single white female

thursday night, flyboy and i watched single white female. i hadn't seen in a few years. (i think i've written about it here before.)

no offense to bridget fonda - who's a good actress - but she's really a priss in it.

i was rooting for heddy. i always love jennifer jason leigh in every thing she does. however, i never really was on her side in this film. but they really are evil to her in ways i hadn't noticed.

you've got steven weber, for example, talking to bridget about how they can 'smoke' heddy out of the apartment.

bridget and stevo are supposed to get married at the start of the film. his ex-wife calls and she hands him the phone but hears the ex-wife tell him that he can't keep coming over and sleeping with her. so bridget breaks it off. since they're not getting married and her big client screws her over (he doesn't want to pay her fee), she takes in a roomate, heddy.

the 1st thing heddy asks her, before she moves in, is for bridget to promise that she won't get back together with sam because she doesn't want to move in and then have to move out.

so bridgget breaks her word there.

then she's engaging with sam in talks about getting her out of the apartment. oh she scoffs and all but she's egging him on. she's flirting with him and egging him on.

then she plays little pathetic with graham, her friend that lives above them.

'oh poor me, oh poor me.' that's not a quote just how she plays it. she's really manipulative.

and it's there when she's telling heddy she has to move out and adding, 'we'll still be friends' no, they won't. she's already made that clear to every 1 but heddy.

yeah, heddy goes nuts and kills steven and beats up graham. but let's not pretend like crazy heddy just went off. there were reasons for it.

i saw it at the movies and have watched it many times before. but it was only this week that bridget really came off like a little priss.

at 1 point, and this is something i didn't really notice until this week, bridget has sam over and they're screwing and she doesn't worry about heddy hearing or being uncomfortable. then later, she wakes up and she hears the bed springs of heddy's bed. so she goes out of her room, leaving steven asleep in bed, walks down the hall, and spies on heddy.

heddy's masturbating.

now i usually focus on the look on bridget's face and trying to figure out how much of a prude her character's supposed to be. she's just appalled that some 1's masturbating.

but what did she think?

does heddy any privacy rights?

apparently bridget thought heddy - from the bed squeaking and heddy's moans - had a man in there with her. so what business was that of bridget's?

to really feel sorry for bridget you have to buy that her character is a little princess who every 1 else must serve and no 1 has a right to any privacy or happiness except bridget. (and that's not the 1st time bridget spies on heddy - when she catches her masturbating.)

so that's interesting.

now i think bridget's a great actress and think she's wonderful in that film. (though i think her best performances are in jackie brown, singles, and that film with russell crowe that i'm forgetting the name of.) but there really is no 1 in a class with jennifer jason leigh.

she's in a class all by herself. like her generation's marlon brando.

