Thursday, July 05, 2007

Short post

Right now, I don't even want to write. I am so angry at The Nation for pulling their last minute stunt and costing us all hours and hours of time Tuesday night and Wednesday morning that went into:

"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"

The thing is wonderful. We did a great job. Maggie was reading it to me over the phone today. She called and asked if I'd read it? I told her I never wanted to read it, that took up too much of our time. She then proceeded to read it all (and it's long) over the phone to me. I was in the bathtub, soaking. Ava and C.I., after we finished what was pretty much the final draft, got asked to/stuck with, create a new opening because we really felt that was the weakest part. We need a grabber. I know no one wanted to put pressure on anyone because we were all tired, exhausted, rubbing our eyes, you name it. But it needed a really strong opening and what we had just wasn't cutting it. It needed their wit and their ability to just grab you from the beginning.

I was curious about that, about how it opened. (Jim posted it here for me Wednesday morning, by the way. Jim, Dona and C.I. got our passwords and posted the feature at all sites so the rest of us could get a little sleep.) But not so curious I even wanted to boot up the computer.

When Maggie read the opening they wrote, wait, let me put that in. Here's their opening:

The 2007 year for The Nation was kicked off at the end of December with a January 1, 2007 issue. The cover pictured Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. For reasons still unclear, except a possible deficiency that makes anything beyond the obvious impossible, the fifty-five-year-old, be speckled, John Denver-like mayor was depicted shirtless, sporting chest hair, flashing his manly pits at the readers, while both arms were thrown straight in the air and, did we mention, his hands were clad in boxing gloves.
For those who missed the obvious, Rocky Anderson was portrayed as Rocky because, after all, what's lefter than Sylvester Stallone? The Nation, intentionally or not, was telegraphing to one and all that they could "cowboy up" as well as any Bully Boy in the White House. Any who couldn't grasp the non-subtle point had only turn to page 25.

That was so much better than what we had and we knew they could pull it off. It wasn't fair to ask but it was needed. And they pulled it off. When Maggie read the opening to me, I stopped her and made her read it again.

I asked Ava and she said, "We had no idea of what we were going to write and grabbed that issue" (we quote a book review from it in the feature) "and still had no idea. I don't know if we were even looking at the cover at that point. And there was a period where I honestly wadded the issue up and tossed it at C.I. We were laughing, this wasn't 'I'm hitting you with a magazine.'
At some point, we uncrumpled it and C.I. said, 'Did you notice this cover?' and I really hadn't. We're staring at it and we finally had the opening. We wrote it quickly and weren't sure the others" (Ty, Jim, Jess and Dona were editing the final draft and also trying to punch it up in places) "would even like it. We were expecting it to be one of those times when Jim says 'almost, but try again.' Maybe it was how late it was, but they were laughing when they read it and Jim said it was perfect."

We're all so tired. Wally and C.I. are out on the road speaking about Iraq. Wally's young, that's his excuse. C.I. just keeps going and going and going . . . Like the TV commercial.

On the Mavis Staples review I'm working on. I'm not working on it right now. I'll start early on Saturday. I'm just so not in writing a thing. I don't even want to be online right now, to be honest. I'm older than Wally (many years) and I don't bounce back from an all nighter so quickly especially since I was working Monday and Tuesday. Long days. I get done Tuesday and head straight to C.I.'s and that's when I get the word that The Nation has a response to our feature. The one we'd already worked two weeks on and stayed up late finishing Monday night. I cursed, groaned and probably stamped my feet. That was such nonsense on their part to wait until the last minute and pull that crap. That was so like a Friday government information dump.

So that's where I'm at tonight. Still wiped out. But proud of what we wrote. And that we managed to pull it out.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and note the commentary at the end, well said:

Thursday, July 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Australia says the illegal war was all about oil, the US military announces more deaths of US service members, IVAW continues their bus tour to get the word out and let's all try to be real about the draft during Vietnam because it never effected "all" to begin with -- though that nonsense keeps stripping women of their earned recognition for their role in the peace movement.

