Monday, November 13, 2006

Grab bag (Betty)

Betty here, filling in for Kat for at least 1 more Monday. There's a good chance she'll be back before next Monday. If she is an needs some time (Ireland wasn't a pleasure trip), I'll gladly fill in for her next Monday. And if she doesn't make it back in time, I will as well. If she is able to make it back as planned, I get her this weekend. Seriously, she's going to try to fly into Atlanta to drop by and see her 'best friend.' (My daughter says Kat is her best friend, not mine. It's no longer just that Kat is her friend, now Kat is her best friend, you understand.)

A package from Kat arrived today because she knows my oldest son is collecting stamps this year for school. The teacher thinks it will give them a basis in geography that they can draw on in later years. I actually love that idea. A lot of ideas, I'm like, "Well, I guess they know best." But I really do believe in this one. My brother had puzzles, a globe, a board game and so much more. In 2004, there was this thing circulating in the office, where you tried to identify all 50 states. It's online somewhere. But people were getting 20 and 30 of the 50 states. I got them all before the time ran out due to the fact that my brother had the puzzles, the globe and all the rest. I didn't learn that in school. I learned that at home. I didn't learn it in college either. (I have an associates, not a bachelors. I'm no big brain but would like to go back when the kids are older.)

So the idea that stamps will help him is a good one. I really applaud his teacher for thinking that far ahead. You really do need to pick up those concepts before you get into a geography class. I remember the first country I knew of other than the United States was the Philippines. I could find it on the map in second grade. Why? Because there was a boy named Philip in one of my classes. I thought he was the cutes thing. I just wanted to be Philip's girlfriend. (Which meant, then and pretty much through middle school, that he would write me at least one note a day and sit with me at lunch.) (Sadly, I think I'd settle for that today in a man. I'm only semi-joking.) My best friend, Tarita, told me Philip was from the Philippines. He wasn't. Born and raised in Georgia. But I believed her. So I started trying to find out all about the Philippines which, first, meant finding out that it wasn't a state in this country, not even one of the northern ones. (Some could argue we've treated it as though it was a state and not an independent country.)

When we were finally together one day in the sandbox, I got up my never and started reeling off facts while he was playing soldiers (toy soliders with another kid, making 'forts' that looked like ant hills, I was making a castle). "The Phillipines were a colony of Spain. A colony is . . ." He was looking at me like I was crazy and Tarita was laughing her butt off. Sadly, I did not catch on. (I was just in second grade.) Having finally spoken to him (or around him), I continued to do that for weeks until he finally asked me if I was from the Philippines. I said something like, "I wish." Then he asked me where they were. "Aren't you from the Philippines?" That's when I found he wasn't.

I didn't speak to Tarita the rest of the day, and probably for part of the next as well. Even as a small child, I could be played for a sucker when it came to men.

See, this is why Ruth and C.I. write better posts when they're guesting for Kat, they have something to say and I'm just babbling away about something that happened in second grade or my kids. Which I'll continue for at least one more thing.

My oldest wanted to read his book. That's all he wanted to do tonight. We went to the library this weekend and he found a book he loves so much he's reading it again. Which is wonderful, I'm not complaining. But he didn't even want to eat dinner. I told him, "You are eating dinner. No book if you don't eat." One of the things we were having, which he likes, was creamed spinach. He tried to lodge a protest about whether or not it was healthy.

Sucker that I am, I thought he was serious and put on my Mom voice and started explaining how the 'bad' spinach was gone now and this was 'good' spinach, and, yes, the 'bad' spinach had made a lot of people sick . . .

Finally, he looked at me and told me that he was just trying to get out of dinner. He ate the spinach. He ate everything on his plate. But he was so cute when he rolled his eyes while he was explaining to me that he knew about the 'good' and the 'bad' spinach.

I made the mistake of saying that which resulted in my daughter saying, "I'm the cutest." There's a game she and my mother play where they tell each other, "You're the cutest" and "No, you're the cutest." They can go on with that thing for hours. Seriously, it's like peak-a-boo with younger children, they never get tired of it. Sometimes, one of us will get bored hearing it (my sisters, my sons, my nieces or nephews or me) and we'll pipe up, "No, I'm the cutest!" That always makes my daughter mad and my mother will take her into the kitchen for cookies. But she's never said, "I'm the cutest." Never before. I think the game is going to her head. (Though she and my mother are very beautiful. Not pretty, beautiful.)

