Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Law and Disorder: Laura Flanders, Stanley Aronowitz

Okay, yesterday, I said I'd talk about Laura Flanders and Stanley Aronowitz debat in NYC which this week's Law and Disorder features approximately 30 minutes of. C.I.'s on the road (with Wally, Ava and Jess) and the disc just features first names so I hope I'm about to spell the last night right. Heidi Boghosian (one of the four co-hosts) introduced the segment. She noted that it was a debate and a discussion and I think that was a good intro for it.

It's really not a debate. Laura and Aronowitz are not coming from different belief systems and you hear that in the excerpt. They agree on most points. Where there is disagreement is on how much the Democratic party can be an agent of change. Laura, as she points out in Blue Grit, sees the change coming from the bottom up. She's a big believer in people power and her slogan is "Don't leave politics to the politicians." With Aronowitz, he believes that people will change and not a party. If he was teamed with a Party Hack, you might have had a debate. The same if Laura was paired with one. She said at one point that what he was talking about didn't contradict with what she was saying and that's true which is why I'm glad Heidi Boghosian (and my apologies if I spelled that wrong -- C.I. gave me a trick for getting it right some time ago but I'm not sure if I remember the trick correctly -- and, let's face it, I'm too lazy to look it up -- if it's wrong, Mike will catch it and tell me and I'll note that I got it wrong tomorrow) introduced it as a discussion and a debate.

It's bascially like having two people who believe rain is good and needed. They differ slightly (only slightly) in how they calculate rainfall.

By the way, check out Mikey Likes It! tomorrow because Mike plans to write about it as soon as he gets the disc in the mail and it usually arrives on Wednesdays. On the discs, that's the burn I was talking about last night. A friend of C.I.'s loves the show and burns copies. Mike holds on to all of his but C.I. will usually end up giving them out on the road -- to some student who feels there's no point. Not in objecting to the illegal war, but feels all media, big and small, hypes them. So C.I. will usually give that week's copy out on the road at some point. There will always be someone who is just really feeling that the country is in serious trouble (it is) and that no one's addressing that. To that person (and there's often more than one, but C.I. usually just has one copy), C.I. will give out the disc.

If you've never listened to Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner and Michael Smith, you may not understand why. If you've listened to their program, you will understand. And one thing we were talking about yesterday after we listened (Dona, Jim and Maggie listened with me) was we needed people like that in charge of think tanks and not these mushy, soft-centered Party Hacks in all the 'think tanks' that have sprung up in the last few years.

What Laura and Aronowitz both agree is that people can change things and that they need the information to do so. That's why Laura wrote her book. Blue Grit is not a shout out to DC. It's about the work across the country that everyday people are doing.

I like Laura. I listened to her before Air America. So I should probably note Aronowitz more before wrapping up because other wise I'll be accused of playing favorites.

He gave an example of how, in 1965, I believe, he and others in the SDS were discouraged by Democratic Party Hacks from doing a demonstration in DC. (They did it anyway.) And they were told that it would be bad for Johnson and for the party and blah blah blah. Aronowitz and others ignored it, as they should. This is how you effect change.

But Laura doesn't disagree with that. Not in her writing, not in her broadcasting. She isn't a Party Hack.

I think the moderator was the biggest problem. If he had the ability to ask any question, he should have tossed any prepared and gotten right down to tactics (which both Laura and Aronowitz wanted to talk about and did).

I think there's a great deal to enjoy in the exchange but Heidi was right, it's a discussion.

One thing that Aronowitz wants is a newspaper for the left (I know that from Mike) and I agree with that. I wish that would have been addressed. We do need a left paper. One that does reporting, etc. I share his attitude towards The Nation. That's not a left periodical. We need a newspaper to inform and so we can all be on the same page. I listened to that exchange (earlier broadcast of the show when he was a guest) and it's something Mike and I have discussed several times. One of the things he got dismissed on by another guest in that show was that he wasn't advocating where the money would come from in terms of an individual or an organization. I thought his point was strong, that the money should come from the people who will read it. I know there would be start up costs but I think there is too much money, for instance, in The Nation and I think if you're asking for big donors, you're asking to give up your independence.

