Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leah Fishbien, Robert Scheer

Hump day. I'm having one of those days where I just stare at the screen. I'm also kind of pissed at myself. What's that thing next to your fingernail? Not the skin! :D The thing that sometimes hangs between the nail and the skin? Mine was hanging yesterday on the finger next to the middle finger and I bit it off. Now the whole thing is swollen. The skin right before your fingernail starts is bright red and further down, it's swollen. I'm going to pop it when I finally get something written and posted.

Sunday, we worked on (Saturday and Sunday, we worked on) "Precedent and privacy go out the window" about the attack on rights and precedents. This is from Leah Fishbien's "Women Under Siege:"

As many already know, last Wednesday The Supreme Court contradicted its own 2000 decision to overturn a Nebraska ban on "partial birth abortion" and upheld the federal abortion ban in the cases of Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzalez v. Carhart. This hearing occurred in response to the Federal Abortion Ban Act legislation passed by Congress and signed by Bush in 2003. This decision is an appalling one, and it is furthermore an unprecedented setback for women and those who care about them. The Supreme Court has never, in the thirty-plus years since the right to abortion was won in Roe V. Wade, made a decision restricting women's reproductive rights without providing for cases in which a woman's health is at stake.
Why you should be concerned
Here is what some prominent people have been saying about this ban:
"I consider the Supreme Court Ban on one type of abortion procedure to be an annexation of Women's Wombs by the U. S Government and as such should be viewed by all people of conscience as an act of war against women."-Merle Hoffman, founder, Choices Women's MedicalCenter, Queens NY on Wednesday, April 18, 2007
"This ruling shows the true colors of the current Bush-stacked majority of the Supreme Court: it does not care about the health, well-being, and safety of American women. This must serve as a wake-up call to women: we are losing our fundamental rights as Bush continues to stack the courts."-Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation
"The time is now right to launch aggressive legal challenges across America to abortion on demandThe court has now said it's OK to ban procedures. We can do more than just put hurdles in front of women seeking abortions; we can put roadblocks in front of them." -Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue (in the past leading proponents of violence directed at abortion providers and clinics)
"The government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life."-The Supreme Court of the United States, in its decision on the PBABA
For all those who have been waiting for a sign that the Christian right minority in this country has co-opted our government and society (because on paper it just "sounds too conspiratorial", or because "they haven't really made any attempts to change things in a radical way") that sign appeared yesterday in the form of a ruling dropped by judges intent on forcing old-school, biblical morality on us, and it dropped like a bomb onto women's bodies. That ruling spread over this country like a silent alarm, the opposition and outrage necessary to stop this and further attacks on women palpably missing from most of the country, at least in any massive way, at least yet. That ruling slapped us in the face, challenging a basic assumption that healthcare decisions should be between doctors and patients rather than outsider religious factions and politicians, leaving the patient out of the process entirely. That ruling poured over us like a bucket of ice cold water hopefully waking us up to the reality that this is the ultimate sign, one that declares that Bush and his counterparts in the Supreme Court, now holding the majority, do not value in the least women's health. This consideration is especially secondary in the face of support from their theocratic political base and in light of their personal "moral values," (values that don't contradict with the possibility of free fire zones in Iraq or of using the death penalty as a conflict-resolution tool). If permitted-if there is not massive uprising in the face of this ruling-the Christian Right, c/o the Bush Regime, will move to overturn Roe. V Wade, with the stated goal of federally outlawing abortion as a whole. Seriously. Just take a look at any of a number of websites for the National Right to Life Committee, Focus on the Family, Operation Rescue/Save America and this is easily understood.

I agree with her. There has to be a massive uprising. But I do worry that a lot of guys are going to think, "This really doesn't apply to me." Or maybe, "This really doesn't apply to me as long as I use a rubber." Condoms aren't 100% effective (they can bust). But more importantly, if you're thinking that just applies to women, the basis for this decision is that judges can ignore medicine and research and just vote anyway they want. They don't even have to respect past rulings (that's what precedents are). They can just make any decision they want.

That's what the Supreme Court did. And having done that, what's to stop them from doing it on any thing else?

I hope you'll care, regardless of gender, about what was done to women but I hope you'll get that it's also about a pattern that's going to be set up where the right-wing court is going to ignore facts and precedents and just make up their rulings.

