BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
FOR SOMEONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE SO BUSY, BARRY O CAN'T STOP CAMPAIGNING AND IS GEARING UP TO HIT THE ROAD AGAIN.
HERE'S THE REALITY ON BARRY O'S TOURING. IT COST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT A TON OF MONEY. IT PUTS A HUGE DRAIN ON LOCAL POLICE AND REQUIRES OVERTIME HOURS WHICH COST CITIES EVEN MORE. IN A BAD ECONOMY WHEN THEY ARE ALREADY LAYING OFF CITY EMPLOYEES.
BARACK DOES NOT BOOST THE ECONOMY. HE DRAINS IT. SO HE SHOULD KEEP HIS ASS IN D.C. AND START WORKING.
BUT BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "SO SUE ME. I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THE ROAR OF THE CROWD. I BELONG TO THE PEOPLE NOW. NO 1 PERSON CAN SATISFY ME. I BELONG TO MY PUBLIC."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Today US House Rep Patrick Murphy spoke about the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Clinton era compromise came about when Colin Powell and others flaunted their homophobia and refused to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, a pledge Bill Clinton campaigned upon. The compromise was that you couldn't be asked about your sexuality and you couldn't talk about it. Unless you were straight. It was a compromise and, for that time period, a step forward. Today is out of date and out of step. Josh Drobnyk (Pennslyvania Ave. Blog) reports that with Ellen Tauscher's departure from Congress (she's now Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security), Murphy will now take the lead on the Military Readiness Enhancement Act which would not only repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it would also allow everyone to serve regardless of their sexuality and with no requirement that they hide who they are. Iraq War veteran Murphy states, "This is going to take months and months, but change is going to happen." Yesterday Lt Dan Choi learned that a US Army board was recommending he be discharged because he is gay and refuses to hide in a closet. Martin Wisckol (Orange County Register) quotes Choi, "I'm a leader. A setback is an opportunity to keep fighting, and I'm going to do that through my actions." Yesterday Jasmyn Belcher (WRVO -- audio and text) spoke with Choi who explained, "My job is to be here and to continue being an officer everything I was trained to do regardless of the discomfort, regardless of the emotions that are going on, you still do your duty. I believe this is my duty to stand up and to fight to stay in." Choi is not done fighting and hopefully he will be successful at a higher level but if he's not he will be, as Stan noted last night, the 266th US service member to be discharged for being gay since Barack Obama was sworn in as president. If Barack wanted to, all he need do is issue an executive order for a stop-loss on discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That would stop it right away. Congress could then address it but all the people (over 200 under Obama already) being discharged would no longer be drummed out of the military as a result of that executive order. CNN notes this citing Knights Out's Sue Fulton: "Fulton said that while Obama can't change the law himself, he could sign an executive order halting discharges while the policy is under review." Barry O likes to play helpless but he's not. One executive order is all it would take. The Syracuse Post-Standard editorializes for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy to be eliminated and observes that "enforcing the policy has cost taxpayers more than $400 million since 1994."
Joe Garofoli (San Francisco Chronicle) adds, "Still, some analysts say Choi's case is another example of how Washington leaders aren't showing much urgency -- or leadership -- in overturning 'don't ask, don't tell.' Obama has said he wants Congress to overturn the law; congressional laders say they are waiting for the president to take the lead; and military leaders say they won't change the policy unless directed by Congress." Mike McAndrew and Mark Weiner (Syracuse Post-Standard) report Choi "said he refuses to lie about being involved in a relationship with another man. Choi said the relationship has made him a better person, a better Christian and a better officer." Alexa James (Times Herald-Record) quotes Choi explaining, "All I did was tell the truth. I refused to lie about my boyfriend. His name is Matthew, not Martha."
Today McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa appeared on Democracy Now! to address Iraq.