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

Friday, October 8, 2010. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Nouri announces who he says will be president of Iraq, the prime minister position is still up for grabs (though Nouri acts as if it's his), Baghdad learns to utilize phantom stockers in grocery stores, Cindy Sheehan explores the US government attack on peace activists, and more.
Administrations love to and live to demonize those who don't agree. For the Bully Boy Bush administration, one of their biggest targets was former US Ambassador Joe Wilson who had been sent, in 2002, on a fact-finding mission to Niger to determine whether there was any evidence supporting rumors (from Iraq's thug community then in exile but soon to be ruling and ruining Iraq) that Saddam Hussein had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium (as opposed to Betty Crocker's yellow cake mix) from Niger. Wilson investigated and found nothing to back up the baseless claim. He reported those facts back and was debriefed. It should have ben the end of it. But as much as administrations love to demonize, they also love to lie. So January 28, 2003, Bully Boy Bush gave his Constitutionally-mandated State of the Union speech and declared, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Wilson thought at first that Bush was speaking of another African country but, when he found out it was Niger, he began speaking to reporters (including New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof) on background. And he wrote a column for the New York Times which they published July 6, 2003 entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa."
The White House reaction was swift. They began shopping around to reporters that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA. They weren't lying. She was a CIA agent and they blew her cover and all the overseas operations she'd worked on. Robert Novak was the first reporter to run with it. (Matt Cooper and Judith Miller were among those who also had the story shopped to them.) Plame's cover was blown, the cover of everyone she'd worked with was blown. And you might want to remember that Robert Gates never fretted over that. (A reference to his high drama over WikiLeaks.) What Novak did wasn't a crime. What the White House did was. (And Bully Boy Bush can thank his own father for that. Jake Tapper covered this in 2003, George H.W. Bush's Intelligence Identity Protection Act.) Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame and Sean Penn plays Joe Wilson in the film Fair Game which was screened Wednesday at the MoMA in New York.
The New York Daily News quotes Wilson stating at the screening, "I just came back from Baghdad. And it's a mess. And I would really like to see us talk about why the f--- we're in there. We have 50,000 kids there. What are they doing?" Joe Wilson is -- yet again -- correct. We do need to be asking that question. Instead, we're silent or else repeating the lie that the Iraq War ended. WRAL reports that yesterday came the news Fort Bragg would be deploying troops to Iraq. John Ramsey (Fayetteville Observer) reports over 750 members of the 18th Airborne Corps will deploy in January. News 14 Carolina (link has text and video) adds that this will be the third eployment for the XVIII Airbone Corps. WTVD (link has text and video) notes of the new phase christened "Operation Iraq Freedom," "The new name reflects a change in mission but the danger remains the same."
Yesterday we quoted from a soldier's e-mail that Thomas E. Ricks posted. I hadn't read the post itself (and the quote was read to me over the phone) but we should note that Ricks writes in his post (before the quote) that the Army itself is saying that combat has not ended. There's an interesting comment by Jim Gourley on the post and we're going to excerpt a section of it:
I don't think Obama's statement declaring the end of the war was any less transparent to the initiated than Bush's was. Though the similarity in their specific verbiage of "combat actions" is eerie, I didn't see any articles in the major news sources making remarks to that effect. The greater public should have picked up on the sound of those words coming from Obama's lips like a fire bell in the night, though.
We paid a heavy strategic and operational toll for assuring ourselves things were all wrapped up in 2003. We risk paying a societal toll today.
Others discuss the way media coverage has fallen off regarding Iraq since Obama's proclamation and the footage of units rolling out of the country. That's just the symptom on the surface. The real malady lies beneath, and it's deeply disturbing to me.
By its own admissions, today's network news media chases the audience. Their news content and presentation format is specifically designed to ensure ratings. We can draw an unsettling conclusion from that nature-- the truth about combat activities in Iraq isn't getting covered in the media because the American public doesn't want to hear about it anymore. Perhaps, as Tom notes, the emperor doesn't have any clothes in this case, but the people are more than ready to see the resplendent attire he's put on, and so they do. It seems we only have the capacity to fight one "real" war at a time. If we're going to focus on Afghanistan, then Iraq must become the "forgotten one."
A media critique/dialogue is taking place in the comment thread (absent Keller or "Keller") and one poster (Cow Cookie) is insisting that the media is calling out the White House spin of combat being over. No, it's really not. AP called it out. Some individual journalists for print publications have called it out . . . in interviews they've given (including interviews to NPR -- and also during the international roundtable on The Diane Rehm Show). But it's not called out by most outlets and not repeatedly called out.
Like Bush's 9/11 and Iraq linkage, the spin and the lie is repeated. Barack repeats it himself. Just last week, we were calling out his claim that he has ended the Iraq War. I don't believe anyone's called him out for that lie in the MSM. The publication was Rolling Stone, where Barack insisted, "When I was campaigning, I was very specific. I said, 'We are going to end the war in Iraq, that was a mistake,' and I have done that." That interview was covered by every major news outlet but not one of them covered his lie on Iraq. The Iraq War didn't end. 7 US soldiers have died since he gave that stupid August 31st speech.
More examples? Earlier this week ("It's all a joke to Jamie Elizabeth Stiehm"), we were calling out the idiot at US News & World Reports who 'shared' that the Iraq War was over. Now we could do those entries every day because every day some idiot is penning a column or report claiming the Iraq War is over. We did that entry because a woman e-mailed the public account very upset by Steihm's b.s. (The woman's brother died in the Iraq War and this war that's 'over'? The woman's cousin is serving in the Iraq War right now.)
These false claims are repeated over and over. We usually note most stories on the wounded service members. We ignored the crap the Tennessean served up this week. A two-parter. Do you know how Brandon Gee and Chris Echergaray opened their little story? Here's what two idiots can serve up if they try really hard to whore: "The Iraq war is officially over, but it continues in the heart of Patricia Shaw, who lost her only son."
This is exactly like the 9-11 and Iraq lie. The media would periodically express puzzlement that so many Americans believed this lie -- that the media spat back out over and over. The media was scared -- as a whole -- to correct Bush and they just quoted him. It's the same thing with Barack. And he's giving speeches as these fundraisers right now claiming he's ended the Iraq War. But find the outlets which are correcting him. You can't pick up a paper, turn on a cable chair, without getting a 'report' on Barack's latest fundraiser. But they never find the time to call out the claim. Though some of them are quoting him directly and repeating it.
Though the illegal war has obviously not created a functioning government -- or the desire for one -- it has created the largest refugee crisis in the world. "UNHCR does not consider the security situation in Iraq adequate to facilitate or promote returns. We nonetheless continue to assist refugees who voluntarily express their wish to return, in close coordination with the Iraqi authorities," declared UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming today in Geneva. Flemming noted that a survey of Iraqi refugees had been taken in Syria -- utilizing over 2,000 respondents -- and the majority are not talking return to Iraq. She noted, "A similar survey on the Iraq-Jordan border among some 364 families (representing approximately 1450 individuals) found that none were returning to Iraq permanently." SwissInfo interviews Happy Talker and Low Information Official Walter Kerns of the United Nations.
swissinfo.ch: Before your visit, you called on the Iraqi authorities to end the displacement of people within the country. What specifically is the problem?
W.K.: It was not so much the displacement. After people were forced to flee the violence between religious communities in 2006, the government failed to organise any sort of assembly points – no camps, no collective accommodation. That means that many poorer people squatted on land or in buildings that are publicly-owned. At least there they were slightly protected, but a moratorium on evicting them has been lifted. I appealed for these people not to be thrown out onto the street – that would only make the humanitarian and social problems worse. Instead, let them remain where they are until the government has come up with a solid plan for finding solutions – whether it's allowing them to return or to settle where they are.
swissinfo.ch: Did your appeal work?
W.K.: It didn't fall on totally deaf ears. I had a very long discussion with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was very open to the idea that the relevant ministries should work out a strategy for dealing with these displaced people, including the allocation of land on which they could build houses. From that point of view, I think it was good. There was no assurance that another moratorium on evictions would be announced, but the suggestion wasn't rejected. We'll see.
Walter -- and the outlet -- seem unaware that 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq and that Europe is forcibly evicting Iraqi refugees. Or maybe that's an example of something not falling "on totally deaf ears"?
Yesterday's snapshot noted accusations about the US military coming out of Iraq:
Press TV reports today that the central government or 'government' out of Baghdad is complaining about the American military "moving around the city without being escorted by Iraqi forces, while using Iraqi army uniforms and vehicles as a disguise." Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh is quoted stating, "We Iraqi people cannot accept the presence of foreign troops on our land soldiers, it is crushing the national feeling and that is why we have been happy that the troops are leaving and the balance of the troops is going to diminish next summer."
Last night, Press TV interviewed US journalist Wayne Madsen about the charges and he stated, "The fact that Americans are found to be wearing Iraqi uniforms in Iraqi military vehicles looks like it's a complete, blatant switch tactic where it was announced with much fanfare that the US was ending its combat mission in Iraq, and now we find US troops still engaged in combat missions in Iraqi uniforms." And, as the US government and the Iranian government vie for most influential in Iraq, you better believe Press TV is going to run with this story. Meanwhile, today on Morning Edition (NPR), Peter Kenyon offers an analysis of several factors at play in Iraq including Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman who states, "They tried very hard -- they had Jesh al-Mahdi, but Jesh al-Mahdi didn't behave well, they were not as clever as Hezbollah. But now still they have such a possibility -- that's exactly what they are aiming at. Iran is aiming at making the Sadrists a sort of Hezbollah in Iraq." As Kenyon's report notes, the political stalemate continues.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and one day and counting.
Last Friday, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc was announcing their support for Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister and some wrongly thought it meant end of stalemate. It didn't even mean end of discussion. As the editorial board of the Japan Times observes, "That move could break the deadlock, but it does not mean that a deal is imminent. Considerable horse-trading is still required to form a government. Ultimately, however, there needs to be power-sharing with Mr. Maliki's chief rival, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Failure to do so could result in another outbreak of sectarian violence." This morning,
Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) reports, "In Mr. Allawi's first interview since the Maliki-Sadr tie-up, the former prime minister said he had agreed to restart power-sharing talks with Mr. Maliki that were broken off last month -- but only if all top posts, including who serves as prime minister, are on the table for discussion." Alsumaria TV reports that tribal Sheik Sabah Al Shumari is calling for all parties to speed up the process.
Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes Nouri al-Maliki stating today that Allawi will not be president, "Take it from me in full confidence -- the Kurds will not forgo the position of president and the president will be Jalal Talabani." Earlier, Namo Abdulla (Rudaw) quoted International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann stating, "This may be an issue that is non-negotiable, as long as we're talking about a government made up the State of Law, of Nuri Maliki, and the Kurds and the Sadrists and some other smaller groups." Arraf also notes that Nouri is stating -- oooh!!!! -- that he might -- finally? -- be able to form a coalition next week. At Foreign Policy, Kori Schake offers an analysis which includes:
Which is where the Obama administration's inattention to Iraq, accelerated drawdown of U.S. troops, and appointment of Christopher Hill -- an ambassador without expertise on Iraq -- comes in. These factors combined to reduce U.S. influence at this crucial juncture of Iraq's democratization. U.S. military leaders backed up the administration for far too long, claiming the drawdown would have no effect on Iraq's political landscape. The spike in violence and the withering of political compromise in Iraq these seven months are the result of our declining engagement and the Iraqis' declining confidence in us.

