Saturday, December 09, 2006


The weekend! :D The People's Iraq Study Group went really well and I'm sorry that I can't write about it more than that because I'm sure someone who can't think up stuff on their own will be needing to 'borrow' from this site.

I read Paul Krugman today. A mistake. Who got trashed for speaking out against the war? Well Barbara Lee got trashed, Cynthia McKinney got trashed. A lot more people out of Congress than in Congress got trashed. But he's all about the elected officials. Ted Rall got trashed but we're not really talking about who got trashed, we're talking about shining it on for the Democratic Party. As Rebecca pointed out, unlike AlterPunk, he was able to find one woman.

But the column's tired and timid so it makes perfect sense that it appears in the New York Times. Who got ripped apart?

Susan Sarandon, the Dixie Chicks, Tim Robbins, Janeane Garofalo, and a whole lot more. I don't think the United Way cancelled out on any elected official the way they did on Sarandon. I don't believe any elected official was uninvited to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But it's a 'safe' little column, the sort of thing most writers for The Nation appear to aspire to. It's kind-of-left, just a tad. And it's probably enough, the clip-job, to get some saying, "That Paul Krugman really went out there and showed some bravery!"

That kind of bravery will allow for more NAFTA and more triangulating.

It's really insulting. But I'm sure people will applaud it. They'll say, "Yeah, we were right!" Of course the "we" only includes people in Congress plus Al Gore and Howard Dean.

People in Congress are supposed to lead. That's their job.

There's nothing 'civic duty' about it. Susan Sarandon speaking out is civic duty. She didn't have to. She could have stayed silent. Did Janeane Garofalo need death threats?

Some people demonstrated real bravery. Don't expect to ever see them noted because it's easier to hide behind members of Congress. Or maybe just to suck up to them.

When The Third Estate Sunday Review noted this back in May, we all managed to make the first list about women who spoke out:

1) Janeane Garofalo, actress, comedian, co-host of Air America's The Majority Report, author
2) Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, author
3) Laura Flanders, host of Air America's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, journalist, author
4) Naomi Klein, journalist, author
5) Arundahti Roy, author, speaker
6) Alice Walker, author, poet, essayist
7) Dr. Helen Caldicott
8) Maxine Hong Kingston, poet, author
9) Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and founding director of Global Exchange
10) Ani DiFranco, singer, musician, songwriter, producer

And look, not a single member of Congress to hide behind. In June, the names included: Michael Ratner, Molly Ivins, Tariq Ali, Anthony Arnove, Alexander Cockburn, Ruth Rosen, Norman Solomon and more. None of the ten were in Congress. We also didn't hide behind "Former President George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft" the way Krugman does. He provides a list that reads like it was produced by the James Baker Circle Jerk.

That's it for tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which has some hilarious moments in it (check out the "docu-drama"):

Friday, December 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; US war resister Kyle Snyder continues speaking out against the illegal war; Bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter Peggy Poop demonstrates that not everyone ages well; over 200 protest the war in San Francisco; you know it's ugly when the US military dubs children 'insurgents'; and the Rumsfled has one more persona to test before he bows off the public stage.

Starting with peace news within the United States.
Kyle Snyder is currently traveling the West coast speaking out against the illegal war. Snyder was heavily and repeatedly targeted by a recruiter who promised the moon and delivered nothing. Because verbal agreements can be broken . . . on their end. On leave from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out and went to Canada in April of 2005. Happy there, speaking out, a job he enjoyed working with disabled children that paid well. Snyder began to consider returning to the United States. As October drew to a close, he did just that and on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering that the military that lied to him before had lied yet again.

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder. Barrows-Friedman noted his Army Corps of Engineers training and Snyder explained that he thought he'd be in Iraq doing construction "asphalt and concrete, laying foundations for schools, hospitals, roads." Instead, they made him a gunner and "an escort for high ranking officials." He saw a number of things in Iraq, reconstruction wasn't one of them.

Kyle Snyder: The things that I saw there for instance, you know, when we're told that we're liberating the people of Iraq and we're doing positive things you know I expect to at least see the civilians and stuff, you know, accepting us more. And basically accepting what we're doing. But children were flipping us off, they were begging for food and water almost all the time when I was out. I had seen people killed, I had seen people injured and it's just basically what led me to leave the war in the first place were the policies that drove the war. You know, when the Bush administration in 2004 and 2005 were saying 'We're liberating the people of Iraq' like I said I expect to see some of that happening. You know, no matter what rank you are, I think that we deserve to know why we're fighting. And basically it felt like a lie. It felt like a lie. And mainly because we couldn't explain what the mission was.

Despite a warrant for his arrest, Snyder's "going around speaking to povertized areas, mainly African-American and Latino communities, around the country because they're targeted by recruiters and I think that recruiters should tell people the truth." He didn't have that himself. No one was warning him. The mood of the country then was still Rah-Rah, he was targeted heavily in high school (recruiter evern came to his graduation) and he grew up in foster homes. Snyder knows what it's like to think some adult's really interested in you, really concerned about you, only to realize after they were just trying to hit their month's target goal.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And Kyle, if you were speaking with a young person who was considering joining the military right now, they were weighing their options, what advice would you have for them and what would you talk about with their families?

Kyle Snyder: . . When a recruiter comes up and talks to you, it's not because you're a special kind of person. It's not because you have any type of thing that some other human being doesn't. And a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds assume that, you know? 'Oh a recruiters talking to me because I have some kind of special ability that no other person has.' And they over-glorify it making you know basically the Army into Rambo-like figures and things that you know are in action movies when that's not the case. They really need to look at what they'll be doing. . . . You're a gunner, medic, driver or, you know, an escort. Those are the only four jobs that are in Iraq regardless of what you sign up to do. I'd say, you know, if somebody signed up no matter what branch of service, I'd say it's about an 80% chance you're going to Iraq as long as the Bush administration is in power. So they really need to look at that and understand that, yes, they're going to Iraq as long as, like I say, the Bush administration has their say, the war's going to last. So they just need to understand that. And I can understand people that do join the military and that believe in what they're doing but they need to understand people like me as well --that are lied to to get into the military. And, you know . . . I don't know. That's basically all I can say.

Kyle Snyder is a public US war resister. He is part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson,
Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.

When asked to speak about this movement, Kyle Snyder noted, "There's over 8,000 AWOL soldiers in the United States right now, 200 in Canada, 38 have applied for refugee status in Canada and I'm hoping, you know, that they start coming out. And I know that some of them are going to be coming out in the next few months. . . . I could use Bush's words, 'Are we going to solve this problem now or are we going to wait for the next president 5 years from now, 10 years from now when 8,000 Iraq veterans are homeless or hiding in a corner because it wasn't taken care of like it could have been?'"

Rebecca wrote about Snyder's interview here.]

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Tina Kim (WorldNow) reports on Appeal for Redress and notes that Jonathan Hutto and others involved with the appeal will be holding a news conference next Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to raise awareness on the project which is gathering signatures of active duty service members calling for the US troops to be brought home. The appeal will be presented to Congress in January. Jonathan Hutto was a guest last week on WBAI's Law and Disorder. [Mike noted it here.]

Today begins the National Days of Action to Support GI Resistance, called for by
Courage to Resist, which run through Sunday the 10th. Indybay IMC notes: "Other Bay Area Events: On Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film 'Ground Truth' will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film 'The Ground Truth' will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

Sunday, the 10th, is also Impeachment Day and click
here for David Swanson's overview of the goals and list of events. Action is needed to end the illegal war. And each day it drags on, more and more are wounded, more and more die.

They Kill Civilians, Don't They?

CBS and AP report that, on Friday, "20 insurgents, including two women," were killed in a US airstrike (in the Salahaddin Province). The US military has a breathless press release on it that's all blah, blah, blah until this line: "Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately." And children too, right?

CBS and AP note that the area's mayor, Amir Fayadh, says that "seven women and eight children" were killed. AFP reporters "found and photographed relatives weeping over several mangled bodies, including those of at least two children, near the ruined homes." AFP also notes that the US military's flack Christopher Garver denies children were killed, even when presented with photographic evidence by AFP. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the "charred and bloody blodies laid out" were covered with blankets and "An AP photo showed an Iraqi man who had pulled back one of the blankets and uncovered the face of one of the dead, who appeared to be a boy about 10 years old". Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports that "grieving relatives showed the bodies of five children wrapped in blankets to journalists."