This is from Robert Scheer's "Bush Blames the Troops" and I'm focusing on the part about the Democratic measures:

This president has been denied nothing by Congress in the way of financial underwriting for this boondoggle, yet he seeks to cast even the mildest attempt to hold him accountable for the results as unpatriotic. That is all that the Democratic congressional leadership has proposed with its timetable--marks to measure progress on the ground in a war that, as Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye pointed out, has lasted longer than World War II. It is a very limited, nonbinding attempt to hold the president accountable, for it does not ban him from using any portion of the whopping $124 billion in new funds; it requires only that he publicly and specifically defend his claims of progress.
It's a claim of progress that, until now, has not been met with any congressional review, even though it is the obligation of Congress to judge the effectiveness of programs paid for with the funds that Congress alone can appropriate. If the proposed timetable were in place, then it would be more difficult for the president to claim success for his surge, as he did Friday, insisting that "So far, the operation is meeting expectations" and then confusing his audience by conceding that recently "We have seen some of the highest casualty levels of the war."
It’s gobbledygook, and the Democratic leaders of Congress have finally decided to call the president on it. "The longer we continue down the president's path, the further we will be from responsibly ending this war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Not content any longer to take Bush at his word, the leaders in both the House and Senate finally posted some specific benchmarks of progress, accompanied by a nonbinding suggestion of an end to U.S. troop involvement in this quagmire within a year’s time if genuine progress is not made. Even that minimum restraint on the president's ambition was accompanied with the caveat that sufficient troops would remain in Iraq to protect U.S. installations, train the Iraqi army and fight terrorists.
The proposal was the softest the Democrats could offer without totally repudiating the will of the voters who brought them to power in the last election. If the president vetoes this authorization bill, then the onus is on him for delaying funding for the troops and showing contempt for the judgment of the voters, who will have another chance in less than two years to hold the president's party responsible. But that will not restore life to the 85 U.S. soldiers killed so far in April alone, or prevent even greater sacrifices to Bush's folly.

I'm glad Scheer's calling it out. But? As one of the few that would call it out in real time (this community, Robert Knight, Norman Solomon, Military Families Speak Out, John Stauber, Sheldon Rampton, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Ray McGovern -- and his group of veterans from the intelligence community, I forget the name -- and Alexander Cockburn, etc.) I do wonder why it took so long for people to start calling this out? I don't really care what happens. Congress is voting tonight. If they pass it, Bully Boy vetoes it. No one thinks there are votes to override the veto. So since that's the way it was, why not really try to do something? Why not try to withdraw all troops? No outs of the Bully Boy, no escape clause, just withdraw them all. Party Hacks like David Sirota were hissing and snarling that people had to be 'realistic.' Is it really realistic to waste all this time on a non-binding measure that doesn't guarantee any troops home? Bully Boy could reclassify everyone as "military police" and no one would come home. But was it realistic to work on a bill that you knew wouldn't pass and to have such tiny expectations? I don't think so. I think it was about positioning and posturing.

I think we see the same thing as no Congressional Democrat has yet to stand with Dennis Kucinich in calling for the impeachment of Bully Boy. About the only good news today was Terri Johnson. If you don't know about her yet, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the United Nations raises the issue of Iraqi fatalities, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender Dennis Kucinich moves to impeach Dick Cheney, the wall in Baghdad continues to be an issue, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Last Saturday, the latest public war resisters spoke in Greensboro, Terri Johnson.
jarnocan (North Carolina World Can't Wait) reports, "Terri Johnson of Greensboro was like a lot of other young people with limited options after high school who are set upon by US Army recruiters. She believed the promises of the recruiters who told her that the Army was nothing more than a good shot at a college education and a prosperous future. She discovered, as do many others who sign up, that not only wa she signing her life away, but the lives of people targeted by the illegal and immoral war on Iraq as well. So she did the right thing. She refused to fight." Jordan Green (Yes! Weekly) notes that "the granddaughter of past Gressnsboro NAACP President Gladys Shipman, deliberately failed to complete her final fitness test at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and then went AWOL on Sept. 28, 2006, the day before graduation." Speaking at a rally at Governmental Plaza, Johnson stated: "I'm not anti-war one hundred percent because some wars are worth fighting for. But this war is not worth fighting for. I really don't look at myself as a hero. I was just doing it for me because [the war] wasn't for me. There were a lot of my buddies who didn't want to drop out like me, but they didn't have have the courage to make the decision I did." On leaving during basics, Johnson stated, "All you got to do is leave. Throw the towel in. They cannot stop you. Stay gone for thirty-one days. Get your two-way ticket to Lousiville, Kentucky. The MPs will meet you there and pat you down. You will be there for four days and eat this horrible food. The only thing you cannot do is get a federal job. Okay, I wasn't that interested in working for the federal government anyway. The other thing you can't do is re-enlist in another branch of the military."