Into this void has now stepped Moqtada al-Sadr, dilettante son of a revered Shi'ia cleric and leader of sustained insurgent activity against U.S. forces. Since the surge pulled the rug out from under his legitimacy through violence approach, he has been in Iran burnishing his religious credentials, garnering support from the Iranian government, and mobilizing his political forces.
Kori Schake is a reserach fellow with the right-wing Hoover Institution. Pay close attention to that critique because it is going to be the Republican critique on Iraq. We noted this in real time back before Hill was confirmed. (For example, see April 5, 2009's "And the war drags on . . .") We noted that the Republicans were lodging their objections on the record and doing so because they couldn't blame the military, that's not what they do. They needed a civilian to blame. And Barack Obama was too stupid to grasp that you don't hand your opponents Chris Hill. Hill was the utlimate stooge, completely unqualified. And the narrative will be that Bush 'won' the Iraq War (false) and Barack screwed it up by appointing Chris Hill (true on the second point). Back then, Republicans in Congress were bragging about how it was setting them up for 2010. Events in Iraq and their own perceived luck in the midterms mean they're now prepping it for the 2012 election. Appointing Chris Hill was a stupid, stupid thing to do. Barack never should have nominated and the Committee shouldn't have passed his nomination onto the full floor. He was completely unqualified, he broke his first promise (on how quickly he'd depart once confirmed) before he even made it to Baghdad, and his 'low energy levels' (people should have read those personnel files) ensured that Iraq -- not a success by any means when he arrived -- would only further unravel. Why is their stalemate? In part because Chris Hill was the US Ambassador to Iraq.
Turning to safety. For this paragraph, dropping back to yesterday's snapshot: A con artist offers you what sounds like a really good deal but there's a qualifier to it, usually something along the lines of, "there's a limited window of time" as they attempt to hurry you into making a risky move. Remember that as you read Leila Fadel's report (Washington Post) about US officials such as the Commerce Dept's Francisco Sanchez leading an Iraq tour and telling business execs, "If you want to really play a role here, you have to be here now." As Fadel points out, "Iraq is ranked fifth from the bottom on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index - tied with Sudan and ahead of only Burma, Afghanistan and Somalia. Iraq's ranking has dropped drastically since 2003." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes Sanchez insisting, "I'm not trying to sugar-coat this but what I am trying to say is, the Iraqi government is sorting through some of these challenges as the physical security increasingly improves. You can't wait for everything to be perfect." Serena Chaudhry (Reuters) notes, "Companies on the mission included Boeing, Bell Helicopter Textron, ICON Global Architectural Engineering and Wamar International." One wonders Sanchez will promise to attend any and all funerals? Probably not. He'll pitch to get American business into Iraq but he'll be busy if and when the funerals roll around. Like most con artists, he'll have moved on to his next mark.
There's our context. There's the US government insisting that US companies need to get started in Iraq because it's good business and safe, and it's safe, and it's safe. (Nod to Bob Hope in My Favorite Brunette.) Today Yasmine Mousa (New York Times' At War) reports on a new Baghdad super market (multi-story supermarket) which is doing big business. There are a few . . . what Sanchez might call 'bugs' to be worked out:
Food and loading trucks are nowhere to be seen, yet the aisles are stocked with kitchen utensils, brands of shower gels and clothing.
"Because of the security situation we have to work like thieves; right before dusk or soon after dawn we hastily carry our merchandise into the store in batches, in saloon cars," said Fareed Sadoun Salih, an employee.
Mr. Rifai added: "We cannot rely on remote suppliers. We purchase from nearby vendors."
Business is good, but the staff members maintain a low profile because their biggest fear is "getting kidnapped." Such is life for anyone with money in Iraq.
And that's the environment that the US Commerce Dept is attempting to send business into. Meanwhile Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad (one shot dead, the other "with signs of torture"). Reuters adds 1 police officer was shot dead in Baghdad "by a sniper" and there was an attack on a river in Basra in which seven security guards were left wounded. The boats were by a prison and, inside the prison, a riot reportedly broke out.
Friday, September 24th FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi co-hosts WBAI's Law and Disorder Radio (9:00 a.m. EST Mondays -- also plays on other stations around the country throughout the week) with fellow attorneys Michael Ratner and Michael Smith and Monday the program explores the raids with guest Jim Fennerty. You can stream the broadcast at Law and Disorder Radio online and, for the next 85 or so days only, at the WBAI archives. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan interviewed activist Jess Sundan for Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox last Sunday.
Jess Sundan: On Friday, September 24th, I awoke to the sound of pounding at my door around seven in the morning. By the time I got downstairs, there were six or seven federal agents already in my house.
Cindy Sheehan: How many?

