Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thomas Friedman Junior Division

Have you met the new Thomas Friedman? His name is David Sirota (see "Stupid Ass Sirota" and "Sad Sirota") and he's done one laughable column this week after another. I'll link to this one at Common Dreams because I visit that site.

Sirota is a 'writer' in the same way that Thomas Friedman is and that's why he wants to take a little trip to a plant. But not before trying to covertly push his main point from last week: "Peace movement, shut the hell up." He gets that across by insisting that it's only when the upper-middle class is alarmed that things happen in Congress.

He's such an ass.

Accept that his statement is true (I'm not disputing it or endorsing it), mass protests worries the establishment -- which worries Congress more than upper-middle class concerns. He's apparently missed the David Cay Johnston's report in the New York Times this week about who's getting rich.

He's tried several faces this week, including populist, none of them fit, so it's really no surprise that he ends the week as Thomas Friedman, Junior Division. He's got the tired writing down pat, he just needs to work on the tired phrasing.

The only thing surprising is that supposed left magazines print him.

Betty's latest just went up and she wanted me to note a few things. She just could not it get to come together last night. She read about four drafts to C.I. and over the phone and they just weren't working. C.I. suggested she get some sleep and it would work itself out while she slept. She didn't want to do that because Trina tries to link to her each week (they both post once a week) and because C.I. would hold off on Saturday morning's entry until her chapter was finished. But she finally agreed and when she woke up this morning, after fixing breakfast for the kids, she finally had the solution. "If it makes me happy, why the hell is Friedman so sad?" is the new chapter. Be sure to read it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

March 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, war resister Corey Glass appears before a supposed independent body, and the puppet of the occupation plays catch & release while the 'crackdown' again cracks up.

Starting with war resisters. In Canada, a US war resister appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board today.
Matthew Chung (Toronto Star) reports that Corey Glass and his attorney, Jeffrey House, will attempt to argue that the Iraq war is illegal. Chung notes: "Glass joined the National Guard in Indiana four years ago to, so he says, fill sand bags and help guard U.S. soil. Instead he was sent to Iraq, a war he said he doesn't believe in. He fled during a two-week leave." So he says, Chung? He's maintained that repeatedly including when he spoke at Tilley Hall Auditorium in October of last year "filling sand bags to stop a flood on American soil". After self-checking out, Glass was underground for seven months before going to Canada and, during that time, the Army (which supposedly just waits for traffic violations to catch self-check outs) was visiting his parents, calling phone numbers trying to track him down. As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved. However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed. Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back." In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it. If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." The supposed independent body of the Immigration and Review Board has refused to grant asylum thus far to every Iraq war resister who has come before it.

Staying on war resistance, Joshua Key, who is in Canada with his wife Brandi Key and their children, wrote, with Lawrence Hill, his story in the new book
The Deserter's Tale which has been receiving favorable reviews across the political spectrum. Karen Alego Krizman (Rocky Mountain News) is the latest to review the book and observes, "Key admits he believed the recruiter who promised he wouldn't have to go overseas or into combat if he joined the Army - mere months after 9/11. Couple this naivete with the steady dose of racism Key says the Army fed recruits and it's no wonder that abuses such as Abu Ghraib occur." Paul Gessel (Ottawa Citizen) notes the Ottawa International Writers Festival from April 15-22 will include Lawrence hill, David Suzuki, Tom Harpur, Roy MacGregor and Barbara Gowdy and reports: "Hill is riding high this year with two books, one a novel about the slave trade called The Book of Negroes and the other a non-fiction story called The Deserter's Tale, about an American soldier who went AWOL while home on leave from fighting in Iraq. That soldier, Joshua Key, is trying to obtain refugee status in Canada and will be joining Hill at the festival April 16."

On Monday, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees took a look at Kyle Snyder and other war resisters who were making a life in Nelson British Columbia. Cooper noted, "We all know the stories about Vietnam War-era deserters who fled to Canada. But less well-known are the members of today's armed forces who are refusing to serve in Iraq. Many have fled to the same town in Canada where they're being welcomed with open arms." Thelma Gutierrez was the reporter for the segment.

Kyle Snyder: I joined when I was 19. . . I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face. . . . I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me. . . . I was first angry at that. And then I became angry at the fact that there were no repercussions. This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again. . . . I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on,' nobody does that. . . . I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

Meanwhile, Canada's
Chronicle Herald reports, "Police have initiated an investigation into" Snyder's arrest "which will be conducted by the Abbotsford police". Snyder was pulled from the home he shares with Ryan and Jen Johnson, the day before his wedding, arrested in his boxers and carried to a jail where he was held (still in his boxers) for several hours as a result of some sort of 'special' and 'unofficial' deal between the police and the US military.

Glass, Key, Snyder and Johnson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In the United States, the press continues to believe that claims of a withdrawal garner more interest than headlines of "Some Troops May Come Home . . . Someday." The realities were addressed on yesterday's

Meanwhile in Washington the Senate a sort time ago passed a long discussed resolution that ties military funding to non-specific suggestions that President Bush accept the goal but not the requirement of removing less than half of the 150,000 US occupation troops from Iraq by the unenforceable deadline of March 2008. Nevertheless, President Bush has promised a veto. Today's 51 to 47 vote was mostly along party lines and now the Senate and House must resolve their respective legislation neither of which require a full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq till well after the installation of the next American president. And that's some of the news this Thursday, March 29th, 2007. From exile, I'm Robert Knight.

Robert Knight has been one of the consistent voices throughout. (Also on yesterday's
Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein interviewed the Washington Post's Peter Eisner. Rebecca will be covering that late tonight.) This week's CounterSpin (which began airing today) featured a discussion on the issue of what the US House and Senate bills actually state as opposed to the way the press has portrayed them. Co-host Janine Jackson spoke with The Institute for Policy Studies Erik Leaver. Leaver noted that
the bills' "terms of reference only are for combat troops and if you look at the current number of troops deployed in Iraq only half of them would be considered as are combat troops." Jackson, noting reality versus coverage, asked, "Well then are some of the press characterizations or glosses of this as a withdrawal bill, it sounds as though that's not quite on the money?" To which Leaver responded, "That's exactly correct."

Janine Jackson: Well looking at that broader context and we don't have much time left, the majority of the population want an end to the occupation and the war and media acknowledge that, it's their polls that show that, but it doesn't seem somehow guide the questions that they ask or the sources that speak to and I wonder in this case were there not other pieces of legislation that maybe came closer to what the public was calling for? Was there no way for journalists to kind of put this in the context of: "Is this going to end the war sooner?"

Eric Leavler: I think that is the missing element in the story. Again, if the news media reported on: "This brings half the troops home" I think you would see a lot more public discontent about the bill and they would perhaps I think there would be a lot more dissatisfied with Democrats than they are.

Michael Shank (Foreign Policy in Focus) interviews US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich explains why he refused to vote 'yes' on the House bill, "It's very simple: the bill kept the war going. I want to see this war end. I have created, with the help of people who worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war. It's embodied in H.R. 1234. It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establisha parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help -- something we won't get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq. That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I'd be happy to over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war. And I say we need to the war now. Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now."

Military Families Speak Out issued (PDF format) "Military Families Speak Out Responds to Senate Vote To Continue Funding For Iraq War" yesterday which notes:

"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war."Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed."Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."

