Monday, June 25, 2007

Third Estate Sunday Review, James Rothenberg

Truest statement of the week -- Amy Goodman interviewing a high schooler about censorship in his high school -- they're not allowed to talk about the ongoing, illegal war.

A Note to Our Readers -- Jim's note. He breaks it down pretty well.

Editorial: Iraq silences -- This is about all the silence on Iraq. There are almost a million Iraqis who've died since the start of the illegal war, there are 3560 dead US service members, the war passed the four year mark and where the hell is the coverage? Approximately 70% of Americans are now opposed to the illegal war and where is the press coverage? The silences are prolonging the war as much as the White House is.

TV: Hidden Yawns -- I loved this. Ava and C.I. are talking about Hidden Palms which is a really bad show -- so bad, if you're planning to catch it do so this Wednesday or next because then the piece of crap is gone forever. It's set in Palm Springs and is a teen soap opera with some adults. Nothing ever happens. For this commentary, they check into Hidden Palms and meet the characters. Very funny. They did it this way to fit with the theme of the edition which was the annual summer read, fiction issue.

Base Is Hell -- I love this. I loved it when we thought we were done and I loved it when we punched it. This is about war. It's about keeping your ass safe on base while you send people under you out to battle. It's set in the future. I really love this.

The Tired Tryst -- In this short story, YOU get to meet Bono. YOU get to sleep with Bono. YOU get to find out what's that like. Considering this a scary story.

The Asbury Park Murder -- This short story is a mystery where someone dies at the beginning and you find out the killer at the end. This was about 2 times as long and got cut to a third in the final version to make it move faster and to be a short story.

Creation Theory -- Who creates the Frankenstein's candidates? Where does these centrist creatures come from? A peak inside the DLC laboratory!

Samantha Power Between Her Knees -- This is funny and it's got a point. After the war short story, this is probably my favorite of the six.

Cut The Fat! Newt Takes It Off! -- In this piece of fiction we create a diet book from Newt Gingrich and excerpt it.

Highlight -- Rebecca, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Elaine and me worked on this one.

Ava and C.I. bonus -- This is a repost of Ava and C.I.'s great entry from last Tuesday.

Now, plus Dallas, here is who helped out for the summer read edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

Now this is from James Rothenberg's "Hillary Does Iraq:"

I received a letter from Hillary Clinton the other day noting my "concerns" regarding Iraq. She acknowledges the "seriousness" of the situation which is a "major and constant focus of hers". I'm sure it is. The question is, for what reason?
Hillary believes that "the President should abandon his escalation of the war". She chooses not to say "his" war because it could not have been "his" war without the help of people like "her". This leaves aside the annoying distinction that this never really was a "war", in the sense of two opposing sides, but simply an attack of the most strong on the most weak, putting it in the preferred state terminology, "shock and awe".
She feels our troops (whom she "fully supports") should be given a "new strategy" in place of what, she doesn't mention, but one assumes to be an "old strategy". This may be the strategy that didn't materialize--the immaculate takeover. Had it materialized it is debatable whether she would have been overcome by the "seriousness" of the situation.
This attitude is made apparent in the following sentence. "We cannot afford to repeat past failures, such as not planning adequately for the conflict and failing to properly equip our men and women in uniform." The "conflict", the focus of her "seriousness", is tacitly justified.
She believes a full reconsideration of the terms and conditions of the authorization for the use of force in Iraq is "overdue". One may rightly ask, at what date was it first overdue?
Hillary cites her January trip to Iraq to assess the situation "firsthand" and express her "gratitude" to the troops. Anyone who has ever served in the military can tell you that the last thing you want to hear is that some dignitary is coming to visit your base because all that means is hassle and scrubdown. There is a play being staged called "Look and Act Your Best' and everyone understands this is a play except the dignitary for whom it is being performed.

She really is something, isn't she? I prefer her to Obama but I prefer the stray cat that meows all night in our neighborhood (she's in heat) to Obama.

The candidates making the emptiest statements are the ones the press rushes to push. That's not an accident. They just want someone who won't shake the boat. They exist to control the way we think and see things, not to inform us, not to serve readers.

Late, late Friday, Ma's "Mandarin Oranges & Wild Rice in the Kitchen." Make a point to read it.
My brother and sister-in-law moved in this weekend and that's pretty cool. She's finishing work this Friday. She was only postponing maternity leave because of their bills. We all figured that was the case. It would be different if it was fall, winter or spring, but as hot as it is and with her due to deliver anytime now, the heat had to be hard on her. She's really nice and we're all excited about when their daughter is born. My brother (this is my oldest) asked me to put something in here this week and I'll go ahead and toss it in tonight. If you're able to, avoid student loans. You'll borrow from one loan company, they'll sell it off, then that company sells it off. You end up with this huge debt, this interest piling up and half the time you may not even know who you owe until they e-mail you telling you that you owe them now. C.I. covers me (thank you) so I didn't have to end up doing that and a lot of people don't have the choice. My brother says that you can pay attention to the amounts you're borrowing and freak over it (we all know people who did just that and ended up dropping out because the debt was just freaking them too much) or you can accept that this is what you have to do for college. But realize that the debt is out there and once you leave the grace period after graduation, not only do they want it, the interest starts piling up.

