Saturday, February 19, 2011

A classified chef's salary







We start again on sexual assault and we start with Nir Rosen's attack on Lara Logan (who was assaulted while on assignment in Egypt). Other than noting this link to NYU Local's interview with Rosen -- mentioned and quoted from yesterday but the link was not included -- that wasn't the plan. Ava and I began taking notes on the various lies from Nir Rosen and his supporters on Thursday for a piece we'll be doing at Third Sunday and that was going to be it. But then there's Joan Walsh, the village idiot. Marcia praised Joan Walsh for her appearance on Anderson Cooper's show Wednesday night. Marcia's kinder than I am and also wants it noted that she thought she had seen all the Tweets Nir did. She had not seen them all. Joan Walsh either hasn't seen them all or she's lying.
Nir Rosen deleted them. Many were rescued. However, there are more than many people -- like Joan Walsh -- have addressed.
In 2008, Joan Walsh would sometimes call out a little of the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton and then do one of her columns or TV appearances where she tried to soothe the hurt feelings of the pigs she'd called out. (Ava has critiqued Joan's insulting attitude towards Latinas in an Iraq snapshot. That criticism stands.) Ava and I would not praise Joan because we've learned you just can't trust her. (If that's news to you, head over to The Daily Howler and check the archives.)
At Salon today, she shows up to play shirts & skins. Because it's never about the violence against women for Joan, it's about left and right. She trashes the right wing and claims Nir's in the clear (he "has since apologed everywhere imaginable"). I'm not a right winger. I'm never surprised by anything the right wing does. Nor do I have any interest in following them. But on the left we're supposed to believe in equality. And yet we turn a blind eye when Amy Goodman and others elect to publish multiple columns in the most offensive of skin magazines that do far more than objectify women, that target them for violence. Of those who did that, only Noam Chomsky offered a public apology. Many on the left are still not aware of it. In the accusations against Julian Assange, we saw the two women attacked over and over. We saw them attacked -- from the left -- with the same sexist trash and lies that the right uses. And, of course, the Hillary attacks 'from the left' recyled all the right wing garbage as well.
The problem's not the right. The problem's the left. Recently people were surprised that The Daily Kos has an anti-choice ad. Why? Why are they surprised? That site and so many others have been pushing for abortion rights to be tossed aside. The problem's not the right. The problem for those of us on the left is the very real hatred towards women. And it flares up -- and has for decades -- whenever any woman won't go along and attack another who's speaking out about abuse towards women. You saw it on the Journolist. Harper's Luke Wilson rushing in to scream about leave Keith Olbermann alone, his sexism may be offensive, but he's talking about torture!
Well, Luke Wilson, rape is torture, sexual assault is torture, domestic abuse is torture. It's not in your little mind and as long as women like Joan Walsh exist, Luke Wilson will thrive on the left. Joan tells you that "everything there is to say" has been said. Really because I'm not remembering Salon tackling the homophobia in Nir Rosen's remarks. Did I miss it, Joan?
Now, how come you wanna leave me here
Is it something that I said
Or is it just your style that after a while
You've got to get up and get
Oh, now that everything's been said
Now that everything's been done
How come you wanna leave me here
To work it out all on my own
-- "Now That Everything's Been Said," written by Carole King and Toni Stern, first appears on the City's Now That Everything's Been Said
No, Joan didn't cover the homophobia nor did anyone at Salon. But she did allow Nir to rush in with yet another so-called apology. "And yet, in all the tweets, essays and interviews, Rosen has yet to come across and truly contrite and apologetic. Maybe he should use some of his new-found free time to work on that," Julie Gerstein (New York magazine) observed today and she's correct.
Everything's been said, Joan? If you mean blaming the victims of sexual assault, yeah, that's being said, Joan. One-time journalist Thomas E. Ricks' post about his friend Nir continues to gather comments about how Lara Logan (any woman) had it coming. Thomas E. Ricks has failed to jump into that thread and has failed to call it out in a post. So Foreign Policy is now on record as endorsing that women who are sexually assaulted had it coming.
Joan wants to fret about what it says about Muslims to some on the right. Not because she gives a damn but because it deflects from Nir Rosen (someone Salon's long published and plans to continue publishing). If Joan really gave a damn about that -- if Nir Rosen had -- they would have made the obvious point: Egyptian women came to Lara Logan's aid. That can't be minimized. Yes, some can minimize the Egyptian army's actions -- they were supposed to be protecting all the people and when they did step in they were doing that function. They were armed and what they did was their job. But Egyptian women, unarmed women, saw another woman being attacked and sexually assaulted and stood up and said no. If they hadn't, the assault would have continued.
Joan and Nir never find time to talk about that. (Nir because he has no respect for women. His Tweets mocked Egyptian women and his comments since then have been insulting towards Egyptian women.) If McDonalds brings back the McRib tomorrow, I'm sure there are some on the right who hate Muslims that will find a way to turn that into more reasons to hate Muslims. Joan wants to pretend there's some logic to be found. There is none to be found. But it does allow you to pretend like the hatred is all on the right, Joan. I don't really give a damn what some right wing blogger writes or someone says on Fox. It doesn't hugely effect my life.
But Nir Rosen said Lara Logan had it coming. That does effect my life. He's been promoted by the left -- he is still promoted by the left -- and the left refuses to call him out. Joan Walsh went on TV to call him out. She hasn't called him out at Salon, at Salon where she's written many checks to him. In other words, Joan Walsh, you've promoted him, you vouched for him in the past. Probably you're a little concerned about your own image if Nir goes down. That as charitable as I'll be towads you.
Joan Walsh wants to claim that Salon's one article critiquing Nir Rosen said all that needed to be said. We praised that column by Mary Elizabeth Williams. But not being Joan Walsh, I'm not stupid enough to think that 'says it all.' If it said it all, you wouldn't find people at Foreign Policy leaving comments that justify the sexual assault. If that one article said it all, Joan, Mark Memmott wouldn't have had to posted a column at NPR's The Two-Way explaining, "Many of the comments that have come in to our post about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who the network says was attacked and sexually assaulted last Friday while reporting in Cairo's Tahrir Square, have been flagged and removed because they violated's discussion rules." Brad Phillips (Mr. Media Training) finds more to talk about, but then he examines the so-called apologies (don't miss his update at the end). Alice in Progress notes the attacks on Logan and the attacks on Senator Scott Brown (Brown just came forward about physical abuse from step-fathers and sexual abuse from a camp counselor) and points out of the attacks, "Both are similar in the sense that they show how an overwhelming majority of people in our society view rape and sexual abuse victimes: that they're not 'victims' at all and somehow got what they 'deserved', for either being too pretty or just standing in a certain location, or for a number of others really stupid reasons." Joan Walsh claims everything's been said and we all need to just MoveOn and, presumably, focus on a more important issue like saving the rain forest or, more likely, elections. Seriously? Duane Gundrum (Dreams of a Lego Spaceman) calls out Nir Rosen's disgusting Salon article (another 'apology') and explains:
But what bothers me about this is not just that it happened, which does, of course, bother me, but how I first found out about it. I follow news through a number of message boards, and it just so happens that there are a couple of computer gaming boards I follow where some of the more brilliant current events people hang out. I take great pleasure in debating all sorts of issues with these individuals, and it was on that particular day when I first read a thread of this event happening. However, what kept bothering me about the thread was not that the event had happened (which again, bothered me a great deal), but that almost all of the commentary was from people indicating that Lara Logan was the one who should be considered at fault, because she should have known better than to be in a place where she might possibly be raped by men.
I remember staring at the screen, thinking to myself, how could anyone even think something like that? In all of the years I've been arguing with these people, not once did I ever think of them as a bunch of Neanderthals who thought that women should be treated as sexual fodder to be used randomly because they're soft and cuddly, and men are going to do what men are going to do. Yet, in post after post, that's all I was reading.
So, I fired off a response in which I indicated that I was shocked that we still have people who think this way in this day and age. I was astonished at this behavior, and I couldn't believe they would EVER blame a woman for the simple crime of, well, being a woman in a man's world. I knew I was going to rile up some people, but right after I posted my response, the usual suspects started chiming in about how "you need to live in the real world" and that the world is a dangerous place, and if I can't handle the way things happen, then maybe I should stay inside and not dare to play with the big boys, because "your panties might get tussled."
And Joan Walsh thinks one column on the subject says everything? Seriously? Kelly McBride (Poynter) notes:
My first instinct, when a reporter told me about Logan's assault, was to be quiet. I thought about Logan's privacy and about how I knew some would respond, blaming her for what happened. I didn't want to add fuel to that fire.
But when we turn away from a sexual assault, we amplify the voices that would blame the victim or minimize the attack. Our instinct to avert our eyes leaves the victim to face a world of judgment on her own.
There is so much we can say about sexual assault. As a society, we rarely talk about it, until a particularly dramatic event. Then we talk about the circumstances of the event: Where was she? What happened? In asking those questions, we allow myths and suspicions to guide our conversations. But we forget to bring in all the facts that we do know.
So if we talk about Logan's ordeal, let's do so in the context of things we know to be true.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Nouri threatens 'troublemakers' and false arrests ..."
"The fallen (Shawn Evans), the embarrasment (Bob Gates)"
"I Hate The War"
"Corn Soup in the Kitchen"
"Can you bake a cherry pie, Nir Rosen?"
"Katrina vanden Heuvel grow the hell up"
"Michelle Goldberg and Esther Kaplan, shut up"
"Don't be part of the silence"
"Nir Rosen (Blog post)"
"the idiot joan walsh"
"the responses online"
"Danny The Pig Schechter"
"What is Victor Navasky's problem with women?"
"Feaver's a dishonest joke"
"Nir Rosen, what a prick"
"I retract my praise of Joan Walsh"
"Thank you to Joan and to Anderson"
"More lies from Libby Liberal"
"He doesn't apologize"
"A flunky scorned"
"The sexism of the press"
"Books and the weekends"
"Daniel Luben's an idiot (at best)"
"Nir Rosen continues his non-apology tour"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nir Rosen continues his non-apology tour