So what else can I bore everyone with? Ruth helped me out awhile back by noting that my niece is always willing to loan me her laptop. I really appreciate that and I had hurt her feelings by not noting that one night when I was blogging here about how I wasn't able to listen to streaming audio on my computer (unless that's all I want to do). I felt so bad for that and still do so let me state very clearly that my oldest niece loves my site and is always asking me, "Aunt Betty, do you need to use my laptop?" She is very sweet (and the oldest grandchild which requires a lot of patience). So especially since this might be my last fill-in post, let me note that.
My sister (her mother) thinks she and I are a lot alike but I'd argue my niece has a much better head on her shoulders than I did at her age. (Probably a better one than I have today.)

Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen" has some good advice, so check that out. My oldest niece is going to learn to make the dressing and help me stuff it in my mother's turkey this Thanksgiving. She's very excited about that. I am as well. I hate slice and dicing. Plus, it will be fun. She's always got at least three funny jokes. I don't remember how or when that happened but it was sometime around when she learned knock-knock jokes as a very young child, ever since then, when we see each other, she always says, "I've got three jokes for you."

On jokes, what happens when they aren't funny? All of my nieces are, but Saturday Night Live? Read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Saturday Night Dead." And to turn to serious things, "The Full Brobeck" notes one of the saddest things about independent media, the failure to cover war resistance. It's bad enough that the peace movement can't get covered. But if I got to a rally, I'm not really expecting to be arrested or put on trial. People in the military who are resisting the war are risking that and more. So it's a real shame that it's not covered. "Remember Ehren Watada?" deals with how last Thursday the news came out that he was going to be court-martialed and yet it wasn't news to independent media.

I don't know why that is? I am going to assume that it's too 'controversial' and that some need to play it safe by hiding behind generals and other 'safe' topics. As in, "The generals are speaking out against the war! See, it's wrong. Now this is what a general said . . ." The war is illegal. It never should have started. I don't need to hide behind anyone to say that. I don't worry about couching my opinion or hiding. Maybe that comes from being Black? Statistically, we didn't support the illegal war from the beginning. But it's equally true that many people of other races didn't either. And people like Medea Benjamin have been speaking out all along. So why can't independent media? I guess it doesn't matter to them? I guess that they'd rather cozy up to general then get down with the lowly enlisted? I feel the same way about the way my race is covered (usually not covered) by independent media (on that, I'm speaking mainly of magazines). For instance? Why are White people writing or talking about Black people? I don't mean, "Shame on you!" We are all human beings. But, take The Nation, it seems very difficult for a Black person to get into that magazine. Only one columnist is Black (the law professor Patricia Williams). So since there are so few as guest writers or whatever, why give the space to a White person? I was over at my oldest sisters on election night (still mad then and still mad now that the Democratic Party organized a hit on Cynthia McKinney to kill her in the primary) and my niece that I've been talking about had the Pacifica coverage on. There was a guest, a White guest (who I don't care for to begin with), speaking from the south about what Black people were doing. Rebecca wrote about him and he really was an idiot. I don't his religion or if he has one but I was brought up in the church and I go every Sunday morning. I don't know what religious southerners he thought he was talking about with his stereotype (I'm assuming White, but I know many Whites in my area who are religious and they don't fit that stereotype).
They weren't calling for Democrats to water themselves down, religious people of any race.

I think some Black preachers do try to gay-bait. I've noticed that some of those in my area growing up have often had to go elsewhere when it turned out they were involved with some man in the church. I think those gay-baiting need to just take a seat already. It helps no one to gay-bait. I have gay people in my family and I have them in my church. (And my church doesn't gay-bait.) I think the gay-baiting is the last straw of really weak minded preachers who need something to rail against and choose to go after people who aren't hurting anyone (the same way Blacks were done in earlier times) instead of going after the real issues.

I have a cousin who lives in Arkansas and she moved there recently. She had to go to four churches before she found one she was comfortable in because the first three were just these houses to homophobic preachers, as opposed to houses of the Lord. Her theory is that the government funding churches (which I'm against -- and some would argue "programs" but it's funding churches) has led the weaker of our race to attempt to really 'put on a show' in a bid for those dollars. I can see some truth in that. There are a lot of them that my father calls "I loves me some Bully Boy" preachers.

In the meantime, they're propping up hate and an adminsitration's that's helped no one except for billionaires. I really think this will hurt the churches in the long run because we have always had gay members in our churches (Black churches) and we always will. Preaching that hate forces them into the closet (at least at church). The reality is that most of us know a gay person if we don't have at least one in our family. When we realize that and see them as they are, we realize that they shouldn't be demonized.

We realize the things we have in common and the things we don't. I've seen not just acceptance in the last ten years but reaching out and I think that's going to be norm soon enough and it will be an ugly part of our history, Black churches, that we allowed so many of our own to get away with preaching hate when we all should have known better.