CNN reports a bombing in Tal Afar that left three dead and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed four lives and left eight more wounded. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports: "On the outskirts of Baghdad, three mortar rounds hit a Shiite residential area, killing 25 men, women and children, and wounding 22" according to police.


Reuters reports that Human Nuri ("head of customs in the city of Najaf) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad while in another Baghdad incident an unidentified person was shot dead and three more wounded.


Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 7. The Soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol responding to a possible IED, south of the city, when a roadside bomb detonated, killing two Soldiers and wounding two others." And earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

And the
US military boasted of entering Falluja General, a civilian hospital, on a whim. Blood donors were needed . .. maybe 'insurgents' were present! Screw the rules guiding civilian institutions in warfare, lock and load, baby, lock and load. And it's those incidents and many others that explain why the war is lost.

In legal news, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for excercising their right to free speech. To summarize the case so far, a dramatic recreation
based upon the reporting of Samuel Maull (AP).



Typical municipal courtroom. Well, maybe not 'typical,' it is Manhattan.

We see the DEFENSE TABLE where FOUR WOMEN listen: PATTI ACKERMAN, MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE, MEDEA BENJAMIN and CINDY SHEEHAN -- attracitve women all. They stare ahead intently

FOUR WOMEN'S P.O.V. -- a gnome-like woman, in a faded, tattered Kerry-Edwards: 2004 t-shirt, BITTER PEGGY KERRY, sputters on the witness stand in front of D.A. HAN who smiles and nods in sympathy.

I was on my way to meet the group, to take their
petition -- then I saw --

Bitter Peggy begins sobbing. Han hands her a tissue. Bitter Peggy looks over at the defense table and glares.

Then I saw -- Peace Mom!

Bitter Peggy points a menacing finger. Cindy waves and grins sheepishly.


Free speech, peace doves, compassion
Peace Mom
Passion, peace sign, bravery
Is Peace Mom
She's tinsel on a tree . . .
She's everything an American should be!
If you find one to emulate
Only one to emulate
Let it be Peace Mom . . .
Peace Mom!*

Han smirks to the defense table as DEFENCE attorney rises and walks to the witness stand.

Bitter Peggy Kerry, you agree that you were
notified that a petition would be dropped off?

Yeah, so?

And you agreed to accept the petition?

What of it?

You were on your way to accept the petition and
then something stopped you.

Peace Mom.

Just the sight of Cindy Sheehan was enough to
make you break your agreement?

Damn right. "Peace"? Please. I'm bitter
and angry and mad at the world. Keep Peace Mom
away from me. Every where she travels, there's always
a chance that, at any minute, peace could break
out! I hate her. I hate her! I hate her!

Bitter Peggy goes into spastic convulsions while Defense looks on. Alarmed, D.A. Han leaps to her feet.

Your honor, a recess?

I'll get that Peace Mom. I'll get her. I hate
her. I hate her like I hate kittens and puppies.
And Christmas! And peace! I hate peace!
War! I must have war! I do want war, I do!
Screw Peace Mom, find me Kill Mom! I want
Kill Mom. Kill mommy! Kill mommy!


So ends the docu-drama recreation. [*Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff wrote the theme to the TV program That Girl starring Marlo Thomas -- who also was the executive producer of the show.]

In other news of courage,
Steve Rubenstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the 200 plus people march yesterday from Grace Cathedral to the federal building downtown which was led by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus to protest the Iraq war. The Bishop was among those arrested and he stated, "God is with all who have suffered in Iraq. This war needs to be opposed. Even though there is widespread sentiment against the war, we need to continue to push for peace. There is good reason to believe this is an unjust war." Zach notes that Wendell Harper reported, from the protest, on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.

And finally, he's been the White Queen, the Scold, the Nag and, on his way out the door, the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided he wanted to try on one more persona: Axel Rose.
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Rumsfled thinks what the world . . . needs . . . now . . . is just a little patience. Just a little patience.
The tragically unhinged Rumsfled declared that Iraq was still 'winnable' "if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power." Rumsfled's "staying power" -- obviously in question now -- can surely take credit for the 655,000 estimated Iraqis killed during the illegal war. To the would-be-Axel-Rose, the world responds, "There's no room for you here, go away, girl, there's no room for you here" (White Stripes).

kyle snyder

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Law and Disorder, Cedric and other stuff

Thursday! Almost the weekend! I'm late tonight because Tony and me were hanging out. Can't drop your buds just because you're in a relationship! :D

Tony's Mr. Relationshp Man himself now! He and Lisa went out last weekend and now it's all "Lisa this" and "Lisa that" and "Lisa thinks" . . . :D

She's going to be coming to the Iraq Study Group Friday night so that will be cool. (She's the one who helped Nina, Tony and me out last week by posting our "Iraq Study Group calls for all US troops to leave Iraq Immediately." Remember, that's The People's Iraq Study Group. And you saw that last Thursday here. Get the point?

(I know you do! I'm reading the e-mails and Beth's asked if she can weigh in for her column tomorrow. She's the ombudsperson for The Common Ills. I don't have one for my site. But she got so many e-mails on this, she called this afternoon and asked if she could address it and I was like "Sure." So she talked to me, talked to Nina, talked to Tony and, last time I knew, she was trying to get ahold of C.I.)

On a similar note, I'm walking up the drive when the cell goes off. (My ring tone right now is too embarrassing to name! :D) (No, it's not little Justy!) It was Cedric calling and he had posted this evening and wanted me to read it "when you get time" and drop an e-mail. I know there's some party that Three Cool Old Guys are having at their nursing home tonight and Cedric's going to that. So I got in and logged on and pulled up his site.

It's called "A rare solo entry." You gotta read it. I think he's worried what C.I. will think and C.I.'s not going to care. Cedric's offering his thoughts and presenting them as such so C.I.'s not going to care and C.I.'s the last person to say, "Oh, no, The Nation has done a great job covering Iraq in 2006!" We all know that's not the case. We all know that they hide behind ex-generals, that they won't cover war resisters. (Ehren Watada did not get an article in the magazine, they did two on him online -- and no other war resister, but he's the only officer and they seem to have an allergic reaction to anyone of the people.)

I have never gone after the peace movement and never would -- they work really hard and they've done amazing stuff -- but I think that's the only thing that if I weighed in on, C.I. would get upset about. C.I.'s not going to care. Cedric's pointed out before how The Nation disgracefully joined the dog pile on Harry Belafonte and C.I. wasn't bothered by that. That call was straight up and I think Cedric's calls tonight are as well. So check out "A rare solo entry." (Harry Belfonte is one of Cedric's favorites. That's because he is Cedric's grandfather's all time favorite singer and because Harry Belafonte sticks his neck out and doesn't play it safe. So some who try to play it safe try to make sport of the man. I don't do that. Harry Belafonte is a brave man. The world would be better off if even 1/3 of us had his bravery.)

Dropping back to Tone, every time we talk about doing something and grabbing something to eat, we always go, "Anything but pizza." And that's what we always end up eating! We'll toss out a few places and be like "Ho-hum." Then one of us will go, "Well, you want pizza" and the other will be, "Yeah, let's get a pizza." We went through that song & dance again tonight!

We ended up getting sausage and mushroom. Do you know a pizza that I like now but didn't think I would? Or a topping, I guess. Anchovies. My folks love that and I was always, "No, not having any" growing up. Rebecca, C.I., Elaine, Betty, Wally and Ava love anchovies on pizza. And for about a year I was like, "Get that away from me!" :D Then Elaine goes that I love Gardettos (might be spelled wrong) which I do. And I love the brown pieces in it. That's made from anchovies! I didn't know that.

So on weekends, with Rebecca (and Fly Boy) and Elaine over and my folks loving it too, we'll usually end up having an anchovy pizza about every other week. I really do like it and am surprised.

Know what else I like? WBAI's Law and Disorder. The first segment's the one I haven't gotten to yet. They interviewed Henri Alleg who is a reporter. Back while the French-Algerian War was going on, he was arrested by the French and they 'questioned' him.

