Okay, so East Texas today. What was it like? This was what I expected Texas to look like. Lots of wide open spaces. At one point, I think this was between Tyler and Longview or Tyler and Kilgore or somewhere! At one point, there was this train car we passed that had been turned into a food place. That was pretty cool. :D What else? Lots of cows. Okay, I knew they had to be keeping the cows somewhere! :D There were black top roads and dirt roads and it was like, "This is what I thought Texas would look!" They've got cities and a lot of other stuff and all but East Texas was more the way I pictured it. I-20 is interstate and you can drive along that and just see cows and all this land and land it's really pretty cool. And does every town have a Dairy Queen? :D I had a blizzard, a hamburger and fries. :D
The other big thing, and it seemed like there were almost as many of these as DQs, was a grocery store called "Brookshires." Now how would you pronounce that? I thought brook-shiiires, with the long "i." But they pronouce it brook-sheers.
Trying to think what else? Did I mention it was cooler? I'm not sure if that's cause it was "East" Texas or if it was just a cooler day. Oh, they call it the Piney Ridge or something like that. Because it's got trees and stuff. And you can tell when you leave East Texas because you do stop seeing the trees and all.
Oh, they also have some oil wells. In Kilgore, they even have an oil museum.
One thing I really got was what community members always talk about, how you've got to drive. You really do. Like if you live in a small town, you probably don't work there (most small towns don't have a lot of companies), so you've got to drive. They spend a lot of time in their cars and the public transportation in East Texas may just be Tyler and Longview. You really need wheels if you live in East Texas. So I get now about how they spend so much time in their cars. Like you might drive an hour just to see a movie. Like if you wanted to see The Shooter and lived in a small town, you'd have to drive to Longview or Tyler and that could take an hour. And those are the only places with malls. Most of the towns have Wal-Marts. I'm not a fan of Wal-Marts but I don't blame anyone who shops in them in small towns because if you need something at the last minute that's the only thing you've got unless you want to drive an hour. Like the Brookshires close at nine-thirty. After that it's gas stations or Wal-Mart.
I asked a lot of people my age what they did for fun and stuff and they'd usually talk about "the loop." Seems like all the towns have this area that you drive around on the weekend. So, there's another reason you need a car. If I understood right, everyone gathers in a parking lot of some place and you park there and talk and stuff.
The other big thing I noticed was how 'hilly' it was, it's all like up and down. Like there are flat areas but it seems like you leave that and you're higher or lower, like rolling. It's really green.
So that's some of it. Now for my big news, rode a horse. Rode a horse in Texas. :D My things to do list is complete. It was a "quarter horse" and that doesn't mean it was all grown! :D It's a kind of horse. It had a reddish brown mane (that's the hair fringe on top) and like a white diamon on its forehead. C.I. made me go over the basics over and over because, "As soon as you get going, you're going to want to race and then you're going to be thinking, 'Now how do I stop?'" :D So I reviewed the basics and then did just like C.I. said. I was galloping all over the place. Clicking to get her to go faster. This was my second time riding a horse (I also got to ride in California) but this was my first time really just cutting loose. It was a lot of fun. When you're galloping it's like Bump-Ba-Bump. They put their legs out and it's like they're leaping.
So that was a lot of fun and the whole thing's been a lot of fun. I really am enjoying this trip. I'm enjoying getting to see Texas, hanging out with everybody, talking about Iraq, listening, all of it. I'm taking so many pictures and I'll put some of them in my column for Polly's Brew this Sunday.
Okay, there's an action this weekend and you can find out about it in Sunsara Taylor's "The Democrats and Iran:"
You could close your eyes and pretend it isn't happening.
Pretend that the new Democratic Congress -- after four years of torture, mass murder and war crimes against the people of Iraq -- didn't just promise the War-Criminal-In-Chief that they would do nothing to stop a new and even more dangerous war against Iran.
Pretend that these same Democrats -- who have sold you out so many times and at the cost of so many lives -- didn't just promise to give the president more money than he even asked for to fight his current wars!
