Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Elizabeth de la Vega, Marjorie Cohn, more

Wednesday! I have been so hungry today and had no time to eat. I got home and threw some popcorn in the microwave. (Everyone's out tonight. Some church thing.) I'm just scarfing it down. I am a real grouch when I get hungry. (I know that because everyone always tells me that! :D) But I had a paper due and I wanted to redo the conclusion before class and I also had a test and it was just rush, rush, run, run all day. I was going to get a Snicker and even put my money in the machine but nothing. The machine eat my money. And what's with that refund nonsense? I think you should be able to get a refund on site, not "Call this number blah blah blah." That's the short version, if you were on campus with me today you would have heard ROAR ROAR ROAR! :D

As soon as I get done blogging, I'm going to the kitchen and making some sandwiches. Like six or seven! :D

By the way, I hate listening online, streams drop out and all that crap. But C.I.'s got a link to a Jane Fonda interview in the snapshot and I'm trying to download that. It's like 13.5 MB and it is downloading s-o-o-o slow!!!!! Roar!

It's also slowing everything else down. C.I. was really nice and sent me a drive. It's to burn stuff. My computer, be prepared to be shocked, doesn't have a drive to save things on -- not a diskette drive and not a disc drive. I've got a CD drive and a DVD drive but they don't burn. So C.I. got me a drive (I didn't ask, honest) thinking that if I'd put some of my papers and notes for school on disc, my computer would move quicker and also because if I ever crash, I could lose everything. That arrived Monday in the mail but I haven't had time to install it yet because I've been studying for the test (the one I took today) and also finishing up my paper (that I turned in today). I have some MP3s that I'll also take off my hard drive after I burn them onto a disc. 13.8 MB and still the interview is downloading!

So the Show Boat Express announced today he wants to be president. Is anyone surprised? He spent all of 2004 kissing Bully Boy's ass and that was all about this run. I think he's too angry, not too old, but too angry to be president. John McCain's always exploding and snarling. He's like Dick Cheney's twin brother.

One thing that I'm wondering about lately is what is the Scooter jury doing? Today was day six of their deliberations. A quick verdict is supposed to be good for the defense so hopefully this means Scooter will do some time.

Don't tell Elaine, but I just found out I must be gay. In fact, you may be too. At least according to Michael Savage. This is from Media Matters' "Savage on Media Matters: 'a gay website that attacks me every day' :"

On the February 27 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage responded to a Media Matters for America item that quoted him saying: "I don't like a woman married to a woman. It makes me want to puke. ... I think it's child abuse." In his response, Savage said, "I don't know why they're attacking me for what I believe in," and added, "I stick by every word I wrote." Savage, although reading directly from the Media Matters item, did not refer to Media Matters by name, calling it instead "a gay website that attacks me every day." On his January 30 show, Savage vowed, "I'm not even going to read [Media Matters'] name anymore."
As Media Matters has documented, Savage has repeatedly
claimed that Media Matters has an "obsession" with him and has referred to Media Matters as "a group of swine."
The Savage Nation reaches more than 8 million listeners each week, according to
Talkers Magazine, making it the third most-listened-to talk radio show in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show. The Creative Artists Agency, one of the world's leading talent and literary agencies, recently announced that it had signed Savage for "representation in all areas," including television and film.

I didn't realize that it was a "gay" website. :D Thank goodness we have a smart fellow like that Michael Savage to help us on that one!

Okay, now to get serious. Impeach the Bully Boy, Impeach Cheney! Impeach! Impeach! Impeach! This is from Elizabeth de la Vega's "Public Misconduct: A Call to Investigate All of the President's Men:"