Australia's Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, once seen as a 'rising star' on the political scene, garnered plenty of attention today after his
interview with Australia's ABC in which he said oil was the reason for the illegal war. BBC notes: "This is thought to be the first time the Australian government has admitted any link between troop deployment in Iraq and securing energy resources." While Al Jazeera reports, "Australia has admitted for the first time that securing the supply of oil is a key motive for its involvement in the US-led war in Iraq." Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, has already issued a denial but not before the opposition leader Kevin Rudd declared, "When Mr Howard was asked back in 2003 whether this was had anything to do with oil, Mr Howard said in no way did it have anything to do with oil. This Government simply makes it up as it goes along on Iraq." If Howard's party (Liberal Party) loses this year's election, Rudd would become Prime Minister. (Rudd is the leader of the country's Labor Party.)

On the Iraq oil law/theft of oil,
CBS and AP report, "Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish leaders on Thursday were trying to overcome a Sunni Arab boycott of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which threatens to hold up a key new oil law. The United States is pressing hard for passage of the long-delayed oil law".

Turning to war resistance. Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale continues to garner strong reviews. The latest is Hannah Morong's "How one soldier got out of Iraq" (ISR) which concludes: "The book's strength is its simplicity. It tells the story of an ordinary soldier, and by doing so, tells us more than we can ever learn from broad statistics. Because Josha Key's experiences are so typical of soldiers, the book shows how ordinary soldiers view life in Iraq, and the potential for those soldiers to turn against the war." To set the tone for later in the snapshot, we'll note this from Key's book, The Deserter's Tale (pp. 209-210):

A Canadian psychiatrist told me that you never truly emerge from post-traumatic stress disorder, that you simply learn to live with it.There are certain things that I avoid these days, such as alcohol and crowds, because I fear they will trigger more of my own blackouts. I know that thousands of American soldiers have abused drugs or committed suicide after returning home from war. It would be easy to follow in the steps of many in my own family and drown my shame and my sorrows in alcohol. Alcohol, however, could lead to the very problem of suicidal depression that have plagued vets for generations.

Key is not the only war resister who has told their story in book form. Another is Camilo Mejia whose
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia came out in May. Writing for The Progressive Media Project (part of The Progressive), Camilo reflects on this time of year, July 4th, and wonders:

Is it patriotic to support a war that our president launched on false premises and that has turned into a disaster?
Or is it patriotic to oppose that war?
I had to face this question while in uniform.
Back in 2003, when I fought in Iarq, my infantry unit was going out on combat missions without bulletproof vests and without basic radio equipment. For a while, we even had to suspend patrols because we didn't have enough water to hydrate ourselves. After 10 months of deployment and five months of combat without a purpose, I made the agonizing decision not to return to the war. A few months later, I publicly denounced the war and vowed that I would no longer fight in it. That got me a 12-month sentence in a U.S. Army jail, demotion to the lowest rank and a bad-conduct discharge from the service. I have no regrets. Today, our young men and women in the military still find themselves in the role of occupiers, in a war that to this very day remains unjustified, a war that seems to be helping only U.S. companies like Halliburton that have profited from it.

Saying "no" to the illegal war is not something done or being done just by one or two people. There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

If the Key passage looks familiar it's because it was noted on Tuesday but other things prevented the follow up.
Helen Redmond (CounterPunch) addresses the issue of combat traumas (such as PTSD) from a historical perspective and notes, "After the war ended, Vietnam vets forced the Veterans Administration to address the mental health issues of returning soldiers. In 1980, post-traumatic stress disorder finally became a 'real' diagnosis and was included in the American Psychiatric Association's official manual of mental disorders. Without the organizing of soldiers, together with the anti-war movement, the psychological trauma of war (PTSD) would have been conveniently forgotten once again. Those who run the war machine have always sought to ignore, downplay or deny the irrefutable fact that war profoundly damages the human psyche. How could they continue to recruit fresh troops if it were widely known, discussed, and taken seriously that almost every soldier will experience PTSD to some degree? That for some, they will be psychiatrically disabled for life, or become addicted to drugs to cope with the flashbacks and fear, perhaps unable to work and unable to enjoy the freedom they supposedly fought for." At the middle of last month, Anne Hull and Dana Priest (Washington Post) offered the latest update to their ongoing series on the topic of veterans and care by examing Joshua Calloway who returned from Iraq to find himself in a "locked-down psychriatic ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center" and his struggle both for treatment and to get his injuries certified so that he could receive the disability pay he deserved, his very long struggle. As Pauline Jelinek (AP) reported this week, 1 (800) 948-8523 is the toll free number for the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline (set up in response to the public outcry following the reporting of Hull, Priest, ABC's Bob Woodruff and others).

