Friday, May 11, 2007

Matthew Rothschild, John V. Walsh

Friday! :D Best day of the week! So much promise, so much freedom and it all falls apart come Sunday night. :D Okay, Elaine's noting something tonight that was covered in yesterday's snapshot because she doesn't blog on Thursdays and I thought I would too. This is from today's Democracy Now!:


Iraqi Lawmakers Back Draft Bill for Withdrawal Timetable
A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have approved a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a freeze on current troop levels. The measure would require Iraqi leaders to seek parliamentary approval for any extension of foreign troops when the UN mandate expires this year. At least one-hundred thirty eight of Iraq's two-hundred-seventy-five member parliament have signed on.


This is from Matthew Rothschild's "Top Teacher Shown the Door After Showing 'Baghdad ER':"

Michael Baker worked for the Lincoln, Nebraska, public schools since 1981.
But after he showed the documentary "Baghdad ER" to his geography class on April 18, his career there was over.

This, despite the fact that in 2006, Baker was one of only 47 teachers in the state to win National Board Certification, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, which broke the story.
Baker tells The Progressive that he cannot talk freely about what happened because he reached an agreement with the school district. Part of that agreement prohibits him from saying anything "disparaging" about it, he says.
But he does acknowledge this: "The morning after I showed the documentary 'Baghdad ER' was my last day in class.”
HBO, which aired 'Baghdad ER,' describes it this way: "2-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war."


I'm glad Rothschild wrote about it but I'm not feeling sorry for the teacher.

He set his own end up and I would say "Good for him" except for the fact that, in setting up his end, he sold out his own right to talk about what happened. If someone won't even talk about what happened, I'm not overly concerned about their personal plight.

I actually think that's kind of cowardly because if they did it to one teacher, they'll do to it another. (And I'm sure it's going on across the country.) But the other teacher may not have accumlated enough time so that they can trade retirement. Where does that leave them? There's an Eagles' song that talks about "I got mine" and that's how I feel about the teacher. He got his. He set up his end. He sold off his free speech and the possibility that he could draw real attention to the issue or help someone else in the same situation.

By the way, I'm not writing about Law and Disorder tonight. I'm burning up and trying to type as fast as I can. The folks told Rebecca they'd turn on the a.c. but she's actually comfortable with it off now that she's given birth. So I'm doing a quick post and then hopping in the shower.

This is from John V. Walsh's "Beware the Do-Gooders in Body Armor:"

Let me explain with a riddle. There is a country that sits on top of huge oil reserves, it is run by a nasty dictator, Israel regards it as an enemy state, it is Muslim, it is said to harbor "terrorists," and President Bush expresses hostility toward it. In 2002, that country was Iraq; in 2007 that country is Sudan. And there is a move afoot to take action against Sudan ­ but this time it is being led by the Democratic wing of the War Party. Are the American people about to be suckered into another intervention?
But you may say, is there not a "genocide" going on in the Darfur region of Sudan under the auspices of Sudan's brutal dictator? Interestingly, only President Bush and the U.S. government, label the fighting in Darfur as a "genocide." The UN and Bishop Desmond Tutu have called it a civil war, which is a very different story. But is there not terrible suffering going on in Darfur? The answer is yes. Perhaps 200,000 have been killed and a million displaced. But this is not the "worst" humanitarian disaster in the world. In fact 650,000 have been killed due to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and millions displaced. It is passing strange that President Bush is so concerned about Sudan when he wants to press on in Iraq. And for his part, Congressmen Capuano and McGovern, for all their talk of opposing the war on Iraq refuse to vote to cut off funding as have eight House Democrats and two Republicans in opposition to the war. So why do Bush and Capuano and McGovern not act to curtail the suffering in Iraq by simply leaving?
But you may say, there is real and terrible suffering in Darfur and in fact throughout Sudan. That is undeniably true. And the U.S. should be sending all the humanitarian aid it can to alleviate that suffering. In fact the U.S. could do more. In 2006, there were more deaths from malaria in Sudan and Darfur than from the civil war there. And in large part that is because the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and the one that produced antimalarials at affordable prices was bombed "mistakenly" by the Democrat Bill Clinton in 1998. There has never been an apology by the U.S. for that act which borders on a war crime. And there has never been an offer of restitution. Perhaps Congressmen Capuano and McGovern might introduce a bill to provide funds to rebuild that factory.


I would make one big change in the article above, I would change the title to "Beware the Modern Day Carrie Nations." I'm so sick of them, the Sammy Powers, and all their b.s. There was an article in Thursday's paper about how Republicans were taking the lead on this (in Congress). They took the lead on the illegal war too. I really think you get your own house in order before you start screaming for action against another country. Oh and that stupid Nicholas Kristof wrote this week that they needed a photo of a suffering puppy from Darfur in order to make America care because Americans care about suffering puppies. Nicky K, shut the hell up. He's made this his goal -- war on the Sudan -- for how many years now? Americans don't "care" because they're smart enough to realize the last thing the United States needs is another war right now. They don't "care" because they can sense an echo chamber and that's all we've gotten. Democracy Now! has been just as bad on this. They have guests on who oppose intervention in that region but the issue never gets raised with them. When it's time to talk Darfur they bring on some lunatic like Eric what's his name.

I probably have Three Kings on my favorites of my "about me" page. I love that movie. George Clooney used to be one of the actors I would go see. I haven't seen any of his films since Solaris because he's in bed with the Carrie Nations. If you're an American and you're not working to end the illegal war but you are pushing for another war, I don't think you're on the same side as I am. I think you're either a liar or an idiot. Either way, I have no interest in ever seeing another George Clooney movie. (I'm not calling for a boycott. I'm just noting how I have soured on him due to his getting in with that crowd.)

He and Sheryl Crow can both kiss my ass. Sheryl Crow, our brave bad singer, challenged Karl Rove! On the environment. What about the illegal war, Sheryl Crow? I liked "Soak Up The Sun" but she's another one I'm done with. If you can't call out an illegal war, I have no use for you. I don't care about your pet issue that's considered more 'acceptable.' I don't care about you. All the ones who are silent are cowards in my book. I also don't buy into the myth of Saint Al Gore. I'll stop before I rip into the various dumb asses pushing that.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, May 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Cheney lies again while the press plays silent, more US service members are announced dead in Iraq, and a campus activism takes place as the Bully Boy prepares to mumble through another canned speech.
Yesterday in Iraq, Cheney spun like crazy. As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) pointed out, Dick Cheney quoted David H. Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, repeatedly, "General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric. . . . We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people." As pep talks go, not a lot of reality. Last week, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on a military study that found only 40% of US marines would be willing to "report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and the number of those in the army was 55 pecent. As Gregg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) observered: "At the Associated Press' annual meeting in New York on Tuesday, I sat in the audience observing Gen. Petraeus on a huge screen, via satellite from Baghdad, as he answered questions from two AP journalists. Asked about a U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq, released last week, which showed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants -- Petraeus replied, 'When I received that survey I was very concerned by the results. It showed a willingness of a fair number to not report the wrongdoing of their buddies.' That's true enough, but then he asserted that the survey showed that only a 'small number' admitted they may have mistreated "detainees" -- a profoundly misleading statement. Actually, the study found that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property. So much for the claims by President Bush, military leaders and conservative pundits that 99.9% of U.S. troops always behave honorably. Of course, that kind of record has never been achieved by any country in any war." Along with that reality, we have the first hand stories being told.

It was about two a.m., but I could see very well because there were streetlights on our road and because the American illumination rounds that kept the sky lit up all night.


Suddenly, I looked over to my left and saw the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis in their bloodied white robes, lying a few feet from a bullet-ridden pickup truck to the side of the road. Because I sat on top left of the vehicle, and because the bodies were on the left-hand side of the road, I had them in clear view. I assumed that someone had used a massive amount of gunfire to behead them.

"Sh*t," I said.

A few second later, our slow-moving APC came to a stop. Among the three APCs in our convoy, I was the only soldier immediately ordered down to the ground. As I slid down into the APC and then out the hatch, Sergeant Jones told me to look for brass casings, which would be signs that Iraqi fighers with AK-47s had been shooting at American soldiers in the area.

I saw no sign of brass casings, but I did see an American soldier shouting at the top of his lungs while two other soldiers stood quietly next to him."We f**king lost it, we just f**king lost it," the soldier was shouting. He was in a state of complete distress, but the soldiers next to him were not reacting. The distressed soldier stood about twenty yeards from me, and another forty or so yards from the four decapitated bodies.

Two other soldiers were laughing and kicking the heads of the decapitated Iraqis. It was clearly a moment of amusement for them. This was their twisted game of soccer.

I froze at the sight of it, and for a moment could not believe my eyes. But I saw what I saw, and was so revolted and horrified that I defied Sergeant Jones's orders and climbed right back into the APC.

[. . .]

I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head but she would not stop screaming.
"What are you doing this for?" she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

"We have done nothing to you," she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
"You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?"

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell facedown into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground. I pushed Hayes away."What are you doing, man?" I said to him. "You have a wife and two kids! Don't be hitting her like that."

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying those words, but he did not touch the woman again. I found this incident with Hayes particularly disturbing because during other times I had seen him in action in Iraq, Hayes had showed himself to be one of the most levelheaded and calm soldiers in my company. I had the sense that if he could lose it and hit a woman the way he had, any of us could lose it.

The above is from US war resister Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale -- the 'little' book that some expected to get a tiny flurry of attention the week of release and then quickly fade. Instead, it continues to get attention from across the political spectrum (and around the world), is stocked in bookstores across the country. ZNet runs the most recent review of it, by Derrick O'Keefe who found, "The Deserter's Tale is told in simple, compelling prose. Joshua Key's story may just be one perspective on the Iraq war, but in many ways the young war resister is also speaking on behalf of the voiceless thousands senselessly killed in this war. Relentlessly honest, and graphic, this book stands out as unique and significant amidst the shelves of books critiquing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It will surely stand up long after this war is over as a condemnation both of the pretensions of empire, and of the grotesque inequality that scars life in the United States itself."

Key is not the only war resister to tell his story in book form. The just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Camilo Mejia's account, an account he is also sharing currently on a speaking tour with other war resisters. That includes, as Courage to Resist noted yesterday, Agustin Aguayo:

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo stepped off of a plane today at Sacramento International Airport after being imprisoned by the U.S. Army and held in Germany for nine months. Agustin was convicted of missing movement and desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and publicly speaking out against the war.

Agustin's wife Helga and Courage to Resist supporters met him at the airport, give him a couple hours to relax from his 18-hour journey from Germany, and whisked him to his first speaking event in California’s capitol. From here, Agustin is beginning a multi-city tour covering much of Northern California. In the upcoming days, Agustin will be joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mej√≠a, Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, and Marine L/Cpl Robert Zabala.

The upcoming dates for the speaking out tour include:

Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.


Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447


Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311


Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837


Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197


Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.


US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, 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, forty 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.

Cheney made other laughable claims in Baghdad yesterday. Many in the press, including
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post), Alissa J. Rubin and basically anyone filing from Iraq, noted that Cheney declared, "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war. . . . The United States, also, has made a decision: As the prime target of a global war against terror, we will stay on the offensive. We will not sit back and wait to be hit again." If it sounds familiar, it's part of the scare lie that the US administration used to launch an illegal war. It's been disproven and discredited. Strangely, though major outlets found time to include the lie, there wasn't room to call it out. Now in the leadup to the illegal war this lie would be repeated over and over. It was a lie then but many in the mainstream ran with it (click here for one notable exception, McClatchy Newspapers -- then Knight-Ridder). After that and other lies were exposed -- after the US was involved in an illegal war -- some in the press would express shock that the discredited lie was believed by so many in the public. Why was that? Because despite mini-culpas there was no strong calling out of the lies and, even today, the lie can be jotted down and appear in print without a reporter feeling it is their duty (and it is their duty) to note that what Cheney uttered was a lie. One example, Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev's "Senate reports say Saddam rejected cooperating with terrorists" (McClatchy Newspapers) calling out the lie in September of last year:
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein rejected pleas for assistance from Osama bin Laden and tried to capture terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was in Iraq, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Friday found, casting further doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.


President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly cited Saddam's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion as one reason to take military action against Iraq.
Yes and Cheney continues to do so without being called out on it, so don't blame the public when the press fails at its own job.
A failure of the British press currently is the slobbering going over about Mr Tony. As
Tariq Ali noted at CounterPunch, "Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits." Speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today, Tariq Ali noted, "We had no real accounting of why he's leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he's leaving is, because he's hated. And the reason he's hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country [England] oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that's what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis. And you listen to Blair now and his successor, Brown, and they sound much worse than any Democrat in the Senate or the House, because they realize the war's unpopular. These guys carry on living in a tiny bubble, media bubble, which they construct. And I think the BBC's sycophancy, the way in which they portrayed him yesterday as if he was a sort of dead Princess Diana, doesn't do them proud. It was a low point in BBC journalism, with one of their political correspondents saying, 'Gosh, look at him. Isn't he a winner?' Well, he isn't a winner, which is why he's leaving. And a reluctant party is saying farewell to him, because they think they’ll lose the next election if he’s in charge. That's what's going on."