Last week, apparently belatedly realizing the obvious -- that the attack on former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame was a White House family affair -- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called for the administration to come clean. Bush and Cheney owe "the American people a candid explanation" of their conduct with regard to the leaking of Plame's identity as a CIA agent, Kristof insisted.
If, after observing this administration for over six years, Nicholas Kristof thinks that the President and Vice President are going to suddenly be overcome by conscience and tell all because he has put his foot down, then Nicholas Kristof is downright adorable.
The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was merely a snapshot view of this administration in daily action; but incomplete as it was, it nevertheless starkly revealed what many had known all along: that the most powerful officials in the United States government -- including, but not limited to, the Vice President, the Vice President's Chief of Staff, the Deputy Secretary of State, the President's Press Secretary, the President's Chief of Staff, and, yes, the President himself -- had responded to the barrage of criticism being aimed at their fictitious case for war in the spring and summer of 2003 by focusing their sights on a man and woman who had devoted their lives to public service.
Such people -- those who will use the highest offices of the United States government to protect themselves and their prospects for reelection by whatever means they deem necessary, regardless of the damage they leave in their wake -- are not going to confess to anything…ever.
Indeed, in answer to
questions from a reporter about this very issue on February 14, President Bush explained helpfully, "I'm not going to talk about any of it." We will surely all expire if we hold our collective breath waiting for the President to change his mind about this (or anything else, for that matter). Fortunately, we do not need to hear what Bush and Cheney have to say about "it" right now.
Nor do we have to wait for the outcome of any further investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, even though it is entirely possible he and his eminently capable prosecutors Peter Zeidenberg, Debra Bonamici, and the rest of their team will continue to explore possible criminal activity on the part of Vice President Cheney and others. A continued investigation would, in fact, be both appropriate and warranted, given the abundant evidence of Cheney's wrongdoing.

We wrote about Elizabeth de la Vega's appearance on Laura Flanders in "If he exceeds his reach, you must impeach" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). I really enjoyed her book. We've been waiting and waiting to note the impeachment books (mainly because I'm a slow reader!) and finally did in this. It wasn't a roundtable but we've got so much still to note, this long list, and C.I. was saying, "We're going to have to scrap this list." I understand that. I hope we don't. But I was way behind during the last semester because it was so rough. But my picks for the impeachment books to read are (in this order): Center for Constitutional Rights' Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, Elizabeth de la Vega's United States v. George W. Bush et al., and Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office. No offense to the other books, but those are the ones that really spoke to me.

One more highlight, from the National Lawyers Guild's president Marjorie Cohn's "Why the Boumediene Case Was Wrongly Decided:"

Last week, in Boumediene v. Bush, two judges on a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that strips the rights of all Guantanamo detainees to have their habeas corpus petitions heard by U.S. federal courts. If that decision is left to stand, the men and boys detained at Guantanamo can be held there for the rest of their lives without ever having a federal judge determine the legality of their detention. In my opinion, this appellate decision will likely be overturned by the Supreme Court next term.
A little background:
In November 2001, President Bush established Military Commissions to try non-citizens accused of war crimes.
In June 2004, the Supreme Court decided Rasul v. Bush, which upheld the right of those detained at Guantánamo to have their petitions for habeas corpus heard by U.S. courts, under the federal habeas statute.
The ink was barely dry on Rasul when Bush created the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, ostensibly to comply with the Rasul ruling. But, as I will explain, setting up these tribunals was really an end-run around Rasul. They were established to determine whether a detainee is an unlawful enemy combatant. They are not criminal courts, like the military commissions.
On December 31, 2005, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which included the famous McCain "anti-torture" amendment. But it also stripped habeas corpus rights from Guantánamo detainees who had not already filed habeas petitions before December 31, 2005. Some 200 detainees had pending petitions.
At the end of last term, the Supreme Court struck down Bush's military commissions in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld because they did not comply with due process guarantees in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.
Then, in October of last year, in another end run, this time around Hamdan, Bush rammed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 through a Congress terrified of appearing soft on terror in the upcoming midterm elections. The Act does many things, but it notably strips statutory habeas corpus rights from all Guantánamo detainees, even those whose petitions were pending on December 31, 2005.
The two-judge majority in Boumediene upheld the Military Commissions Act's stripping of statutory habeas jurisdiction that the Supreme Court had recognized in Rasul. (Congress had passed the original habeas statute, and amended it in the Military Commissions Act). The Boumediene decision found the Act's elimination of habeas to be constitutional.
Art. I of the Constitution contains the Suspension Clause, which says that Congress can suspend the right of habeas corpus only in times of rebellion or invasion when the public safety may require it. As the dissenter in Boumediene pointed out, Congress has only suspended habeas corpus four times before, and made findings of rebellion or invasion in each case. We are not now in a state of invasion or rebellion, and Congress did not make such a finding.