Pretend that somehow history -- and the people of the Middle East -- will forgive you for meeting this news with passivity, silence or at best "protest as usual."
Or you could open your eyes and confront the nightmares engulfing millions of people in the Middle East and endangering people around the world that only people living in this country can bring to a halt.
You can get on a bus, hop on a train, purchase an airline ticket, or pile into a van and get your butt to Washington DC on March 17t to march across the bridge and encircle the Pentagon, on March 17th before the eyes of the world!
Forty years ago, a generation who refused to accept an unjust and murderous war on Vietnam descended on the Pentagon. They looked out at the villages being razed, the children burning alive by napalm, and the blood that would be on their hands if they didn't bring this to a halt and they declared it was time to go "from protest to resistance."
Now, at a time when the Bush regime, with the silence and complicity of the Democrats, are escalating their assault on Iraq and aggressively preparing a new war against Iran, it is wrong not to be at the Pentagon.
It is wrong to hide behind the lie and excuse that "protest doesn't make a difference." It is wrong to despair because "they're not listening to us." And it is wrong to dismiss the real danger of a new war against Iran simply because Bush is having so much trouble in Iraq.
The problem has never been that "protest doesn't work." The problem is that there haven't been nearly enough protests and they haven't been nearly demanding enough.
The campuses across the country have not yet been shut down in massive student strikes demanding an immediate end to the war. The Oscars weren't filled with movie stars and directors giving heart to millions around the world by demanding impeachment right now. The anti-war vets -- while way ahead of most of the movement and of where the Vietnam vets were at this far into the war then -- haven't yet staged their equivalent of the Winter Soldiers testimonials about the war crimes they witnessed or Dewey Canyon protest where the Vietnam Vets threw back their medals. We haven't yet seen this war's Daniel Ellsberg -- someone willing to risk 150 years in prison or more to disclose and disrupt the administration's ability to lie their way into more war. Hundreds of thousands haven't yet, in the words of Cindy Sheehan, "turn[ed] off your TV and carri[ied] a sign or a banner and descend[ed] on the White House as oppressed peasants descending on the castle of the lord of the realm with pitchforks and torches?"
That's going to be it for me. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, March 14, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the puppet teeters, 3 US service members are announced dead, US Congressional Dems see that when you cave in public you don't get a free pass, and guess which Iraqi exile wants to lead again.
Staring with news of war resistance, Joshua Key's book The Deserter's Tale receives a favorable review from Peter Darbyshire (The Vancouver Provence) who concludes it is "a documentary" while War Pornographer Michael Gordon's Cobra II is a "feature film." Considering the estranged relationship with the truth that Gordo's writing has, that pretty much says it all. Key is in Canada with his wife Brandi and his children after self-checking out of the US miliary. Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) draws links between the historic resistance within the military during the Vietnam era and with the resistance today, noting that "more than 20,000 soldiers have gone AWOL". Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty states: "I think there probably are a lot of soldiers who left because they don't want to participate in the war in Iraq. The reason that only a handful have come out publicly is that it's really hard to put yourself in that position. If you come forward, you are exposing yourself to criticism and more extreme punishment from the military. One friend told me that he went AWOL because he didn't want to go to war in Iraq, and when he later turned himself in, he didn't tell anyone that he felt that way."
Joshua Wolf is a part of a movement of resistance within the military tha includes Agustin Aguayo, Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, 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, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.
Yesterday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein again spoke with Tina Richards whose son Cloy has already served two tours of duty in Iraq. Richards: "My son can't face a third tour there. He barely made it home alive after the second tour." Cloy Richards suffers from PTSD. Richards is currently in DC and those wishing to join her or find out more information can click here for her website. She's not sure what her son will do but noted that he might decide to self-check out and due to his medical needs that would mean the threat that he would lose his benefits and health care. Noting the 'actions' of the US Congress on Iraq, Richards stated, "What confuses me is that George Bush's bill was not dead on arrival when it showed up at Congressman [David] Obey's office? Why his supplemental wasn't thrown in the trash and rewritten so that it would really benefit our troops and that it would bring them home. And the fact that they're looking like, that they're acting like they have to work off of President Bush's bill is just wrong. This is what a lot of political analysts have said -- that they can write their own bill."
