Monday, March 19, 2007

Mike Whitney, Third Estate Sunday Review, etc.

Monday! Back home. Last week flew by. I still can't believe it. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of fun and a lot accomplished. I hope you did too and that you made yourself heard and are making yourself heard calling for an end to the illegal war.

Since I forgot it last week, I'm going to start by noting the new content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week -- this week's pick was Norman Solomon. Make sure you check that out because people do have power and that goes beyond showing up on election day (though The Nation would have you believe otherwise).

A Note to Our Readers -- Jim offers a run down on the contents and the hows and whys.

Editorial: Mushroom Cloud -- We were really surprised that two paragraphs (and a quote) got lost because of a link. But, like Jim said, the illustration should get across what was needed. Bully Boy's the "mushroom clod" and that was supposed to be the title of this editorial, "Mushroom Clod." No one even noticed that it wasn't that way until today when I called Jim and said, "Hey, who decided on the title change?" :D We were all tired. It was a great but long week in Texas and it was a nightmare getting into DC Friday evening. C.I. (and probably Elaine, knowing her) had charted a plane to get us as close as possible and we drove the rest of the way. But we really wanted to be at that march. Rebecca couldn't because she's not flying (due to the pregnancy). So she, Ruth, Treva, and Fly Boy went in Treva's RV to Betty's (Betty went with! Duh! and her kids). But the rest of us could go and wanted to go (so did those who couldn't go) because this was an important thing (march on the Pentagon) and because there was concern about turnout due to the fact that there were other big events (in NYC). When we got to the airport Friday, it was like everything going north was "CANCELLED." C.I. said, "I'll find a flight even if we have to fly cargo." :D But C.I. ended up charting a flight and, like I said, I'm sure Elaine and C.I. split the bill. (They didn't mention money to us, not that it would have done any good, we don't have the money they do. So I'll say, "Big thanks!") (Actually, Ava does have the money. So "Big thanks!" to Ava too. She probably tossed in money as well. They never bring that up. And, if asked, say, "Don't worry about it.")

TV: The Road to Boyville -- Ava and C.I. hitting hard as only they can! :D I loved this review. This wasn't the planned one. Thursday morning, the plan was they'd review Jeff Goldblum's new show because a friend at NBC said it would probably be pulled quickly. But Rebecca goes, "Oh my God!" And starts telling them about the review she's reading in the New York Times by the Idiot Bellafante. (Idiot slammed and distorted Gloria Steinem. So they were eager to demonstrate how Idiot yet again got it wrong.) They were on the phone right away getting two episodes sent to DC so they'd be there when we all arrived for the weekend. This is a really strong review.

2 Books, 10 Minutes -- Blame me for the lack of book discussions. I was the one who ended up putting a stop to them (not by choice) because the fall semester was so rough. This is the first book discussion we've done in forever. I think it's pretty strong. Someone asked why me and Elaine didn't talk more (on campus, I got asked that today)? I spoke during the discussion on Peter Laufer's book and Elaine really just wanted to emphasize Brandi Key to make sure she didn't get overlooked. Dona had asked us all to please try to remember the time limits because we were tired and we started writing the edition very late (five hours later than usual). I actually think C.I. said the least. Check it out and take out when C.I.'s helping someone with a name or title or something.

About the under-reporting . . . -- The illustration would not load Sunday morning. But it did get added to the article later on. This is about Valerie Plame and we probably worked more on the song parody at the end then anything else. :D

The Albert Gonzales Show -- Dad told me, "It is like The Mary Tyler Moore Show!" He means the illustration. We all worked on the collage while we were in Texas. Kat and C.I. were looking at one piece of it and noticed that Bully Boy staring at Alberto was like the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where the woman stares at Mary as she tosses her hat in the air. I didn't get that until Dad explained it to me. I couldn't remember her when Kat and C.I. were talking about her. Dad reminded me by saying, "It's the woman who's staring when Mary's tossing her hat!" Okay, remember it now. :D

Things you should catch if you missed them -- We heard the Aaron Glantz thing on Watada at the airport on C.I.'s laptop. CounterSpin we caught Saturday when a friend of C.I.'s dropped a tape of it off. Those are both strong programs, hope you caught them.