Laura's worked with FAIR and I'm guessing she has some ideas about independent press (FAIR puts out EXTRA!) so I would have enjoyed it if the moderator had move to a topic like that. From her experiences, for instance, is Stanley Aronowitz's plan feasible. Aronowitz puts out an academic journal -- he probably does more, but I know about that. I'm guessing that based on his knowledge and experiences, the idea is feasible. (And there are also the experiences of his late wife, Ellen Willis, that he's probably drawing on.) But what works academically, for instance, might not work popularly. I hope it would. But I would have loved to have heard about that. And it seemed like, from his examples, that's what he was building too. (And he might have gotten to that and addressed it in the full discussion.) When he was talking about "we are experiencing the failure of the radical forums" -- to me, this was getting at his point (from another broadcast of the program) that we needed a daily paper.

Okay, that's going to be it for me. That was more than a paragraph! I'm also trying to pull together something to write for this weekend. (A review of Mavis Staples' new CD.) Elaine asked me to provide a link to an important column, which I do gladly. It's Tony Peyser's "The Column Arianna Huffington Doesn't Want You To Read" (BuzzFlash). You can read Elaine's thoughts in "Tony Peyser, Corporate Crime Reporter."

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Liam Madden gets an offer from the US military, a faux left think tank blathers, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance. Eli Israel is an Army Specialist resisting the illegal war while stationed in Iraq.
Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist (among others) have been getting the word out on the 26 year-old who "told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war." Courage to Resist notes that he did have a MySpace blog until the military cracked down on that and includes these statements:

I want you all to know, that most of us that are over here, came to Iraq, with the very best of intentions, and really thought that the Iraqi people wanted us here. Now that I'm here, I realize that they want to work it out themselves, and I know we should respect that.

We'll return to that later on, for now note the wisdom -- far more wisdom than some paid for 'insight' can manage. Resisting the war takes courage and the stand not only results in attacks from the right, it leads many on the left and 'left' to play mute. But covered or not, it remains an important action.

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In addition to highlight Eli Israel's brave stand,
Iraq Veterans Against the War are also launching a new action -- a summer base tour and have already visited Washington DC (June 23), Norfolk, VA (June 24). Next up? Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, NC on June 27th at 7:00 pm; Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on June 18th 7:00 pm; the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

In addition to the bus tour,
Iraq Veterans Against the War continue to fight the US military brass that is both (a) scared of them and (b) attempting to silence them. Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh have all been targeted. At his site, Kokesh gives a heads up to the latest on Madden via Madden's reply to Lt Col Blessing:

This letter is in response to the offer of the Marine Corps Mobilization Command relayed to me via my military appointed attorney. I am prepared to accept the settlement proposed in which the Marine Corps agrees not to continue with the discharge proceeding regarding my alleged disloyal statements and protest activity. I understand that this is contingent on my oral promise not to engage n further political protest while wearing articles of my Marine uniform.
I will make such an oral agreement and stand by my good word if the Marine Corps is prepared to meet the following condition.
I will orally agree to not wear my military uniforms while engaged in any political protests, hell, I'll have it carved into stone if you'd like, upon receiving a signed, written statement on official USMC letterhead acknowledging that my statements in question were neither disloyal nor inaccurate. If the Marine Corps issues this statement, apologizing for erroneously (or possibly vindictively) accusing me of disloyalty to my country, I will not share it with another living soul.

Madden's letter continues at Kokesh's site.