Jess Sundan: Six or seven.
Cindy Sheehan: [Laughing] Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said 57. Six or seven, that's bad enough.
Jess Sundan: [Laughing] No, I don't think they would have fit if it was that many. But my daughter and my partner were already awake and they showed us the search warrant which allowed them to take - to search and seize my house -- seize things in my house -- including -- I don't know how many boxes they carried out filled with papers and books, CDs, checkbooks, computers, cell phones, my passport, photographs. They spent about four hours here going through everything in our house. And when they left, they not only left a bit of a mess but they left a subpoena for myself and my partner for a grand jury in Chicago.
Cindy Sheehan: And what makes you so dangerous or subversive to national security that they would do that to you?
Jess Sundan: Well I'm an anti-war activist and myself and all the other people who received subpoenas or had their homes raided that day are people that I've worked with for several years on different anti-war campaigns. We also have in common, all of us have a real perspective of international solidarity. Many of us have traveled to other countries and in our anti-war work tried to give voice to those most affected by US policies abroad. So in their search warrant they were specifically looking for evidence that we had given material support to foreign terrorist organizations -- including naming someone from Palestine and someone from Columbia. Most of our subpoenas and search warrants were roughly the same. And they named the Antiwar Committee and we also had our offices searched --
Cindy Sheehan: Of Minneapolis, right?
Jess Sundan: Yeah, that's right. So I think, their real concern is that we've been very effective . And secondly, that we've -- in the anti-war movement -- done good work to break the information blockade, making sure that real stories and pictures come back home to the United States from places where the US is militarily involved.
And we'll note this from the show when Cindy's asked about the legal issues in terms of the grand jury and appearing before it.
Jess Sundan: Well the main things is the grand jury which all of us are very concerned about. A grand jury meets in secret. If you appear before a grand jury, you can't have an attorney with you. There's no one to object if you're mistreated. And if you don't testify, there's a risk of jail time and so we're very concerned. It's a very undemocratic court., you know. Except it's not really a court. None of us have been charged with any crime. A purpose of the grand jury is to investigate possible crimes and see if they can generate enough evidence to make a case against someone. We haven't been told who is the target of the grand jury -- like who they think may have committed a crime or what crimes may have been committed but obviously there whole search warrant was around this material support to foreign terrorist organizations. Any of us that were served on any of these subpoenas, and also some people were named on a search warrant at the Antiwar Committee office in addition to those of us that got subpoenas -- any of us realize that at any time there could be indictments brought against us. We don't know, we don't really know what our legal standing is. So we're working with our attorneys. I know that I myself intend to plead the Fifth [Amendment] which means that I will not testify.
Stephanie Weiner and Joe Ioskaber's home was among the ones raided. Wednesday, Andy Grim (Chicago Tribune) reported that they say "they will refuse to answer questions before a grand jury". Democracy Now! featured the news in headlines and showed Stephanie Weiner stating:
We believe we have been targeted because of what we believe, what we say, who we know. The grand jury process is an intent to violate the inalienable rights under the Constitution and international law to freedom of political speech, association and the right to advocate for change. Those with grand jury dates for October 5th and those whose subpoenas are pending have declared that we intend to exercise our right not to participate in this fishing expedition.
The statement was from a press conference Tuesday. Fight Back! News reports Pastor Dan Dale spoke at the conference noting an interfaith statement people were signing on to: "We are people of faigh and conscience who condemn the recent FBI raids in Chicago as a violation of the constitional rights of the people organizations raided. They are a dangerous step to further criminalize dissent. The FBI raids chisel away and byprass fundamental constitutional rights by hauling activists before grand juries under the guise of national security."
Grand juries were discussed on Law and Disorder Radio this week:
Michael Ratner: Yeah. Jim Fennerty, what people in Chicago are you personally representing and what's their political story? Why do you think they're targets?
Jim Fennerty: Well this is the thing. I was just at the US Attorneys office. I had another case in federal court this morning and the US attorney afterwards -- turns out it's the same attorney on these cases -- and he wanted to talk to me. Basically, so far he has not told me anybody who is actually a target, so we're concerned what that means. Now I've been lied to before when I went down to Florida in the Sami al-Arian case with somebody else who was involved with that. And they said, they couldn't tell me, they couldn't tell me. I get down there, we take the Fifth Amendment and they say, "We're not offering your guy immunity, go home." And then I, you know, a month or two later, he gets an indictment. Under their manual, tecnically, they're not supposed to send out a subpeona in a grand jury for a target unless they get higher authority to do that.
Michael Ratner: Heidi and I were talking about that.
Heidi Boghosian: So let's just explain for our listeners about grand juries a bit. When you talk about a target, you mean an individual who is under suspicion for violating the law.
Jim Fennerty: That is correct.
Heidi Boghosian: But what's happening now is that individuals are being given subpeonas in what we call a fishing expedition to try to get information about other people?
Jim Fennerty: That's what it sounds like now but I -- like I said, that's what they told me but it's happened before where somebody told me something and it didn't actually work out true but that's what I've been told today. Basically, a grand jury in its inception historically, you know, hundreds of years ago, was supposed to be citiznes coming together and determining if charges should be filed criminally against somebody. But what it's become, it's become almost, to me, almost like a rubber stamp for the government because basically what happens is the government, US attorneys, can be inside the grand jury. There's usually around 23 people who are called, citizens, to be at the grand jury and what happens is that the US attorney can be inside, they can ask you questions, you can refuse to answer those questions, but your side never gets told to these 23 people. In other words, your lawyer can't come in there and argue for you and give your side of it. That's why it's, like I said, it's pretty much a rubber stamp for what the prosecutors want and people should be very, very concerned about going there because what you say could be twisted around and you've just got to be very vigilant about what you do. You know, most cases, people can say they don't want to testify at the grand jury, they're going to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights against incrimination. What they could do at a grand jury, they could offer you immunity which is use immunity, it's not total immunity, but what that means is they offer you immunity and then you refuse to testify, you can be taken to a judge, they'll read the question to the judge and then they'll ask you the answer to that question. If you continue to refuse to answer that question, then a judge can hold you in civil contempt and you could be incarcerated for the remaining time of the grand jury.
Heidi Boghosian: And that can be a long time.
Jim Fennerty: Well that can be depending how long the grand jury is sits. But your lawyer can go back periodically and say, "Look it, Judge, this person's been there for three months or whatever and they're not going to testify. They're still not going to testify. So it makes no sense to keep continuing to lock them up." And hopefully you'll get a sympathetic judge for that.
Heidi Boghosian: Because it is -- it is lawful to hold someone in civil contempt, to incarcerate them as a method of coercion --
Jim Fennerty: Correct.
Heidi Boghosian: -- but not as punishment --
Jim Fennerty: Correct.
Heidi Boghosian: -- and that's why we try to argue that it's not doing any good.
And we'll again note this section from the broadcast because activists are being targeted.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, when the FBI knocks, what do you do?
Heidi Boghosian: It is crucial that if anyone listening to this show is contacted by the FBI or if your friends or family members are, that you do not talk to them. You just say, "I would like to consult with my lawyer. May I have your business card? My lawyer will get back to you." Never say anything because anything you say, no matter how seemingly mundane -- answering a question: Do you live here?, Is your name such and such? -- can be used against you in further grand jury proceedings.
Michael S. Smith: Well they can go after you saying that you lied to them. Don't talk to them. Call your lawyer. Call our hotline. Get out a pencil. Heidi, give them the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: If you're visited by the FBI, you can call the NLG's Hotline. It's 888-NLG-ECOL. Or 888-654-3265.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, please repeat the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: The hotline is 888-NLG-ECOL. And how you can remember that is that originally we started this as a hotline for environmental and animal rights activists so it was for ecology. It was Eco Law but we shortened it.
And on Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US," two people e-mailed about getting it in book form. It is available online for free. Some people don't want to read a screen. Some people have problems with PDF files. Some people use public computers -- such as at a library -- where they have limited time to be on them. For those reasons and more (including maybe you want a book to give as a gift), please note that the report is available in booklet form. For all NLG publications, click here. Click on the title you want and they will give you info -- usually it's an e-mail address. It's below five dollars a copy but I don't know the exact price, sorry -- and the cost is strictly for postage and handling.
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Peter Baker (New York Times), Joan Biskupic (USA Today), Michael Duffy (Time) and David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "The Risks and Rewards of Party Purity." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Nicole Kurokawa and Irene Natividad on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online is extra is on cyber bullying. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations: "A report on the jobs situation profiles an unemployed baby-boomer couple and two Millenials; and details a federally funded, temporary jobs program. Included: ex-labor secretary Robert Reich and Sara Horowitz (Freelancers Union) provide perspective." Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Speed Traders
Steve Kroft gets a rare look inside the secretive world "high-frequency trading," a controversial technique the SEC is scrutinizing in which computers can make thousands of stock trades in less than a second.

