Friday, August 08, 2008

Go away, Tom Hayden, far, far away

Tom Hayden's a f**king idiot. He's a no class, sexist, asshole. I'll say it because C.I. bites the tongue (publicly). But this is the man who married a meal ticket and then cheated on her repeatedly.

Cheated on her, insulted her, told her her breasts were too small, compared her to Jessica Lange unfavorably, did all this knowing that his wife suffered from bulimia and had body image issues. Did it because he was trash.

Tom Hayden hates women. Always has. Always will.

He's a piece of trash.

He got into the California Assembly on his wife's money and when he burned down that bridge, his political career was over. Didn't help that he burned the bridge with a poll that if he pisses C.I. off enough, C.I. will go into that poll. (C.I. has the questions and the results of the poll.)

Tom Hayden is trash who married money and didn't appreciate his lucky break. He drove a Brinks truck (figuratively speaking) to his divorce settlement and played 'hardball' (extortion in the eyes of many) to walk away with as much as he could steal.

He stirred up violence in Chicago in 1969 and hopes no one ever goes looking into that. (He was charged and tried on violence in Chicago in 1968.) Bill Ayers has already been very clear in public that Tom Hayden LIED in his published version.

Tom Hayden's a pig who thought he was a radical because he bossed women around.If you spend a week at C.I.'s, you will find any number of women saying, when he was married to his meal ticket, "Oh, he came on to me too." To the point that you wonder, did he ever not sleep around?

He's just sleeze. I mean if you're trash and ugly trash on top of that (he has bad acne scars and a broken nose), and somehow you trick some woman into falling in love with you and believing your garbage and she's got enough money to buy your legislative career, you might think you'd keep in your pants, especially when she's an attrative and sexy woman. But not Tom Hayden.

He's always though he was entitled to everything and he will always think that. The fact that his flabby body is a laugh as he 'flirts' these days just sails right over his pathetic head.

C.I. will generally say, when those conversations start, "I'm biting my tongue." And C.I. will then leave the room. Others are not so kind.

So it's not surprising to me to read the transcript of an interview with him at Rocky Mountain News where his assistant walks in and Tom-Tom tells Emily to walk in front of the camera so people can see what she's wearing. Would the PIG do that to a male assistant?

Of course not.

He's a F**KING pig. That's all he'll ever be. There are stories in C.I.'s journal that don't even shock me when they're about Hayden. He's a truly disgusting man.

He hates women, he always has. And so, in this interview from April, he repeatedly floats that Hillary's trying to steal the nomination and, if she does, there will be violence.

Well, Tom-Tom, Barack stole the nomination.

Tommy can't grasp that because he's a pig. He's a pig who endorsed Barack. Not that it made a difference in his home state because California went for Hillary. Ha! We voted for Hillary because Tom Hayden doesn't have any pull in California. He's about as needed, wanted or sought after as an ex-husband of Zza Zza Gabor. About as credible as well.

He's trash and he's trash that always wanted to be famous. All he got was fame by association and he lost that. Some who knew him years ago swear dementia is setting in and I hope they're right.

He is not a voice for peace. He is a voice for Democrats. He doesn't care about ending the illegal war, just in electing Democrats. He wants to insist there's a movement behind Barack and that's just because he's hoping the corporate media will see him as the chronicler of the 'movement' and hire him. I understand this go round, it may be very difficult for him to even place a column with the New York Times. Good. We've all heard more than enough from his mouth to last a lifetime.

He is not about ending the illegal war. Whenever he makes a baby step to do that, someone slaps him down. He talks about the need to know the resistance, Laura Flanders ridicules him on air, he never brings it up again. He's got no spine and, in the end, his answer is always the same: Elect Democrats.

How's that worked out for the last 30 years, Hayden?

In his stupid interivew, he's insulting Ralph Nader and Chris Hedges. C.I. doesn't control what anyone else writes at their own site (obviously, C.I. would prefer we all give Tom Hayden no attention at all) but from time to time, like we all will, C.I. will make a request. One request this year (may have been the only one) is that we all avoid calling Hedges out on anything unless it's absolutely necessary. The reason being Hedges is publicly supporting Ralph and C.I. assumed (correctly, read Tom Hayden's dumb ass remarks) that Chris Hedges would catch a lot of flack for that. So we've all kept that in that mind and I don't think anyone's called him out since.

But there's Tom Hayden basically calling Hedges a moron and saying Hedges needs to go to a Barack rally (like a Hitler rally?) and he'll come to Barack (in a kind of "Come to Jesus" manner?). If he doesn't, Hayden declares, the audience will boo him. Hayden's a stupid f**k. Someone tell him he was never famous and he doesn't even warrant 15 minutes. Go away, Tom Hayden, go far, far away.

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

Friday, August 8, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Moqtada al-Sadr floats an offer for disbanding, US presidential candidate Ralph Nader prepares to visit Canada, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Last month US war resister
Robin Long was extradited from Canada. Courage to Resist notes that Robin is "being held in the El Paso County Jail, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, awaiting a military court martial for resisting the unjust and illegal war against and occupation of Iraq. Robin will be court martialed for desertion 'with intent to remain away permanently' -- Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- in early September. The maximum allowable penalty for a guilty verdict on this charge is three years confinement, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorably discharge from the Army. In order to expedite Robin's trial, it appears that his unit command, the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division is option to not charge Robin with speech-related violations of military discipline; opting to try and convict Robin as fast as possible."
They note the public support that Garrett Reppenhagan (IVAW) and others have shown in Colorado for Robin. A protest held at Fort Carson (see
July 28th snapshot) was noted here last month and Lee Zaslofsky declared at the protest: "Robin Long did what he did because of his conscience and because he believed that the war was wrong, that he was simply running away or hiding out. . . . I think most Americans now realize that the war in Iraq is a complete mistake." James Branum is Robin's civilian attorney and he discussed Robin's case in this video (transcript of which is in the August 5th snapshot) noting, "So they had a hearing late at night. Robin was put into jail. And since that point, he has been held here in Colarado Springs in the Criminal Justice Center in El Paso County -- basically just a regular old county jail with all kinds of people, dangerous criminals many of them, and it's a difficult place to be. But Robin's in good spirits and we're now dealing with the consequences of his action in the military courts here."
Courage to Resist offers the followings to support Robin:

1. Donate to Robin's legal defense
By mail: Make checks out to "Courage to Resist / IHC" and note "Robin Long" in the memo field. Mail to:
Courage to Resist 484 Lake Park Ave #41 Oakland CA 94610
Courage to Resist is committed to covering Robin's legal and related defense expenses. Thank you for helping make that possible.
Also: You are also welcome to contribute directly to Robin's legal expenses via his civilian lawyer James Branum. Visit, select "Pay Online via PayPal" (lower left), and in the comments field note "Robin Long". Note that this type of donation is not tax-deductible.
2. Send letters of support to Robin
Robin Long, CJC
2739 East Las Vegas
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Robin's pre-trial confinement has been outsourced by Fort Carson military authorities to the local county jail.
Robin is allowed to receive hand-written or typed letters only. Do NOT include postage stamps, drawings, stickers, copied photos or print articles. Robin cannot receive packages of any type (with the book exception as described below).
3. Send Robin a money order for commissary items
Anything Robin gets (postage stamps, toothbrush, shirts, paper, snacks, supplements, etc.) must be ordered through the commissary. Each inmate has an account to which friends may make deposits. To do so, a money order in U.S. funds must be sent to the address above made out to "Robin Long, EPSO". The sender's name must be written on the money order.
4. Send Robin a book
Robin is allowed to receive books which are ordered online and sent directly to him at the county jail from or Barnes and Noble. These two companies know the procedure to follow for delivering books for inmates.

War resisters in Canada also need support and to pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor
the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel,
Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Anna Badkhen files from Iraq for Salon. This week she's been reporting on the realities of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons Of Iraq," aka "Turncoats For Coins"). On Tuesday, Badkhen reported on an Iraqi who discovered grenades in Baghdad but didn't feel he could say anything: "If I tell the Iraqi police or the Sons of Iraq they will tell the wrong people, and I will be killed. I don't trust them. If I tell the Americans, they'll tell no one how they found about the grenades." Wednesday she reported on the "Awakening" Council members quoting US Lt Justin Chabalko explaining, "When the SOIs [Sons of Iraq] stood up, we were basically hiring terrorists." Badkhen observes:

The Sons of Iraq was formed in 2007, when Sunni tribal leaders, tired of violence and disillusioned with Islamic fundamentalists such as al-Qaida in Iraq, encouraged tribal members -- including some former militia members -- to guard Sunni and mixed neighborhoods against takeover by sectarian gangs. The Americans touted the creation of the Sons of Iraq as a major diplomatic success and agreed to finance the organization, paying each member a monthly salary of $300, despite the protests from the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which never liked the idea of legitimizing the Sunni-dominated fighting force.
The force helped quell the Sunni insurgency in Baghdad and in Iraq's tribal heartlands, such as the restive Anbar province. But what a year ago looked like a brilliant solution to sectarian violence is now looking like a time bomb. Many of the force's members once fought alongside al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgency organizations against American troops and the predominantly Shiite Iraqi security forces. And now, a joint U.S.-Iraqi government plan to disband the force could put up to 80,000 men out of work -- and leave them armed and disgruntled.