It's after ten o'clock. I need to wind down. But I do feel very strongly about that and I know Cedric does as well. We did an entry that I don't have time to search for on this topic. I think the ones who are preaching hate are the last gaspers. And I think they leave a very ugly stain on churches and our historical role (or what our historical role should be). To be of a race or class or ethnicity (or gender) that's been systematically discriminated against and to then turn around and discriminate against another group is not just 'dumb,' it's wrong. We should know better.

I did post Friday (to do a self-shout out), "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" and please check out C.I.'s "Ellen Willis" which I thought really had something worth saying.

Okay, I'll shut up. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, November 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy meets with tutors (we didn't say they were good tutors), the US military starts the day announcing the deaths of more US troops, the decision to court-martial Ehren Watada continues to receive The Full Brobeck from independent media, and Nouri al-Maliki continues to go on about a "Cabinet Shuffle."

Last week (Thursday), the US military announced they were moving to a court-martial of
Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The court-martial is expected to be held early next year. Sunday, Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reported that Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is predicting the court-martial will "be a spectacle. It's going to raise a lot of issues that frankly I don't understand why the Army wants to raise." Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq because his studies, encouraged by his superior, led him to realize the Iraq war is illegal. Courage to Resist quotes Ehren Watada explaining, "The reason I spoke out, I saw that what was being in terms of this war was so illegal and so immoral and not being checked. It was a danger to our troops and a danger to our country. So, I think what needs to be done is some kind of accountability in Washington, D.C. and also investigations into how this war started in the first place."

In the first place? The fact that many would rather talk fine-tuning, the reality that the war is illegal and built on lies is too little examined.
Speaking with Joshua Scheer (Truthdig) last week, Congress member Dennis Kucinich declared, "We need to have hearings on Iraq again. We need to go over again why we went there. We need to review the statements and all the errors that were made, and from that we bring the country together to take a new direction. It's all fact-based. And then we start to heal our nation. But we cannot heal America if we continue with policies that are based on lies. We'll never be able to bring closure to this Iraq matter unless we tell the truth about what happened. So America needs a new approach of truth and reconcialiation." [Micah noted that yesterday.] In March of this year, Kucinich declared "Not One more Dime" noting: "After three years arrogance and incompetence, contempt and lies, death and destruction, Congress should say enough is enough and provide not one more dime for this Administration's ill-conceived, ill-advised, misguided and failed Iraq policy." Quite a bit more than many asked by Aaron Glantz on Countdown 2006 were willing to state. Writing for IPS, Glantz notes Pratap Chatterjee on the issue of stopping the war via the Congressional purse: "The main control Congress has is financial. Congress can refuse to pay for the war, which is what they did in Vietnam, but they can't really dictate how it's waged." For the article, Glantz also speaks with Tom Hayden who sees some hope in the public stance Democrats offered against the war but "[w]here they aren't so good yet is what to do about it, and they don't have that obligation yet because they aren't to take back the presidency -- if they ever do -- for two years. There will be an attempt by both parties to keep the war going and get rid of Iraq as a public issue, but that seems to me to be impossible." Writing at The Huffington Post, Hayden advises: "The peace movement needs to gear up for the 2008 elections, by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states. The first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- have large peace-and-justice constituencies."

Mobilizing took place Saturday in Chicago.
Ofelia Casillas and Charles Sheehan (Chicago Tribune) report that Vietnam Veterans Against the War held a ceremony that brought out at least fifty and the closer was US war resister Kyle Snyder who stated: "I followed my conscience. And I'm being persecuted for that." Kyle Snyder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq. He returned to the United States last month and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's." They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email: -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."

Obscuring the reality of the illegal war's basis provides the coverage for the continuation of it. And all the deaths that come with it. Sunday, the
US military announced the Saturday deaths of three troops in Al Anbar Province. Also Sunday, the British military reports that four of their troops have died and three are injured while they were on boat patrol in Basra which brings the total number of British troops killed in Iraq to 125. The four deaths came on the same day that "UK Forces personnel at home and overseas have been united in paying their respects to the fallen of past and current conflicts" in their annual day of Rememberance.

the US military announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were killed Sunday when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded in the blast and were transported to a Coalition forces medical treatment facility." They also announced today: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations when an improvised-explosive device detonated at approximately 10:20 a.m. in Baghdad Nov. 13. Two additional Soldiers were wounded in the same incident." That makes four announced deaths of US troops today. (Seven deaths announced so far this week.)

In other violence . . .


CBS and AP report the mini-bus bomb in Baghdad which took the lives of 20 and left 18 wounded when it exploded "at a major intersection in the northeast Baghdad neighborhood."
Reuters notes that a mortar attck in Baghdad left two injured; a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two people wounded; and a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk wounded three guards of General Anwar Amin. Al Jazeera reports a bomb attack on the "outskirts of the Green Zone" using a car bomb which destroyed 13 cars in the garage but only one person was injured. CNN notes that the bombing was "near the Iranian Embassy and the Green Zone."


