Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dried Tomatoes with Pasta in the Kitchen

Brandy e-mailed Monday, "I think my recipe is easy and it's not expensive. My mother passed it onto me from a cookbook. I don't know which one but hope you like it."

Dried Tomatoes with Pasta
1/4 pound sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 can anchovies (2 ounces and drained)
2 cloves of garlic
1 jar of pimientos (4 ounces)
one package of dried pasta

Cook pasta of choice according to package direction. Drain pasta. In a large pot, toss the past with the other ingredients. You can mince or crush the garlic cloves. Turn the burner to the lowest heat, stir repeatedly until heated throughout. Serve with bread.

I really did enjoy the recipe. Thank you for passing it along, Brandy. Some might want to drop down to 1/4 cup of olive oil. You can also purchase 1/4 pound of sun-dried tomatoes in a jar. If you do, they're packed in olive oil so don't use that jar and also add olive oil.

Okay, before we get to the nonsense of Patrick Leahy, here's Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Bold and Progressive" (

If You Read One Thing Today: Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times, "...[T]he substance of [Hillary's] policy proposals on mortgages, like that of her health care plan, suggests a strong progressive sensibility...[and] continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive." Read more.
Previewing Today: Hillary makes stops across Indiana, where she hosts a series of "Solutions for the American Economy" town hall and roundtable events.
Real Solutions: Yesterday in North Carolina, Hillary kicked off her six-day "Solutions for the American Economy" Tour with the announcement of a new $2.5 billion per year workforce training program.
Read more.
If You Watch One Thing Today: Hillary says, "If the phone were ringing, [Senator McCain] would just let it ring and ring and ring."
Watch here.
Erie, Pennsylvania: Yesterday, more than 300 people packed the opening of Hillary’s newest office.
Read more.
Fayetteville, North Carolina: Yesterday, more than 1,000 tarheels gathered to see Hillary at a town hall event here. One, a 25-year-old freshman at Fayetteville State University, said, "She showed she has the heart to help the average person. It made me go wild." "It would be crazy not to vote her into office," said another woman, who arrived for the speech at 6:30 a.m. to hear Hillary speak at 3:00.
Read more.
By the Numbers: A new Rasmussen tacking poll shows Hillary leading Senator Obama nationally (46-44).
See the results here.
The Hillary I Know: The Student Body President of West Virginia University on why he's supporting Hillary: “To hear Hillary talk about the big goals she's setting for our country ... really should inspire all of us to join with her to bring real change to America.” Read more.
On Tap: This Saturday, Hillary visits Louisville, Kentucky and attends the annual state Governor Ruby Laffoon Dinner in Madisonville.
Just the Facts: One week after Sen. Clinton called for a "second stimulus package" with $30 billion to help states and localities fight foreclosures, Sen. Obama announced a "second $30 billion stimulus package". Response from policy director Neera Tanden: "...When it comes to fixing the economy, we need leadership, not followership."
Read more.

Now let's talk about Senator Patrick Leahy who today (it's actually Saturday but I'm going to sleep as soon as this post so I'll call it Friday still) declared that Hillary Clinton needed to step down, needed to drop out of the race because, he says, she can't win.

Barack Obama can't win either. If he could, they wouldn't be trying to run Hillary out of the race.

But Patrick Leahy, like the current occupant of the White House, appears to think he's "The Decider" and he can decide when the race ends and who is still standing. It's a dead heat with the voters. If it wasn't, one of the two candidates would have already amassed the needed number of delegates. Quit LYING and claiming one is winning. It's a tie. The party is divided over who to support and no one needs to hear from the man whose last endorsement was Bully Boy Supreme Court pick John Roberts.

Now let's get some reality about what Jermiah Wright's toxic hatred (including damning the United States from the pulpit) has actually done. This is Kansas City Star's Mike Hendricks:

Much has been made about how Sen. Barack Obama appears to have weathered nationally the storm over the controversy about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. While Obama is in a statistical tie with Sen. Hillary Clinton in the latest Rasmussen daily tracking poll, Gallup has him up by eight points.
But Democrats worried that Jeremiah Wright will hurt Obama with "
lunch-bucket" working class voters in bellweather states or that the party infighting will hurt their nominee have to be troubled by the latest Rasmussen poll in the Show-Me State.
For Obama, the results mirror a previous
Survey USA poll and they show Claire McCaskill's going to have a hard time making good on her pledge to deliver Missouri for Obama. But Clinton supporters shouldn't crow just yet. Unlike last week's Survey USA poll, the numbers in Missouri aren't good for Clinton either although she does fare better than Obama.

Rebecca just posted and she started after I did. She asked what the hold up was and I told her, "C.I. was right." C.I. has stated all along that the MSM does not get this (Panhandle Media, by contrast, ignores it). The big papers and the gas bags on TV keep talking about how it's the past. It's not the past. The Wright thing is alive and well and it's just like C.I. outlined it in my kitchen last weekend. (My physical kitchen, where I am and where my PC is.) Today in the snapshot (it'll be at the end of my post), C.I. makes the point that with all the soft press over Barack's bad speech, he only got to 51% (in the PEW poll) thinking he did a wonderful job. If you missed it, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times all slobbered over Barack, praised that speech day after day. Said it ended the discussion. C.I. was explaining why it didn't. And C.I. said, "Here's what's going to happen" this is a paraphrase. "The MSM is going to say it's over and think it's over. But this is so offensive to so many Americans" (damning the United States) "that it's not going away. Long after the MSM has finished running their puff pieces, people will still be talking about this and it will bubble and bubble. This week" last week now "he's had non-stop praise from the press for that speech. But that's not how many Americans see it. You're going to see it in letters to the editor, you're going to see it in regional papers and whatever the polls say for the week of praise, it won't matter because it will drop. People will not let this go because what the press doesn't get is that most Americans, regardless of race, do not want to hear that a would-be president's mentor and friend damns the country from his puplit. Barack strung together some pretty words and tried to make it about race. That's the worst thing he could do because it's not about race, it's about damning America and by making it about race, he tried to draw a line that will be read as 'Shut up or you're a racist.' You can't get away with that on the American people." So I'm reading all these regional papers online, in South and North Carolina, in Salt Lake City, on and on, and there are all these letters, there are these regional columnists calling Wright out, there are preachers (including African-Americans) calling it out. It's exactly like C.I. said it would be.

C.I. compared it to Hill-Thomas in terms of the media. The media thought that after Thomas got confirmed to the Supreme Court, it was over. But it wasn't. It was viral and just because the media was done with it didn't mean the American people were. Months later, Anita Hill had more support than she did when she testified. The American people rejected the 'opinion makers' and C.I. said it was that rush to closure and that it was happening with Wright but it wasn't going away on this anymore than it did on Hill-Thomas. C.I. went through a list of about ten reactions against Wright's words that had nothing to do with race and how those would bubble up and keep it alive. The issue being missed was God and country and people have strong feelings about both. I've probably read 50 articles from regional papers now and it's just like reading the feelings C.I. said would be evoked both by Wright's words and Barack's distraction. Here's one from a left columnist at Yes! Weekly. His name is Wes Isley:

If my well-educated, well-traveled and supposedly cosmopolitan friends were having doubts about Obama, consider what whites in less fortunate circumstances were feeling. Imagine if Obama were white and attended some hellfire-and-brimstone church where the pastor railed against women in leadership and homosexuals, and trotted out all manner of conspiracy theories about the US government as if they were fact. In this scenario, I'm convinced the Democratic party would abandon such a candidate, and the media would brand the guy an ignorant hick.
But because Obama is biracial, he's been given a pass. We're told that the Rev. Wright's comments must be heard in the correct context, with the proper racial history, and they would all make sense. This sounds suspiciously like the arguments used by some whites who say flying the Confederate flag is simply a matter of heritage.