Bernstein asked her if she felt that elected officials were putting "politics before humanity"? Richards noted that some members of Congress were standing up; however, "there's a lot of other ones that are so disappointing because they are not standing up for what is right but they are working around what is going to make sure that they get a president in '08 and how are they going to increase their majority? And it's coming directly from the leadership of the Democratic Party. And other Congress people have told me, this is being run like a hierarchy, it's not run like a democracy and that to me is just . . . Every single one of those represenatives needs to stand up and represent the people in their district not get told by the leadership of the Democratic party what and how to vote to me any congress that does not stand up to their leadership and speak to truth to power then I just cannot, I don't think that they should be re-elected."
David Swanson (AfterDowningStreet.org) notes: "The House Appropriations Committee is taking up the 'Supplemental' spending bill for the war at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Whatever comes out of that committee will go to the full House for a vote. Please call 202-224-3121 today and ask for your congress member's office. Or find their number" here.
The Congressional Dems refusal to tell Bully Boy he needs authorization to go to war with Iran or to utilize their power of the purse to end the illegal war on Iraq is resulting in some strong commentaries. Linda O'Brien (Common Dreams) observes Congress wouldn't stand up to the Bully Boy in 2003 and won't now and wonders how things would be different if Congress had found their spines in 2003: "A fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl would not have been raped by three or more men, her father, mother and little sister would not have heard her scream from the next room; she would not have heard themb eing murdered and then been raped again, and killed, and set on fire. Cindy Sheehan's life could be about long telephone calls, laughter, arguments, joy and the normal sorrows of loving her child, instead of about spending her life struggling with that empty space in her soul filled with questions that can't be answered -- all the things that will never, ever be right. Tens of thousands of American young and middle aged men and women would spend the rest of their lives walking and seeing and thinking instead of living without legs or arms or memories or brains. Hundreds of thousands -- hundreds of thousands -- of Iraqis, half of them children, would still be alive. Living restricted lives, but alive." John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) feels Congress proposals "are designed to do no more than save face for the Dems and allow them to continue to bash Bush. But the bills will not and cannot end the war. There is but one way for the Democratically controlled Congress to end the war and that is to stop the funding. So far the 'antiwar' Democrats refuse to do that. So they now own the war every bit as much as Bush does."
US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich states: "I have just come from a Democratic Caucus meeting where I raised this issue: Democrats are pushing President Bush's benchmarks in the supplemental as milestones which must be reached by a certain time. One of the first milestones or benchmarks involveds the privatization of Iraqi oil, in the form of passage of a so-called Hydrocarbon law. Democrats are now in a position of legitimatizing the very reason why George Bush took the US to war against Iraq. To grab the oil. Call your Member of Congress now and tell them to not permit the war funding bill to become the vehilce for the privatization of Iraq's oil." The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus have a plan and they presented it some time ago. The Dems in leadership choose to look the other way. Which is at the source of the 'flared tempers' that Julie Hirschfeld Davis (AP) reports on: "Tempers flared on Iraq among Democrats on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fielded criticism from an anti-war congresswoman over liberals' concern that the party is not doing enough to end the war. Pelosi's behind-closed-doors exchange with Rep. Maxine Waters of California -- described as heated by lawmakers and aides who asked not to be identified because of the session's private nature -- came as House leaders made progress in their quest for votes on a war spending that would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2008." Does it do that? The bill needs reauthorization (in August) so it's hard to see how a bill in need of reauthorization in August 2007 can accomplish a 2008 withdrawal.
While the Dems in leadership posts posture and preen, life in Iraq continues as usual.
