women and 'ladies'

sherry e-mailed to ask for a favor. she said she knows c.i. doesn't like to have 'a truest statement' of the week at the third estate sunday review but if there was any way ('your long, long friendship?') that i could get something from 'And the war drags on . . .' included, could i? could i please try?

sherry, i will try. no promises. c.i. really hates, hates getting 'truest.' if it helps any, liza also wrote me to say how much c.i.'s entry spoke to her. i think it's due to the fact ...

this is probably going to be my topic. i'll include a highlight or 2 but this will probably be my topic. i just realized that.

the reason the entry resonates (and it resonated with me) goes to the fact that women are not using their power. for every c.i., we've got a dozen gail collins acting foolish, weak and simpering. c.i. stands at full height. there's no cowering.

that is an amazing post. it's a short 1 as well. that was my fault because i had problems with blogdrive and had c.i. on the phone for an hour and half trying to figure out what was going on. (it was blogdrive's problem. they've finally fixed it.)

and c.i. was just so tired. i said, 'i'll stay on the phone with you.' because i knew c.i. just wanted to crawl into bed. so c.i.'s on the phone with me and going through the e-mails trying to figure out what to write. there's a highlight (the 1 that opened the piece) and it's from a member who doesn't highlight that often. he said he wasn't clear about the column but he wanted to like it - really wanted to - but kept not.

so c.i.'s trying to read the column and starts talking to me and i'm hearing the keyboard tap-tap-tap. and i really didn't say anything for the longest and finally c.i. asks, 'is something wrong?' i said, 'no. i'm just amazed and hope you wrote about what you were just saying on the phone.' c.i. played it off noting 'i'm tired, i'll write anything just to get to bed.'

but i've read it 3 times and it really is amazing.

a man is writing against the illegal war and then saying that war is what a nation is about and blah, blah, blah. your typical masculinist b.s.

and i went to common dreams today (where it posted) to see if anyone called him out on his sh*t.

you've got what appears to be a lot of men dickering back and forth over the number of dead iraqis. not 1 person leaving a comment bothered to call the writer out on his nonsense that war is a natural part of a nation.

it's not natural. nor is it natural for a man or a woman to make that claim.

but the writer's carrying around a lot of baggage and he unloads it on the readers who may think that is the way it is.

it's not. and if women won't call this crap out, the world's never going to be any better.

i'm sure the mud flap gals had a ton to offer yesterday on push-up bras, how the latest van fair cover is a set back for women's rights and what their weekend bar plans were.

but there is a war going on. there's 1 going on in iraq, obviously, and there is a war going on for public understanding.

women who whine that they aren't taken seriously as columnists might want to examine their output because most are too busy trying to be 'cute' in print or they're coming on all soft and dew-eyed.

where are the strong women who will call this crap out? who will call this illegal war out and call out any man who tries to suggest that war is natural.

c.i. noted that this 'natural characteristic' is not true of every nation and that if you're going to argue that is, you have to then argue that peace making would be a natural characteristic of nations because when war's end, peace has to be made in most cases.

but these men today come on with their heavy hitter attitudes and women play meek and stupid. i'm sick of it.

if there's a female columnist worth reading (which would mean that their column generates more than a smile), let me know. there's robyn blumer (hope i spelled that right) and i used to see her online but she's not in any paper i read. she does write strong.

but there are far too many gail collins and ruth conniffs.

it amazes me that women will not engage in this topic when they have the position to do so. it amazes me that they would rather turn out superficial chatter about the elections where they try to make jokes. women are stereotyping themselves in those columns. they are saying, 'i can't handle big ideas but i can be bitchy. watch, i'll be bitchy here!'

i have no problem with being bitchy. i'll use the word. and i'll apply it to myself.

but i think i have that and other things to offer.

and i also think i can turn bitchy onto some very important topics.

but the 'lady' columnists all seem to be attempting to win the title of most beautiful on campus and limit themselves to beauty queen platitudes.