That's another reason to impeach Bully Boy and Cheney, Guantanamo. They've disgraced the nation and broken the law over and over again. Yesterday, Kat's "Walter Cronkite, Tariq Ali" wondered what people knew if they were too young to remember Walter Cronkite or if he was off as anchor before they were born. That's me! :D I couldn't tell you what he looked like, or sounded like. But I do have this sense of him being trusted and supposed to be a real anchor and not just a prompter reader. So that's really all I know. I'm going to post this, make some sandwiches, and listen to the Jane Fonda interview. It's 14.6 MB. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, February 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; wounded US service members get targeted by the US administartion; Dems in Congress play "hot potato" with the war (and don't seem to grasp that they'll end up holding it); and US war resister Joshua Key declares, "Iraq is a country and it's going to have to make its own path in history and its own way in life. No other country can do that and you definitely can't do that by means of a gun or a tank. But they have to make their own course and do whatever's necessary for themselves. I think that no outsiders are going to help it or solve the problem."

Starting with news of petty retaliation which, after all, is the Bully Boy's M.O. as demonstrated for the last seven years (if not sooner.) As noted by Aaron Glants today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Kelly Kennedy (Army Times) is reporting that Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Medical Hold Unit patients are being "told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media" in what is widely seen as a punishment for the recent Washington Post expose on the deplorable conditions at what is supposed to be the United States top facility for military medical care. In addition, Kennedy reports, the soldiers receiving medical care were informed that will move from Building 18 into Building 14 and, just happenstance -- surely, unlike Building 18, Building 14 requires that "reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel."

In a
series of articles that concluded last week, Dana Priest and Anne Hull (Washington Post) examined the realities behind the image of the 'premier medical center' -- focusing largely on Building 18, and revealed problems such as cockroach infestation, lack of heat, lack of water, mice and black mold, clerks that were overworked or didn't care. The answer for the US administration when confronted with reality is apparently the same answer they always reach for "DESTROY." Joe Wilson goes public about Niger, out Valerie Plame (his deep cover CIA wife). Soldiers talk to the press about the deplorable conditions that the administration is fine with them living in? Punish the soldiers.

The Bully Boy who loves strut around in uniforms (with or without codpieces) is far less willing to do anything to actually help the soldiers wounded in his illegal war and the administration's answer to the Walter Reed scandal is to punish the troops with daily inspections and other idiotic chores WHILE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RECEIVING MEDICAL CARE FOR THEIR WOUNDS.

Turning to news of war resisters,
Tina Chau (Hawaii's KMGB9) reports that Ehren Watada's court-martil has been set for July 16-20 and that the "pre-trial motions are to be heard on May 20 and 21." In June, Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. In August of last year, the military held an Article 32 hearing at Fort Lewis to determine whether or not to go forward with a court-martial. At the start of this month, the court-martial of Watada began and ran for three days -- on the third day, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) ruled a mistrial over the objections of the defense (and initially without even the prosecution in support of a mistrial). Eric Seitz, Watada's civilian attorney, has maintained that the double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution now applies and that he will appeal any attempts to court-martial on that basis.

Lehia Apana (The Maui News) reports that Ehren Watada's father Bob and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi were at the Maui Community College Library on Monday where Bob spoke to "an energetic crowd" of at least 75 people about his son and how "he believes the judge realized his son had a chance of being acquitted of the charges and therefore forced the prosecution to request a mistrial."