If I kept a journal, I would've written C.I.'s comments down. But one point was that Panhandle Media and elite opinion makers in Real Media really don't mix. They stay in their own little circles and they have no idea what's going on in the country so they wouldn't grasp how offensive many would see Wright and Obama as. And C.I. used Alabama for the example last week, saying, "Imagine you're a White liberal in Alabama. Imagine you're in area where racism flourished and you've had to say 'No.' You've had to take a stand against it. You may have lost a friend or a family member. You may have lost a job. And you're hearing Barack Obama say that Wright is family and he couldn't turn his back on him? In the elite world that's not an issue. They're not mixing with anyone other than themselves. Outside of family, they really don't have to take a stand on race. It's not acceptable to be racist in their circles. But in other circles it is and if you're someone in those circles fighting racism, you are making real sacrifices, regardless of your race, because you're eliminating possibilities by standing up for what's right. You may be eliminating friends or potential employers or real employers. But you're standing up and you hear Barack Obama excuse himself for staying with a church, for making the pastor his mentor and endlessly praising him over the years, saying that a pastor is like family. There are people in the south who stand up against racism and they're going to hear his words and wonder what he's talking about because in their lives, they stand up. They may suffer for it but they still stand up. So this pass he's giving Wright of being family and this pass that he had to stay because Wright was like family, that is seriously out of touch with what so many go through when they are actually standing up to racism. Not offering pretty words about race, but standing up against racism."

So I'm reading all of this and just amazed. And I keep coming back to what C.I. said last weekend about whatever the approval of Bambi's speech was in the early polls, pay attention to the percentage (51%) because that is as high as it will ever get and that's because the media cannot stop covering everything for another week to prop up Obama. So after "Wonderful speech!" non-stop for a full week from the media (big and small), Barack only made it to fifty-one percent. When you factor in the margin of error, that mean that as many as half the people polled may not have thought he did a wonderful job. And that's as high as it's ever going to go. The media would have to again wallpaper this wall to wall for a full week to influence the polls so. And they have other things to cover. So this truly is amazing.

And I didn't doubt C.I. but I didn't expect to find column after column, letter after letter, in regional newspapers making the ten basic arguments C.I. said they would. At least not so quickly. Now since last weekend, we've learned that Wright refers to Italians as "garlic noses" and we've heard yet another different story from Bambi -- the man who said he couldn't cut off family told ABC he would have dropped the church if Wright hadn't retired. That's not action. That's cowardice. If he means what he said to ABC, he was opposed and offended by Wright. And so opposed and offended that he sat through 20 years of sermons. That's really laughable.

I didn't realize it was so late. I'm swiping links from Third.
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, I know I mentioned her. Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man will post by Saturday afternoon so be sure to check out Betty. C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review I have, of course, mentioned and Ava of Third and Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and I think I also mentioned Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz. (If I didn't, I should have.)

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, March 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Moqtada al-Sadr is still standing and then some, Patrick Leahy attacks democracy, Barack Obama tries out another story about his relationship with Jeremaih Wright, and more.

Moving quickly. War resisters in Canada are attempting to seek asylum. They need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month. For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The assault on Basra continues.
CBS and AP report that, added to the mix, "U.S. warplanes bombed sites in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, targeting Shiite militia members". Robin Stringer and Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) cite UK Maj Tom Holloway stating that the US bombed "positively identified militia targets". Of course they did. And, no doubt, Basra being an inhabited city, they also cleared out all civilian populations as well, right? (No.) US planes aren't the only ones dropping bombs. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reported this morning, "British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city." Meanwhile Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) report, "U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand." Appeared to expand?

Tuesday, the word was that the British were sitting it out. And from the start we've heard of 'Commander' Nouri, rushing to Basra, to oversee the battle. A decisive battle, we were told. CNN gushed, "Al-Maliki is said to be personally overseeing efforts to restore order in Basra". That was Tuesday. By Wednesday (when it was obviously a failed effort) the Pentagon was hoping to grab some bragging rights but it was still "It's All Nouri!" -- and meant it in a positive manner. By Thursday, displeasure wasn't being murmured, it was being stated clearly and on the record such as when Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) reported that "independent Kurdish legislator" Mahmoud Othman was quoted declaring, "Everybody is asking, 'Why now?' . . . . People have ill-advised Maliki. The militias like the timing. Iran likes the timing. They want to show there's no progress in Iraq." It was falling apart before the assault was ever launched. But as late as Thursday, that still wasn't grasped as evidenced by James Glanz (New York Times) reporting how "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own."

Today, Bully Boy declared at the White House that "any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law. And that's what's taking place in Basra and in other parts of Iraq. I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq. There have been other defining moments up to now, but this is a defining moment, as well. The decision to move troops -- Iraqi troops into Basra talks about Prime Minister Maliki's leadership." As usual, it would appear someone left Bully Boy out of the loop. "Criminal elements" echoes Nouri's statements throughout the week but let's note that if you're going to tackle alleged criminal elements, you give the Parliament a heads up. This is a turf war. Wednesday on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show featured McClatchy Newspapers' Leila Fadel.

Leila Fadel: Well Basra has been spiraling out of control for months now, the British military pulled out late last year basically handing it over to Shia militias in a city that are battling for power. Maliki, the prime minister here, finally declared a security operation on Monday night and the battle has been fierce mainly between Iraqi government forces and the Mehdi Army which is loyal to the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Basra is a strong-hold for the Mehdi Army and the Sadrists are saying this is a battle against them to consolidate power for their Shia rivals, the Supreme Council here in Iraq.

The latter would be the party that provides Nouri with his largest support these days after his own Da'wa party. Provincial elections are supposed to be held at year's end and this is seen as one of the primary reasons for the assault on Basra. Another reason was that US Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are due to put on another show for Congress next month and Petraeus has actually grumbled publicly about al-Maliki. As have many Democrats and Republicans serving in the US Congress. If the puppet is fingered as one of the failures, how does that look for those pulling his strings? So this was a rock 'em, sock 'em p.r. bonanza. If you were an idiot.

Moqtada al-Sadr's power was at the weakest. He'd declared the cease-fire/truce with US and occupation forces in August of 2007. The truce was very unpopular in the Sadr City section of Bahgdad where al-Sadr's supporters were. al-Sadr wasn't there. al-Sadr was assumed to be in Najaf. So when Sadrists felt they were being openly targeted. Then came February when al-Sadr (still not home) declded to renwer the cease-fire/truce. Objections were strong before the truce was renewed and just the act of renewing it led "loyalists" to criticize al-Sar openly and to the press. al-Sadr's influence was diminishing. When a people feel attacked and their designated leader isn't with them, questions will naturally emerge and they were starting to. And possibly those in the US government who've long plotted the 'departure' of al-Sadr felt, "This is the perfect moment!" No, it wasn't. And whomever okayed the operation immediatly up to Bully Boy miscalculated (Bully Boy always miscalculates) because when someone you see as an enemy is naturally weakening themselves through their own actions, you do not 'assist' them by lifting them to a higher stature. That's what the assault on Basra did.

Maybe the hope was al-Sadr would stay silent. He didn't. He called it out. Who's winning hearts & minds in Iraq? Moqtada al-Sadr because, across Iraq, Iraqis saw only one person stand up to the occupation. Iraqis has seen Falluja slaughtered (twice), has seen their neighborhoods physically carved up with "Bremer" walls, they've seen that, five years after their country was invaded, not only are occupation forces still present (in direct opposition to the wishes of the Iraqi people) but Baghdad is pretty much off limits to most Iraqis. Who stood up? Moqtada al-Sadr.

Nouri al-Maliki painted himself into the corner as did the US. Wednesday on
The Diane Rehm Show al-Maliki's ultimatums were noted.