if you're not angry as the illegal war gets closer to the 5 year mark, and you're an adult, that's pretty sad.

promoting her amazing new book, the terror dream, susan faludi has been sharing a story about how on 9-11 a (male) journalist called her for a reaction for his story and he tells her after that 9/11 is the death of feminism.

because in the face of mass brutality, apparently, feminism goes shrieking for cover.

men can't kill feminism. please, they've tried to in earlier generations.

but women can clamp down on it, they can slow it. (it's a revolution and it won't be stopped.)

they can do that by refusing to be a feminist, obviously. (think of all the women who've said, 'i'm not a feminist but ...')

and part of the refusal to be a feminist is refusing to tackle the big subjects because, believe it or not, war is very much a feminist issue.

women are always targeted in wars. they are victims of sexual assualts, they see their rights destroyed. they see their families destroyed.

and if their families include children of their own, they have to struggle to feed and care for those children in the middle of a war.

they also take up arms. some join the military, some join a resistance.

but there's no indication of that in the bulk of the 'ladies' columing or blogging today.

in 10 or so years, women will be whining that they aren't (still aren't) invited to the chat & chews as guests to talk about the 'big topics.' well some of that fault lies with women who think it's more important to be 'cute' than to risk some 1 calling you a bitch or anything else if you don't smile or, heaven forbid, if you actually show your anger.

anger and brains remain the 2 things that our 'ladies' of the press run from.

and it's really disgusting.

women are serious all over the world and that includes in this country.

but most of the 1s who are given a platform or create 1 for themselves are too damn busy being likeable and writing silly little pieces on silly little topics and, in doing that, they hurt all women because by refusing to use their positions to show how strong we are, they re-inforce that we're not capable of addressing the serious subjects. they say we're a 'niche thinker.'

sherry wondered how c.i. could write like that?

i can answer specifically because i was on the phone while that was written. to a degree, c.i. is telling the truth about something had to go up and c.i. just wanted to get to bed. no question. that is true to a degree.

but it's also true that c.i. doesn't give a f**k about being 'likeable' or considered 'cute' or 'loved.'
it's not about a 'fan club' or anything like that. it's about making those moments count to the best of your ability. and c.i. can hit harder than any 1.

i remember a moot court excercise (is 'excercise' the right word?) in college. if i've told this story before (i don't think i have) forgive me. but it applies. c.i. was on a group with a bunch of men. they were assigned a position and they had to prepare a friend of the court brief (amicus?) and to present their argument to a mock supreme court and take questions from the jury. the issue, by the way, was religion. it was about allowing religion in school.

i think most of you would gather that c.i. firmly believes in a wall between church and state.

but this was the position assinged. there was 1 lefty male and the rest were centrists and they were all against the position they were supposed to argue from. c.i. was as well but this was an excercise (project) they were being graded on.

the men used the fact that they weren't for the position they'd been assigned to claim they couldn't do the research. so c.i. ends up stuck with that and going through all these legal cases. then the man who is supposed to write the brief bails out.

c.i. writes the brief. there are now 3 people on the team. c.i. and 2 men. 1 of the men is supposed to type and present it. he types it. he mis-types it. the typing was a joke and the brief is wrecked. the man did that on purpose (i believe) because he didn't like the side they'd been assigned. before the arguments are supposed to take place, he bails.

i'm there because c.i. and i were going to a rally right after and we were going to leave together. so i'm thinking when is this going to end. and noting that c.i. is getting up and making the argument.

and doing an incredible job. the 'supreme court' was against it. they were for a wall.

but c.i. chipped away at them enough to get it down to a 5 to 4 vote at the end (5 in favor of the wall). it was amazing to watch because c.i. is for a wall between church and state but c.i. gave an incredible argument. i can think of 3 examples that really drove the point home. (i won't point them out because i won't give the 'vangicals' ammo for their next fight.)