A collection of his memoirs, mostly from the 27 years he spent in prison, reveal the innermost thoughts of the international civil rights giant Nelson Mandela, whose movement brought down the apartheid regime of South Africa. Bob Simon reports.

CNN's Anderson Cooper profiles the chart-topping rapper from Detroit who overcame addiction to reclaim the winning style that made him the biggest selling artist of the past decade.

60 Minutes, Sunday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

To get a more complete understanding of our current crisis, we need to look at the history of events that led up to it. We need to peer deeply into the inner workings of the Global Banking Intelligence Complex. Without acknowledging and exposing the covert forces that are aligned against us, we will not be able to effectively overcome them.
In the past I have shied away from going too deeply into the details of the intelligence world out of fear of being written off and dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. If I hadn't spent the majority of the past 20 years investigating global financial intelligence operations, I certainly wouldn't believe half of this myself. Given the severity of our current crisis and the imminent devastating implications, I now realize that I must go deeper into covert activities than I publicly ever have. The information I am about to report is very well-sourced and documented, and needs to be covered before we can proceed to exposing present operations.


barack's war on science

barry obama just gets more embarrassing daily.

there's a must-listen report by npr's scott horsley from today's all things considered. it explains that, six weeks in office, barack announced that new rules for the science and scientists would be established (this was in response to bush's attacks on and manipulation of science).

they rolled tape and we got the following from six weeks after barack was sworn in.

Barack Obama: It's about letting scientist like those who are here today do their jobs free from manipulation or coercion and listening to what they tell us. Even when it's inconvenient. Especially when it's inconvenient.

those new rules? 15 months overdue and they're saying it will be published in december at the earliest.

we had another clip of barack speaking in the segment.

Barack Obama: To ensure that in this new administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science, that we appoint scientific advisors, based on their credentials and experience, not their politcs and ideology. And that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions.

as bad as that is, pair it with this report by ari shapiro on today's morning edition.

ARI SHAPIRO: When the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded and sank last April, the government first estimated that a thousand barrels a day were coming out of the leaking well.�Then the number jumped fivefold.�

Now for the first time, we know where that 5,000 barrel a day figure came from.�A preliminary report by the commission investigating the BP spill says a government scientist came up with that figure. And, quote, "There is no indication that the scientist had expertise in estimating deep-sea flow velocity from video data or that he used an established or peer-reviewed methodology."

This report traces many such instances during the spill, where the Obama administration ignored or obscured existing scientific methods and evidence, ultimately giving the public inaccurate information and damaging the government's credibility, according to the report.

In May, BP released a short video clip of the gusher. Independent scientists who had experience measuring oil flow used that video to obtain much higher measurements.�Professor Steven Werely of Purdue University revealed his measurement to NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris on this program.

Professor STEVEN WERELY (Purdue University): 70,000 barrels a day.

RICHARD HARRIS: Plus or minus how much?

Prof. WERELY: Oh, about 20 percent.

SHAPIRO: The White House pushed back hard on those measurements, even though this report says they were far more accurate than the government's figures.�

best science he promises the public but ari's report shows us otherwise. barack said they would listen to what scientists told them and we know that's a lie. and we also know that he wasn't fretting over whether or not the american people felt informed and felt like they could trust the administration.

thank you to wally for his wonderful post last night. we all got a wonderful post and, as a bonus, i ended up with a night off.

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the political stalemate continues and celebrates its 7th month birthday, Nouri is reportedly using Iraq's press organs to promote him as a done-deal, Senator Daniel Akaka wants to be sure surviving spouses of deceased veterans are getting all they deserve, the SIG worries Iraq is prepping for news domination as a result of violence (due to the stalemate), and more.
The Iraq War hasn't ended. A big-to-do was made over a new phase of the illegal war. But now it appears the already laughable to-do was even more fake.
Oh things are gettin' real crucial
Up the old wazoo
Yet you cry, "Why am I the victim?"
When the culprit's y-o-u
What did your mama tell you about lies
She said it wasn't polite to tell a white one
What did your daddy tell you about lies
He said one white one turns into a black one
So, it's gettin' ready to blow
It's gettin' ready to show
Somebody shot off at the mouth and
We're getting ready to know
-- "Skeleton," written by Stevie Wonder, first appears on his album Characters
Press TV reports today that the central government or 'government' out of Baghdad is complaining about the American military "moving around the city without being escorted by Iraqi forces, while using Iraqi army uniforms and vehicles as a disguise." Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh is quoted stating, "We Iraqi people cannot accept the presence of foreign troops on our land soldiers, it is crushing the national feeling and that is why we have been happy that the troops are leaving and the balance of the troops is going to diminish next summer." At Texas Tech yesterday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq, Stuart Bowen, spoke about the Iraq War. Logan G. Carver (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal) reports Bowen does not see an immediate rosy future for Iraq and that he declared, "Iraq will soon be back, I fear on the front pages. Our worst fears could be realized." Anthony Shadid heads the New York Times' Baghdad Bureau and he spoke earlier this week at the University of Central Oklahoma expressing his own worst case for Iraq. Mark Schlachtenhaufen (Edmond Sun) reports, "Iraq is entering a crucial period, which could include a coup triggered by disenchantment and frustation with the political class, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist [Shadid] said Monday." The Iraq War is not over and even those serving in Iraq currently have made it repeatedly clear how insulting they find that press notion, many in the press continue to repeat the spin. Thomas E. Ricks (CNAS) post an e-mail from a soldier who explains that the August 31st speech ending 'combat operations' meant little to nothing. Excerpt:
This message provides clarification on the awarding of wartime awards and badges for Operation New Dawn (OND). Effective 1 Sep 10, OND began signifying an end to combat operations in Iraq. However, combat conditions are still prevalent. Due to the nature of combat conditions, wartime awards will continue to be issued in theater until a date to be determined. Commanders will continue to process retroactive award recommendation through their peacetime chain of command to…"
So, we aren't executing combat operations, BUT we still have combat conditions. In conjunction with this, Hostile Fire Pay (rightly, in my mind) continues to be paid to those serving in Iraq and environs.

