Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dixie Chicks, Ralph Nader, Kentucky

Friday! At last! :D Dad is going to kill me! We spent about four hours talking music tonight, Rebecca, Elaine, Flyboy and me. Dad lives for those kind of conversations. Then Flyboy and me started trying to stump them with trivia we were finding online and had no luck. (Although we did disagree with them on one thing because they said something online was wrong. It was a Cher question and we kept insisting it was right because we'd surfed to places besides Crapapedia. Then Elaine called C.I. and that settled it -- Crapapedia was wrong.) So that was a lot of fun.

Unlike Flyboy, I didn't make the mistake of thinking I could stump Elaine on Pink Floyd. I was telling him, "Dude, she knows her Floyd!" But he wasn't listening and she was getting every bit of trivia right there. :D Realizing their strengths were hard rock and soul, we started looking up female singers to try to stump them.

We talked about the Dixie Chicks, of course, because this is their week (and they earned it).
This is from Ashley Sayeau's "Dixie Chicks Among Esteemed Outlaws:"

It was a long road, indeed, for the Chicks, whose enormous fan base and ticket sales famously plummeted in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines remarked on the eve of the Iraq war that the group was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Within days, radio stations were refusing to play their music, and fans were demanding refunds. Death threats were later issued.
Throughout the ordeal, the group remained admirably unapologetic, insisting that dissent is (or at least should be) a vital liberty in America. They further maintained this position in their album Taking the Long Way (which won the Grammy for best album) and especially in the song "Not Ready To Make Nice," in which they directly addressed their critics: "It's too late to make it right/ I probably wouldn't if I could/ Cause I'm mad as hell/ Can't bring myself to do what it is/ You think I should."
Despite the group's successes, the grudge has held, particularly among the Nashville music establishment. The Country Music Association completely snubbed the Chicks at its awards ceremony in May.
Such an affront on the part of country music is not only cowardly, but also quite antithetical to the genre's history. For, while country music today is often equated with pickup trucks, rebel flags, and men with mullets, it also has a brave and, dare I say, liberal streak in its closet.

And we also talked about the news and let me put in something here. This is from USA Today, page 13A of today's paper, "Across the USA:"

Kentucky: Richmond -- A malicious computer program hit more than 100 state government offices in the past week. The program prevented officials from issuing driver's licenses, renewing vehicle registrations and performing other government functions.

I wondered if that included paying for parking or speeding tickets? It's like Sandra Bullock says in The Net, "Our whole lives are" on the net/online? I don't remember. I used to watch that movie all the time when it was on cable (this was years ago). It's a pretty cool movie. But did normal business just come to a standstill in Richmond, Kentucky? My grandfather was complaining not long ago about trying to buy something somewhere and the computers were down and he didn't understand why people couldn't just write up a receipt and take his money? I told him, "I bet a lot of people wouldn't know how to write up a receipt even if they had blank ones to use." People make jokes about how McDonalds has little pictures on its register and wonder what that says about the people that work there but I really think most people wouldn't know how to write up something if the computers were down.

Did anybody hear Ralph Nader on KPFA's Living Room today? That was pretty cool and pretty funny. I thought he got off a good one about how if people want to blame him for the Democrats loss in 2000, what's their excuse for 2004? :D That made me laugh. That was a really good interview. If you missed it, you can check it out via the archives. He also had a good point about John Kerry that I wish wasn't true and that was how nothing John Kerry said was memorable except that dumb ass line of "reporting for duty." He talked about his family too and that was pretty cool hearing about his parents and his sister. I think he said that his sister is a college professor and she studies the way we're corpora-tized. I thought he got off a good one about The Nation as well. :D It was pretty good, there were funny bits and serious bits and there was a point to all of it. He had a thing about how Jon Stewart had told him that the Democratic Party was Shakesperian and he wished he'd thought of his response while he was on the show -- his response was something like, "To think or not to think, that is the liberal's question." :D
But it really was a strong interview and you should check it out.