but all 9 of the 'justices' were big liberals. and c.i.'s argument managed to chip away 4.

by the way, i should note that the side wanting to end the wall, the 1s who weren't friends of the court, gave a dull presentation and didn't know their facts when the justices questioned them. nothing threw c.i. c.i. was pulling cases out 1 after the other. 'yes, but the ___ court found ...'

it was just amazing.

afterwards, we were headed to the rally. (we didn't even wait for the decision.) and i was honestly thinking c.i. must believe in that argument because c.i. made it (and did so wonderfully). c.i. cleared that up for me and said, 'becky, that was the side i was assigned. i'm not going to stand there and do it half-assed.'

and i always think about that when i'm reading the common ills and thinking, 'did c.i. just say that?'

c.i.'s writing about things that are believed in, obviously. but it's the same 'i'm not going to do it half-assed.' the war hawks hit hard and c.i. can hit back just as hard. c.i. doesn't cower.

ava was telling me about 'outreach thursday.' that's what she's calling it. 7 military officers (lowest ranking a major, highest ranking a lt. general) wrote in to scream at c.i. for things at the common ills. the major was whining about something 1 and 1/2 years ago (when c.i. was told about it, c.i. said, 'that was a front page story on the new york times, on a sunday in the summer of 2006). he didn't provide a link, he didn't say when it went up, he just wanted to whine.

they were all saying 'you need to watch it or you will blow your credibility.'

maybe that's what the 'ladies' worry about?

c.i. doesn't give a damn.

and doesn't have to because c.i.'s been proved right far too many times. (most recently on the refugees which was a topic that men and women of the left and 'left' sat out on. too afraid to make a call in case this was for real.)

c.i. writes at the common ills the same way as when speaking to a group of students (or other groups). ideally, others will be talking. these days, that's not very difficult. in the earlier days, it was, c.i. will tell you, standing in front of a group of students and speaking for 30 minutes before it could become a conversation. that had to do with people being hyped and with people waiting for leaders to tell them what to do.

but c.i. gives these amazing speeches and never knows where it's going. they aren't written out. there's not a stump speech. c.i.'s speaking (and happiest if it only takes 5 minutes to start the conversation) and looking at the reactions and tailoring it to that.

on fridays, i get to go along. they're hitting middle schools and high schools in my state. and i've learned a lot and can now do it. it's really freeing to just speak your mind without notes.

i'm the type of person who feared speaking in college. elaine and c.i. would have to say, 'rebecca, we need you to speak' to get me to. (and i would.) but for classes and everything else, i needed my index cards from a speech that i had written out and practiced in front of the mirror for hours.

i'm not putting down professional speakers who are good and do it that way. good for them.

but a lot of so-so speakers exist. and maybe it's time they freed themselves.

i think in their case, they're too worried about how they come off and not the topic at hand. 'will they like me?'

and i see that approach in too many 'ladies' writing today.

if you talk to ava, she'll speak about how she's doing this because she wants the illegal war to end. it's the same as with c.i. there's no vanity there. there's no, 'does my hair look good? do you have a brush?' (c.i. doesn't even carry a brush on the road, or a blow dryer. nor does ava. and their hair, fyi, does look fantastic.) they hit the road each week, go all over the country, speak to students, women's groups, active duty service members, and many other people. and it's about the war.

it's taken me forever to grasp to that in my life.

c.i. is some 1 who would never answer the phone unless you begged. when we were in college and shared an apartment (elaine, c.i. and i). the phone could ring forever. if something was planned for that day, c.i. might pick it up. otherwise c.i. would ignore it. c.i. hated talking on the phone. and if it was some stupid class excercise of 'speak for 5 minutes to introduce yourself,' c.i. could be very, very uncomfortable.

if it was a party, c.i. could go through the entire closet looking for something to wear. you'd go into the room see everything that had been in the closet on the floor. but if it was about our earlier illegal war or something political, it didn't matter. 'you've got a stain on __' whatever. c.i. didn't care.

and if some 1 was angry and pissed because they were pro-war, c.i.'s attitude would always be, 'it's not about me, it's about the war.'

i think too often we, women, see it as about us.

i think we silence ourselves too often because we're afraid we won't be liked or likeable.

we're conditioned to expect the judgement and we're conditioned to seek the approval.

and i think some of us (and you can include me on that list for many years) can't draw the line.