Last Friday the military re-filed charges against Watada, the day prior, as
Conor Reed and Steve Leigh (Socialist Worker) observe was Mark Wilkerson's court-martial and that he issued a statement, "My Conscience is Clear," at his website:

I am now a twenty three year old man. When I made the decision to join the Army, I was a boy. When I made the decision to go AWOL I was still in many ways a boy.I realize in retrospect that going AWOL may not have been the right decision for me to make, but given the circumstances I found myself in at that time, I felt it was the only logical decision for me. I felt as though I wasn't being taken seriously by my chain-of-command. I was crushed when my conscientious objector application was denied. I had failed somehow in conveying in words just what I felt in my head and heart, and that was that I could not, in good conscience, serve as a soldier in the United States Army. I could not deploy to a foreign land with a weapon in my hand, representing my government. I am not willing to kill, or be killed for my government. When I enlisted in the Army, I thought I would be able to, but after Iraq, my beliefs became such that I could no longer participate.This was what I told my chain-of-command. I felt they didn't care what I said or believed. So I fled. I quit my job. No other occupation in the United States punishes you as badly as what the military does for quitting your job. But that's ok. I'm willing to face whatever punishment the government deems appropriate.In my Battalion's Retention Office, there is a quote by Retired Army General Bernard Rogers, and it states "This is a volunteer force. Soldiers volunteer to meet our standards. If they don't meet them, we should thank them for trying and send them home." Well, I enlisted into the Army with the best intentions. I had other options. But I wanted to serve my country. And when I felt my country was doing the very thing we pretend to condone, I took a stand. And to me that is the core of democracy. If the Army feels as though I didn't meet the standards, they should thank me for trying and send me home. There's no lesson prison can teach me. Prison is established for criminals who committed crimes that the majority of our society can say in morally wrong. And with this crime, I don't know if that can be said. Even though I committed a crime, I'm no criminal. And even if I do go to prison, I'm no longer a prisoner. My conscience is clear. I'm no menace to society. I have stayed true to myself and my moral code throughout my life, and that will never change. Just let me live my life, and I know I will live it well.

Susan Van Haitsma (CounterPunch) shares some of her encounters with Wilkerson and observations before concluding: "Mark wanted to help his country, but his country betrayed him. His country capitalized on his honorable intentions, gave him false promises, fed him misinformation, used him to carry out inhumane missions, caused him psychological injury and then punished him by making him an object lesson for his fellow GI's. In fact, Mark is an example of the best kind, for all of us. In the same courtroom where soldiers were sentenced for harming Abu Ghraib prisoners, Mark was sentenced for refusing to harm."

Wilkerson is scheduled to be released in September; however, the judge could release him earlier. Going before a judge Tuesday, March 6th in Germany is war resister
Agustin Aguayo. Workers World notes that he is "charged with desertion and missing movement because of his refusal to go to Iraq." Though not etched in stone, the military has generally attempted to use desertion charges for those who were absent without leave for a month or more. In Aguayo's case, they've elected to toss that (Aguayo was gone from September 2nd through September 26th). Gillian Russom (Socialist Worker) spoke with Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, about his case, his feelings about the war, her own and much more. Agustin was a medica and he joined the military to support his family and to help people (he and his wife have two young daughters). Helga explained to Russom that, for her, it was seeing the experiences of military families that made her start questioning the war -- the creation of "geographical single mothers" -- and that for her husband, a book on Iraq's history took him from conscientious objector to the belief "that the war in Iraq has essentially been created of the personal gain of a few people." Helga also notes that her husband saw Sir! No Sir! and "it just revved him up for what he knew he might have to face." He's facing? Agustin Aguayo could be sentenced to as many as seven years in prison if convicted during his court-martial because the military is going for desertion. Why go for desertion?

Aguayo and
Kyle Snyder both were screwed over by the military in different ways and they were among the last ones going public. (Snyder is back in Canada.) Tossing aside the rule of thumb re: desertion to charge Aguayo with that is considered as part of an effort by the military to clamp down on the growing movement.

Aguayo, Watada, Wilkerson and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard 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.