A few years ago, if I'd heard it, I would be booing and hissing. That's because I really did accept that nonsense that he 'spoiled' the election. But, like I've been saying over and over for a few weeks now (and getting the hate mail for it), he didn't steal anyone's vote. He earned the votes he got. He made that point too, and stronger than I have, and said that any of his issues that attracted voters could have been picked up by Al Gore. I agree with that. I also agree with his comments about the Clinton-Gore team when they were in office. So it was a really good interview and I'm glad it came along after I'd gotten over the nonsense so I could really enjoy it because a few years ago, I would have been booing and hissing at the speakers.

I think that's going to be it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 16, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq (despite the capital crackdown), the House acts 'symoblically,' Ralph Nader explains the importance of making demands, and The Russians Are Snickering!

Starting with news of war resisters. In June 0f 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, he faced a court-martial at Fort Lewis in Washington.

On Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began with jury selection for the military panel (seven officers were selected) who would, as Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) pointed out, "determine whether Watada spends up to four years in prison in one of the most high-profile cases to be tried at Fort Lewis." Watada was facing up to four years in prison and Lt. Col. John Head (aka Judge Toilet) refused to allow him to argue the reasons why he refused to deploy. This is why Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) called the proceedings "a kangaroo court-martial." . On Tuesday, the prosectution presented their case. Aaron Glantz discussed the day's events with Sandra Lupien on The KPFA Evening News noting: "The prosecution had 3 witnesses. It did not go as well as the prosecution would have liked. Lt. Col Bruce Antonia, who was the prosecution's star witness, as Lt. Watada's commander, said that nothing tangibly bad happened from Lt. Watada's refusal to go to" Iraq and "[a]nother thing that did not go well for the prosecution today was that their own witnesses clearly showed that Lt. Watada tried other methods of expressing . . . [his opposition] to the Iraq war, internally within the military, before coming forward to speak to the public." Also noting the prosecution's poor performance on Tuesday (when they rested their case), was civil rights attorney Bill Simpich who told Geoffrey Millard (Truthout): "The prosecution asked too many questions. By the time it was over, the prosecution witness had become a defense witness because the field was open. The defense was able to ask nuanced questions, it told the story clearly to the jury." On Wednesday, Judge Toilet began talking mistrial and, due to the lousy performance by the prosecution, it was seen as an attempt at a "do over" even before he called the mistrial.

That was last week and, since then, many legal experts have weighed in to offer that, as Watada's civilian attorney Eric Seitz has stated, Watada can't be retried without double-jeopardy entering into the picture.
John Catalinotto (Socialist Worker) observes: "Watada's military defense lawyer -- appointed by the Army -- Capt. Mark Kim, said that he agreed with Seitz's interpretation of military law." Geov Parrish (Eat The State) offers that Watada may have won not just the round but the battle: "How did this happen? It happened because one young officer stuck to his principles, even under enormous pressure, and the Army didn't know how to react. Its handling of the case has allowed Ehren Watada -- young, photogenic, articulate, and deeply moral -- to become a folk hero within the antiwar movement, so much so that even his (supportive) parents have become minor celebrities in their own rights. US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich issued a statement last week: "The court improperly denied Lt. Watada's right to a dfense by blocking him from explaining why he believes the war in Iraq is illegal. Procedural decisions by the court have effectively denied Lt. Watada the right to engage in a protected activity -- freedom of speech. This [the declaration of a mistrial] is a significant ruling which empowers people to speak out against this unjust war."

Jim Cohen (Pepperdine University's The Graphic) ties recent news on the US administration's lies into the Watada story: "A recent report from the Pentagon has concluded that the former policy chief from the Pentagon, Douglas J. Feith, took 'inappropriate' actions by advancing unsubstantiated evidence to bolster the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. Watada's justification of abstention to fight in Iraq has, in fact, been substantiated. This new information will hopefully give Watada the peace of mind by knowing he was right for following his former commander's advice to study everything, our government's arguments for going to war in Iraq as well as the purpose of the mission. By failing to do this kind of hard work, the commander in chief has left the troops without a mission caught in the middle of a civil sectarian war."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard 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.