That issue and others have been raised (and continue to be raised by
Iraq Veterans Against the War who are concluding their summer base tour. Showtime is filming the tour for a documentary. The tour (or this leg of it) is winding down. The next scheduled event is today, a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; followed by 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.

Throughout the tour, the US military has harassed (or maybe they were just 'funnin') with trumped up arrests over the very pressing legal issue of to t-shirt or not to t-shirt and in the first or second degree.
Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden and Nate Lewis were arrested at Fort Benning most recently and Bob Audette (The Brattleboro Reformer) quotes Madden stating, "There's no reason we should have been arrested for trespassing. I don't see how it's trespassing to approach a gate on an open port" and Madden vows that the arrest aren't going to stop IVAW. Again, the bus tour is concluding (or this leg of it). Showtime is filming it for a documentary. If you're able to attend any of the last stops, please consider doing so.

Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports that the number of corpses discovered in Baghdad for the month of June was 453 and that "was 14 percent higher in June than in January [321], according to unofficial Health Ministry statistics." Michael Schwartz (CounterPunch), addressing The Lancet study which revealed that over 655,000 Iraqis had died since the start of the illegal war, observes, "These figures sound impossible to most Americans. Certainly 300 Iraqis killed by Americans each day would be headline news, over and over again. And yet the electronic and print media simply do not tell us that the U.S. is killing all these people. We hear plenty about car bombers and death squads, but little about Americans killing Iraqis, except the occasional terrorist, and the even more occasional atrocity story." Remember that point for the last section of the snapshot. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The Justice Department has announced it will seek the death penalty if an accused former soldier is convicted of committing rape and murder in the Iraqi town of Mahmoudiya last year. Steven Green is accused of raping and murdering fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and killing her two parents and five-year-old sister. Two soldiers have already been sentenced to jail terms in the case." The two are sentenced are James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. A question worth asking is whether the declaration is an attempt to influence a potential jury pool? Would some jurors who would vote to convict be so willing to convict if it meant the death penalty? Josh White (Washington Post) reported on the move on Wednesday noting that the March 12, 2006 crimes were "one of the worst homicide cases of the war. Green is accused of plotting the attack with three other U.S. soldiers in the hotly contested Mahmudiyah area south of Baghdad."

Also on Wednesday,
T. Christian Miller (Los Angeles Times) reported on the topic of contractors in Iraq noting that while the escalation means 160,000 US service members are now in Iraq, over "180,000 civilians -- including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis -- are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts . . . The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the Bush administration has relied on corporations to carry out the occupation of Iraq". The big p.r. push (of which that article is not a part of) is to 'humanize' and put a 'friendly face' on the contractor issue with big money being spent by various companies to work that friendly press until they go beyond 'friendly' (wait for the second date).

Turning to Iraq where the the
US military announced yesterday, "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed when a helicopter went down in Ninewah Province, July 4."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left three police officers wounded, a Baghdad bombing that claimed 15 lives (twenty-seven wounded) "near Al Baghdadi restaurant," and a Baghdad bombing that killed one person. Reuters reports the fifteen dead in the bombing near the restaurant climbed to 17 and the count on the wounded is now twenty-five. Reuters notes a Yusufiya bombing that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers,


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bank robbery resulted 1 guard killed with two others and two civilians kidnapped, a police officer shot dead in Baquba, five security guards were wounded in Baquba, and a Kirkuk bombing that claimed 1 life and left four more wounded. Reuters notes 3 people shot dead in Samawa, 6 people shot dead in Ishaqi, and 1 Iraqi translator shot dead in Kut.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 24 corpses discovered in Baghdad, a severed head was discovered in Baquba while two corpses were turned over to the Baquba hospital (a man killed in a bombing and a man shot dead). Reuters notes five corpses discovered in Falluja (and that 16 was the number of corpses discovered in Baghdad Wednesday).

Today, the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two other Soldiers were wounded when an explosive formed projectile detonated near their patrol during combat operations in a southern section of the Iraqi capital July 5."
ICCC total for US service members killed in the illegal war currently stands at 3590 since the start of the illegal war and 12 for the month of July thus far.