Leila Fadel: Well Prime Minister Maliki is saying that he wants every weapon in the hands of the government. He wants all weapon smugglers, this is a very important city, 90% of Iraq's oil comes from there, it's a border town. It has the main port of Iraq there. And a lot of the weapon smuggling, oil smuggling happens there. And so the main families that deal with oil smuggling, weapon smuggling have been targeted in Basra. He has given what he calls outlaws 72 hours to surrender while the battle continues it seems that the main targets and the people fighting back are the Medhi army and the Sadrists are saying that they are the targets, the sole targets, of this operation.

al-Maliki was in no position to give ultimatums. But it was 'strong,' it was 'bravery' -- or that's how it was supposed to play.
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) cited al-Maliki calling al-Sadr loyalists "criminal gangs". Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quoted Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws." Big tough Nouri? Italy's AGI reports that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, has now extended his 'deadline' (April 8th now and not Saturday) and Al Jazeera notes that he declared, "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially." al-Maliki's reputation was on the line, as James Glanz noted, and the US government knew for sure that their puppet was going to be able to pull this off but only because they've deluded themselves into believing that Iraqis see Nouri as a legitimate ruler. They dodn't. Protests started the minute the assault on Basra began. When Moqtada al-Sadr spoke out, the protests only got heavier -- across Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr called for a political solution and Nouri al-Maliki insisted he doesn't deal with 'outlaws' (which would mean he ignores his own ministries). Today in Iraq, al-Sadr's not only the one who stood up to the occupying powers (a big thing in and of itself), he's the one who did so and got concessions.

Xinhua noted the "extraordinary session" in the Iraq Parliament that Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called today and the press conference announcing it where he was joined by Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous prime minister) and others. AP reports that 78 members of Parliament were present and that the committee met for "about two hours" on the issue of Basra. Missing the point, as usual, at the White House Bully Boy was still issuing talking points, calling the assault "a test and a moment for the Iraqi government". If it was a test for Bully Boy he failed as he fell back on all his tired answers ("democracy" and mothers wanting their children to go to school are especially overused). Standing next to him was Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who avoided all questions on Iraq and only addressed that nation in his opening remarks where he mentioned "an assistance package of some $165 million" of which "a large slice" is planned to "train their people better in agriculture and in the wider economy." Train "their people better" in farming? Is Rudd unaware that Iraq was considered one of the breadbaskets of the MidEast?

Let's stay with Bully Boy and mistakes. Not last Monday, but the Monday before (March 17th),
Michael R. Gordon presented the usual unsourced junk his infamous for. But because it was pleasing, many picked up on it. Amy Goodman pimped it but, apparently grasping even her declining audience wouldn't accept a report from Gordo, just credited it to the New York Times. We didn't link to it the morning of the 17th, we're not going to link to it now. We noted the morning of the 17th, "At the New York Times Gordo's raving about his insider interviews and access. No link to trash. The thrust is that L. Paul Bremer issued a decree that disbanded the Iraqi military (true) and that this was something Bremer came up with on his own. Collie Powell declares that he was out of the country and called Condi Rice about it to object and Rice explained that it had already been done. The big villian of the piece is Bremer and Bully Boy is painted as someone who was apparently in a daze. (Maybe he was thinking of My Pet Goat?) How true is it? Who knows? It's Gordo and the ship is sinking so the rats are bailing. If Powell knew it was a mistake (as he insists to Gordo), then Colin Powell should have something in real time -- even as an anomyous source. That's the least he should have done. Anyone with real courage would have stepped down and gone public. Again, the ship is sinking and since Bully Boy won't be working anywhere, they'll finger him as out of it (which is believable) and make Bremer the fall guy. While Bremer wins nothing but boos and hisses here, it is equally true that anyone -- not just Bully Boy -- could have objected. (That includes but is not limited to Rice.)" It wasn't news. The tip-off should have been the byline if not the whisper nature of the story. But the paper then had to offer an editorial 'loosely based' on Gordo's 'reporting' entitled "Mission Still Not Accomplished" and Paul Bremer responded to the apportioning of blame Monday March 24th in a letter to the editor (A24). Bremer's claiming that there was no military to disband and we're not in the mood for that nonsense but we will note some of his comments just because the disaster that is the illegal war has many parents and none should be left off the hook:

I take strong exception to your assertion that I "overrode" President Bush's national security team on disbanding the Iraqi Army. Whatever one's view on the issue, there should be no confusion about the process leading to this decision. President Bush's instructions to me were to report to him through Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. I did.
[. . .]
On May 9, two weeks before the decision was made, I sent a draft order based on these discussions to Mr. Rumsfeld, copied to Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command, and other senior defense officials. A copy went to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq.
All had ample opportunity to comment on this and subsequent drafts of the order before it was issued on May 23. Defense Department civilian leaders and military staffs provided only minor suggested revisions.
On May 22, I briefed the president at a National Security Council meeting attended by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage; Secretary Rumsfeld; and General Myers. No one raised concerns or objections.
Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, says he was unaware of the plan; that is regrettable. But this suggests a problem with the interagency process in Washington.
General Myers told The New York Times (front page, March 17) that there had been no "robust debate" about the draft decree. If any top officials felt strongly at the time that the decision was misguided, as some of them now claim, they had every opportunity, and the responsibility, to make those concerns known to the Pentagon's leadership, or directly to the commander in chief.

Paul Bremer is correct that anyone wanting to claim they were out of the loop needs a better excuse. If Colin Powell wants to claim he was out of the loop, that's an issue with his then Deputy Secretary. Bremer is also correct that those opposed (none were) "had every opportunity, and the responsibility" to speak out. They chose not to. Now, as resume shock sets in and they realize what they own, it was very cowardly to try to add their blame to Bremer. Bremer's not innocent and bears responsiblity for his actions. But when you want to whisper and shove your blame off on someone else -- and you're in power -- you rush straight to Michael Gordon. And it's a sure sign of how pathetic
Panhandle Media is that they merely stripped Gordo's name from it as they rushed to repeat it. Over and over. I'm unaware of anyone noting Bremer's reply which ran Monday and I waited until Friday to see if any would bother with "in an update to . . ." but none did.

Basra wasn't the only victim of a US air assault.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings from the air with the US killing "3 gunmen, injuring 8" in the first instance and killing "12 people" with "60 injured" in the second. Robert H. Reid (AP) also notes the air bombings on Baghdad and refers to a Sadr City incident which may be the second one Issa noted or yet another bombing when "a U.S. aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district -- the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army -- after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol. The U.S. military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack "near Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's residence inside the Green Zone injuring 2 of his security detail," a Baghdad mortar attack on "the supension bridge (one of the entrances to the Green Zone) in Karrada" that wounded three people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Qurna city resulted in 5 losing their lives and injured two. Robert H. Reid (AP) reports armed clashes in "Mahmoudiya, Nasiriyah and Kut" resulted in "[a]t least 26 people" dead. Reuters notes 3 dead in an armed clash in Kerbala, 6 in an armed clash in Hamza and that "the mayor of Ghmash neighbourhood in Diwaniya" was shot dead today.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 kidnappings of police patrols in Baghdad -- in one instance two police officers were released, in the other three are missing.


Reuters notes 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad March 28."

Turning to US presidential politics. US Senator Patrick Leahy attacked democracy AND LIED today.
Johanna Neuman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Leahy is calling "on Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out of the presidential race, saying there is no way the New York Senator can wrest the nomination from her rival Barack Obama." Let's remember that Leahy is the OLD FOOL who endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court. Now let's walk through slowly. A) If there's no way for Hillary to garner the nomination, what's the big concern with her dropping out? We'll come back to that. The Obama campaign got a spook today and are hoping the press doesn't get wind of it. B) If Barack has the nomination, it doesn't matter what Hillary does. C) Neither Hillary or Barack appeared able to reach the magic number of delegates from primaries or caucuses. Patrick Leahy needs to sit back down. His ass, like the rest of him, is obviously tired.