Dave Ward (The Gazette) profiles Tim Richard, a war resister from Iowa who now attends the University of Western Ontario, who tells Ward: "I joined the army with the idea that I would be defending America. But Iraq has nothing to do with defending America. . . . I did have to pay some personal prices. My marriage broke up over it. Not to mention [I lost] what I had identified myself as, which was a U.S. soldier, a very patriotic American. At the same time, I did what I felt was the right thing to do -- which was not to participate in something I knew to be wrong. So I don't regret doing that."

Meanwhile Lance Hering's parents have
been interviewed by Jodi Brooks for Boulder's CBS affiliate (CBS4). Hering, a marine who served in Iraq, was on leave and back in the United States when he disappeared on an August 29th hike. Hering, whose rank is Lance Cpl., has no made press statements but the friend he was hiking with has maintained they staged/arranged Hering's disappearance so that he would not have to return to Iraq. That is what his friend, Steve Powers, has told the press. Hering has not spoken to the press. He may or may not be a war resister. His parents, Lloyd and Ellyne Hering, tell Brooks that Lance's disappearance has led them to begin "talking about the war. Lloyd said he and Ellyne realized that supporting the troops meant stopping the war. Lloyd and Ellyne have traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to urge Congress to stop funding the war. Ellyne writes postcards as part of a nationwide campaign to stop special appropriations for Iraq." Lloyd Hering tells Brooks: "We're here to help him whenever he decides to come back. He'll get legal help, financial help, counseling help, and all the love that we can provide anytime he comes back."

Also in the United States, the House of Representatives passed their nonbinding resolution opposing Bully Boy's planned escalation of US troops in Iraq. As noted by Kris Welch in the middle of
KPFA's Living Room, the vote was 246 in favor of the resolution and 182 against. Nicholas Johnston (Bloomberg News) puts it this way: "The House of Representatives renounced President George W. Bush's latest strategy to resolve the four-year war in Iraq, passing a nonbinding resolution that disapproves of his decision to send about 21,000 more U.S. troops to the conflict. The vote may be the strongest rebuke of a president during wartime since Congress in 1970 rescinded the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized military action in Southeast Asia." Susan Cornwell (Reuters) notes the measure was "symoblic but politically potent". M.E. Sprengelmeyer (Rocky Mountain News) offers excerpts (text) of statements made during the days of deliberation by Colorado Representatives and KPFA has exceprts (audio) of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Thompson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, Ellen Tauscher. As CNN notes, the Senate now prepares to vote on the resolution tomorrow (yes, that is Saturday, yes they will be in session).

US Rep Dennis Kucinch noted that the measure "is a nonbinding resolution. The war, however, is binding. The real -- and Constitutional -- power of Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, is to cut off fund for an immoral and illegal war. Money is there right now to bring our troops home, and bringing our brave troops home is part of a plan that involves enlisting the support of the United Nations to mobilize international peacekeepers so our men and women can come home. I have a 12-point plan which I have circulated among Members of Congress as to how we can get out of Iraq. The American people will not tolerate nonbinding resolutions as being an excuse for strong and substantive action to end the war as quickly as possible." Meanwhile Reps Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters issued their statement on the measure yesterday as well (Roll Call via Truthout): "Contrary to Republican claims that Democrats have no alternative plan for Iraq, there are in fact several on the table. Our own comprehensive bill, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Resotration Act, would complete a fully funded military withdrawal from Iraq within six months while ensuring that our troops and contractors leave safely and accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces. In addition, our bill would remove the specter of an endless occupation by preventing the establishment of permanent military bases and reiterate our commitment, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to working with the international community to assist Iraq in its reconstruction and reconciliation efforts. We also would stand ready, if asked by the Iraqis, to participate in an international stabilization force."

US Rep Maxine Waters is
BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice honoree for the week and among the examples cited is this statement Waters made on the House floor: "The citizens of this country are sick and tired of this war. It is not enough to talk the talk. You have got to walk the walk. They know the difference between nuancing and posturing, and they want action.
. . . They will know whether or not we mean business if we are prepared to stop funding this war."

Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) surveys Soviet veterans of the Afghanistan war and learns "many soldiers who fought there believe they're seeing history repeat itself. The United States -- then the force behind the Afghan resistance -- now appears trapped in a similar downward spiral in Iraq, besieged by a collection of forces not unlike those it trained and equipped to crippled the Soviets two decades ago." This as AP notes that Philip H. Bloom "whose companies made more than $8 million in Iraq reconstruction money through a gifts-for contracts scheme was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison." And as the AP reports that "three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done. . . Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2,7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney."

Would you rather have health insurance
you can actually aford, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather have enough inspectors
to keep your kids from getting poisoned
by bad hamburgers, or bomb Iraq?
Would you rather breate clean air
and drink water free from pesticides
and upriver sh*t, or bomb Iraq?
-- "Choices," by Marge Piercy, Poets Against The War, p. 179

Stephany Kerns (Military Families Speak Out, mother of Nickolas Schiavoni who was killed November 15, 2005 in Iraq) writes: "Every time I hear George Bush talk about his determination to make those tax cuts of his permanent it makes me so upset. In reality, he is setting up this scenario: military families grandchildren will be part of the population that pays for this war. If these tax cuts are made permanent, it won't be George Bush or Dick Cheney's grandchildren that pay for it. It will be your grandchildren and my grandchildren who pay. Yes, my grandchildren, who lost their father in this war, will pay for the war that killed their Dad." Grandparents are in other binds as well. Donna St. George (Washington Post) reports on children being raised by grandparents when their parent dies in Iraq and finds that it's not at all uncommon for the $100,000 benefit to either be held (until the child turns 18) or to go elsewhere (such as the husband of Hannah McKinney who got her $400,000 life insurance but is not taking care of her son -- her parents Barbie and Matt Heavrin are.) The stories are all too common and the lack of foresight and compassion on the part of the US administration (can't have it all when you're rushing into an illegal war) is echoed in the (mis)treatment of veterans. Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports on the lack of a support system, the lack of money and the lack of oversight in the supposed 'care' for returning veterans.

In Iraq? It's Friday. There's never a great deal of reporting coming out of Iraq about Iraqis. Officials? Maybe on a day where they issue non-stop statements.


Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Kirkuk that killed one person and left three more wounded. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an IED killed one Iraqi soldier and left another wounded in Baghdad.


Reuters notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad and four in Mosul.

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that Iraqi Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi claims the "only 10 bodies" (eleven) demonstrates "a big reduction in terror and killing operations in Baghdad" because the average is 40 or 50 corpses and that his remarks were echoed by US Major General Joseph Fil. Really? I suppose some will buy it, some idiots.

But the reality is the figures come from Iraqi officials and US officials. Which may be why many have ignored noting the deaths in the past few days. So citing a decrease in figures you largely control the release of really proves nothing. That also explains why the shooting deaths the press is reporting today are from Thursday. (As
AFP notes, they previously tried to pitch five corpses as success.) It'll be interesting to see if "___ died February 16th" announcements are released tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday by the US military.

Ned Parker and Michael Evans (Times of London) paint a more accurate picture of the latest 'extreme crackdown' in Baghdad noting that both it "and Basra ground to a halt yesterday" which is why the crackdown -- ongoing since June in Baghdad -- has never been a 'strategy' or a 'plan.' It's a holding move and every few weeks, the US administration and the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, increase it even more.

Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) offers four points to end the illegal war and occupation and we'll focus on the first: "Stop funding a sectarian Baghdad regime based on lethal militias. . . . . The coalition is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the name of security. Baghdad, once a mixed city of five million people, is dominated by a huge Shi'a majority." [Hayden recommends the creation of a transitional regime.]

CODEPINK, Ralph Nader, the Green Party and other activists are forming Pelosi Watch "to get Pelosi to take the lead in efforts to defund the war and get all U.S. troops out of the Middle East."

Nader spoke with Kris Welch today on
KPFA's Living Room and noted of the two party system that encourages cowardice, "We've got to really ask ourselves, 'What's our breaking point?' . . . [when you make no demands] You just say, 'You've got my vote, take it and run with it.' If you don't make demands . . . the corporate interests are pulling in the other directions 24 hours a day. which is why both parties get worse when you engage in least worst voting without putting demands on the least worst candidate." He also noted that, "The Democrats have become very good in the last 20 years at electing very bad Republicans."