MyTV's Fascist House -- the collage. And we were trying to do this at least twice a week. Now we don't have too! It was a send up of the administration and of MyTV's telenovas. But those tanked the ratings so bad that, despite saying they'd stick with them through the start of fall 2007, they didn't. Instead, they air them two nights a week now instead of five. So that means we can probably just do this once a week. This was another pain in the ass. Not to do. It was a lot of fun to do. But it was a pain in the ass because it wouldn't upload to Flickr. C.I. ended up using another program in the end (and that put us behind because a program had to be found and semi-mastered before the collage could be uploaded online).

Highlights -- I didn't want every one of my blog posts noted. I was opposed to it. Kat, Rebecca, Elaine, Cedric and Wally came up with that and Betty was all for it. I was going "No" because it's not fair. C.I. reminded me that we planned to do a feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review on the trip and didn't have time. C.I. also pointed out that since I'd written about the trip all last week, it wouldn't make sense to just offer one and just offering one might actually offend some community members we met up with in Texas who might think, "What, my area wasn't good enough?" So, with that argument, I agreed. If they're worth linking to it's because of all the great people we met and places we saw. Everything else is worth linking to in the highlights.

March on the Pentagon? Something you had to be there for. It really felt like something. Not just because there was a charge in the air but because we were marching on the Pentagon. Dad wanted to be there and planned on but the bad weather meant that my sister was freaking out and he ended up staying here. Ma was there and she's got a great post on Saturday that she typed out so fast -- everyone's faster than me but Ma can really type fast! I didn't know how fast she could type -- as soon as the march was over called "Steamed Fish and Green Apples in the Kitchen" -- she's making that tomorrow for dinner so I'll let you know how it tastes. I didn't have it in Dallas. At night, some of us were out soaking up Dallas and some of us were having a more relaxing evening. So I missed Billie's fish (but Ma says it was great). I did get to meet Billie and talk to her. But we were doing the West End, Deep Ellum and all that at night.

But the march on the Pentagon. That just felt like it had a really strong purpose and it was more than just a spark in the air (but there was that too). I was really glad that I can say I took part in that. Ron Jacobs is in the snapshot tomorrow (planned to be, C.I. didn't have time for it today -- Jim told me that on the phone and goes "Read it!") so I'll go with Mike Whitney's "Rove in the Dark:"

Democratic leaders have consistently shown that they are no match for their Republican counterparts. Whenever an opportunity presents itself to swoop down for the kill; congressional Democrats start preening for the cameras or bloviating on the floor of the House.
That's not how you get things done in Washington. If the Democrats are serious about ruling, they ought to bring a sledgehammer to work and start pounding away at the obstacles.
The firing of the "Gonzales 8" is a perfect opportunity to zero-in on the Justice Department and start tossing bodies on the burn pile. But it'll take someone with enough brains to figure out what's really going on and big enough cahones to go for the jugular. That's how a predator brings down the live-game and that's what it'll take to rout the mob bosses at the D.O.J. Anyone who gets squeamish over a little political blood-letting should probably get a job in retail--not government.
Gonzales is already on his last legs. He signed his own death warrant by his ham-fisted treatment of the US Attorneys. The firings have turned out to be big trouble for Team Bush. Gonzales has hung a giant Bull's Eye on the administration's back and then pushed them in front of the firing squad.All the Democrats have to do is take aim and blast away.
But are they up to it?
The firing of the Attorney's appears to be one of those careless slip-ups that happen when men are blinded by hubris. Rove and Gonzales knew that their actions would start a political firestorm, but decided to go ahead anyway. Now they're getting pummeled from all sides and someone will have to be thrown to the wolves. The question is: Who?
There's no doubt now that the firings were politically motivated. Whether the attorneys failed to investigate voter fraud cases (which would have contested elections where Democrats won) or whether they were just too eager in pursuing corruption charges against Republicans; the cases all bear one striking similarity"the attorneys' resisted Washington's meddling and then ended up paying the price. They were all canned. End of story.