Tuesday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane's guests for the first hour were the Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati, attorney Burke and military sexual assault survivors Mary Gallagher and Rebekah Havrilla.
Susan Burke: The lawsuit is brought to try to reform what is clearly a broken system. What we have learned from interviewing hundreds of victims is that there is widespread retaliation against men and women that come forward and report rapes and sexual assaults. The program that Dr. [Kaye] Whitley spoke of are all simply focused on hand-holding to the victim but they lack any kind of clout. The SARCs themselves do not have any power vis-a-vis the military chain of command. Many of the SARCs are in the military chain of command and are willing to work at command's direction rather than actually advocate for the victims. So you have a completely dysfunctional system in which the victims have to face day-by-day workplace retaliation. So we're seeking -- we're seeking a Constitional -- a finding that [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and former [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld have let such an obviously broken system go forward for so long that they have deprived the plantiffs of their Constitutional rights.
Diane Rehm: Tell me how these plantiffs came to your attention.
Susan Burke: I was originally contacted by a civilian, a woman named Christine Smith who had been raped by a service member and ended up going through the military system of justice with just dismal results. The prosecutor lost the physical evidence -- her undewear. The court martial went badly. Then, the poor thing, six months later, after this, she gets a phone call from somebody in the military saying, "Oh, please come pick up your things." And, in fact, it was the underwear. It had been there the whole time. So I was just simply staggered by that level of incompetence in the prosecutorial ranks and I spoke with her about the situation and whether we could help her. That led me to begin to investigate the issue of how rape is handled in the military system. I'm actually a child of career military. So I'm somewhat familiar with, you know, the military system, having grown up on army bases my whole life. But nonetheless, I was just shocked when I read Helen Benedict's The Lonely Soldier book, began to look at the reports, began to look at what Congress has done, because what you see is a lengthy pattern of Congress telling the Dept, 'do something effective, clean this problem up', and the Dept just blowing it off and not taking any type of effective steps.
Diane Rehm: Susan Burke, she's the plantiff's lead lawyer in the lawsuit against the Pentagon.
Let's stop to talk about two of the military rape cases that have received the most attention from the press in the last decade. There was Suzanne Swift who was a victim of command rape. She was deployed to Iraq at that time and there was a "victim's advocate" she could speak to. The 'advocate' wanted to work with Suzanne on what she (Suzanne) could do so as not to be 'tempting'. Suzanne Swift went through the channels and received no assistance. Home on a pass, she self-checked out and refused to return. Donna St. George (Washington Post) described what happened when her pass was supposed to be up.
She had the car keys in her hand, ready to drive to the base. Suddenly, she turned to her mother.
"I can't do this," she remembers saying. "I can't go."
The Army specialist, now 22, recalls her churning stomach. Her mother's surprise. All at once, she said, she could not bear the idea of another year like her first. She was sexually harssed by one superior, she said, and coerced into a sexual affair with another.
"I didn't want it to happen to me again," she said in an interview.
She was arrested and forced to return to Iraq. Kim Gandy (NOW) noted, "She was court-martialed, stripped of her rank and sent to jail. Her assailant and the harassers received a slap on the wrist in the form of reprimanding letters." Sarah Corbett (New York Times Sunday Magazine) covered the story:
As part of a plea bargain, she pled guilty to "missing movement" and being absent without leave. Her rank was reduced to private, and she spent the next 21 days, including Christmas, in a military prison in Washington State. The Army ruled that in order to receive an honorable discharge, Swift was dutybound to complete her five-year enlistment, which ends in early 2009. After finishing her stint in prison in January, Swift says she checked herself into the inpatient psych ward at Fort Lewis's hospital for a few days but ultimately was released back to duty. She told me she was trying generally to ignore the PTSD but had taken to drinking a lot in order to get by. "I kind of liked the Army before all that stuff happened," she said in early February, on the phone from her barracks at Fort Lewis. "I was good at my job. I did what I was supposed to do. And then in Iraq, I got disillusioned. All of the sudden this Army you care so much about is like, well, all you're good for is to have with and that's it." She added, "I really, really, really, don't want to be here."
All the press attention didn't help Suzanne Swift receive justice. The other well covered case involved a woman who was missing. The coverage didn't help rescue her because she was already dead, killed by her rapist. Maria Lauterbach was a Marine. She was raped. She followed the channels. She did what she was supposed to. And doing what she was supposed to, following the rules didn't protect her. Cesar Laurean was her rapist. He was also a Marine. Even after she came forward, she was still forced to work with Laurean and attend meetings with him. The command showed no common sense, let alone sympathy. It gets worse. If there was anyone in a position of authority who did the right thing by Maria it was only Onslow Country Sheriff Ed Brown. Maria was seven months pregnant and missing. Her mother was asking for help. The Marines ignored her. They not only ignored her, they refused to do even a basic investigation. It was Brown and his staff who would locate Maria's body. She'd been brutally murdered and then Laurean dug a pit in his backyard, placed her body in it and attempted to burn her body to destroy the evidence. At this point Sherrif Brown thought he would be arresting Cesar Laurean. Maria had accused Laurean of raping her, she had disappeared just as she was going to testify against him. It should have been simple to pick him up. But it wasn't. Because what was obvious to someone trained to deal with crimes (Brown) was a big mystery to the Marine command. Laurean had already skipped town. And the Marines didn't even know it. Hadn't put him under watch, hadn't even considered him a suspect.
After he was caught (and brought back to the US), Laurean was convicted of Maria's murder and given a life sentence with no parole. Kevin Hayes (CBS News) reported:
After the verdict was read, Mary Lauterbach, Maria's mother, read a prepared statement. "Maria will always be our hero," she said. She told Laurean to look at his mother, saying that her heart breaks for his family too. "Now you will have time to think about your shame, time to think about your failures," she said. "There are many people out there who will die today, people who would love to have the time that God has given you."
These are the two most well known military rape cases of the last decade. In both cases, the women followed the rules on reporting. In neither instance was the woman assisted or protected. Those are the two most well known, they are not the only ones. And there are also cases like LaVena Johnson where she was killed (the facts laid out do not indicate suicide) and her parents, Linda and John Johnson, believe LaVena was sexually assaulted before she was killed. The cases aren't 'out there.' They're not 'extreme.' Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bahgwati explained to Diane's listeners, "Well I think, you know, we need to understand that military culture is completely different than the civilian world. As a service member, you can't quit your job if you're attacked, harassed or raped. You can't transfer to another community. You are stuck with your perpetrator and with the chain of command you have. There's very limited redress which requires, you know, you to take a giant leap of faith and really risk putting your career at an end by stepping forward. You know you're dealing with a system that thrives on power, on rank structure and intimidation. It's very unsafe to step forward unless you are guaranteed protection and, right now, there is no guarantee to your protection or that you'll ever get justice for the crime."
Mary Gallagher was raped while serving in Iraq. She followed the rules and reported the harassment to her supervisor, "And she basically said to me, 'It's he-said/she-said, and, you know, you just kind of need to, like, roll with it. And, you know, I don't really want to deal with it.' And it kept persisting, and so I reported it again. And at that point, she had me go see the chaplain and the chaplain said to me, 'You know, 96% of women are assaulted because they've been drinking.' Well this was a ridiculous statement because you can't drink in -- you know, alcohol in Iraq." That was the 'help' Mary Gallagher received while serving in Iraq and being sexually harassed and that 'help' -- that refusal by the command to do anything -- 'helped' the harassment build and build and Mary Gallgher was raped. Where are the charges for the command that refused to address the harassment?
Diane Rehm: Mary Gallagher, were you worried about being accused of false allegations?
Mary Gallagher: You know, a little bit. But mostly what my -- I was really scared for my life -- especially after the rape actually happened. I was terrified. And, you know, you're already in a war zone situation -- so your senses are up. And my fear was -- is -- that, you know, when I had reported the harassment and they hadn't done anything? When the rape happened, that's why I didn't report it. Because I didn't feel like they were going to do anything. And so it was just like I felt so isolated -- and so alone -- but, as far as, you know, that people would think that it was false? You know, no. But when I did report the harassment? Everybody was like, 'Well you know' -- They would always try to explain it away or dismiss it and so it always leads to a point that, you know, they just don't really want to deal with it.
Rebekah Havrilla was raped while serving in Afghanistan and she spoke of how there was even a training given in Afghanistan, while she was deployed, a PowerPoint training, and that a sergeant present for this sexual assault training "decided that he was going to strip naked and dance on the table. And even as you were going through the slides and you talk about, you know, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, there'd be comments about how, 'Oh, I just did that last night," or an action from one male to even another male trying to stimulate was was [being] told was just inappropriate behavior."
We're noting the next section (a) to include reality about "restricted reporting" -- a 'device' Kaye Whitley favors and we've long called out here (and remember Whitley can never give Congress the numbers -- she's forever asked but she can never provide the numbers and is forever 'surprised' that she's been asked) and (b) there are two men in the lawsuit and the media has often referred to the plantiffs as all being women.
Diane Rehm: I wonder Susan Burke if you can explain the difference between restricted reporting and unrestricted reporting?
Susan Burke: Yes, this is essentially a unique military creation that has, again, been a misdirected effort. Rather than tackling the omnipresent retaliation that occurs, they created an avenue for those who have been raped and sexually assaulted to report on a completely confidential basis. And there's not much -- There's nothing that comes of it. The problem is that even there, even though that confidentiality is supposed to encourage more and more survivors to come forward in order to access the health care treatment that's available to them, the reality is that it often leaks out and the survivors end up enduring the very retaliation they sought to avoid by going the restricted reporting route. So there's serious issues of the focus of the department's efforts. And the unrestricted reporting -- which is not used nearly as often as the restricted reporting -- is what we would normally think of when a crime occurs.