Let's cover the attack on Democracy angle. Vermont held their primary on March 4th. Leahy didn't think it was important to stop the process then, now did he? Today Bob Casey Jr. endorsed Barack. Let's see Bob Casey Jr. echo Leahy, let's see Bob Casey Jr. tell the voters of Pennsylvania that Hillary needs to drop out. Pennsylvania holds their primary on April 22nd so let's see Bob Casey Jr. stand with Leahy and see him tell the voters of his own state that they don't matter, that their votes don't matter and that their voice doesn't matter.

That is what Leahy is doing and everyone -- regardless of party -- should be offended by this attack on democracy. Now this nonsense was pulled on Al Gore privately in 2000. Leahy is so brazen that he thinks he can now do it publicly. Leahy is not the Director of Democracy and it's past time that he and others got that message. It's past time that someone held these little chiefs in check. And the people will. Leahy's not only offended Pennsylvania and all states and regions still to hold primary, he's also offending Vermont which is a state with a long history of allowing the process to go through. His offensive lies and attacks need to be called out.

Let's get it straight, the primary/caucus system is gamed over and over. But the lie those who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire are told each election cycle is that their votes matter to. They're told that if it's ever close, they'll certainly get a say. They're told that just because the runway is cleared for Iowa and New Hampshire each year while everyone else is left in holding pattern, it's still fair, it's still equal. No, it's not. Which is why
Bill Nelson is proposing legislation. But under the current system, the race continues. Under the current system, it's not expected that either Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will meet the magic number of delegates required to win the nomination. The super delegates would decide the nominee.

Everyone knows that. Leahy knows that though he lies to make it look better for his heart-throb Bambi. As someone who is lobbying super delegates, you better believe I know it. But while that battle's gone on, a new battle emerged today, totally unexpected. It sent the Barack Obama campaign into a tizzy. On NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show today, a caller named John from Dallas, TX spoke. He explained he supported Barack Obama. He explained he voted for him. He explained he caucused for him. He explained he was selected as a delegate to represent Obama. Most importantly, he explained he could no longer support Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton won the primary in Texas.

That's why Leahy was sent out. Clamp down on this quick! Stop it before it bleeds further! Jeremy Wright is toxic and viral and it has destroyed Barack Obama. Not Hillary or anything she's said. The fact that Wright damned the United States of America is not going down easy despite media lies. The caller referenced an earlier section of the program and may have meant the embarrassing discussion of polls which included Obama's 'good' news from a
PEW poll. 51% rated him well on his speech last week. But there's the other side which wasn't addressed on the broadcast. Seven percent didn't know. 42% rated Fair to Poor. The most heavily pimped speech of the campaign, by any candidate. The source of endless columns (bad columns) and non-stop gas baggery. The media was in full force on that speech, trying to shape the minds of Americans. But they didn't. 42% said Fair to Poor. (That's the general population but it's also the number for those self-describing as "Independent" in the poll.) When the US media decided to hop on board the selling of the illegal war, Bully Boy soared in the polls. 51% is very disappointing and that number is only going to continue to lower. Wright is toxic and viral and Obama showed no judgement.

That's what the caller told Rehm and her panel. And they characterized what he was going through as buyer's remorse. Wright has not gone away. He was back in the news for his "I will tour!" which didn't work out that well (it was cancelled for him but he tried to save face) and then came more offensive remarks including "garlic noses" for Italians.
Jeffrey Weiss (Dallas Morning News) covers the religious beat and offers this prediction today: "Barack Obama will face more questions about Rev. Wright. Yes, Obama has disavowed the sentiments in the endlessly YouTubed excerpts. But the entire sermon offers a view of America and the American government that stands in sharp contrst to Obama's message. It's one thing for him to say he hadn't heard his pastor call God's wrath down on America that day. But surely some of the broader themes of that sermon about the role and history of the U.S. government were woven through other sermons? And we have not heard how or whether Obama took those up with his pastor and friend." On ABC's The View, Obama offered yet another version of conflicting stories passed off as truth. Today's lie is he would have left the church if Wright had "not retired" and that's a new one. It's equally true that it wouldn't take most people 20 years to make such a decision. Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes that he also claimed Wright "had said he had deeply offended people" and Tapper questions that only to get a "What he meant" from the campaign. Tapper notes:

Okay, except Obama wasn't "clearly" saying that at all.Here's a clear way to say that: 'Had the reverend not retired I would have confronted him about his remarks. If after that Wright still refused to acknowledge that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I think is the great character of this country -- for all its flaws -- then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church.'

Taylor Marsh tracks Obama's changing story and how this new "I would have left if he hadn't been retiring" nonsense is just that. Brad Warthen (South Carolina's The State) explores the offense of the most famous sermon Wright delivered (and then sold online):

But what Mr. Wright said is clear. The six-minutes-plus of context that went before "G** Damn America" was exactly what I would have guessed went before it. Essentially, it was a review of history, mixed with a small dollop of political partisanship (the comparison of not-so-bad presidencies with the current one). Short version: The government has upheld oppression of black people during the course of American history.
Folks, I'm an American history major, and I've lived in this country for most of 54 years. What part of the rather sketchy overview in that sermon do you think I didn't know already? If I'd been sermonizing, I could have added a lot to it -- including the fact that the blood offering of the Civil War, as horrific as it was, seems to have been an inevitable sacrifice to expiate the sin of slavery. And I would have said the evil didn't end there, nor could it, there being original sin in the world, and no one of us since Jesus Christ born free of it.
But I wouldn't have said "G** Damn America." Not in a million years. For me, the point of bringing up evil is to try to overcome it -- as I believe two people Mr. Darby mentions (King and Bonhoeffer) were trying to do.
Sorry, but I can't accept that the Rev. Wright was saying "things that challenge America to rise above its sins of prejudice and greed." No, if he'd said America was in danger of damnation, or headed straight thataway, rather as Jesus said to the Pharisees
in the example cited by my colleague Warren Bolton this week, that might have been seen as a challenge, perhaps even a well-intentioned warning. (Personally, although he had more right, being God, than anyone else to do so, I don't remember Jesus ever damning anything more sentient than a fig tree.)
But Mr. Wright didn't call on us to do anything. Instead, he called on G** to damn America.

Wright isn't going away. And let's be clear that what happened today was an Obama delegate -- voted for him in the primary, caucused for him -- announced on NPR that he wasn't able to support Obama and wouldn't be, that he was switching his vote to someone else. It's the story the campaign doesn't want noted.

the following US military retired endose Hillary:
General Wesley Clark General Henry Hugh Shelton Admiral William Owens Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak, Jr. Major General Roger R. Blunt Major General George Buskirk, Jr. Major General Paul D. Eaton Major General Antonio M. Taguba Brigadier General Michael Dunn Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard Brigadier General Jack Yeager Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. Rear Admiral Roland G. Guilbault Rear Admiral Stuart F. Platt Rear Admiral David Stone

The lettter reads:

As retired flag and general officers, we have devoted our lives to our country. We have hundreds of thousands of men and women on the front lines that have done the same. At this critical time in our nation's history, our men and women in uniform deserve better than a presidential debate mired in trivia. The stakes are simply too high. As we are poised to choose our next Commander-in-Chief, we should not allow the media to divert attention from the real issues. What matters is who is ready and inspired to lead -- who can be Commander-in -Chief on Day One.
It is imperative that our new President knows how and when to use force and diplomacy judiciously, to know how to deploy the olive branch and the arrow. The President needs to be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis. And we think our next President must restore our moral authority and leadership around the world with the courage to meet with our adversaries when appropriate, and the wisdom to pursue diplomacy wisely.
It is especially important to understand the military and diplomatic challenges facing us in Iraq, and to end the Iraq war responsibly and safely. It is also important to rededicate ourselves to winning in Afghanistan, the forgotten front line in our fight against terrorism.
In these critical areas, it is clear to us that Senator Clinton is the candidate best qualified to be our nation's next Commander-in-Chief.
We believe that she has real understanding of the military through her diligent service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has worked tirelessly to ensure our men and women in uniform are properly trained and equipped to be sent to battle. And she has fought to make certain that they are treated with dignity when they return home. We have personally and closely observed her respect for our armed forces, and she has earned their respect. And ours.
We hope that as a country, we will now turn our attention to the critical issues that will determine the future of our great nation.

mcclatchy newspapers

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recipe for disaster

No recipe tonight. Bully Boy's provided the recipe . . . for disaster.

