcia. My great-grandmother was born there, and I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers."
During the 1960s and 1970s British governments, Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago, more than 2,000 British citizens, so that Diego Garcia could be given to the United States as the site for a military base. It was an act of mass kidnapping carried out in high secrecy. As unclassified official files now show, Foreign Office officials conspired to lie, coaching each other to "maintain" and "argue" the "fiction" that the Chagossians existed only as a "floating population". On 28 July 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, T C D Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, instructing him to lie to the General Assembly that the Chagos Archipelago was "uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired it". Nine years later, the Ministry of Defence went further, lying that "there is nothing in our files about inhabitants [of the Chagos] or about an evacuation". "To get us out of our homes," Lizette told me, "they spread rumours we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs. The American soldiers who had arrived to build the base backed several of their big vehicles against a brick shed, and hundreds of dogs were rounded up and imprisoned there, and they gassed them through a tube from the trucks' exhaust. You could hear them crying. Then they burned them on a pyre, many still alive."
Lizette and her family were finally forced on to a rusting freighter and made to lie on a cargo of bird fertiliser during a voyage, through stormy seas, to the slums of Port Louis, Mauritius. Within months, she had lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged ten months. "They died of sadness," she said. "The eight-year-old had seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. The doctor said he could not treat sadness."

If everyone had John Pilger's courage and strength, maybe the Washington Post wouldn't bury the following in today's article about the treaty:

While it sets a clear deadline for an American withdrawal, the pact also allows the Iraqi government to negotiate with the United States to extend the presence of U.S. troops if conditions on the ground are not stable. The pact also allows certain foreign security contractors to be tried under Iraqi law for crimes.

For the record, a treaty that allows for an extension has not set "a clear deadline for an American withdrawal." That's not how it works in the English language. Oh for the days when the only reporters with degrees were English majors. And if everyone had John Pilger's courage and strength, maybe the Los Angeles Times wouldn't bury the following in their print article on the treaty today:

The pact allows for amendments if both sides agree to them. U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting an extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi forces in charge.
"There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides," one U.S. official said.

But both outlets can take comfort in the fact that no one media whores like Alissa J. Contrasted with Alissa J., they're all just a bunch of horny teenagers.

American Freedom Campaign picks the lack of US Congressional input into the treaty as the abuse of the week:

Iraq Parliament to vote on U.S.-Iraq agreement, while Congress has no input
During the Bush administration, the power of the executive branch has been greatly expanded. At times, President Bush has treated Congress like an inferior branch of government – and, to be honest, Congress has done very little to demonstrate it minds being treated that way.
Case in point: On November 17, the New York Times
reported that the U.S. and Iraq had reached an agreement setting the terms of the U.S.’s presence in Iraq after the expiration of the UN mandate on December 31. Although the Bush administration is calling this agreement a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a category of international agreement that does not require congressional approval, it is clear that the agreement goes well beyond a traditional SOFA.
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has no plans to seek congressional approval. What makes this even worse is that under the Iraqi constitution, this kind of agreement must be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. So we are left with a situation in which the Iraqi Parliament is voting on an agreement that will affect the lives of U.S. soldiers, but Congress has no voice at all in the process. And what is Congress doing about this? Very, very little so far…

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the new york times
campbell robertson
alissa j. rubin
the los angeles times

american freedom campaign

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Hate The War

Today, Iraq's Parliament passed the treaty (without a two-thirds vote) and the White House finally released some version of the treaty in English. Meanwhile Matthew D. Laplante's "Military mum on dirty air in Iraq" (Salt Lake Tribune) reports the US government is using the "national security" classification to avoid releasing a 2006 Enivornmental Health Site Assessment regarding Balad Air Base where a burn pit was utilized and may have resulted in damage to the health of those who were stationed there: "Now that report has been classified. And Col. Thomas Logan, who commands the center, refuses to say why. Logan declined to be interviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune. A spokeswoman only repeated that information in the report could damage national security if it were made public."

Earlier this month, IRIN raised another health safey issue in "IRAQ: Nuclear contamination in northern province of Ninevah?" which noted:

According to two local officials, the plant - which was built in the early 1980s by a group of European and Russian companies for the government of former president Saddam Hussein - is suspected of causing a number of cancers and deformities among babies and adults.
"The province's health authorities have registered a number of deformities among newborns as well as a number of cancers among adults. The health authorities suspect that a radiation leak and contamination from a former nuclear plant is the cause of the deformities and cancers," Governor Duraid Kashmola said.