Sahar Issa: National Sovereignty Day, of course, is a day that is celebrated by the hearts of all Iraqis, you must know that Iraqi's pride -- is a proud country -- Iraqis are proud people. It is difficult for them not to be happy at the action of foreign troops leaving their cities and streets. At the same time that they are happy to gain control over their streets and cities there is doubt in their hearts whether the Iraqi security forces are actually adequate to the task that is in front of them in the coming days and weeks and months of keeping the peace and keeping the population secure. This is as the bottom of the doubts that you see: Is the Iraqi force actually adequate to the task? Are the Iraqi forces infiltrated by many? The Iraqi force has been formed upon somewhat sectarian lines. The Iraqi force also because of the administrative corruption -- has many people who have brought in their relatives, their friends, their neighbors, people who are not professional. And after six years, perhaps it would be a legitimate question to ask and to forward to the American forces: after six years of training they have understaken to present Iraq with a new force after dismantling the old one, why isn't the Iraqi force actually adequate to the task? The people of Iraq ask this question. It is the first question they ask. They are still not confident that the Iraqi forces are capable.
Those observations jibe with those of Alissa J. Rubin's (New York Times), "The excitement however, has run hollow for many Iraqis, who fear that their country's security forces are not ready to stand alone and who see the government's claims of independence as overblown." Back to the Democracy Now! segment:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Sahar Issa, what about the ability of the Iraqi government to provide basic services to the population? There's obviously many reports of corruption within the government and continued infighting among the various factions. How has the public seen the ability of the government to administer the society?
SAHAR ISSA: To tell you the truth, if you look back a little bit, you will find that with the height of violence that only started coming down in the beginning of 2008, and while human life was at stake, violence was like a blanket, cutting off a cross-section of what is really happening inside the Iraqi government, because everything was so clouded, people were hurt, they couldn't look further than their lot.
But when the violence ebbed after the beginning of 2008, people started picking up the reins of their lives, looking around to see what was going on. And they found, horrendously, that the government is totally riddled with corruption. It is totally built on tribal and sectarian bases, where people have their relatives in very sensitive places simply to make the profit. And the confidence in Iraqis that they had at first when they went to elect their government, they lost this confidence. They said, "Then what is the difference, if it is going to be tribal again? What is the difference between this government and the past, even if it is elected, if it is going to use the same lines?"
And that is, of course, part of the problem, is that it is not a matter of just putting the government out there. The problem is this government needs to gain the confidence of the people. It needs to give them something that they can hold onto. It needs to look at their very difficult lives. They didn't have electricity when the -- you know, outside this building, if I walk out now, it is so hot, toys will melt in cars. To just to give you an idea, toys will melt in cars. That is the heat. And people don't have electricity. After six years, they don't have water in their homes.
I spoke to a person yesterday in Beya'a neighborhood, when we were touring the city for reactions. And she said, "How can I be happy with sovereignty, if sovereignty has not brought me enough water to bathe, I can't wash my clothes, if I don't have electricity so I can sleep at night? What kind of sovereignty is this?" We are struggling, my dear friend. We are struggling so hard to reach square one. And so far, we haven't achieved it yet.
AMY GOODMAN: Sahar Issa, are you afraid of having your image known, of being identified as a reporter?
SAHAR ISSA: Oh, certainly, certainly, certainly. Working for a foreign -- never mind a US, American -- news agency will have me very clearly titled as the pastor's pie or working for the occupation. People -- the simpler people, let us say -- can't differentiate between a person who is picking up information and lighting things and making things public for -- to, how do you say, to extend a hand to other people to know what is actually going on inside our country. They can't tell the difference between this person and the person who's gathering information perhaps for intelligence preferences. And therefore, yes, of course, I am afraid. No one knows. Only my parents and my children and the people working with me know. And even the people who are working with me, not all of them know where I live. That's how bad it is.
Jeremy Scahill was also a guest on the segment.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, this is a very contrived sort of Hallmark holiday here. I doubt that decades from now many Iraqis are going to be, you know, telling their grandchildren where they were on National Sovereignty Day. I mean, remember the whole stumbling of President Bush: when he declared Iraqi sovereignty, he talked about the definition of sovereignty as a sovereign entity. Paul Bremer already officially handed over sovereignty to the Iraqis five years ago, and yet we have 130,000 US troops that remain in the country. This really is George Bush's Iraq plan that Barack Obama is now implementing and taking the political risk of implementing, because if the violence blows up, then of course it looks very much like Barack Obama has been a failure in Iraq, and not George Bush. So Obama, in many ways, has played into the Bush administration's hand. But we can see the clearest endgame of the US occupation in the fact that the Iraqi government, on a day when they declare their own sovereignty and you have the US military commander handing over the keys to the Defense Ministry, the Iraqi Oil Ministry opens up the country for bidding now on its oil resources, and you had eight of the ten top oil companies in the world that are not part of a nationalized state apparatus. In other words, eight of the ten most powerful private oil corporations in the world are now bidding for large shares of the Iraqi oil supply. I mean, to me, this is a grotesque symbol of what exactly is happening in Iraq.
