Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ruth finally filling in

Ruth here, filling in for Kat. I am not sure what to talk about tonight. Katrina vanden Heuvel has written a post entitled "The Soldiers Speak Out" at her Editor's Cut blog at The Nation. My granddaughter Tracey asked me to note that. Ms. vanden Heuvel is a voice that speaks to my granddaughter and one of her personal heroes. When I was my granddaughter's age, times were much different and we did not have a woman running a magazine or, if we did, it was something like Cosmopolitan. Carey McWilliams was the editor when I was my granddaughter's age. However, he had been preceeded by Freda Kirchwey who was the first woman to be editor of the magazine and of any news weekly.

I grew up in a Jewish, left family and Ms. Kirchwey was someone spoken of often, favorably, so I knew of her but by the time I was picking up The Nation, she was no longer editor. There was a feeling in my family that she left due to being too strong. I have no idea how true that was but it was firmly believed in my family. Israel and McCarthyism were two strong positions she had for which it was felt she was punished. Very few people were ever spoken as postively as Ms. Kirchwey. She was considered to be someone who cared about all and was not afraid to speak strongly. I am not attempting to take anything away from Mr. McWilliams but it was felt, in my family, that he was elevated to 'mainstream' the magazine.

That said, Mr. McWilliams did demonstrate strong interest in the movements of the sixties. The New Left was emerging from the civil rights movement, the student movement, the women's liberation movement and the soon to be emerging gay rights movement.

KPFA's Guns and Butter, last Wednesday and today, has featured David Ewing as a guest. Mr. Ewing is an author and a co-chair of the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association. Bonnie Faulkner and Mr. Ewing have been discussing the revolution in China and how Chairman Mao Zedong's China began leaning to the right in Chairman Mao's final years. It was a very interesting exchange and I believe today focused more on questions from listeners. "I believe" because C.I. phoned shortly before the program started.

I did have the e-mail that every community member received but I generally am only online before Elijah, my grandson, is dropped off in the morning and after he leaves in the evening. I was honestly shocked.

I was not shocked at the phone call. I was surprised by that and did not think, which I shared, that C.I. needed to check with anyone before noting John Kerry's craven behavior. I did understand where the question was coming from because, for it to be addressed properly, it would require more than, "John Kerry backed down."

I do not know if I understood that it would be what it was. I actually think that I did not understand that because I remember reading it and stopping to go back and make sure I understood it. I think it is wonderful.

But when I was on the phone with C.I., I was wondering how I missed that news today about John Kerry, a mere day after stating publicly that he would not back down, repeatedly apologizing today? That shocked me and C.I. said, "Hold on, Ruth, I'll pull something up and read it to you."

Which is so silly and so C.I. I did not doubt that I was getting a blow-by-blow or that it was accurate. So after I stopped that, I told C.I. that there was no permission needed from me and that I believed most members would be of that opinion. I did wonder, after, who John Kerry checked with?

I imagine he checked with pollsters and crisis managers. C.I. checked with a community. I think if John Kerry had checked with voters, he would have grasped that there was no need for even one apology. Instead, I think he humiliated himself and betrayed what he stood for.

"Ruth's Report" went up yesterday and as a result of doing entries here and all the help C.I., Dallas and Rebecca have provided me with, I am now able to go into the program and do my entries. Tags still are a problem. But the result is that I am not asking C.I. to take my e-mailed reports, paste them into the program, and publish them. So I was curious about my latest report? C.I.'s response was, "Ruth, you know I always love your writing."

The e-mails I have been able to read so far have been very positive and there are a few things that I hope to pick up in the next report. If anyone is wondering why I did not guest post here last Wednesday, the blogging program was down and I could not log in. I am sure Kat's regular readers already know this but, in case you missed it, "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" went up Saturday. Kat is still in Ireland and she is assuming that it will probably be another week before she returns. But she was able to dictate that over the phone to C.I.

Now here is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, American commanders appear to just notice that long established fact, Kyle Snyder is again lied to, John Kerry takes himself out of the 2008 race, and October's death toll for US troops continues to rise even though, yes, it is November 1st.

US war resister Kyle Snyder turned himself in at Fort Knox yesterday. After which,
David Montero (Rocky Mountain News) reports, the army went back on their deal and Snyder was "shipped from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., possibly to face a full court-martial." Snyder's attorney, James Fennerty, told AP that after Snyder turned himself in, the military attempted to get him "to sign a form that would have hastened his return to his unit" and that "We wouldn't have brought him back here if we knew this was going to happen." As Katya Cengel (Courier-Journal) reports, Fennerty, who also represented Darrell Anderson, has stated, "We're going to make sure nobody comes back from Canada again because we were lied to."

