Wednesday, January 09, 2013









The plan in my head for this snapshot was we would start with women and end with women.  Start with Iraqi women, end with American women.  In between we'd do our usual sight seeing tour.  That changed.  That changed because we have to start with an idiot.  And, the modern pattern in America demonstrates, when we're talking about big idiots in the US -- it's usally a man.  Now maybe that's because they're more apt -- even now -- to be elevated to status for gender -- clearly, they did not get their on their minds.
Case in point, Esquire's chief idiot Charles P. Pierce.  Pierce drips against his y-fronts as he moans for Chuck Hagel, the homophobic, rape-doesn't-result-in-pregnancy, War Hawk that US President Barack Obama has nominated to be the next Secretary of the Defense.  (For those who didn't get their trading cards of Obama's Cabinet: Lots of Men and a Few Token Women, if confirmed by the Senate, Hagel would replace Leon Panetta.)
"I am going to do something I've never done before," Charles P. Pierce opens today -- sending a good portion of the public fleeing.  It's okay, he's keeping his clothes on.  He wants to quote Chuck in full in 2002 before Chuck voted for the Iraq War.  But, hold on, before we get that, we need to stop for a cheesy Esquire profile.  One Pierce did in 2007.  I'm sorry, does Pierce honestly believe that the celebrity profiles Esquire does strikes anyone as journalism?  The New York Times Sunday Magazine does journalism -- even in their profiles.  Vanity Fair sometimes does journalism in their profiles.  Esquire?  As if to proove just how cheesy Esquire is, the excerpt Charles provides starts with Tom Hagel vouching for Chuck -- hard hitting journalism at it's finest.
Then it's endless monologue from Chuck.  Charles seems to think that this responds to "one of the primary arguments made from the Left against" Chuck because he voted for the Iraq War in 2002.
Charles Pierce needs to retire. Esquire will never improve circulation with the very tired and very old Charles writing for it.  Four decades at the magazine?  He's never been Hunter S. Thompson.  He's just someone who knows he can't get work elsewhere.
Part of the reason for that is because he's so very stupid.
We tried explaining this with the idiots who promoted Barack (falsely) as anti-war.  In 2007 and 2008, as people pointed to that bad, small speech from 2002, we pointed to Barack's record when he got to the Senate.  He voted exactly as Hillary did.  In the primaries, he wanted special credit for being against the war (no, he really wasn't, it was a fairy tale, Bill Clinton was right) and claimed this proved sharper judgment than his contemporaries like Hillary and John Edwards and Joe Biden. 
But here's the problem with that.  If a five-year-old child burns their hand on the stove, you comfort the child, you treat the burn.  But if the child's smart enough to know that touching the flames on the stove will burn your hand and that child burns his or her hand, you're dealing with a different issue, you're dealing with a child who knew better but chose to ignore the knowledge.
If Barack believed the words he offered in 2002 and then goes to the Senate and votes for the war over and over and over, that's worse than stupid Hillary, John and Joe who apparently were too dumb to grasp what would happen.  (In fairness to Hillary and Joe, they didn't claim they voted for one thing only for it to turn out to be something else.  John did and Elizabeth Edwards did for him in an interview with Ruth Conniff for The Progressive.)
So if Hagel stood and listed all these things that could go wrong before he voted?  He looks even more empty, more craven and more like a War Hawk.  If he could picture many awful things that ended up coming true, he has no defense for voting the war.  He knew better.
To go to children again.  If you are 8-years-old and playing frisbee in the front yard with your older and wiser brother Chuck and a window gets broken by the frisbee, your parents are going to let you slide.  You're the child who wasn't old enough to know better.  But Chuck?  There's no slide for him.  He has to be accountable for playing frisbee by the windows when he was old enough to know better and old enough to know something could get broken.
I hope -- I really, really hope -- that Charles P. Pierce just really wanted to plus his 2007 (bad) feature article on Hagel.  I really hope that Pierce isn't so stupid that he thinks providing the over 2100 words Chuck Hagel spoke on the Senate floor about why war with Iraq was wrong doesn't excuse Hagel's vote and, in fact, damns Hagel because he knew better and still voted for the war.  Again, hopefully Pierce just wanted to plug his own (universally ignored) 2007 feature.  Hopefully, even Pierce isn't stupid enough to think that speech improves Hagel's image.