Take US service members, send them off to Iraq to fight an illegal war, and count the deaths as they multiply.

Tonight's number is 4,000.

I'm sure there's high-fiving in the White House tonight. I'm sure they're so proud. It's just lives and his 'base' is wealthy Republicans -- none of whom are serving.

Please read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Broadcasting False Narratives" which may be too much honesty for some but that's what needed to end the illegal war.

Third also offers "There's only one fighter in the Democratic race" which is well written and accurate.

"Roundtable" explains how this community responds to underhanded trickery and attempts to divide us.

"Liang's comments to Barack Obama" is community member Liang and I love Liang.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Roasted potatoes in the Kitchen

Before we get to this week's recipe, Tom e-mailed a question and apologizes for being "dumb." It's not dumb to ask a question when you're confused. "Pre-heat" is confusing Tom who (a) never cooked before in his life (he had warmed things up in a mircowave) but now finds himself (b) with his first apartment which (c) has a gas stove and (d) "pre-heat" isn't an option.

Pre-heat is an actual button on electric stoves. All pre-heat does is get the oven an even temperature. If you are a new cook, gas stove or not, you want to set the oven to the temperature and allow it to warm up (three to five minutes) before putting something in to cook.

4 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons of olive oil
6 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 four ounce can of mushrooms

Turn your oven to 475 degrees F to preheat. You can use either a large bowl or a freezer bag for the next step which is the mixing. Place all the spices and the olive oil into either a bowl or a freezer bag, add the mushrooms and potatoes. If you love mushrooms, you can double the amount and you can also use fresh mushrooms if you'd prefer. In a bowl, you need to mix well so that the spices and oil are evenly distributed. In a frezzer bag, you need to shake repeatedly so that it is mixed well. If you love garlic, you can add more cloves or even some garlic powder. Some people prefer to mince the garlic.

On a cookie sheet, a roasting pan or even a casserole dish, spread the potatoes out. A single layer is best but if you've just got a casserole dish, don't worry about the single layer. Place in the oven and you're going to cook at 475 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, you will need to flip (if the potatoes are a single layer) or stir (if they're in a casserole dish).

And that's that. I prefer to use the garlic in cloves because the taste is there without it being overwhelming the way it would be if you minced or sliced the garlic. You can do that with the cloves if you'd like but if you're cooking for more than yourself and some don't like garlic, the cloves allow a seasoning that's not overwhelming to those who don't care for garlic -- and if they get the clove in their serving, they can just avoid it. If you hate garlic, consider taking half of a white onion, chopping it and using it instead of garlic.

In the Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page offers that possibly Bambi's big speech Tuesday had little impact on those who weren't already on the Obama train and I'll give him credit for that realization; however, he fails to grasp that the offenses to so many are not about race. Jeremiah Wright damned the United States of America and, being a member of the clergy, that has a different implication. It was offensive and that's before you get into the crack-pot, conspiracy theories on AIDS that Wright elected to espouse from the pulpit.

Equally true is the fact that everyone seems to be operating in a myth-based world where a candidate gives a speech and America says, "Oh, the Lord has spoken." That's not reality. Jeremiah Wright doesn't stop being an issue just because Bambi mumbled a lot of nonsense. The fact that he refused to address the issue of damning or the crack-pot theories on AIDS do not go away. They only amplify as a result and when you add in that Bambi already used homophobia as a campaign strategy, Jeremiah Wright becomes not just his mentor but another Fred Phelps.

Steve Chapman (the boy from Midland, Texas -- if I remember C.I.'s overview correctly) further embarrasses himself by peering for 'meaning' where there is none. But Chapman's a libertarian and the fact that he's on board with Bambi just goes to the man's political confusion already.

As C.I. pointed out last night, the speech didn't help Bambi at all. What helped was the non-stop valentines -- many on the front page -- following the speech. It's a case of press mis-direction and the people will correct that course. The press -- even the lousy Nation magazine -- cannot tackle the Wright issue at length every day. People will continue to talk, the outrage (already present) will increase and what is a sizeable opinion will only become more so.

Barack Obama's lousy speech refused to address the issues and instead tried to take it to race. It's the playing field he loves because he can suddenly remember he is bi-racial and play himself as the victim torn between two races and have pity on me America.

Bi-racial and multi-racial are not victim states. They are heritages to be proud of. There was no pride in Bambi's speech, just blaming his grandmother and equating her to a racist with remarks at direct odds with his own bad book Dreams of My Father. As people grasp that as well, as they grasp that he apparently lied about his grandmother in Tuesday's speech, they will be far less likely to trust him.

He has never had the support of Democrats. If cross-over voters were stripped away, Bambi would be far, far behind. His speech not only was insulting, it runs off his cross-over support.

The whole thing reminds me of the nonsense that the John Kerry campaign offered when they finally began responding to the Swift Boating. The issue was never grasped and never addressed. "No, no, no" is not addressing and Obama didn't address what has angered so many Americans. Instead he went to race. That was never the issue but it is where he takes everything to silence criticism.

This is Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Web Presence" for today:

If You Read One Thing Today: "Clinton, Emphasizing Web Presence, Sees Rise In Online Donations." explores new fundraising strength from “a groundswell of grass-roots support.” Read More.
Support at the Wigwam: "The Wigwam was electric with hope" when Hillary visited on Thursday..."What she...deliver[ed], for at least one sun-blessed afternoon …was hope. And hope is something Anderson can build on... It was indeed electric."
Read more.
In Case You Missed It: More voices are calling on Democrats to count the voices of Florida and Michigan... "Our worry is about voters in Florida and's incumbent on the party and the candidates to come up with a fair way to dig themselves out of this mess."
Read more.
Sticking with Hillary: A supporter blogs about supporting Clinton..."Hillary is in it to win it and I’m sticking with her. This party is just getting started, baby!"
Read the post.
Save The Dates: President Clinton and Chelsea will attend
Dyngus Day events in South Bend. IN on Monday....Hillary will be the keynote speaker at the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on April 10 in Pittsburgh, PA. Read More.
Obama Campaign: Just Words: Sen. Obama and his campaign are launching what the Chicago Tribune called a full assault on Hillary’s ethics.
Read more.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, March 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the cease-fire gets frazzled, Antonia Juhasz spoke at Winter Soldier and we highlight her and Iraq vet James Gilligan, Cheney's out of the country, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez propose a military draft for the children of elected officials, Joe Wilson attempts to set the record straight re: Bambi, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Remember James Burmeister? Probably not. He was never interviewed on Democracy Now!, he was never profiled in The Nation. He was one of the war resisters of 2007 who were ignored non-stop by Panhandle Media. (
August 24th, Maria Hinojosa interviewed Burmeister for NOW on PBS.) Ava and my summary:

James Burmeister also self-checked out while in Germany. He was lifted out of Iraq and taken there after he was injured. He enlisted to do humanitarian work (e.g. rebuilding in Iraq) and, of course, that didn't end up being the case. ("Of course" is not a judgement of Burmeister's intelligence, it is noting that we are probably far more cynical than he is.) "Humanitarian work" for the US military translated as leaving US military items out in public so that when an Iraqi touched them, he or she could be shot for touching US property. Your tax dollars at work in the illegal war. Following the third bombing he was the victim of, Brumeister was sent to Germany to recover. At that point, he and his family made the decision to go to Canada.