Kyle Snyder self-checked out of the US military after serving in Iraq during which time he saw abuses that were not investigated, his girlfriend lost their baby, and his grandfather returned. In April 2005, he went to Canada. He returned last Saturday and turned himself at Fort Knox yesterday with the understanding that he would discharged.

War resistance within the military is an under-reported story in small media as
Ruth, Rebecca and Mike pointed out yesterday. But, in fact, all waves of the peace movement are under-reported in small media. For those within the military considering resistance, Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign are among the resources out there. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Elizabeth de la Vega (TomDispatch) reported on war resister Ricky Clousing yesterday and noted meeting him at Camp Democracy in September and he reasons that he led him to refuse to fight in the Iraq war and concludes: "Twenty-four years old, Clousing told the world in simple declarative sentences why he had to give up his college money, receive a dishonorable discharge, and go to jail to take a stand against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He'd make a very cool action figure. Come to think of it, Sgt. Ricky Clousing -- tattooed arms, Laguna Beach t-shirt, and all -- would make an awesome shepherd in that manager scene. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are just going to have to move over."

Turning to England, poodle Tony Blair avoided the inquiry into Iraq in the House of Commons.
Philippe Naughton (Times of London) reports that Blair says maybe later to an Iraq inquiry "hours after narrowly avoiding defeat on a Commons motion calling for exactly that." Patrick Wintour (Irish Times) reports that the vote has left prime-minister-wannabe Gordon Brown "anxious to restore the authority of parliament, and trust in politicians" so "he will be under pressure to hold an inquest into the wider foreign policy failures of the Iraq invasion." As the Guardian of London notes, the vote was 298 to 273 with "12 Labour MPs" voting "against the government." As noted yesterday, the Farewell Tour isn't going the way Blair's handlers planned it.

Neither is Iraq. From yesterday: "In addition
CNN notes that 'at least 40 people' were kidnapped north of Baghdad." CBS and AP note that the 40 kidnappings are confirmed and that the death toll from the bombing of the wedding party yesterday has risen from 15 to 23 "including nine children." In addition, they report that two coaches were kidnapped in Baghdad today "by a group of men in SUVs". The violence and chaos continue daily and, as Michael R. Gordon (New York Times) reported, the US Central Command has just prepared a chart ("two weeks ago") to note that. It takes some a little longer.


Reuters reports many bombs: in Baghdad, 2 car bombs resulted in 7 deaths (and 7 wounded), one minibus bombing resulted in 3 deaths, and 1 roadside bomb resulted in 2 deaths (10 wounded); Ramadi, five dead three wounded from two car bombs; Mosul, two wounded from a roadside bomb; Baiji two wounded from a roadside bomb.


CBS and AP report that Izzaddin Abbas was shot dead in Baghdad and a Ministry of Industry employee was shot dead in Baghdad. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports four shooting deaths in Mosul. In addition, Reuters notes that a policewoman was shot dead in Mosul.


CBS and AP note three corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("blindfolded and bound at the wrists"). CNN notes that the number of corpses discovered in Baghdad grew to ten. And Reuters then updated to note thirty-five corpses were discovered in Baghdad, nine in Mosul, five in Falluja, and one in Numaniya. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes that five corpses were discovered in "the Tigris River near Suwayrah".

In election news, though he may not grasp it, US Senator John Kerry's just taken himself out of the 2008 presidential race. It wasn't the remark he made ("You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."), it was the fact that he went through a variety of positions on it including hedging it, distorting it, saying he wouldn't apologize for it until finally doing just that. And on Don Imus, of all places, where the supposed Fighting John allowed Imus to Swift Boat him with ha-has of "wind surfing" and more. It's over, 2008 is now officially over for John Kerry. Those willing to give him the benefit of doubt despite his caving in Boston in the early morning hours of the day after the election had been told Fighting John would never cave again. "Good of the country" was the excuse that morning. There is no excuse for not fighting this go round, there is only the admission that Fighting John will buckle each and every time and that Fighting John lacks drive, lacks leadership, lacks passion and lacks committment. Send him his "Dear John" letter, it's over.

He was unable to defend either himself or the military he's spent the last few years hiding behind. What should have been an opportunity for the American public to have a serious exchange about exactly what Donald Rumsfled has done to the US military instead became a case of Save-My-Own-Ass.