April 8th, as The Crocker and Petraeus Variety Hour performed before Congress, US Senator Barbara Boxer pointed to reports that Nouri al-Maliki wouldn't put "half of them" onto the Iraqi security forces out of concerns about their loyalty and Boxer pointed out the US was buying their loyalty at $182 million a year, $18 million a month and wondered "Why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire costs of that program?" A question worth asking then and now. Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal) reports today that, "The U.S. military was supposed to be out of the employment business by now. When it introduced the Sons of Iraq initiative last year, senior commanders expected the local security personnel to be hired gradually into the ranks of the Iraqi army and police. But Iraq's Shiite-dominated central government has balked at the idea of bringing so many young Sunni men -- including many onetime militants -- into the country's fledging security forces. Less than 20% of the roughly 103,000 Sons of Iraq had been given government jobs as of early June. That has left U.S. forces responsible for employing -- and paying -- the Iraqis." Sudarsan Raghavan and Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) report on the "Awakening" Councils today and notes the tensions escalating as people think of elections: "The National Front and other onetime insurgent groups will join a bitter struggle for power between established Sunni politicians of the Iraqi Islamic Party and upstart leaders of the Sahwa, or 'Awakening' council, a U.S.-backed tribal alliance whose popularity has grown following its success in combating the group al-Qaeda in Iraq. 'Entering the elections is to change the current reality in our area, the domination of the Sunni spectrum by the Iraqi Islamic party,' said Effan al-Issawi, the top Awakening commander in Falluja. 'They are unworthy of leading the Sunnis'." No, it doesn't sound like 'peace,' now does it? That's what you get when you put thugs on the payroll and that was the intent, as US Secretary of State Condi Rice made clear in an interview this week where she referred to "Sons of Iraq in Anbar" as part of Gen Petraues' "smart counterinsurgency strategy".

This week the Iraqi Parliament adjourned their special session with no agreement on provincial elections which most analysts believe make it impossible for the elections to be held in October and others state it is impossible to hold elections this year period. Yesterday, the US State Dept was asked for comment on the development. Acting Deputy Spokesperson Gonazlo R. Gallegos replied as follow: "I believe I have something. Okay. We continue to urge the Council of Representatives to seek a compromise that can be adopted promptly. We regret that the Iraqi Parliament adjourned yesterday without finishing its work on a local elections law. The parliamentarians have made great strides towards finishing the closing agreement on most of the more difficult issues. We recognize that the election law brought to the floor important questions regarding the status of Kirkuk. The status of Kirkuk is, indeed a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed in a serious fashion, but it is an issue that cannot be solved through the legislative mechanism of the eleciton law. The election law should not be held hostage to that problem." Gallegos was also asked by the treaties the White House is attempting to negotiate with the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki -- popularly and wrongly called SOFA. "Updates on the SOFA," Gallegos stalled. "My understanding is that they're continuing. I don't have anything particular to say about the process right now. We haven't discussed those publicly before. I'm not going to here. As we said, we'll provide you with details when we get through with this." Asked for an estimate of when such an agreement might be reached, Gallegos replied, "I would not be prepared to provide a timeline for that." Actually, the White House provided a timeline -- they stated the negotiations would be completed July 31st. [
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on rumors of a deal being reached.] Meanwhile Mark Kukis (Time magazine) explains, "Shi'ite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stepped back into Iraq's political fray Friday with an offer that (if genuine) Washington would be hard-pressed to refuse: Set a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and the Mahdi Army will begin to disband. 'The main reason for the armed resistance is the American miltiary presence,' said Sadr emissary Salah al-Ubaidi, who spoke to reporters in Najaf Friday. 'If the American military begins to withdrawal, there will be no need for these armed groups'." Ali al-Mashakheel and Nick Schifrin (ABC News) point out that al-Sadr's cease-fire/freeze "was one of the main reasons that violence in Iraq has dropped to the lowest levels in four years for both civilians and trooops."

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tal Afar car bombing that claimed 18 lives and left twenty people wounded. Reuters notes the number wounded has already risen to twenty-five.

Turning to the United States presidential campaign. Ralph Nader visist Canada Monday:

Ralph Nader to speak on Monday August 11, on the trading floor of old Toronto Stock Exchange building.
Please circulate and post widely.
Event also features partial screening of the biographical documentary, An Unreasonable Man.
Now at over 5 percent in national polls, Nader is on his third run for President of the United States.
Find out why he runs and what's at stake for Canada this election.
Ralph Nader is the only major candidate for President of the United States standing up to implement Canadian-style universal healthcare, a Dion-style Carbon Tax, and ending the war in Iraq with a full 6-month withdrawal. Over ten million Americans say they will vote for him, and another 20 million say they would if they thought he had a chance of winning. He's on track to be on the ballot in 45 states, and has a shot at getting in the
Google Presidential Debates to be held in New Orleans this September. Come see him this Monday August 11 at the Design Exchange in Downtown Toronto.
Event Program:
Screening of a portion of An Unreasonable Man, the acclaimed documentary on Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader Remarks on the US Presidential Election: What's at stake for Canada?
Q and A with Ralph Nader
Where: Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario M5K 1B2.
Time: 7:00 to 9:30 pm
Ticket Price: Free, donations appreciated, RSVP to ensure seating.
To RSVP, email or call Rashi Khilnani at 647 286 0396 for more details.

A huge section (regarding NPR) just got pulled because the snapshot's way too long. That will be carried over to
Third for Sunday but the transition is now lost so just pretend that Nader, Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney were just discussed. Adam Kokesh participated in last month's farce of an impeachment hearing and wrote about it at his site, "I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Bob Barr would be testifying. He didn't disappoint. He made a great opening statement about 'Preserving Constitutional Liberty through Checks and Balances and the Separation of Powers,' but the best part of his testimony was in the second round before questioning. 'What we are facing now is a Constitutional clock, and it is countind own what remains of the Constitution of this great land. I might ask then to introduce for the record the disappearing Bill of Rights. This is the Bill of Rights that we as members of the Judiciary Committee know [he holds up a copy of the Bill of Rights] as adopted in 1791. [he flips it over to reveal a copy of the Bill of Rights that is largely redacted] This is what it is fast becoming.' You know it's a sad day when a former Congressman has to submit the Bill of Rights for the record in a Congressional hearing!" Kokesh shares many of his observations in the post and also includes Barr's written statement to the committee. The hearing was a farce. As Kokesh points out the Democrats "seemed to be really trying to make case for their won party's reelection. They failed. As petulant and petty as the Republicans were throughout the hearing, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican, hit the nail on the head: 'It seems that we are hosting an anger management class. This hearing will not cause us to impeach the president; it will only serve to impeach Congress's credibility.' The Democrats have become a sorry excuse for an opposition party. I don't think any of the many potentially deserving members of the Bush Administration will ever be impeached for the same reason that we didn't have impeachment hearings today or even months ago. The Democrats are just as corrupt, and complicit. Spineless Democrats are Neocon Appeasers and the blood is on their hands too." He goes on to predict that voters will be driven to the Libertarian Party (Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee). The entire post is worth reading in full. Adam Kokesh is, of course, an Iraq War veteran and the co-chair of IVAW. His remarks are him writing for himself. IVAW is a diverse and growing group committed to ending the illegal war but it does not require that members belong to one political party (or any). Nor do they confuse their organization with a get-out-the-vote movement; instead, they are bringing an end to the illegal war.

Matt Gonzalez is Ralph Nader's running mate. He and Ralph spoke at Sebastopol on Sunday and NPR didn't consider that 'news' apparently. A real broadcast journalist did. Which is why Bonnie Faulkner devoted the hour of her KPFA Wednesday show to providing the voices shut out by the media. Yesterday we noted some of Ralph's speech and we'll note some of Matt's speech today. Bonnie Faulkner hosts
Guns and Butter, [Here for KPFA archive.] Matt is speaking of how he and Ralph recently held a campaign event in Austin, Texas.