October 7, 2010 -- Today marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan War, now the longest war in American history, with 1,321 American service members killed in action, at least 8,000 wounded, tens of thousands of Afghani civilians killed, and over 352 billion of American taxpayer dollars wasted. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), the largest organization of military families to speak out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calls on Senators and Representatives to bring our troops home now and provide the support they need to recover from the wounds of war, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Members of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), and their chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out (GSFSO), will be participating in vigils and actions to mark this day. We are also involved in the launch of a national veteran-led campaign to end the military's widespread practice of deploying wounded troops into war zones. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops will focus on ending the practice of deploying service members suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

One MFSO family member recalls the experience of her cousin who served in the US Marine Corps, and was deployed after 2 tours of duty, including the 2007 troop surge in Fallujah, Iraq, "He wasn't mentally stable enough to return to combat operations in Afghanistan but the Marines deployed him anyway. He had to go because orders are orders. On December 26th 2009
, just two weeks into combat operations in Afghanistan, he killed himself because he couldn't handle the war raging in his head."

How many more lost lives and injured young souls will it take before our Congressional leaders will demonstrate the kind of courage our loved ones in the military show every day? When will Congress stop thinking about political posturing, show the courage to end the war, and allow our surviving troops to heal and recover from this nine-year debacle?

Family members of both the Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans, including many with personal experience of having a loved one deployed while wounded, are available for interview. We will be supporting the IVAW press conference at 1:30pm at Russell Senate Office Building, (Constitution Ave NE, and Delaware Ave. NE) At this press conference, veterans and military family members will testify about their experiences with redeployment and announce the launch of Operation Recovery.

Military Families Speak Out includes over 4,000 military families whose loved ones serve or have served in the military since 2002; it is the largest organization of military families to be speaking out against wars in the history of the United States. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a national chapter of MFSO and includes families whose loved ones died as a result of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. More information about Military Families Speak Out can be found at www.mfso.org; more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out can be found at www.gsfso.org

Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki held talks with US under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns over Iraq government formation." And in a ridiculous attempt to make Nouri look 'powerful,' his administration leaks news of a supposed assassination attempt that was foiled. That many people want Nouri dead would not be surprising. But it's 2010 -- nearly 2011 -- and when you leak news of a 2007 attempt today, you really are reaching. But it's a special day.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months. Seven months, blow out the candles, Nouri.
Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes, "Al-Maliki is believed to have made enormous concessions to the Sadrists in order to lure them into supporting a new government with him as prime minister, including the promise of key government posts, a larger say in political and security decisions, and the release of Sadrists members jailed for violence." Matt Kane (Huffington Post) surveys the current talk and notes:
It's obvious from an American point of view why this is a startling development. In addition to al-Sadr having openly fought American troops, he receives a lot of support from Tehran. In a political game which saw America send its vice president to Iraq to broker a deal, a reversal that favors Iranian interests (as an Iraqi government with a strong Sadrist influence does) is a worrisome development.
From an Iraqi standpoint, the alliance between the Shiite coalition of al-Sadr and some INA parties and the Shiite al-Maliki to form a strongly Shiite government, despite the Sunni-backed al-Iraqiya party winning a plurality of the vote in March, could strain sectarian relations. The party has already stated that they will not take part in an al-Maliki government, and a powerful Sunni governor has said that the country is "headed for a dictatorship" if al-Maliki stays in power. Given that Sunnis and Shiites were engaged in sectarian violence that amounted to civil war not three years ago, these developments are not beneficial to what is a very socially fragile state.
Noting a media campaign under way in Iraq to crown Nouri prime minister, Sappho (Roads To Iraq) explains, "The great­est dif­fi­culty faces Al-Maliki will be his abil­ity to con­vince the Kur­dis­tan Alliance (Maliki still needs the Kurds to block Allawi's attempts to form the gov­ern­ment), this is because offer­ing the Pres­i­dent office is no longer an issue for the Kurds, Tal­a­bani, Kur­dis­tan -- Barzani came to see that the Pres­i­dent post for the Kur­dis­tan Alliance is beyond discussion. Maliki needs to offer more con­ces­sions to the Kur­dis­tan Alliance, and for sure Kirkuk will be one of many. If Maliki agrees to hand-over Kirkuk to the Kurds, he will face seri­ous con­se­quences, at least the with­drawal of the Iraqi National Alliance's deci­sion to sup­port Maliki's can­di­dacy (espe­cially, the Sadrists)."
Turning to some of the reported violence today . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people, another Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left three traffic police officers injured, a Baghdad carrier-bag bombing exploded in a shoe store leaving two people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing left three people injured and a Falluja sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left another person wounded. Reuters notes 2 Iskandariya bombings which claimed 3 lives and left eight people injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad attack in which 1 man was shot dead, a Mosul home invasion in which 1 woman and her teenage daughter were shot dead, a Mosul attack that damaged a car in "the motorcade of Nineveh Provincial Council member," 1 "woman and her daughter" were shot dead in Mosul as they were walking, and, dropping back to Wednesday, 2 people were shot dead in Mosul in separate incidents.
War is big business. Peter W. Galbraith knows that as he's just gotten "between $55 million and $75 million," James Glanz (New York Times) reports, as a result of posing as an impartial advisor to the Kurds while working for the oil coompany DNO -- DNO being a detail he concealed. Glanz notes:

Iraqi government officials and American analysts have asserted that Mr. Galbraith's dual role during the constitutional negotiations implied a conflict of interest, since the provisions he championed could have increased the value of his own interests. But he has rejected such claims, saying that he was merely helping the Kurds press their long-stated policy goals. "So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict," Mr. Galbraith said last year.

Farah Stockman (Boston Globe) adds
that the latest news could harm Peter's state senate run in Vermont and observes, "Yesterday's announcement confirms that Galbraith played a crucial role in helping a Norwegian oil company, DNO, set up operations in the semi-autonomous Kurdish territory of Iraq in 2004. A year earlier, Kurdish leaders had paid Galbraith to help them negotiate with Iraq's central government. He also helped draft provisions of Iraq's constitution that gave Kurds control over newly discovered oil fields in their region. In 2005, he advised the Kurds informally on an unpaid basis."

We've covered this issue since before the DNO details came out. I've repeatedly called Peter out here for years and years, check the archives. We've now finished up the issue unless there are charges and/or new details that emerge or unless Peter speaks on the issue. I know the family and I showed no favoritism on the issue but I'm done with it now and if Glanz wasn't covering it today and/or Peter wasn't running for elected office, we wouldn't be noting it today. But we did and we opened with. Barring the already noted new developments, we're done with this story except as a detail in the story of greed and how it motivated the illegal war.