Diane Rehm: What about the two men who are part of this lawsuit? Explain what happened to them.
Susan Burke: Yes, in both instances, they were -- they were harassed and they were violated. One was groped and then, when he went to report it, he became the subject of a pervasive amount of physical abuse against him as he was on the ship. The other gentleman was raped in the barracks and when he went to report it to his command, they simply laughed at him. So the reality is this is not -- rape and the sexual assault -- is not limited to females. It is also occuring among the males as well and again you have the widespread retaliation, the scorn, the disbelief. In addition, there's the constant statement, "Well you know, you don't, don't rock the boat. You're a trouble maker. Don't be reporting on your own." -- these cultural messages that you really risk your career if you step forward. And most tellingly one of the survivors who has joined the lawsuit is a woman who was actually a criminal investigative unit agent. When she was raped, she opted not to report it because she knew that it would not be taken seriously. It was only after her perpetrator went on for the next two years raping additional women did a CID officer hear of what happened to her and come and ask her to come forward. You know, that is a very telling story of what all of these victims of rape and sexual abuse are confronting.
That was today's Diane Rehm Show and if you can't stream or if streaming will not help you, remember that Diane is now putting transcripts of her show online and you can click here for today's transcript. The full hour is transcribed. (Quotes and excerpts above were done by me and won't match up in sentence structure or punctuation, FYI.) This is an important issue, it's an important legal case and Diane treated it as such devoting a full hour to it (and she and guest host Susan Page have covered the issue of military assault for a full hour segment several times before). It's really amazing how other programs appear to have a real problem (a) finding this story and (b) covering it. Many NPR stations are in pledge drive mode currently. If you have the money to pledge and plan to, consider pledging during The Diane Rehm Show and letting them know that you do appreciate the type of programming that you hear on her show. And if you're local station isn't in a pledge drive or if you're reading this between pledge drives at some point in the future, you can always go to this NPR page and donate online.
We were at two Congressional hearings today and I may note one or both tomorrow. But the above is an important issue and it's not being covered. The reluctance to address it can also be seen in the silence on Nir Rosen's attack of Lara Logan (CBS News -- Lara was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job -- drop back to yesterday's snapshot if you're new to this topic). I'm not referring to the MSM, I'm not referring to the right. I'm referring to the left where we continue to refuse to police our own and enable the attacks on women who are raped to be launched. On her program Grit TV, Laura Flanders, to her credit, did address it and you can click here for text and video. Flanders concludes her commentary with, "Lara Logan deserves commendation for going public with her story, and anyone who tries to twist into anything other than a tale of what happens to women everywhere, all the time, still, is simply making apologies for rape. And for that there's no apology." Laura Flanders deserves commendation for addressing Nir Rosen's comments in her commentary. Good for her. It was needed and it is appreciated. So many others offered nothing. At The Nation online, since Tuesday, the most read story has been Laila Lalami's "The Attack on Lara Logan: War of the Words." It was written before Nir Rosen launched his attack on Lara and on victims of assault so it doesn't mention him. But the fact that it has been your most read feature for days now -- and still tops the list -- would indicate your readership actually cares about the issue. By contrast, your refusal to follow it up would indicate that you have ZERO interest in the topic (especially with regards to Nir Rosen's attacks). (Laura's commentary was for her show Grit TV. The Nation is running it, but Laura did that on her own, for her own program.) There's the silence at Mother Jones -- a publication more than happy to publish and praise Nir Rosen. Jen Phillips managed to blog yesterday at four in the afternoon California time (seven p.m. EST) and to share how offended she was that some outlets have gone from "sexual assault" to "rape." While that is an issue, Jen, it's not the big issue. Your silence enables the big issue to continue, now doesn't it? Again, Laura deserves credit for standing up and being the only one thus far at a left opinion print outlet to have done so. (In These Times and The Progressive are strangely silent.) In his attack on Lara Logan, also expressed his desire to see Anderson Cooper sexually assaulted. As Mike noted last night, Anderson had Nir on the show and did not accept the spin Nir tried to offer. Nir's a liar. When I dictated the snapshot yesterday, I knew Nir was going on CNN and had hopes that he would be honest. He's obviously incapable at this time of honesty. That point comes across in Anderson's interview with him (Entertainment Weekly has posted it here) and it comes across in the interview Charlie Eisenhood (NYU Local) did with him. While claiming to apologize initially, Nir can't stick with it, can he?
He regrets it he claims. But later declares, "I think certainly my tweets [he attacked Logan at his Twitter account] have been unfairly attacked and blown out of proportion. Thta does not excuse my lapse of judgement for making them in the first place. I stupidly didn't think that some crude banter would become fodder for thousands" -- we're stopping him. "Crude banter." Oh, he was attempting banter. And it was just "crude." And his tweets saying she deserved to be sexually assaulted (because she was a "war monger") and his wishing it on Anderson as well was "blown out of proportion" and 'unfairly attacked." It just gets worse. "That said," he declares, "I find the reactions sanctimonious and silly. A few crude jokes on twitter do not make a philosophy, they just make you a momentary jerk. I didn't mean it and I have a record of eight years of risking my life for justice to prove my values." No, you don't have a record of eight years on this issue. You have a record of attacking women verbally, you have a record of cutting them off when they're speaking (even if they're US senators and you're appearing before a Senate hearing), you have a record of smarmy remarks that express hostility to women. That is your record and that's why I've called you "toxic" for years now.
He still doesn't get it. He thinks -- and at least one lefty male is sure this is happening -- that he just offers a false apology (to those people whose "reactions" are "sanctimonious and silly") and then keeps his head down for a bit and everything's cool. If you're not getting how disgusting it is, how disgusting the climate it, you can always check out Thomas E. Ricks. We called him out yesterday. Today he posts about Nir Rosen and should he ban Rosen from the blog? I haven't led a cry for Rosen to be banned. I've led a cry for him to be called out and for those of us on the left to do so loudly. Ricks can ban him or not, I don't have an opinion on that. I do, however, take offense to Tommy's description of Rosen's comments: "Stupid, insensitve, inane, wrong-headed. Yup. My feeling in this situation is to hate the sin, not the sinner. I mean, a lot of my friends are dumbasses, and I've been there myself."
Nir Rosen took joy in the fact that Lara Logan was sexually assaulted. He thought it was funny. Thomas E. Ricks likes to play like he's in the military and the military's best buddy -- especially to the enlisted. Well, Tommy, the enlisted includes women and those comments were not just "dumbass," they were deeply disturbing and part of a culture that you should be calling out, not excusing, not minimizing. He did not tell a bad joke. He took joy in the sexual assault of another person. He not only took joy in it, he wished it had also happened to Anderson Cooper -- and said that if it had happened to Anderson, that would be funny. Nir Rosen is the poster boy for the mentality that allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country. Thomas E. Ricks' refusal to treat Nir Rosen's remarks as seriously offensive allows sexual assaults and rapes to thrive in this country.
And if he's not getting that he needs to step up to the plate and call this crap out, Thomas E. Ricks can read the comments left on his post. Most grasp how offensive and distrubing Nir Rosen's remarks were and one woman makes it very clear that she will not feel welcome on the blog with Nir Rosen around. But then you get the people who cite an out of control drug addict active in their disease (I promised the drug addict's parents I wouldn't mention the drug addict by name at this site and have not but I'll assume we all I know who I mean) which is bad enough but then you get the likes of KRIEGSAKADEMIE posting at 8:33 PM ET and declaring that Lara had 'it coming' because she wasn't like Hannah Allam, Misahl Husain, Lise Doucet and others "They dress very conservatively; they don't flaunt long manes of uncovered hair; they use moderate gestures and body language, and they show a modicum of deference (whether they actually feel deferential or not) when speaking to older people, adult men, officials etc."
Thomas E. Ricks, you need to educate that asshole. "Adult men"? Are you not getting the sexism? Are you not getting that what I've just quote from your own damn blog is sexism. She had it coming because she didn't allegedly show defernece to "adult men," she had it coming because of how she dressed and how she gestured? You don't see the problem, Thomas E. Ricks? The rape myths, the claims that a woman had it coming? You're not picking up on that?
How about when the same Kriegsakademie declares, "Lara has shown herself in the past to be both a bit of a drama queen and a practied femme fatale with respect to the male press corps in Iraq. My best is that the underlying thought that gave rise to Nir's unfortunate tweet was something along the lines of 'this whole story would not have happened to any of the real porfessional women correspondents who know how to operate in the region'."
Thomas E. Ricks, do you not get how you better start educating your damn readers? You created this environment on your blog when you went T&A and posted the nudie photo of the woman. You fostered that environment with your post minimizing what took place. You need to take accountability and that includes breaking down reality for your readers -- many of whom grasp it, but some like Kriegsakeademie obviously need to be informed that no woman "asks" to be sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is a crime, it is terrorism. How Lara dresses or who she shows 'deference' to is unimportant. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. No one invited it. A criminal sexually assaults. It's not cute, it's not funny. Yesterday Valerie Strauss (Washington Post) posted something that applies here:
Rosen's tweets on Logan more than crossed a line. They were more than cruel and insensitive. They revealed a perverted view of the world that has no place at any university, much less a prestigious one. Differences of opinion -- even extreme ones -- are one thing, welcome at an educational institution. Misogny and distortions of reality are quite another.