'Questioned' him the way Bully Boy has people 'questioned' today. They tortured him. He wrote a book about it called The Question. He and Michael Ratner and Michael Smith talked about the comparisons between that and what the Bully Boy is doing and how quick the slide is.
I really liked this interview. They interviewed a woman awhile back who had seen all this stuff in her life, really amazing stuff. And I loved that interview. I loved this one too. Even if Alleg did worry that his English was lacking? (It wasn't. He speaks better English than I do.) (Which may not be hard to do!)

Henri Alleg survived and he can warn us (or anyone who will listen) which he did but I really love these interviews they do with people who have all this experience to draw on. I like it when they interview young people too. They did a thing with two women who were protesting with postcards and art that was pretty cool. But when they're interviewing someone with this huge history, I really enjoy it.

I was thinking about that today because I was reading a book C.I. had passed on. I really don't have time to read right now except for school. But Tony goes through the stack of books and pulls out stuff and reads it (so does Dad) and there was a book Tony couldn't stop talking about.

I lost the book! I'm digging through my backpack and can't find it. (It's got too much junk in there -- class notes, books for class, Sports Illustrated -- that I'm trying to read but I really don't even have time for that or The Sporting News -- and a ham sandwich! I forgot about that. :D)

The book's called Fugitive Days and it's by Bill Ayers. It's a really good book and starting and stopping is killing me. Tony basically read it straight through. I mentioned it to Rebecca and she told me it was on the 2005 "Books that spoke to you" thing -- books the community enjoyed. Carl picked it. Carl's a pretty cool guy. We've done two roundtables together for Gina and Krista and their round-robin. I'll share something else about that entry that Rebecca told me. Members were pretty cool about their picks. But some non-members weighed in. (I don't mean Ron here, I'm talking about one person.) This person e-mails C.I. this huge list of books and some of the titles are wrong and some of them have the wrong author and some of them were never published in America or Europe. C.I. works like crazy to hunt down the books (and ended up bringing in a friend who's a ref libraian at a college in California for help) and manages to get the list up. Then this non-member sees the list up and that some people noted children's books. Now this is after the list was posted, okay? That non-member then e-mails wanting to add even more books. The non-member had their own site and could have noted any book they wanted there. But they wanted C.I. to go in and change their list. Add about five or six more books and pull out one or two listed. That's why this note is in that entry: "A word on corrections. There aren't going to be any for this post unless you feel you were misquoted. If you feel you were misquoted, you have until Wednesday to e-mail the site and after that, (Kat's phrase) 'it is what it is'." Rebecca said C.I. was frustrated when hunting down all the books first listed (and that's with help from a friend) and couldn't believe that another list was being provided by the same person. Can't figure out who it is? Well, gee, who was asked for three books and provided over twenty?

Okay, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 7, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, AP estimates that there were 75 reported Iraqi deaths, war resister Kyle Snyder travels the West coast of the US speaking out against the illegal war, the James Baker Circle Jerk isn't fawned over by non-gas bags, Democracy Now! host a roundtable on Iraq, and Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Missy Comley Beattie and Patti Ackerman fight for free speech in Manhattan.

Starting with peace news. As
Thomas Watkins (AP) observes, "For a wanted man, Pfc. Kyle Snyder is keeping a remarkably high profile." Recapping, Snyder self-checked out of the US military while on leave after serving in Iraq. He went to Canada in April of 2005. There he spoke out publicly and, following the return from Canada of US war resister Darrell Anderson, Snyder made the decision to return as well. On October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.

Watkins reports that, despite a warrant being out on Snyder, he's traveling the West coast and speaking out such as in San Diego at the start of the week where his speech included, "Seeing children begging for food and water after two years of occupation, you really start to question if you are the good guy." Speaking with Snyder is war resister Darrell Anderson and, Watkins notes, "a mobile chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War".

Indybay IMC noted, "Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film "Ground Truth" will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film "The Ground Truth" will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm." [Bob Watada is Ehren's father and Rosa Sakanishi is Ehren's step-mother.]

These events are part of the National Days of Action to Support GI resistance and GI rights" that
Courage to Resist is calling from this Friday (Dec. 8th) through Sunday (Dec. 10th).

David Zeiger (Common Dreams) writes of these actions and notes the importance of these actions: "Today the new GI resistance movement is growing -- more soldiers are going public with their opposition, thousands are going AWOL, the first GI coffeehouse opened recently (with internet!), and the antiwar movement is realizing that supporting these soldiers is the next step. It's time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of thousands of courageous men and women soldiers who have in many different ways followed their conscience -- upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and standing up for their rights. Widespread public cupport and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights."

Zieger is the director of
Sir! No Sir! which documents that war resistance within the military during Vietnam and, for those planning house parties, is highly recommended. (Click here for a community review.)

Right now,
events are known to be scheduled in Alameda, CA; Honolulu, HI; Kentfield, CA; Long Beach, CA; Maui, HI; Missoula, MT; Montpeiler, VT; Nanuet, NY; New York, NY; Olympia, WA; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Tallahassee, FL; Vancouver, B.C. Canada; Worcester, MA.

actions are to call for:

1) Support for War Objectors

2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection

3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI's

4) Sanctuary for War Objectors

Thomas Watkins (AP) notes, "The Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have seen some 19,000 troops total go AWOL since 2001." Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson and Ehren Watada are among the US war resisters who have gone public. They are part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

As the US administration demonstrates no desire to end the war, the fatalities pile up.
AP estimates 75 reported deaths of Iraqis on Thursday. Some of those deaths include:


Reuters notes one dead and another wounded from a roadside bomb in Riyad.


In Baghdad,
Reuters reports, "the deputy chief of al-Sadoun police station," Basil Abdullah, and two of his guards were shot dead. AP reports an attack on "a school in western Baghdad, killing the Sunni headmaster in his office and threatening teachers not to return".

Dropping back to Wednesday,
Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports that Al Harith Hassan was shot on his way to work yesterday morning and died enroute to a hospital. Kami notes that he was "[o]ne of Iraq's best-known psychiatrists" and "dean of Baghdad University's psychiatric centre".


Reuters reports three corpses were discovered in Iskandariya. AP reports that 48 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

And the deaths do not happen is isolation or in a vacuum.
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fahdily (IPS) address the issue of a nation where "Widows are the flip side of violence that has meant more than a million men dead, detained or disabled" and how this growing and increasing reality happens in a country where international NGO's pulled out in October 2005. Jamail and Al-Fahdily note that if a woman can afford a bribe, she may be able to get on the country's new relief program that pays out widows one hundred dollars a month which, as Haja Saadiya Hussein notes, "is not enough to support my big family." This at a time when, as Matt Weaver (Guardian of London) notes "what is becoming the biggest refugee crisis in the world" (according to Refugees International) is resulting from the daily chaos and violence in Iraq with (UN figures) over 100,000 Iraqis leaving the country each month and over 1.8 million Iraqis now living outside of Iraq not by 'choice' but for safety.

In the face of these realities,
CNN reports, Iraq has scheduled, not one, but two, conferences -- with one among neighboring nations and the other "to include the United Nations and Arab League" but, no real rush apparently, they'll take place in 2007. Also in no real apparent rush is the US administration. On CNN's Larry King Live last night, King attempted to pin Tony Snow down about a "timely fashion" asking that he "Define that" and Tony Snow, admistration's mouth piece, declared that "maybe by the end of the year, the president can announce a new way forward." Maybe. Or, as Cat Power would sing, "Maybe Not."

AFP reports, Bully Boy and England's prime minister Tony Blair are meeting in DC. And any thoughts that the laughable report issued by the James Baker Circle Jerk would have taken any Bully out of the Boy were misguided. CNN reports that Bully Boy's already tossing the bull/weight around as he tells two soverign nations, Iran and Syria, what they need to do in order to participate in any talks regarding Iraq. Phyllis Bennis (Institute for Policy Studies), speaking with Philip Maldari and Andrea Lewis on KPFA's The Morning Show, today explained that the US administration has created a climate where neither Iran or Syria may feel the need to meet the US administration half-way. [Thanks to Zach for noting that.]

While most in the mainstream press fawn over the report from the James Baker Circle Jerk,
Democracy Now! devoted the hour to a serious critique of the report today. Amy Goodman spoke with Congress members Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey. Woolsey termed it "too little, too late." Lee stated, "too many of our young men and women have died. This is a senseless war. It's wrong. We need to bring our troops home and we need to bring them home now. I do not agree with the timetable that they laid out in the report. I mean, look at how many -- eleven more young people died yesterday." Also participating in the roundtable was author Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) who stated that "the report offers only a slight correction of course for a policy that needs fundamental reversal." Woolsey noted that Democratcs in Congress should be listening to the people, that the message of the November election was change and that people are ahead of elected officials on this issue . Sami Rasouli, of the Muslim Peacemakers Team, joined the roundtable discussion from Najaf and observed that if American forces left Iraq, any al-Qaeda forces would as well. Rasouli also noted that only 1300 al-Qaeda forces are said to be in Iraq and that the report demonstrates that Bully Boy's false claims before the start of the illegal war and to this day (that the US is there to fight 'terror'). Antonia Juhasz, author of The BU$H Agenda, joined the discussion to note that the James Baker Circle Jerk report advocates the privatization of Iraq's oil industry: "should be reorganized as a commercial enterprise, the proposal also says that, as you [Amy Goodman] say, Iraq's oil should be opened up to private, foreign energy and oil companies, also, another radical proposal, that all of Iraq's oil revenues should be centralized in the central government, and the report calls for a US advisor to ensure that a new national oil law is passed in Iraq to make all this possible and that the Constitution of Iraq is ammended to ensure that the central government gains control of the all of Iraq's oil, oil revenues. All told the report calls for privatization of Iraq's oil, turning it over to private, foreign, corporate hands, putting all the oil in the hands of the central government and essentially, I would argue, extending the war in Iraq to ensure that US oil companies get what the Bush administration went in there for, control and greater access to Iraq's oil."

Anthony Arnove brought up the issue of reparations noting the need to think "about what happens after withdrawal and I think we have to raise a demand for reparations to be paid to the Iraqi people, reparations not only for the harm and destruction caused by this illegal invasion and occupation, but all the years before that, when the United States supported sanctions on the country, and before that supported the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, armed, trained, funded and backed Saddam Hussein as he carried out the worst of his abuses."

David Swanson (Let's Try Democracy) notes that the James Baker Circle Jerk recommends toothless talking points re: permanante bases in Iraq while "we are spending billions of dollars to construct bases in Iraq for the U.S. military. The new Democratic majority in Congress knows this, knows the damages these bases are doing, and knows the good that could be done by making better use of all that money, not to mention the lives lost in the process. If we speak up, perhaps the new majority will also know how quickly it can become a minority again if it does not seize this issue, expose it, and set it right."

Edward Wong and Abdul Razzaq Al-Saidi (New York Times) survey Iraqi people (the ones that the James Baker Circle Jerk was allegedly concerned about) and find that the hand jive is most popular . . . inside the heavily fortified Green Zone but even there it's not overwhelmingly popular. In the United States, Peter Smith(Courier-Journal) looks at Kentucky's reaction -- apparently having little interest in 'official sources' and gas bags, decides that the plan is far from embraced -- and quotes Anita Anderson, mother of US war resister Darrell Anderson, who notes the 'maybe' of some-sort of withdrawal in 2008 and states, "I can't even imagine the young boys that are going to be damaged, and the young girls. I've talked to active-duty soldiers, ones in Iraq. They're not doing well over there."
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) offers a six point plan that addresses Anita Anderson's concern of time by advocating a US withdrawal "in months rather than years," peace talks, a "special envoy" working towards "conflict resolution, not a military solution," acceptance that the puppet government doesn't represent Iraqis and much more. Military Families Speak Out's co-founder Nancy Lessin declares of the James Baker Circle Group's report, "Each one of these is wrong and will not produce the desired effect. The real problem is the U.S. occuaption." And Nancy A. Youssef and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) note that the report has many flaws and zoom in on: "The group also recommends that the U.S. add more advisers, including Department of Justice officials for Iraq's frail judicial system. But the U.S. already has advisers throughout the government. Indeed, scores of coalition soldiers fill the halls of the Interior Ministry on any given day."

So what's a person to do?

"Go for your dreams, be true to your heart and listen to your gut. If your path starts to go astray, jump out of the road and take a romp through the woods."

That's activist and
CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin's advice for young girls and women which she shares with Bay Area Business Women. It's advice she puts into practice in her own life and currently that's taken her to Manhattan where she, Cindy Sheehan, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for . . . failure to yield right-of-way? Refusal to disown the right to peaceable assembly?

In a
new release calling for charges to be dropped, CODEPINK notes that the charges stem from the attempt on March 6th to deliver a petition calling for the end of the war (a petition 72,000 people had signed) to the then UN Ambassador for the US, John Bolton. In 2005, the petition had been dropped off with no problem. In 2006, the four women were part of a group of fifty that "was stopped by the New York City police and four of the leaders were arrested and charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing government adrministration." As they had done in 2005, they had phoned ahead of time to say that they would be dropping off the petition. Dropping off a petition signed by American citizens now means that a building (US Mission to UN) needs to go into lockdown and the police need to be called? In Bully Boy's America, apparently so.

Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) observes, "when cindy sheehan's on trial, we're all on trial. . . a public building meaning 'open to the public,' the women wanted to deliver a petition (no danger there), they called ahead of time, the place decides to shut down to avoid them. if the place's business was interfered with, that came when the building decided to go into lockdown. if a manhattan prosecutor wants to prosecute some 1, prosecute the people who made the call that u.s. citiznes were not welcome." (Rebecca notes that an audio report of the case can be found on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.)

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Wednesday and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this community must be blushing. Of course, if stealing others turns of phrase is just theft, we've been robbed. Jim's opinion is a robbery took place and I can see why he thinks that. When you can't think of your own wording, you apparently steal from others and don't credit.

Now something on my to-do-list. This is from Media Matters' "O'Donnell misrepresented Democrats on Iraq withdrawal, falsely claimed no experts support them:"

On the November 26 edition of the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, MSNBC chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell misrepresented a Democratic proposal for the phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq as "essentially a pullout in four to six months." In fact, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the proposal in June 2006 and called for a phased redeployment to begin by the end of the year, or approximately six months from that time. O'Donnell further asserted that Democrats will "wind up -- even though they were validated somewhat in the message by these elections ... looking weak on national security because ... [t]here is not one military or foreign-policy expert who thinks you could actually feasibly do that, and second, that would be a good idea." However, as Media Matters for America has noted, numerous military and foreign-policy experts support a phased withdrawal, to begin immediately or within a time frame consistent with the Levin-Reed proposal.

I've been meaning to note the above but it's been busy. Norah O'Donnell is a professional Democrat-hater and everyone needs to be aware of that. She's been at it for years now and hopefully the work of Media Matters is getting that point out there.

Now it's time for a joke. Robert Gates was confirmed today as the new Secretary of War. After the Dems rolled over and got punked out. Now this is from the laughable DSCC e-mail sent out yesterday at 10:35 am -- after the Senate Armed Service Committee had already started, ALREADY STARTED, their hearing with Gates:

Americans voted Democrats into the majority in the Senate because they wanted us to ask the tough questions and demand accountability from the Bush administration. That is exactly what we plan to do. We want to know what Mr. Gates plans are to:
Rectify a situation in Iraq that now has American troops in the crossfire of a civil war.
Fix a military stretched so thin that some units are on their third or fourth tours in Iraq.
Ensure that the abuse scandals we have seen at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay will not be repeated.
Prevent Afghanistan from once again coming under the sway of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
These are the defining security issues of our time and Mr. Gates must prove that he is up to the challenge of facing them. My fellow Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee have been preparing for this crucial confirmation hearing for weeks and we are ready.

Preparing for weeks? They didn't act like it and if you're preparing for weeks and asking people what questions they want asked, you send the damn e-mail out before the hearing starts!

Stupid, cowardly, sell out Dems. Wally and Cedric nailed it on the head with "THIS JUST IN! 216-YEAR-OLD SPINE MISSING!" and "The missing spine" (joint post). Don't take it. Don't roll over and act like it didn't happen. That's what elected Democrats do. Cowards, whores and sellouts. Come 2008, they shouldn't be surprised if they can't scare up many voters. They didn't present a plan on Iraq but acted like they were opposed to the war. And now they sell out the voters AGAIN. They don't even wait to be sworn in.

Now about yesterday's post, "Jim Lafferty, Law and Disorder, peace movement." I've never gotten so much e-mail in one day! :D Some of you have given me a pat on the back for my questions but let's be real honest, C.I. made that interview. "Amazing" is what Beau's one word e-mail said and he's right. That's why, when C.I. brought it up after we finished writing Sunday, Jim was all, "Why didn't you bring that up before!" :D Those are strong points and I'm just happy that they got made here. Jim didn't have a problem with that. He wanted them out there and was even asking -- he says "begging!" -- C.I. to put them up at The Common Ills but with the trip to DC and other stuff, C.I. didn't have time. Thanks to C.I. for yet another gift. I'm really proud they went up here. And I'm still reading e-mails on them so if you didn't get a reply yet, I've got 82 more to go. Like I said, I've never gotten so much e-mail in one day.

I want to take a moment here to note that I agree and that I'm really lucky because C.I. and Elaine do not take slams against the peace movement. If someone makes them in print or on air, they don't buy it and they never have. In this community, we're all a part of the peace movement and this touches on what Rachel wrote about which was that "in my frustration over the level of activism, I would read a desk jockey blaming the movement itself and start wondering, 'Maybe he's right.' One of the biggest affirmations from the community and from C.I. for me has been to see just what an amazing job everyone has done, all the organizations, and how they've done that even with all the barriers thrown in their way."

That's how conventional wisdom works. They repeat something over and over and then people start feeling like it's everywhere and it must be true. So let's salute reality and salute the peace movement because the reality is they've moved mountains and they've done it by themselves and without help from people outside the movement. CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not In Our Name, World Can't Wait, A.N.S.W.E.R., Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Courage to Resist, and all the rest, they've made a real difference and have done the hard work. If you have a favorite organization, consider making a donation to them. I'm making one in Ma's name because I was having the worst time figuring out what to get her this year -- she loves books but C.I.'s always passing on books and Ma's favorite thing is to draw a bath and read a book, she says she could do that for about two years right now! :D -- so she said a donation would mean a lot to her. So you can do like I did, go the website of the one you pick, donate and print up the receipt. That way the organization doesn't have to send out anything and you can put that in a card for the holidays. Peace is the best gift for the holidays!

Check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts tonight.

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the James Baker Circle Jerk finally spews, Dow Jones reports ten US soldiers dead in Iraq today from two IEDs, and the Democrats demonstrate that "bipartisan" is Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter."

Starting with the vocab lesson first, for all the gas bagging after the election by The Elector (in all their forms) and all the talk of "change" and "listening to the people," Democrats -- swept into power by voters wanting change -- demonstrate that "bipartisanship" is just Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter." First up was the character assassination took John Murtha out of the running for the post of House Majority Leader and allowed War Hawk Steny Hoyer to be installed. Last week Dems were supposed to be cheerleading around the nation over Silvestre Reyes who was being installed as House Intelligence Committee chair. "Yeah, Silvestre!" was the kind of "critique" the public got as the gas bags of the left (and 'left') tried to paint over the fact that others were (again) passed over. Now,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes an interview Reyes gave to Newsweek where he expressed his desire to send an "up to 30,000" additional US troops to Iraq.

The vocabulary lesson is not limited to House Dems, Democrats on the Senate Armed Service Committee collectively stated, "Screw the voter." As
Robert Parry (Consortium News) observes, "Despite winning the Nov. 7 elections largely due to public anger over the Iraq War, congressional Democrats crumbled in their first post-election confrontation with President George W. Bush on the future direction of that conflict."

As elected Dems attempt to 'educate,' the mainstream press attempts to present the marginalized as the norm. Though polls repeatedly demonstrate US citizens want US troops out of Iraq, though polls repeatedly demonstrate that Iraqi citizens wants US troops out of Iraq, Big Media thinks they can pull one over on the public again.

Tossing Judith Miller onto the stake and burning her as the public scapegoat is supposed to satiate the masses and allow
War Pornographer Michael Gordon to get off scott free again. (Gordo was Miller's writing partner quite often including on one story that was mentioned in the Times' mini-culpa.) Norman Solomon (Common Dreams) observes that Gordo and David Sanger have both contributed articles pushing the "the US must stay myth" and concludes: "What's now going on in mainline news media is some kind of repetition compulsion. And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives."

It's not limited to the New York Times, but to stay on Gordo and the Times,
FAIR notes that, on November 15, 2006, Gordo was on CNN telling Anderson Cooper "while the politicians in the United States would like to see a withdrawal of forces, particularly on the Democratic side, that's simply not realistic given how precarious the security situation is at this point in time" and drawing a comparison between Democrats who actually call for a withdrawal (there are a few of those) and 'insurgents': ". . . there are a significant number of players in Baghdad today who don't mind if the Americans withdraw. These are the militia leaders. They would be happy if the United States withdrew . . ." Now does any of that sound anything like a policy judgement or recommendation?

Because when attempting to foist his bad book off on the public, Gordo refused to weigh in on the war itself,
telling Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Well, that's a policy judgement and a political judgement that's really beyound the scope of our book."

But now, he can can make those judgements? Of course he can, he made them during the invasion as well -- in fact, he made them on CNN. March 25, 2003,
Gordo took the CNN airwaves (Aaron Brown's now cancelled show) to cheerlead a US attack of a civilian target, a TV station, stating, "And personally, I think the television, based on what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message, I think, was an appropriate target." Three year later, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted to Gordo that his [Gordo's] remark were "condemned by many journalism organizations around the world" and Gordo sputtered: "Well, I think, when -- you know, I don't know what was in General Franks' mind . . ." Blah, blah, blah. Gordo can't own his own mistakes, neither the can the paper.

Judith Miller was one person. The dog pile on her while others were ignored created a climate of impunity. Ditch digger Dexy is outed as a the go-to-boy (outed by a mainstream daily) for the US military and, if noted, it's reduced to an aside. While everyone obsessed and dog piled on Judith Miller's pre-war 'reporting' (which included co-writers), there wasn't time to call
sob sister Dexy out. Even now, as the paper's attempts to marginalize US public opinion is called out, who's noting the story, filed from Iraq, that couldn't find a single Iraqi who wanted the US to withdraw (a position held by the majority of Iraqis)? No one.

Miller's departure changed nothing at the paper. But bash-the-bitch and golden oldies did allow many to feel, three years later, that they were 'commenting' as they again trotted out the name "Judy Miller." The only thing surprising about Gordo is that
his war porn has taken so long to be called out.


Qais Al-Bashir (AP) reports a mortar attack in the Sadr City section of Baghdad which took 8 lives and left "dozens" wounded. while in Iskandariyah, a bomb claimed 4 lives and left at least 12 wounded. The US military reports a blast "near the Old Ministry of Defense building in the Rusafa neighborhood of central Baghdad" which killed at least 15 Iraqis and left 25 more wounded. Reuters reports that a bomber "blew himself up inside a minibus" in Baghdad resulting in 3 other deaths and at least 16 people wounded


KUNA reports a British soldier wounded in Basra "after armed clashes between British troops and an armed group". Conflicts in Basra have already resulted in the British pulling embassy staff out of the area. Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead in Hawija while a police brigadier was wounded in an attack in Baghdad and his driver shot dead, another shooting attack in Mosul left a college professor wounded, and in Khalis an attack on a farm workers traveling in a bus left one dead and eight wounded. On the college professor, CNN notes this is "a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged that the government would protect professors and students in the wake of a Sunni insurgent group's threat to target professors and students."


Reuters reports three corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya, one in Kirkuk and a headless one in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters notes that 48 corpses ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered in Baghdad.

US military notes: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations in the Iraqi capital Dec. 3" and also says 'Woops! We issued the information on two deaths in two different press releases Sunday!' ICCC counts 2907 US troops dead in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. And AFP notes that the total of US troops who have died in Iraq has passed the 2900 mark and counting. This comes as Dow Jones reports that 10 US troops have been killed in Iraq today and cites MSNBC on the "two incidents involving improvised explosive devices." That would take the 2907 up to 2917. And possibly it will also give the New York Times and others still silent the chance to note that the 2900 mark was passed?

The James Baker Circle Jerk released their report today. The thing that should stand out the most is that the 142 page report is actually 96 pages (with illustrations) and that 36 pages are end credits -- including a special spotlight for each member. Apparently, notions of a group shot were ditched due to the fact that a visual like that would have most Americans asking who those Circle Jerkers were supposed to reflect? They're old, they're White (one African-American), they're male (one woman). "Tell Us What To Do About The War, Rich Gramps?" could be the working title.

Having stroked each other raw, the Circle Jerk spews 79 recommendations. With few exceptions, they're all based on a principle: "Stupid Iraqis! We will educate you!" You see that in "Recommendation 76" and its focus on "civilian tasks" and "key civilian agencies, including Treasury, Justice, and Agriculture" which "need to create similar technical assistance capabilities." Every now and then, a concrete recommendation stumbles in such as "Recommendation 72" which addresses the requesting of funds for the war ("should be included in the President's annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year") or noting that need to keep an accurate count of incidents of violence and death.

But in the end, you're left with gas bags tasked to do the job that Congress should have. In the real world, the people's
Iraq Study Group released their findings last week. Using the same phrase, The Nation notes a poll by World Public Opinion who will release their full results tomorrow. The summary of the polling is currently available. From that:

*1,326 Americans were surveyed.

*75% of respondents desire talks between the US and Iran (something Bully Boy is nixing,
click here)

*58% of respondents want a timetable for withdrawal

*78% of those who identified Democrat "think U.S. forces should be out within two-years or less, including 61 percent who favor a one-year or less"

*Withdrawal is supported even stronger by respondents "if the majority of the Iraqi people say they want the U.S. to commit to withdraw U.S. forces"

From the summary: "A poll of the Iraqi public conducted by in September 2006 found that 71 percent want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year." Again, the full results will be released tomorrow.

William Roberts (Bloomberg) reports that Tom Vilsak (who declared he was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008) has called for the withdrawal of "most American troops from Baghdad and southern Iraq" and declares, "We have created an opportunity for the people of that nation and its government to make fundamental decisions for themselves. We have given them enough time."

Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reports that Nouri al-Maliki wants a "regional conference on stabilizing his country but rejected a proposal from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that it take place outside Iraq."

Finally, in peace news US war resister
Ehren Watada is noted as the United Methodists reflect on 2006: "United Methodists rallied in support of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, who has refused deployment to Iraq because he feels the war is 'morally wrong' and 'a breach of American law.' He faces charges of missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt towards officials. United Methodists joined a vigil and rally at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, where Watada is being held."

And as
Indybay IMC notes, "December 8th through 10th with be National Days of Action to Support GI resistance and GI rights." More information can be found at Courage to Resist and in the Bay Area, "Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film "Ground Truth" will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film "The Ground Truth" will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jim Lafferty, Law and Disorder, peace movement

Tuesday! :D Hope you heard at least some of the coverage of the Gates hearing today. I caught the second half, when, according to Larry Bensky and Aaron Glantz' commentary, all the life had left them.

Does it matter? Yeah, it does. It matters because of the position we're talking about and it matters because we got to hear what the 'empowered' Democrats were going to do. And the answer? Not a damn thing.

The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "The One About The Nation" and Elaine and me both wanted to highlight the art. I love the words we all wrote but I think the painting the gan did was pretty special.

Now don't forget to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.

Jim Lafferty was the guest for the third segment of WBAI's Law and Disorder Monday. He's with the National Lawyers Guild, he's also an activist and he does a show for KPFK and, according to C.I., about a hundred million other things on any given day!

He had a really good discussion with the hosts (Michael Ratner, Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian are the hosts of the show). In his area, Los Angelese, there's been a lot of activism and that was one of the topics. This built on the interview with Marjorie Cohn, about how you couldn't just wait around for elected officials to decide to "give" because they won't. You have to pressure them and make them act.

So Jim Lafferty has been on the front lines and one of the issues was about how the movement is growing and how it was so huge before the illegal war started. So what's going on? Is it active and if not how come it's not. I believe Lafferty made the point about how much further the peace movement was then during Vietnam. And then the issue of the draft came up.

Lafferty and Michael Ratner felt that without a draft it was easier for some people to ignore the war. And this was the point I wanted to get from C.I., the thing Jim was all, "Why didn't you bring that up while we were writing!"

C.I. understands Lafferty's point and agrees with it but thinks there's another aspect to it ("and Lafferty probably would as well") which is the draft itself wouldn't change much at this point.

"Wait, wait," you scream, "Charlie Rangel thinks it's the answer!"

C.I.'s point is based on "modeled behavior."

C.I.: What Lafferty has done so well is motivate and model. Others are doing that as well, Leslie Cagan with United for Peace & Justice, Medea Benjamin and Jodi Evans with CODEPINK, and many other people and many other organizations. But what the draft point overlooks is that during Vietnam you had attention. A concert, by Joan Baez, didn't just happen with draft cards being turned in. It started slowly. People were lost, the way some are today, and it started with one person deciding to turn in or burn their card and then there was a road for others to follow. The word got out, the word spread. There was now an organized way for people to resist, young males in this case. And Joan did the poster "Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No" with her sisters Pauline and Mimi. Lafferty's point is valid but a draft, which he's not advocating for, wouldn't mean the movement was further along today. It means that people would be opposed to the war but I think, my opinion, the polling demonstrates that they already are, much sooner than during Vietnam. The draft, during Vietnam, did have an impact. But what I'm seeing and have seen is that there's little behavior to model. When someone like Lafferty makes an impact, and he's made a huge impact, they're doing it without the attention it deserves and, more importantly, needs. All across the country, there are groups that go to the local offices of their senators and representatives. Let's just use that as an example. It gets very little coverage, very little publicity. It is a way, not 'the' way, a way, to register your protest. But that behavior, like Lafferty's work, depends on word of mouth because there's very little media coverage of it. A draft in 2002 and 2003, even 2004, might have helped the illegal war become unpopular sooner but today it is unpopular. What's needed are examples. They are out there. They're just not covered. I think the spark Cindy Sheehan provided is missed. She put a face on it. But the face she put on it was a face for the cost of the illegal war and a face for protest. If she'd just stayed home, people would have been sympathetic. But she went down to Crawford, she camped out at Bully Boy's ranch. What was the effect? It wasn't just people saying, "I support her." It was people coming from all over the country to take part in that protest. She was, and is, both a face for the war and a face for protest. What I've experienced speaking to students is people wanting ideas, wanting examples. Cindy Sheehan provided one. Has provided others as well. The protests to end the war on Vietnam didn't happen in isolation. Activism with the civil rights movement and the students movement preceeded it and activism in the women's movement, the gay rights movement, Black Power, the Native American movement, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, etc. were going on. The point is, there was a base to build from. There was behavior to model. The anti-globilization movement and rallies in support of reproductive rights are pretty much all that many are aware of today and 9-11 was used as a club to batter the anti-globilization movement. What message does the reproductive rights movement send? I support that movement, I march in rallies. I'm not attacking it. But the movement, in terms of activism, often is a big rally in DC. That's the example some students cite when they're asked about activism. I'm not putting those rallies down. I think they're important. But with Iraq, you're needing more than a once a year rally. One of the things I'm usually asked is what are students doing in other areas? Everyone's looking for idea, looking for models. In Los Angeles, Jim Lafferty's done a wonderful job providing that. He and others with A.N.S.W.E.R. have created a strong environment of modeling behaviors and getting out there and being active. They deserve credit for that and everyone organizing against the war does as well. But across the country, there are groups with similar aims that aren't even aware of one another. Media coverage would change that but media coverage isn't something to count on. The movement, across the nation, still grows largely due to peer-to-peer word. What I hear repeatedly on campuses is that they weren't given a heads up to an action. An event will take place in their area and they'll hear about it afterwards. Media coverage, which it deserves, would change that. But it's not going to happen. Groups need to stop thinking, I have one in mind, that their protest against the war will only turn out themselves and whatever friends they can activate through word of mouth, they need to be working the colleges. You're dealing with students who very often are not from the area. They go off to college. They're not aware of all that's going on in the communities they're living in to go to college. I have a friend with an organization in the Mid-West and she had been very disappointed in the turnout at events. When I was speaking to colleges in that area, they weren't even aware of the group. Everyone's in isolation to a degree, if you're not in an area with a strong organization that's well established, and unaware of who else is addressing the war, trying to end it. When the movement to end the war was building in the sixties, it didn't happen overnight and the country certainly hadn't turned against that war as quickly as the country's turned against this one. When it started to turn, you had an excitement and, with that, an awareness of what was around you. The complaints about the media coverage existed then as well but, by comparison, there was nothing to complain about. Today, the alt weeklies are all lifestyle papers with few exceptions. The desire is there, what's not is the connection and the examples. That's the hurdle the movement is going to have to leap next, and they will, but the movement is growing. The draft alone, during Vietnam, did help people, males, feel a sense of urgency, and possibly their girlfriends and wives, that isn't present today. But we're already seeing a much larger portion of people who are opposed to the war, in polling. So I don't think the draft by itself is the issue at this point. I think it comes down to the issue that activism isn't a pattern with all these various strands when you compare it to the sixties.

So that was C.I.'s opinion and I got that last night. Today, we did a Q&A follow up. I'm in italics.

So students are lost?

C.I.: Not in terms of their feelings on the war. And it needs to be noted that since Vietnam there have been many movements. But in terms of anything like the civil rights movement or, for students, the student movement of the sixties, no, there aren't a wealth of examples they're being presented with by the media. The most common type of comment I continue to hear is, "I want to do something but I'm not sure what?" Even with that, students are being active. But in terms of the movement itself, which continues to grow, there seems to be questions as to what you do besides rally in DC? And there will be a march and rally in DC on January 27th so let's note that. That does matter and you know that because when you've returned from those everyone's peppered you with questions.

Right, they want to see photos and hear all about it. And then they want to go. I've got people asking about the January march that surprise me because I wouldn't have guessed that they were interested in participating.

C.I.: And the decision was made for the 2005 spring rallies to focus on communities which was a smart move, underscoring that you don't just take your protest to DC. I want to be repeat, the peace movement has done a wonderful job. But it has done that by peer-to-peer, word of mouth. It hasn't had the kind of media it deserves. And there are a lot of people doing a lot of work but feeling that they're the only ones in the areas. Media attention could change that but you know my opinion on how that's not going to happen.

So we're stuck with the movement getting the word out on itself?

C.I.: Pretty much, do you see any change? Do you see anyone covering Abeer? Covering Mark Wilkerson, Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, or any of the war resisters? How much attention did Troops Home Fast get from independent media? People like Medea Benjamin, Jodi Evans, Jim Lafferty, Jeff Paterson, Leslie Cagan, go down the list, they are getting the word out, they are being inventive and creative and that's what's kept the movement growing and what's allowed the country to turn against the war. We need to remember that Vietnam didn't have a 9-11 in front of it. Vietnam didn't have "you're either with us or you're against it" wall to wall. It's been very difficult and that the movement's overcome all of that is a testament to the hardwork of everyone, organizers and participants. The movement carved out the space for the mainstream media, which canonized Bully Boy, to actually criticize him, still not the way they should, but far greater than you could see in 2002 or 2003. It also benefits from what Maria long ago noticed in her own classrooms, as her students were learning about the history of the United States and what it's supposed to stand for, they were confronted with the reality of what it stands for under the Bully Boy. That is a strong bloc of people and they are out there. The issue now is overcoming the barriers that are keeping various pockets from being aware of one another, both nationally and locally.

Putting you on the spot because I know your private answer but you may not want to offer it here. We have various left magazines, I won't name them, and who writes about the peace movement?

C.I.: No one. You know that. If someone's reading, for instance, The Nation, chances are they are against the war. Chances are that they would both like to know and benefit from knowing stories of protest and resistance. They're not getting that in the print magazine. You can't blame the peace movement for that. And people who want to whine from their desks about what they think is going on would be wise to leave their offices and get into the real world.

You don't think anyone's going to suddenly provide a column that covers the peace movement?

C.I.: We hit the four year mark in March. The war didn't just start. Do you see a column covering the peace movement? You can see column after column covering DC and elected officials and let's not kid that such coverage, with nothing else offered, doesn't send a message, intended or not, that you pin your hopes and dreams on elected officials and root for them from the sidelines. It reduces activism to nothing but the voting booth.

What's the effect of the elections last month?

C.I.: Anger. Anger when people grasp that they were hyped to believe an election changed anything. In the end, that'll just fuel the peace movement as well. But, think back because you were in high school on 9-11, the fear to speak out, the fear to question the press-annointed god that Bully Boy was. And a lot of people you're age and slightly younger are looking for ways to protest. Many of them already are protesting. But they need examples. Some wonderful ones have been provided but they have to rely on word of mouth because there's no coverage.

Anything else you want to add?

C.I.: Just that I'm not criticizing the peace movement. It's overcome one barrier after another and continues to grow. It's impacted the nation and the opinions on the illegal war. With Camp Casey, you saw the same excitement and interest, resulting from coverage that made people aware, as marches and protests during the civil rights era. Cindy Sheehan gave a face to the cost and moved people but she also gave them a way to protest. That's why, from across the country, people traveled to Camp Casey. Organizers are providing examples and, with media attention, the peace movement would be all that some, who scorn it, want it to be. But the realities of the 60s were that there were solid examples of activism that people grew up around and behaviors they could model. There are other issues as well, including the current press system, demographics and much more. But modeling behaviors and information continue to be the problems I hear cited the most. And let me repeat one more time, because students have gotten a very bad rap, students are active all over the nation, they are interested in ending the war.


I'll add that Jim Lafferty was a great guest and I hope they have him back on. That was a great discussion and you can hear it at WBAI or Law and Disorder. I'll either write about the first segment either tomorrow or Thursday.

So that's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I wish I could have gone to DC with Wally and C.I. but I'm glad they went and hope they're having fun tonight.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Senate Armed Service Committee stages a new comedy, and the 2900-dead mark has been passed, who's noting it?

Starting with the American troop fatality count.
On Sunday, ICCC made the call that 2900 US troops had died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Yesterday, Sandra Lupien noted the 2900 mark on The KPFA Evening News. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes: "The US death toll in the war has topped 2900." CNN's counts 2,901 while also reporting 2899. The latter figure is what the Defense Department goes with as well, 2899. ICCC reports the number is 2906 (which is what we'll go with).

Does the number matter? It should. It should matter especially if you're appearing before Congress.
Robert Gates, who would like to replace Donald the Rumsfled as Secretary of Defense, cited another number: 2892. Testifying today, he goes with 2892? If this is Gates "on the ball," let's all worry.

KPFA's Larry Bensky and Aaron Glantz are anchoring the gavel-to-gavel coverage of Gates' confirmation hearing and it's being carried live on KPFA, WBAI, KPFT, KPFK, KCFC and at
at the
Pacifica website. Those not in broadcast range can listen online at any of the links provided in the previous sentence. (And if you missed the live coverage, you can use the links for an archived broadcast.) While Pacifica Radio covers the hearings live NPR decided to 'hit hard' by covering the celebrity auction of Dick Clark.

So along with grasping that Gates doesn't care enough about the job to use any accepted figure for the US military's fatality toll, what else have we learned? Bob Dole did standup early on. The former US senator was one of two walking Gates down the aisle. Who gives Gates away? Dole and Doren. Dole told a joke about how the phone rang asking that "Senator Dole" introduce Gates and, too late, Bob Dole realized they meant Elizabeth Dole (his wife who is currently a US senator). Having wowed 'em like he hasn't since he schilled for Pepsi with Britney Spears, Dole stepped aside for the Senate's own Norma Desmond: David L. Boren.

Boren was supposed to be introducing Gates but instead seemed lost in the past, a murky one, that needed to be reclaimed unless we were are prepared to "ultimately destroy the fabric" of the country. Boren couldn't shut up about the past including "15 years ago." So let's take a look at the Senate when Boren still served on it.

Boren did sometimes work with people on the other side of the aisles: Democrats. Though supposedly a Democrat, he was usually to be found triangulating with Republicans. Boren's 'bipartisanship' resulted in many things, a greatest hits reel can't be provided here. But two highlights. Boren voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The country still suffers as a result. Boren was among those who put "civility" above the truth regarding Iran-Contra and, it can be argued since many of the same players repeat today, that doing so implicates him in today's illegal war.

Possibly, he shouldn't grab that white Bible with his bloodied hands? White Bible? Oh, the one he used to publicly swear that he wasn't gay back when those rumors floated. Today's heart-felt intro recalled a great deal of the drama of that 1979 moment.