Reuters notes a car bomb in Baghdad "near an Iraqi army checkpoint" that claimed one life and left four more wounded, a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk that killed one person, a mortar attack in Mosul that killed "a man and his child" and left four wounded, and a bombing in Tux Khurmato that killed 10 and left 15 wounded.
CNN reports: "In Diwaniya, the Shiite provincial capital of the southern Iraqi province of Qadisiya, insurgents Wednesday dragged three Iraqi policemen and shot them. Two of them were killed and one was wounded. Police found the bodies and the inured officer near a canal." CBS and AP report the shooting deaths of "a municipal council chief and three other people . . . in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in Baghdad." Reuters reports, in Baghdad, that Mudhafer al-Ubaidi and a guard were shot dead and al-Ubaidi's on was injured -- al-Ubaid heads the Adhamiya Municipality in Baghdad while, in Mosul, two police officers were shot dead, and, in Kirkuk, a man was shot dead in his story (his brother was kidnapped).
Reuters notes "four decapitated heads" were discovered in Baquba and two corpses were discovered near Falluja.
Today, the US military announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while on a combat patrol in a southern section of the Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding three others." And they announced: "March 13, a MND-B unit struck a roadside bomb while conducting these types of combined security operations in a northeastern section of Iraqi capital, killing one Soldier and wounding another." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Mar. 13 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."
In addition, CBS and AP note: "The head of the local Iraqi Red Screscent Society branch, Jassim al-Jubouri, in Tikrit was abducted by gunmen on Monday night."
Turning to news of the puppet of the occupation. After David Petraeus held Nouri al-Maliki's hand for the helicopter ride to and from Ramadi yesterdy, you might think there's strong support for ht puppet. But AP reports things are far from pretty: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fears the Americans will torpedo his government if parliament does not pass" the Iraqi oil law "by the end of June, close associates of the leader told The Associated Press on Tuesday. . . . Passage of the oil law . . . has become a major issue for the United States".
Antonia Juhasz, writing for Tuesday's New York Times, examined the obvious inequalities of the law the US wants to force through and notes: "Iraqis may very well choose to use the expertise and experience of international oil companies. They are most likely to do so in a
manner that best serves their own needs if they are freed from the tremendou external pressure being exercised by the Bush administration, the oil corporations -- and the presence of 140,000 members of the American Military."
But could al-Maliki really be out? His dismissal has been floated some time and AP notes the drama's own Darth Vader has returned: Ayad Allawi. Allawi? Where to start? Something mild like 'related' to Ahmed Chalibi by marriage? Or maybe that in the days before he became Iraq's the prime minister/puppet in 2004, Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald) was among the reporters noting that eye witnesses stated they watched as Allawi "pulled out a pistol and execute as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad polices station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners -- handcuffed and blindfolded -- were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs." McGeough appeared on Australia's Lateline in July 2004 to discuss the shootings:
MAXINE McKEW: And just take us through the events as they were accounted to you?
PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, I'll take you through what the two bits of pieces of what the two witnesses said to give you the full chronology as I understand it. There was a surprise visit at about 10:30 in the morning to the police centre. The PM is said to have talked to a large group of policemen, then to have toured the complex. They came to a courtyard where six, sorry seven prisoners were lined up against a wall. They were handcuffed, they were blindfolded, they were described to me as an Iraqi colloquialism for the fundamentalist foreign fighters who have come to Baghdad. They have that classic look that you see with many of the Osama bin Laden associates of the scraggly beard and the very short hair and they were a sort of ... took place in front of them as they were up against this wall was an exchange between the Interior Minister and Dr Allawi, the Interior Minister saying that he felt like killing them on the spot. It's worth noting at this point in the story that on June 19, there was an attack on the Interior Minister's home in the Sunni triangle in which four of his bodyguards (inaudible) -- Dr Allawi is alleged to have said (inaudible) -- .
MAXINE McKEW: Paul, you just dropped out there. You were just beginning to describe in fact how this incident, this alleged incident, took place. What was the action taken?