Matt Gonzalez: It was vey interesting to see that the weekly newspaper sort of put an ad about our appearance and they wrote something like, "Maybe Ralph will apologize for the last eight years?" And, you know, I thought -- I thought it was amusing sort-of, but then I started getting angry about it and i thought to myself, "Well wait a second, who should be apologizing? Who's voted for this war? Who voted for the Patriot Act? Who supports all these appropriations? Who supports the FISA bill?" I mean at some point there has to be responsibility taken for these positions. And this idea that it all belongs at the feet of Ralph Nader is just so absurd that it's insulting to our intelligence. The war in Iraq is probably one of the ugliest things we've ever engaged in. Nancy Pelosi told us, 'Elect me the Speaker [of the House of Representatives] and I'll get you out of the war.' Well I want you to know when she was not the speaker we put $116 billion into the war. She became the Speaker January of 2007, that amount went up by $50 billion. $50 billion more. From $116 to $165. This year, it went up to $189 -- so another $20 billion on top of that. What's wrong with our country? What's wrong with our opposition party that they can -- with a straight face -- tell you that the problem with this country is that candidates who hold views different than the ones that they hold are somehow not allowed to engage in the democratic process and not allowed to get out there and try to get our ideas out? Ralph Nader and I are fighting to end the war in Iraq. We want single-payer health care. We want to reform the Taft-Hartley law that has really taken the strength out of labor -- that's essentially outlawed general strikes, jurisdictional strikes, secondary boycotts, all kinds of things the labor movement can't do anymore. Now when I think about what was the problem in 2000 I'm just awestruck that so little has been done to cure the problem that we have in this democracy. Two things happened. We let somebody get announced and declared the president of the United States who got less votes than one of the other candidates. And we let someone be declared the winner who didn't even have the majority of the vote. Now we're all intelligent people, we can figure out how we would fix this problem: We would mandate that the winner would have to get over 50% of the vote. That would be that. How complicated is that? How is it that all the brain power in the Democratic and Republican Parties can't figure that out? Well first off for the Democrats, let me say this: "You like to invoke the name Ralph Nader but you never invoke the name Ross Perot who won 19% of the vote and 'elected' Bill Clinton president in 1992 with 43% or less of the vote. Clinton got less percentage of the vote than our current president did in 2000. But you never hear about." So the first thing I want to say is the antiquated line, you know, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. There is a reason why these political parties don't want to change the system. It's not because they don't know how. It's that if they were to change the system, the political spectrum would widen. What's possible in this country would widen. And they would whether have arbitrary outcomes and be in power roughly half the time than to fix the problem and really change American democracy. So if they're not willing to change the problem then aren't we rewarding them when we attack Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez and all the other candidates out there that are trying to talk about the real issues? Now it's astounding to me that Barack Obama likes to say 'Well . . .' -- for his explanation why he can't do the things that need to be done and take the positions that he should take, he likes to say -- 'super heroes don't get elected in politics.' Well, you know, there are no super heroes in the Canadian legislature that passed health care for their citizens. The [US] legislatures that vote against the Patriot Act are not super heroes. They're human beings like we are who believe in due process and equal protection and want a citizenry that isn't at the whim of governmental invasion of privacy. That's -- that's -- it's fundamental. There's a whole group of people out there that are trying to make apologies for the Democratic nominee, saying, 'Well he's only moving to the right now that he's secured the nomination.' It's not true. It's not true. Barack Obama supported the Republican Class Action Reform Law. This was something that David Sirota wrote for The Nation -- and many of their columnists made fun of -- they said 'This is a big business bonaza.' John Kerry voted against it, Hillary Clinton voted against it. The Democratic nominee has always supported limiting pain and suffering damages and medical malpractice cases -- favoring the wealthy in effect, those with good jobs over those with poor ones. He's opposed getting any kind of royalties from the mining of public lands -- the hard rock minerals on public lands. He voted for the Energy Policy Act in 2005 -- a vote that [John] McCain even opposed in 2005 Mobil Exxon, as we all know, has record profits now of over $40 billion a year. In 2005 they had record profits of over $35 billion a year and one of the Chicago newspapers -- in response to Obama's vote for this thing -- pointed out that it was an odd time to be dishing out oil-welfare. You know? Because we were giving tax breaks and subsidies in greater amounts than we were investing money in alternative energy. This is a candidate that opposes gay marriage. He has come out in response to progressives saying 'What are you doing -- what are you talking about with this faith-based initiative stuff?' And you know what he does? He scoffs at progressives and says, 'You have not been listening to me.' Well listen, we are listening to you now. We have listened to you with your FISA vote, with your 'change' on off-shore drilling, with your condemnation of a Supreme Court opinion related to the death penalty and you don't deserve our vote. You're not going to get it. And if you give these candidates your vote, you're guaranteeing that the system stays in place. You're guaranteeing that they can just say one thing to you and change their mind afterwards. One of the most notorious recent things that Obama said that just is astounding relates NAFTA. First off, he's campaigning in the primary and he's saying to everybody, he says 'I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans and I never have." Well it turns out that an AP writer goes back and look at his -- a guy named Calvin Woodward -- goes back and looks at his Senate campaign in 2004 and guess what? At the time Obama said the US should pursue more deals such as NAFTA and argued that his opponent's calls for tarrifs would spark a trade war. Okay? So now he's against NAFTA, okay? He's in a tight race with Hillary Clinton, he's against NAFTA now, maybe he's figured out that NAFTA has created a scenario where we have displaced millions of Mexican workers, caused the migration to the north because we're subsidizing corn, for instance, dumping it in Mexican markets and ruining their agricultural system. What would you do in that situation? So now he tells -- he's in a fight with Clinton over who's against NAFTA more. He wins the nomination in effect and he gets interviewed by a writer for Fortune magazine, June 18th, Nina Easton, Washington editor, asking him, 'What about NAFTA, you said you would invoke the six month clause to unilaterally get out of it?' He says, 'Well, you know, sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified." So he went from calling it devastating and a big mistake to it's just rhetoric. And that's what we're supposed to buy into? We're supposed to buy into political rhetoric because we're not allowed to have better candidates? We're not allowed to have candidates that are saying, "Come on, we can have a better country. We can change this around"? The Democrats . .. You know, if voting for complacency and capitulation and appeasement worked, I would advocate it. It's not working. It's just not working. And notice they tell us 'If we can just have this, we'll win. If we can just have this next thing, we'll change everything.' I love how these US Senators run around and say, "Well if I were president the home morgate crisis wouldn't have happened and the oil prices wouldn't be what they are." You've been in the United States Senate, what the hell have you been doing there? Why do we have to elect -- give you a promotion, when you're asleep on the job. Right? Now you counter that, you counter that with Ralph Nader's history of achieving legislative accomplishments as an outsider. How does his record match up against Senator McCain's and Senator Obama's? Right? I mean Freedom of Information Act, Clean Air, Clean Water, all the automotive work, all the consumer protection work. a lifetime of trying to wake up the American public to stand up and fight back and not to take this anymore. Right? Imagine what it is to go into a progressive town and have a progressive publication say "Maybe they'll apologize for the last eight years?" It's really gross. It's not the way to treat Americans participating in a democracy trying to tell people, 'Come on, let's try to fix this.' I want to just close by making reference to the historical examples I think are important to keep in mind. There were candidates in the past that people said, "Don't vote for them. You're throwing your vote away if you vote for them. You know people like Eugene Debbs who ran for president a number of times and, you know, he thought we should have the forty-hour work week, you know? He thought women should be allowed to vote. Imagine that? The radical concept that women were 'advanced enough' intellectually and 'mature enough' that they could vote. This was actually a discussion in our society and it was Eugene Debbs that was saying "Yes." And maybe he got 6% of the vote, the best he ever did was 6%. So if you had lived in that time and somebody had said, "Don't vote for Eugene Debbs, you're throwing your vote away" -- what would you have said to them? Now with this historical lens to look back. How do we break through things? And you go even further back, you go to the Liberty Party of the 1840s James Birney advocating abolition of slavery. He can get 1% of the vote. You're throwing your vote away if you vote for him apparently. Well I don't believe that and I hope that you don't. I think it takes a lot of courage to be someone like Ralph Nader who is being attacked for standing up in a democracy and trying to articulate views that the other candidates are essentially throwing away, rejecting, you know? And I think we are at that historical moment are we going to vote for what we believe in or are we just going to keep buying into rhetoric about "hope" and "change" that it's already been proven to us is false? Thank you.

Team Nader notes:

This is it.
Our accounting team has decided to cut off our primary season online donations this Monday.
This means no more matching funds from the federal government after this weekend.
If you've already contributed, but have yet to donate up to $250, then this is your last chance to
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Carly Simon

Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CHUCKLES ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL!" and Cedric's "Barack's misadventures" (joint-post) covers the campaign beat. Others posting last night sought to highlight favorite films from the eighties. Be sure to check out Rebecca's "st.elmo's fire and heathers," Mike's "Jumping Jack Flash," Marcia's "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," Ruth's "Private Benjamin," Elaine's "Michelle Pfeiffer" and Kat's "The Godfather III, Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" and, though they went up this weekend, let's note Trina's "Garlic Soup in the Kitchen" about the economy and Betty's "Heckle & Jeckle" about Betinna's campaigning for Ralph.

I wanted to open with that from C.I.'s "Other Items." What an interesting range of choices movie wise, by the way. I had three e-mails telling me Godfather III came out in 1990. Oh well. Althought it is very much an eighties movie.

I had many more e-mails thanking me for defending Godfather III. It has a lot of fans and apparently none of us are supposed to ever admit that out loud. It really is a great movie. And I had a big thank you from community member Lynda who "Loves, loves, loves Cher!" and wasn't aware of Come Back To The Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean until last night. She's hunting it down at Netflix as we speak. (I hope it's available on DVD.) (Lynda, if it's not, e-mail me and I'll send you my videocassette copy. Yes, I trust you that much.)

Read Mike tonight, I think he's going to have a pretty important post.

(Based on comments during the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin.)

In the snapshot, C.I. links to the NPR interview of Carly Simon which I'm listening to right now. Here's what I fault the interview for, it 'plays' a snippet of "People Say A Lot" from the new album. Great! You're thinking, right? Carly singing. No, it plays the snippet of dialogue from All About Eve. The same dialogue the interviewer's already discussed with Carly. Uh, NPR, All About Eve wasn't what you should have played.

It's a really good interview otherwise and Carly explains that "Island" wasn't an easy song for her to record. At one point Ben Taylor (her son, who wrote the song) told her not to worry about it and just leave it off the album. Then she decided to try it in another key and it worked. She talks about her breast cancer and how her sister Lucy was always willing to help but she couldn't take Lucy's help. She could take help from a woman she'd never met (that a mutual friend knew) who'd had breast cancer. She felt comfortable with that and the woman checked in on the phone with her daily. Carly says she tries to be there for other women with breast cancer as a result. I wish "Hold Out Your Heart" because it really is one of my favorite songs on the album. She talks about her first performance as a solo act after she signed to Elektra. The interview's 22 minutes and you should check it out if you're a Carly fan. (And who isn't?) And make a point to get Carly's This Kind of Love. Susan wrote a few weeks back to inform it was now at Borders and other stores and not just at Starbucks.