The conversation will be had and it will be had without John Kerry. As the
Miami Herald reported in October of 2005: "Army Secretary Noel Harvey and Gen. Richard Cody, the vice chief of staff, said Monday that the Army is using loose Defense Department rules that permits it to sign up more high school dropouts and people who score lower on mental-qualification tests, but they denied that this meant it was lowering standards." In February of this year, Kelly M. Greenhill penned an op-ed for the New York Times noting: "The Army inducted both more recruits without high school diplomas and more youths scoring in the lowest category of the Army's aptitude test, so-called Category IV recruits. Welcoming more such recruits into the military has obvious appeal at a time when recruitment numbers are slipping, while manpower needs remain acute. But the adoption of lower standards to fill the ranks is shortsighted and imprudent. Moreover, continuing or expanding this policy would be a mistake for the Army and for the recruits themselves. Pentagon officials should know this better than anyone: their previous experiments with lower standards were clear failures." USA Today noted in July of 2005: "The Army in 2005 began accepting up to 4% of those who score in the bottom third on the Armed Froces Qualification Test. Previously, it had a limit of 2% from that category." In October of this year, AP reported that the "new lower aptitude standards" allowed the U.S. army to meet its target goal and noted "13,600, were accepted under waivers for various medical, moral or criminal problems, including misdemeanor arrests or drunk driving. . . . Of those accepted under waivers, more than half were for 'moral' reasons, mostly misdemeanor arrests. Thirty-eight percent were for medical reasons and 7 percent were drug and alcohol problems, including those who may have failed a drug test or acknowledged they had used drugs." In 2005, Fred Kaplan (Slate) raised some of the concerns career officers in the military have with these lowered standards.

Need a face on this issue? Try
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. In July of this year, AP noted that Steven D. Green (one of several accused in the rape of fourteen-year-old Abeer, her death and the deaths of three members of her family) was arrested in Janurary 2005 and "[d]ays later . . . enlisted in the Army."

The conversation will go on and will do so without John Kerry who may be next seen at a Democratic Convention saying, "John Kerry, reporting for wedgie." UPDATE:
Reuters reports John Kerry is now going through a ceremonial ritual of apologies. Someone call Barbara Walters.

CNN reports two more US troop deaths were reported today bringing the number of US troops who died in Iraq in October to 105. The military tends to let those deaths trickle out after the press has done their monthly look back. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) reported that the toll included forty who died in Baghdad and 37 who died in Al-Anbar Province. 'Conventional wisdom' (not speaking of the NYT report just noted) is that the deaths are up due to the 'crackdown' in Baghdad (that cracked up). Those spinning that conventional wisdom don't appear to be willing to address the whack-a-mole problem US Senator John McCain pointed out in August:

Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.

Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that "224 Iraqi security forces and 1,315 civilians were killed in October". That count seems low and the source of the figures isn't identified.

In Australia, the report from the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco and the events after Kovco's death remains unreleased but remains in the headlines.
Australia's ABC reports that Angus Houston has stated that the report maintains Kovco wasn't rushed home (which would explain the mix up that sent Juso Sinanovic's body to Australia and left Jake Kovco's in Iraq) to try to build on the Anzac Day coverage. Expect to hear a lot about what it reportedly says as opposed to what it actually says, AAP informs the report won't be released until next year.

Back in Iraq, the issue is over who's pulling who? (Sing it, Aretha.) Did Nouri al-Maliki manage to outsmart his puppeteers?
The Australian reports that he did and that he's "exploiting Washington's vulnerability in the US congressional elections to flex his political muscle."

Closing with the reminder that
Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue the speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 1, TBA Miami, Florida Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32 Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA Cincinnati, OH Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidatefor congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt whocalled Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward. Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the War Venue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA St. Paul MN. Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand AvenueSponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM Milwaukee, WI. Location: Great Lakes Arlington EventContact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
bethmark@execpc.comSponsor: VFP Chapter 102 * See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM Boston, MA Encuentro 5 33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor (Chinatown)Sponsors: Asian American Movement Ezine Asian American Resource Workshop Boston Hawaiian Club Chinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global Action New England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM Cambridge, MA. Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard SquareSponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350
Nov 6, 2-4:30PM Boston, MA Location: University of Massachusetts/BostonSponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PM Worcester, MA. Location: Clark University University Building, Lurie Room Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10 Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.