Richard W. Behan (CounterPunch) zeroes in on one aspect of both the Senate and the House's measures, the privatization of Iraq's oil law, defined by the Bully Boy and both houses of Congress as a 'benchmark' Iraqis must meet, "If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5's of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq. That is the wretched goals of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing 'benchmark' Mr. Bush conscisously avoided any hint of it. The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next october that the benchmarks have been met -- specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed. That's the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil. This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years." Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) notes that the Iraqi oil unions were locked out of the drafting process but they are quite clear where they stand on the law: "The British and American oil companies were the first to obtain the concession to extract and invest Iraqi oil, nearly 80 years ago. After Iraq got rid of this octopus network, these foreign oil companies have again attempted to dominate this important oil wealth, under numerous pretexts and invalid excuses."

The House and the Senate managed to endorse the privatization of Iraq's oil even if they didn't bother to address the malnutrition --
Cartias Internationalis reports "[o]ver 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today," that one third of Iraqi children now suffer from malnutrition, and quotes President of Caritas Middle East North Africa Claudette Habesch stating, "Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparble to sub-Saharan Africa. The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worser rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi. And people are voting with their feet. Everday 5000 people leave Iraq. In 2007, one in ten Iraqis is expected to leave the country. We are seeing minority groups such as Christians completely disappear from the country or leave their homes for safer areas."

And when someone tries to return?
Edward Wong and Ashley Gilbertson (New York Times -- Wong text, Gilbertson photos) report on Suaada Saadoun, a 49-year-old Iraqi woman who made the mistake of believing a wave of Operation Happy Talk that the latest juiced up version of the eternal 'crackdown' would make Baghdad safe. Suaada returned to her home last month amidst the big talk of the protection and how things would be safer. She, her four daughters, her son-in-law, and grandchildren returned to her Baghdad home after fleeing Iraq for Syria when the Shia gangs and militias became too threatening. Upon returning, Suaada attempted to deal with the new threats by notificing the Kurdish and US military. When two thugs, Abbas Radhi and Zuhair Naama, showed up with papers from the Ministry of Finance (which, make the connection, they obviously worked for), she phoned the Kurdish and American military. The Kurdish military was able to stop the two men at a checkpoint. They and the US military arrested the two men. Suaada was shot dead the next morning in front of a bakery. Her family has now fled the home.

But it was safer, said US military flacks, things were better in Baghdad -- this version of the crackdown was really something, really accomplishing something . . . Really nothing but more of the same. Oh, there is a difference. More attacks. Attacks on the fortified Green Zone are up.
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports the US military is saying that car bombs have "soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month" -- since the start of the latest version of the crackdown that's been ongoing since June of 2006 is ther reality. David Byers (Times of London) reports that "the death toll rose to nearly 400 in four days following a multitude of deadly bomb and shooting attacks." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "violence is returning to previous levels throughout the country. The number of unidentified bodies found dumped on Baghdad streets, which had dropped to an average of 13 per day in the weeks just after the plan began, has averaged 19 a day for the past two weeks. The average numbers of people killed and of car bombs also have increased slightly, according to statistics that McClatchy compiled."

CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr "is calling for an anti-American protest in the Iraqi city of Najaf on April 9, the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad." Sounds like Clear Channel needs to get off their asses and head on over to Iraq to stage some of their propaganda rallies they held in the US during 2003. CBS and AP note that al-Sadr's call comes as "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose backing is dropping even among fellow Shiites, issued an angry statement pledging to bring the bombers responsible for Thursday's attacks to justice." That apparently means al-Maliki will make a big show about detaining them and then release them hours later with no fanfare. Kirk Semple (New York Times) ["More Than 100 Are Killed in Iraq as a Wave of Sectarian Attacks Shows No Sign of Letting Up"] reports that the 18 police officers who went on a massacre in Tal Afar, dragging people from their homes, killing at least 70 people, the ones identified by survivors, the ones who were taken into custody with much, much fanfare -- "had been freed after being detained for only a few hours." CNN reports that they were arrested (re-arrested) today. No word yet on whether they've also already been released.


CNN reports: "A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood about 2 a.m. Friday killed at least 16 people and wounded 14 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. He said all of those killed were guards who protect neighborhoods in Sadr City. The U.S. military said it is looking into the report."


Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Hilla.


CNN reports 25 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Today, the
US military announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, a MND-B Soldier died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldiers in a southern section of the Iraqi capital March 29." AP notes this brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal to 3,245.

CBS and AP report that six weeks after the Washington Post (Dana Priest and Anne Hull) and ABC News Brian Woodruff put the scandals of veterans health 'care' front and center, Bully Boy mosied down to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to throw some empty words around about how "we're going to fix the problem" and that he toured an "empty" patient room. Hopefully, his prepared remarks weren't delivered there but with the Bully Boy who knows . . .

Finally, students in the US have been protesting and continue to protest the Iraq war. The latest indication that gas bags need to rethink is The Nation magazine which makes the new SDS (
Students for a Democratic Society) their latest cover and includes a sketch (no articles -- it's fastly becoming the Highlights of the political set). Been there, done that and never awarded a student, as The Nation did not that long ago, for writing an essay spitting on her peers, LeftTurn was there first and best with Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS." From the article: "SDS has gone forward, with 250 chapters springing up nationwide (and internationally). The most surprising aspect of the growth of SDS has been the number of chapters established at high schools and community colleges. When compared with the initial years after the founding of the original SDS, we are ahead of the curve. The spring and summer of 2006 was the incubation period for SDS, with the initial chapters getting off the ground and spreading via word of mouth and the web, participating in joint actions with other groups, and beginning the slow development of organizational vision and strategy." Applause to Viehmeyer and LeftTurn for doing such an amazing article that The Nation (already suffering bad campus cred -- for good reason) had to rush to copy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Odds and ends

Big question in the e-mail is what did I almost write instead of "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich"? I was basically going to write a big screw you to NOW. C.I. pointed out that the f-word wouldn't be a good idea in the title because of Monday's post which was being shown to DC's friends. At that point, I had nothing.

So C.I. was kind enough to listen and to suggest that I wanted a statement. C.I. then suggested that a statement would be more powerful with some others signing on. I thank everyone who agreed to sign on. Maria called me today and said she would have signed. I'm sure there are others who would've as well. Some I knew would and some C.I. suggested because they were already supporting Dennis Kucinich and of course anyone signing needed to have been a NOW member.

C.I.'s not endorsing anyone (due to the way The Common Ills is set up) so I really appreciate all the help and patience C.I. provided. Also let me say thank you to Elaine who listened and said she was going to take a pass but wished me luck (sincerely). I was fine with that and didn't expect anyone to sign on. But I was really happy when Elaine called back a half-hour later and asked if it was okay to add her name after all. Elaine really didn't want to be endorsing anyone. I understood that and respected that. But, she said, she was blogging and started thinking about it and the question became, "Am I going to stand for peace or not?" She could endorse but was going to pass due to the fact that she'd prefer for people to find out about candidates and make their own decision. But, she said, she kept coming back to the peace issue. I wasn't upset by her turning me down. I respected it and appreciated that she listened. I was surprised that she continued to think about it. While I love it that she called back and was able to sign on, I really do appreciate that she was willing to consider, even after we were off the phone, the issue.

Second biggest question was when will the review be done? Obviously, it didn't get started yesterday. I'm hopeful that it will be done no later than Saturday after next.