On greed, know how to detect a con job? A con artist offers you what sounds like a really good deal but there's a qualifier to it, usually something along the lines of, "there's a limited window of time" as they attempt to hurry you into making a risky move. Remember that as you read Leila Fadel's report (Washington Post) about US officials such as the Commerce Dept's Francisco Sanchez leading an Iraq tour and telling business execs, "If you want to really play a role here, you have to be here now." As Fadel points out, "Iraq is ranked fifth from the bottom on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index - tied with Sudan and ahead of only Burma, Afghanistan and Somalia. Iraq's ranking has dropped drastically since 2003." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes Sanchez insisting, "I'm not trying to sugar-coat this but what I am trying to say is, the Iraqi government is sorting through some of these challenges as the physical security increasingly improves. You can't wait for everything to be perfect." Serena Chaudhry (Reuters) notes, "Companies on the mission included Boeing, Bell Helicopter Textron, ICON Global Architectural Engineering and Wamar International." One wonders Sanchez will promise to attend any and all funerals? Probably not. He'll pitch to get American business into Iraq but he'll be busy if and when the funerals roll around. Like most con artists, he'll have moved on to his next mark. In other blood money news, CBS News reports, "The State Department is awarding contracts that could amount to $10 billion to eight private security companies over the next five years. The Worldwide Protective Services contracts will cover safeguarding State Department facilities and personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, according to sources familiar with the contracting arrangements. The contracts, which are for one year with four options to renew, will be awarded over the next few months. So far, close to a billion dollars has been awarded to SOC to provide security for the U.S. Embassy and diplomats stationed in Baghdad."