By the way, before someone e-mails C.I. and goes "Mike would have highlighted Jacobs but you're planning to do it tomorrow!" I'm not holding off for that reason. C.I. would say, "Highlight whomever you want." (And if I highlighted and wrote anything about it, C.I. would also link to this post in tomorrow's snapshot.) I'm highlighting Whitney because I think he had something worth saying and I know Jacobs will get highlighted tomorrow so that freed me up to focus on Whitney. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, March 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq.

Four years after the start of the illegal war, the illegal war continues.
Raymond Whitaker (Independent of London) notes that the number of US troops is about to climb to 160,000 which is 10,000 more than was required to invade Iraq. John Simpson (BBC) observes, of Baghdad, "The most common sight, apart from police and army roadblocks, are the black banners on walls and fences announcing people's deaths. And the most common feeling you come across is a kind of slow-burning, gloom." Tariq Ali (New Left Review) notes that "the Occupation is still -- after three years and an outlay of over $200 billion -- unable to assure regular supplies of water and electricity to the people it has subjegated. Factories remain idle. Hospitals and schools barely function. Oil revenues have been looted wholesale by America's loyal minions, not to speak of a horde of US contractors on the take. Wretched as living conditions were for the majority of the population under UN sanctions, under the Americans they have deteriorated yet further, a sectarian killings multiply and minimal security disappears." And the continued violence means people are uprooted as Anthony Arnove (writing at TomGram) reminds, "Nowhere on Earth is there a worse refugee crisis than in Iraq today. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, some two million Iraqis have fled their country and are now scattered from Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Iran to London and Paris. (Almost none have made it to the United States, which has done nothing to address the refugee crisis it created.) Another 1.9 million are estimated to be internally displaced persons, driven from their homes and neighborhoods by the U.S. occupation and the vicious civil war it has sparked. Add those figures up -- and they're getting worse by the day -- and you have close to 16% of the Iraqi population uprooted. Add the dead to the displaced, and that figure rises to nearly one in five Iraqis." Damein Cave (New York Times) reports today on the "endless loop of inquiry and disappointment" that is the search for family members who have disappeared and may or may not be dead -- Intisar Rashid searches for her husband who disappeared two months ago, searching computer databases of prisoners, searching the morgues, the hospitals in Baghdad . . . Is her husband alive or dead? Will she ever get an answer? Many of the Iraqi dead are never identified. Returning to Arnove's article, he also notes the (PDF format) Lancet's study published in October which found that over 655,000 Iraqis had died during the illegal war. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that Dr. Gideon Polya has just released a study which find that there have been "an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq." Dr. Polya writes (at The Canadian National Newspaper) that: "The 1 million post-invasion Iraqi excess deaths constitutes an Iraqi Holocaust largely due to U.S.-led 'Coalition' violation of the Geneva Conventions that demand that Occupiers keep their conquered subjects ALIVE. Three quarters of the people are women and children. The Bush regime 'War on Terror' is in harsh reality, a 'War on innocent Women and Children,' and more specifically a 'War on Asian/Middle Eastern Women and Children'." A point underscored in 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) which charted the decline/destruction of women's rights and women's safety in Iraq as the US government elected to throw in its lot with those that they expected to be most likely to push the US administration's goals -- goals that did not include full participation in society for all. Women found themselves terrorized, professional women found themselves targeted, rapes, honor killings, and more ran rampant but the US military did nothing to maintain order or to offer protection -- quite the contrary, they actively looked the other way. In The Deserter's Tale, US war resister Joshua Key tells of a young Iraqi girl attempting to return to her country at the border, being the target of the Iraqi police (that the US military was training) who thought she was a "slut" and made it clear (through verbal language and body language) that they would be gang raping her while the US military looked the other way. MADRE's report makes clear that these weren't accidents or surprises (warnings were made before the illegal war began about what would happen to Iraqi women and girls) but the 'trade offs' the US administration was willing to tolerate to put a compliant government in order. And in their desire to create chaos, to take it to "zear zero" as Naomi Klein outlined in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine, 2004). The chaos was thought to throw everyone off guard and allow the US to control (and "shape") the region (hegemony, control of the resources), as professor Elaine C. Hagopian pointed out (noting neocon Michael Ledeen's control theories) in a discussion moderated by Philip Maldari on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Also participating in the discussion was professor Raul Mahajan and while that discussion featured one male guest and one female guest, the reality is that too often women are left out of the discussion and debate. You can see that with Rolling Stone's overly praised text version of a CNN panel on Iraq: "Here's an ex-general, here's a . . . but no women allowed." RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (writing at The Huffington Post) opens with: "Call me crazy but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority." Flanders isn't crazy and if women's voices hadn't been shut out (in the majority of the US media) from the beginning, the nation might have turned against the illegal war much sooner. As Eleanor Smeal, president of Feminist Majority Foundation, noted on KPFA's The Morning Show (March 8, 2007), in the US, women have led on the war, they have been opposed to it in larger numbers and they have been, as she noted, "opinion makers" on this issue. Eleanor's points are backed in up poll after poll but you can check out Celinda Lake's "The Ms. Poll" (Ms. magazine, Summer 2006) and Eleanor's "Women Voted for Change" in the Winter 2007 issue (available only in print but there's an excerpt of it here). In other polling news, AFP notes the new media poll that found (among other things): "About 78 percent [of Iraqis] opposed the presence of foreign forces and 69 percent said their presence made the security situation worse." And thing will only continue to get worse. For instance, Andy Rowell (Oil Change International) notes that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, has been told that "continued White House support depended on positive action on the oil law by the close of this parliamentary session June 30." Rowell also notes a meeting in Amman, Jordan among "Iraqi oil industry officials, expert and lawmakers" with many participants expressing their dismay at the selling/stealing of Iraqi assets. AFP reports that Iraqi parliamentarian Ali Mashhadani stated: "Our oil wealth is black gold that must be kept underground until security conditions are appropriate to take advantage of it. It has been entrusted to our safekeeping by the people we represents . . . Iraq has sold 125 billion dollars worth of oil since the start of the US-led occupation" but Iraqis "are eating garbage" and that the 125 billion should have resulted in a subsidy bump for the average Iraqi. And mini-big picture, that's where things stand on the 4th anniversary of the start of the illegal war.