Terri Johnson is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is accusing the puppet government in Iraq of a different form of resistance.
Yara Bayoumy (Reuters) reports that the UN states the government is "withholding sensitive civilian casualty figures because the government fears the data would be used to paint a 'very grim' picture of a worsening humanitarian crisis." CNN reports that the refusal to supply the data has prevented the UN from calculating the numbers of Iraqis killed in the first four months of 2007. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) states that numbers the Los Angeles Times have "obtained from various ministries" puts the 2007 civilian toll at 5,509 thus far this year. The Times figures are incomplete, it should be noted, and Susman is incorrect when she claims that the US "military does not count civilian deaths that occur during its operations". The US military has kept a count -- Nancy A. Youssef broke that story right before Knight Ridder became McClatchy Newspapers. You didn't hear much about that because it was time to travel-logue in indymedia. But the US military is keeping figures, has been keeping figures. They will admit to keeping figures since June of 2005. They refuse to release those figures to the press or to the public. So when the puppet government refuses to release figures to the UN, it all has a familiar ring to it.

Al Jazeera reports, "On Wednesday, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (Unami) blamed the majority of the bloodshed on sectarian fighting, and expressed concern about the human-rights record of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister." And the response? AFP reports that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a statement: "The Iraqi government announces that is has major reservations about this report, which lack precision in its presentation of information, lasts crediblity in many of its points and lacks balance in its presentation of the human rights situation in Iraq." Around the world, chuckles were heard as the puppet questioned someone else's credibility.

The report comes as
IRIN notes that Baghdad's "infrastructure continues to deteriorate, causing more violence, health hazards and misery for its seven million inhabitants" and notes "at least 43 workers have been killed in the past few months while collecting rubbish, changing lights or repairing sewage systems in the capital, mostly in the more dangerous neighborhoods of Sadr City, Alawi, Dora, Bab al-Muadham and Adhamiyah."

Turning to United States, US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender
Dennis Kucinich
"introduced articles of impeachment Tuesday against Vice President Dick Cheney," The Post Chronicle reported noting that the "main chrages are that Cheney used manipulated intelligence to win support for the war in Iraq, and falsely claimed a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida." For many outlets it was time to put on the old 45 of Simon & Garfunkle . . . Hello darkness my old friend . . . As they "covered" the news by not covering it. The sounds of silence.

Dennis Bernstein addressed the issue of impeaching Cheney on
Flashpoints yesterday, noting that Kucinich "broke the silence in Congress . . . Kucinich's actions follow on many calls and a series of througly well constructed and researched arguments for impeachment. Among the strongest cases made for impeachment is that by a former prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega with over 2 decades as a federal prosecutor. She is the author of United States v. George W. Bush et al. She's been lecturing on the case for impeachment and following the unraveling also of the Attorney General.".

Elizabeth de la Vega: "I think it's an extremely strong case and what's beautiful about it is that it's very elegantly done and it's just very, very simple. As you mentioned Article I is manipulating the intelligence process to deceive the public and Congress by making up, essentially, a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction so that the administration could invade Iraq. . . . And the specific nature of that fabrication has to do, of course, with the weapons of mass destruction. Article II is very similar except that it relates to the same type of fabrication with regard to a link between . . . al Qaeda and Iraq and 9-11. The third one has to do with Iran. And I think, really, the case is almost irrefutable."

Robert Naiman (The Huffington Post) addresses the press treatment of the issue and notes that "Kucinich seems to be one of the few Members of Congress aware that threatening to attack other countries is a violation of the U.N. Charter, a treaty wo which the U.S. is signatory." Dave Lindorff (who has been covering the impeachment movement across the country) writes (at CounterPunch) that, as a result of Kucinich's actions, "The mainstream corporate media, which has so far been largely ignoring the issue of impeachment, will have to go to extra lengths of censorship to block out the popular movement now, with a bill on the floor of the House, and with impeachment resolutions passing in the Vermont state legislature. It will be interesting to see how the nation's new gatekeepers handle the story now that it is breaking out into the open so forcefully." Those in and near Trenton, New Jersey this weekend, should be aware of the demonstration where "a Human Mural" will spell out "IMPEACH" at the State House in Trenton on 125 W. State Street, Saturday April 28th -- more information can be found here (AfterDowningStreet). That is not the only event across the country. Progressive Democrats of America's Marcy Winograd spoke with Lila Garrett on Connect The Dots With Lila Garrett on KPFK Monday. Winograd and others will be taking part in the California Democratic Party State Convention which will be held in the
San Diego Convention Center this weekend, 111 West Harbor Drive, Convention Center, San Diego. PDA will be mobilizing around many issues including impeachment -- "Impeachment Is On Our Table."