By the way, apologies to Shirley. I left the "e" out of her name in yesterday's post. I've fixed that. Shirley, if you're a long time member, is the one who wanted every word perfect. She, and she admits this herself, had to learn to let go. So when C.I. told me I'd mispelled Shirley's name, I felt awful. I called her to apologize today and she was fine with it and laughed about it. I have fixed it but my apologies to Shirley for getting it wrong.

I wanted to note Patrick Cockburn's "When Iraqi Cops Go on a Rampage" (CounterPunch):

Arbil, Iraq.
Shia police rampaged through a Sunni district in the north-western city of Tal Afar killing at least 33 people in the streets and in their homes in revenge for devastating car bombs in a nearby Shia neighborhood earlier in the day.
"Sadly it is true that Shia police carried out the killings in Tal Afar," Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of Mosul province where the city is situated, told me. He said the car bombs the previous day had killed 75 people and wounded 150, almost all of them Shia.
Mr Goran said the 3rd Iraqi Army Division, which is mainly Kurdish, had been sent to Tal Afar, a Turkoman city with a population of 80,000 divided between Shia and Sunni communities. A curfew has also been declared. To the west of Mosul on the road to the Syrian border the city has been the scene of fierce fighting in past between insurgents and the US army.
In March last year, President George Bush held up Tal Afar as an example of how progress was being made in Iraq after a US army offensive against insurgents. He said the results "gave him confidence in our strategy".The Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki ordered a committee to inquire into the killings by the police. The Iraqi security forces generally give their primary loyalty to their own community - Shia, Sunni or Kurd - before the government. They are often involved in sectarian killings but have seldom hitherto carried out pogroms on other communities as happened in Tal Afar.
Estimates of the number killed vary. "I wish you could come and see all the bodies," said a doctor at the local hospital. "They are lying in the grounds. We don't have enough space in the hospital. All the victims were shot in the head. Between 50 and 55 people were killed. I've never seen such a thing in my life."

There was more violence today. But I want to be sure that we all get what happened yesterday. These killings were done by forces backed by the US and trained by them. There is no "win" in Iraq and the US military needs to leave.

On the endorsement, please read Elaine's "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" and Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich." Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq with over 100 reported deaths in one day, Party Hacks continue to lie about the realities of US Congressional measures on Iraq, and, in response to NOW PAC's endorsement yesterday, some NOW members make their own endorsement.

Starting with news of war resistance, US war resisters
Kyle Snyder was arrested at the end of February in Canada, by the Canadian police on the orders of the US military. More recently, 3 non-Canadian police officers posed as Canadian police officers while they searched for US war resister Joshua Key. The search was conducted at the same time the US military admits they were looking for him. Both Snyder and Key are in Canada attempting to receive refugee status. CBC News reports that The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) is asking questions and spoke with Alex Atamaneko who "said Snyder should not have been arrested because being absent without leave from a foreign military is not an extraditable offence and Snyder has no criminal record" and that "Our concern is that there could be other Kyle Snyders in Canada. We know that there are a couple of hundred other war resisters here. Are there those that are being apprehended now?"

Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In "THINKERS? WHO NEEDS STINKING THINKERS?" news, The Nation continues to embrace Party Hacks (and males --
1 female byline to every 4 males is the current ratio for the print magazine in 2007) as opposed to real thinkers so it's not that surprising that a Party Hack -- consider him another one of Katrina vanden Heuvel's coffee fetchers -- weighs in to reveal not only how shallow he is but how shallow The Nation has become. After a few 'cutes' on Dennis Kucinich, Ari Melber (at the ha-ha blog Campaign Matters) offers, "It's hard to imagine how the failure of a more 'pure' bill advancing immediate withdrawal would do more to end the war than the succss of Pelosi's bill." It's hard to imagine who thought a Party Hack was fit to write for an opinion journal? But for chuckles, click here for (cached version) of when Party Hacks Attack Each Other. Something truly amazing -- David Sirota (of all people) calling Melber a "Self-Promoting Sellouts." For the record, both Party Hacks now regularly foul The Nation magazine. For the record, Ari forgets to disclose MoveOn ties.

Hard to imagine, Ari? Just for the intellectually stunted.
The Institute for Policy Studies is an actual think tank -- not a Democratic party talking points mill. The IPS' Phyllis Bennis (via Democracy Rising) explains how the bill's not ending anything: "The Congressional resolution passed last week gives Bush another $100 billion to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq. That much is now guaranteed. The timeslines and restrictions included in the bill -- clearly responding to the strong public support for ending the war -- were weakened almost to the disappearing point to allow the razor-thin vote. . . . Congress is not the peace movement. So the peace movement must stay unified on our principles and our demands, in the face of congressional waffling and 'realistic' pragmatism, unfortunately promoted by one influential part of our movement. Whatever they do, we must stay consistent on demanding an end to the U.S. occupation: de-funding (not re-funding) the war, and bringing home (not redeploying) all (not just some) of the troops (including the mercenaries). The longstanding AFSC slogan has it right: 'Not one more death, not one more dollar.' That means STOP funding the war. STOP allowing Bush to send more U.S. troops to kill more Iraqis and be killed in the process. Just stop."

Some of the Party Hacks are, feeling nostalgic, hoping they can drum this into a Bill Clinton drama: "The right's after him, we all must come to the aid!" It's not playing that way because the measures do nothing and the Party Hacks spent most of last week proclaiming how stupid the peace movement was and even though,
as Mike pointed out, one Party Hack quickly tried to shine on his faux populism, people are not buying it. Yes, Bully Boy is against the bill. So?

The Democratic Party ignored the people. This is, as Robert Knight (
Flashpoints) reported Monday, the DLC's bill. The left's job isn't to prop up the right-wing, not even the right-wing of the Democratic Party. Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) made it very clear before any measure passed, "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on."

If Ari's still confused (or pretending to be),
Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) makes it very clear: "What House Democrats actually did was pass a special budget bill giving George Bush every dollar he requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a few billion extra, and little more for vets health care, with a few tens of hundreds of millions worth of legislative prok on the side to secure the votes of reluctant Democrats on each flank. The 'withdrawal measures' in the Democrat-approved war budget are unenforceable suggestions, a patchwork of loopholds held togethr by the empty pretense that President Bush and Pentagon will not lie to us." Dixon notes that the Congressional Black Caucus "shattered" and "once again proved the near uselessness of the CBC as presently constituted."

CODEPINK's Gael Murphy spoke with Deepa Fernandes and Mitch Jeserich (WBAI's Wake Up Call Radio) Wednesday, who stated of the continued demonstrations to protest the continuation of the illegal war, "It's about having that opposition to this continuing war as visible as possible and as loud as possible." Jeserich noted the more visible activity and Murphy agreed they had "stepped up our activity since the supplemental discussions and we will stay there through the Defense authorization debate. Fernandez wondered what the main goals were and Murphy replied, "Cut the funding for the war. We want the war to end this year. We want Congress to take its responsiblity and to, you know they've been repudiating the surge, they've been repudiating the conduct of the war so it's time for them to do something about it. And we want them to cut the funding. We want them to use whatever funding they have for a full, complete, rapid, safe, orderly withdrawal." A clip was played by Robert Byrd "a new direction and it points the way out" and Free Speech Radio News' Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Well it's a suggested timeline for withdrawal next year, of March 2008. That timeline is a goal. But what is binding is that the president is supposed to, or has to according to this, it's a statute that says that he has to start withdrawing troops within 120 days of the passage of this bill. And so that part is binding and the real question is: Is the president actually going to listen to it? He doesn't follow many of the other, laws and regulations that are passed. The fear that he'll sign a signing statement or that he just will ignore it. The fear of many progressives is that it will end up in the courts."

Caldwell then made the comment that "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding." Where is the funding cut? No where. Murphy stated
CODEPINK's goal, "Our call is absolutely, let's cut the funding now use whatever funding we have for the complete withdrawal. So our focus is very much on what's going to happen when the supplemental leaves the conference -- cause what's going to happen after the House passes it's version they'll be a conference committee where the two resolutions will be reconciled and then what comes out will likely be a supplemental bill with a timeline and the benchmarks. We're hoping that Bush does veto it because I think it is in our favor. And when he does, we are expecting and will put pressure on members of Congress not to go back to him with a weaker bill but, in fact, a stronger bill and that's where we're going to be putting our pressure to make sure that there is a stronger bill and that it's about getting the troops home by the end of the year."

As Robert Knight (
Flashpoints) noted yesterday, "Democrat and Republican senators continued quibbling over a 125 billion dollar appropriations bill that would guarantee a continued military presence in Iraq wll into the year 2008 if not beyond. The Senate measure, which awaits a final vote and resolution with a similar non-specifically binding House bill is expected to be voted on later this week even though it faces a presidential veto. Meanwhile Democratic leadership is already announcing that it's willing to negotiate with president Bush to water down the provisions during markup in order to avoid a veto."

Progressive Democrats of America grasped the nature of the bills last week and issued their statement ("Disappointed in Democratic Leadership") -- PDA director Tim Carpenter, "It is antiwar sentiment that put Democrats into majority control of Congress. The recent USA Today - Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, or earlier. We are profoundly disappointed that the Lee Amendment -- which reflects majority sentiment in the country -- was not allowed to be debated and voted upon by the full House. In a free vote, we believe roughly 90 members of Congress would have supported the Lee Amendment and the desires of most Americans to get out of Iraq. Having prevented that vote, the leadership's weak supplemental that prolongs funding of an unwinnable occupation is now more susceptible to wrong-headed attacks from Republicans and certain media circles as somehow risky or extreme." This week, PDA has noted, "The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush's troop surge and won't bring our troops home until a Sept. 1 2008 'deadline' -- with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined 'training' or 'anti-terrorism' missions. (That's why a group of progressive Congress members -- including Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, John Lewis and Dennis Kucinich -- felt the need to stand firm and vote no.) More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership's arm-twisting and the intervention of in support of the leadership's arm-twising."

RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (The Nation via Common Dreams) observes, "Nonbinding this and that, deadline lah-di-dah, Bush/Cheney are going to ignore the mandate of the midterm elections and every pressure from Congress on Iraq, because Bush/Cheney know their opponents' bark has no bite. And that's because those opponents have yet to renounced the Bush/Cheney vision of US supremacy in the world. In fact, mostly, they share it."

Which gets to the heart of the matter.
Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that the Senate's bill has passed "a mostly party line 51-47 vote". Flaherty also quotes White House Flack Dana Perino stating, "I think the founders of our nation had great foresight in realizing that it would be better to have one commander in chief managing a war" blah, blah, blah. Perino should realize the people of the nation have said no to the war and the issue of 'managing' is not a valid one -- the issue is ending the war.

In Iraq today, the violence and chaos continues as even the supposedly 'secured' capital is rocked with explosions.
CNN reports that two "bombers wearing explosive vests self-detonated in a crowded market in a Shiite district in the northeastern part of the capital." Ahmeed Rasheed (Reuters) reports that an official for the Health Ministry believes most of the dead are women and children and quotes eye witness Wissam Hashim (injured in the blast) stating, "I saw heads separated from the bodies and legs blown off." This after, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, The John McCain Showboat Express pulled into DC on Tuesday to proclaim "we are starting to turn things around." Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes the assertion by US Senator and presidential candidate McCain "that an American could now walk unharmed through several districts of Baghdad was heard with bemusement by Iraqis. He would certainly be murdered or kidnapped by Sunni insurgents, Shia militiamen or criminal gangs before he had taken more than a few steps." And today's death toll from the market bombing in Baghdad alone proves there is no straight talk to John McCain. Rasheed reports that at least 62 people are dead from the bombings while CBS and AP go with 60 and note 40 wounded.

Other bombings?

AP notes that 25 people died in Khalis from three car bombings. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) notes that the toll climbed to 43 dead and 86 wounded "according to police and officials in the predominately Shiite town." Other bombings noted by Reuters include a western Baghdad car bombing that killed 3 people (16 injured), a southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 4 police officers "and one civilian" (9 injured), another southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 2 police oficers (6 wounded), a western Baghdad bombing that wounded 3 Iraqi soldiers, a southern Baghdad bombing that claimed 3 lives (20 wounded), a car bombing in Mahmudiya that killed 4 (20 wounded), and a Mahmudiya mortar attack that killed 2 (7 wounded).


Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Wiwaniya, two traffic police officers were shot dead in northern Baghdad with two more wounded, an eye doctor was shot dead in Mahmudiya


Reuters notes 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Finally, returning to US political news. Yesterday the NOW PAC endorsed US Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Later yesterday, "
NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich." NOW members Kat, Rebecca, Dona, Ava, Betty, Gina, Krista, Keesha, Kayla, Elaine, Martha and Shirley as well as former NOW member Trina used their voices to note that NOW PAC, which did not poll membership, does not speak for them and to decry the removal of the white dove and slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" from the NOW website in time to endorse War Hawk Hillary Clinton.
Along with "
NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich" (Kat's Korner). Elaine's "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" and Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich" also address the issue and why they are endorsing Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. All who signed encourage other NOW members to announce their own endorsement. NOW PAC is a political arm of NOW but it is NOW and NOW members should, as they have so powerfully throught the years, use their own voices to speak for themselves.

This week,
Kucinch amplified his call for a national discussion regarding impeachment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich

Today NOW leadership announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic 2008 primary. The following NOW members announce their endorsement of Dennis Kucinich in the 2008 Democratic primary:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona and Ava
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz,
former NOW member Trina of
Trina's Kitchen
Gina of the gina & krista round-robin
Krista of the gina & krista round-robin
Martha, community member
Shirley, community member
Kayla, community member
Keesha, community member
and me, Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)

As NOW members (and a former -- Trina is now done with the organization), we use our voices to say loudly: "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE."

If you're familiar with that slogan, you might be familiar as a result of NOW's prominent use of it . . . until recently.

For some reason, they have dropped it from their website. That might be due to the fact that if peace is a feminist issue, one can't endorse the War Hawk Hillary Clinton.

You can click here for a page where they proclaim "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE."

We believe "PEACE IS STILL A FEMINIST ISSUE." We further believe that we don't base our endorsements on whether or not the candidate has a vagina. We're under no mistaken belief that an Oval Office occupant with a vagina is an automatic "win" for women.