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

Thursday, August 7, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, no provincial elections for Iraq, excuses for the puppet government's lack of spending, media coverage for Nader, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Agustin Aguayo served in Iraq and refused to load his weapon. Aguayo learned quickly upon arriving in Iraq that 'rules' were out the window as he and other medics were instructed that they would not care for any Iraqi civilians wounded. Seeing it first happened deepened Aguayo's spirituality and his beliefs that the Iraq War was illegal and immoral. He attempted to go through the process where the US military grants you Conscientious Objector status. When the military refused to recognize that he was a CO, Aguayo took it to the civilian courts. A hearing was scheduled in the US Court of Appeals for November 2006; however, the US military informed he would be in Iraq when that hearing took place. To explain physically (he'd already done so verbally many times) that he was not deploying for a second tour of Iraq, Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Despite being AWOL less than thirty days, the US military decided to court-martial him for desertion. March 6, 2007, Aguayo was court-martialed and Aguayo admited he was AWOL but refused the charges of desertion. Col Peter Masteron sentenced Aguayo to 8 months in prison but did allow the 161 days Aguayo had already been imprisoned to count towards time already served. In June, Agustin and his wife Helga P. Aguayo provided updates to the current status. Agustin had hoped to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court (and had every right to -- as well as a strong case, the military's refusal was based on the 'concept' that religion and spirituality are a fixed point and cannot be deepened by life, time or experiences). March 18th the Supreme Court refused the case. Agustin writes, "This mean my case will never be heard by the Supreme Court and my quest for justice failed and I will never be vindicated legally. Although, I have come to accept this and knew of the possibility it has been disheartening. I don't need outside sources to validate me. I know who I am and I know what is in my heart." Helga explains the physical strain of the ordeal:

My health which had been on a steady decline finally deteriorated to the point where my condition of Psoriasis became life-threatening. The stress of fighting the Army and being persecuted for opposing this war had finally caught-up with me. There have been ups and downs to my health but the situation when Augie got back was pretty grim. I think I had been so strong for so long that I was finally able to let go and fall; I knew Augie would be there to catch me. Aside from my condition I didn't realize how badly hurt my family was. Our harshest battle has come from trying to put our family back together, again. My panic attacks were out of control and it almost seemed as if Augie and I picked-up right where we left off the last time we were together: having major panic and anxiety attacks while he jumped out the back window and went AWOL. His PTSD kicked in full force and I was a basket case. Throughout our ordeal, [their twin daughters] Raquel and Rebecca had been strong and fought side by side with us, with poise and courage. But they too, began showing signs of emotional crises. [. . . ] They saw their father be dragged away to prison, convicted and labeled a felon. And then we had to start over from scratch. How were we to begin healing?

Agustin stays busy in a number of ways as he waits for his discharge, "Currently, I am involved in peace work and speak as much as I can to at-risk youth. My wife and I also support many soldiers and their families going through the CO process and/or deployment. For more information on this program click here. To help fund this project click here. And although we still don't have a book deal we are actively working on a book project." At the Aguayos' website you can purchase the documentary A Man Of Conscience about Agustin (by Sally Marr and Peter Dudar) on DVD for ten dollars plus shipping and handling. Agustin had many things all war resisters don't have. He had a mother and extended family willing to stand with him. He had his daughters supporting him. And he had Helga who never backed down no matter how the military attempted to intimidate her into silence. Helga was fierce (and I mean that as the highest compliment) and that's most likely the reason Agustin got credit for time served. She dared one and all not to look at her during the court-martial and not to grasp the way they were terrorizing her family as they attempted to rail-road her husband. If they attempted to steer her husband's case out of the press, she just spoke out louder.

Repeatedly, we've seen that those with a support base tend to fare better in legal proceedings than those without. Of those with, a support base that is highly vocal and does not go away tends to result in lesser sentence.

War resisters in Canada often don't have that built-in support because they've restarted their lives in a new country. But anyone can send the message that the world is watching. To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) sums it up, "The chances of key local polls taking place in Iraq this year all but vanished yesterday after Parliament failed to pass a law on elections because of a row over the contested city of Kirkuk, which threatens to heighten Arab-Kurdish tensions." As China's Xinhua notes, "The Iraqi parliament speaker ended an emergency parliamentary session Wednesday after the political blocs failed to reach an agreement over a disputed provincial election bill. Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said by the end of the 44th session on Wednesday, the parliament concluded its first legislative term and would resume sessions on Sept. 9." (They also note that "supplementary budget of 21 billion US dollars" was ratified "roughly half of the 48-billion-dollar budget of 2008 approved earlier by the parliament.") AFP quotes Qassem al-Aboudi ("administrative director of Iraq's electoral commission") stating, "I can confirm to you that we have lost the chance to hold the elections in October." Ned Parker and Said Rifai (Los Angeles Times) point out, "Iraqi politicians, officials and Western diplomats have speculated that the political parties in government were never invested in holding a vote this year out of fear they would lose seats and influence at the provincial level. Senior politicians -- including President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Vice President Tariq Hashimi, a Sunni Arab -- have been absent from Baghdad during the round-the-clock negotiations, citing medical reasons." Campbell Robertson and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) remind, "The elections would be the first provincial balloting in almost four years." At McClatchy Newspapers' Inside Iraq, an Iraqi journalist reflects on the sessions, "I listened to many of them. I noticed that most of them talk about Kirkuk in a way as if its a prey for the greed and abmitions of their parties. They never talk about it as a part of Iraq because they don't care about Iraq. They care only about their limited personal interests."

Meanwhile the socially progressive but economically conservative (honest, that's how it was explained to me a few years back) editorial board of the Dallas Morning News issues a strongly worded comment entitled "Iraq should cover more of its own expenses" notes the GAO and Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's recent findings about how rich Iraq is with oil money "however, the Iraqi government and legislature continue to bicker about how to disburse that money, while U.S. taxpayers are left to fund roughly $48 billion in reconstruction projects. If something in this picture seems wrong to you, welcome to a growing club, which includes Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill who say Iraq should start paying more of its own bills." The editorial suggest that "Iraq, flush with oil cash, should seize the initiative" on reconstruction "without waiting for this country to demand it." Mark Kukis (Time magazine) quotes Ayad Al-Samariee ("head of the finance committee in the Iraqi parliament") stating, "Yes it's true that the Iraqi government is spending little on reconstruction. The weak Iraqi capability to do big projects, maybe at the end of 2008, will improve." Kukis observes, "Signs of Iraq's slowness to rebuild are everywhere in Baghdad. Roughly 20% of the city is without proper sewage pipes. Published statistics say the Baghdad is getting roughly 11 hours of electricity a day on average, but many residents go days with only sporadic bursts of power. Iraqi officials say fixing just this problem could take up to 10 years. Chronic electricity shortages for another decade mean little energy for construction, making Iraqi hopes for a renewed capital seem distant." Al Jazeera quotes US Senator Carl Levin stating, "The Iraqi government now has tens of billions of dollars at its disposal to fund large-scale reconstruction projects. It is inexcusable for US taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for projects the Iraqis are fully capable of funding themselves." CNN quotes Iraqi MP Haider al-Abadi stating, "This is projected and not real money. We have many reconstruction projects and as you know, most of the infrastruture of the country had collapsed after the war and that needs a lot of money to rebuild the country." It's really sad to see an adult so willing to cheapen themselves on the national stage. First off, not all the oil money in the GAO account is "projected." [As the GAO notes, "As of December 31, 2007, the Iraqi government had accumulated financial deposits of $29.4 billion, held in the Development Fund for Iraq and central government deposits at the Central Bank of Iraq and Iraq's commerical banks." And, "From 2005 through 2007, the Iraqi government generated an estimated $96 billion in cumulative revenues, of which crude oil export sales accounted for about $90.2 billion, or 94 percent."] Second of all, when you refuse to repair and supply your country's hospitals and think throwing a coat of paint on the outside qualifies as 'reconstruction,' you ought to hop down from your high horse before you fall off. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board informs that "the source of this surplus is the high price of oil -- money that's added to the pot when we fill our family gas tank." iStockAnalyst observes, "With oil prices at or near all-time highs, it has become increasingly apparent that Iraq is closer than ever to financial independence. With the extreme property damage caused by an invasion of questionable legality, the need for security and reconstruction monies is great, but who should be held accountable? Many US taxpayers are becoming disenchanted, due to the fact that, with nearly $33 billion in oil earnings in the first half of 2008, Iraq is now capable of shouldering an increased share of the burden. Our own economy is floundering and many simply feel that it is time for Iraq to step up and assume control over its own destiny." The Orlando Sentinel's editorial board asks readers to focus on "two numbers: $482 billion and $79 billion. The first is next year's projected federal budget deficit, a record. The second is the budget surplus that Iraq is expected to accumulate by the end of the year. Is there any question which government -- whose taxpayers -- should be footing the bill for reconstruction projects in Iraq?" The Delaware News Journal's editorial board points out that the US government has spent $23.2 billion on Iraqi reconstruction since 2003 while, since 2005, the puppet government in Baghdad has only spent $3.9 billion: "Something is out of whack. Iraqis are very proud to say that it's their country. And they are right. So they should fix it." But as Robert H. Reid (AP) pointed out, "Many Iraqis -- who lack adequate electricity, clean water and jobs -- find it unfathomable their country is awash in oil dollars. Last year, it spent less than a third of the $12 billion budgeted for major projects such as electricity, housing and water." And yet, get ready to laugh, Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports on a press conference held by Dr. Tahseen al-Shaikhi (Baghdad Security Plan) calling for foreign investment and contruction of "five-star hotels, parking garages . . . a theater, restaurant, aquarium and basketball courts . . . casino . . . and boat rides. But given the lagging basic services, reporters questioned whether Baghdad's priorities are appropriate and realistic. With temperatures hittign 130 degrees, many parts of Iraq don't have a steady electricity supply and some areas only get two hours a day. Getting clean water and adequate health care are also major issues." IRIN notes that the puppet government in Baghdad is trumpeting that they will spend $21 million (US figures) to build "simple houses for the poor" in the eighteen provinces of Iraq -- a pittance in a fiscal year that is supposed to bring in $70 billion. And isn't this similar to what Joe Biden was proposing they do back in April? Didn't he speak of going overseas in the 90s, encountering a peace keeping operation where a US soldier defused a situation of refugees who wanted their home back by steering them to new housing while the matter was settled? (Yes, Biden did share that story. Four months later, Iraqis toy with implementing it.) Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a corpse bombing in Mosul that claimed the lives of 3 police officers and a Mosul car bombing left eight police officers wounded. CNN notes a Salaheddin roadside bombing attack on police chief Hamed Namis al-Jabouri which left him wounded ("critically wounded") as well as seven police officers injured. Reuters notes a Nassiriya mortar attack that claimed the lives of 8 members of one Iraqi family.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 men and 1 woman were shot dead at a Shirqat checkpoint with another woman wounded and "Mahmoodd Younis Fathi was assassinated by gunmen in the city of Mosul" with one of his bodyguards killed in the attack. CNN notes Younis Fathi was "a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party" which recently ended their boycott and rejoined the government "and the director of religious schools for the Sunni Endowment".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the corpse of Kereem al-Haj Shereef (taxi driver kidnapped Wednesday) was discovered in Sulaimaniyah.