In addition, note this from
Impeachment Day: April 28It's time to say NO to impunity for lying, spying, and torture. George Bush and Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors demand accountability. Since Congress doesn't get it, on April 28 Americans are going to spell it out for them: I M P E A C H ! More...

A transcript of Dennis Kucinich's press conference can be found
here and, from that, we'll note this from his conference, "This goes beyond partisan terms. This is being done to defend our constitutional system of government. This is being done so that all tose of us who took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States can understand that this impeachment is one valid way in furtherance of the defense of our Constitution. I don't see this as bening distant from anyone, in any capacity in our government. Everyone must reflect on this. Years from now, people will ask, 'Why didn't the United States government respond when they saw this threat to our democracy? Why didn't people inside the government respond?' if this doesn't move forward. And so this really isn't so much, I might add, about the vice president as it is about who we are as a people. What is it that we stand for? What kind of government do the people of the United States expect and deserve? It's not appropriate for the government to lie to people. It is wrong for government officials -- you know, the vice president, in this case -- to take this nation into war based on lies."

In semi-related news, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice has a subpoena with her name on it from the US House Judiciary Committee.
CBS News and AP report that she will be asked to testify (presumably under oath) about the lies that Iraq "was seeking uranium from Africa." On a 21-10 vote, the committee agreed to compell Rice's testimony.

From what Americans want to what Iraqis want,
CNN reports: "Shiits in Baghdad gathered Wednesday to protest a wall surrounding the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya. The U.S. and Iraqi militaries say the wall is for protection, but radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement calling the wall sectarian, racist and oppressive. He vowed to support all Iraqis -- Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians -- and called on them to unite against 'the evil will of the occupier'." Al Jazeera notes, "Moqtada al-Sadr's remarks were the first by the Mahdi Army head since the US military said last week that it was building a wall in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district." Sally Kohn (Common Dreams) shares her thoughts on the issue, "Good fences have never made good policy, just as they've never made good neighbors. Bush's embrace of wall building and secrecy reminds me of totalitarian feudal lords. But feudalism failed too, didn't it? Now that Nouri al-Maliki has poked a hole in Bush's Baghdad wall plans, can we start building some bridges instead?"

In violence today in Iraq . . .


CNN reports: "A truck loaded with chlorine detonated Wednesday at a military checkpoint on the western outskirts of Baghdad, killing one Iraqi and wounded two others". Reuters notes a Balad Ruz bombing that killed 9 and left 16 wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing ("near a petrol station") that killed 2, and a Baghdad mortar attack on the west Rashid section of Baghdad resulted one death and five wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul bombing that left one person dead, a bobming near Tikrit that wounded two police officers


Reuters reports Ali al-Bayati ("Iraq's former bodybuilding champion") was shot dead in Mosul, another Mosul shooting claimed two lives and left one person wounded, a police officer shot dead in Tuz Khurmato.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Hilla.

Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) examines a number of issues (life on the ground in Iraq, scandals of the administration) and we'll zoom in on the commentary regarding the US House and Senate measures, "It is hard to know what to make of these Democratic proposals. To what extent are they designed seriously or only for political cover? The most dangerous one is the open-ended authorization to continue combat operations against 'all extremists', which should be opposed by the anti-war movement and their Democratic allies. The related problem is the resurfacing of the 'humanitarian hawks' who delude themselves into believing the US military can succeed in a more low-visibility role combining counter-insurgency and economic development. The flaw in their thinking is that American soldiers can serve as 'trainers' to an Iraqi state described as sectarian even by the Baker-Hamilton Report.

And today
Amy Goodman interviewed Bill Moyers on Democracy Now! whose Bill Moyers Journal debuts this week on PBS stations (starts tonight on some PBS stations) and the first episode focuses on the selling of the illegal war.