In their November 2005 commentary on the TV show Commander-in-Chief ("TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood," The Third Estate Sunday Review), Ava and C.I. wrote:

What really frightens us, besides the fact that a backlash only takes root when people who should know better applaud this junk, is an elitist attitude that seems to greet this show.
"We got our woman president!"
Consider us too grass-rooty but we don't see that as an end all be all. We weren't among the ones saying "At least we still got Martin Sheen on TV" so maybe we're missing it. But honestly, we'll take an Alice over a Commander-in-Chief. Give us working class women who pull together over a queen bee living a rarified life.
We've never doubted that a woman could be president (and at some point will be). But we've never assumed that gender would be an answer. A woman who supports equality? Absolutely, that's a great thing. A woman who makes her way as an exception, backs up an agenda she doesn't believe in and does nothing to help other women? We don't see the point in applauding that.
It's a pertinent issue as two women are repeatedly named as potential candidates in the real world: Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton. If either woman (or both) runs, will we get the same giddy "It's a woman!" nonsense? Under no circumstance would either of us vote for Rice. We'd be reluctant to vote for Clinton considering her waffles on the issue of choice and her stance on the war. But will those issues be silenced in the giddy cry of, "It's a woman! It's a first!"
That's troubling.

It is troubling and it's troubling that groups not only sprung up to turn saving that bad TV melodrama, but they've also made their goal electing a woman president -- any woman! And have worked for years on that. Working for someone who will make a difference is to be applauded. Working for a "first," regardless of whom it is or what they stand for, isn't something we support.

Hillary Clinton couldn't put together universal health care as First Lady (nor did she really try -- the proposed program was a treat for insurance companies but had little for consumers) but we're supposed to take her at her word that if she is elected president -- TWICE, she'll need two terms, she's stated -- well into her second term, she'll manage to provide health care for the nation.

Health care will come slowly, says Clinton, as will the withdrawal of all US troops because she's noted the importance of Iraq's oil to the United States.

Women, including NOW members, are not all White. Clinton's bigotry towards Palestinians and unconditional embrace of the right-wing lobby group AIPAC does not recognize the diversity of NOW members. To suggest, as NOW does, that Clinton will "advance the civil and human rights of women and girls" requires stripping Palestinian women and girls out of the equation.

The announcement states:

That is why I am proud, on behalf of over 500,000 contributing members of the National Organization for Women, to announce the NOW PAC's enthusiastic endorsement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for president of the United States.

We state we were not consulted, though when money is needed, we can't avoid their mailings. We, NOW members, do not endorse Hillary Clinton. Do not include us in the "over 500,000 contribution members of the National Organization for Women". We question how many other NOW members stand by the PAC's endorsement.

We do not question NOW's right to make an endorsement. Though we somehow missed the polling, we would have shrugged (as Elaine has noted) had NOW merely endorsed Clinton. That was not the case. NOW has pulled from their site the white dove symbol and the slogan: "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE." In the face of that, and being women deeply committed to peace, we express, loudly and clearly, our support for 2008 presidential candidate , we reject the NOW PAC's endorsement, and we note that we were never polled as to our choice.

We are thrilled to be able to announce our support for and we encourage other NOW members to come forward with their own support -- whether it's Kucinich, Clinton, another Democratic candidate, a GOP candidate, or an independent party candidate. We know NOW is a very diverse membership and we welcome members demonstrating that.


1) NOW polled none of us or C.I. Due to the trip to Texas this month, we're all running behind including C.I. With C.I.'s permission, I flipped through the junk mail for the entire months of March and February. No one involved in this statement or C.I. received anything asking whom we support for the 2008 race.

2) NOW and NOW PAC are two different organizations. NOW PAC can endorse for NOW PAC but, as NOW members, we are bothered that they choose to pretend the two groupings are the same when they are not. (Legally, they cannot be.)

3) NOW can endorse anyone. Members should be polled before NOW announces anything. NOW PAC should not attempt to speak for NOW.

4) C.I. is not endorsing anyone in 2008 due to the fact that The Common Ills is a diverse community and C.I. has to represent the community.

5) I am the primary writer of all above (Kat). All signing to it agreed to it. In addition, C.I. was very helpful and we all thank C.I. for that. I personally thank C.I. for steering me away from my original post (which I'll discuss tomorrow) and for helping me pull this together.

6) Though C.I. cannot endorse a candidate, C.I. does note that community members can (and did in the 2006 elections). C.I. supports the right of all community members to make their own endorsements. C.I. supports our rights to make this endorsement.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, March 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, The John McCain Showboat Express continues chug-chugging into Crazy Town, the National Organization for Women endorses Hillary Clinton as the dove on their website vanishes and the US Senate pretends to take action.

Starting with war resistance. US war resister
Mark Wilkerson speaking about the military's record keeping, "When I was AWOL I called this Army deserter's hot line about once every two weeks to see if my name would ever show up on the list. I deserted in January 2005 and I started calling this list in February. What I found was that I would call and give them my Social Security number and they would come back and say, 'No you are not on the list yet. You are present for duty'." Mark Wilkerson quoted by Cox News Service in their story on how: "The Army, which has been stressed by repeated deployments in Iraq, is no longer classifying some soldiers as deserters even though they have run away, according to those who counsel deserters and deserters themselves. It is unclear how widespread the practice is but counselors say they believe the Army has failed to classify hundreds of soldiers as deserters even though they have been gone for more than six months." The article also quotes Brian C. Hilferty (Army spokesperson, lt. colonel) stating that "the military no longer tries to hunt down deserters. Instead, it assumes that deserters will eventually run afoul of police who check the NCIC computer." Of course, that's not true either AEB by the military's attempts to bring in the California police while war resister Kyle Snyder was speaking there at the end of last year, by the military's ordering the Canadian police to arrest Kyle Snyder in Canada and by the still unexplained issue of three US military members posing as Canadian police officers and attempting to locate US war resister Joshua Key. Speaking with US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender Dennis Kucinich, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "the men and women who have gone AWOL, there have been thousands of them, some are bing count-martialed, like Lieutenant Ehren Watada, will be court-martialed again -- it was a mistrial in his first trial -- first officer to say 'no' to war, to deployment to Iraq. What do you think should happen to these men? Agustin Aguayo, an Army medic who applied for CO status, didn't get it, and is now in prison in Germany. Do you support their saying 'no'? Do you support their refusing to go to Iraq or redeploy to Iraq?" Dennis Kucinich's response: "I support the troops who serve and also those who don't feel it's right to serve. I think we have to ask our troops to be able to reserve the right of their conscience, and if they feel it's the right thing, we should support that, too. I think we're in a point in the history of this country where many people have looked at the war and realized that it's wrong. Some of those people are soldiers. Soldiers are put in an impossible situation, not only those who are committed to serving in Iraq, but also those who know that the war is wrong and who question the war. I think we have to love our troops, whatever situation they find themselves in. And the way to support them is to bring them home. . . . . You know, I don't think that anyone who's taken a principle and conscientious position should be subject to a court-martial. They should be permitted to leave the service if they so desire, but not be forced through that kind of a process. I think, you know, there has to be an underlying truth here, and the underlying truth is the war was wrong, period. The war is based on lies. We should support our troops by bringing them home, and we should support those who have challenged the war by giving them a chance to leave honorably."