Turning to the US presidential race. Ralph Nader is the independent candidate for president

The two-party system -- a 220-year-old political prison, winner take all, electoral college, duopoloy -- basically says to voters: "You got two choices. You stay home and not vote. Or, if you want your vote to mean something, and you want to be with the winner, you vote for one of the two major party candidates. Otherwise, you are wasting your vote." And you hear Matt [Gonzalez] say, "Were those voters in the 19th century who spun off from the Whigs and the Democrats and didn't try to spin the difference between these two parties on slavery waste their vote?" Aren't we glad that enough voters voted for the Liberty Party at least to put it on the political map in 1840 and the Woman's Suffrage Party, the Populist Party, the Labor Party, the Greenback Party. All these parties and then Norman Thomas' Socilaist Party, Progressive Party will follow it. Eugene Debbs. What did they propose? A-ha. The blasphemy of their days is the common place of our days. They proposed direct election of senators, 40-hour week, progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare. They proposed labor standards. They proposed regulation of big business. So we have three kind of voters in this country. One, the hereditary voters who will vote Republican and Democrat no matter who the nominee is because their grandparents did. That's a big chunk. [NYC] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, when he was thinking of running for [presidential] office, I had a telephone conversation with him -- actually, just before he was going to announce that he wasn't, on that day. And he said "I've done surveys and polls all over the country. Here's my conclusion. 15% of the Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee if the Republican nominee was Leon Trotsky. And 15% of the Democrats would vote for the Democratic nominee if the nominee was Ayn Rand." That was a way of saying, if he threw his hat in the ring, he starts with a 30% handicap. Maybe he's understimating it? But that's one, the hereditary voter. The second is the tactical voter. The tactical voter says, "Let's be realitistic. We don't care about how bad the Democratic Party is in terms of our supporting it as long as we know the Republican Party is worse. That's the tactical vote. "Be realisitic." The tactical voters is one who spends three years moaning and groaning about the Democratic Party. "They didn't roll back any of President Bush's legislation when they took over in 2007! Not one. Not even the disallowing Uncle Sam to negotiate for volume discounts with the drug companies when the Drug Benefit Act -- a bonaza worth tens of billions of dollars to the drug companies -- was enacted. They didn't roll back anything. They keep funding the war. Their leader -- presumptive nominee -- wants more soldiers in Afghanistan. He doesn't have an exit strategy. They don't do anything about strengthening the corporate criminal crime laws. John Conyers has a single-payer bill, HR 676, 85 members of the House have signed on but he can't get one Democratic Senator to introduce it in the Senate. Not one. Not Obama, not Clinton and not those two great, new progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Senator Brown. Sherrod Brown from Ohio. Those are the great hopes of the progressive wing. Now why don't they introduce it? Senator Sanders who has come out against impeachment vigorously along with Senator Brown "It's exactly what Karl Rove wants us to do -- is to initiate impeachment." 'So he can turn the 26% of the people who support Bush against us!' Is that what he really means? I'm putting that word in his mouth. I mean this is the lowest popular president in modern times and Cheney's at 16% which is almost happen-stance, you know. Harry Truman proposed universal health care. 1945. Sent it to Congress 1950. What are we talking about here? Isn't it about time that we join the community of nations? Taiwan has universal health care. Every western country has universal health care. A country we give four billion dollars a year to, Israel, has universal health care. Maybe they should have a foreign aid program? Reverse it back to us? Now what does it mean when you don't have health insurance? What is means is that 18,000 Americans die every year according to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, that's six 9-11s every year. The Urban Institute just came out with an estimate: 22,000. That means hundreds of, hundreds of thousands of people get sick, stay sick, don't have their injuries treated cause they can't afford health insurance. Why doesn't that get us angry? Because the people who can do something about it, who can have their calls returned, have health insurance. How many people here do not have health insurance? That's pretty impressive. How many are under twenty-five? See, that's what people out of school are now facing. Trying to find affordable health insurance, or health insurance of any kind, affordable housing, trying to deal with rapacious student loan companies like Sallie Mae with all their fine print and their gouging interest rates, wondering whether their jobs are going to be outsourced abroad because anything with software, architect, engineer, accounting, computer, all that can be outsourced. Law -- a lot of law jobs now are starting to be outsourced. Even media jobs are starting to be outsourced. I'm still looking for CEO jobs to be outsourced. I think there are some very good bi-lingual Chinese executives, brilliant skills, who for 10 percent of the pay would take care at General Motors and Exxon and Pfizer. After all, they're outsourcing their own employees jobs to keep up with the global competition. Well . . . let's start at the top. Huh? So the tactical voter is a complicit voter -- wittingly or unwittingly -- because the moment you go you're so terrified of the worst party you go to the next worst party -- on a huge number of issues, a huge number of corporate power issues. Then you're saying to the least worst nominee -- Obama, for example -- that your vote can be taken for granted because you are so terrified of the Republicans that you will not make any demands on Obama in the area of women's rights and abolishing poverty and consumer protection and environment and tax changes and the wars and all the rest of it. And labor reforms and repeal of Taft-Hartley. So you don't make any demands. Don't, don't disturb them! I mean, they gotta' be elected! They've got a strategy for election. They sure have. Mondale. Dukakis. Kerry. Gore -- who won but it was taken from him, but it was a lot closer than it should be. Clinton who had Bob Dole as his opponent, who would campaign in Missouri and look at his watch and say, "I think I got to go to the airport so I can get home." Washington, DC. He really wasn't that serious. It is not a winning strategy. It is a losing strategy. Clinton, as Matt just said, benefitted greatly from those 19 million votes [referring to the 19 million who voted for H. Ross Perot, the third-party candidate]. Then there's the third class of voter. The third class of voter reflects what Eugene V. Debbs once said. He said, "Better to vote for someone you believe in and lose than someone you don't believe in and win." What did he mean by that? He meant if you vote for someone you don't believe in and win that someone is going to betray you, that someone is not going to look back on what your support is supposed to mean. And the Democrats have betrayed this country in ways that some chroniclers will fill many books in the coming future. So the important thing here is to measure these parties by what the American people need, want, deserve, are entitled to. That's way over do. Those are the yardsticks. The Democrats could have stopped Bush on the war. They had the votes to block almost everything he did. You know the Senate can, when you've got over 40 seats you can almost block anything. Ask the Republicans.

That's Ralph Nader speaking at Sebastopol Sunday. Did you miss it? You can hear it online. Bonnie Faulkner -- apparently the last working journalist in broadcast media -- thinks you have a right to know about all the candidates, not just the front runners. Wednesday on KPFA, her program, Guns and Butter, featured Matt Gonzales and Ralph Nader speaking at the Sebastopol Community Center. [Here for KPFA archive.] Maria Recio (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, "Nader accuses the news media of being in a 'cultural rut' by ignoring him. He said he'd been on national television only 10 seconds this election cycle. 'Put me in all the debates and we'll have a three-way race'." And Ralph's right about that. David Cook (Christian Science Monitor) offers a more complete quote of Nader, "The media is in a cultural rut. I am not talking about their private, incisive, skeptical conversations with one another. I am talking about the questions they don't ask, the questions they ask. Give me a bunch of 10-year-olds instead of the White House press corps, and the president would be far, far more upset and anxious. . . . Don't be so cynical about small starts. If nature was like you, seeds would never have a chance to sprout."

Team Nader notes:

It was a breakthrough day with the mainstream media.
Yesterday morning, Ralph Nader met with a group of reporters at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
The meeting resulted in a slew of articles - including those that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Miami Herald, the National Journal and US News and World Report.
One of the points that Ralph made at the meeting yesterday was that if he is given the opportunity to debate the two corporate candidates - McCain and Obama - it will become a three-way race.
Yes it will.
But right now, the debates are controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) - which is controlled by the two major parties and the corporations that fund them.
But fear not.
We'll be campaigning over the next couple of weeks to bust up the corporate hammerlock on free speech in this election year and to get Ralph and Matt into the debates.
To first step is to create a viable candidacy.
And the candidacy can't be viable if we're not on enough state ballots.
As the Miami Herald headline put it today: Nader Sets Goal to be on Most Ballots.
Our goal: 45 states.
And thanks to you, we're on track - on in 28 now, 30 by Sunday, 45 by September 20.
But right now, we need your help to fund this massive, nationwide ballot access drive.
We need your help to meet our target of $100,000 by Sunday, August 10.
We're at over $61,000 with only four days to go.
So, here's the plan.
We need 390 of you - our loyal supporters - to donate $100 each now.
And in return, we'll ship you No Debate, the classic expose of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
And we'll also send you an autographed copy of Ralph Nader's 49-page political manifesto - Civic Arousal.
To help us bust open the debates this year, you'll need these two books - No Debate for the rock solid expose and criticism of the corporate-controlled debates.
And Civic Arousal for a healthy dose of homegrown Ralph inspiration.
(In Civic Arousal, Ralph reports the following: When we were youngsters, our father would ask us provocative questions. One day he asked - What is the most powerful, event-producing force in the world? We guessed and guessed. His answer: Apathy. What? Yes, he said. Apathy. Because huge numbers of apathetic citizens, or victims, allow bad guys to create all kinds of problems on the ground - from dictatorial regimes, to repressed economic conditions, to health and safety hazards, to corruption, to wars.)
If you already have these books, get yourself another set.
They make a great gift for young and old alike in this election season.
And you'll help put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot.
So, do it now.
Drop that $100 spot on Nader/Gonzalez.
Don't delay.
We need to get 'er done this weekend.
(Only one set of books per donation of $100 or more. If you would like two sets, please donate twice. Three sets, donate three times.)
Help push us past our $100,000 goal.
And get these two classics now.
Thank you.
Together, we will open up the debates.