'it's about the work.' i've heard that from c.i. over the years more times than i can count. negative attacks never bothered or left a blow. c.i. would always say, 'at the end of the day, they don't know me.' and i know that has to do with growing up in a press family and being able to draw a line between what appeared in a paper and what was reality.

there's a story i want to tell here that really points this out but i think c.i. would be upset.

i'll try to do it without making the point obvious. c.i. came from a political family and was expected to be political.

before c.i. could vote, c.i. was making speeches. c.i.'s mother had a scrap book of some of these things. and when i met her, she showed me the scrap book and it was fun to look through it (i don't think c.i. looks through it - i know c.i. didn't back in the day.) but there was a newspaper clipping from 10th grade in high school, i believe it was 10th grade, and c.i. was speaking a week or 2 before an election to a nursing home. c.i.'s surrounded by these 2 well groomed, boring looking high school boys.

c.i. hated that picture and it was the only time c.i. ever paid attention to personal press. (this story was told to me by c.i.'s mother.) it was raining and c.i. was rushing to get there. so c.i. shows up in a sweater. think about it, think about being caught in a rain downpour. obviously your hair gets wet but think about why you wouldn't want to be caught in a downpour in a sweater. most women will get what i'm saying.

so the picture runs and c.i. looks great in it. but c.i.'s ticked off. (think about it, you'll know why.) and c.i.'s attitude is that it's ridiculing the politics by running what is now a cheesecake photo (due to the downpour making the sweater soaking wet). c.i.'s uncle says, 'it's a sexy photo and that's why it ran. it had nothing to do with you. they just wanted an eye catching photo that would make people stop a second and not just turn the page.'

and that's what it was. but c.i. had been really bothered by the photo (because c.i. doesn't try to trade on sex and the photo seemed to imply otherwise). when c.i.'s uncle explained it that way, it wasn't an issue for c.i. anymore. and that's why c.i. has never made a point to read the press. or even look at the photos. because that moment brought home that it never has anything to do with you. it has to do with a paper or a magazine trying to sell copies, it has to do with a program trying to up their audiences.

i spent the bulk of my adult life worrying what people thought. afraid i might not be liked.

take my mother-in-law. we are tremendous friends now. we are so close. but when flyboy and i were married the 1st time, she hated me. she will tell you that herself.

now part of it is that a 2nd marriage makes it clear that this is more than just a passing thing, true. but it's also true that i stopped caring.

c.i. would tell me not to let it bother me. i would want to work out an understanding with my mother-in-law and basically grovel. (c.i.'s mother and my mother-in-law were very close friends.) even though i knew c.i. had a good take on the woman (they get along very well and always have), it didn't matter, i just wanted to be liked. i wanted so badly to be liked that i was about 8 million different people, all of them trying so hard to please.

when my marriage to flyboy ended, it was just a disaster for me personally. and i went through a very dark phase. for those who don't know, i was pregnant and the fetus was not going to live a normal life or a long life. i made the decision to have an abortion and that was the right thing to do but it really did a number on me. while i don't regret the decision and while i think it was best for the fetus, it was hard because i had a long history of miscarriages and always wanted to have a child. so after the abortion, i just didn't give a damn.

flyboy and i had both been playing roles - even while the marriage was collapsing.

and it was only after that darkness that i really found myself. or at least my strength.