Turning to media criticism news,
Norman Solomon (at CounterPunch) notes Peter Hart's "Transmission Accomplish" (in FAIR's Extra! pp. 11- 13) and explains, "Many of America's most prominent journalists want us to forget what they were saying and writing more than four years ago to boost the invasion of Iraq. Now, they tiptoe around their own roles in hyping the war and banishing dissent to the media margins." Those quoted in Hart's article include Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Dan Rather, Eason Jordan and Gwen Ifill. (There are many more, those are the big names listed, there are smaller names and, of course, the usual right-wing nuts.) Solomon zooms in on Michael Gordon of the New York Times' justification, on CNN, for the bombing of an Iraq TV station (a war crime): "Let's unpack Gordon's rationale for a military attack on Iraqi broadcasters: They presented propaganda to viewers, aired triumphal images and touted the authority of the top man in the government, while an adversary was 'trying to send the exact opposite message.' By those standards, Iraqis would have been justified in targeting any one of the American cable news networks, especially Fox News Channel." [Note that in addition to Hart's article, the back cover of the May/June issue of Extra! also features Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World's "Great Moments in Punditry."]

On the subject of
War Pornographer Michael Gordon, Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) addresses Michael Gordon's nonsense Tuesday noting the push for war with Iran is exactly the same as Gordo's earlier push for war with Iraq, zeroes in on the man doing the PowerPoint presentation Gordo took notes for (Gen. Kevin J. Berner who "arrived in Iraq just a few weeks ago from his previous job, as special assistant -- to President Bush in the White House") and notes:

Meanwhile, he has written many articles more optimistic about the "surge" than most of his colleagues in the press. They reflect the view of the surge he stated on Charlie Rose's PBS show back in January (he was chastised by his editors then for speaking his mind too freely): "So I think you know, as a purely personal view, I think it's worth one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view, I think it's worth one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we're never really tried to win. We've simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think if it's done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something."

That comment in support of the escalation ('surge') is very interesting considering that when
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!, March 19, 2006) asked him about the illegal war his reply was, "Well, that's a policy judgment and a political judgment that's really beyond the scope of our book". On the issue of the bombing of the TV station, he attempted to blame his own remarks on Tommy Franks when Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) questioned him. (Click here for how insane his Tommy Franks 'defense' was.)

And in WHAT A LOAD OF S**T news,
Richard C. Paddock (Los Angeles Times) stumbles, fumbles and finally falls as he attempts to address why today is not the "60s" (for one thing, because it's 2007). Building on Tom Hayden's contention that the issue is the lack of draft (an issue too often cited and too often overrated), Paddock informs:

In the 1960s, the possiblity of being drafted at the age of 18 - before they could even vote in those days - compelled students to decide where they stood on Vietnam. Being summoned for a dehumanizing pre-induction physical brought home the reality of the war.

What? Is that how it played out? No, it's not how it played out for all. It played out that way for SOME MALES. Women are yet again left out the narrative. Women were leaders in the peace movement during the "60s" and, for the record, not one of them was threatened with the draft. This is the dumbest bit of crap that continues to get repeated about the student movement of the 60s and it is and was completely false. The draft wasn't a threat to women in college or high school. The draft really wasn't a threat to men in college because, as college students, they had a deferrment. (Just ask Dick Cheney.)

Mark Rudd (rightly) notes the issue of organizing skills (and how
SDS is now addressing that). That is very real issue. But those of us who lived through the "60s" are very aware that fear "we will be drafted!" wasn't a worry to half of us and that the alleged fear wasn't a fear for a male college student. Organizing skills is the issue, not the lack of a draft. And this repeated nonsense totally strips away the very real activism that took place in middle schools (we called them "junior high" in those days) whose students were, at the least, five years from being eligable for a draft (a lifetime away, at that age). The draft primarily effected the working class and the poor. Though both categories were represented on college campuses across the country, they were always a smaller number of the student population. Those with no hopes of affording college worried tremendously about the draft and some did participate in various actions; however, colleges students then were primarily from the middle class and the upper class. (Hence the press backlash at the time about how 'spoiled' we allegedly were for protesting -- allegedly -- on our parents' -- they said father's -- dime back in the day.)