Courage to Resist reports that "Burmeister recently returned from Canada and turned himself in to the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky on March 4. In May 2007, James refused redeployment to Iraq. He lived in Canada for the last ten months with the help of the War Resisters Support Campaign. James' father Erich Burmeister of Eugene, Oregon believes that the Army is getting ready to prosecute James. He is asking people to call the Fort Knox Public Affairs office at 502-624-7451 and let them know you are concerned about PFC James Burmeister."
Meanwhile Duluth's
Budgeteer News reports: "War resister Melanie McPherson, an Army reservist from Tofte, will speak at 7 p.m. in UMD's Montague Hall, Room 70" on March 25th next week. Also speaking next week is Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia who, Burlington Free Press reports, "plans to speak at Green Mountain College on at 7 p.m. on March 27 in Ackley Auditorium."

War resisters in Canada were dealt a setback in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Like most things Iraq related,
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation is not receiving the attention it deserves. Noting the media silences on Iraq and actually writing about Winter Soldier, Osagie Ighile (North Carolina's Duke Chronicle) observes:

In the three days of testimony by war veterans, one thing that has emerged is that Abu Ghraib and other atrocities are not exceptions, but are commonplace. The main cause is not an innate wickedness in our troops but is rather the necessary outcome of placing them in a situation where friend and foe are indistinguishable and soldiers are forced to choose between their survival instinct and their moral code.
Marine Corps Sgt.
Adam Kokesh, who served in Falluja from February to September 2004 on a civil affairs team, specifically explained this confusion of the rules of engagement, which state that 'positive identification is required prior to engagement' where positive identification means "'reasonable certainty' that you target is a legitimate military target." However, Kokesh said when all soldiers see is a muzzle flash from a building in a civilian area, they are forced to choose between increasing their chance of survival by returning fire and not breaking the rules of engagement. Consequently, he stated that "we changed the rules of engagement more often that we changed our underwear."

Trina wrote about Kokesh's testimony on Friday's Rules of Engagment morning panel and she noted him explaining, "During the seige of Falluja, we changed rules of engagement more often than we changed our underwear. At first it was, you follow the rules of engagement you do what you're supposed to do and then there were times when you could shoot any suspicious observers or someone with binoculars or someone with a cell phone was fair game. And that really opened things up to a lot of subjectivity. But also firing at muzzle flashes into the city. Firing Mark 19s became common practice. At one point we imposed a curfer on the city of Falluja and at that point we were told we could shoot anything after dark." Which goes back to Jason Hurd's testimony on the same panel about how civilians were supposed to recognize a checkpoint easily but, as Hurd noted, "I was in front of a desert colored vehicle, preceeding a desert colored building in desert colored camoflauge."

James Gilligan testified about both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our focus is Iraq but his testimony on Afghanistan was very powerful for any who want to pursue it.

James Gilligan: 2003, Iraq. My HNS Company first sergeant. He had a thing for handing out candy to the children who would come up to our Humvees -- winning the hearts and minds. My first sergeant had seen that there was a little girl next to the Humvee and he personally handed her a lollypop. The little girl, excited, ran away from the vehicle and we're guessing her brother or a neighborhood kid came up behind her and hit her. My first sergeant then proceeded to get out of the vehicle in the crowded marketplace endangering our entire convoy, withdrew his M9 pistol and ran after the kid, picked the kid up approximately 30 feet away from our vehicle and hoisted him one foot in the air, threatening him with the M9 pistol. In 2003, in Iraq, we were ordered to . . . secure an expeditionary runway. It was my job to pull overwatch security. . . . In 2003, while securing this expeditionary runway we had observed that there was a gentleman at the end of the runway collecting souveniers. I was my job as a corporal to go down and investigate and, of course, push this guy away and inform him that he was not to be at the end of our runway collecting souveneirs. I took Lance Cprl. Jermone with me and we had went all the way down to the runway on foot, it's approximately 200 meters. After walking down there, the gentleman was collecting bits of rounds set from a previous battle. I radioed over what we were doing and of course we searched him and took away any kind of munitions that we had found I was then ordered to search the vehicle. As I told Lance Cpl. Jerome "Secure my detainee," I went ahead and I searched the vehicle. Afterwhich, I reported back that I did not find anything futher other than what was on the ground and we had already taken away from the gentleman, I was informed to make the vehicle inoperable. It is at this time that I pulled out my knife. I opened up the seats, I cut every single wire that I could find, I slashed tires and I made sure that his vehicle could not be used again without even thinking that this could be this man's lifeblood.

He spoke last Friday, on the second Rules of Engagement panel.
Antonia Juhasz was among the speakers on the corruption and contractors panel that took place immediately before the second Rules of Engagement panel. Among the tiny attention that's been doled out, this hearing has had almost no attention. (There's one that got even less attention.) So we're going to note her comments at length (and Wally and Cedric noted her last week).

Antonia Juhasz: The problem is that when these grants were given, first of all, Iraqis were of course overlooked. But not only were Iraqis overlooked, the entire structure of the economic
reconstruction laid in place the results we're seeing now. So one of the first acts of the US occupation government led by Paul Bremer was called the de-Baathification order. This was the order by which Bremer fired 120,000 of all of the key ministerial leaders in Iraq, all of the engineers, all of the scientists, all of the people who ran the water ministry, the electrical ministry, the oil ministry. He fired them all. 120,000 people. He fired them all because he didn't want anyone standing in the way of the restructing that was being planned. That left an enormous brain vaccum. The next step that Bremer did was to fire 500,00 Iraqi soldiers. . . . Half a million Iraqi soldiers. The US military had intended that those soldiers would be put to work to do the reconstruction but the Bush administration's economic plan didn't include that. The Bush administration's economic plan was to bring in private contractors. So immediatly at the get-go you had half-a-million men with guns made unemployed, without jobs, without money and their families left without hope, without money. And some estimates put that number at 2.5 million Iraqis -- ten percent of the population -- who from the get-go were now very, very hostile to the reconstruction and to the invasion, and to the occupation. All of these people also knew that US companies were being given billions of dollars to reconstruct the country and you'll hear many people testify to the fact that there were many Iraqis who while they were upset that Iraqis companies -- of which there were many, Iraqi workers -- of which there were many, who were more than capable of doing the work, were being jumped over. But there was a sense that, "If America was going to spend 10 billion dollars fixing our electricity, that's no so bad and, you know, maybe that'll be good." And there was a sense of allowing this to take place. The reconstruction failed and one of the primary reasons that it failed was that objective was not to just get the services up and running. The objective was this longer term permanent presence which I mentioned.
So that you had companies like Bechtel spending the first six weeks in country . . . walking around doing an assessment of the situation. They could have talked to the Iraqis who ran the water systems. They could have hired the Iraqis to run the water systems. But they didn't. They walked around, they checked out the scene. In that time there was no electricty, there was no water being provided and that built up, of course, bad will and by the time Bechtel got to work it became very unsafe for Bechtel to be at work. The failure of the reconstruction continues but one of the things that's important for us to remain aware of today is that many of the companies have radically failed. So Bechtel, a recent report found that they completed less than half of the projects that they were contracted to fulfill and that was water, electricity, schools, basic rebuilding. Parsons, another analysis just done that Parsons had barely fulfilled any of its comittments. Of the statistics that Louis just gave, Parsons was hired to rebuild 150 primary health centers across the country. They built 34 and not all of them are even functional. But not all of that money has been paid out and that's an area where we can take action. I just don't have nearly the time to say the things I'd planned to say so let me just say a couple of things. The first is, the intention of the war to be about oil. Right now we are in a situation where five oil companies -- Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and Total, have just signed, within the last week, contracts to get oil -- to go into Iraq. Anyone with any sense of Iraqi history recognizes the names of these companies. These are the exact same companies that from the end of WWII until 1970 owned all of Iraq's oil. They were given it as a war bounty at the end of WWI. They owned it, they controlled it and they controlled Iraq's fate because of owning the oil. Since they were kicked out in the early 1970s, they've been trying to get back in. This is the second or third and maybe the largest pot of oil in the world depending on who's counting. The world is running out of oil; however, oil sells for $110 a barrel. This oil is sitting there like a gleaming prize at the end of the finish line. And believe me, they have been planning and plotting to get it. These five contracts are the tip of the iceberg. The intent is to get the Iraqis to pass a law that would put everything back the way it was in the '20s, to take it from a nationalized oil system to a privatized oil system where US oil companies -- and a little bit for the French and a little bit for the British because, you know, we like them -- would own and control the oil. Now, if that happens a US government report that was leaked by ABC News said -- and just so we are using the terminolgoy, this is one of the president's benchmarks for Iraq, which the Congress adopted, passage of an oil law in Iraq. Another one of the benchmarks, by the way, was reversing the de-Baathification law that Bremer put into place that fired all of those experts. The oil law, if it is to be put into place and if US companies that are angling are Exxon, Cheveron, Conoco, Marthon, BP, Shell and Total. If they stay, they will need to be quote "underwritten by the US government." I take "underwritten by the US government" to mean you, to be underwritten by the US military. That we will have to stay to ensure their safety and the continuation of their mission which was the whole reason we went there in the first place.