Turning to Iraq and focusing on trends of violence, in yesterday's New York Times,
Alissa J. Rubin noted, "Farther north, in Mosul, a policewoman was shot to death by gunmen as she left home for work. A 35-year-old Iraqi journalist was also shot to death on her way home from work in Mosul, The Associated Press reported. The journalist, Zeena Shakir Mahmoud, had been writing about women's affairs for the newspaper Al Haqiqa." Ellen Massey (IPS) reports on the "one important group that has largely been left out of the process: women. But they are refusing to be left behind. With little international support or media attention, a network of more than 150 women's organisations across Iraq is fighting to preserve their rights in the new constitutional revision." And, Massey reports, they are attempting to enlist support from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Not all have been silent on the attacks on women and women's rights. In March, MADRE issued "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (writing at The Huffington Post) observed: "Call me crazy but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority." Flanders also interviewed MADRE's Yanar Mohammed on RadioNation with Laura Flanders in December (December 9, 2006).
May 14th,
Amy Goodman spoke with Yanar Mohammed (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq). In April, Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue) addressed the issue. Yifat Susskind, author of the MADRE report, wrote, at CounterPunch, a very realistic look at the attacks on women and their rights in Iraq and notes: "The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty. The US has empowered Islamist political parties whose clerics promote 'honor killing' as a religious duty. . . The US also destroyed the Iraqi state, including much of the judicial system, leaving people more reliant on conservative tribal authorities to settle disputes and on unofficial 'religious courts' to mete out sentencing, including 'honor killings'." To be fair, those and others have noted to attacks on women. Most media has sat out (big and small) but it's equally true that so have the faux think tanks. Women are also facing other problems created by the US war and occupation (illegal war, illegal occupation). Last month, Katherine Zdepf (New York Times) examined life for Iraqi demale refugees and found . . . prostitution. Nihal Hassan (Independent of London) addressed the topic this week and noted, "There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founded of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000." In a further sign of how bad things are for women in Iraq, the US military reports that an Iraqi women "safely delivered a newborwn thanks to the efforts of Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soliders and the Iraqi Army." A pregnant woman nows needs "the help of troops from 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division" in order to avoid a home birth. Speaking in Chicago last week, Dahlia Wasfi (via the US Socialist Worker) summed the situation up: "Women have all but disappeared from their roles in the workforce. Once contributors to Iraqi society as teachers, judges, lawyers, doctors, engineers, traffic police and more, the threat of violence and kidnapping now imprisons many women in their homes. But even there, they are not safe from the terrorism of daily house raids by American soldiers and their subordinate Iraqi police."

Turning to another Iraq topic that trends repeatedly, bridges. What should now be apparent is that Iraqi bridges are being targeted not by accident or whim but with an intent to control the traffic flow and deny access.
IRIN reports today that the destruction of and to bridges is impeding "delivery of humanitarian aid in war-torn Iraq" and "Some analysts see the attacks on the bridges as an attempt to make it difficult for Iraqi and US troops to bring supplies from one side of the [Tigris] river to the other. Others believe the goal is to divide the city's predominately Shia east bank, known as Risafa, from the mostly Sunni west bank, or Karkh." And for those who still can't grasp how serious the issue is, note that the US military has issued a press release on it in which the world learns that, following the June 2nd bombing of the Sarihah Bridge, the US military and Iraqi forces were able to create "a critical bypass road to reestablish traffic around the Sarihah Bridge near Tuz Khurmatu, Iraq, June 24." Now potable water, among many other things, the Iraqis have waited and waited in vain for. But on June 2nd a bridge is bombed and within three weeks a "critical bypass" had been completed. Even if some still do not grasp what's going on, the US military brass grasps the danger.

Another trend story that can't be captured in the daily violence summaries is life for Iraqi children.
IRIN noted in May that Iraqi's vaccination supplies have been largely destroyed. In April, IRIN sounded the alarm for the increased risk of "[d]ehydration, cholera and bacterial infections" which would impact children (and the elderly) in greater numbers. And near the middle of this month, IRIN noted that thousands of Iraqi children now live on the streets and are forced to work, as young as 12, to provide family income. As Dahlia Wasfi observed last week, "For the children . . ., during the first three and a half years of occupation, 270,000 newborns received no immunizations. Eight hundred thousand Iraqi children are not in school due to the chaos, lack of security and severe poverty. According to the State of the World's Mothers report, released last month by Save the Children, the chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster in Iraq than anywhere in the world since 1990. In 2005, one in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching the age of 5. Operation Enduring Freedom would more appropriately be named Operation Dead Children." And today, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the "immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequnes" and noted: "Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands."

The above three trends result from the illegal war and occupation. But no 'benchmarks' address women, children or infrastructure. Faux think tanks are happy to press for
the theft of Iraqi oil but no interest at all in something as basic as vaccinations for children.

The violence continued today and among the events were . . .


Reuters reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left three wounded. The US military notes that British Royal Air Force GR-4 Tornado bombed a building "near Slman Pak" today with a "2,000-pound bomb" and, with the help of two OH-58D helicopters, killed at least six people who they hope, really, really hope were so-called 'insurgents.'


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Nihad Mohammed Abdul Rhman ("assistant dean of Al Nahrain college") was shot dead in Baghdad, that Hussein Al Najjar ("Iman of Al Arab msoque") was shot dead in Basra and Hamid Abid Sarhan Al Shijiri ("sheikh of Shijirat tribe") was shot dead in Baghdad. Following yesterday's Baghdad hotel bombing, which claimed the lives of four sheikhs, this 'random act of violence' might not be so random. Reuters note a police officer shot dead in Baghdad (three more injured) and a student shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21 corpses were discovered in the capital.