Economic class then was and now is an issue. The affluence of the '60s' for most Americans lucky enough to go to college is not as common today. Many more students today are required to work. As someone present, in real time, and not exiled or kicked out (as some commentators 'flashingback' today were) of the movement, let me repeat WOMEN WERE A LARGE PART OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT. Let me further repeat, WOMEN DID NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING DRAFTED. It's a nice little comfort blanket for some men to drag around; however, it is not reality.

And before some dope wants to say, "Well . . . uh, the draft effected women . . . uh, because the men they dated . . ." Most college women dated men in college, their professors, or men much older and out of draft range. And that's not the issue being discussed, the issue Paddock is discussing is the threat of being drafted and the threat of "a dehumanizing pre-induction physical". I'm getting damn tired of seeing history rewritten so women are written out. No one who was there and hasn't blown their brains out completely on drugs would ever claim women weren't at least half (at least!) of the peace movement. Now maybe part of the problem today is that no slave labor pool exists because, certainly in the early days, the women were steered away from leadership roles, expected to fetch the coffee for the meetings, take notes, type, paint signs (and banners and posters) and run the mimeograph machines. So one could argue that the free slave labor that so many men built (or tried to) their names on in the early days of the peace movement no longer exists and that's slowed today's progress. But you should not be able to get away with claiming that it was fear of the draft or fear of a medical exam for the draft powering college activism. Is not and was not so.

Along with students being more likely today to hold down jobs while attending school, it's equally true that the economy is much worse than during the '60s' with real wages down and much more. In fact, we addressed all of this back in January at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "

Jess: The high schoolers were furious at some of the comments. My point was, what is Anderson grading by when he says low turnout. Low turnout compared to what? Every thing starts somewhere. If he's expecting the 60s all over again, and many are, it needs to be pointed out that for White people, many of them, the 60s were a time of profit. There's a world of difference today. Billie sent in a thing just last week, to The Common Ills, an action in her area. She noted that she wished she could participate but she couldn't. As she explained, she's already taken off from work this month for the 3,000 mark, to protest the anniversary of Guantanamo and for a third action I forget. She's got kids. She's barely making ends meet. These are differences between then and now and they shouldn't be forgotten.Ava: And it's also true that there were more women, not in college, who could make the peace demonstations and marches in the sixties. They were homemakers. Homemakers still exist and a few of them exist that don't also hold down a job outside of the home. But that's another area effecting the turnouts. It's equally true that today's college set is not as prosperous as those in the 60s. Forget that college is higher now, significantly higher, we're not talking about inflation, we're talking about college rates sky rocketing, and a lot of students are struggling with work and school. When people ask why retired persons are so prominent in the peace movement today it is because they have the time. I won't say the money because fixed incomes and attacks on the safety net have ensured that's not the case. But they do have the time. People today work longer hours than they did in the 60s and, in terms of real wages, for less pay. If you're comparing what's going on today with what went on in the sixties, you're making a huge mistake. And someone could, in 1969, say, "I'm skipping work and if they fire me, I'll get a new job." Jobs are much scarcer.Jess: And that's the reality. And it's equally true that we're not coming off the civil rights movement as we oppose this war. People are not used to mass mobilization. We've got to relearn that.Dona: Relearn the wheel, as the feminist saying goes.

In addition, real important point: media coverage. There is the fact that All Things Media Big and Small continue to do a really poor job of treating Iraq as a war (legal or illegal) that the US is involved in (because the US started, of course). In addition to that, there is the HUGE difference in reporting today. Iraq, briefly, started out with the bulk of the reporters able to move about semi-freely and then, by 2004, holed up in the Green Zone, only going out with Iraqi troops (there are exceptions, I'm speaking overall). There was a word for that, remember? Embeds. Things have only gotten worse. The reporters are still in the Green Zone, still not leaving without military escorts. Things are so bad that the Green Zone is under attack these days (seriously since June of 2006). This is not Vietnam. Reporters are not traveling around the country. They are dependent (and this isn't a justification) on reports from officials. Word of mouth. Let's repeat, reports are largely reporting what they are told. Vietnam did allow for some to break from that. That is not the case today. And the issue of the media is the issue that, outside of
Danny Schechter and a few others (Solomon's already noted addressing it in this snapshot) are willing to address.