That a grown man (Thomas E. Ricks) can't grasp that today is rather amazing. That he once claimed to be a reporter and that he can't issue a strong denoucement of what Nir Rosen did is flat out offensive. There are some things you just do not do. On the left, many of us may not have agreed with Micheal Kelly. He died while reporting (in Iraq, April 3, 2003). His opinion on the war (he was pro war -- I am certainly not) didn't matter. He died doing his job. And members of the press showed him the respect his profession deserved. Lara Logan was attacked and sexually assaulted while doing her job and Thomas E. Ricks can't show her respect? Can't call out Nir Rosen for not showing her respect? Do we not get that? If Bob Woodruff is again injured while doing his job (ABC News, he was reporting in Iraq at the start of 2006 when he was seriously injured by a roadside bombing) is it okay for Nir Rosen to gleefully cackle and take joy in that? The same year, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier (now with AP) was injured in May by a car bombing in Iraq. If Nir doesn't like her career or her looks or whatever is it okay for him to publicly post comments taking joy in her pain, wishing her pain on others? Miguel Martinez was just assaulted in Bahrain -- is Nir Rosen preparing stand up material on that? There is supposed to be a modicum of respect for any journalist attacked while doing their job.
I'm offended on many levels but if Thomas E. Ricks doesn't have any respect for his profession, he can continue to pretend that what Nir Rosen did was no big deal. We have focused on the sexual assault aspect. But Ricks better grasp for one damn minute that the press is not supposed to trivialize attacks on their own while they are doing their job.
Obviously, Thomas E. Ricks doesn't give a damn about military sexual assault. You can tell that by what he's posted in the past as well as the fact that the big military story this week would be the lawsuit and Thomas E. Ricks couldn't be bothered with that. But he makes time to write what reads like a plea for his "friend-of-the-blog" Nir Rosen (even while saying he'll decide whether to ban Nir or not so your input really doesn't matter).