On contractors, at the start of the week
Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the opinions expressed by Iraq's clerics that "the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanaging toxic fumes" and Allam noted that now worms are being found in the water.

Staying with the topic of contractors,
Sahara Zahav (Florida Alligator) notes Iraq veteran Anthony Maroun's speaking to students at Santa Fe Community College prior to Winter Soldier:

As the team leader of his unit, it was part of Maroun's job to keep the Dell computers they used from overheating in the desert climate. But as hard as he tried, Maroun couldn't manage to get the necessary air conditioner, which meant his unit couldn't do its mission.
"I finally asked a friend of mine, this contractor, to help me out," Maroun said. "He got the air conditioner so fast. But me, a leader in the Marines, wasn't connected enough to get the equipment we needed."
Maroun said for him, that air conditioner stood for the "corporate takeover of a country."

We'll be noting Winter Soldier in Monday's snapshot. Visitors have e-mailed to complain that this or that person hasn't been noted. Regarding civilians offering testimony, Nancy Lessin of
Military Families Speak Out is someone that will be hopefull noted on Monday. Otherwise? None of us are interested in highlighting someone who says -- to wide applause -- that there's no difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the illegal war and then rushes off to give an embarrassing interview where he maintains there is a difference and, since he can peer into the souls of both, he knows Barack is all things wonderful. So if he says, to applause at Winter Soldier, that the candidates need to be pressed and now is the time and he then rushes off to give an interview where he completely dismisses Hillary's signing onto US Senator Bernie Sanders' call to ban Blackwater (while offering the valentine of an excuse for Bambi that it's "complicated"), we're not interested. We're not interested in liars. We're not interested in people who went to Winter Soldier to get some applause and some attention and then turned around and gave interviews taking back their applause lines. Six snapshots have covered Winter Soldier and Monday we'll probably wind things down. We don't have time to note hypocrites so those visitors needing their 'man' noted can just forget it. He danced pretty at Winter Soldier and then -- like his earlier interview subject Samantha Power -- said something completely different. We're not interested. We could further add that while others had to stick to a time limit, the visitors' 'man' was allowed to run on and on, always promising to wrap up but avoiding that repeatedly. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.

Juhasz also spoke of oil, so let's note
Deb Riechmann (AP) reported that two months after Bully Boy went to Saudi Arabia to beg, Dick Cheney does so now:
During his trip to Saudi Arabia in January, President Bush urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production, saying it was a mistake to have the economies of its largest customers slowing down as a result of higher energy prices.The oil-producing nations ignored Bush's request. The White House said it disagreed with OPEC's decision to rebuff that request, and that the oil-producing nations themselves could be hurt by gas prices that are more than $3 a gallon.Cheney was greeted at King Khaled International Airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. The two shared tea inside the airport before heading to the king's horse farm, a posh retreat with a towering water fountain and statues of four show horses, their tails standing high.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit roadside bombing that wounded "a little boy". Reuters notes a Dour mortar attack that left four children injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province 2 people wounded by unknown assailants who shot up their car in Diyala Province, 3 police officers wounded in a shooting in Diyala Province, a Tikrit home invasion that left 1 person dead and an attack in Balad on the Chief of Police of al-Mahata area that killed him and 2 of his guards as well as leaving two bystanders wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on the "Awakening" Council -- thugs changed to turncoats against the Iraqi people when the US tossed coin their way -- who are now getting antsy because another thug -- Nouri al-Maliki -- won't bring them into the government already. Zavis notes that "the fighters need jobs now. If not, many openly declare that they will have no choice but to work for the insurgency" -- of course not, they only turned to begin with because they were bought off. This as Reuters reports that the cease-fire/truce between the US and forces alligned (at one time?) with Moqtada al-Sadr battled in Baghdad and Kut -- 3 followers dead in Kut, five injured in Baghdad.

In political news, Military Families Speak Out
[PDF format] notes Diane and Neil Santoriello are calling on Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama "to meet them at their son's grave in Arlington National Cemetry -- a a grave they visit every month." Their son Neil Santoriello "was the 930th [US] soldier killed" in the Iraq War (August 13, 2004). Both parents are quoted. This is Diane Santoriello:

I would like to see the presidential candidates utilize the leadership that they each claim to have. With each funding bill that the President signs, he is actually signing the death warrant for more soldiers and more Iraqi civilians. The Senate has the power to stop that death warrant from reaching his desk. Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, and Senator Obama all share responsibility for continuing this war. Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, do you have the courage and honor to face up to the reality of section 60? If so give us the day and time and we will meet you there. (Leave the wreaths, the media and your staffers at the gate.)

And this is Neil Santoriello:

I challenge each presidential candidate to meet us at our son's grave in section 60 of Arlington Cemetery. I want them to stand at his grave and face the Memorial Bridge. I want them to see how many more soldiers have been laid to rest since he was buried in 2004. He was the 930th soldier killed. How many more rows need to be created before they say enough?

Ralph Nader is running for president and Matt Gonzales is the vice-president on the ticket.
At their campaign website, it's noted today: "President Bush believes that the war in Iraq is 'worth the sacrifice.' The question then becomes -- sacrifice by whom? What about George Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara? Prince Harry served in Afghanistan. Senator Jim Webb and Senator John McCain each have a son who served in Iraq. During World War II four of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sons entered the armed forces, as did General Eisenhower's son, John Eisenhower. No double standard for them. So, why not Jenna and Barbara Bush? And why not military service for the children of all members of Congress -- who have funded this criminal war in Iraq? . . . It's called -- draft at the top. Pass a law that says this -- whenever Congress and the White House take our country to war, all able-bodied military-age children of every member of Congress, the President and the Vice-President will be conscripted automatically into the armed forces."

Dominque Soguel (WeNews) speaks with US service members Luz Gonzalez, Carolyn Schapper, Emily Stroia and Chrissy DeCaprio who state their concerns for the next president include "vision, experience and patriotism." If your candidate of choice wasn't mentioned and you're not a community member, tough. This week was the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, not the fifth anniversary of a Venezuelan War, for example. Maybe your candidate needs to learn to focus? Regardless, we don't have time for nonsense. We do have time to support our own. As Gina's long noted, this is a private conversation in a public sphere. If you're a visitor, you can listen in, but you cannot steer it.