so it's not that my mother-in-law mellowed or anything like that. it's that i finally grew up and realized my role in life was not to spend every hour figuring out how to please others. or that the world didn't end because some 1 said they didn't like me.

so when i'm criticizing the 'ladies,' understand i was 1 of them. i was obsessed with not being controversial, with blending and being likeable.

and throughout all of that, i wasn't being me because i was being 8 million other people.

my story has a happy ending. after i started being myself, i went through my dark phase. i slowly started dating. and flyboy and i ended up dating (after c.i. nudged him) and then we ended up married again. now, finally, i have a child and that was so wonderful because i thought i was too old and with my history of pregnancies ...

all of that's great and wonderful and, i would argue, it all comes from letting go. i didn't need to hold my power and hide it. i didn't need to hide myself. when i stopped hiding who i was, when i stopped thinking my life ended if some 1 didn't like me or didn't like what i wore or didn't like, heaven forbid, something i said, i finally started feeling not just like an adult but like a developing person.

i think i would have been a very loving mother back then. i think i would have given love. that is important. i think i also would have been very damaging because i would have passed on my need to please. i would have instilled it in my child.

i think women need to work to break this conditioning that so many of us suffer from.

at the end of the day, it's not about you. it's never about you.

unless you make it about you because you're either scared of who you are or may be.

we need to accept our power. we need to acknowledge it and let it go. not let it go in the sense of being weak. but let it go in the sense that it is power. it is our power. let it out, release it and watch it grow. when we free ourselves by being ourselves, we're even stronger and we're also happier.

i'm tired and elaine just asked me, 'how long have you been writing?' forever! so let me cheat and do links this way:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, December 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the Canadian parlaiment's December 11th hearings on war resisters approach, IVAW's Justin Cliburn speaks in Dallas Sunday, Buzzy and Cookie remain brothers but one is now unemployed (don't cry, Blackwater will probably officially hire him now), bombings in Iraq get some media attention and more.

Staring with war resistance. November 15th, Iraq War resisters
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey learned that the nation's Supreme Court would not hear their appeals. As a result, the focus is now on getting the Canadian Parliament to address the situation. On December 11th, the parliament will hear testimony from war resisters. Dustin Langley (Workers World) notes Hinzman's statements on the illegal war, "They said there were weapons of mass destruction. They haven't found any. They said Iraq was linked to international terrorist organizations. There haven't been any links. This was a criminal war. Any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity." Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:

Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):

In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.

Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at
Culture Project -- that's ten more days -- and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $41.. The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

IVAW's South Central Region Coordinator
Justin Cliburn will be speaking this Sunday in Dallas, Texas at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Raible Chapel (4015 Normandy Avenue, Dallas, TX 75205) at 10:30 am. Cliburn served in Iraq (2005-2006) and this event is free and open to the public.

In yet another sign of the failures of the puppet government,
Eric Westervelt (NPR's Morning Edition) reports that the health ministry does not have a program to care for the wounded civilians or even to track how many there are. The illegal war hits the five-year mark in March. Puppet of the occupation Nouri-al Maliki and his initial cabinet were all in place by May of 2006. And there is no system in place to track the wounded let alone to treat them. Westervelt tells of 36-year-old, father of five Majid Hameed -- a victim of a bombing targeting his work place in March 2004 that left him burned and then, lack of treatment, left him with gangrene in both hands which spread and his arms were amputated to "just above the elbow" who must now attempt to provide for his family by hawking "trinkets" on the streets of Baghdad. He had been a blacksmith and a security guard prior to the bombing. The failed system really depends on international aid. Westervelt doesn't make that point but that is what's going on. Just as, in the US, Wal-Mart doesn't provide for their employees and expects government services to subsidize them, the Iraqi government leaves it to the NGOs to 'handle' the situation. Hammed got the run around at the various government ministries, a private organization told him they would need both medical and police reports to treat him and the police station refused to assist him with those forms while the local council "laughed at me saying, 'We don't give letters to disabled people confirming they were hit by a car bomb. We know nothing about it. This is not our business'." It's no one's business because the failed puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki is not one that serves Iraqis. Why should the puppets show interest in the Iraqi people when the US government never has?