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

Monday, June 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, an attack in the Green Zone gathers attention (of course), US commanders grumble about the status of Iraqi forces, and more.

Starting with war resisters. Chris Capps (
Courage to Resist via Democracy Rising) shares his story which begins in "the Army Reserves in 2004 looking to earn money for college and basically to become independent," continues to Iraq (2005) where the "chow" at Camp Victory is among the surprises:

There were Philly cheese steaks, a good salad bar, a juice bar, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, and food better then anything I had ever seen before. There was a Pizza Hut, a giant PX store, a Subway, an Arby's, a Greens Beans, and a Popeye's Chicken too.
When you're expecting a combat zone and you walk into something like this you have to wonder "What the hell is going on here?" It was surreal sitting there eating a Subway sandwich, listening to evelator music, and hearing explosions sou loud they could knock your drink right off the table, and gunfire in the distance.
KRB ran everything on Camp Victory. I eventually figured out the deal. I saw the Filipino and Pakistani contractors laboring hard while the American KBR employees drove around in brand new cars just to get from one end of the post to another. Everyone talked about the corruption. I learned about how much it cost the American taxpayer so that I could walk into that nice DFAC, sit down, and have a bite to eat.

In September 2006, he was stationed in Germany and, having seen what Kyle Huwer was going through attempting to get conscientious objector status, Capps decided to self-check out: "I remained AWOL for 60 days. At that point my unit classified me as more then AWOL -- I was now in a 'deserter status.' On May 8 I turned myself in at Fort Still, Oklahoma. Kyle had suggested Fort Sill because it, along with Fort Knox, had a designated out processing center for AWOL soldiers who turn themselves in. But if you're not yet in a 'deserter status,' chances are you will just be returned to the unit you left. It doesn't always work out so smoothly, but on May 11 I was discharged from the Army with an 'other than honorable' discharge."

Chris Capps resides in Germany now, is assisting other soldiers and attempting to start up "a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War" there. He concludes: "I don't believe in this war. I would like to see more people choosing not to deploy. I think this is the only direct and effective resistance that is going to make this war impossible to go on forever. If the politicians refuse to listen to the people, then the people need to take action. If we had resistance throughout the military then we could finally end this war here and now."

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Kirsten Scharnberg (Chicago Tribune) examined the efforts of the US military brass to silence dissent [Scharnberg's article is also carried by The Baltimore Sun which requires no registration] and zoomed in on the attempts to punish Iraq Veterans Against the War's
Liam Madden, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh for speaking out against the illegal war with Scharnberg noting: "Many of the protests involving vets in uniform are all-out street theater, like on in Washington last spring at which protesters staged a mock patrol, manhandling people at stimulated gunpoint to illustrate how they say Iraqis are treated by American troops. The intended subtext of the uniformed protests is apparent. Protesters have additional credibility because they are denouncing a war they have witnessed firstand, that the very uniforms now being used in protest have walked the real battlefield." Madden explains, "Guys like us -- veterans who served but then came believe the war is not only wrong but illegal -- are not who the military wants speaking on a national stage." Which is what it comes down -- fatiques are not dress uniforms. Those discharged (as Kokesh, Madden and Richards were) are not generally discharged from the IRR. But the brass is working overtime in an attempt to clamp down and will resort to anything, no matter how shameful.

KBR, mentioned by Chris Capps, was Kellogg Brown and Root which came together when Brown and Root merged with Halliburton's M.W. Kellogg.
Jackie Northam (NPR) reported on the issue of the 120,000 contractors in Iraq for today's Morning Edition noting a hearing
exposed many other problems in the contracting industry . . . in fact, at that hearing, a spokesperson for the army couldn't even say how many contracting companies were working in Iraq. These issues have led to calls for more transperancy in the contracting industry . . . There's no central data base, no single organization to keep track of facts and figures and so that the most basic questions regarding civilian contractors cannot easily be answered. What roles do the contractors play? What nationalities? How much is it costing the American taxpayer and how many contractors have been killed? One of the most vexing questions is what legal framework do the contractors fall under?"

Heading into last weekend, the US military fatality count in Iraq stood at 3546 on Friday. Today it stands at
3560. The US military began announcing the 14 deaths on Saturday and Sunday and reaching 14 with this morning's announcement: "A Task Force Marne Soldier died in a small arms fire attack today" in Baghdad. The 14 dead come days after Peter Pace and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were attempting to push the notion that progress in Iraq had nothing to do with violence or deaths. Today Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that "some American commanders expressed doubts about the ability of Iraqi troops to hold gains made in areas north of the capital last week . . . The American commander in Baquba, Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, and his counterpart south of Baghdad, Maj. Gen Rick Lynch, pointed to a variety of problems with the Iraqi forces, including a shortage of trained troops and a lack of basic supplies like ammunition, radios and trucks." BBC notes: "The BBC's Andrew North, in Baghdad, says US commanders blame a lack of committed and properly organised Iraqi troops for the failure of past efforts to secure the Baghdad region" and those problems do not appear to have vanished as the same-old-same-old spreads into the north. Though doing the same thing with larger numbers in northern Iraq (don't call it strategy) resulted in as many as 10,000 US service members in the Diyala province, Baghdad has been the locale for deaths in the last few days -- US and Iraqis.

This includes the incident getting the most attention today, the bombing of the al-Mansour Melia hotel in Baghdad -- which housed many journalists as well as the Chinese embassy.
ITV reports that "Sunni Arab tribal leaders from western Anbar province had gathered there for a meeting." Ammar Karim (The Australian and AFP) reports the meeting was confirmed and that a bomber entered "the crowded lobby," detonated the bomb, killing himself and many others. AFP describes "charred bodies of the victims and many of the wounded were lying near the reception desk in the rubble-strewn lobby, and that the ceiling had collapsed, leaving clusters of white tiles hanging from wires. The blast damaged the stairway, the elevators, and the ceiling of the first floor of the hotel, which lies on the west bank of the Tigris river and houses diplomats and some foreign media organisations. Patches of blood stained the marble floor and scraps of human flesh were left stuck to the concrete pillars."
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports that "sheiks and political figures, Sunni Arab Muslims as well as Shiite Muslims, were gathered in the lobby of the Mansour Melia hotel drinking tea and chatting when the explosion gutted a large section of the lobby and shattered windows on the high-rise's first and second levels, hotel workers said." Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) explains that, despite "tight security," the bomber apparently walked into the hotel from the street without raising any suspicion among the "armed guards" or at the car checkpoints -- both of which were on alert as the hotel was "sealed off" . . . after the bombing. CNN notes that among the at least a dozen people dead is Rahim al-Maliki who was an anchor "with Iraqiya state television". AP notes that al-Maliki (no relation to the puppet) was also a poet. CBS and AP raise the dozen dead to 13 (and remember that toll may rise as some who are wounded do not pull through and as some corpses may still be undiscovered) and note that CBS News' Lara Logan was at the hotel during the blast and reports "that al-Guooud was meeting in the lobby with other members of the Anbar Salvation Council when the blast occured". Fassal al-Guood had been the "former Anbar governor" and is among the dead. Ned Parker notes that Sheik Abdul-Aziz Fahdawi, Sheik Tariq Saleh Dulaimi and Aziz al-Yasiri were among the dead. [Video] CBS News spoke with al-Yasiri last week when he shared his belief that the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, had established "multi-party dictatorship."

In other violence . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Bahgdad mortar attack that wounded 3 Iraqis and 25 more wounded and a roadside bombing outside al Dujail claimed the life of one police officer and left 3 more wounded. Reuters notes a truck bombing in Baiji that has killed at least 27 people and left 62 injured. In addition, Reuters notes a car bombing in Mosul that left 3 dead and 40 more wounded. DPA reports: "Also Monday, a US helicopter-backed force killed two Iraqi civilians Monday in Sadr city ina raid on several houses east of Baghdad, independent Voices of Iraq news agency reported citing local residents of the city. The attack occured during the early hours of Monday in the main street of Abu Zhar Al Ghafari, where the US helicopters pounded two house, killing two civilians and wounding a woman".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Baghdad shooting death of "local council member Auda Mutalq".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 16 corpses discovered in Baghdad and, in Basra, the corpse of "the assistant of the intelligence head of the 10th Iraqi army division in Basra". DPA identifies the man as Faris Mohammed.

Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on Iraq veteran Jeff Kay whose story as a gay man serving in the military is told in the film Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey which begins airing on Showtime tonight. Kay was drummed out of the military after announcing on CNN live (March 31, 2004) that he was gay. The Denver Post notes:

Using scenes from his one-man stage play, along with video shot in Iraq and at his boyhood home in Alabama, Jeff Key recounts how he volunteered for the Marines at age 34, completed boot camp with men young enough to be his sons, became a lance corporal and served in Iraq, and then returned home heartbroken on many levels.What he endured in Iraq, the politics of the conflict, his realization concerning what he describes as the real causes of the war, is compounded by the way he was treated by his branch of the service once he revealed his sexual orientation.

More information on Semper Fi can be found
here (Showtime website) and in this press release. Jeff Key is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.