Patriotism. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America has offended many Americans and will only offend more as time passes. Barack Obama's Tuesday speech was met with the usual press nonsense which was to focus on the pretty words he offered and not grasp that the speech was a distraction and an avoidance. As the polling indicates, Americans grasped it far better than the press did. We all love
Betty and what Cedric has termed her "deep wisdoms from the south." We love them because she's usually right on the money. This was Betty in Sunday's "Roundtable:" "We've seen a very ugly campaign season and I was so disappointed when it was announced on Friday that they were calling a truce. Whenever the heat gets turned up on Bambi, it's time for a truce. Jesse Jackson Jr. can get on TV and lie about Hillary and not be called out but when realities emerge about Bambi, it's time for a truce? There should be no truce and there should be no nonsense that race hasn't played a part or that White people have repeatedly ignored the way the Obama campaign has used racism throughout the campaign." Betty's correct that everytime the Obama campaign gets into hot water they insist on a truce and then they don't honor it. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America was offensive to many. It was time for a "truce" insisted the Obama campaing and then, not a full week later, they show up to "peddle photos of President Clinton shaking hands with . . . Wright less than 48 hours after calling for a high-minded conversation on race. Well, President Clinton took tens of thousands of photos during his eight years as president. Stop the presses." Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton were members of Wright's church. This is the same crap that the George W. Bush campaign repeatedly pulled in the 2000 election. And you need to be noticing Hillary's response.

Democrats have stated since 2000 -- when Al Gore didn't fight hard enough after the election -- and again in 2004 -- when John Kerry refused to stand up for Ohio voters -- that the party needed a fighter. Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She's fighting for the nomination and doing so against one of the most rigged systems in recent memory.
Panhandle Media has churned out embarrassing, fawning copy for Obama since 2006 in anticipation of his run while running 'exposes' on Hillary. It hasn't changed a thing with the core of the Democratic Party, working class people, who continue to support her. Panhandle Media's non-stop lying has allowed some very smart Obama supporters to believe such lies as "Obama voted against the Iraq resolution in 2002." They believe that because the LIARS of Panhandle Media repeatedly suggest that. Last year on KPFA we saw Professor Patti Williams float that lie and when called on it, by a woman of MidEastern descent who pointed out Obama wasn't in the Senate in 2002, Professor Patti had her meltdown on air, snarling at a woman who obvioulsy had dificulty speaking on air. How proud Professor Patti must be -- both for attempting to lie and for attacking a woman who pointed out that Professor Patti was wrong. We saw all this crap during the 2000 George W. Bush campaign. We're seeing it all again but it's coming from Democrats and it's not Hillary, despite Panhandle Media's non-stop lying. It's the Barack team.

Meanwhile, having offended a good portion of Americans, what has Barack done? It is now Friday and the best he can offer is to try to smear the Clintons by pointing out that Wright was among many clergy invited to one prayer breakfast at the White House. If you're not alarmed by that, you're not paying attention. Wright is toxic. He is pulling the Obama campaign down. And the campaign's best response is to pull out a photo-op shot of the man with Bill Clinton? How does Barack Obama plan to address a Republican opponent because he's running a losing campaign right now. You need to think about Florida 2000 and ask yourself which of the two would be fighting and which would be saying, "Oh, well, we all need to heal and blah blah blah" thereby stabbing voters in the back. I don't think anyone can argue that Hillary would say, "Oh well, it's over. Heal, America, let's all heal!" Democrats have complained and, yes, whined for eight years now that they wanted a figher. You've got your fighter, it's Hillary Clinton.

Now the rejects of Panhandle Media -- who couldn't work in the Real Media -- are facing their own little awakening. They have to face that all their talk of 'democracy' and of 'participation' and of embracing the 'working class' is just b.s. They've spat on all three notions this election cycle. They've stamped their feet and amplified their LIES when they didn't get their way. It is a testament to the spirit of working class Democrats that with all the lies, all the distortions, they have refused to be taken in. But then real Democrats didn't vote for the Bully Boy in 2000 or 2004. And maybe Panhandle Media should start including disclaimers when they LIE about Obama. Maybe readers do, as
Mike and Marcia both noted yesterday, have a right to know, when reading yet another endorsement of Obama, whether the writer can even vote in the election, whether the writer is a Democrat, whether the writer is a Communist, whether the writer voted Democrat before or -- again -- even can vote.

They've created their little artisan class (highly undemocratic) to act as an echo chamber and they've enlisted people who HAVE TO PASS for Democrats. When someone has to pass for a Democrat, there's a problem and that's an indication that they probably shouldn't be addressing a Democratic primary to begin with. Hillary's fighting and Panhandle Media can't stand that. They're working overtime to say that damning the United States does not matter -- how very cosmopolitan of them -- or is it European of them. It does matter and they need to get out of their elitist little nooks and crannies to start interacting with real Americans. If they do that, they'll quickly grasp how serious Barack Obama's 20-year-relationship with Jeremiah Wright is.

Panhandle Media can't allow for dissent at something as 'serious' as rigging an election. So they (like the Obama campaign) toss people to the curb. One such person is Joe Wilson. you may remember him and how the likes of David Corn, BuzzFlash, Amy Goodman and all the other sorry excuses for 'media' can't seem to find him today -- because he is supporting Hillary Clinton.
Via, here's Joe Wilson, former US ambassador:

Senator Clinton has a long and well documented history of involvement in many of critical foreign policy issues we have confronted and will continue to confront as a nation. Critics can quibble about the details of the health plan she fought for in the 1990s, or whether hers was the decisive or merely an important voice in the Northern Ireland peace efforts, but there can be no denying that she has been in the arena for a generation fighting for what she believes in, gaining experience and developing leadership skills. She has traveled the world and met with international leaders both as the First Lady and as a respected senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. As NSC director on Africa I experienced her direct positive involvement in U.S.-African relations; it was she, as First Lady who advanced through her own travel, then urged and made possible President Clinton's historic trip. In the Senate, she has aggressively exercised her oversight responsibility and held the Pentagon's feet to the fire on plans related to withdrawal from Iraq, shaped legislation requiring reports to Congress, and cosponsored legislation with Senator Byrd to deauthorize the war with Iraq. She has exercised the levers of power because she knows how to do so. That is not a small thing; it is not a campaign theme. It is simply true and goes to the heart of whether she, or anyone, is prepared to be the president to manage at once two wars and a global economic crisis.
Senator Obama is clearly a gifted politician and orator. I disagree profoundly with his transparently political efforts to turn George Bush's war into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was present in that debate, in Washington, from beginning to end, and Obama was nowhere to be seen. His current campaign aides in foreign policy, Tony Lake and Susan Rice, were also in Washington, but they chose to remain silent during that debate, when it mattered.
Claims of superior intuitive judgment by his campaign and by him are self-evidently disingenuous, especially in light of disclosures about his long associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. But his assertions of advanced judgment are also ludicrous when the question of what Obama has accomplished in his four years in the Senate is considered.
As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on Europe, he has not chaired a single substantive oversight hearing, even though the breakdown in our relations with Europe and NATO is harming our operations in Afghanistan. Nor did he take a single official trip to Europe as chairman. This is the sum total of his actions in the most important responsibility he has had in the Senate. What are his actual experiences that reassure us that when the phone rings at 3 a.m. he will know what to do, which levers of power to pull, or which world leaders he can count on?
Obama has stated that he will rely upon his advisers. But how will he know which ones to depend upon and how will he be able to evaluate what they say? Already, one of his chief foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power, has been compelled to resign for, among other indiscretions, honestly revealing on a British television program that Obama's public position on withdrawal from Iraq is not really his true position, nor does it reflect what he would do. Her gaffe exposed a vein of cynicism on national security. How confident can we be in his judgment? In fact, the hard truth is that he has no such experience.

He will rely on his advisors? Oh, didn't we all hear that in the 2000 campaign and, after all these years of that man occupying the White House, don't we all grasp how dangerous that is. That's in for two reasons. 1) Betty's father asked for the topic to be addressed and 2) Jim thinks we'll also grab it at Third on Sunday. On the first, that's how it works: the community dictates content, not outsiders.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers