Saturday, August 25, 2007


I think NARAL is the most useless group of DC lobbyists in world. I would never urge anyone to donate money to them. But they have an action alert that I will post:

One year ago today, the Bush administration's FDA finally approved Plan B® - also known as emergency contraception - for over-the-counter sales to women age 18 and older. That fight lasted more than three years. Now, we're making sure that pharmacies across the country actually have it in stock so women can access it.
The Kroger Co. is one of the nation's largest grocery and pharmacy retailers - operating more than 1,921 stores like Ralphs, Dillons, Fred Meyer, and Smith's in 31 states across the country. What you may not know is that the Kroger Co. has published conflicting statements on its Plan B® stocking and refusal policy. YOU can help change that. We've launched a nationwide campaign to call on the Kroger Co. to adopt a policy to ensure that women can access Plan B® at all of its pharmacies. Click here to add your signature to our petition now.
Just a few months ago, a Kroger pharmacist in Georgia sent 42-year-old college professor and mother of two Carrie Baker away empty-handed when she tried to purchase Plan B®. NARAL Pro-Choice America believes that pharmacists should never prevent any woman from accessing safe, legal birth control like Plan B®. Do you agree? Then sign our petition today!
After our volunteer efforts showed that more than one in five local Kroger Co. pharmacies contacted don't stock Plan B®, we decided we had to step up our campaign. On this important anniversary, please help ensure that women across the country can access Plan B® at any Kroger Co. pharmacy without harassment or delay.

As worthless as I think NARAL is, I think NOW is more disgusting. Women's Equality Day! or whatever the bullsh*t e-mail alert said. I read it and wondered where they got off not noting the destruction of women's rights and the ongoing femicide going on in Iraq? But when your PAC endorses War Hawk Hillary Clinton, you can't really address the illegal war or its effects. Elaine wrote about how disappointing NOW has become in "Grace Paley and other items" last night.

Another thing I'll note is something about Dennis Kucinich. In Trina's "Black Bean Dip in the Kitchen" this morning, she notes that ABC croppsed out Kucinich and more but couldn't find the story online at his website. I'm signed up for e-mails, so here's the e-mail the campaign sent out on that:

The Kucinich campaign is still awaiting an official response from ABC News about the unexplained – some have charged "inexplicable" - way in which the network has handled its post-debate online coverage of Ohio Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich over the past few days.
Among the "outrages" that have energized tens of thousands of Kucinich supporters - and even non-supporters - thousands of whom have flooded the ABC News website and other online news sites with comments of protest:
* Congressman Kucinich was apparently deliberately cropped out of a "Politics Page" photo of the candidates.
* Sometime Monday afternoon, after Congressman Kucinich took a commanding lead in ABC's own on-line "Who won the Democratic debate" survey, the survey was dropped from prominence on the website.
* ABC News has not officially reported the results of its online survey.
* After the results of that survey showed Congressman Kucinich winning handily, ABC News, sometime Monday afternoon, replaced the original survey with a second survey asking "Who is winning the Democratic debate?"
* During the early voting Monday afternoon and evening, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was in the lead. By sometime late Monday or early Tuesday morning, Congressman Kucinich regained the lead by a wide margin in this second survey.
* Sometime Tuesday morning, ABC News apparently dropped the second survey from prominence or killed it entirely.
* AND, as every viewer of the nationally televised Sunday Presidential forum is aware, Congressman Kucinich was not given an opportunity to answer a question from moderator George Stephanopoulos until 28 minutes into the program.
The campaign submitted objections and inquiries to ABC News representatives on Monday and Tuesday. ABC News representatives have failed to respond - or even acknowledge - those objections and inquiries.

And Trina and I are both noting (as C.I. will later this morning), these programs on NYC's WBAI:

Sunday, August 26, 11am-noon EST
A panel of satirists discuss humorous impulses from inception to delivery. With Paul Krassner, Will Durst and David Dozer. Moderated by Janet Coleman.

Monday, August 27, 2-3pm EST
Actor/playwright/Fulbright scholar Dan Hoyle on "Tings Dey Happen," a one-man show on his investigations into oil politics in Nigeria; composer and jazz trombonist Craig S. Harris on the debut of "TriHarLenium: A Sound Portrait of Harlem 1976-2006" at Lincoln Center Out of Doors; and Catherine Cappelero and Andrew Rhone on their new musical "Walmart-opia," a futuristic look at a certain corporation running the world. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

That's it for me. We tried to make it back here yesterday in time for Adam Kokesh's workshop but we had the worst time. If you don't know, he's doing workshops right now before IVAW launches their Truth in Recruiting campaign next month. He wasn't in our immediate area but we arrived at the airport and attempted to get there in time. The event was already 70 minutes in and we tried to figure out whether it was rude to walk in that late or not? Finally, we decided it was rude. If he's in your area, make a point to check it out.

In holding pattern. Betty just called again to read a second draft of her latest. Her first draft was her trying to work in too many details and she hated it. We (C.I. and I) told her she didn't have to include so much and just focus on one plot point to advance. She hates reading Thomas Friedman. (C.I. told her, "I know what you mean, my stomach's upset just knowning I'll have to go through the New York Times this morning.) So she simplified it. It's called "Questions" and it's now up.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which has links for IVAW and Kokesh in it:

Friday, August 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military reports another death, a US helicopter attack leaves many Iraqis dead, war resistance gets covered on PBS, activist, author, feminist, peace advocate Grace Paley passed away Wednesday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. This week's
NOW with David Brancaccio (PBS, begins airing in most markets Friday nights) takes a look at war resistance:Choosing to go to war is both a government's decision and one made by individual enlistees. But changing your mind once you're in the army is a risky decision with serious consequences. On Friday, August 24 (checkyour local listings), we talk to two soldiers who went AWOL and eventually left the Army, but who took very different paths. NOW captures the moment when one man turns himself in, and when another applies for refugee status in Canada, becoming one of the 20,000 soldiers who have deserted the army since the War in Iraq began. Each describes what drove him to follow his conscience over his call to duty, and what penalties and criticism were endured as a result. "I see things differently having lived through the experience," former army medic Agustin Aguayo tells NOW. "When I returned from Iraq, after much reflection I knew deep within me I could never go back."The NOW website at will offer more insight into the case made by conscientious objectors, as well as more stories of desertion in the ranks.In addition to the broadcast, a preview of the show is posted at YouTube. And the show will be available in various forms (audio, video, text -- though maybe not in full) at the NOW with David Brancaccio site.

Camilo Mejia is the new chair of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. The decision of the new board members of IVAW were made last weekend. Tony Pecinovsky (People's Weekly World) reports on the Veterans for Peace conference and quotes Mejia explaining, "There is no greater argument against war than the experience of war itself. In the military you're not free to decide for yourself what is right and wrong. The fog of war is very real. Your main concern is staying alive" and explaining his decision to self-checkout, "I couldn't return knowing that we are committing war crimes. This war is criminal. But I'm no longer a prisoner of fear. I have hope that we can end this war." IVAW is gearing up for their big Truth in Recruting campaign. Adam Kokesh, who is co-chair of IVAW, is currently doing workshops (tonight at St. Bede's at the corner of St. Francis and San Mateo 7-9 pm PST). And Camilo Mejia tells his story in his own story of resistance in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, 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, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to the jibber-jabber. The NIE was released yesterday. It is a much kinder and less explicit version of Peter W. Galbraith's "
Iraq: The Way to Go" (The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2007). In the essay, Galbraith writes, "The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the President nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat." If that stance is still not clear, Alex Spillius (Telegraph of London) reports: "Frontline generals in Iraq spoke openly yesterday of the need to have a government that could function and guarantee security above all else, including democratic legitimacy. Brig Gen John Bednarek, who commands forces in Diyala province, told CNN that 'democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future'." As all the lies are dropped, the reality of the crimes being committed may be grasped. Maybe not.
Michael Ware and Thomas Evans (CNN) report that "officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security." Yesterday, White House flack Gordon Johndroe declared (in Crawford, TX) that "we know that there are significant challenges ahead, especially in the political area. I would say that the strategy laid out by the President on January 10th was a strategy that provided for security first, so that there would be space for political reconciliation. The surge did not get fully operational until mid-summer. It is not surprising -- it is frustrating, but it's not surprising that the political reconciliation is lagging behind the security improvements. I think that is the way the strategy was laid out." The 'improved' security is a lie. Repeating, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting earlier this month that the US military claims of 'progress' were based on numbers they would not release and that McClatchy Newspapers' figures do not track with the findings the US military has trumpeted: "U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim." But clearly the generals, the officials and the White House are all on the same page regarding the 'problems' with democracy -- pure chance, of course.

Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times) summarizes the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "Despite some military progress, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is unable to govern his country effecitvely and the political situation is likely to become even more precarious in the next six to 12 months, the nation's intelligence agencies concluded in a new assessment released Thursday. The document, an update of a National Intelligence Estimate delivered in January, represents the view of all 16 U.S. spy agencies."

'Democracy' on hold or out the window . . . what to do, what to do? Bring in a 'strong man' dictator?
Reuters reports that 3 "secularist ministers . . . will formally quit" the cabinet of Nour al-Maliki today and that three are from Iyad Allawi's party. Yesterday Democracy Now! noted Allawyi is working with "Republican lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers" in an effort to become the new prime minister of Iraq (Allawi was previously interim prime minister). CIA asset Allawi was still working with the CIA in 2003, as Jim Lobe (Foreign Policy in Focus) noted, in attempted "Iraqification" which was a popular thing in late 2003 as the White House and hand maidens of the press attempted to treat "Iraqification" as a process which would put Iraqis in control. The policy was at odds with much of the White House's aims and never got off the ground. Had it, it still wouldn't have allowed for Iraqi control. Allawi was interim Prime Minister following the start of the illegal war and, during that time, he made his 'mark' early on. Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald via Common Dreams, July 2004) reported in July 2004: "Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security center, in the city's south-western suburbs."

Never having been handed democracy, Iraqis now face the very likely prospect that the puppet (al-Maliki) will be replaced with a dictator/strong man. It's not about what the Iraqis want or desire on the US government's end, it's just more of the same. A point driven home by
the announcement that Abdel-Salam Aref has died in Jordan. In 2004, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "The US-installed regime in Iraq said last night it would pay a monthly pension to a former president overthrown more than 35 years ago in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein's Baath party to power. The Iraqi Governing Council says it will pay Abdel-Rahman Aref $1,000 a month and allocate $5,000 to cover his medical bills in Jordan. Aref rose to prominence in 1963 when he was appointed army chief of staff by his elder brother, then President Abdel-Salam Aref. He was overthrown in July of 1968 in a coup that was aided by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA also gave the Baath Party the names of some 5,000 Iraqi Communists who were then hunted down and killed or imprisoned. Following the coup, Baath party leader Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became president, with Saddam as his right hand man."

Peter W. Galbraith explains, there was no democracy following the start of the illegal war, not in what was imposed by the US (and the US shut out the UN). What exists is a system where the Shi'ites and Sunnis are two major groups (Sunnis the smaller of the two) and the system imposed has left one group shut out (elections would change that only to a small degree -- but they aren't happening) and the third most populous segment, the Kurds, are ready for their own country (Kurdistan). The system imposed on Iraq by the US was fatally flawed from the beginning so, it can be argued, ignorance wasn't the issue. Considering past history, a failed system that could be tossed aside quickly. Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes the the NIE's "best-case scenario" would be "Iraq's security will improve modestly over the next six to 12 months, but violence across the country will remain high. The U.S.-backed central government will grow more fragile and remain unable to govern. Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue their bitter feuding. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure. In Iraq, best-case scenarios have rarely, if ever, come to pass."

Andrew Stephen (New Statesman) wonders if the Bully Boy is imploding and notes, "The conundrum, of course, is that it was precisely that dark art which got Bush into the White House in the first place. The poisonous divisiveness that gradually festered around him as a result now allows the state department, to take just one example reported in the Washington Post, to think nothing of simply ignoring an order from the president. Yet I suspect that the extent to which the Bush administration has become so shambolic will not come home to many Americans until the country returns to work on 4 September. Bush is now a truly rudderless president, with no realistic agenda left for the next 513 or so days, other than to tread water and hope for the best."

Is Bully Boy imploding? His laughable attempting to rewrite history this week indicates something strange.
Robert Parry (Consortium News) evaluates the latest lunacy, "It is often said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But a much worse fate may await countries whose leaders distort and falsify history. Such countries are doomed to experience even bloodier miscalculations. That was the case with Germany after World War I when Adolf Hitler's Nazis built a political movement based in part on the myth that weak politicians in Berlin had stabbed brave German troops in the back when they were on the verge of victory. And it appears to be the case again today as President George W. Bush presents the history of the Vietnam War as a Rambo movie with the heroic narrative that if only the U.S. military had stuck it out, the war would have been won. Or, more likely, the black wall of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial would stretch most of the way to the U.S. Capitol." And Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times), who has gotten nothing but hisses in these snapshots, tackles the Bully Boy's nonsense, "Some might quibble with Bush's understanding of historical causation. Yes, many innocent civilians suffered in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam -- but it's more accurate to attribute their suffering to the prolongation of the war itself, rather than to the U.S. withdrawal as such. It's hard to be precise (as is the case in Iraq today, no one kept careful count of Vietnamese civilian casualties, and all sides in the conflict had an incentive to fudge the true figures), but somewhere between 1 million and 4 million civilians died as the war needlessly dragged on, many killed by U.S. weapons. Millions more were displaced. But those are details.
Bush went on to assert that 'another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam' was the rise of 'the enemy we face in today's struggle, those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens' on 9/11. Yup -- it's so obvious! The U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam caused the rise of Al Qaeda -- and, by extension, 'our withdrawal from Vietnam' ultimately turned Iraq into 'the central front' in 'the war on terror'." At a time when many left voices played dumb, stayed silent, Rosa Brooks addressed Bully Boy's nonsense, challenged it and put into perspective.
More willing to do that would go along way towards ending the illegal war.

The NIE is not the only report making the news. Another report, this time from an aid agency, also gives a grim picture.
James Glanz and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that the Bully Boy's escalation has led to an escalation in the amount of Iraqi refugees. Citing figures by the Iraqi Red Crescent, the reporters declare "the total number of internally displaced Iraqis has more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000, since the buildup [of troops -- the escalation] started in February."

Turning to some of today's violence,
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports a US helicopter attack on Iraqis in western Baghdad that resulted in the deaths of "at least 18" Iraqis, that the US is claiming the helicopter attack was prompted by an attack from 'insurgents' but eye witnesses note it's the same thing as usual -- due to the heat some people sleep on their roofs and that's what was going on during the "predawn" attack by the US -- and that between 2 and 4 women were killed in the attack. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The U.S. military said in a press release that after ground troops came under attack helicopters were brought and 18 'enemy combatants were killed'. The military later amended the release putting the death toll at only 8. The military said armed men on rooftops were spotted. A military spokesman said no civilians were killed."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (two more injured).