PAUL McGEOUGH: Um, after a tour of the complex, the sort of official party, if you like, arrived in a courtyard where the prisoners were lined up against a wall. An exchange is said to have taken place between Dr Allawi and the Interior Minister. The Interior Minister lives to the north of Baghdad, and on June 19, four of his bodyguards were killed in an attack on his home. He expressed the wish that he would like to kill all these men on the spot. The PM is said to have responded that they deserved worse than death, that each was responsible for killing more than 50 Iraqis each, and at that point, he is said to have pulled a gun and proceeded to aim at and shoot all seven. Six of them died, the seventh, according to one witness, was wounded in the chest, according to the other witness, was wounded in the neck and presumed to be dead.
And of course, Allawi is an exile -- like al-Maliki -- and was an asset to both the CIA and M16. In terms of the false claim that Saddam Hussein could depoly weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of the order being given, as Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) noted in 2004 leads back to Allawi: "The choice of of Iyad Allawi, closely linked to the CIA and formerly to M16, as the Prime Minister of Iraq from 30 June will make it difficult for the US and Britain to persuade the rest of the world that he is capable of leading an independent government. He is the person through whom the controversial claim was channeled that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be operational in 45 minutes."
With the above in mind, Ned Parker (Times of London) reports that Allawi "is pushing for a return to power after assembling a parliamentary coalition of more than 80 steats" and "presenting himself as a secular alternative to Mr Maliki" and that he's seeking out groups to join his coalition at a time when al-Maliki's coalition is 113 seats in parliament -- a loss of 15 seats resulting from Shia Fadhila walking out of al-Maliki's coalition last week. In January of this year, the strain between the puppet and the US became highly public as al-Maliki publicly took offense at comments made by US Secretary of State (and Anger -- as Wally and Cedric say) Condi Rice that his government was on "borrowed time" and al-Maliki also criticized the Bully Boy's 'plan' which al-Maliki felt left Iraqi soldiers "under-armed." The Secretary of State and Anger's response was that "there is a sense of urgency there". As opposed to here?
Turning to MADRE's "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML). Wednesday, section one ("Towards Gender Apartheid in Iraq") was noted, Thursday, section II, "Iraq's Other War: Impsoing Theocracy Through Gender-Based." Section III is "The Rise of US-Backed Death Squads" was noted Friday, section four, "Violence Against Women Within Families" was noted Monday and yesterday part five is "Gender War, Civil War," part six is "Gender-Based Violence Against Men," and part seven "Violence Against Women in Detention." Which leaves "Conclusion: Standing With Iraqi Women In A Time Of War" which pulls all the sections together and notes that lofty rhetoric about women's rights by the Bully Boy do not translate into advances for women (the loft rhetoric is for domestic audiences) because the words are cover for a continued embrace of totalitatrian leadership in the regime and efforts to snuff out any progressive movements or forces. The violation of Iraqi women's rights and the violence aimed at them results from the encouragement and actions of the US. When women attempt to speak out, the US media refuses to report it or else rushes to "implicitly cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations." Even in one of the big stories of last year, the kidnapping of Jill Carroll, the media consistently refused to explore the kidnapper's sole demand: "the release of Iraqi women in US custody." The report notes the connections between "honor killings" and the US crimes. The media tends to play the "honor killings" in isolation and fails to explore that "the crimes of the occupation reinforce crimes of honor and how repressive codes of family honor have made all Iraqis more vulnerable to abusive authorities, whether they are US occupiers or their Iraqi successors."
Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "The US military is expanding two major prisons in Iraq ahead of an expected rise in Iraqi prisoners from the new crackdown in Baghdad. Thousands of prisoners are expected on top of the 17,000 already behind bars."
Those prisoners include women and young girls. Focusing on just two prisons (Al-Rusafah in Uma Qasr and Al-Kadhmiya) MADRE's report noted there were over 1300 women and girls in the two prisons and: "They range from girls of twelves to women in their sixties." Yet still the US military wants more prisons.
mikey likes it
the common ills
amy goodmandemocracy now