The toxic effects of Depleted Uranimum and other weapons used by the US in Iraq will, no doubt, be explored 'in the future.'

On the future, for this site, it has been addressed at Third and in newsletters but a number of non-members have e-mailed so the plan was for this site to go dark after the election (last week in fact). Ava and I were going to review a show a friend is working on but agreed to wait until mid-season. We agreed to that without even thinking that mid-season would be after that. Community member Stan wanted to start a site for some time and his big concern this month was he'd be starting just as everyone was stopping. He started Oh Boy It Never Ends this month and I told him I could probably make it to April. After April? I'm not making any plans.

What I would really like -- if I didn't have to write the entries between now and then -- would be to here December 31, 2011 so we could review every LIAR in the press who has made a point to schill for the administration. It would be wonderful to be here then and to say, "Are troops out? B-b-b-but, the press said . . ."

As appalling as Big Media has been (and there have been exceptions), it's been shameful that Little Media couldn't do a damn thing. How many useless hours do they have to fill at Pacifica and they couldn't cover the Congressional hearing on the treaty last week or delve into the realities of the treaty. What a waste of the broadcast spectrum. What a waste of print and 'internet highway' for The Nation, The Progressive and all the rest who avoided addressing the issue. They didn't have of value to offer on any other real topic but they had time to gas bag and lie and be the usual waste that they always are. They're disgusting and they're disgraceful and they can't real jobs so they have to beg people to donate so that their 'work' can continue. They're street beggars posing as journalists.

So it would be great if I woke up tomorrow and it was December 31, 2011. I honestly do not see going that long. (However, I did not see this site lasting as long as it has.) I don't know when it's ending. I have agree to continue through April of next year. After that, I don't know.

But I do know one and only one organization spoke out against the treaty. American Freedom Campaign offers an option for you to be heard by the US Congress:

Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties. If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action.
Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress. Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action.
Thank you.
Steve Fox
Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Will the treaty be pushed through and Bully Boy allowed to break the law, circumvent the Constitution? He's allegedly a lame-duck president, so why the hell can't anyone stand up to him?

If he's allowed to make a treaty without the Senate's approval, you better be prepared for everything coming down the path afterwards because that will say the Constitution does not matter and that there is no check on the Executive Branch of the federal government.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4201. Tonight? 4207. That's incorrect. The death noted in the snapshot today (announced by MNF) is not included in the tally. So it's actually at least 4202 currently. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,288,426 as the number of Iraqis killed isnce the start of the illegal war, same as last week.

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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, November 27, 2008.  The White House finally releases a copy of the treaty (knowing that everyone's on a holiday), the treaty passes in the Iraqi Parliament (but not by the required number), chaos and violence continue, a war resister seeks asylum in Germany, and more.
"Iraqi lawmakers today approved a pact allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country through 2011 after winning support from skeptics by promising a public referendum on the plan," explain Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) and they go on to note that "[a]ccording to the agreement" troops out in 2011! Which agreement? The Arabic one the puppet government thinks is final or the English one the White House refuses to release because, as Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes." This was noted last week in a Congressional hearing as well so it's really past time to stop speaking of the agreement singular. Salman and Susman do a better job explaining this:

The pact, while not explicitly stating that an extension can be sought, allows for amendments if both sides agree to them.U.S. officials have indicated that they interpret that as permitting a possible extension, if security conditions in Iraq are deemed too shaky to leave Iraqi security forces in charge. "There is a provision for extension, by agreement of both sides," one U.S. official said in discussing the pact.