And non-Iraq news. First, Carly Simon's new CD This Kind of Love (reviewed by Kat here) leads to a lengthy interview on NPR's World Cafe where she discussed the new album, her career and breast cancer. John Pilger (at ZNet) reflects on the bombing of Hiroshima. Friday (in most markets) NOW on PBS features Pakistani documentarian Sabiha Sumar discussing her film Dinner With the President -- her documentary on Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan. And Robin Morgan explores the United Nations at WMC.

iraqagustin aguayo
said rifaithe los angeles timesned parkercampbell robertsonthe new york times
richard a. oppel jr.
mcclatchy newspapers
deborah haynes
carly simonthis kind of love
kpfabonnie faulknerguns and butter
kats korner
john pilger
robin morgan
now on pbs
maria reciodavid cook

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Godfather III, Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

What a day! We ended up with an off-base group of soldiers this afternoon. That was an on the fly speaking event. C.I. got a call from someone serving and asked "Are you really in the area?" Upon learning that it was true, he said he could get "probably 18 soldiers" together for a discussion. It ended up being 31.

That was a very lively, very intense discussion and probably will be my favorite of the week. As soon as we left, C.I. was madly rushing to dictate the snapshot. I suggested, "Forget the snapshot, talk about a movie." But I knew that wouldn't happen.

But talking about a movie is what the rest of us will be doing tonight. Over the weekend, the issue of burnout was discussed and we'd all decided that Wednesday night, we'd blog about movies and it would be a favorite film from the 80s. As I explain that to you, I'm searching my mind for the movie to blog about. No, I am never prepared.

We're also taking the time to note the Ralph Nader presidential campaign. That's what sold us on the idea. Talking about a favorite 80s movie might lead to someone who likes the movie stopping by and maybe tip them off to Nader's campaign. Wouldn't you know it, it's the one day the Nader campaign doesn't have a blog post. So I would assume we're all picking from the e-mail C.I. sent out on Nader coverage there wasn't time for in the snapshot.

Before I get to that, let me just note that afternoon/evening group. 6 US soldiers have died in Iraq since Saturday. Today we were speaking to US soldiers who are in the service and there was a lot of surprise that 6 had died with so very little press coverage. So I do want to note that (it's in C.I.'s snapshot at the end as well) because I knew it was really hard to find that out in the press coverage. But it's not just civilians that this information is shielded from, it's also those serving. One guy spoke about the end of the month coverage last week and how such a big deal was made out of "only 13" but now that we've nearly seen half that number die in four days, where is the press?

Good point.

Some Ralph Nader coverage to check out includes The Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy Newspapers. I'll note this from the National Journal:

Asked repeatedly by reporters if he feels the same way about McCain and Obama as he did about Bush and Gore in '00 - when he called the GOP and Dem noms "interchangeable" - Nader said that each candidate this year "would be limited in what they can do" by the same special interest pressures.
"Look, all candidates are different from each other," Nader said. "Biologically, too."
Nader said the "absolutely remarkable fear of corporations" limits any major party candidate.
"Regardless of what's in the inner recesses of their consciences, candidates are forced to homogenize once they're in power," he added.
Asked if his campaign will "hurt" Obama's in Nov: "I think Obama is going to hurt Nader/Gonzales."
But Nader's toughest words were reserved for the media. He said that "a bunch of 10 year olds" would do a better job than the current WH press corps.
When about his chances in '08, Nader said, "It depends on what you call winning. I define winning in many ways." Nader said he aims to keep his agenda alive. But, he added, "put me in all the debates, and we'll have a three-way race."
After 30-plus years as a consumer advocate and three "official, if you ask the FEC" runs for the WH, Nader said he's learned that his best asset is his toughness. He said that he's been subject to a "lot of ridicule" over the years he's spent as arguably the nation's most famous (or infamous) third party candidate.
"In this country, if you're not moving with the two major parties, you've got to have thick skin,” he said.

If you want someone who could make a difference, that choice is Ralph Nader. I hear all the time (and heard today), "But I'm not sure he can win." Well, do you want him to? If you do, you're going to have to vote for him.

There's something that happened in 2000. Bully Boy stole the election. That allowed the DNC to whine about this and that (it was whining -- for them to truly be for democracy, they would not have now been caught in their efforts to keep Ralph off the ballot in 2004). And it allowed 2000 to be rewritten as "Ralph cost Al Gore the election!" No, Ralph didn't cost Al Gore the election.

First, the Supreme Court stole the election for Bully Boy and installed him. Second, Al Gore ran a lousy campaign and was a lousy candidate. I know Bob Somerby wakes up in sticky sheets each day after a night of dreaming about Al. But Al was a lousy candidate and Joe Lieberman only made him worse.

The Supreme Court's actions allowed Dems to whine. But they turned to the whining into attacks on Ralph. If Barack's not elected, too bad for Dems, they won't be able to say Ralph stole votes. Votes don't belong to anyone and Barack's doing just like Gore did, ignoring the base. Leadership got to avoid the day of reckoning in 2000 by blaming Ralph and that election was so crazy that a lot of people missed what really took place. You now have an active group of people following what's happening. If Barack can't close the deal (I don't think he can), they'll have to find another way to excuse their pandering to corporations.

Ralph could win. And I think Barack needs to stop trying to steal Ralph's votes. Ralph is for ending the illegal war. Barack is for continuing the illegal war. He's not saying he'll do a withdraw. He's saying he'll take some troops out (move them to Afghanistan for another illegal war) and continue the illegal war. That's why, in the debate, he couldn't promise that all troops would be out by the end of his first term if he was elected to be the president. In other words, four years from now, if elected, Barack may not have ended the illegal war. Let's all stop being Stupid Norman Solomon and pretending that is "withdrawal." Let Norman and Janine Jackson and all the rejects at FAIR continue lying but the rest of us need to wake up.

Movies? I've finally decided on two. The Godfather III and Come Back To The Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

The first one was one I had to drag friends to see. No one wanted to see it. And it was opening night. I was interested because I really loved the first two Godfathers. I begged, I pleaded and we finally got to see it and not Sack Lunch. (I don't remember what film they wanted to see. "Sack Lunch" is a made up film from Seinfeld that Elaine wants to see instead of The English Patient.)

I loved it. I was pretty much alone. When it came out on videotape, I watched the two videocassettes and still loved it. I may be the only one in the world who loves that movie best of the three Godfathers.

Let me start with the weaknesses. Andy Garcia.

Andy Garcia is not a great actor. He is stiff. He is always stiff. There's a moment early in the film where he's standing stiffly with his arms clapsed behind his back and that really captures Garcia's 'acting.'

Andy Garcia is the weakest spot in the film.

Sadly, Sofia Coppola took the fall. She isn't bad in the film. Where her character fails is in the moment where her death is supposed to be a supreme tragedy and, for that to register, we need an actor who can convey that. The fault isn't Sofia's who is supposed to be dead. It's Andy Garcia's. He is the most withdrawan and self-contained actor.

He brings down the whole film.

But around him, you have some amazing work being done. Al Pacino gives the performance of a lifetime as Michael. Dianne Keaton's Kay brings everything that could have been and everything that was lost into her scenes. You really believe that it's Kay and Michael and not Dianne and Al. You really believe that two people who love each other but can't be together (because Kay won't tolerate Michael's crimes) are onscreen. Their moments are pure magic.

Outside of their moments and in their moments, Francis Ford Coppola brings so much to every scene. It is such a textured film. I think it is among his finest works (and fault him only for hiring Garcia).

But the film belongs to his sister, Talia Shire. Shire's been a background piece in the other two films. In this film, Connie demonstrates what she was learning in the background and becomes the force of the family. It is a very brave and fearless performance from Shire. A lot of films ask, "Can the family stay together?" This installment of The Godfather gets to why they should not. Not only does Michael lose her daughter but he dies. Losses are all around including the only real happiness he could have had (if he'd walked away from the family the way Kay did). Talia Shire's character is for binding the family together no matter what. And there is no one she will not seek revenge on. She will force the family into continued existance and proves herself to be her father's child. Michael wasn't. Others have been killed in the two films. Connie emerges in the final installment and has all the destructive strength that her father had. The family will continue and will continue on its path of destruction. Losses will not matter. They will never cause reflection. The drive is to destroy. I think it says a great deal about the time period in which it was made.

Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a Robert Altman film. He staged it on Broadway and the same cast did his filming of the play. Instead of adding outdoor scenes -- the usual way of opening up plays -- Altman uses mirrors creatively both to build space and to add as transitions.

