Friday, January 19, 2007

Help Wanted: The Nation's in need of direction

Friday at last! Hope everyone's excited.

I asked C.I. about something and I wanted to put it up here because Leigh Ann had e-mailed me about it. "And the war drags on" last night has some strong comments by Micah (all of which I agree with). Leigh Ann wondered if C.I. was irritated by them? There's a section missing from that entry. It was on another topic. Someone else's opinion (which also agreed with Micah) but C.I. couldn't remember if those were to be shared so C.I. e-mailed the person back while waiting to post and didn't hear back in time. That got pulled for that reason. No, C.I. wasn't ticked off at Micah or at Micah's comments. Micah wanted them up and C.I. notes that Micah called the time of death on The Village Voice (Micah's basically calling the time of death on The Nation) in the entry.

Here's Micah's comments on The Nation, it's:

crap and I'd say worse but I know you'd edit me. It's crap. Who has the power? We do. But what crap are they pushing off on readers again? 'Plead and wait for a savior!' They're the most useless, cowardly piece of crap on the left. While they stay silent on Ehren, they do offer up a look at the monies spent on college sports. Where is the leadership at that magazine? It has gone down the toilet each year. It is an embarrassment to the left that this is our magazine with the highest circulation. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to step down as editor immediately because she has led that magazine into Crap City. It won't address the war in it's pages, it won't cover Ehren, it's the most useless crap in the world and I'm as sick of her inspirational sermons as I am the photo of her on her blog. I think Rebecca made this point but only an idiot, when the country was going to hell, would waste everyone's time with "Sweet Victories" columns. If she wants to be a romance writer or Marianne Williams, I urge her to go do it. Just quit the magazine before you destroy it any more. The magazine will not do a story on Ehren, that thing [sidebar] wasn't a story, but they'll tell you about the sports rackets at colleges. I've had it with vanden Heuvel and her inept leadership. I've had it with the touchy-feely crap. I've had it with the useless articles and the useless editorials. If you're not a Democrat in Congress, the magazine's not written for you. I'm 24 years-old, I don't need to know who's the cutest is Congress or this other Tiger Beat crap. It's an immature, cowardly magazine and that has happened as she has taken over. Katrina vanden Heuvel needs to go. Her immaturity and lack of courage shines through every page of the magazine.

I couldn't agree more. Did they ever correct the factually challenged Christopher Hayes (he basically called John Kerry racist and cited Kerry's DNC speech -- only problem is, that quote is not in John Kerry's DNC speech -- Hayes is quoting an ad for Iowa, we covered this weeks ago at The Third Estate Sunday Review)?

I blame Katrina vanden Heuvel as well. Rebecca's mother-in-law hates her and says C.I. would as well if C.I. "didn't always stick up for the underdog." She and her husband and one of Flyboy's brothers and his wife were over tonight because she said we should get together for a study group while Rebecca's not able to go to the one at my house. She said, Rebecca's mother-in-law, that Katrina vanden Heuvel lacks the strength and guts to run a magazine and what's happening is that the sort of rejects (like Christopher Hayes but he's not the only one) who migrated slowly to The New Republic(an) before it went completely in the toilet are coming to The Nation. She says it's because Katrina has no focus. (I should point out that she hates her and hates her personally. She knows the woman.) (I should also point out that C.I. knows Katrina vanden Heuvel and likes her. So opinions may vary.) She says Katrina's always had an "immature mind so no one was surprised when the marriage took place" and that it's like a humming bird, darting here and there and never landing. Elaine and I have both noted how the magazine tries to turn everyone into a Democrat and Rebecca's mother-in-law was talking about how that went to Katrina and is the biggest "character flaw of a woman who never knew how to stand up for anything."

She's sure that a thing C.I. wrote this year referred to others as well, how they wouldn't stand up for Ehren Watada because they'd had every blow cushioned in life, but she said it applies to Katrina as well and she printed that up and showed it to friends throughout Conn. "where we all had loud, repeated laughs." Micah should talk to her because she holds Katrina more responsible than even Micah does.

She was talking about how cowardice and the easy path were what she saw Katrina's entire life being (except for the tacky public moment that she says even C.I., if pressed hard, would have to agree was tacky and embarrassing to the entire family). She said outside of the fact that Katrina's considered slow by most in her set, the other thing they laugh the loudest about are her "Tobacco tales" meaning when Katrina tries to prove how "real" she is by sharing tales of visiting her in-laws.

I'm writing about this because Rebecca said if she wrote about it, she knows C.I. would be furious. Elaine's already noted she doesn't care for Katrina (she only knew the woman when she was a child and Elaine would say "didn't really know her then"). Rebecca's mother-in-law says Katrina makes those visits sound like she traveled to "Tobacco Road" and had to use an outhouse and that everyone laughs at them behind Katrina's back.

I thought (and even asked), "Should I feel sorry for her?"

Rebecca's mother-in-law said no because "she's gone from useless to damaging." (C.I. knows that Rebecca's mother-in-law loathes Katrina. Rebecca's mother-in-law is an old family friend of C.I.'s family.) She feels that everyone bent over backwards to prop Katrina up and it's time for people to be honest about what a dive The Nation has taken. (She said I could put all this up but asked to read it first because she knows some things would result in a call from C.I. asking, "Do you think you maybe crossed the line?" So if you think there are strong words here, you have no idea what I'm leaving out.)