The new poll of Iraqis (which tracks with earlier polls) was comissioned by ARD, USA Today, BBC and ABC (America's ABC).
Reuters notes that "86 per cent were concerned about someone in their household being a victim of violence. Iraqis were also disappointed by reconstruction efforts since the invasion, with 67 per cent saying efforts had not been effective." BBC notes that on the question of "how safe do you feel," the results were: "Three years ago, 40 per cent said very safe, now only 26 per cent say they feel that." Of the poll, Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) observes that "nearly two-thirds of the respondents want to see their nation remain as one, rather than being partitioned along regional and ethnic lines." One of the many concerns about the US-dictated Iraqi oil law is that it will lead to partitioning Iraq into three sections, a position supported by US Senator and 2008 presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

CBS News reports: "After four years of war, Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for success in Iraq and a majority wants U.S. troops to begin coming home, according to an analysis of data from CBS News and CBS News/New York Times polls. American did not expect the war to last this long, nor did they think it would coast as many lives as it has." Left unstated is where the American people would have gotten that mistaken impression -- from an administration that LIED and a news media that presented stenography as reporting, over and over and over, while shutting out voices with dissenting views. That, more than anything else, explains a March 2003 poll in which 66 % of respondents predicted that the number of US service members who will die in the illegal war would be "less than 1,000." (AP's curren count is 3217 and ICCC's is 3218
for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.)

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, protests against the war took place "around the world including in Australia, Chile, Turkey, South Korea, Malyasia and Greece." Protests also took place around the US. Among the speeches from last weekend that were broadcast on today's Democracy Now! was former US House Rep Cynthia McKinney who declared: "Well, it seems that George Bush and the Democratic leaders were right: they confidentally told us that only the Democrats would fund the surge, but that the Democrats would not stop action in Iran, too. Now, we are not surprised when the unelected, illegitimate administration of George Bush ignores us. But we are shocked that the Democratic majority in Congress chose war over us, as we say, 'Bring our troops home now.' The answer is clear: our country has been hijacked." Black Agenda Report carries a speech by McKinney that she gave on KPFK at the start of this month: "How can you be against the war if you finance war? And how can you be against George Bush if you won't impeach him? The American people are being fed mandess as sanity. But, this is not Oz, Wonderland, the Twilight Zone, and it's not 1984! With every fiber in our being we must resist. Resist like Mario Savio told us to resist: with our entire bodies against the gears and the wheels and the levers of the machine. We must resist because we claim no partnership in war crimes, genocide, torture, or crimes against humanity. We claim no complicity in crimes against the American people. We will build a broad-based, rainbow movement from justice and peace. And we will win."