It's a very funny movie and Cher is amazing in it as Sissy. She's the town tramp. She and Sandy Dennis work at the Five and Dime. They were friends in the fifties when Giant was shot nearby. Sandy Dennis became pregnant and has maintained for years that the child was James Dean's. No one must contradict Dennis' character who is very controlling and prone to fits. Sissy is probably the only one who can connect with her and even their relationship is strained. Karen Black shows up as a figure from the past. Her arrival will demolish the charades that all the characters have created, especially Dennis' character. There's a lot to enjoy the film (which I think is a masterpiece) and that includes some very funny performances. Cher is a joy, of course. Sandy Dennis is as well. Kathy Bates in an early film role establishes herself as someone to watch.

So those are my two films. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday August 6, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a war resistance anniversary approaches, 6 US service members have died in Iraq since Saturday, the Iraqi provincial elections seem unlikely this year, the puppet al-Maliki sits on millions and spends very little, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. That decision followed much research on his part and the decision at the end of 2005 that he could not participate in an illegal war. For months prior to going public, Watada attempted to work with the US military which gave him every indication that they wanted to work with him on this issue. But no alternative was ever accepted. Instead he was repeatedly told that something would happen, some decision would be reached. His command was attempting to run out the clock because June 22, 2006 would be when he would deploy to Iraq and they thought if they strung him along he would have no choice but to deploy. Instead, Watada went public. Almost two years ago, his Article 32 hearing was held (August 17, 2006). The Article 32 hearing allowed Watada to call witnesses such as retired Army Col Ann Wright and former UN under-secretary Denis Halliday. Lt Col Mark Keith oversaw the Article 32 hearing. In February 2007, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial. Judge Toilet had his own idea of 'justice' which included refusing to allow Watada's defense to explain why he decided to refuse to deploy. He could admit (or not) that he refused to deploy, but Judge Toilet wouldn't allow his reasons to be explained to the military jury. Judge Toilet also refused to allow Watada's attorney to call various witnesses. It was 'justice' in name-only. Despite that, Watada's case was presented strongly. So strongly that, on the third day, when Watada was due to take the witness stand, Judge Toilet suddenly found fault with a stipulation that he himself had explained to the jury and that he himself had overseen. Judge Toilet 'suggested' the prosecution move for a mistrial and the prosecution did not immediately take the hint or grasp that Toilet was handing them a do-over. When they did grasp it, they made the motion and Judge Toilet ruled the court-martial a mistrial over defense objection. The Constitution prohibits double-jeopardy -- one of those pesky laws Judge Toilet never grasped. Toilet said the second court-martial would take place in March of 2007. It did not. It has not taken place. Last November US District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that the Constitutional issue had to be resolved. It still hasn't been resolved.

In December 2006, Watada's service contract expired. The first court-martial took place despite that fact. All this time later, Watada remains in the service and reports for duty on base while he waits for the US military to figure out their next move. The military had their chance to court-martial him but when Judge Toilet realized Watada might walk, he threw the justice system out the window and declared a mistrial. As a result, the military really has no 'follow up' at this point. They need to release Watada from the army immediately. His service contract expired nearly two years ago and his Article 32 took place almost two years ago.

War resisters in Canada need support as well. To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

In Iraq, there is still no movement on provincial elections. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, " After weeks of late-night negotiations and under intense U.S. pressure, Iraqi lawmakers failed to pass a much-debated provincial elections law Wednesday before adjourning for the month. The failure to pass the law, which would govern elections in provinces across the country, may push the elections into next year. If elections don't happen by the end of this year, it could be July before the balloting could be carried out, U.N. spokesman Said Arikat said." UPI reports that, citing Kurdish MP Fouad Massoum, there is the possibility of "a special session of Parliament sometime during the recess, which ends Sept. 9," to again try to address the issue of elections. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) notes the "days of intense negotiations and heavy pressure from the U.S., the United Nations and Britain" and how Kirkuk continued to be a stalling issue. Most reports do. Leila Fadel offers another theory among Iraqis, that those currently holding office aren't willing to risk losing office if new elections are called. Walter Ibrahim (Reuters) gets a non-official US response, quoting someone at the US embassy in Iraq who refused to be named but did declare, "The United States regrets that the Iraqi parliament today adjourned without finishing its work on a local elections law."

On the other big news of Iraq today, a new report finds that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is refusing to spend the many millions on reconstruction still. White House press secretary Dana Perino declared, "It's interesting -- what I find interesting about this report, as well, is when you're looking at these two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, seeing how vastly different Iraq is from Afghanistan in terms of the natural resources that they have. Afghanistan is a very poor country, one of the poorest in the world. Iraq will come back much faster, given that they had some semblance of infrastructure, as crumbling as it was, but something to work from. Afghanistan is being built from scratch. And so I thought that was something worth taking away." What's interesting is that someone tasked with speaking to the press on behalf of the White House appears to have only just realized the differences between Afghanistan and oil-rich Iraq. It does not speak well of Perino -- even as spin, it should produce laughter. Perino was speaking on board Air Force One as the Bully Boy traveled to Thailand and repeatedly referred reporters' questions to the US State Dept implying that she hadn't seen the latest report. Later, after Air Force One landed in Thailand, Bully Boy would hold a public event with Thailand's Prime Minister Samak but took no questions. Apparently, like Perino, he was unfamiliar with the report. Perino: "I saw the report -- I saw the reports about the report -- so I'd refer you back to the State Department, just to -- as they wake up this moring -- just to make sure that they've looked at it, because I don't know all the details." A rather shocking admission for someone tasked with being the public face of the White House. Plenty of egg on the face to go around because, in DC this afternoon, the State Dept's Gonzalo R. Gallegos (Acting Deputy Spokesperson) held the daily press briefing and was asked about Iraq . . . never. Not once. Macedonia, Mexico and many other topics. Gallegos didn't arrive with a prepared statement and tossed immediately to questions. Not one reporter asked about Iraq. How very sad and very telling.

If you're feeling a sense of deja vu, you may be thinking back to last Wednesday when the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstuction issued a report. Stuart Bowen Jr. issued a note to the report [PDF format warning] explaining, "The United States has now appropriated more than $50 billion in taxpayer dollars for Iraq's reconstruction." The report notes its basis is "seven new audit products" between May 1st and June 30th of this year. You may be thinking of the silence that greeted that report as the press focused instead on the gossip and whispers that the White House was putting out declaring Bully Boy would speak Thursday morning and deliver a 'major' statement on Iraq that everyone just knew was going to be about the treaty between the White House and the puppet. The treaty, the White House had promised, would be wrapped up by July 31st. Bully Boy gave his statement, no word about a treaty. The dealine passed. And the government report on reconstruction was lost and forgotten.

For some context on the latest report, let's drop back to April when Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker did their song and dance before the US Congress. From the April 8th snapshot, where US Senator Barbara Boxer is questioning Crocker:

She wanted to know about the training, all the training, that had gone on and then on again. "We've done a lot for the Iraqis just in terms of the numbers themselves," Boxer declared. "I'll tell you what concerns me and most of my constituents, you said -- many times -- the gains in Iraq are fragile and reversable. . . . So my constituents and I believe that" after all the deaths, all the money, "you have to wonder why the best that you can say is that the gains are fragile and reversable." Noting the lack of military success and Hagel's points, Boxer pointed out that nothing was being done diplomatically "and I listened carefully to Senator Hagel and Ambassador Crocker -- from the answer you gave him, I don't get the" feeling that the White House has given anything, it's still "the status quo. She then turned to the issue of monies and the militias, "You are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them" and wouldn't put them into the forces because he doubts their loyalty. She noted that $182 million a year was being paid, $18 million a month, to these "Awakening" Council members and "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that progam" because as Senator Lugar pointed out, "It could be an opportunity" for the Iraqi government "to turn it into something more long term." This is a point, she declared, that she intends to bring up when it's time to vote on the next spending supplamental. Crocker tried to split hairs.

Boxer: I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . I'm just asking you why we would object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?

Today Karen De Young (Washington Post) reports that the US Government Accountability Office has found that while "Iraq's oil income will more than double this year . . . Baghdad continues to spend only a small percentage of its own money on reconstruction and services while it banks billions in surplus funds" and that, "Between 2005 and 2007, only 10 percent of Iraq's expenditures went toward reconstruction, with just 1 percent spent on maintaining U.S. and Iraqi-funded investments in roads, water, electricity and weapons, according to a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. Even when Baghdad has allocated larger sums, the report said, it has spent only a small portion of the budgeted money." Kevin Hall (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that the report "left little doubt that Iraq, which racked up $32.9 billion in oil earnings from January through June, can afford to pay more for its own reconstruction." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers' Baghdad Observer) takes the topic from the abstract to the concrete: "Driving through Iraq you feel the neglect here. In Basra the city is rivers of sewage, destroyed buildings and bridges from war after war after war. Every day I pass by the same buildings destroyed years ago during the U.S. led invasion in my neighborhood in Baghdad. Every day they look exactly the same, a pile of rubble. The electricity problem seems to be getting worse; Iraqis have an average of about four hours of electricity a day. While there is talk of reconstruction, a bridge here, flowers planted there the people don't feel a change."

In her brief remarks on Air Force One, Dana Perino offered a laughable example of how the puppet al-Maliki is helping Iraqis declaring that, "One thing that's very important is how they are spending their money, which is distributing it evenly amongst the --- around the country, but amongst the different sects as well, so Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. It's something that they're going to have to continue to work out. We want them to take on more of their own responsibilities just from a security standpoint, but also reconstruction.
Also, if you remember, Prime Minister Maliki went into Sadr City, Basra and Mosul, he offered immediate financial assistance to people who were living there under those terrible conditions." The assaults on the people in those areas? The turn-over-your-guns-and-I'll-toss-a-few-coins-your-way is 'relief'? In what world?