Let's move from an American idiot to a British one: Derek Keilloh.  Keilloh was a doctor who 'treated' Baha Mousa.  From the July 13, 2009 snapshot:

Moving over to England, Matthew Weaver (Guardian) notes that Iraqi Baha Mousa's death at the age of 26 while in British custody in September 2003 is the subject of a public inquiry in England which began today and that, "A central issue of the inquiry is why five 'conditioning techniques' -- hooding prisoners, putting them in stress positions, depriving them of sleep, depriving them of food and water, and playing white noise -- were used on Iraq detainees.  The techniques, inflicted on IRA suspects, were banned in 1972 by then prime minister, Edward Heath."  The Telegraph of London offers that Baha "was beaten to death" while in British custody, "sustaining 93 separate injuires, including fractured ribs and a broken nose."  The Telegraph also notes that the inquiry was shown video of Corporal Donald Payne yelling and screaming, "shouting and swearing at the Iraqis as they are force to main painful 'stress position'."
Today, Andrew Johnson (Belfast Telegraph) reports the latest, "A former British Army doctor has been found guilty of attempting to cover up the death of an Iraqi civilian who was fatally beaten by British troops in 2003, and of failing to protect other detainees."  Peter Magill (Lancashire Telegraph) notes of the Baha Mousa inquiry,  "Another detainee, Ahmed Al Matari, who had also been seen by Dr Keilloh at the detention centre after being kicked in the kidneys and legs, accused him of behaving like a 'criminal' during."  Press TV adds, "Britain's Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service will now decide what penalty the British doctor will face.The editorial board of Scotland's Herald weighs in, "Army medics cannot afford to be squeamish but ignoring such brutality amounts to a betrayal of all the servicemen and women who behave decently and within the rules. It also acts as a recruiting sergeant for extremism and destroys at a stroke any goodwill built up with the local population. It is shameful that it has taken so long to uncover the truth. Though maltreatment of detainees may not have been routine, the fact that a number of other such inquiries are still crawling through the system suggests this was more than the work of a 'few bad apples'."
And the punishment?  From the December 24th snapshot:
Yesterday, Ashleigh Barbour (Press and Journal) reported Dr. Derek Keilloh had been "struck off the medical register."  The Yorkshire Post adds, "The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service announced its decision to ban Dr Keilloh from working as a doctor yesterday after finding him guilty of misconduct." The Herald Scotland explained, "The MPTS recognised Dr Keilloh, now a GP at Mayford House Surgery in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, never harmed Mr Mousa and did everything possible to save his life, in a setting that was 'highly charged, chaotic, tense and stressful'. But they ruled he must have seen the injuries and, especially as a doctor, had a duty to act."  Mary Gearin (Australia's ABC) quotes MPTS Chair Brian Alderman telling Keilloh, "The panel determined that erasure is the only appropriate sanction in this case.  Given the gravity and nature of the extent and context of your dishonesty, it considers that your misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration."
BBC News reports today that "about 300 people" are calling for him "to be reinstanted."  They say that they know him and are his former patients and he's just wonderful.  No, he's not.  If he had any kind of character worth praising, he would have issued a statement saying, "Please stop calling for me to be reinstated."  He failed to do his job.  There are serious ethical issues here.  Oh, he did a great job on your boo-boos?  Well you're British.  He's not accused of enabling the mistreatment of British citizens.  It is an insult to the Iraqi people that so few have been punished for the murder of Baha.  It was murder.  He was an innocent.  He is dead now.
Grasp that.  Keilloh can do whatever he wants with the rest of his life.  That option has been forever denied to Baha.  Baha Mousa had a wife, he had children.  He was a hotel clerk.  He never should have been rounded up.  Once rounded up, he shouldn't have been beaten.  He was and others were as well.  That's due to the fact that Keilloh didn't maintain professional standards, didn't follow basic ethics of medicine.