The illegal war has led to filings with the Iraq Inquiry from human rights attorneys. The UK's Law Gazette reports, "The Solicitors International Human Rights Group and the Law Society's international action team found fault with the UK government's two main justifications for the invasion, in a written submission to Sir John Chilcot's inquiry into the Iraq conflict."
Turning to the US, are the surviving spouses of deceased veterans receiving all they are owed? Senator Daniel Akaka's office issues this alert:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) is urging widows and widowers of deceased veterans to check to be sure that they received VA compensation for the month of their spouse's death. According to new figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 196,030 widows and widowers have received a total of $124,348,136 in month-of-death back payments since Senator Akaka uncovered a VA accounting error in December 2008.
"Nearly 200,000 widows and widowers have finally received their benefits, but I want to be sure that all surviving spouses receive the compensation they are eligible for. I urge the survivors of disabled veterans to contact VA if they did not receive compensation during the month of their loved one's death," said Akaka.
For almost 12 years, surviving spouses of veterans were wrongly denied benefits. In 1996, a law was enacted instructing that when a veteran receiving VA benefits died, the spouse would be entitled to a payment for the month of death. However, due to an error, VA wrongly demanded the money back from many surviving spouses. Senator Akaka learned of the problem when a Maui widow contacted him for assistance after a paymetn for the month of her husband's death was taken from her bank account by the Treasury Department.
Looking into the case, Akaka discovered that VA had failed to adjust its computer programs and notification letters to surviving spouses after the law was changed. As a result, surviving spouses were still being told that the check they received was an overpayment which needed to be returned to VA. In cases where the money had been spent, such as for funeral expenses, the Treasury would withdraw the money from the widow or widower's bank account.
VA has implemented new notification letters and changed its practices. However, surviving spouses should ensure that their month-of-death benefit was paid as promised. In some cases, VA may not be aware that the veteran had a surviving spouse, as marital data is not always collected if the veteran's benefit does not take a spousal amount into account. (This occurs when a veteran's monthly compensation check is based on a disability rating of less than 30 percent, or when a veteran does not tell VA that he or she has married after VA benefits are commenced.)
For more information from the Department of Veterans Affairs, click here. LINK.
Kawika Riley
Communications Director and Legislative Assistant
U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman
Yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the VA's IT program. Kat covered the hearing last night in "MUMPS?" covering the technology aspect (confusing terms) and noting Roger Baker stated, "We wrestled mightily with implementing the Chapter 33 system and a lot of it was because of the short time frame to get it implemented and then the fact that it was very popular with the folks using it. And so we had a relatively poor IT system that VBA had to use in that first semester and we saw the impact of that. Veterans did not get paid in a timely fashion. With another year, we're able to implement the longterm solution much better." That was the only other mention of the 'mix up' involving the Post 9/11 GI Bill. (Yesterday's snapshot noted Belinda's Finn's remark on it.) Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "The economics of today's hearing" which focused on asking why are contractors getting bonus pay just for doing their job, and Ava covered the hearing at Trina's site focusing on Scott Brown (Trina's senator) "What Senator Scott Brown has learned (Ava)."
An important hearing took place last week, Bob Filner chaired a hearing on the true costs of war which was covered in the September 30th snapshot and the October 1st snapshot. Kelley B. Vlahos (Antiwar.com) reported on the hearing at length on Tuesday and I want to note one section first:
You could practically count the number of members who bothered to show up on one hand, and they were all Democrats. Three congressmen not on the committee sat in, including Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), one of the few GOP war critics in Congress, who sat noticeably in front of 25 empty committee seats. But within an hour or so, all were gone but Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.), looking lonely across from the sizable (but definitely not standing room only) audience of mostly veterans' advocates all too used to the feeling of talking to a wall.
Congress voted to adjourn before the hearing. Filner and those present deserve tremendous credit -- my opinion -- for being there. I believe the others were Walter Jones, Harry Mitchell, Harry Teague, Ciro Rodriguez, Jerry McNerney, Zachary Space, Jim Moran and George Miller. All of those House members are running for re-election but they managed to be at the hearing. And Congress is still adjourned so I think Senators Daniel Akaka, Richard Burr, Scott Brown and Mike Johanns deserve credit for being present for yesterday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. And, personal note, if I'm tired or have a small child with me, I usually sit as far in the back as possible. At the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, I was both tired and had one of my goddaughters with me (Rebecca's daughter) so I was in the back.
The hearing focused on the true costs of the war which including caring for those who served -- a bill that's ignored repeatedly. We'll again note this from Chair Bob Filner's opening statement (delivered, not his written statement:
Chair Bob Filner: It struck me as I looked at a lot of the facts and data that we-we see across our desks that, as a Congress, as a nation, we really do not know the true costs of the wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. [. . .] We all look at the data that comes from these wars. It struck me one day that the official data for, for example, the wounded was around 45,000 for both wars. And yet we know that six or seven hundred thousand of our veterans of these wars -- of which there are over a million already -- have either filed claims for disability or sought health care from the VA for injuries suffered at war -- 45,000 versus 800,000? This is not a rounding error. I think this is a deliberate attempt to mask what is going on in terms of the actual casualty figures. We know that there is a denial of PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a 'weakness' among Marines and soldiers to admit mental illness so we don't even have those figures until maybe it's too late. We all know that women are participating in this war at a degree never before seen in our nation's history and, yet, by whatever estimate you look, whether it's half or two-thirds have suffered sexual trauma. The true cost of war? We know that over 25,000 of our soldiers who were originally diagnosed with PTSD got their diagnosis changed or their diagnosis was changed as they were -- had to leave the armed forces, changed to "personality disorder." And not only does that diagnosis beg the question of why we took people in with the personality disorder, it means that there's a pre-existing condition and we don't have to take care of them as a nation. Cost of war? There have been months in these wars where the suicides of active duty have exceeded the deaths in action. Why is that? When our veterans come home from this war, we say we support troops, we support troops, we support troops? 30% unemployment rate for returning Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans. That's three times an already horrendous rate in our nation. Guardsman find difficulty getting employment because they may be deployed. Now a democracy has to go to war sometimes. But people have to know in a democracy what is the cost. They have to be informed of the true -- of the true nature -- not only in terms of the human cost, the material cost, but the hidden cost that we don't know until after the fact or don't recognize. We know -- Why is it that we don't have the mental health care resources for those coming back? Is it because we failed to understand the cost of serving our military veterans is a fundamental cost of the war? Is it because we sent these men and women into harms way without accounting for and providing the resources necessary for their care if they're injured or wounded or killed? Every vote that Congress has taken for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed to take into account the actual cost of these wars by ignoring what we will require to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform who have been sent into harms way. This failure means that soldiers who are sent to war on behalf of their nation do not know if their nation will be there for them tomorrow. The Congress that sends them into harms way assumes no responsibility for the longterm consequences of their deployment. Each war authorization and appropriation kicks the proverbial can down the road and whether or not the needs of our soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan will be met is totally dependent on the budget priorities of a future Congress which includes two sets of rules: One for going to war and one for providing for our veterans who fight in that war. We don't have a budget for the VA today as we are about to enter the new fiscal year. We are trying to provide for those involved in atomic testing in WWII -- who were told would be no problems and yet they can't get compensation for cancers. We cannot -- This Committee and this Congress has a majority of people who say we should fully compensate the victims of Agent Orange for injuries in WWII -- I'm sorry, Vietnam. Yet was have a pay-go rule on a bill that's coming out of here. They say it's going to cost ten billion dollars or twenty billion over the next ten years. We don't have it. Why don't we have it? They fought for this nation. We're trying to deal with the Persian Gulf War still -- not to mention all the casualties from this one. So we have to find a pay-go. But the Dept of Defense doesn't have to. So they system that we have for appropriating funds in Congress is designed to make it much easier to vote to send our soldiers into harms way. That's much easier than to care for them when they come home. This Committee and everyone of the people here has had to fight tooth and nail to get enough money for our veterans. We got to fight for it every day. We've been successful in the last few years but we don't know if that will -- if that rate of growth will continue. This is morally wrong in my opinion and an abdication of our fundamental responsibilities as members of Congress. It is past time for Congress to recognize that standing by our men and women in uniform -- meeting their needs -- is a fundamental cost of war and we should account for those needs and take responsibility for meeting them at the time that we send these young people into combat. Every Congressional appropriation for war, in my view, should include money for what, I'm going to call it, a veterans' trust fund that will ensure the projected needs of our wounded and injured soldiers are fully met at the time that their going to war is appropriated. It's not a radical idea. Business owners are required to account for their deferred liability every year. Our federal government has no such requirement when it comes to the deferred liabiilty of meeting the needs of our men and women in uniform even though meeting those needs is a moral obligation of our nation and a fundamental cost. It does not make sense fiscally, it does not make sense ethically. If in years past, Congress had taken into account this deferred fiscal liability and moral obligation of meeting the needs of soldiers, we would not have the kind of overburdened delivery system that we have today in the Veterans Administration. And would veterans and their advocates on Capitol Hill have to fight as hard as they do every year for benefits that should be readily available as a matter of course? Would they have to worry as much as they do today that these benefits will become targets in the debate over reducing the federal budget? Listen to this statement by one of the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility -- that's trying to figure out how we balance our budget -- former Senator [Alan] Simpson said, "The irony is that veterans who saved their country are now in a way not helping us to save this country in this fiscal mess." That is, they should defer their health and welfare needs because of a budget problem.
On the mounting costs of the current wars, Kelley B. Vlahos offers a common sense solution:
Here's an idea -- how about ending the wars? Several (failed) attempts were made in July by members to start withdrawing troops now (instead of 2011 -- what's the difference?). Most "experts" are increasingly framing operations in Afghanistan as hopeless, and with Muqtada al Sadr on the ascent in Iraq, we're likely not too long for that place either. Why not save a few skulls (and a lot more money) in the meantime? Then we can concentrate on the billions in lifetime costs we're already obligated to pay.
If a kid repeatedly broke his bones climbing trees, his father wouldn't take on a part-time job just to pay for the medical bills, he would tell the kid to stop climbing the damn trees and come home.
We need to get our men and women out of the trees and back home, and then we can start the healing.
David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST). And we'll close with this from Bacon's "California's Perfect Storm" (Rethinking Schools):
The United States today faces an economic crisis worse than any since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nowhere is it sharper than in the nation's schools. It's no wonder that last year saw strikes, student walkouts, and uprisings in states across the country, aimed at priorities that put banks and stockbrokers ahead of children. California was no exception. In fact, other states looked on in horror simply at the size of its budget deficit-at one point more than $34 billion. The quality of the public schools plummeted as class sizes ballooned and resources disappeared in blizzards of pink slips. Fee increases drove tens of thousands from community colleges and university campuses.
But California wasn't just a victim. Last year it saw a perfect storm of protest in virtually every part of its education system. K-12 teachers built coalitions with parents and students to fight for their jobs and their schools. Students poured out of community colleges and traveled to huge demonstrations at the capitol. Building occupations and strikes rocked the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) campuses. Together, they challenged the way the cost of the state's economic crisis is being shifted onto education, with a particularly bitter impact on communities of color. Activists questioned everything from the structural barriers to raising new taxes to the skewed budget priorities favoring prisons over schools.
Rise and Fall of the Master Plan
When the current recession hit, California had already fallen from one of the country's leaders in per-pupil education funding in the 1950s to 49th among the 50 states in the last decade. That fall was more than just a decline in dollars. It was the end of a commitment to its young people that started in 1960, when a wave of populist enthusiasm put liberals in control of the California Legislature and governor's mansion. Together, they issued a Master Plan for Higher Education that promised every student access to some degree of postsecondary schooling. Community colleges were free, omnipresent, and accepted everyone. UCs had no tuition and charged only nominal "fees" for university services. Strikes led by Third World students and civil rights demonstrations opened the doors wider to people of color and youth of working-class families generally. The state's reputation as an economic and technological powerhouse owed much to the students who passed through the system in the decades that followed.
By last year, that era wasn't even a memory for students who have grown up in an age of shrinking expectations. Yet on paper, at least, the promise remained. In urging students and teachers on UC campuses to fight instead of giving up, noted radical sociologist Mike Davis called it an epic challenge. "Equity and justice are endangered at every level of the Master Plan for Education," he argued. Davis called on his fellow faculty members to look out of their office windows. "Obscene wealth still sprawls across the coastal hills, but flatland inner cities and blue-collar interior valleys face the death of the California dream. Their children-let's not beat around the bush-are being pushed out of higher education. Their future is being cut off at its knees."
Strike! he urged them. "A strike," he said, "by matching actions to words, is the highest form of teach-in. The 24th [the date last September for the first walkout] is the beginning of learning how to shout in unison."