Robert Gates told Senator John Warner that he felt the Bully Boy wanted him "to take a fresh look and all options are on the table" regarding Iraq. But some things do not require a "fresh look," apparently. On the issue of remaining in Iraq, Gates stated that it seemed to him that the US would "have to have some presence in Iraq for a long time." He then offered the WRONG number and mentioned a woman who approached him to declare, "I have two sons in Iraq. For God's sake, bring them home safe."

After that, it all got even zanier as there appeared to be a contest among Republicans to see who could look the most insane as they attempted to scare Americans and spin the illegal war.

Honorable mentions go to the following:

Jeff Sessions who declared both the need to "reach out and grasp each other's hands" (stay of the cloakroom) went even touchier-and-feelier, soaring into clouds that the laughable Peggy Noons (Noonan) couldn't even approach as he spoke of US troops who had died in Iraq: "I talked to their families. I talked to those who lost their lives."

No word as to whether "those who lost their lives" talked back to Jeff Sessions.

Pat Roberts wants the troops home but frets over how it could be done "the wrong way." See, pulling them out too soon, bringing them home, could cause problems. Such as? Roberts didn't know. He was suddenly discussing "sleeper cells in this country" and terrorists of a second generation. If he truly believes there are "sleeper cells" in the United States, one would assume that the troops might be needed in the US. But Roberts was busy trying to frighten America and that appeared to be the Republican game plan.

Joe Lieberman (officially billed these days as "Independent") attempted to work through his own issues, publicly, in front of the committee. He warned of what could happen "if we end up leaving Iraq in chaos" because, apparently Joe Lieberman has missed the fact that Iraq is in chaos and has been. "Bipartisanship" was a buzz word for NoMentum as well and he wanted the entire nation to band together to go after all the enemies he sees elsewhere in the world ("everybody around the world who wishes us evil") which demonstrated that Lieberman hasn't lost his sense of persecution.

But the winner? James Inhofe in the first round. Inhofe's never met a fact he can't fudge or mangle. His statements were concerned with pushing the illegal war except when he went into alarmist mode of Chinese computer hackers and raged that others (on the Senate? in the United States?) "don't seem to read these, they don't seem concerned about this!" What Inhofe was concerned primarily with was noting that "the mass graves [in Iraq], that's not taking place anymore."

Oh Inhofe, apparently you're not reading what you need to read.
November 30, 2006, the US military announced the discovery of a "mass grave" with 28 bodies in it. And, no, it's not from the era of Saddam Hussein.

The Democrats? Evan Blah showed what a suck up he could be, Carl Levin probed and Hillary Clinton appeared to be setting up for the next round of questioning. (The hearings are on a lunch break. During that Pacifica will be offering analysis.)

The big news is supposed to be that
Gates noted (the obvious fact) that the US isn't "winning." (Nor can it, unsaid by Gates.) What should be noted is how often he couldn't remark, he didn't know enough, his "view is too uninformed," "I'm not well enough informed at this point to make a decision" blah, blah, blah. This is the man who was sitting on the James Baker Circle Jerk, right? He was tasked with recommendations the US should take re: Iraq, right?

And in Iraq?


AFP reports an attack on bus in Baghdad that began with a car bomb and was followed with gunfire resulting in at least 15 dead and 9 wounded, while an attack on a police academy in Baghdad with a car bomb followed by gunfire resulted in 7 people killed and 12 wounded, a roadside bomb in Baghdad resulted in 2 Iraqi soldiers being killed, a car bomb in Baghdad claimed three lives, and a mortar attack in Baghdad left 2 children dead. Reuters notes three car bombs in Baghdad ("near a fuel station) that resulted in 16 deaths and at least 25 injured. The BBC reports that "[m]ost of the victims were people queuing for petrol."


See above combined attacks.


Reuters reports the corpse of a police officer was found in Kirkuk.

Today, the
US military announced: "Insurgents attacked a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol Dec. 4, killing one Soldier and wounding five others. The patrol was conducting operations to deny enemy movements and enforce curfew restrictions in a northeastern neighborhood of the city when it was attacked"; and "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed in an accident when his M-1117 Armored Security Vehicle rolled over North of Logistics Support Area Adder Dec. 4."

In news of sick mind games (played to cover their own ass?, played to keep the news coverage more 'upbeat'?), on Monday
the Department of Defenense announced: "Spc. Dustin M. Adkins, 22, of Finger, Tenn, has been unaccounted for since Dec. 3 in Haditha, Iraq, when the Chinook helicopter he was in made an emergency landing. He is assigned to the Group Support Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Ky." But AP reports that "relatives of 22 year old Dustin Adkins of Finger told The Jackson Sun newspaper Monday night that his body has been recovered after the soldier was listed as missing." Note the key word "after." Ned B. Hunter (AP) reports that "Mayrine Adkins, the soldier's grandmother, said the family was notified about 3 p.m. Monday that his body had been found. Mayrine Adkins said her grandson was one of two Army soldiers on the helicopter along with several Marines."

This is the Sunday helicopter crash ('crash landing,' if you prefer, but it's a crash) that
claimed the lives of four Marines. Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that there were 16 people on board and that the lake it crashed onto was Lake Qadisiya. Though the military claims it was 'mechanical' issues that brought about the crash, Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reports two sources who state differently: "The mayor of Haditha, Ibraheem al-Bayati, and Iraqi army Lt. Hussein Muslih said the helicopter had been shot down by insurgents with machine guns as it was taking off from the town" and Trejos notes: "the Islamic State of Iraq posted a sign on a nearby mosque in Haditha announcing that the helicopter had 30 passengers on board and had been downed".

Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco
released their report December 1st. Dan Box (The Australian) reports that Judy Kovco (Jake's mother) and Shelley Kovco (Jake's wife) have "received legal advice" and will "demand an independent review of the military's finding that the young paratrooper was skylarking with his pistol when he was fatally shot." Ian McPhedran (Herald-Sun) feels that the inquiry has demonstrated "why a civilian should run such investigations" and McPhedran provides strong examples including "ruling out suicide even before its hearings had concluded"; refusal to apportion blame for the failure to preserve evidence in terms of Kovco's room, et al; and a failure to seriously explore the mix up of Jake Kovco's body with the body of Juso Sinanovic.

MCPhedran notes: "Jake Kovco's mother, Judy, has labelled the excercise a cover-up and she is absolutely correct." Last weekend, Judy Kovco spoke out about some of the problems with the inquiry and its findings noting that she had "sat through three months of listening to all of this" and that no explanations have been provided including why there was "more DNA on that gun that Jacob's own DNA inside and out and their excuse for that DNA being on the gun and the cartridge is just laughable."

Judy Kovco is specifically referring to Steven Carr, identified during the inquiry as "Soldier 14," whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun. Carr maintained that he never touched Jake Kovco's weapon and offered laughable excuses such as maybe he touched a radio and then Jake touched a radio and then Jake touched his gun and that's how his (Carr's) DNA got on Jake's gun. It was laughable but it got picked up and run with as though it was even possible. Forensice expert
Michelle Franco rejected that laughable claim to the inquiry and noted that were that transfer nonsense true that within a half-hour, Carr's DNA would have been all but gone from the gun. Instead, it was found on the gun's slide in significant amounts (it was also found elsewhere) that were consistent with Carr having handled the gun.

The inquiry's findings sidestepped and ignored the government's witness and avoided this issue which is only example of how they failed to address the death of Jake Kovco.

Yesterday, in the US, Bully Boy met with Shi'ite Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and appeared to offer a 'strategy' that Robert Knight (
KPFA's Flashpoints) called addressing death squads with . . . death squads. Dilip Hiro (Guardian of London) sees the meet up with the Bully Boy as an attempt to divide Shias (and neutralize Sadr). On The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Sandra Lupien noted that "al-Hakim said the only way to stave off civil war in Iraq is for US forces to strike harder against Sunni-led resistance fighters" and that his organization fought on the side of Iran in the 80s Iraq-Iran war. Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) reports that al-Hakim "remarked last week that if Iraq deteriorated into civil war, Sunni Arabs would be the 'biggest losers' -- a comment that was widely interpreted as a veiled threat to Sunnis." Divide and conquer has worked so well for the US administration -- oops!, it hasn't. It's resulted in a civil war in Iraq.