Again, there were two hearings today and they could be noted. There are protests and other important things. But if women don't stand up on this issue, we're begging it to continue. And we should remember what Thomas E. Ricks refuses to grasp, every rapist believes a woman had it coming. Every rapist has the same mind set as Nir Rosen and the poster at Ricks' site that we quoted. Does that mean Nir Rosen is a rapist? No. But that mind-set is found in rapists. It needs to be called out. Loudly. Rebecca's "the disgusting nir rosen" went up last night.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Governor reportedly flees city"
"Evictions, foreclosures, unemployment, sexual assa..."
"Gates and the absurd hearing (Ava)"
"Applauding Scott Brown"
"A face"
"the disgusting nir rosen"
"Good for Senator Brown"
"Freedom hating Buck McKeon"
"Loretta Sanchez came prepared (Wally)"
"No Ordinary Family, it all spins around"
"The piggies"
"The Repugnant Nir Rosen"
"He's going to put children to work"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

He's going to put children to work






BNO News reports that 1 US service member died in Iraq yesterday. DoD doesn't make an announcement until the family has been contacted and the name can be released. So they have nothing. US-F? They use the tax payer dollars somehow. But it's not doing in their job. They didn't issue the announcement and haven't issued any annoucements at all since January 15th. The deaths continue because the war continues. From Monday's snapshot: "Saturday, Al Mada reported on the secret talks taking place to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and cites Qassim Mohammed Jalal as the source for the extension meetings currently taking place between Nouri's reps and the US inside the Green Zone. Qassam Mohammed Jalal is part of the National Coalition. He is a member of Parliament's Commission on Security and Defense."
This morning the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Defense Dept's budget. Chair Howard McKeon called the hearing to order. Appearing before the Committee were Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen (Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). We're jumping to the last half first.
US House Rep Dunan Hunter: Let's talk about Iraq for a minute. If the Status Of Forces Agreement is not changed or the Iraqis do not ask for our help and ask us to stay, what is our plan for 2012? At the end of this year, what's going to happen?
Secretary Robert Gates: We will have all of our forces out of Iraq. We will have an Office of Security Cooperation for Iraq that will have probably on the order of 150 to 160 Dept of Defense employees and several hundred contractors who are working FMS cases.
US House Rep Duncan Hunter: Do you think that represents the correct approach for this country after the blood and treasure that we spent in Iraq? My own personal time of two tours in Iraq. There's going to be fewer people there -- and that 150 -- than there are in Egypt right now. Somewhere around 600, 700 of those types of folks in Egypt. How can we maintain all of these gains that we've maintained through so much effort if we only have 150 people there and we don't have any military there whatsoever. We have more military in western European countries than we'd have in Iraq -- one of the most centralized states, as everybody knows, in the Middle East.
Secretary Robert Gates: Well I think that there is -- there is certainly on our part an interest in having an additional presence and the truth of the matter is the Iraqis are going to have some problems that they're going to have to deal with if we are not there in some numbers. They will not be able to do the kind of job and intelligence fusion. They won't be able to protect their own air space. They will not -- They will have problems with logistics and maintenance. But it's their country, it's a sovereign country. This is the agreement that was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government and we will abide by the agreement unless the Iraqis ask us to have additional people there.
But Duncan Hunter and Robert Gates ignore the fact that the US military switches over to the State Dept if no new treaty replaces the SOFA and if the SOFA is not extended.
Gates was also playing games with regards to a lawsuit. Yesterday, Susan Burke and supporters of survivors of military sexual assaults and some of the survivors filing suit against the Pentagon held a press conference in DC. Congress noticed. We'll note two who raised the issue. First up was Silvestre Reyes.
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes: The other concern that I have is yesterday it became a national story about a lawsuit filed by former veteran women that are alleging what I think is a hostile work environment and sexual harassment and other things. I know you're probably not in a position to comment on that, Mr. Secretary, but I would like to work with your office to better understand exactly the circumstances that led to this lawsuit.
Secretary Robert Gates: If I may, let me just say, and obviously what I can say, is limited -- uhm, uhm, uhm by the fact of the lawsuit -- but let me just say a couple of things because this is a matter of-of great concern, I suspect, to everybody in the room. First of all, I have zero tolerance for sexual assault. And I've worked with Chairman Mullen and the Joint Chiefs and the service secretaries to see if we're doing all we can to prevent and respond to sexual assaults. I've had multiple meetings with, uh, the senior leadership of the Dept over the past four years, established four critical areas of Dept focus: Reducing stigma associated with reporting, ensuring sufficient commander training, ensuring investigator training and resources and ensuring trial council training and resources. We've hired dozens more investigators, field instructors, prosecutors and lab examiners. We've spent close to two million dollars over the last two years to train our prosecutors so that they're better able to be successful. We have expanded the sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocates ten-fold, from 300 to 3,000, and we now have those advocates at every base and installation in the world including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The court-martial percentages have increased from about 30% to 52%. So we are making headway. The fact is we aren't where we should be. It is a matter of grave concern and we will keep working at it.
Adm Mike Mullen: Sir, I uh would uh more than echo what the Secretary said. Zero tolerance. It's been -- actually over the course of the last six or seven years -- it has been an issue of great focus. And it is unacceptable that, uh, we haven't, uh, we haven't gotten to where we need to be on this. We know this is an extraordinarily difficult issue and, uh, I know both as a former service chief as well as knowing the current service chief, it's an area of focus. It wasn't that long ago it was a significant area both in the combat zone in Iraq, there still is enough anecodtal evidence coming out of Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan to certainly be of concern. What the Secretary said in terms of the, uh, investments in terms of improvements and education, the focus on leadership is exactly right. Uh, but we also have, I think, we have -- still have -- significant work to do and the leadership is focused on that.
You know what might help reduce sexual assaults? Gates and Mullen no longer saying "I have a zero tolerance" policy. Sexual assault is a crime. Of course there should be a zero tolerance policy just as they should have zero tolerance for some service member murdering another. Crimes are crimes. With their word choice -- forget what they think they're saying -- they repeatedly infer that there are crimes and then there is sexual assault which is this thing they just don't tolerate. That thing is a crime and it is against the law and anyone 'tolerating' it is subject to criminal charges.
Niki Tsongas asked last and we'll note her because she often addresses this issue. However, one thing to remember with Gates' responses above and below? He's out. He was bragging about it in his opening statements, when he ad-libbed from his prepared remarks (which he otherwise read word for word) to state this was "my fifth and final budget request." So this oversight that he's never provided but he wants to pretend he has? Someone should have asked him, "How much are you delegating to those immediately below you so that there can be a smooth transition when the new Secretary of Defense comes in?"
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: I'd like to come back to the issue of sexual assault in the military. It's obviously one that's much in the news today but really has been a longstanding issue and I think as Representative [Michael] Turner mentioned, something that this Committee has worked hard to deal with and find a way forward. But despite that -- and we've heard testimony from the various services as to all their efforts. But despite that, in 2010, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults in the military. But by the Pentagon's own estimate, as few as 10% of sexual assaults were reported. And the VA estimates that 1-in-3 women veterans report experiencing some form of military sexual trauma. I can remember several years ago meeting with some people active in the VA in the state of Massachusetts and having a gentleman comment and say that was one of their dominant issues that they had to deal with. The Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization Act required that the Department look into the feasibility of providing a military lawyer to all victims of sexual assault. While this is a good first step, I was disappointed that provisions which guarantee all victims the right to legal counsel and protect the confidentiality of conversations between victims and victim advocates were not included in the final version of the 2011 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] though they were in the House version. We would be shocked if conversations between their client or advocate were not privileged in the civilian world. And similar rights must be afforded to service members who may be the victim of a crime. Why would the Dept resist such a common sense measure? And I ask this of Secretary Gates.