Reality came via Sunday's press conference in Baghdad: hospitals that hide bed shortages, lack of supplies and more via a paint job. And we saw that justified by the Deputy Minister of Health for Grants and Loans who declared, "It is good for their psychological health . . . it is good to take care of the appearance, to see the building a new, clean." Spoiled blood, lack of medicine, lack of beds, lack of prosthetics, etc. are just minor details, after all, what matters is the hospital slapped on a new coat of paint outside. Or that's what matters to the Ministry of Health. Reality comes via Dalia al-Achi and Carole Laleve's UNHCR report Sunday on how the UNHCR and Syrian Arab Red Crescent was aiding Iraqi refugees in Syria by distributing "school kits to Iraqi refugee children . . . distribution of uniforms, shoes and school materials . . . and is expected to outfit 30,000 children from Damascus and Rural Damascus before the start of the Syrian School year on Sept. 7. Last year, UNHCR's distribution reached 20,000 Iraqi children." And what's al-Maliki done besides sit on millions? Not a damn thing.

But there was Perino on Air Force One this morning delcaring, " It's really important that they figure out a way to quickly get that money to those people directly. I think they've made a lot of progress on that, but they needed to do more." al-Maliki's done nothing for the people. But he has managed to go on spending sprees for items he wants. From last Friday's snapshot:
It's been a busy week for the puppet -- a regular spending spree. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency started the week with the announcement that they "notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Armored Security Vehicles as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $206 milliion." Wednesday included "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Light Armored Vehicles as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $3 billion" and "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of technical assistance for construction of facilities and infrastructure as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.6 billiion" and "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of Helicopters and related munitions as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.4 billion." Thursday brought this announcement, "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of M1A1 and Upgrade to M1A1M Abrams Tanks as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.16 billion."
Staying on the topic of violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two police officers wounded, a Baghdad bombing ("targeting . . . one of the Iraqi security companies") left four people injured, a Ninevah car bombing that killed the driver, 1 civilian, 1 Iraqi service member and left nine other people wounded and a Basra roadside bombing that wounded one civilian. Reuters notes a Mosul car bombing that claimed 3 lives (plus driver of the car) and left fourteen injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 "Awakening" Council members shot dead in Baghdad.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Mosul and 16 corpses discovered in Diyala Province.

Last Thursday morning, the Bully Boy held court at the White House and said nothing. The press corps acted as though something had been said. "This has been a month of encouraging news from Iraq," he spun and the press took their marching orders. They're still following those 'turned corner' marching orders despite the fact that there is no treaty, despite the fact that there will most likely be no October provincial elections, despite the fact that al-Maliki is spending next to nothing on reconstruction and despite the fact that violence is again up in Iraq. Much was made all last week of "Only 13 US soldiers dead in Iraq for the month of July!" As if 'only 13' dead from an illegal war was something to go wild over.

Private Timothy J. Hutton
Specialist Jonathan Menke Sergeant Gary Henry Sergeant Brian K. Miller Private 1st Class Jennifer L. Cole Specialist Kevin R. Dickson Specialist Ronald Andrew Schmidt

All six US service members have died since Saturday morning. Somehow that hasn't resulted in the 'coverage' that 13 for the month of July resulted in coverage last week.

Turning to the US presidential race. Ron Jacobs (Dissident Voice) notes just how much it is costing the peace movement (and how willing 'leaders' are to table objection to the illegal war):
Just look at the major national antiwar organization United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and their public stance regarding the desire of organizers of the protests at the upcoming Democratic convention to stage a large antiwar march at the convention. According to a recent press release from some organizers of the march, Leslie Cagan of UFPJ told some Denver organizers, "We don't think it makes sense to plan for a mass march that might not end up being all that mass!" In other words, UFPJ is refusing to help build support for the march.
There can only be one reason for UFPJ's stance. That reason is UFPJ's allegiance to the Democratic Party. This allegiance is not an allegiance found among the grassroots of UFPJ but at the top. It involves a political misunderstanding of the Democrats' role in maintaining the US empire and a fear of losing funding from elements of UFPJ that are tied to the Democratic Party. Ignoring the fact that it is the Democratic Congress that has kept the Empire's wars going, UFPJ continues to call the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "Bush's Wars." Besides the attempts to silence the antiwar voice in the streets, there are also ongoing attempts by Democratic Party manipulators to keep antiwar language out of the Party's platform. This is in spite of a statement signed by the progressive wing of the party demanding that the language be included. If 2004 is any indication, there will be no antiwar language in the 2008 Democratic Party platform.

We saw this happen in 2004 and the peace movement was in disarray until the summer of 2005 (Cindy Sheehan resparked the movement). That cannot happen again but it is happening as too many see their 'peace' role as "cheerleader for Barack." Presumed Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama continues to run the most embarrassing campaign in recent memory. Today's big news is that another campaign staffer (volunteer!) has been outed. Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) reports that the volunteer was Chicago's own Mazen Asbahi who held the title of "Muslim outreach coordinator" until the Wall St. Journal did the job the campaign should have and found ties to Jamal Said and the North American Islamic Trust. True or false doesn't matter and will not be known for some time. In a campaign perception matters. The Obama campaign has already telegraphed that they see Asbahi as someone to wash their hands of and it's one more sign of how inept that campaign is that they didn't do the vetting that a paper did. Though Asbahi will most likely be found to have no links or ties to terrorists and be nothing but a dedicated volunteer who believed in a candidate and wanted to work for the candidate's election, the campaign continues to demonstrate just how unskilled and unknowledgable they are. This is the campaign that drummed up over a week's worth of mock outrage over a satirical cover of The New Yorker which lampooned the notion that, among other things, some may see Barack as a terrorist. If they put half that energy into vetting their staff, they wouldn't be in the news on this today. Asbahi joined the campaign July 25th, after the mock outrage. The campaign damn well took offense at satire but apparently lacked the intelligence to do the basic vetting of any high-profile spot. Asbahi joined the campaign with a high-minded/self-serving statement and now leaves the campaign with a cloud over himself and one over the campaign. He does so with the usual nonsense statement about how his departure is "to avoid distracting from Barack Obama's message of change" but the real message the campaign has again sent is that they do not know how to run a campaign including the most basic procedure of vetting anyone in a profile role.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is for a real withdrawal (not a partial redeployment to Afghanistan masked as a 'withdrawal'). Nader continues to pursue ballot access and will hold a press conference in Iowa tomorrow morning at 9:30:

Nader/Gonzalez Campaign and the Iowa Peace and Freedom Party Wednesday Will Submit more than Double the Required Signatures for Ballot QualificationSupporters of Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader and the Iowa Peace and Freedom Party will submit petitions to place Mr. Nader and running-mate Matt Gonzalez on the November 2008 election ballot, Thursday, Aug. 7, to the Iowa Secretary of State's Office. Mr. Nader will be on the ballot as the Iowa Peace and Freedom Party nominee, and if he gains more than 2 percent of the vote in the state, the party will become a ballot-qualified political group.Iowa will be the 26th state in which the Nader/Gonzalez Campaign has filed for a ballot line since the celebrated consumer advocate announced his intent to run during a February 24 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." To qualify to appear on Iowa's ballot, state law requires submission of the signatures of 1,500 registered voters.The Nader/Gonzalez campaign will submit more than 3,000 signatures.Scott Knight, the Nader/Gonzalez Iowa State coordinator, will be joined by Iowa supporters of Nader/Gonzalez 2008 and the Peace and Freedom Party at 9:30 a.m. for a news conference at Capitol West Steps, West Mall area, Capitol Building, Des Moines, IA.Iowans have been hit recently with massive floods and with the greed of large corporations, like Whirlpool Corp., which in July filed a federal lawsuit aiming to slash the medical benefits of thousands of retired Maytag workers after having bought out that company. The Nader/Gonzalez Campaign offers solutions instead of excuses. Mr. Nader would rein in corporate greed, waste and abuse and respond to natural emergencies with preventative public investments and rapid response to those disasters. As president, Mr. Nader would rebuild the Mid-West instead of tearing down the Mid-East. WHO: Iowa Supporters of Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Campaign and the Peace and Freedom Party WHAT: News Conference and turn-in of nominating petitions WHEN: Thursday, Aug 7, 2008, 9:30 a.m. WHERE: Capitol West Steps, West Mall area, Capitol Building, Des Moines, IA About Ralph NaderCelebrated attorney, author, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader has been named by Time Magazine one of the "100 Most Influential Americans in the 20th Century." For more than four decades he has exposed problems and organized millions of citizens into more than 100 public interest groups advocating solutions. He led the movement to establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and enact the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and countless other pieces of important consumer legislation. Because of Ralph Nader we drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments. Nader graduated from Princeton University and received an LL.B from Harvard Law School.About Matt GonzalezMatt Gonzalez was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2000 representing San Francisco's fifth council district. From 2003 to 2005, he served as Board of Supervisors President. A former public defender, Gonzalez is managing partner of Gonzalez & Leigh, a 7-attorney practice in San Francisco that represents individuals and organizations in mediation, arbitration, and administrative proceedings before state and federal regulatory bodies. Gonzalez graduated from Columbia University and received a JD from Stanford Law School.About the Nader/Gonzalez CampaignAccording to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted from July 27-29, Ralph Nader is at 6 percent nationally, higher than his highest major poll numbers during the same time period in 2000 and approaching the 10 percent threshold required for eligibility to participate in "America's Presidential Debate in New Orleans," a Google-sponsored event scheduled for September 18. In the key swing state of Michigan -- whose voters were partially disenfranchised by the Democratic National Committee -- an EPIC-MRA poll found Nader at 8-10 percent.

ehren watada
ron jacobs
karen deyoung
the washington post
mcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
campbell robertson
the new york times