Big Oil's enable Iraq Development Program is announcing "positive signs" in Iraq's economy and sourcing it to Bayan Jubur al-Zubaydi (Iraq's Minister of Finance). It's silly nonsense from a silly 'organization' that quotes the minister stating "the new budget allocated $10 billion dollars to subsidise ration card items and the salaries of government employees and pensioners." Yes, we are back to the subsidies. Note the amount. How much of that alleged ten billion goes to saleries? It's worth pondering because Reuters reports Abdul Falah al-Sudany (Iraq's Trade Minister) asserts that the massive reduction in subsidies that will kick in next month stem from a request for "$7 billion in next year's budget to distribute 10 basic items but received only $3 billion." If both officials are telling the truth that would mean seven billion dollars was required to pay the puppet government. That's a big payroll (especially when government workers make so little that IDP is trumpeting the fact that they've been granted income tax waivers) especially when you consider that "more than 60 percent of Iraq's population rely on the rations." Actually, that's the candied number, United Nation's agencies were estimating it was 80 percent and that was before the vast refugee (internal and external) began. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) explains, "The system under which all Iraqis are issued ration cards allowing them to buy 10 items -- sugar, flour, rice, powdered milk, cooking oil, tea, beans, baby milk, soap and detergent -- for a nominal fee". The issue isn't money, the issue is the White House's lust for privatization that led to a tag sale in Iraq. It's nothing but the (PDF format warning) same crap the US has been pushing for some time in the name of "economic rehabilitation and reform for Iraq." This despite the fact that Steven Mann, Paul Bremer's boy, was more interested (November, 2003) in "Building the market structure that promotes private business." In September 2003, the United Nations' World Food Programme was sounding alarms over the crisis in Iraq and noting, "Any significant disruption of the public distribution system would have a severe negative impact on food access." That was 2003. Things have not gotten better and anyone who has trouble grasping that can just focus on the numbers then for external refugees (100,000) and internal ones (200,000). Both categories are now in the millions (and combined account for over 4 million people). The food program is not 'less needed' today, it's more needed.

But the tag sale on Iraq is more important to the puppet government which works for the US government which -- apparently -- works for big business. Hence,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "UPI is reporting Iraq's Oil Ministry is preparing to sign deals for the country's largest oil fields even though the Iraqi government has failed to pass an Iraq oil law. BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips and other oil companies are all attempting to win contracts in Iraq. Executives from BP and Shell are expected to be meeting soon with Iraq's Oil Minister. Under Iraqi law, the Oil Ministry can sign service contract deals on its own. But any production-sharing contracts would need parliamentary approval." This follows Selina Williams reporting (for MarketWatch) earlier this week that BP PLC and Royal Duth Shell PLC were to meet Wednesday with Hussein al-Shahristanti (Iraqi oil minister) for oil discussions. UPI's Ben Landon offers "Big Oil's big dreams are close to coming true as Iraq's Oil Ministry prepares deals for the country's largest oil fields with terms that aren't necessarily what companies were hoping for but considered a foot in the door of the world's most promising oil sector." Now who could have added additional strong-arming on that? Has any US official recently visited Iraq?