Secretary Robert Gates: I hadn't realized the Dept had resisted it and, uh, I must say, uh, along with Mr. Turner's comments, these things sound to me like, uh, reasonable, uh, actions. And so I will take out of this hearing the charge to look into whether -- if we opposed it, why we opposed it and-and why we should not go forward on our own even without legislation.
US House Rep Niki Tsongas: And I would appreciate once you do that, getting back to me in some form so that I and others who felt this was very important. One of the things we have found is that despite all the good efforts on the parts of the services that the follow up procedures legally do not support -- undermine all the efforts you have made in preventing this in the first place, providing access to medical care. But if the follow up legal processes do not sufficiently protect the victim, make them feel comfortable in coming forward that it undermines all the good work you've done. They become suspect of the entire prospect, feel very much at risk. And this was one very common sense way, going forward, in the legal process alone that we felt we could better protect victims as they try to assert their rights.
Let's stay on sexual assault. CBS News' Lara Logan was sexually assaulted while reporting from Egypt. Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon) gets right to the point: "Here's what you do say when something like this happens. Like countless women around the world, Lara Logan was attacked in the line of duty. She was assaulted doing her job. It was a crime of unspeakable violence. And your opinion of how she does that job, the religion her assailants share with a few million other people, or the color of her hair has nothing to do with it."
But, as Nicole Stockdale (Dallas Morning News) points out, some couldn't grasp that. One was Nir Rosen. Nir Rosen is toxic and that's why we've called him out repeatedly. He made disgusting comments about Lara Logan and Anderson Cooper. (National Review's Jim Geraghty has them here.) Rebecca's going to go into this topic tonight. I'm going to address it here in terms of Iraq.
Nir Rosen is toxic. That was obvious forever and a day. His disrespect for women is nothing new. We noted how he couldn't shut up in a Senate hearing when Senator Barbara Boxer -- on the same side as he was -- was speaking. When male senators were speaking, Nir was more than happy to wait to speak. With Barbara Boxer, he repeatedly cut her off over and over. And that was with a woman he agreed with it. He found the sexual assault on Lara Logan 'funny' because he doesn't like Lara Logan. He then goes on to suggest that more humor could have been found if men could have also sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper.
Nir Rosen is toxic. Rape and sexual assault are not funny. It's not 'great' when they happen -- even if the victim is your sworn enemy. We most recently called out Iraq 'expert' Nir for insisting -- in a guest post at his buddy Thomas E. Ricks' blog -- that, "Frankly this is a rare case where I hope Maliki violates the constitution, acts in some kind of authoritarian way to make sure he wins the elections, because the alternatives if . . ." Blah, blah, blah. When a person is bragging that they hope a country's constitution is broken, they have a problem. They are not about democracy, they are not about the process. The ends justify the means in their ethic-free universe. Now we just mentioned Thomas E. Ricks. In what world, Thomas E. Ricks, is acceptable for you to post nude photos of women to Foreign Policy? Little pin up photos? It's not acceptable. At that point, Nir Rosen's friend Thomas E. Ricks was still pretending to be interested and focused on Iraq. And then, suddenly, there's a T&A nude photo. How is that welcoming to women?
It's not. Nir Rosen, Thomas E. Ricks and other toxic players are not welcoming to women. And they haven't been held accountable. If Thomas E. Ricks wants to start his own version of Playboy, he can do so. But who gave him the right to smutty up Foreign Policy? Who gave him the right to run off readers who no longer felt welcomed knowing that Ricks was now posting nudies and encouraging a strip-club mentality in the comments? What the hell did any of that have to do with foreign policy? Not a damn thing.
But because women were the ones being exploited, the left was silent. Just as they were silent when it came to Scott Ritter. How many times does Scott Ritter have to be busted for seeking sexual encounters with underage females (girls, not women) before he's pulled from the left? In the final days of her Air America Radio program, Laura Flanders could call out some sports team for using a Gary Glitter song due to the statutory rape Glitter committed (14-year-old girl). And that might seem brave -- especially considering the rest of the left. However, Laura booked Scott Ritter for her program repeatedly. In January 2003, it was learned Ritter had been twice arrested for seeking sex with girls. And yet Amy Goodman continued to bring him on her show and treat him like a trusted guest. As we pointed out, was it going to take an underage girl getting assaulted for the left to walk away from Ritter? The whole time they (and he) insisted this was just the Bush administration going after him because he was speaking out against the illegal war. But in November 2009 -- when Barack's president -- he's busted again. For the same thing.
Why weren't the charges taken seriously by the left? Long after they were known, Laura Flanders had him on her show, Amy Goodman was interviewing him repeatedly, Seymour Hersh was touring the country with him, The Nation was publishing pieces by him, on and on it went. Known to be twice arrested for attempting to have sex with underage girls. And it was a-okay. It's toxic and it's past time the left started taking this sort of thing seriously.
You saw it in the St. Julian Assange nonsense as well. Two women may have been raped by Julian Assange. Immediately, it was time to tar and feather those women. They're liars, they're honey pots, they're this, they're that. And Ray McGovern, Dennis Bernstein, Naomi Wolf, John Pilger, Keith Olbermann, Naomi Klein and so many others got away with it because women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed out of the raft. Media Lens disgraced itself by attacking those who defended the women. We defended the women community wide. Defending them never required saying, "Julian Assange is a rapist!" I have no idea what happened, I wasn't present. But I know that if charges are brought, we don't attack victims. We wait for facts. (And, as we've seen this month, Julian Assange's male attorney is one of the biggest liars in the world.) For some time, Julian hid behind his attorney and allowed them to make attacks on women and feminists. Then Little Julie wanted to join in. And no one wanted to call that out either.
The comments of Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein and all the rest (including the revisionary Nicole Colson) are exactly of the same toxic strain as Nir Rosen's. The two women didn't matter -- just like Lara Logan didn't matter -- because 'other things' were more important. And -- ends justifying the means -- the two women could be attacked, savaged and all victims and survivors of sexual assault could be as well in the process and it didn't matter because nothing mattered more than 1 man (Julian, in this case).
Women are nearly the first thing that can be tossed over the raft. Nearly? Gay males get tossed out by the left even quicker. (The right wing is far worse than the left on these issues, I don't pretend otherwise. But I'm not a right winger and my focus here is on the left and the way the left has damaged itself repeatedly in the last years.) Nir Rosen thought it would be funny if men sexually assaulted Anderson Cooper. He thought that was 'funny.' And he's allegedly an educated person -- apparently one educated at Jim Belushi University on an Andrew Dice Clay scholarship.
The left should have policed their own. They didn't. And that refusal to do so has consequences. If you're failing to grasp that, Amy Goodman pretends she's interested in abortion issues today because it allows her to interview Ann Richards' daughter. That's the only reason for that segment. If there was any segment required today by the news cycle, it was on the women and men who are suing the Pentagon over sexual assaults. (See yesterday's snapshot.) But that's reduced to a headline so that Ann Richards' daughter can speak. Maybe had she spoken in out in 2009, the current anti-choice culture would not be so determined? But speaking out, Cecile, would have required you calling out the White House and ObamaCare's assault on women's health. You weren't prepared to do that. Now that the attacks are coming from the right, Cecile's all ready to speak out. How very brave you are not.
Iraq. The story of Iraq's not been told by our brave leaders of the left. Not just because they all walked away but because look at all they ignored when they were covering Iraq. Naomi Klein is so offended that she got called out for attacking the two women who might have been raped and so offended that she can't hide behind feminist (she's not a feminist, she never was one). But what's really offensive is she supposedly covered Iraq and yet never found time for Iraqi women.
Never. Nir Rosen couldn't make time either. (In fact, of the most highlighted left voices covering Iraq, it's really been only Dahr Jamail and Patrick Cockburn who've covered women.) Manal Omar is the author Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity -- My Own and What it Means to be a Woman in Chaos. Starting in the 1990s, she has done humanitarian work in Iraq. NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq interviewed her about the status of women's rights in the new 'democratic' Iraq. Excerpt:

NCCI: As the former Regional Coordinator for Women for Women International in Iraq, what do you feel are some of the greatest obstacles facing NGOs which operate in the sector of women's rights?

Manal Omar: The biggest challenge is when women become the negotiating chip. One of the titles of my chapters in my book is "Negotiating Chip," because I witnessed too often how women's rights were used during political or social bargaining. For example, you may have high-level Kurdish representatives that believe 100% in women's rights. However, during political debates, or when it's time to vote on a resolution, they will not vote pro-women. When I would challenge them, they often would say that their primary issue is federalization, and as a result, they would strike a deal on a resolution for women if more conservative parties would vote on the resolution of federalization. The second challenge is what I call the "not now" argument. This argument usually states that because of overall violence and instability, it is not an appropriate time to discuss women's issues. I have witnessed how the "not now" easily becomes the "not ever." Women must maximize the window of opportunity to push their rights forward.

It's amazing that left publications haven't been interested in Manal Omar's book. Until you realize how the destruction of women's rights in Iraq remains the story the left ignored. What else got ignored? How about the assault on Iraq's LGBT community. At a time when you had three members of Congress addressing it, at a time when the Denver Post and New York Times were addressing it, The Progressive and The Nation and Democracy Now! couldn't be bothered. When it did pop up on Pacifica (KPFK), the guest brought it up and the host (Lila Garrett) expressed shock at the news she'd never heard of before. That did not, however, lead her to book someone to address the topic.
The left looks the other way at what Nir Rosen said and the reason is because his comments reflect their own attitude. A gay man being sexually assaulted is funny to them. A woman being sexually assaulted, to them, does have it coming if she's not their 'kind of woman.' And that's been reflected over and over in the coverage. Nir Rosen is toxic and his remarks were toxic but he existed and was encouraged in a toxic culture. Hopefully, he walks away from all of this with -- or develops -- a more inclusive scope than he had yesterday. It'd be really helpful if those who created and fostered the environment for such remarks could learn something.
I suppose both God and the March of Freedom work in mysterious ways. Prior to the past 20 years of U.S. assault on Iraq, there were gay bars and open homosexuality in Baghdad. Now the shiny new Iraqi Constitution sanctions the murder of unfaithful women and of homosexual men whether faithful or not. "Abu Qussay, an Iraqi father who killed his son after the son's homosexuality was revealed, is proud of the murder. 'I hanged him in my house in front of his brother to give an example to all of them and prevent them from doing the same.'" Between 2003 and 2009 at least 455 gay men were brutally murdered , many through a technique that glues the anus shut and then forces the victim to consume a drink that causes diarrhea. Videos of this have been proudly circulated.
Your tax dollars at work, my fellow Americans. You cannot destroy a nation and hire religious fanatics to attack other types of religious fanatics without creating hell on earth. And that is what we have done in Iraq. Meanwhile our own gay activist groups take some interest in advancing the rights to marry or work or obtain healthcare without discrimination, but primarily they have been obsessed with the goal of participating openly in the next sociocide.
Maybe others can follow David Swanson's lead? If not, we (on the left) will quickly become the very thing we once protested against.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still pretending





It amaze me how members of the pseudo-Left tries to “embrace” the Egyptian Revolution yet when it had a modicum of an opening to alter the system they sabotage it. Mr. Glick was instrumental in sabotaging the 2004 Nader Campaign and an opportunity to build a viable 3rd Party and now wants to convince us he’s supports what’s happening in Egypt.



Today PJ Harvey's Let England Shake is released. Kat reviewed it here. and Kat weighed in on PJ's online concert here. Today Mike Conkin (Crawdaddy) calls it "unmistakably an anti-war album" and observes, "One gets the feeling this album, Ms. Harvey's eight, could wind up on an awful lot of year-end lists." Fiona Shephard (Scotsman) raves, "Let England Shake is a superlative suite of songs about war and imperialism, in which she assumes the role of war poet/songwriter." Ben Macintyre (The Australian) says the album "is an extraordinary evocation of the nature of modern war, vivid and furious, in which the landscape is churned 'by tanks and feet marching' and troops are torn apart like 'lumps of meat'. One critic has described Let England Shake as 'the most powerful work yet by any British artist about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan'." Ann Powers (Los Angeles Times) asserts, "Harvey's song structures give rise to the feelings we've been taught are proper about nationhood (pride, vigor), but her arrangements -- the off-kilter instruments and the sometimes almost Mueezin oscillations of her singing -- topple that response, send it somewhere dark and dangerous. The double in the room on Let England Shake is the whole modern world. PJ Harvey has given us a righteous scare." Andrew Burgess (MusicOMH) argues the album will be "lingering in the mind long after its engrossing runtime." Kitty Empire (Observer) contends that "running through Let England Shake is, perhaps, the unspoken hope that this land might be reminded of the horrors of war and, perhaps, shake off some of its torpor." Jessica Steinhoff (Isthmus) believes, "Though Let England Shake coldly condemns war's destruction of human life, it contains an empathetic warmth that cuts through the vitriol." Jim Farber (New York Daily News) offers that the album "rages with songs more blood-soaked than a Quentin Tarantino movie and more withering about the wages of war than any disk since the prime works of Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger. Each cut drips with the cruel indifference of the privileged, the murderous schemes of Western governments and the doomed soldiers and citizens it all falls upon." Mike Williams (NME) declares, "Francis Ford Coppola can lay claim to the war movie. Ernest Hemingway the war novel. Polly Jean Harvey, a 41-year-old from Dorset, has claimed the war album. And like Coppola and Hemingway, she calls it straight: 'Death was everywhere/ In the air and in the sounds coming off the mounds of Bolton's Ridge/ Death's anchorage'." Scott Plagenhoef (Pitchfork) maintains, "Even considering all of the horror on display, this is her most straightforward and easy to embrace album in a decade. Along with 'The Words That Maketh Murder', the bouncing title track ['Let England Shake'], the radio rock of 'The Last Living Rose', and 'Written on the Forehead' would all make excellent singles." Allison Stewart (Washington Post) stakes out similar ground, "These are warmblooded, frequently up-tempo, bluesy alt-rock tracks propelled by curious devices: an onmipresent Autoharp; a sampling of Niney the Observer's reggae obscurity 'Blood and Fire' (on 'Written on the Forehead'). 'The Glorious Land' features bugles calling the charge to war, and it's dark and visceral and goose-bump-raising -- but not menacing, just sad." Baghdad born Arwa Haider (Metro) concludes, "The sound is both earthy and exotic. Harvey's imgaery is heady and brutal, ranging from the battleground to foreign playgrounds ('people throwin' dinars at the belly dancers' in Written On The Forehead), while her melodies are gorgeously disarming. The production is also exceptionally vital, layers with folky instruments (Harvey on autoharp and zither) and startling samples -- The Words That Maketh Murder features a bugle reveille -- while a reworked snippet of Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues ('What if I take my problem to the United Nations?') becomes an ominous modern mantra." At Newsweek (link has text and video), Seamus Murphy explains the video films for the album he's made with PJ. Audio can be found here as Clash Music discusses PJ's album and the Strokes.
Emily Mackay (NME, January 29, 2011, with photos by Seamus Murphy and Cat Stevens) recently profiled PJ Harvey. Excerpt:
The realm of geopolitics is unusual for Harvey, one of Britain's best, and most consistently fascinating songwriters; her work has often throbbed with darkness and violence through her 20-year career, but on an individual level, as with the vengeful, twisted or borken scratchings of 'Dry', the haunting histories of 'Is This Desire?', and even in the personal, romantic exuberance of 'Stories From The city, Stories From The Sea'. You might think she'd missed the boat for an anti-Iraq War album, but that's not what 'Let England Shake' is, at least not entirely. And Polly's a more political creature than you might imagine.
"I've followed it every day, always, of my life," she asserts keenly. "I've always been profoundly affected by what's happening in the world, politically, socially and on all levels. But I hadn't ever approached that in my songwriting before at any great depth like I have with this record, I knew if I was going to start to try and approach such huge subject matter, I had to have the skill with the language to do that, and I didn't feel that I was still at that stage as a songwriter. And I've been writing now for many, many years, and something in me felt like I could now begin to try and approach this."
We started with music because, many days, that's all there is. Certainly if you're looking for truth, that's all there is.
You are an unruly, translucent
A dirty windshield with a shifting view
So many cunning running landscapes
For my dented door to open into

I just wanna tune out all the billboards
Weld myself a mental shield
I just wanna put down all the pressures
And feel how I really feel

Just show me a moment that is mine
Its beauty blinding and unsurpassed
Make me forget every moment that went by
And left me so half-hearted
'Cuz I felt it so half-assed

-- "Half-Assed," written by Ani DiFranco, first appears on her Reprieve album.
"Half-Assed" is James Denselow's "Egypt's Shockwaves Hit Iraq" (Guardian to the Huffington Post), Jack Healy (New York Times) article and Ben Lando, Munaf Ammar and Ali Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) article. All feel the need to be 'creative' and, someone please break the news to them, they don't have that kind of talent.
Iraq is not Egypt. Protests were taking place before Egypt's unrest that (finally) caught the media attention. To have any idea what's going on in Iraq, you'd have to follow Iraq. Not check in every three months. Equally true is pimping a narrative is the easiest way to get into print, always has been. Skeptical Editor, "What's the story?" Reporter, "Uh, it's just like what happened in Egypt!" There's not a great deal of difference between a press bullpen and a pitch meeting in LA except for the beverages. And, of course, the fact that a film doesn't try to pass itself off as fact. The narrative of "Egypt's Impact!" may get you onto the page, but it's highly dishonest.