Turning to faux think tanks, allegedly on the left. Today, on NPR's
The Diane Reham Show, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Republican Lawrence Hart (there will be no correction to that characterization, words and actions indicate he remains a member of the Reagan cabinet in heart and mind). Now if our goal was to waste time, we could gush and note every word out of Brezezinski's mouth. But we don't give a damn. Similarly, we do not give a damn about a xenophobic, faux peace plan coming out of the centrist Democratic think tank known as The Center for American Progress. Yes, some of the left are stroking it. We won't.

A few basics. You cannot say you are opposed to "permanent bases in Iraq" (as the laughable report claims) and that this a 'troops home now' proposal when the reality is, your plan staffs the "embassy" with troops and the Baghdad embassy is not an embassy,
it is a fortress -- 104 acres. In addition, the report would allow troops to be left in Iraq in order to "work with Kurdish peshmerga in protecting Iraqis who have fled to northern Iraq to escape the violence . . ." Oh, are we still serving that lie? Are we still pretending that there's any real difference in that section?

There's not. The attention's been on the Shi'ite and Sunni conflict, the bloodbath in nothern Iraq's never received much attention outside of a few human rights organizations. That region, and the people holding power in it, got the gold star and the US looked the other way. The reality is the same competition of resources and power going on throughout Iraq (and instigated and stoked by the US) is going on there as well (and expected to increase).

It's one falsehood after another from the laughable report put out by the laughable Center for American Progress. Take the claim that moving thousands of US troops (remember -- people are calling this a 'peace plan') to "Afghanistan to complete the unaccomplished missing of eradicating Al Qaeda there." Eradicating al Qaeda? First of all, the US military is currently responsible for more deaths in Afghanistan than any other group or grouping. Second of all, the problems throughout the 90s are the same problems today and you can thank the US administration for bombing an already war torn country, strutting around with big words, only to turn the country back over to the same war lords.

Now the centrist Center may not be stupid. They may just be attempting to take the easiest road. Or they may be attempting to clampdown on very real outrage (the Center includes a lot of Council for Foreign Relations types including Lawrence J. Korb)? It doesn't matter.

If you have any respect for Iraqis, for Americans, for humanity, read through the 61 page (counting end credits) report and try not to be offended. It won't be easy and what the Center is STILL selling is the notion that the US can or should dictate terms to Iraqis. Equally appalling is that the report fails to note that the US presence fuels the resistance (let alone why that reaction is). When you can't even talk that reality, you have nothing worth saying.

Last week, a report was issued [PDF format warning] that did actually attempt to address reality, the "
Independent Report on Iraq:"

Executive Summary [
Read] [French]Map of Major Coalition Attacks, Bases and Prisons [See map]Political Map of Iraq [See map]1. Introduction [Read]2. Destruction of Cultural Heritage [Read]3. Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons [Read]4. Unlawful Detention [Read]5. Abuse and Torture of Prisoners [Read]6. Attacks on Cities [Read]7. Killing Civilians, Murder and Atrocities [Read]8. Displacement and Mortality [Read]9. Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance [Read]10. Long-Term Bases and the New Embassy Compound [Read]11. Other Issues [Read]- Iraqi Public Opinion and the Occupation- Cost of the War and Occupation12. Conclusion and Recommendations [Read]

CounterSpin is to be the only national media that will cover it?

Meanwhile the faux think tank gets attention, gets coverage and the reality is that it has nothing to offer. Assume for a moment that the plan was not so offensive and did not assume Iraqis are 'bad' children, is Bully Boy going to implement it? No. It's nothing but cover. "We had a plan!" And, apparently, if a Dem gets in the White House, this 'plan' will allow the Dem to propose another year of illegal war?

As is too often the case,
Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) is ahead of the curve. Today he addresses the realities of neocons ("their goals for the US are no different than the goals of the rest of the Washington establishment. Only their means differ at times.") and the realities of the lead up to this war which did not come in 2002 or 2001:

But, someone might say, Al Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq. Yet, Bill Clinton and Al Gore attacked Iraq several times, maintained an illegal flyover program on the country that bombed the country almost daily, and enforced sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. All of these policies along with others not mentioned created the situation George Bush and his administration found themselves in in March 2003.

That's why the left doesn't need faux 'left' think tanks and why the left shouldn't be in bed with them. Yes, so-called "Student Nation" that means you.