Yeah, it's a one-year agreement. Only 2009 cannot be changed or cancelled. Everything else that the White House says is set-in-stone is actually a conditional option that can be wiped away by either side.  Today the White House finally released the agreement in English.  We'll jump in at Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective:
1) This Agreement shall be effective for a period of three years, unless terminated sooner by either Party pursuant to paragraph 3 of this Article.
Get it?  Paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect."  Meaning only 2009 is set in stone.  It is too late for either party (US or Iraq) to give one year's notice and cancel it in 2009.  They can give notice to cancel in 2010 or 2011.  The second clause is also worth noting because it weakens the strength of any agreement as well: "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries."  That's the aspect that allows for a change and all the 'flowery' respect for Constitutional procedures is hog wash.  The Iraqi Parliament needed to have two-thirds of all members (not just members present) to pass the treaty today.  They did not have that.  According to their Constitution and their laws, that's what was needed.  In the US, Congressional approval is needed over all treaties and we know that has not take place.  We further know that Barack Obama -- alleged Constitutional scholar -- doesn't give a damn about the Constitution.  He show boated and did his little pretty words number while campaigning but despite all his insisting that the treaty would have to come before the Congress -- including becoming one of thirteen co-sponsors on Hillary Clinton's Senate bill insisting upon that -- he shut his corporate mouth and put his tiny tail between his legs to slink off like the disgusting, cowering trash he is.  He's not going to stand up for the Constitution 'later.'  He couldn't stand up for it right now. 
An agreement built upon a systematic disrespect for the rule of law does not suddenly develop one.  An agreement built upon lies does not suddenly embrace honesty.  The treaty is built on lies and they include the lies to the American people.  Why is the US pursuing this treaty?  The White House keeps talking about these 'recent' gains in Iraq.  Today is November 27th of 2008.  Recent would, for most of us, go back no further than the end of spring.  But Article 25 explains Nouri al-Maliki and Condi Rice notified the United Nations that the Security Council's mandate would be cancelled at the end of this year . . . last year.  al-Maliki's letter was dated December 7th, Rice's December 10th.  'Recent' events? 
The agreement the White House has released may not be the official agreement or the final one.  It is the one that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari signed November 17, 2008. The note above their signatures states: "Signed in duplicate in Baghdad on this 17th day of November, 2008, in the English and Arabic languages, each text being equally authentic."
That version is published online by the White House in PDF format (click here).  The Bully Boy of the United States released the following statement today:  "Earlier today, in another sign of progress, Iraq's Council of Representatives approved two agreements with the United States, a Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement, often called a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. The Strategic Framework Agreement sets the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship between our two countries, and the Security Agreement addresses our presence, activities, and withdrawal from Iraq. Today's vote affirms the growth of Iraq's democracy and increasing ability to secure itself. We look forward to a swift approval by Iraq's Presidency Council. Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely -- but the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament. The improved conditions on the ground and the parliamentary approval of these two agreements serve as a testament to the Iraqi, Coalition, and American men and women, both military and civilian, who paved the way for this day."
But wasn't this day 'paved' in December of 2007 when Rice and al-Maliki notified the UN that there would be no extension of the mandate following its December 31, 2008 expiration? 
Rumors abound that al-Maliki has consolidated his power with the passage.  For the so-bad it's good reporting, check out Alissa J. Rubin, Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell of the New York Times proving that reporters can serve up camp too.  In the real world CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer explains that this means an extension of US troops in Iraq and link includes video.  Meanwhile Ruth explained how certain members of the press are actively participating in the manufacture of consent and deliberately distorting what the treaty says (Ruth utilizes Ayad Allawi's "US-Iraq agreement needs work" from the Boston Globe) to make her point.  What happens now in Iraq?  The treaty now goes before Iraq's presidency council where the president or either of the country's two vice-presidents can veto it.  To pass it requires all three give thumbs up.  Only one need give a thumbs down to veto. 
The referendrum was included in the vote today and the Los Angeles Times notes: "If voters rejected the agreement in the July 2009 referendum, Iraq's government would have to cancel SOFA or demand changes to it. The terms of the agreement allow either side to give the other a year's notice of cancellation, so if Iraq scrapped the pact, U.S. forces would have to leave the country in July 2010."
Today's violence?  Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing that resulted in the death of 1 police force member, a Baghdadroadside bombing that resulted in the death of an Iraqi soldier with three more wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left sic more people wounded, a Mosul 'sucide' bombing that took the life of the bomber and left six police officers wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and 2 civilians with 28 more people wounded.

Meanwhile in Germany a US soldier is seeking aslyum.  Andreas Buerger (Reuters) reports 31-year-old Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd self-checked out of the military in 2007 and is now seeking sancturay in Germany where he held a press conference today and declared: "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing.  I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . .  Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders."
Guterres, who was accompanied by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Iraq, said UNHCR's operations for uprooted Iraqis had until now focused primarily on refugees in neighbouring states, mainly Syria and Jordan. He told Al-Sistani that the two nations deserved praise for their generosity to Iraqi refugees. UNHCR supports both nations' efforts to assist the Iraqi refugees.   
With the improved security situation in Iraq, including in Najaf itself, UNHCR was now moving toward increasing its presence in the country and stepping up its activities on behalf of internally displaced people and returning refugees, the High Commissioner said. The agency is doubling its budget to US$81 million in 2009 and increasing the number of provincial offices from the current 10 to 14, covering the whole country.