The unrest in Iraq is different from what's taken place in Egypt. And, yes, you can trace the public sentiment if you were paying attention. March 7, 2010, Iraq held national elections. What followed was a long, long stalemate that the media likes to pretend ended around the nine month mark. The stalemate continues, even if US press refuses to acknowledge that fact, and that's one reason for the protests. Most recently, from the Feburary 3rd snapshot:
Ali Abdel Gentlemen (Al Mada) reports, many Iraqis see not the progress Jeffreys spoke of but "a paralysis of government" and more and more and more are taking to the streets to protest "the deterioration of living conditions" which is why leather and textile workers protested in Baghad and Hilla this week and activist Mohammed Salami is quoted stating, "There is daily frustration over the fact that successive political changes have not brought a new [better] level of service."
There was an uneasy feeling throughout the long political stalemate as the sitting prime minister (Nouri) was revealed to have only his own interests at heart. Even some of his supporters picked up on that but dismissed it as untrue, unfounded. It was a nagging thought that didn't go away, however, and the last four months have reinforced those nagging thoughts. As Nouri lives high on the hog (and his family is the talk of Iraq -- despite not living there), they have no jobs, they have no basic services and the ration card system is a joke. All of these conditions were present in September. The big difference is that the long political stalemate did not show Nouri in a good light and events since have further tarnished the glow.
What the stalemate did was raise a lot of negatives about Nouri and what he's done since November is confirm those negatives. That is how one gets tarnished and Nouri is tarnished.
In November, a deal was brokered and there was resignation on the part of many when backdoor deals allowed Nouri to become prime minister-designate and then prime minister. You've already had Sahwa battling with Nouri (for jobs and payment) for some time. You've got a country which appears -- based upon voting -- to want to unite to some degree. That's what was beyond Iraqiya's win. Even Nouri had to try to run as something other than a secularist in 2010. A secularist just wasn't enough (line between church and state). The people were sick of the zealots that had been elected previously. They were sick of the bickering, they were appalled by the ethnic cleansing on the streets of Iraq in 2006 and 2007. Secularist? That wasn't enough. You had to offer unity with other Iraqis. That's what Iraqiya offered and why they won the most votes. Nouri attempted to ape their strategy but undercut himself (and lost some votes) because while pretending to want a united Iraq with all Iraqis, he was attempting to ban this Sunni candidate or that one, or imprison this Sunni candidate or that one.
But the March 2010 elections had one big takeaway and that was it. The bulk of the Iraqi people (who voted) wanted an Iraq that included all. Which was why the US-backing Nouri's installation was so horrible. The message was clear and the message was ignored and US government officials damn well better remember that before pontificating about 'democracy' in Iraq.

Some of Nouri's Iraqi supporters -- and this was clear in Arab media -- during the long drawn out process began to have second thoughts as they saw his resistance to change and his refusal to put Iraq's interests ahead of his own. This was a thread -- a sub-thread, granted -- developing in Iraq.

To become prime minister, he needed the US nudging the Kurds to back Nouri on his falsification -- the lie that he'd formed a Cabinet which allowed him to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister. This received harsh criticism outside English-language media. You need to put all these negatives together. They're just out they're floating.

And then events start hardening feelings. The waves of bombings that have been going on in Iraq for weeks now -- which today's writers appear unaware of -- go to the lack of security. Which goes back to those earlier feelings and to the fact that Nouri did not form a complete Cabinet. Nouri never named a Minister of Interior, a Minister of National Security or a Minister of Defense. He grabbed all three of those positions himself. These are Iraq's security positions. And Iraq is suffering a wave of bombings, one after the other. The most obvious answer to those bombings? "If we had a Minister of Defense, we'd be secure!" Not only is the post not being filled a reflection on Nouri, his 'temporary' possession of it only adds to that and leads to more blame directed at him.
Grasp for a moment how poorly Nouri comes off. He's prime minister now. Has been since December 21st. That's two months ago. He's prime minister. And he can't name a Minister of the Interior? And he can't name a Minister of Defense? And he can't name a Minister of National Security? These aren't minor posts. Especially with the violence Iraq's seen in the last weeks. So he appears ineffectual and, when the bombs go off, he appears ineffectual and completely to blame.

The writers want to credit Egypt. It's not Egypt.

It's all that and, most improtantly, it's Ned Parker. It's Human Rights Watch. It's Amnesty International.

All three (in the order listed) have been covering Nouri's secret prisons run by his forces. And Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) did so as January wound down. Then Human Rights Watch and then, last week, Amnesty. This wasn't one day. And throughout it all, Nouri and his spokespersons have provided denials. Over and over. On and to Iraqi media. This is not a minor issue in Iraq although that's just a blip to a disinterested west. Iraqis remember secret prisons before the war, remember them throughout Nouri's reign and Nouri's claim in 2010 that they were no more. Many of the demonstrations -- especially the ones featuring attorneys in three cities (Baghdad, Basra and Mosul) but also the spot where the demonstrations kicked off and where demonstrators were attacked by police (Diwaniya) -- have included demands for families to see the prisoners and for attorneys to see them and for speedy trials.
Kevin Charles Redmon (The Atlantic) points out today that it's the abuses of Nouri that are responsible for the unrest and points to Human Rights Watch and the Los Angeles Times (Ned Parker is the reporter on the secret prison stories). He speaks to Human Rights Watch's Samer Muscati who declares, "And if you look at what the Prime Minister said to the Associated Press, calling our report lies, he mentioned that everyone there is either a terrorist or Baathist. There's this sense that it's okay, because these guys aren't even worthy of their rights to begin with." Iraqis do not have a democracy -- they don't even have their own government, they're still occupied -- but they know what they don't want and that's a return to (or continuation of) brutality from the goverment. Their country has been torn apart for eight years and counting and they don't have basic services, and they don't have jobs and now Nouri thinks they're going to look the other way as he mirrors Saddam Hussein's secret prisons? Not a chance. And it is the exasperation and the frustration that is showing up on the streets of Iraq.
Marwan Ibrahim (AFP) reports at least 800 Iraqis have protested today in Falljua and 200 in Kirkuk with calls for jobs and "better basic services" leading the demands which also includ "civil freedoms' and corruption. Ibrahim notes, "Angry Iraqis staged violent demonstrations last summer in several southern cities over power rationing as temperatures reached 54 degrees Celsius (130 Fahrenheit)." DPA adds that signs also carried the message "No to arbitrary arrests." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that, along with Falluja, there was a protest in "the Shiite district of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad. Police also reported smaller protests elsewhere in Baghdad and in several provinces." And especially important is this section of the report:
Some demonstrators shouted, "Down with al-Maliki," referring to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Others carried banners saying, "No for dividing Iraq, yes for its unity" and "No for sectarianism, yes for unity, down with al-Maliki's governments." Still others said, "No restriction on freedom of expression, no for random detentions and raids, no for corrupted (politicians) and thieves," and "We demand better basic services -- electricity, oil and improving the food rations."
Again, the big message from the March 2010 elections was that Iraqis who voted wanted to see their country united as one. And, as we noted Saturday, the refusal to listen to a native people explain why they are doing something, the desire to instead impose your own narrative on them is xenophobia. Iraqis are just as smart as Americans or any other people in the world. If they're saying, "I'm doing this because ____," try listening. It may not fit your preconceived notions but the reason for that is that they are describing what they feel, not what you feel.
Recommended: "Iraq snapshot"