Robert Gates holds the title of US Secretary of Defense. Spinning the illegal war apparently comes under his job description (and comes naturally but who other than
Robert Parry stepped up to call the nomination out when it mattered?). Gates has left Iraq after his photo-op. Thom Shanker (New York Times) quotes Gates declaring he was "encouraged" and that he was "feeling very good abou tthe direction of things in the security arena". Gates was greeted with bombings and bombings continued through his brief stay. Of course, bombings followed his exit. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A suicide woman wearing an explosive belt detonated herself among the civilians near the center of the local committees in Al Mu'alimeen nieghborhood in Muqdadiyah town east of Baquba city around 9,30 am. 16 civilians were killed in the explosion (8 men, 5 women and 3 children) and 27 others were wounded (19 men, 4 children, 2 Sahwa members and 2 women)." CNN, citing the police, identifies the bomber as Suhaila Ali and notes the bombing "took place outside a building that hosts meetings for local members of a so-called awakening council, whose members are opposed to al Qaeda and have formed an alliance with U.S. and Iraqi forces. . . . More than half of the dead and wounded in Friday's bombing were members of the awakening council, the Interior Ministry said." CBS and AP note that two of Suhaila Ali's sons "were killed by Iraqi security forces" and quotes Ibrahim Bajalan ("head of Diyala provincial council") stating, "She wanted to avenge the killing of her two sons." Alaa Shahine (Reuters) pieces together the immediate lead up to the bombing, "Witnesses said a woman walked up to the building, in a street full of shops, and began asking questions. She detonated the vest she was wearing when people out shopping before Friday prayers began gathering around her." UK's In The News notes, "In April the town was hit by another female suicide bomber who killed over 12 people at a police recruitment centre." The Belfast Telegraph observes it was "the second [attack] in the space of 10 days carried out by female suicide bombers." That refers to a November attack summarized then by M-NF as: "A female suicide bomber detonated an explosive laden suicide-vest, wounding seven U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi citizens in Baqubah, Nov. 27." That was only one of the bombings in the Diyala Province. AFP informs, "Hours later, a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into an army checkpoint at the nearby town of Al-Mansuriyah, killing 10 people and wounding eight, among them soldiers and members of another Awakening group, security officials said." Alaa Shahine (Reuters) places the death toll at 10 ("seven Iraqi troops and three members of a local neighbourhood patrol") and eight injured. New York Times' Cara Buckley (at the company's International Herald Tribune) notes that the "three volunteers . . . had been working with the U.S. forces." CBS and AP note that two bombings were "about 10 miles apart". Cami McCormick (CBS News) interviews the newly returned to Fort Hood Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team who had been stationed in Diyala for fifteen months.

McCormick: Many say they were stunned by how dangerous their deployment became.

Spc. Cory Barton: I'd always heard from the guys that had been previous deployed and, you know, family members and friends that had been deployed before, they'd always tell me about the major hot spots -- like Falluja, Najaf, Baghdad, Mosul and places like that -- I've never heard anything about Baquba and then when we touched down, we touched ground in there and it was like an epiphany.

McCormick: It was scary?

Barton: Oh, it was a bad dream.

It's not 'safer' in Iraq. In other violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that today two police officers wounded in a Baghdad gun battle and Jabbar Khalaf ("chief of Rabi'aa police station") was shot dead in Mosul along with 4 other police officers and that yesterday a farmer was shot dead outside Kirkuk, 1 Beshmarga Kurdish force intel officer was wounded (by "a pistol with a silencer) while 1 person was shot dead in Kirkuk and another wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

If you missed it, it was time for the laughable Nation magazine to do another editorial on the illegal war. Why they bothered is anyone's guess. They accepted (without question) the bulk of the spin regarding the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk. By contrast, the US
Socialist Worker demonstrates needed common sense in their "Editorial: 'Mission Accomplished' again?" noting: "A new U.S. war lie -- concocted by the Bush administration, endorsed by the Democrats, embraced by the mainstream media -- has been deployed to justify continuing the occupation in Iraq. The claim is that the Bush 'surge' of 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq worked -- and is, at long last, bringing 'peace' and 'stability.' . . . . But lurking behind the hype is a different reality -- one that reporters working in Iraq readily admit. A Pew Research Center poll of U.S. reporters working in Iraq found that '[n]early 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit' -- and that many believe U.S. media 'coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict'." As the editorial notes, imperialism is a bi-partisan goal with Republicans and Democrats embracing one another from across the aisle. Which is why CBS and AP's bulletin should come as no surprise: "Democrats controlling Congress sent the most explicit signals yet on Thursday that they are resigned to providing additional funding for the war in Iraq before Congress adjourns for the year." They're preparing to cave again. And as CBS reports that $1 billion in equipment is missing in Iraq. There for-show stunt that found US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claiming they woulnd't budge has collapsed. As the Socialist Worker concludes, "The bipartisan Washington establishment is rallying around the consensus that the surge worked because it provides the excuses for continued occupation. Opponents of the war need to expose this new war lie -- and insist that life in Iraq will only really improve when the U.S. gets out."