In Eugene, Oregon, protesters turned out in large numbers and among those turning out and speaking was
Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first to be court-martialed for it. Edward Russo (The Register-Guard) notes that Watada declared: "They may imprison or torture or take away our lives, but they can never take away our freedom to choose what is right and just." Watada is among those profiled by Christian Hill (The Olympian) today and Hill notes the transformation for Watada: "He wanted to learn more about Iraq and began reading. This research, he has said, convinced him that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to sell the war to the American public, bringing suffering to U.S. troops, their families and Iraq citizens." Hill also notes veteran and activist Wally Cuddeford who says of his own transformation following his discharge from the navy, "I go to college and learned about history and how activists, labor activists, environmental activists, etc., had been doing so much work and making so many sacrifices throughout the globe for the cause of justice. And that reminded me there are heroes in this world who are willing to stand up and fight for justice. The moment I heard about that, I dove straight in."

In Canada, war resisters were taking part in actions.
Kyle Snyder self-checked out the military and then, in October of 2006, attempted to turn himself in only to have the agreement his attorney and the US military tossed aside after he was in custody -- at which point he checked out again and returned to Canada. Cary Castagana (Edmonton Sun) reports that Kyle Snyder marched with "a couple of hundred protesters . . . along Whyte Avenue". Another US war resister in Canada is Dean Walcott. Jennifer Taplin (Halifax' The Daily News) notes that 25-year-old Walcott served two tours of duty in Iraq, and with "nowhere to turn, Walcott went AWOL and moved to Toronto a few months ago. He applied for refugee status and is now waiting for the paperwork to hopefully go through." Canada's CBC reports that Dean Walcott "spoke to the Halifax crowd" and stated: "I believe individual nations have the right to establish themselves as they see fit, and I believe they can do that without interference from the West. There's got to be a better way for nations to be free rather than us putting a gun in their face and demanding it of them."

Watada, Snyder, Key and Walcott are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson,
Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, 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.

In Iraq today?


AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, a car bomb claimed 10 lives and left 8 wounded near two mosques while, in a market, a car bomb took 5 lives and left 26 wounded (4 of the five dead were police officers); while, in Hilla, 3 people were shot dead; and, in Baghdad, a bombing "at the entrance of the Shiite Hussain Abu Ruh mosque" claimed 5 lives and left 25 wounded. CNN notes that the mosque bombing in Baghdad's count rose to 6 dead and 32 wounded. Kim Gamel (AP) notes that the total number dead from bombings in Kirkuk today was 18 and that "more than 50 wounded". Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five mortar attack in Baghdad which left 11 wounded while a mortar attack in the Diyala province killed 4 and wounded 5.


Reuters notes an attack on a police checkpoint in Samarra that left one police officer dead and three more wounded, a police officer shot dead in Iskandariya. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Baiji, a "Facilities and Projects Security guard" was shot dead.


CNN reports that the corpse of Khalaf Ghargan, Dujaila's mayor, was discovered today after he'd been kidnapped hours earlier. Reuters notes the corpse of an Iraqi soldier was discovered in Tikrit and an unidentified corpse was discovered in Mahaweel. Kim Gamel (AP) notes that, in Baghdad, "29 bullet-riddled bodies" were discovered. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the number rose to 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

And finally,
Matt Spetalnick (Reuters) reports that the Bully Boy spoke at the White House today and pleaded for "patience." If that sounds familiar, it's because the same-old, same-old in Iraq requires the same-old, same-old pitch and today's resembles the one he gave in June of last year.

joshua key