Wilkerson, Watada, Aguayo, Snyder and Key are Clousing and Wilkerson are a part of movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Ricky Clousing, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-nine US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
As the Cox News Service report indicates, the number of those self-checking out is far greater than the US military admits to.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In the US, the Senate passed (50 to 48) an ammendment yesterday on Iraq. As
Andrew Ward (Financial Times of London) observes that "both houses of Congress must first reconcile their differing bills in conference" and Republican senators dropped their "attempts to remove the nonbinding timeline from a $121.6 bn war-funding bill". Non-binding once again being the key point. Robert Knight (Flashpoints) yesterday observed that the "Senate bill . . . is even weaker than the House bill since it only expresses the uneforceable goal, but not requirement, that most troops leave Iraq by March 31, 2008. As with the House's war preservation bill, the Senate version would enable an unknown number of US troops to remain in Iraq beyond April 2008 for counter-insurgency training and security operations. . . . The final legislation will almost certainly be met with a veto from President Bush." [Note: Flashpoints can be heard over the airwaves and online at KPFA and KFCF. Archived broadcasts can be found at Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives. Yesterday's snapshot included links to Flashpoints that were wrong. My apologies for my mistake. Thanks to Kyle for pointing that out.] Larry Everest (CounterPunch) reminds, "In November, millions voted for the Democrats to protest Bush and the war, and in hopes they would end it. Today, many -- including people who worked energetically to elect Democrats and who've been lobbying them to cut off war funding -- feel bitter, betrayed, and outraged. They should be outraged. The lesson is not that the Democrats 'sold out' or are 'spinless.' The lesson is that the Democrats are a ruling class party (and this is deeply institutionalized, regardless of the desires or intentions of its supporters or even some elected Democrats), acting to advance the interests of a capitalist-imperialist system they're part of and represent."

The attempts to trick the people could backfire on the Democrats who see this non-binding, toothless nonsense as a sure vote-getter for 2008. As
Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) argued, this can be a sold as 'victory' for the GOP come 2008: "bully boy should sign it into law. i'm not in the mind to help bully boy but, seriously, he should do it. and if the dems don't offer anything stronger between now and august 2008, when they start finger pointing, he should say, 'look, i lived up to your bill.' it won't be hard to do. he's the 1 who gets to judge if the benchmarks have been met. he can override things by declaring 'national security'. the dems, if they offer nothing else, have set their own trap."
In one of the more interesting developments,
as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) notes, as more and more people catch on to the realities of the Democrats' measures, one of the biggest cheerleaders of the House action, someone who lectured and hectored people about how they weren't as realistic or as smart as he was, is now attempting to play populist of the people: "How stupid does Stupid Ass [David] Sirota think we all are? Does he think we've all forgotten his attacks on everyone who had the strength to point out that the Pelosi measure did nothing? Does he htink we've forgotten his pompous lectures? Today he wants to play 'one of you'." And some by it. Though Mike didn't link to "Democracy Haters" (nor will we) some are happy to link the nonsense as the political hack now attempts to recast himself yet again.

So-called independent media made a big deal, rightly, about the mainstream media repeating Bully Boy's claims as facts. That criticism looks far less strong when so many supposedly "independent" outlets rush to provide the Democrats spin while presenting themselves as factual outlets. Meanwhile big media has failed repeatedly on the discussion in another regard. Like US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, they all rush to affirm Bully Boy's right to chart the illegal war. A president's commander-in-chief role applies to the battle field -- a recognized and defined one -- and the people of the United States are the check on that. Congress, representing them, can set dealines and should set them considering the 2006 election results. Parroting Hillary, many media outlets rush to state that timelines could interfere with Bully Boy's ability to wage war. The people have decided. In the 2006 elections, in the polls consistently. The one interfering is the Bully Boy who wants to continue his illegal war. (And Congress is certainly aiding him in that.) Bully Boy is not King of America. There is no king in the United States.

Staying on the subject of politics for a moment, Hillary Clinton has been
endorsed in her 2008 presidential bid by NOW -- the National Organization For Women. As to whether or not the endorsement required that they remove "Peace is a feminist issue" -- a slogan displayed on their site for years -- is a question someone should ask NOW. Where the dove and slogan used to be, visitors are now told "Love Your Body" and apparently that somehow factored into the decision process by which War Hawk Hillary Clinton won an endorsement from what was an organization strongly dedicated to ending the war. Again, NOW has removed the dove and slogan "Peace is a feminist issue" from their website and they have endorsed War Hawk Hillary Clinton for 2008.

Today on Democracy Now!, Dennis Kucinich addressed the realities of what was being promised and reality:

Dennis Kucinich: Well, we were given false choices. We were told that we either buy into president Bush's plan, which is keep the war going indefinitely, or accept the Democratic version of the war in Iraq, which would keep the war going for another year or two. I say those choices weren't sufficient. The Democrats could have refused to send a bill forward. We didn't have to fund this war. We're not under any obligation to keep the war going. And yet our leaders took another path. Furthermore, Amy, you may be interested to know that the 2008 budget, which is before Congress today and will be voted on tomorrow, contains another $145 billion for the war, and on top of that, they're putting another $50 billion for the war in fiscal year 2009. So this talk about ending the war by March or by September belies the fact that the budget has money in it to keep the war going into 2009. And I think that's wrong. I think the American people will reject that type of thinking. And I'm standing strong to say "Get out now." I put forth a plan embodied in HR 1234 to accomplish just that.

Amy Goodman: But what do you say to those make the argument that, if president Bush has on his desk a bill that gives money, gives a fortune in continuing the war, and he has to veto it because he doesn't like the timetable, that this puts him in a very difficult position?

Kucinich: Our decisions have to be way above politics. We have the lives of our troops at stake here. There's no military victory in Iraq. We're there illegally. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. Democrats can still, after president Bush vetoes the bill -- which he will -- Democrats can still take the right position, which is refuse to fund the war, use money in the pipeline to bring the troops home.

Kucinich addressed how Bully Boy's not ending the war and how the current legislation isn't addressing it. He noted he "crafted my plan with the help of the people at the UN, and I will tell you that they say that it would take about two months, three months to mobilize a sufficient force that would replace US troops leaving. So I say two, to three months, we could have troops home and have an international force that would help stabilize Iraq. But the international community will not become involved as long as the United States intends to occupy Iraq and keep bases open. So we need to take a new direction. My plan would be as follows: to put in place the provisions of HR 1234, which ends the occupation, closes the bases, sets in motion a plan to bring the troops home, bring in international peace keepers, and stop the privatization of Iraqi oil. One of the things in the bill that passed the House was a demand that the Iraq government pass a hydrocarbon act which sets the stage for broad privatization of trillions of dollars of Iraqi oil interests. Now think about it. If Democrats had told the American people last October that, 'If you vote Democrat in November, we'll not only give you enough money to keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term, but we'll also privatize the oil of Iraq and then help the US oil companies' -- with the prize that I think the war was all about from the very beginning -- I don't think the people would have voted Democrat. So Democrats have to keep faith with the American people."

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (
KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the 2004 election. Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney. All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . . The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed." John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress."

Meanwhile The John McCain Showboat Express chugged back into DC in time for US Senator and presidential wanna-be to issue a statement (much more important than his vote).
David Esp (AP) quotes McCain's laughable claim that "we are starting to turn things around" which may strike some as McCain trying out a new campaign slogan: "Vote Insane, Vote John McCain."

In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes truck bombings involving chlorine Falluja, outside a government building, wounding "15 Iraqi and U.S. security forces," a car bomb in Mahaweel killed five and left 25 wounded, a car bombing in Baghdad killed 2 and left 10 injured, a rocket attack in the fortress that is the Green Zone killed one "U.S. government contractor" and a car bombing near Ramadi "killed one civilian and wounded seven others".


Following yesterday's bombings in Tal Afar, more violence took place.
AFP reports that 75 are dead from the Tuesday's bombings and that at least 45 people were "massacred" today and the town is now under "a strict curfew". Kim Gamel (AP) reports that the violence was launched by "Shiite militants and police" in response to the Tuesday bombings, that 40 people are believed to be kidnapped and that 18 police officers have been arrested "accused in the shooting rampage after they were identified by Sunni families."


Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Suwayra.

AP reports that Gale Polluck ("Maj. Gen.") who is the acting surgeon gneral for the Army told the US House Armed Service Committee, "When the original plans were made, we did not take into consideration we could be in a long war" and therefore at question is if "the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan." If the sudden concern strikes you as familiar, it's because Elaine's long made this point (most recently yesterday), Monica Benderman covered it this week in "On Ending War" (CounterPunch).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Grab bag

Rebecca and I were laughing on the phone today about our both encourtering the "mad spritzers" (she met one at a hotel they stayed at on the way to Texas -- and for those wondering, my neighbor sent the spritzer packing).

Last night, I wrote about Betty's son -- her eldest son and Jess passed on an e-mail to the public account. A visitor was saying, "All the talk about respecting privacy and you give Betty's son's initials. Betty doesn't even give her last name at her website but now I know her last initial is 'C'." No, you don't know her last initial. First of all, never make the assumption that a mother and child have the same last name. Second of all, "D.C." is a nickname given him by the friend who most strongly accused him of making up that he helped out with the artwork. Why? Because he's been to DC how many times now? Mike's written about all the travel he's done and how much he's enjoyed it. We all have. But it's even more impressive when you're a child. He's been to DC multiple times, he's been to NYC, to California, to Mexico and where else? I'm sure I'm forgetting something. But "D.C." became his nickname due to his traveling.

As for the other big issues in e-mails, I'm planning on doing a CD review in the next week or so. I'd love to have it done this weekend but I'm a procrastinator in good times and this is a busy week for me. (Good because "busy" means bringing in the money.) But, within two weeks (and hopefully much sooner), I'll have another CD review.

On a nonmusical note, I was asked what I thought ("what good is going to come from") would happen from calling out the Pelosi measure? Well, I happen to believe that the truth is always a "good." It can hurt, but it's a "good." I also think that Congress needs to know we're not going to accept this, we're not going to fall to our knees for them or say Hail Marys over this. It was sop. You call out sop. There's always a chance that it could lead to stronger action. That would be great -- but consider our current Congress. So my point, my main point, is lying about something helps no one and I will be no party to a lie that tells Americans things are "solved" and that the US service members will be home before the 2008 elections.
I don't blame Congress -- or their whores -- for lying.

I wouldn't want to have to deal with a passionate people either. It's much easier to just grab the contributions from big business and hope the people go back to couching in front of the TV and not paying attention to all the damage you're doing.
But it's crap and I'll call it crap.

That's really it for me. Rebecca said she was wiped out and hearing about her day wiped me out as well. (That's not to suggest, "She wouldn't shut up about her day!" That's me saying, she had a very busy day.) Also, if I keep writing, I'll end up touching on music and have an excuse not to do a review.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and since it involves a mass bombing the media wakes up a little, waking up does not include -- for most -- getting the Pelosi measure right, 2 nuns are killed in Iraq due to their gender and their religion but see who in the mainstream tackles it, and what's Michael Gordon selling this time -- war! war! war!

Starting with
this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

Last week, as the U.S. death toll in Iraq climbed over 3,242, Congress voted to continue the war by approving the $124 billion supplemental bill. This week, the Senate is expected to similarly approve funding for this war that continues to violently destroy U.S. and Iraqi lives every day. The Democratic leadership claims that, to end the war, they must continue funding it. Iraq Veterans Against the War knows that, despite the Democrats guarantees of time tables and restrictions, the supplemental will not end the occupation of Iraq or prevent further escalation of the war. It is time for our brothers and sisters in the military to come home and for the Iraqi people to be allowed their right to self-determination.

"To end the war, they must continue to fund it". Emphasized for those who will hear that and remember the 'logic' of "to save the village, we had to destroy the village." (That's the popular version of the quote. Following the slaughter of Ben Tre, the actual quote was: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.") So that's where it stands now, as
Iraq Veterans Against the War points out, the solution of the US Congress is that "to end the war, they must continue to fund it."

Yesterday, on
Flashpoints, Robert Knight devoted his entire Knight Report to the realities of the Pelosi measure: "Pelosi bragged that the measure was 'a giant step to end the war and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq.' But in reality, the bill fulfills neither claim. The measure grants President Bush the unimpeded prerogative of maintaining his current escalation in Iraq through October 2007 at which time he is merely requested to self-certify success in his self-defined benchmarks. Those benchmarks include provisions for the Iraqi occupation regime to reign in death squads and to enact the US designed and multi-national friendly oil law that is presently before Iraq's absentee occupation parliament. Regardless of Bush's automatic auto-certification, no actual troop withdrawals would be required before August 2008 during the height of the national party conventions at which time the Democrats would then blame the Republicans with a war whose continuation they would have guaranteed until the eve of November 2008 presidential election. But even when the August deadline matures, Bush would still be allowed to maintain more than half of the 150,00 troops in Iraq due to a term of art in the legislation that requests the redeployment but not the homecoming of some 70,000 so-called combat troops. This would leave an equal or greater number of US troops in Iraq under the vague but permanent classifications of counter-insurgency, security and training for what New York Senator Hillary Clinton calls 'remaining vital national security interests in the heart of the oil region'." To hear The Knight Report in full check Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives. (Those unable to listen can click here for a 'rush' and 'rushed' transcript.)

decrying the Pelosi measure is Joshua Frank (CounterPunch): "Having been one of the unfortunate geeks who actually read the bill, I can tell you only one thing -- it's a complete farce. In order for troops to come home the Bushies would have to confim whether or not 'progress' has been made in Iraq, not Congress. So with more money in hand and sole authority on deciding whether or not the war is going as planned, the White House, even if Bush signed the bill, would never have to end the thing. The proposal wasn't a compromise as many have claimed, but a dagger in the heart of all those of us who want to bring this war to a screeching halt."

Turning to news of war resistance,
Ricky Clousing spoke March 17, 2007 at a rally in Fayetteville, "Hello, my name is Sgt. Ricky Clousing. I was stationed here in Fort Bragg
in the 82 Airborn division. I served with the 82nd in December of 2004 in Iraq as an interroagtor and after witnessing the abuse of power and the injustices that happened on a daily basis I decided I no longer could be a part of not only the 82nd airborn but also the organization of the military. So after deciding to go AWOL and serving a few months in jail, I'm here to say thank you guys because I received amazing support through my process and my journey. I'm not going to share my whole story because a lot of you might be familiar with it but I really want to just let you guys know how much it meant to me the support and letters and the organization for events like this and what not that you guys really blazed a trail for people like me for refusing to fight anymore and my brothers here that decided not to do it. So I just want to say that a lot of the times since I've gone and spoken at a different place that people, a lot of times, put things on a pedestal and different situations or people or places. And I think that it's important to express that we are all part of this bigger puzzle and this bigger of collective idea of peace and how to attain that Just be careful of putting people in those positions because it takes the responsibility that we all have to do our part -- and part of that is being here today and marching and walking and spreading the word on an individual level. So just remember that war isn't good for children and other living things. Thank you guys very, very much."