CNN reports that Mohammed al-Ban of al-Sharqiya TV and al-Massar newspaper was shot dead in Mosul while, in Baghdad, an attack on an adviser to one of Iraq's vice president resulted in the shooting deaths of "two of his bodyguards". AFP reports that a "Brigadier General of Iraq's traffic police and his driver were shot dead by gunmen as he was driving to work" in Baghdad. CBS and AP report the shooting death of a "civilian" in Baquba,the shooting death of Sunni Sheik Namis Karim in Baquba and the shooting death of Assim Mahmoud Abbas in Diyala. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead in Kut, "[f]our male primary school teachers" shot dead in Kirkuk and five people "ambushed and killed" just outside Baghdad.


Al Jazeera reports that 46 corpses have been discovered in Baghdad today. CBS and AP report that the corpses "of two women who had been shot to death" were discovered. Reuters notes that the man with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Yildirim Tek, kidnapped July 23 was "found dead near Baghdad's airport". Reuters also notes that five corpses were discovered in Yusufiya.

In addition to the above, there were kidnappings.
Reuters notes ten people kidnapped in Latifiya on Saturday, Muhammed Salim (a major in the police force) kidnapped in Baghdad and discovered dead; while another major with the police force, Maher Moussa was kidnapped (from his own home) and hasn't been discovered.

As the chaos and violence continue to rage, al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, continues to make noises about a "Cabinet Shuffle" -- all the while very aware that just as likely as that happening is "The al-Maliki Shuffle" which would leave the puppet on the outside (possibly running the streets of London with 'rolldog' Chalabi).
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that al-Maliki is now whining that he didn't get to pick his cabinet and that some posts were filled by names handed to him right before he announced them.

CBS and AP report that he is also "blaming Sunni Muslims for the country's raging sectarian conflict". On Sunday, Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported on the observations of American army Col. Brian D. Jones who speaks of Iraqi Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein al-Kaabi showing up with a list (reportedly composed in Baghdad by Shi'ite leaders) of people who wanted arrested -- Sunni politicians.

Possibly setting himself up to be the next puppet, Iraq's Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi is making soothing noises for the US administration (the bosses of the illegal occupation).
CBS and AP report that al-Obaidi is stating that he doesn't want "to speed transfer of security operations throughout the country to the Iraqi army, saying his men were too porrly equipped and trained to do the job." AFP reminds: "On Wednesday, the main Sunni bloc threatened to quit the national unity government -- cobbled together after December 2005 elections -- warning that they would take up arms if rampaging Shiite militias were not quickly dismantled." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports on Moktada al-Sadr and notes that "parties loyal to him control the single larest protion of seats in Parliament and elevated the prime minister to power. They control five government ministeries"; however, "the more settled he becomes in the establishment, the looser his grip is over his fighters on the streets and those increasingly infiltrating the security forces."

While the above goes on, Bully Boy plays like he's Rodney Dangerfield and he's living out Back to School.
Ben Feller (AP) reports Bully Boy met with the tutors his father endorsed, the Iraqi Study Group led by Lee Hamiliton and James Baker and that, afterwards, Bully Boy stated: "I was impressed by the questions they asked." It's rather sad that over three years after he started an illegal war, there are questions that can be asked which surprise the Bully Boy. Not just anyone can meet with the Bully Boy to discuss Iraq, he refused to meet religious leaders before launching his illegal war. For all his supposed piety, he couldn't make time for them. Ahmed Amr dubs them "the fabulous Baker boys" (let's all hope Cheney doesn't put on something slinky and attempt to warble "Making Whoopeee"), notes that it's a dog-and-pony show "to save Bush's face" and concludes: "We should openly declare that we intend to leave ASAP and dismantle each and every American garrison. Immediately cut troop strength by half. The enduring bases will not and should not survive this plan. We should retreat humbly and in sorrow -- for their losses and ours."

Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that the meeting went over the one-hour-and-fifteen minutes scheduled. No confirmation to the rumors that Bully Boy refused to take his fingers out of his ears until Condi gave him a juice box. What is confirmed, as Alieen Alfandary noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, is Bully Boy's enduring unpopularity which
"has plunged to 31% [approval ratings] in the lowest poll by Newsweek."

Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq and, as of Thursday, facing a court-martial in 2007. The speaking tour winds down on the 17th, a full schedule can be found here and upcoming dates include:
Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada,Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B,Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489, philliseng@yahoo.comNov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814, vfpch61@riseup.netiraq

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo,
DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in “Sir, No Sir!”), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

bob watada