And those enlisting to assist don't just include The Nation but also NPR. As
Ruth noted yesterday, the public radio network "did 'investigative journalism' . . . They discovered that the American people have lost interest in ending the illegal war. How did they unearth this questionable claim? They spoke to Congressional staffers. They spoke to staffers of Congress members, the same Congress that has refused to end the illegal war. It is truly a shock, at least to NPR, that said staffers might lie to take the heat off the people who sign their pay checks." NPR's Day to Day wants you to believe that "Iraq has become less of an issue in the presidential campaign." They need you to believe it having offered a two-hour Democratic presidential hopefuls 'debate' this week where, despite the US being engaged in a war, the 'moderators' never asked about the Iraq War. As noted in Wednesday's snapshot, that 'reality' is far from reality: "In fact the latest poll found it the issue most noted by respondents -- you could take the second and third most cited issues (economy and healthcare), add them together and Iraq would still outrank them. But the media has lost interest. Add another poll to the mix. Faye Fiore (Los Angeles Times) reports on the Los Angeles Times - Bloomberg News poll which found, "Nearly six of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does." Was the illegal war "worth it"? All poll respondents state no by 60%, respondents from homes "with active military/vets" said no by 57% and homes "with military in Iraq/vets" said no by 60%. Translation: America says the illegal war was not worth it. To anser the Clash's musical question -- "Should I Stay or Should I Go" -- 23% polled said bring them home "right away" (21% for homes with active military/vets and 27% for homes with military in Iraq/vets) while 41% say bring them home "within next year" (37% and 42% in the previous breakdown). Bring the troops home? 64% say YES! It's only in the lame media that wants to pretend the issue is no longer an issue. And of course the media includes some on the 'left' because you can't pimp the war supporter Barack Obama so hard and still call for an end to the illegal war. (LAT piece is also at Common Dreams.)

Turning from the mercenaries in Congress to the mercenaries of Blackwater. When last we checked in on Buzzy and Cookie (
November 19th snapshot), Howard Cookie Krongard was remaining the US State Dept's inspector general but stated he was going to remove himself from pretending to provide oversight of Blackwater due to the fact that his brother A. B. Buzzy Krongard serves on the advisory board of Blackwater. Previously, Cookie had tried to deny that Buzzy was working with Blackwater, deny in a Congressional hearing, but admitted it was true after requesting a break. Despite Cookie's claims, Buzzy told Scott Shane (New York Times) that he had told his brother he was on the advisory board "a few weeks ago." In an update, Reuters reports today that Cookie has announced he will resign from the State Department. Jeremy Scahill (Common Dreams) provides an update on the latest to do with Blackwater and he will be back on Democracy Now! next week to discuss the latest regarding the mercenaries (I believe Monday). Scahill concludes in his latest piece: "In short, Blackwater is moving ahead at full steam. Individual scandals clearly aren't enough to slow it down. The company's critics in the Democratic-controlled Congress must confront the root of the problem: the government is in the midst of its most radical privatization in history, and companies like Blackwater are becoming ever more deeply embedded in the war apparatus. Until this system is brought down, the world's the limit for Blackwater Worldwide--and as its rebranding campaign shows, Blackwater knows it."