On August 11, 2006, Ricky Clousing went public with his story of how he checked himself out of the military following his service in Iraq -- making an announcement in Seattle at the
Veterans for Peace conference. October 12, 2006, Clousing was court-martialed. The sentence was three months, bad conduct discharge and a reduction in rank. Clousing referred in the speech to the letters and support he received. Currently, US war resister Mark Wilkerson is is serving a sentence for self-checking out. From Courage to Resist: "Write to Mark while he is in the brig c/o his wife Sarah: Mark and Sarah Wilkerson, PO Box 25037, Colorado Springs CO 80936. Please consider a donation to Mark Wilkerson's legal defense fund.." On August 31st, Wilkerson spoke at Camp Casey III -- a press conference -- announcing his intent to turn himself in after having self-checked out a year and a half ago. That evening he was interviewed by Dennis Bernstein for KPFA's Flashpoints, where they discussed Wilkerson's service in Iraq and how his views changed from those he'd held at 17-years-old. He attempted to receive c.o. status but his was denied. He attempted to prepare for the rebuttal process but was informed he'd be redeploying to Iraq and any rebuttal would have to wait until his second deployment ended. When Bernstein asked him if he had any regrets about his decision to self-check out, Wilkerson responded, "I completely stand by my decision. For me, this was a time in my life when I decided I had to make a stand regardless of whether [it meant] prison or death". On February 22nd of this year, his court-martial began at Fort Hood in Texas. Wilkerson was sentenced to seven months in military prison and will receive a bad conduct discharge.

Clousing and Wilkerson are a part of movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

editorial page editor of the San Jose Mercury News, Stephen E. Wright, wrote of the changes in his own life since his son shipped off to the illegal war this month, "But now we talk about the war, via my son, almost daily: How's he doing? Have you heard from him? Is he in Iraq yet? In a far more presonal way, we discuss the impact on families and friends, the political meaneuvering and the lack of progress in bringing stability to the country. What we don't talk about are the daily news stories about soldiers killed in action. Having a son on his way to Iraq hasn't changed my view of the war. We should not have invaded the country. If this were a righteous war, it would be more bearable to see him go. But now there's a knot in the pit of my stomach every time I think about where he's headed, what he might have to do and what might be done to him."

Taking a look at what happens to some who return,
Tom Roeder and Cary Leider (Colorado Springs Gazette) report on the increase in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning service members, "Nearly 600 Fort Carson soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder last year, up from 102 cases in 2003 when soldiers started returning from their first tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the fourth straight year with a significant increase in the number of soldiers being diagnosed with PTSD. With symptoms that range from hyperawareness, to angry outbursts, PTSD is an anxiety reaction to traumatic events, which Iraq brings by the truckload. It plauges up to 10 percent of soldiers returning from war. Now the military is discovering a new problem. Substantial numbers of troops are showing lingering signs of traumatic brain injuries suffered in Iraq, mainly concussions caused by roadside bombs."

Turning to Iraq, let's dispense with the nonsense right away.
CNN speaks with Admiral William J. Fallon who's new to Iraq and new to the world of reality. Fallon puts forward the laughable belief that though Baghdad is chaos, outside things are just peachy keen and notes southern Iraq as a reference point. He may fool many US audiences that haven't received much reality about southern Iraq. For those who do not know better: YOU ARE BEING LIED TO. He also cites a region in the Kurdish north. Remember that when the elections for the boraders of that area get closer. Selcan Hacaoglu (AP) reports that Tariq al-Hashimi (Iraq's Sunni vice president) has "warned against a possible Turkish incursion into Iraq to fight separatist Kurdish guerrillas and promised to prevent cross-border attacks by the rebels." Though the domestic, US media prefers to ignore it, there's a battle raging over who will have claim to that area and the actual, physical make up of the area.


A bombing took place in Tal Afar resulting in mass casulties.
Al Jazeera reports "bodies and wounded were brought to hospital after the two vehicle-borne bombings." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that one vehicle was a a truck carrying flour and that the death toll was at least 55 with 130 injured. AFP reports a mortar attack in the Abu Chir section of Baghdad that killed "[t]wo children, a man and a woman" with 14 others left wounded. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that killed a police officer and left two more wounded and a car bombing in Ramadi that claimed 17 lives and left 32 wounded. And Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) also reports a rocket attack: "This morning gunmen attacked the car of Sheikh Harith al Thari the son of the tribal leader Sheikh Thahir al Thari not far from his house. The attackers wanted to kidnap him, he and his companion resisted and killed some of the attackers. The attackers used an RPG rocket and destroyed the car. Later in the day the 1920 Revolution Brigades announced he was one of their field leaders. Sources from the area said he was a media man for the Brigades and his death comes after refusing to pledge loyalty to the Iraq Islamic State, Al Qaeda linked group."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that US and Iraqi forces conducted a raid in Najaf and "shot at a driving by car and killed the driver and injured a pregnant woman, they were heading to the hospital" while, in Baghdad, Abbas Salah was shot dead.
AFP notes two people shot dead and seven more wounded in the Shorja section of Baghdad while two police officers and two civilians were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes three people shot dead in Ishaqi, a police lieutenant shot dead in Baghdad,


Okay, the New York Times continues to want to push the myths of the huge return to Baghdad. To do that, they have to ignore the minorities that have been run out of the city (including Catholics and Jews).
CBS and AP report that, in Kirkuk, two Chaldean Catholic nuns were stabbed to death ("no sign of a robbery" -- of course not, it was a crime against women and religious persecution) at the home of Margaret Naoum (the younger sister, 79-years-old). The older sister (85-years-old) was named Fawzeiyah Naoum. They stabbed older sister Fawzeiyah to death with three stabs, and they stabbed younger sister Margaret seven times.


Reuters notes 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, 3 in Mosul, and 6 in Diwaniya.

Today the
US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 24 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

In the US, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate
Dennis Kucinich has taken a strong stand against the illegal war. Recently, his wife Elizabeth Kucinich has begun posting to his presidential campaign website and noted this of the Pelosi measure that passed: "Dennis and I are in mourning. We mourn the deaths of those who have passed and those whose lives are now on the line, both in the military and civilian Iraqis. We mourn the destruction, the ecocide. We mourn with families in Iraq and the US who will see more death and devastation. We mourn the callous and calculated political spin cloaking the Congress's hawkish support of war with the rhetoric of peace."

Dennis Kucinich will appear on Wednesday's
Democracy Now! -- and, hopefully, before then it can be explained to the program that the Pelosi measure does not, as was stated on today's show, "also establish a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by next year." Assuming that Bully Boy will go along with the toothless measure, only "combat troops" would be withdrawn (Robert Knight: "recalls the tactic by which earlier administrations once referred to US soldiers in Vietnam as advisers rather than troops.") This is too important to get it wrong and basic journalism provides no excuses. As Tom Engelhardts (TomDispatch) observed on the "troops" myth and "combat troops" reality, "The two categories are now so conveniently blurred that it would be pardonable if few Americans grasped the difference any more than did Charles Gibson, anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. On last Friday's news, he claimed the House had voted to get 'all US forces' out when his own White House correspondent used the correct phrase, 'combat forces'." How the House leadership wants to pimp the bill is not reality so Tell The Truth. That's what we'll call this item should it need to be be repeated in the snapshot: Tell The Truth & Know The Truth because, in fairness, some people may not know what the bill does say.

Then there are those who haven't earned the same benefit of the doubt.
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) may not know what Paul Bremer does which would explain why she was all over the US orders to the puppet government to do away with the de-Baathifcation laws -- the same laws that didn't exist until the US administration's Paul Bremer decided to create it and enforce it. Tell The Truth, Rubin!

Finally, the Ultimate
War Pornographer Michael Gordon took Scott Shane with him on an unsourced wet dream of further war, of expanding it to Iran.