Reuters reports "two construction workers" were shot dead in Diwaniya, a barber was shot dead in in Hawija and 1 police officer was shot dead in Numaniya. CBS and AP report, "Sixty suspected al Qaeda in Iraq fighters hit national police facilities in a coordinated attack in Samarra, sparking two hours of fighting that saw three people killed and more than a dozen insurgents captured, Iraqi police said Friday. One policeman, a woman and an 11-year-old girl were killed in the fighting in the city 60 miles north of Baghdad, and nine others were injured. There were no details on insurgent casualties, but police arrested 14 suspects, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse discovered in Hawija. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Diwaniya..

Today the
US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier died Aug. 24 as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion earlier in the day while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Four Soldiers were also wounded and transported to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." The current numbers at ICCC are 3725 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 67 for the month thus far. Reuters' count is also 3725 and they note "Britain 168 [and] Other nations 129".

Finally, author and activist Grace Paley died Wednesday. In Sisterhood is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (ed.
Robin Morgan, 2003), Paley contributed "Why Peace is (More Than Ever) A Feminist Issue":

Today's wars are about oil. But alternate energies exist now -- solar, wind -- for every important energy-using activity in our lives. The only human work that cannot be done without oil is war.
So men lead us to war for enough oil to continue to go to war for oil.
I'm now sure that these men can't stop themselves anymore -- even those who say they want to. There are too many interesting weapons. Besides, theirs is a habit of centuries, eons. They will not break that habit themselves.
For ourselves, for our girl and boy children, women will have to organize as we have done before -- and also as we have never done before -- to break that habit for them, once and for all.

Peace is a feminist issue, still and always, even if one women's group chose to walk away from that reality in order to justify an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. As
Juan Gonzales (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Since the 1960s, Paley was very active in the antiwar, feminist, and anti-nuclear movements. She helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center in 1961. Eight years later she went on a peace mission to Hanoi. In 1974, she attended the World Peace Conference in Moscow. In 1980, she helped organize the Women's Pentagon Action. And in 1985, Paley visited Nicaragua and El Salvador, after having campaigned against the US government's policies towards those countries. She was also one of the 'White House Eleven,' who were arrested in 1978 for unfurling an anti-nuclear banner on the White House lawn." Feminist Wire Daily writes that "Paley was known as much for her political activism on behalf of peace and women's rights as her literary accomplishments. Paley was jailed several times for her opposition to the Vietnam War, and traveled to Hanoi on a peace mission to negotiate for the release of American prisoners in 1969. She helped found the Women's Pentagon Action and the Greenwich Village Peace Center. . . . Most recently, she actively opposed the war in Iraq." When Paley went to NYC for the "Women on War" event in April 2003, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed her and the program aired some of that interview today:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you were recently named the poet laureate of Vermont. It's very interesting. You're named by the governor, who is a Republican governor. Can you talk about how you relate to him in your meeting with him?
GRACE PALEY: Well, first of all, he really -- he didn't -- well, he had to sign the paper, but I was chosen by a group of other poets, a couple of whom had been laureates, like Galway Kinnell and Ellen Voigt, and a couple of other people who had to make a choice. I don't even think I was the best one, but that's beside the point. Still, there -- you know, there's time for others. And then I had to meet with him. He wanted to meet with me and talk to me, but before he really signed on. And I -- he knew a lot about me, and I said, well, I wasn't going to change very much, you know? I'd probably be the same person I was, no matter what. And we talked awhile about this fact. And he really -- and then he signed it. That's all.
AMY GOODMAN: Governor James Douglas?
GRACE PALEY: Yes. He's a Republican. He has a very mild manner, and I don't know whether that's the part of the Republicans of Vermont or what, but he's a Republican. I mean, there's no question about it.
AMY GOODMAN: But in terms of your poetry, more significantly, here he is naming you poet laureate, whether he chose you or not --
AMY GOODMAN: -- he is for the war, and you're opposed.
GRACE PALEY: Yeah, right. Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And you have been using your poetry a lot in the last few months to express that view.
GRACE PALEY: Well, I would do that, no matter what. I mean, this is what I'm about, and this is how I live my life. It's -- I don't even -- I wouldn't understand how to do otherwise.

Interviewed by Phyllis Exkhaus and Judith Mahoney Pasternak (War Resister League) at the start of this century, Paley reflected on what the peace movement accomplished: "Well, I think it did two things. It acted as an education in resistance and nonviolence. And probably the education in nonviolent direct action couldn't have been learned without a war. It had to take a war for people to learn that things could be defied and resisted. I think that was an important legacy of the peace movement."

Elaine Woo (Los Angeles Times) reports on Paley's work on the issue of draft resistance and notes "she also was an inveterate street-corner leafleteer and protest marcher who supported or helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center, the War Resisters League, Women's Pentagon Action and the Feminist Press." The Feminist Press published Here And Somewhere Else (Two By Two) in March of this year which paired Paley's work with Robert Nichols (her second and surviving husband).

In the December 1998 issue of
The Progressive, Anne-Marie Cusac noted a passage by Paely that stood out: "One of the things that art is about, for me, is justice. Now, that isn't a matter of opinion, really. That isn't to say, 'I'm going to show these people right or wrong' or whatever. But what art is about -- and this is what justice is about, although you'll have your own interpretations -- is the illumination of what isn't known, the lighting up of what is under a rock, of what has been hidden."

In 2002, she was among those signing "
Not In Our Name: A Statement Of Conscience Against War And Repression." Meredith Tax remembers Paley at Women's WORLD: "Grace and I became close during the PEN Congress of 1986, during which we organized a meeting to protest the inadequate number of women speakers, which took over the ballroom of the Essex House Hotel and led to the formation of a Women's Committee in PEN American Center. Grace and I were co chairs of that committee until she moved to Vermont, and she became founding Chair of Women's World in 1994. Grace was the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. This is unusual in a writer, especially one of her quality, because writers tend to husband their inner resources for their work, but Grace had so many inner resources that she could afford to be generous. She gave unstining love to her family and friends, took speaking engagements at any whistlestop, often without pay, organized antiwar and antinuclear and women's demonstrations, worked endlessly against nuclear armaments, did draft counseling, protested on behalf of the environment, free expression, and a just peace betwen Israel and Palestine."

In addition,
Matthew Rothschild interviewed Paley for Progressive Radio and Neda Ulaby (NPR) provides an audio overview of Paley's life and work. In terms of writing, "My Father Addresses Me On The Facts Of Old Age" (June 17, 2002) is available online at The New Yorker.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Music, Ron Jacobs

In the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow, I make a crack in the roundtable. Mike's encouraging me to write about the CD I'm cracking on. If community members want me to, let me know.

We were at a friend of C.I.'s this week (we're all on the road speaking) and she (C.I.'s friend) surprised me because she actually knew my reviews at The Common Ills (or at least some). She says to hold on because there's a CD I haven't reviewed by one of my favorites and I'm all excited and C.I. is like, "NO!"

I didn't know that CD was out. I didn't know it was coming out. After I heard it, I wish I'd never been informed. C.I. knew what my reaction would be to it and hadn't mentioned it to me.

And just to clarify, I can write the review. C.I.'s not going to have a problem with it and if there was a problem, I wouldn't ever hear about it. But I really like that artist and I really hate her new album. It was a huge, huge disappointment. So look in the round-robin tomorrow and let me know if you want a review. Mike thinks I should go for it or I wouldn't even be thinking about reviewing it.

On reviews, after the round-table was over, Krista called me back to say she forgot to ask something she and Gina had e-mails on. I told her the answer and told her I'd note it up here so people would quit e-mailing them.

In a perfect world, I would be reviewing new CDs by Prince, the Smashing Punkins and Stephen Stills in the next few weeks. This isn't a perfect world and I'm the world's worst procastinator. But that's what's on deck, or potentially on deck. In terms of after that, in September I will be reviewing Joni Mitchell's new CD. After that? I have no idea. Waiting on Joni's been the thing I've done all summer. I really am going crazy to hear that CD.

Okay, I wanted to note two things tonight. First, this is from Ron Jacob's "Bush, Vietnam and 14 More GIs Dead" (CounterPunch):

Speaking of Diem and the "country " he ruled at the behest of the United States, Mr. Bush is now comparing the US occupation of Iraq to the US war in Indochina. Of course, he is doing so for all the wrong reasons. "Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left," Mr. Bush will tell the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields. Naturally, Mr. Bush fails to note that if the United States had never been in Vietnam, there would not have been the need to add these terms to "our vocabulary." It was the decision by Washington to refuse the right of the Vietnamese to hold countrywide elections as agreed to in the 1954 Geneva agreements and the subsequent machinations by the US military and intelligence agencies to install a client government in southern Vietnam that created the situation that precipitated all of the newly termed phenomena.

Now I want to pair that with something I'm pulling out of the snapshot for today. So Bully Boy was lying and wanted to give a vocab. C.I. gives some of the vocab for what Vietnam provided the country with:

Bully Boy made ridiculous comments about how US withdrawl from Vietnam led to a host of things when the realities are that the illegal war itself led to that. Bully Boy felt the need to speak of new vocabulary the withdrawal created (it didn't create it) and while it's nice to know he is attempting to increase his Word Power, let's explore some of the actual vocabulary that illegal war did create. "Double veteran" was someone who killed a woman after he'd had sex with her. "Expactants" was a 'cute' term for those who were 'expected' to die. "Glad bags" were body bags and "litters" were what the dead and wounded were carried on. "Willie Peter" which was white phosphorus added to napalm to prevent water from stopping the burning of skin. "Fragging" which was when those serving under an officer elected to kill him often with a grenade. "Dust offs" were when service members were medicially evacuated by helicopter. Those are only some of the words that illegal war added to the vocabularly.

Now here's the back story on the thing from C.I. Yesterday, we spoke to a student group in the morning as well as a women's group and we were just trucking along. (We is C.I., Ava, Dona, Jess and myself. Yes, Jess was welcomed by the women's group despite being a man!) Then we had four more student groups to speak to. Ay-yi-yi. I don't know if Bully Boy had given the speech yet or if it was just getting attention. (It was released Tuesday evening, before he gave it Wednesday) but in each of the groups it was a huge issue.

C.I. generally speaks as little as possible both because the set up is more of a conversation and also because when others are along, C.I. really prefers to give more time to us. But Vietnam wasn't a planned topic and so that really fell on C.I. who gave this amazing speech, off the top of the head, while repeatedly saying, "When I've gone on too long or bored everyone, let me know."

In yesterday's snapshot, to hit hard on the realities, C.I. was backing it up with links and everything. But I really felt C.I. should have just taken the speech and posted it. I know it was off the top of the head so it would probably be hard to remember but -- and those links were wonderful, I'm not insulting anyone linked to in Wednesday's snapshot -- it was just amazing. By the fourth group, C.I. had condensed the whole thing down to about 20 minutes.

But I begged and pleaded for at least the vocab to go into today's snapshot. Students were loving it when C.I. was ticking that off (and there was a lot more ticked off in the speeches, and C.I. also wasn't constrained by a language policy like at The Common Ills). So since that went in from my begging, that's another reason I wanted to pull it and zoom in. But it's really a solid point. I was so afraid someone else was going to run with it while I was begging C.I. to put it in today. As far as I know, no one else had. But if Bully Boy wants to talk about war's effects on our vocabulary, let's see him get honest. He can't.

Okay, that's it for me tonight. I'm at Rebecca's and I told her I'd watch the baby while she blogs tonight. (That's not an imposition!) Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, women and children taken in a mass kidnapping in Iraq, the US military announces another death, Bully Boy lies (again) and largely gets a pass (again), Bill Richardson speaks frankly, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Today
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Camilo Mejia:

AMY GOODMAN: Talk first about this decision of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, a group of, what, more than 500 people to actively encourage war resistance?

CAMILO MEJIA: Last count was 525 members, with new members joining every day, Amy. And the decision was made to, as an organization, support war resistance within the military as a way to undermine the war effort.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of the growth of that resistance movement over the last couple of years -- obviously since you were one of the first -- how do you see that developing?

CAMILO MEJIA: I think we've come a long way from the time when I resisted the war. Like Amy said, I was the first public combat veteran to refuse to redeploy to Iraq. Back then, when I went public with my refusal to go back to the war, we had approximately twenty-two cases of desertion in the military. And then, by the time I got out of jail, that number was 5,500. Today, it's over 10,000 people within the military who are refusing to go to the war in Iraq since the war started. And just to put it in perspective, that's almost like saying like the 101st Airborne Division was wiped out by desertion or AWOL, basically people not wanting to fight the war.

AMY GOODMAN: How many?

CAMILO MEJIA: Over 10,000 people. So that's the equivalent to an Army division.

Over the weekend,
Iraq Veterans Against the War held their board elections and Mejia was elected as the new chair. On the issue of those who self-check out, Mejia noted that despite claims that the military isn't going after them, it is happening and cited Suzanne Swift as one specific example noting she is among the "cases of people who have not yet gone public and yet have been seized in their home" and that Swift was "apprehended by police without even a search warrant at her mother's house, and she had not gone public at that time. And she had refused to go back to the war, because she had been subject to military sexual assault and command rape from her leadership and being forced to go back to the war with the same unit and with the same people who had attacked her." Swift received no justice. A military white wash investigation did find 'some' validity in her recount of the ordeal she endured but instead of doing the right thing and immediately discharge with full benefits and a honorable discharge, instead of stating publicly, "This never should have happened and we apologize to Suzanne Swift and promise we are addressing this systemic issue," they refused to discharge her, they punished her and there's been no Congressional oversight despite the fact that Swift's case is not an isolated one. In September 2006, US House Rep Peter DeFazio declared that Congress would investigate the case and that he would be the one leading that. Of course, September 2006 was before the 2006 elections and the Democratically controlled Congress hasn't shown much spine since they were swept into office claiming they would end the illegal war. As Sara Rich, Swift's mother, explained of DeFazio to Jennifer Zahn Spieler (Women's eNews) in December 2006, "His office gave us a lot of red tape. And he basically laughed at our petition. I walked away feeling rather humiliated by him."

AMY GOODMAN: Now you have become chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and you are
launching the organization Truth in Recruiting campaign in September. Can you explain what that is?

CAMILO MEJIA: Sure. Well, we are launching a number of actions that we had, and Truth in Recruiting is one of them. What we're basically going to do is we are going to continue doing what we have been doing, but we're going to up the tempo. We are going to increase the number of members who are going to go into high schools to inform young people about the reality of the military and about the reality of war. Far from telling them not to join the military, we are going to tell them, "You want to join the military, this is what could happen to you. This is what's happened to our members. This is what the contract means. This is what stop-loss is. This is what conscientious objection is," so to basically inform them and thus empower them to make an informed decision.
We are going to go into recruiters' offices, and we're going to talk to the recruiters. And this, in time, is going to -- in turn, is going to take up their time, so they're not, you know, out there basically lying to young people about, you know, the many wonderful benefits of the military, without talking about the realities of war.
And we're going to continue doing, you know, what we're doing. We're going to continue going out into recruiting events. And we just had one action, actually, at the St. Louis conference. Across the street, there was a convention, an African American expo, where they had the America's Army game, and they were basically targeting like, you know, kids as young as twelve years of age, you know, teaching them that the military is cool and the military is good for you. And, you know, about ninety of us went in there, and, you know, we had this very military-style formation. And, you know, we all sounded off, saying, you know, "War is not a game. War is not a game. War is not a game." And then we leafleted the families and the youth with our fliers, you know, that talk about the reality of being in the military, which talk about our position as veterans against the war. And this is basically what's behind this campaign and this effort, you know, to basically inform young people about the realities of the military.

In Aimme Allison and David Solnit's new book
Army of None -- from Seven Stories press, available at book stores, online, and via Courage to Resist -- one of the stories they recount is a high school counselor who was happy to invite the US military on campus and thrilled to steer students to them (especially to the Coast Guard) until he was given some information that included the military contract service members sign:

Reading the language of the military enlistment contract changed Brian's mind about promoting the military option to his students. Section 9b reads, "Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may change my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/reenlistment document." section 10d2 reads, "I may be ordered to active duty for 24 months, and my enlistment may be extended." In other words, the military enlistment contract isn't a real contract. The military does not legally have to honor its promises to the enlistee. That was enough to change this counselor's opinion of the service" (pages 10 - 12).

It should be noted that Camilo Mejia's contract was 'extended' -- he was one of the many whom the military decided to 'stop loss' aka backdoor draft. The US military couldn't do that and US Senator Bill Nelson and elements within the military knew that (Mejia was a non-citizen, non-citizen's cannot be extended). Mejia tells his story in
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia but we should note again that he had completed his service and should have been sent home. Those who attempt to argue "You signed a contract!" have no concerns over the fact that it's a one-sided document. In Allison and Solnit's book they explore the contracts and how to convey the actual realities.

Truth in Recruting is an attempt to get those and other realities out. Adam Kokesh (Sgt. Kokesh Goes to Washington) reports on last week's Truth in Recruitng workshop in Berkeley "a sort of trial run for the format that I have created. . . . The next one for me is this Friday in Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Chapter of Veterans For Peace (especially Ken Murray) has been a great help in setting this up and promoting it." Kokesh also notes the new board members of IVAW including Mejia as chair, Kokesh as co-chiar, Phil Aliff as secretary and Margaret Stevens as treasurer and encourages everyone to check out Meeting Resistance an "incredibly powerful" documentary.

Aimee Allison and David Solnit remind, in Army Of None, that if you're handing out information about the realities of recruitment, it's a good idea to have the information in more than one language based on the diversity of the community.
Juan Gonzales addressed with Mejia (on Democracy Now! today) the fact that enrollment for African-Americans in the military is declining while Latinos are now being heavily targeted. Meija noted, "Some people may have heard about the DREAM Act, through which the military hopes to recruit undocumented youth who are graduating from high school. The proposal is to serve two years in the military or go to college for two years and then get your green card, which 65,000 people who are undocumented and graduate from high school and are not eligible for financial aid from the federal government are not going to be able to go to college for two years. So, you know, this is one of the ways in which, you know, the military is targeting young immigratns, mostly Latinos, to join the military."

Tonight, Camilo Mejia had a reading from his book
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia at Different Drummer at 6:30 pm. Friday he has events in Syracuse (click here and check out the sidebar).

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, 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, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to the Bully Boy.
Yesterday he made ridiculous claims regarding Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and did so in an attempt to resell his tired but ongoing illegal war. As Jane Fonda notes in the incredible documentary Sir! No Sir!, "You know, people say, 'Well you keep going back, why are you going back to Vietnam?' We keep going back to Vietnam because I'll tell you what, the other side does. They're always going back. And they have to go back -- the Hawks, you know, the patriarchs. They have to go back because, and they have to revise the going back, because they can't allow us to know what the back there really was." Jim Rutenberg, Sheryl Gay Stolber, Mark Mazzetti, Damien Cave and Erich Schmitt (New York Times) observe: "With his comments Mr. Bush was doing something few major politicians of either party have done in a generation: rearguing a conflict that ended more than three decades ago but has remained an emotional touch point." As Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes, "Beware, this is only the beginning of a new effort to sell these wars. The next salvo will take place on September 11, 2007, when General Petraeus, the latest general to run the war in Iraq, presents his commercial for an extended surge and an increased commitment to the ongoing occupation of that country. Of course, the date has 'absolutely nothing' to do with the anniversary of the attacks in New York and Virginia six years ago."

Bully Boy made ridiculous comments about how US withdrawl from Vietnam led to a host of things when the realities are that the illegal war itself led to that. Bully Boy felt the need to speak of new vocabulary the withdrawal created (it didn't create it) and while it's nice to know he is attempting to increase his Word Power, let's explore some of the actual vocabulary that illegal war did create. "Double veteran" was someone who killed a woman after he'd had sex with her. "Expactants" was a 'cute' term for those who were 'expected' to die. "Glad bags" were body bags and "litters" were what the dead and wounded were carried on. "Willie Peter" which was white phosphorus added to napalm to prevent water from stopping the burning of skin. "Fragging" which was when those serving under an officer elected to kill him often with a grenade. "Dust offs" were when service members were medicially evacuated by helicopter. Those are only some of the words that illegal war added to the vocabularly.

Douglas Brinkley tells Michael Tackett (Chicago Tribune), "If we get into a Vietnam argument, the country is divided, but if you are going to try to sell this concept that the blood is on the American people's hands because we left and were weak-kneed in Asia, that is a very tenuous and inane historical argument." Political analyst Bruce Cain tells Carolyn Tyler (KGO News) that what Bully Boy is "trying to do is use a conservative argument to rally the conservative base because what he fears is not that Nancy Pelosi and the democrats are going to vote for withdrawal. What he fears is members of his own party are going to join in." On the rollout attempt to resell the illegal war, Massimo Calabresi (Time magazine) explains, "The speech marks the start of a weeks-long campaign in the run-up to the politically charged September report card to be delivered to Congress by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Bush will give a second speech next week at the American Legion in Reno, Nevada, and another a week later on a trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit taking place this year in Sydney, Australia. The speeches will coincide with the launch of a $15 million ad campaign by a group called 'Freedom's Watch' -- which counts former Bush press secretary Air Fleischer as one of its founders -- aimed at bolstering flagging support for the war."

This is an atttempt massive rollout and that's why it needs to be called out in real time. Not a week later, not a few weeks later. Today,
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) spoke with Inter Press Service (IPS) journalist and historian Garth Porter who said of Bully Boy's ridiculous speech:

Well, you know, it reminds me very much of the way in which, of course, Richard Nixon used the threat of a bloodbath in Vietnam as the primary argument for continuing that war for four more years after he came to power in 1969. And really, it seems to me, the lesson of the Vietnam War that should be now debated and discussed is really the way in which Nixon could have ended that war when he came to power, negotiated a settlement and avoided the extension of that war into Cambodia, which happened because Nixon did not do that.
Had Nixon listened to the antiwar movement and the American people by 1969 and ended that war, there would not have been the overthrow of Norodom Sihanouk in 1970. There would not have been the extension of the war into Cambodia. There would not have been the rise of the Khmer Rouge. When Sihanouk was overthrown, we tend to forget that the Khmer Rouge was really an insignificant movement. They were about 2,500 or 3,000 very poorly armed soldiers or guerillas. And it was really the extension of the Vietnam War into Cambodia which made the Khmer Rouge the powerful movement that they were.
So really, you know, the lesson of Vietnam that we should be hearing, which we should have heard for the last three decades, but we haven't, is that government officials in the White House simply do not pay attention to the real consequences of the wars that they wage. They seem to be totally unable to take account of the destabilizing ways that the wars that they wage affect not only the country in which the war is being waged, but then the neighboring countries, as well.

CBS and AP report the Bully Boy "touched a nerve among Vietnamese when he invoked the Vietnam War in a speech . . . People in Vietnam, where opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is strong, said Thursday that Mr. Bush drew the wrong conclusions from the long, bloody Southeast Asian conflict. 'Doesn't he realize that if the U.S. had stayed in Vietnam longer, they would have killed more people?' said Vu Huy Trieu of Hanoi, a veteran of the communist forces that fought American troops in Vietnam. 'Nobody regreats that the Vietnam War wasn't prolonged except Bush. . . Does he think the U.S. could have won if they had stayed longer? No way'."

Anne Zook (Peevish . . . I'm Just Saying) notes Bully Boy was "saying that we can't leave Iraq because then it would be like Vietnam. It's not like Vietnam now, you understand. We didn't charge in there uninvited and start slaughtering people right and left with no clear idea of what we were dealing with and no rational plan for how wholesale killing was going to make things better." Rebecca addressed the topic of Vietnam in "robert parry, vietnam," Mike in "Ron Fullwood, William S. Lind," Elaine in "Matthew Rothschild, John Nichols, Katha Pollitt," and Kat in "Glen Ford, Iraq, Vietnam" yesterday. Today Ira Chernus (Common Dreams) notes that the Dems are caving on Iraq and buying the myth of 'progress' so he suggests, "The alternative is to refuse to take the administration's new bait. The antiwar movement could refuse to use Iraq as a backdrop and Iraqis as extras in a drama about the trials and tribulations of America. Instead, we could insist that the issue is not about how well our soldiers are doing or what is happening here at home. It's about what is happening in Iraq, where ordinary people like us have been dying and suffering in horrifying numbers ever since we occupied their country. We have no magic button that we can push to end the tragedy now. But we can do our best to refocus the debate on the real terror: the terror endured by the Iraqi people who live under military occupation every day."

Turning to the violence in Iraq, yesterday
Damien Cave and James Glanz (New York Times) noted that the death toll from last week's bombings in northern Iraq (Tuesday) had passed 500 with over 1,500 injured. On yesterday's US helicopter crash in Iraq, Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes that US military flack Michael Donnelly maintains, "The helicopter was not shot down". Remember that if and when the investigation concludes differently. The Honolulu Advertiser notes: "Ten Hawai'i soldiers were among those killed when a Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed today in northern Iraq". Heather L. VanDyke (Muskegon Chronicle) notes 30-year-old Matthew Tallman was among the dead and AP notes that some of the dead "were based in Hawaii; others in Washington state" and that the 14's home states included California, Texas, Washington, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio.

Today in Iraq . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life (five wounded). Reuters notes a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives (four injured), a mortar attack in Kut that claimed 2 lives (six wounded)


Reuters notes one person dead in Mosul from a drive-by shooting and "At least 25 people were killed in a battle between Sunni Arab militants and al Qaeda in villages near Baquba" in a battle involving mortars and gun fire.


Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that "15 women and children" were kidnapped following the battle outside Baquba.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Mosul.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded during combat operations in an area west of the Iraqi capital Aug. 22." Currently ICCC shows 3723 as the number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it started with 65 for the month thus far.

In political news,
Reuters reports US Senator John Warner has stated Bully Boy needs to use September 15th to make an announcements that he will begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. On Warner's request for a phased withdrawal to begin, AP quotes him stating, "We simply cannot as a nation stand and continue to put our troops at continuous risk of loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action." Warner's statements come as the spin flies around the supposed 'progress' that's not happening. We'll again note Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting earlier this month that the US military claims of 'progress' were based on numbers they would not release and that McClatchy Newspapers' figures do not track with the findings the US military has trumpeted (and many, most recently the Los Angeles Times have swallowed and spat back at readers): "U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim."

Staying on the topic of politics and the lack of progress, US Democratic presidental hopeful
Bill Richardson released a statement noting the absurdity of Bully Boy's speech ("The correct conclusion to draw from our experience in Vietnam is that dragging out the process of withdrawal will be tragically worse in the terms of U.S. lives lost and worse for the Iraqi's themselves in terms of the ultimate instability we will create by staying longer") and addressed Hillary Clinton's some days 'up' attitude on the escalation, sometimes 'down':

I am pleased that Senator Clinton, today, recognizes that the surge has produced no progress of any long term significance to the Iraq debacle. That is different from what she said yesterday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. But, it is that audience, who has sacrificed more than any of us, who deserves to hear a clear statement that our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers are not going to be sacrificed because of an irrational commitment to a failed strategy.The President is asking the country to wait for next month's progress report from General Petraeus. The chances are that report will be just another White House spin job and attempt to justify this war. This has been the bloodiest summer yet -- our troops have done an admirable job at trying to make a bad idea work, but the surge has failed, the war has failed, Bush has failed. It is time to end this war and bring all of our troops home as soon as possible. I'm glad Hillary Clinton has retracted her comments yesterday and has declared the surge a failure today -- but I still haven't gotten an answer to my question -- a peace in Iraq will fail as long as we leave troops behind -- how many would you leave behind? Every other major candidate would leave thousands of US troops in Iraq for an indefinite. I will leave no U.S. forces there. Zero.The only way out of the Iraq mess is to remove all U.S. troops, and to use that leverage to get the warring parties to resolve their differences, and surrounding Muslim nations to help stabilize the country. Any residual U.S. force reduces the chances for success, and exposes our troops as targets. Our brave troops, and the American people, deserve better.

John Walcott (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that that US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finds that "to date, Iraq's political leaders remain unable to govern effectively." The NIE was released today [PDF format of the report can be read here]. CBS and AP quote from the report: "The strains of the security situation and absence of key leaders have stalled internal political debates, slowed national decision-making, and increased Maliki's vulnerability to alternative coalitions" and "CBS News correspondent Tara Mergener reports tension is growing between President Bush and the prime minister after Mr. Bush appeared to back away from al-Maliki earlier this week when he said: 'Clearly, the Iraqi government's got to do more'."

Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the victims of those 'prescision' US airstrikes bringing 'liberation' to Iraqis and quotes Kassim Hussein, "This is not the first time that we have heard nice words about military operations that they say aim for our security and prosperity. Yet every time it was more killing, sieges and poverty. It is a war that we did not have to fight, but we are the biggest losers every time it is ignited by the Americans."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Glen Ford, Iraq, Vietnam

We are witnessing the final dissolution of both the Democratic Party and established Black leadership formations as effective agents of domestic social change and world peace. Corporate power has swallowed the Party whole, and is smothering or absorbing the residue of what was once a powerful Black people's movement. The devastation is all but complete, as is evident when one examines the response to the crises of Katrina, the Iraq War, the necessity to impeach, and the hellish and inexorable growth of a Black American Gulag through mass incarceration.
The Black Gulag - the product of a people-savaging national public policy that began as a mass white societal response to the Sixties Freedom Movement and metastasizes each year regardless of crime rates - isn't even an issue for Democratic leadership. No wonder, since both Democrats and Republicans have conspired over two generations to place a million African Americans behind bars at any given moment, creating a toxic prison culture that poisons every arena of Black life. During the watch of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill, more Blacks were thrown in prison than under any other president in history.
[. . .]
War - by now one of the few pistons running the engine of the U.S. economy, while also guaranteeing its eventual collapse - is the enemy of every agenda item of the Historical Black Consensus. George Bush's policy of endless warfare condemns Black America to permanent deferral of urban transformation, in all its aspects. There can be no revitalization of the cities - except under corporate terms under which Black removal is a prerequisite - while the public treasury is poured into the black hole of the War Industry.
In the aftermath of 9/11, decades of struggle against racial profiling were erased in an instant; now, every non-Aryan-looking person is fair game for profiling, and Black complaints are deemed petty, as if removed from history. Vast income and wealth disparities must take a back seat - all the way to the back - to the spending imperatives of war, most of which ultimately winds up in the hands of what I dubbed the "Pirate Class," epitomized by Halliburton, Bechtel and other pillars of the ruling order - which also happen to be the behemoth "reconstructors" of the Katrina-ravaged Gulf region. Wars have always accelerated the rate of structural change in societies. Corporate wars - the only kind the U.S. wages, these days - direct all restructuring to the most non-productive corporate coffers.

That's from Glen Ford's "Katrina, War, Impeachment and the Black Gulag" (Black Agenda Report).

Today Bully Boy, who avoided Vietnam, decided to distort realities about Vietnam to justify his own illegal war. He would have been on stronger ground if he'd just said, "LBJ lied with Gulf of Tonkin, so my party had a '1 free illegal war' card to play." Instead, he tried to rewrite history. Olive noted this from Australia's ABC about David Gergen's take on Bully Boy's lies today:

"By invoking Vietnam you raise the automatic question, 'Well if you've learned so much from history, Mr President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?'," he said.
"Why didn't you learn up front about the perils of Vietnam and what we faced there?
"And Vietnam and Korea of course were not victories for America - Korea ended in a draw and Vietnam ended in a loss."

Bully Boy doesn't want to learn from Vietnam, he just wants to use it to try to resell the Iraq war. It's a scare tactic, another one, and some people are stupid they probably will buy into it.
That's why it needs to be called out strongly right now. No pussy-footing around.

The US lost. They lost because the war was illegal. They lost, they lost, they lost.

This is from Arab News' "Distorting the Truth:"

There are however some genuine parallels between the US experiences in Vietnam and Iraq but Bush was loath to point them out. Both interventions were misjudged and based on an unrealistic faith in the absolute supremacy of America’s military might. In both cases, Washington did not understand the political and social complexities. They could only think in black and white, which produced a copious flow of red blood, American as well as Vietnamese and Iraqi. In both interventions, the idea of “winning hearts and minds” only occurred long after it was realized that US troops were not welcomed as liberators and had behaved with a brutality that alienated what little welcome there was.
And most tellingly, both Vietnam and Iraq have ended in humiliation for Washington and an exposure of the falsity of the grounds on which they justified their invasions. The world was told that if the Communists were not stopped in Vietnam, all Southeast Asia would succumb to their rule in what was called “The Domino Theory.” No such geopolitical collapse happened in the region in the wake of Hanoi’s victory. Indeed 30 years on, Vietnam though still burdened by Communist bureaucracy is slowly emerging as a free market economy. There will assuredly be chaos when American troops quit Iraq but it will be caused in significant part by Washington’s ill-informed and crass interference.

One more, this is from the Guardian of London's "The Saigon syndrome:"

His view of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, though shared by some Republicans, is bizarre too. It was not withdrawal but intervention in neighbouring Cambodia that led to the killing fields. Anger at American bombing (intended to disrupt North Vietnam's supply lines) brought down the Cambodian government and triggered the Khmer Rouge's brutal revolution.

People can play dumb or they can speak out and call out the nonsense. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, over 80 Iraqis are reported today, the US military announces deaths as well including those dead from a helicopter crash, Bully Boy demonstrates -- even before Karl Rove departs on Aug. 31st. -- that he doesn't need a brain and wouldn't use it if he had one, while Nouri al-Maliki hears voices and sees enemies and conspiracies all around him . . .

Starting with war resistance. Camilo Mejia does a reading from his book
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia at Different Drummer tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 pm. Friday he has events in Syracuse (click here and check out the sidebar). Today, Deepa Fernades interviewed him on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio.

Deepa Fernades: Can you just talk us through that . . . Those moments of deciding? Of realizing "Okay, I really don't have any other option but the military?" What was going through your mind? Did you actually think, "This is crazy. And what am I signing up for"?

Camilo Mejia: Not really because -- Well, first of all, I would disagree now days that there are no options. I think there are some options. I think we need to fight for more options. But young people really don't need to join the military to get themselves, you know, out of poverty and to get themselves educated. But that was my mentality, certainly that was my mentality when I joined the military.

An important point and one that
Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which Mejia was just elected to the board (as chair), will be making with a new campaign: September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. It's also a point driven home in Army of None, a new book by Aimee Allison and David Solnit -- from Seven Stories press, available at book stores, online, and via Courage to Resist where you can support both the book and a strong organization. In their book, Allison and Solnit offer an easy to comprehend and inspiring look at counter-recruiting including hands on details. Mejia was mentioning how important it is for students to know there are other opportunities besides the military and the authors Allison and Solnit stress that in their book, the need to provide more "information on job-training programs, college financial aid, and youth service projects." There are other opportunities -- however, the US government doesn't spend millions and billions of dollars a year promoting that. The authors also note the opt-out portion of No Child Left Behind and since fall semesters are starting -- parents have exactly six weeks after the fall semester starts to put in writing that the US military is not to be provided with information about their children. This must be done at the start of each school year.

On A12 of today's New York Times,
Sarah Arbuzzese reports on the huge drop in the number of African-Americans enlisting in the US military noting "the share of blacks among active-duty recruits declined to 13 percent in 2006 from 20 percent in 2001" and that the Army has seen the most dramatic decline (from 23% of the 2006 Army population to 13%), then the Marines (from 12% to 8%) and then the Navy and Air Forces. African-Americans have been opposed to the illegal war from the start in large numbers and Abruzzese notes that the most recent polling showed 83% of Afican-Americans say "the United States should have stayed out of Iraq." So counter-recruiting efforts are important and do have effects. Many veterans assist and lead those efforts and IVAW, again, will be launching a campaign next month.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, 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, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to Iraq, having already made clear (via the Sunni shut out of the alleged 'alliance') that the White House defined 'benchmarks' two and sixteen were out the window, Nouri al-Maliki made it even more clear that the Sunnis are not welcome in 'liberated' Iraq.
KUNA reports that a list has been issued "of wanted people" which includes the names of those "currently involved in financing attacks against the MNF" according to the Interior Ministry's Abdel-Karim Khalaf who has the title "Lieutenant General". The Interior Ministry has long been accused of being run by thugs who are set upon driving Sunnis out but apparently they now have the means and capabilities to track down those "financing attacks" or, at least, to pretend they do in order to continue targeting Sunnis.

On the heels of US Senators Carl Levin and John Warner's announcement that the Iraqi prime minister's "last chance" had arrived, Bully Boy attempted a show stopping performance today by dusting off his Dark Lady lp, popped it on the turntable and sang along with Cher about just being "a Dixie girl who prays/ Some day she'll be a Delta queen/ Find a good man . . . " Possibly that was his way of entertaining the VFW? Speaking of the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, Bully Boy pronounced him "a good guy, a good man". But it wasn't all spangles and head tosses, Bully Boy also wanted to give a history lesson and, suffice to say, he's no Howard Zinn. Mangling every known fact to humanity, Bully Boy came off like a college student dependent upon the "gentleman's C" which, for the record, was how he got through college. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, Bully Boy's declaring withdrawal from Iraq will cause the violence that followed when the US withdrew from Vietnam -- violence in Camobia and Laos as well as Vietnam. On the issue of Cambodia, in a speech in June, John Pilger addressed Cambodia, "I've made a number of documentaries about Cambodia. The first was Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia. It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot. What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed -- CIA files alone leave no doubt of that. . . . The [US] troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years. And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in the preceding years. And that's what's happening in Iraq." There's Bully Boy's actual historical comparison -- the one he won't make. To read Pilger's speech click here for Dissident Voice, click here for Democracy Now! which offers it in audio, video and text. As Saul Landau (CounterPunch) has noted of the US and Cambodia, "Between March 1969 and May 1970, Kissinger ordered some 3,600 B 52 raids on Cambodia. Kissinger later lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying he had selected only 'unpopulated' areas of Cambodia for bombing. Somehow, between 600,000 to 800,000 civilians died in these 'unpopulated' areas. This carnage occurred before Pol Pot won power. . . . Kissinger's undeclared war against Cambodia also included overthrowing the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. A pro U.S. military coup produced an ineffective regime and subsequently led to the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge." "Bush is rewriting history -- never his best subject," notes Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) who also notes, "he's counting the victims of the Khmer Rouge, who came to power only after the U.S. ruined Cambodia. And he's not counting the three million people the U.S. killed in Southeast Asia during the war. Just as he's not counting the 70,000 to 700,000 civilian Iraqis his war has killed, or the one in ten who have been forced to leave their homes."

David Jackson and Matt Kelley (USA Today) cite Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow saying the "historical analogies . . . don't track" because "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other. . . . Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?" "We" would not, of course, include Bully Boy who joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam and couldn't even complete his duties there. (Note, in the 90s, Bully Boy would make comments indicating he was against the US involvement in Vietnam. That may have been the closest he ever came to making sense.) Joe Allen (ISR) noted Stanley Karnow referring to the invasion of Laos as Tricky Dick and Crooked Hank (Kissinger)'s "drastic new initiative" to distract from losing to the North Vietnamese with Allen noting: "In February 1971, 150,000 South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos in an operation called Lam Son 719. The U.S. Air Force flew 8,000 ariel sorties in support of the invasion. They advanced about a dozen miles into Laos without much opposition, then they were hit with a major counteroffensive by five divisions of the North Vietnamese Army. It immediately became a major rout, with the South Vietnamese Army fleeing back to South Vietnam . . . The Laos debacle proved that even with U.S. air and logistical support, the South Vietnamese Army was a useless fighting force. There was a rapid disintegration of the U.S. position in Vietnam during the remaining two years of the war." (That's from part three of Joe Allen's Vietnam series, click here for part one and here for part two.) Matthew Davis (BBC) analyzes the false comparison and quotes "Iraq analyst at King's College, London" James Denselow: "This smacks of spin, a last throw of the dice designed to pre-empt the anti-war lobby and justify the US's continued presence. This is an issue of how America goes to war, and how it gets out of it. It is rare for a leader in a democracy to take a country into war, and to take the country out." Click here for Thom Shanker's laughable 'Bully Boy is right and look Council on Foreign Relations and a host of War Hawks say so!" And no link to The Nation because John Nichols is apparently representing the entire magazine and most of the timid left who refuse to call out the Vietnam nonsense (Nichols zooms in Korea. Way to go, we'll all go home and watch M*A*S*H!). This is how the Vietnam revisionary history took hold to begin with, people smart enough to know it needed calling out refusing to do so. (In fairness, Nichols is apparently the only working at the magazine today.) Check instead the piece by Ron Fullwoood (OpEdNews). Or The UnCapitalist Journal which notes, "Incapable of admitting utter catastrophe in waging a 21st Century war of aggression that has left the U.S. armed forces debilitated and incapable of effectively fighting even a single theater war against a real enemy, and unable to face up to the wreck visited upon the fiscal house of the nation by irresponsible tax cuts for the rich coupled with unending, uncontrolled costs of vaporous war against a stateless band of criminal maniacs, the President of the United States of America is about to go all the way back and blame Richard Milhouse Nixon for this miserable failure of a Presidency."

Though the puppet has made no known comment on Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia,
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports he's spitting mad over talk that he needs to go declaring, "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people." Setting the issue of the election aside, al-Maliki wasn't elected by the people and should have been tossed out in May of 2006 by the Iraq Constitution since he failed to meet the deadline to put together his cabinet (after missing it, for those who've forgotten, al-Maliki tossed out the Constitutional deadline and created his own deadline -- which he also missed). Paul Tait and Mohammad Zargham (Reuters) report that al-Maliki declared of US criticism (the reporters note it wasn't "clear if he was referring to Bush or [US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker"), "These statements do not concern us a lot. We will find many around the world who will support us in our endeavour." Really? Because the puppet was whining (when the US Congress was speaking of withdrawal at the end of spring) that the US forces couldn't leave (though poll after poll demonstrates the Iraqi people want them to). The puppet who never met a conspiracy he couldn't latch on to also began seeing a plot caused by the trip he's currently on, "Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere." "Our"? It's his trip. Is the "we" also al-Maliki speaking of himself in the plural form? While al-Maliki gives a performance to rival Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that members of Iraq's Parliament "lack the votes to replace him" (maybe not) and that the White House fears no one else "could do a better job". So Iraq's stuck with al-Maliki the way the Democratically controlled US Congress tries to stick the American people with Bully Boy? Further calling Reid's reporting skills into question, he cites War Hawk Kenny Pollack -- who's been so 'right' about everything from the start (that was sarcasm). Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London via ICH) observes of al-Maliki's outburst, "In one sense, the crisis only confirms what has been clear for months. Whoever sits in the Green Zone in nominal charge of Iraq's government has little power or authority beyond its walls. Bush's political project for Iraq looks more fragile than ever."

Fragile? In some of today's violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life (five wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two, a truck bombing in the Salahuddin Province that killed 12 (twenty-five wounded), a car bombing in Tikrit that claimed 1 life (police officer, three more wounded), a Kirkuk car bombing that wounded one police officer and a roadside bombing near Flaifel left four members wounded. Reuters reports 6 killed (thrity-five wounded) in a motorcycle bombing in Muqdadiya, 20 dead (fifty wounded) in a tanker bombing in Baiji. The Baiji truck bombing death toll rose to 45 dead (eighty wounded), CBS and AP report. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes the death toll has climbed to 51 and that it "leveled" Baiji's "main police station" as well as causing "neighboring buildings" to collapse while noting the toll contains "such high casualties because most residents do their shopping in late morning and the station was located on a main commerical street."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ahmed Hassan was shot dead in Al Riath.


Reuters reports, "Armed men stabbed a female professor to death in the Shi'ite city of Kufa".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Counting corpses that is 88 deaths and that's not all of the deaths today.

US military announced: "Fourteen Task Force Lightning Soldiers died when the aircraft they were riding went down in northern Iraq Wednesday. Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were on a night operation when one of the aircraft crashed. That helicopter had been carrying four crewmembers and 10 passengers. Initial indications are that the aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction." Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes at least 63 helicopters have crashed (my term) in the illegal war with at least 36 being "struck by enemy fire". CBS and AP note that the deadliest helicopter crash in the illegal war took place on January 26, 2005 "when a CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. troops." Like that helicopter crash, this one too "is under investigation." The January 26th helicopter crashed outside Ar Rutbah.

The US military wasn't done --
they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and three others were wounded during combat operations in an area west of the Iraqi capital Aug. 22." Today's deaths brought the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3722 with 64 of those from the month of August thus far (ICCC).

And finally, in media news, Jeff Zeleny and the New York Times have smeared the peace movement with a big-old-fat lie. Yesterday,
Senator Barack Obama (and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful) delivered a speech to the VFW where he declared, "The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground. When men and women who die in service to this country are laid to rest, there must be no protests near the funerals. Its' wrong and it needs to stop." Obama was referring to the 'vangical fringe that is the gay hating Fred Phelps crowd. The extreme right wing set. As Cedric's "New York Times lies again!" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! NEW YORK TIMES LIES ABOUT PEACE MOVEMENT!" noted yesterday, somehow New York Times' Jeff Zeleny heard that and decided Obama was talking about the peace movement: "He also said it was wrong for anti-war activists to protest at military funerals, declaring: 'It needs to stop'." The print version of the story ran in this morning's paper on A11 and does not contain the error/lie; however, the story is still up online at the paper's website and has not been corrected. How many times is the Times going to smear the peace movement during this illegal war?