And let me just say, Juan, that while we're seeing the sort of contrived celebrations, where ordinary Iraqis, for the most part, are not permitted to go into these big celebrations -- it's largely off-duty police officers, Iraqi soldiers and dignitaries -- the reality is that US soldiers are simply going to the outskirts of the cities and could easily go in to strike at them. General Ray Odierno, the top US military commander there, would not be clear on how many US soldiers are going to remain in the region. At the end of the day, the US has a massive eighty-football-field-size embassy. They have thousands upon thousands of contractors, 130,000 troops still in the country. And they're going to keep a force of 35,000 to 50,000 residual US forces when Obama is officially done withdrawing from Iraq. So, in reality, we see Barack Obama implementing, almost to the letter, George Bush's and the neocons' plan for Iraq, while putting a Democratic stamp on it and essentially downsizing and rebranding what remains a US occupation. So, no, this is Hallmark holiday stuff. And I think it's clear for anyone who's been following this that this is the same situation as when Bush tried to declare Iraqi sovereignty, when Paul Bremer snuck out of Baghdad in June of 2004.
At Information Clearing House, Jeremy explains of the for-show play-day:
While a lot of the media hype today focuses on the U.S. "withdrawal," that is hardly the reality. As previously reported, U.S. military commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq presence for another 15-20 years, the U.S. embassy is the size of Vatican City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded. The Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) between the U.S. and Iraq gives the U.S. the right to extend the occupation indefinitely and to continue intervening militarily in Iraq ad infinitum. Article 27 of the SoFA allows the U.S. to undertake military action, "or any other measure," inside Iraq's borders "In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq." As the airwaves and internet are flooded with reports of this new Iraqi sovereignty and U.S. withdrawal, it is important to remember a bit of history. Five years ago -- almost to the day -- President Bush put on an almost identical show. His proconsul L. Paul Bremer "handed over sovereignty" to the Iraqi government just before he skulked out of Baghdad on a secret flight (right after he issued an order banning Iraq from prosecuting contractors). Despite the pronouncements and proclamations and media hype, the occupation continued and real sovereignty was non-existent.
Meanwhile CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr has released a call for all US forces to leave Iraq and stated their presence "shows that the (Iraqi) government and the occupation are not serious about the withdrawal". Noting the silence on Iraq in the US, Dan Baltz asks "Have We Forgotten Iraq?" (Washington Post) in which he wonders, "If they [the White House] are wrong [about Iraq being able to stand up], there may be questions about what kind of country Americans are preparing to leave behind. Obama could find himself under pressure to adjust the withdrawal timetable." Or he could realize that it was a mistake to delay withdrawal because there is nothing else the US military can do (even the war hawks should agree with that) and allowing them to remain in the country as babysitters really turns them into sitting ducks of the continued occupation. And let's stop pretending the White House doesn't have plans. As we noted in Third's "Editorial: Save us from the panty sniffers" Sunday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill gave a press conference in the US June 18th:
What should have bothered Americans was Hill's refusal to discuss "contingency plans" for Iraq should the (partial) pull-back from cities (June 30th) result in increased violence. "Well, again," he repeated, "I don't want to discuss contingency plans." Why not? And why aren't these contingency plans known to the American public?
While Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) ignored Hill's press conference, he feels something important is missed from the press conference Gen Ray Odierno held yesterday in Baghdad: "We'll be operating in the belts around Baghdad." Ricks takes that to mean "that the U.S. strategy in the coming months will be to try to protect Baghdad by cutting off insurgents and militias operating in the fields, towns and palm groves that surround much of the capital. And that was where some of the heaviest fighting took place during the spring and summer of 2007, as 'the surge' began." So that may be, that may be, as Cass Elliot once sang ("California Earthquake") but equally true, and reporters know this, when a person loses it at a scheduled press conference, that's also known as "very telling." Translation, Reuters shouldn't have been the only outlet to report on Odierno Earthquake yesterday. And, no, Ricks hasn't written of that.
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