And what's going on Iraq today?

Bombings?

Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates (Reuters) report that Baghdad has seen truck bombing attacks on bridges today that have left at least 26 dead, at least 60 wounded and damanged bridges. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra explosion that left one civilian wounded. Reuters reports a bridge outside Taiji was bombed "main highway connecting the capital [Baghdad] with cities in the north" and that four Iraqi soldiers were killed in the explosion, a Zaafaraniya bombing that left two dead and four wounded.

Shootings?
Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Samara shooting death of "brigadier Amar Kareem Khlaf". Reuters reports a Kirkuk drive-by that left one person dead and the shooting death of Falluja's deputy mayor.
Corpses?

Reuters reports one corpses was discovered in Hawija.

Earlier today
Reuters reported the Baghdad death of a US soldier (two more wounded) from a Thursday roadside bombing, the Tikrit death of a US soldier (9 wounded) from a Thursday bombing, the Thursday death of a US soldier in Diwaniya from "small-arms fire" and the Thursday death of a US soldier in Baghdad also from "small-arms fire".

This as
AP reports that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani , in a speech delivered at Cambridge, declared, "I think that in one or two years we will be able to recruit our forces, to prepare our forces and say goodbye to our friends." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now 3386 -- that's 3386 'goodbyes' Talabani can say. Long after the four year mark has passed on the illegal war, everyone is supposed to buy that now (now!) it will only take one or two more years. And of course in one or two more years, no doubt, the message will still be "It'll just take a year or two more." How many deaths is it going to take? The next time someone -- in the US Congress, in the Iraqi Parliament, wherever -- wants to tell the world how much more X it will take for the illegal war to be 'won,' let's all ask them to drop the months or years and tell us how many more lives. How many more lives will this illegal war take? CBS and AP report: "The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, said he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad that has seen a rise in violence blamed largely on militants who fled the Baghdad security operation. Mixon also said Iraqi government officials are not moving fast enough to provide the 'most powerful weapon' against insurgents -- a government that works and supplies services for the people." For such a government to exist, it would have to be one put foward by the Iraqi people and not yet another puppet government installed by the US. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports this on CBS: "In media news, CBS has dismissed an Iraq war veteran over his involvement in an ad campaign criticizing the war. General John Batiste appears in an ad from the group VoteVets dot org. Batiste has been working as a CBS News consultant." Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on Sunday's Book TV (C-Span) (7:00 pm EST).

The US House of Representatives passed a measure today. It funds the Iraq war but by piecemeal. The Senate now takes up the vote. It's called going through the motions. Instead, we'll turn to campus activism where Bully Boy's speech today at St. Vincent college (in Penn.) has led to a huge outcry.
James Gerstenzang (LA Times) reports that "Students vigorously debated the invitation at a town-hall meeting last month. A former St. Vincent College president wrote a scathing newspaper essay saying Bush had no place on the campus. About a quarter of the tenure-rank faculty wrote an open letter to Bush challenging the Iraq war as contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine. Several dozen people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night protesting the visit. And for several Sundays, nuns protested on the edge of the campus. The discord, polite and reasoned as it may be, is emblematic of passions across the country as the war moves further into its fifth year, with increasing military deployments and mounting death tolls among Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops." Jennifer Loven (AP) reports a crowd of at least 150 protesting and quotes philosophy major Ronny Menzie "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him. I think it's a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college." and Iraq war vet Jonas Merrill who made a 90 minute drive to protest the Bully Boy's appearance, "We're fighting for the guys still over there." This campus response isn't a brand new development for the administration. David Nitkin (Baltimore Sun) observes, "Graduation visits by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials are galvanizing opponents at campuses across the country, sparking intense debates and frustrating White House hopes. A similar outcry greeted Bush last month at a South Florida community college. Protesters flocked to the campus even though it was considered to be an accommodating environment, with a large Cuban-American population." And Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds, "Other even more conservative campuses also have been touched by unrest over the war. Last month, a small group of students and faculty at Brigham Young University, the nation's premier Mormon school, objected to a commencement address by Vice President Dick Cheney."







iraq tariq ali agustin aguayo democracy now amy goodman the new york times alissa j. rubin the washington post joshua partlow