She's been after Rebecca to write about this for weeks and weeks but Rebecca said, "C.I. would be so mad at me." I asked, "Would C.I. be mad at me?" Rebecca, her mother-in-law and Elaine all agreed that I could write it and C.I. would just "roll the eyes." :D I'm like a puppy. :D Elaine bit her tongue in "How The Nation isn't cutting it" because she knew C.I. would be upset.

If you're wondering why I'm writing about, read Micah's comments. This shit is damaging the efforts to end the war. Today you got Prissy Chris Hayes whining about an e-mail smear against Obama but you don't have one damn word up about Ehren Watada. Obama is a US Senator. That's The Nation today. Rushing to defend (and kiss ass) the powerful and abandoning the people who need help.

So as this happens over and over, as The Nation continues to ignore war resisters over and over, the question has to be why? Katrina calls the shots so maybe people should ask her. (I'd love to put in so much more right here!)

They need to ask her. They need to demand that she step up to the plate or she step down. The Nation is becoming useless. Even C.I. will state that much. We're hoping to do a roundtable on the peace movement at The Third Estate Sunday Review this week and if we do, I will these points because there is no direction to the magazine (unless cowardice counts as a direction) and it's time to start calling out the people who prolong the war by being cowards.
But, as Rebecca's mother-in-law pointed out, with the circulation losses, The Nation probably won't be the left magazine with the highest circulation for much longer.

Oh, one thing she said to put in, The Nation cruise -- what an embarrassment. "In WWII, on the homefront we made do with much less. The Nation's summer cruises suggest the country's not at war and are just the sort of social emphasis as opposed to real activity that has been a hallmark of Katrina vanden Heuvel."

I'll also include something else she wanted noted, C.I. didn't have blows cushioned. C.I. could have taken the easy road but instead refused to. Rebecca was "Amen"ing that noting all the times C.I. was offered bribes (from parents) in college just to switch to a journalism major. Elaine said to toss in that one reason she chooses the causes she gives to carefully is because C.I. gave away everything and started from scratch at a time when the left was supposedly going to change the world. "A lot of people talked big but all they did was repeat what the ones they were railing against did." I was kind of surprised by that because I didn't know C.I. then (wasn't even born probably) and I just know the C.I. that doesn't have to worry about money today. Rebecca says all of that was earned from scratch and "no one cushioned blows for C.I." I knew C.I. was active and had heard some of the bribe stories from college (C.I. worked through college and didn't have to, all it would have taken was saying, "Okay, I'll major in journalism" and everything would have paid for) so, even though I already respected C.I., I really had this huge increase in respect.

And when C.I. took care of my college tuition, C.I. never told those stories just said that I should accept it and it wasn't worth getting into debt to get a degree if I had another alternative. I'll say thank you again and bet this is the thing that I will hear about from this entry -- the thing C.I. will complain to me about. But I do appreciate that. That wasn't just nice. My brother is the perfect example of that with all his student loans debts. That would be me six months after I got my degree too (that's when the grace period expires) but C.I. took care of all of that for me and I am very grateful.

All I knew was C.I. busted ass in college working two to three jobs each semester, getting good grades (Rebecca says "amazing grades") and being active on campus (in just about every organization and at all of these protests). And I just kind of assumed that after getting the masters, money was never again a problem. (That will be the other thing C.I. may gripe about. C.I. never says "I have a masters" -- it's always just "college.") So to build up something and be so committed to change that you basically give away everything just amazes me.

I don't think I'd do that. (Elaine didn't. She said she loves C.I. for that but the whole time she was saying, "They aren't going to change anything. They just want to be the 'insiders.'") C.I.'s attitude was "I can always make more" and C.I. proved that.

So you've got two people with breaks, C.I. and Katrina. One works to change things and the other writes about iPhones? One goes around the country speaking not to promote a product but to raise awareness and the other can't even write about war resisters?

One gave away money to the cause and the other writes about economic justice despite a very high profile legal battle. (That was longer but Rebecca's mother-in-law said if I didn't edit that reference down, she would get a call from C.I.) One's genuine and the other is paralyzed by what people might think. One has 'social standing on their own and the other gets in on a grandparent and a questionable father." (Rebecca's mother-in-law told me to put that.)

So Katrina vanden Heuvel isn't cutting it. She's made her way on the money of others and she's given nothing back but token 'inspiration.' She needs to step up to the plate or step away from The Nation. One more thing Rebecca's mother-in-law told me I could put in after she read over this was, "School girl crushes do not make for fascinating reading and adults, stunted or not, look silly when they continue to write like school girls."

So if The Nation doesn't do a major change, don't be surprised in ten years when it's The New Republic(an). And you can blame Katrina vanden Heuvel for that.

(I will add in here that C.I., if asked for comment, would probably provide many strong comments about Katrina vanden Heuvel's abilities. And C.I. does know her so they might be accurate.)

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I was joking about that because it was written really quick (C.I., Ava and Jess were on campus and people kept coming up while C.I. was trying to write the snapshot to talk about Iraq) it's a "partial snapshot". C.I. said, "I can go back in and fix it." I think it's fine the way it is:

Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt) University of Illinois-Chicago Contact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,

*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty) Busboys and Poets