Joshua Key, war resister and author of the new book
The Deserter's Tale, speaks with Christina Leadlay (Canada's Embassy Book Review) and notes that the passport requirement for travel back and forth between the US and Canada "would deter a lot of people [who] don't have passports, and if you're on the run and a deserter from the military, you're not going to be able to gain that passport." Joshua, his wife Brandi and their children went to Canada after Key returned from Iraq. There, he has sought refugee status and is currently appealing the denial of asylum. Key describes his decision to join the military as part of "the military's poverty draft" telling Leadlay: "You're stuck. You have no money. There is no other choice. If you want health care, if you want steady pay, and if you're even considering going to college, the [military] billboards pretty well offer it to you. When I joined there was not a wealthy person in the entire operation. I'd never seen a rich person in the military. I'd never seen a politican's son; I'd never seen anybody with any stature. We were all the same . . . coming from places that most people wouldn't even hear of, small towns, farms boys, and you're just looking for a way out."

Key's statements jibe with the study
Kimberly Hefling (AP) reported on last week -- the communities in America that are most directly effected by the US military death toll in Iraq -- almost half of the dead are "from towns . . . where fewer than 25,000 people live" and that "nearly three quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average."

Sir! No Sir!, noted above, is a study of resistance within the military during the Vietnam era. The amazing documentary, directed by David Zeiger, was recently re-released in a special director's cut version with additional bonus features. In addition, (audio link) DJ Dave Rabbitt interviews Jane Fonda here. DJ Dave Rabbitt, along with Pete Sadler and Nguyen, operated an underground radio station (Radio First Termer) while serving in Vietnam. (He also acts as the dee jay for the soundtrack to Sir! No Sir!)

Returning to Minority Rights Group International
(PDF format) report Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003," we'll note that it examines the abuses minorities in Iraq are suffering. Yesterday, we focused on women. Today, we'll note that the religious and ethnic minoirites (who "make up about 10 percent of the Iraqi population") include Armenians, Baha'is, Chald-Assyrians, Fali Kurds, Jews, Mandaens, Palestinians, Shabaks, Turkomans and Yazidis.

A table on page 12 of the report charts the diminishing Mandaean population in Iraq by looking at the figures for April 2003 and the figures for April 2006. In 2003, 1600 families lived in Baghdad and three years later the figure had dropped to 150. Though that was the largest drop, the Mandaen population diminished in all areas -- Baquba (from 200 families to 40), Diwaniya (from 400 to 62), Kirkuk (from 250 to 75), Kut (from 400 to 65), Missan (from 900 to 300), Nasriya (from 950 to 320) and Ramadi (from 275 to 75). The report notes that "Mandaen or Sabian religion is one of the oldest surviving Gnostic religions in the world and dates back to the Mesopotamian civilisation. John the Baptist is its central prophet and water and access to naturally flowing water remain essential for the practice of the faith. Scholars believes the religion pre-dates the time of John the Baptist, however, and is has a similar creation myth to the Judeao-Christian Adam and Eve story." The report also notes that the Mandaen language has been "listed in the 2006 UNESCO Atlast of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing" and that their faith does not allow them to carry weapons and "forbids the use of violence". The report traces a similar disappearance of Jewish people noting that in 2003 there were "a few hundred" Jews in Baghdad, by 2005, the number had dropped to only 20 and that by 2006 there were only 15 Jews living in Baghdad (most assumed to be "older than 70" years-old).

And in Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes a mortar attack in southwestern Baghdad that left nine wounded, a car bobm in southern Baghdad ("near a vegetable market") that killed 10 people and left 21 wounded, a bomb attack on a Baghdad police station that killed 2 police officers and left two more wounded, a roadside bombing in Riyadh that wounded four Iraqi troops, a mortar attack in Iskandariya that killed a woman and a man, and a mortar attack in Mahmudiya that killed one person and left four members "from the same family" wounded.


CNN reports: "Two brothers of a prominent Sunni politician were shot and killed Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party said in a statement. Salim al-Joubori's brothers were killed in Muqdadiya, north of Baghdad. Al-Joubori is a member of parliament and spokesman for the Iraqi Accord Front, Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab political bloc." Reuters notes a man shot dead ("inside his car") in Tikrit, and the shooting death of Abdul-Haid Mahmoud in Mosul. CBS and AP report that, in Taji, "Eight people died when American helicopters and fighter planes fired on a palm grove".


Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Himreen, and the corpse "of a police colonel who had been kidnapped two months ago" discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
British Ministry of Defence announced "the death of a British soldiers in Iraq as a result of an incindent on the morning of 27 February 2007."

Dahr Jamail spoke with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints on a number of topics (click here for Rebecca's summary) and on the violence and the oil law, he stated, "I absolutely find no evidence on the ground to support that statement that this oil law is going to unite Iraq or anything like that. I think it's just blatant propaganda that would go along with the signing of this legislation that is really, the approval of the draff of the oil law essentially which has basically paved the way for western oil companies to finally get their hands on Iraq's oil which is what this has been about or one of the primary reasons the invasion was launched to begin with and so the corporate media, outlets like National Public Radio -- you know the joke on the ground with me and many of my colleagues from the United States who were operating in Baghdad was we would call it 'National Petroleum Radio' or 'National Pentagon Radio' because their reporters always love to embed I saw them ebedded in places like Falluja or in Baghdad, on more than one occassion -- and so that they're now issuing this propaganda that I'm sure would make the Pentagon very happy and of course the US State Department and the Bush administration and the corporations that support them saying that this is a very good thing, a positive thing. It's another way to put a spin on the occupation just like the transfer of soveriegnty on June 28, 2004 was a 'positive' thing, just like the Jan. 30, 2005 'elections' were a positive thing. And we all know, those of us with pulses, where those events have taken us today."

As all the above goes down,
Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that, in the US House of Representatives, "Democratic leaders are developing an anti-war proposal that wouldn't cut off money for U.S. troops in Iraq but would require President Bush to acknowledge problems with an overburdended military. The plan could draw bipartisan support but is expected to be a tough sell to members who say they don't think it goes far enough to assuage voters angered by the four-year conflict." Dana Bash (CNN) reports that efforts continue "to bridge differences within the [Democratic] party after backwing away from legislation that would set condictions on war funding." That would be US House Rep John Murtha's proposal. Bash quotes Yawn Emmanuel making his usual self-serving statements and notes that the Senate's 'bravely' (my mock, not Bash's) decided to postpone debating anything "for at least two weeks." (Insert joke about Bully Boy being "The Decider" here.) Yesterday, US Senator Russ Feingold issued the following statement:

I am working to fix the new proposal drafted by several Senate Democrats, which at this point basically reads like a new authorization. I will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq. Deauthorizing the President's failed Iraq policy may be an appropriate next step if done right, but the ultimate goal needs to be using our Constitutionally-granted power of the purse to bring this catastrophe to an end.

With few exceptions, including Feingold, the Democrats holding Congressional office appear more than willing to take Bully Boy's war and make it their own which is what they do as they rush to grab cover and refuse to call out an illegal war. Meanwhile,
Larry Kaplow (Cox News Service) reports that a "public affairs guidance" note was "sent to units in Iraq from the Baghdad command" which includes generic talking points created by the Pentagon which may also be controlling the Democratic Party judging by their own generic talking points. Meanwhile Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that there is no backing away from the Murtha plan but don't pin your hopes on it, Yawn Emanuel shows up to offer more talking points. Jill Zuckman and Aamer Madhani (Chicago Tribune) may call it best: "Democrats in the House and Senate are struggling to find the best way to express congressional disapproval of the war and President Bush's troop buildup. They are wary both of going too far and not going far enough" -- "wary being the key word.

Finally, in policy news,
Jake Tapper (ABC News) reports that when US House Rep Marty Meehan "introduces legislation to overturn the ban on openly gay and lesbian troops serving in the military," he will be joined by Eric Alva (a Staff Sgt. "first U.S. Marine seriously wounded in Iraq" -- March 21, 2003) who is now openly gay.

Alva tells Jose Antonio Vargas (Washington Post): "The truth is, something's wrong with this ban. I have to say something. I mean you're asking men and women to lie about their orientation, to keep their personal lives private [. . .] That's one fact. The other factor is, we're losing probably thousands of men and women that are skilled at certain types of jobs, from air traffic controllers to linguists, because of this broken policy."

agustin aguayo