Baha Mousa is dead.  The Telegraph of London has a photo of him with his wife Yasseh and each are holding a child -- their children, their sons Hussein and Hassan.  Little boys who no longer have a father.  Any suffering Keiloh may experience is not going to trump that.  Two little children lost their father.  A woman lost her husband.  Not by chance, not by accident, but by the actions certain individuals took.  Keiloh's professional embarrassment/set-back doesn't begin to compare with the world that was torn from Yasseh Hussein and her two sons.  If Keiloh had character, he'd tell the people demanding he be re-instated to leave it alone. 
Yasseh Hussein is only one of the many widows produced by the Iraq War.  The International Committee of the Red Cross has posted a brief documentary on YouTube about Iraq's widows  that the Arte network produced.  Here's an excerpt.
ARTE:  From above, Baghdad seems to be a city like any other, far removed from the violence of the past nine years. But sometimes the traces of war have a human face.  On every street corner, you glimpse black silhouettes.  These are the widows of Iraq.  In a country haunted by war, no one takes notice of these living ghosts.  There are more than a million widows in Iraq with 400,000 in Baghdad alone. Tradition dictates that these widows be taken in by their husband's family.  Um Barak and her children live with 24 people in 50 square meters. 
UM BAKAR:  (gesturing around the small, single room):  We use these blankets as a bed.  We have a gas stove to keep warm and we eat here. 
ARTE:  In this time of conflict when people are already struggling to cope, a widow's often a burden on her husband's family.  Left to fend for herself, Um Barak raises her children alone in this tiny room.
UM BARAK:  Which is bigger, the earth or the sun?
CHILD:  The sun.
UM BARAK:  Okay.  What about the stars?  Are they bigger than the sun?
ARTE:  What is it like, living here?
UM BARAK:  What do you think?  We live on top of each other.  It's very hard for us. Ask them.  They have no freedom.  No one here is free -- not my husband's family, not us.  We're suffocating.
ARTE:  Power cuts and water shortages are a daily reality for Um Barak.  Her husband was kidnapped and killed six years ago.  Since then, she receives only $300 every two months.  It seems there's no chance for a better life with barely enough to give her sons an occassional treat.
[At a market.]
UM BARAK:  Do you want a fruit juice?
UM BARAK:  You sure?
ARTE:  Is state aid enough?
UM BARAK:  $300 isn't enough for one month.  It doesn't matter who you are.   $300 wouldn't even be enough for a week even and I have to make it last for two months.
ARTE:  In an attempt to find a solution to her problems, Um Barek regularly goes to the education center for widows.  Around 30 women get together there every week.  Today, this young woman from the center has handed out a questionairre about religious tolerance.
CENTER WORKER: Don't copy.  Answer the questions yourself.
ARTE:  But their attention soon returns to their daily lives.
WOMAN 1:  All of this is the government's fault.  The government has no respect for widows.  What are we supposed to do with $300 every two months or if we get nothing like this lady here.  How much do members of Parliament get?  Do they think about what women have to endure in our society when they lose their husbands? These are mothers after all.  It is up to you, humanitarian organizations, to find a solution for us widows.
CENTER WORKER:  We're not from the government.  We're a humanitarian association so you can speak freely.
ARTE:  This center is one of the few places where these women can express themselves.  It's a much needed outlet in a society where widows are often  mistreated by their husband's families.
CENTER WORKER:  Couldn't you make meat patties? Snacks? Kibobs?  And sell them?

WOMAN 2: You really think I could do that?  My husband's family would never  allow it.
Such passes for life in Iraq.  Iraq rakes in billions each year on oil.  Where does the money go?  It doesn't go into infrastructure -- potable water and reliable and constant electricity remain elusive dreams -- and it doesn't go into caring for Iraq's widows and orphans.  Were it not for Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya, Nouri would have ended the food-ration card system weeks ago as he planned to.  Instead, people called out Nouri's decisions.  It was noted that in poverty plagued Iraq, taking away the food staples guaranteed to each family by that card would force women and children further into poverty.  That didn't trouble Nouri, he was still willing to go ahead with it.  Moqtada and Iraqiya not only called out the decision but, with the support of the Iraqi people, were able to shame Nouri into backing off.
If you're not grasping how Nouri is failing the Iraqi people, refer to this graph at Niqash offering the government's annual budget.  In 2003, it was only 6.1 billion dollars (US).  Today?  118.4 billion dollars.  And yet the Iraqi people continue to do without.