Finally, as
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "College and high school students across the nation walked out class Thursday in a national student strike against the Iraq war. In California, an estimated 1,000 students at UC Santa Barbara blocked traffic on a freeway. Up to 3,000 students turned out for an anti-war rally at UC Berkeley. And at least four hundred rallied at Columbia University here in New York. More than a dozen other schools took part around the country."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Michael Ratner, Lynne Stewart, Dave Lindorff

Thursday! It's almost the weekend! :) No full smile, I'm still feeling a little sick. Kat called and said, "We really need to link to Elaine's 'Disgusted' to be sure no one misses it." I agree and you know I think Disgusted." She told me yesterday that when she read the snapshot from yesterday she thought, "I'm not going to make C.I. carry all the weight on this." She was outraged that England would send men (and maybe women) to the battlefield when they weren't even adults which is a violation of a UN code or something. I don't know about that but I don't need to know that it is disgusting that boys (and maybe girls) could be sent into war. That should never happen but when it does and it's a so-called 'third' world country, you think, "Well things are rough there and everyone who can help probably does their part." But we're talking about England. They know better. They're a so-called "first world" country and they can claim it was a "mistake" but you don't make a mistake like that. You know the age of the people being sent to Iraq so to send boys 16 and 17 years old (and maybe girls too) to Iraq was no accident. They thought they could get away with it. Elaine drew a line between it and the cowardly nature of Canada today where they refuse to grant asylum to war resisters -- resisters of a war that Canada doesn't support. C.I. calls out that nonsense all the time and Elaine just felt really strongly that she wasn't going to let C.I. be alone on that. We all know C.I. will do that and do it without needing any backup and we generally assume that everyone gets that the community stands together. But Elaine had called Ava to check and Ava said that snapshot had the wackjobs on the right e-mailing like crazy. So that was what was going through her head when she decided to write "Disgusted" and she did an amazing job with it. And the title is all about how useless some outlets make themselves chasing after Congress with open mouths and refusing to really call things out when they need to be called out. I thought she did an amazing job.

Kat goes, "Hey you're hero's coming on!" So she put the phone next to the speaker and I got to hear KPFA's Flashpoints. The guests were Jeff Mackler, Lynne Stewart and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights, that's who Kat was joking my hero is -- I do think he's really cool). They're part of a No One Shall Be Tortured, a benefit for Lynne Stewart Defense Committee and to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Michael Ratner was talking about how his start at CCR was in 1971 and with torture because he went up to Attica right after starting to get reports from guys who were tortured there. He said one thing the the tour is about "Domestic torture and how it took place domestically and now it's gone international with the sanctioning and endorsement of the current occupant of the White House. He said, "The difference between it, if I look back . . . is that this is now open and public."

It was good to hear Lynne Stewart too and the judge gave her permission to do this tour.

My body aches today, like I fell off a building or something. But I feel a little better and there have been some real good points to today. Waking up wasn't one of them. Sometimes when I'm sick, I sleep with my feet at the head of the bed and my head down at the end of the bed. That way, I can slap the snooze button on my alarm clock without moving too much, I just swing my big old foot over and BAM. I must have done that over and over because I overslept big time.
Dad woke me about 20 minutes before I was supposed to be at work to ask me if I was calling off. No, I was just tired. So I danced under the shower for like 3 minutes, pulled on clothes and hurried to work. I didn't shave. I was too cold and didn't want to stand at the sink, dripping wet in a towel, while I shaved. Near the end of my shift (I work half days), my boss starts hollering for me and I'm wondering what's going on? I thought maybe he needed me to stay over. But he was watching Democracy Now! online. :D

He'd been watching the whole thing online but the thing he was shouting about was the story on the Dixie Chicks. He was asking me about that and if it was for real? He didn't know the whole story because he's my Dad's age and they're both into their classic rock. :D So I was explaining and all to him that, yep, that's what happened. Oh, man, was he mad.

We all should be because that was nonsense and there's a happy ending for the Dixie Chicks but that didn't have to be the way it was going to be. They stood up, the three women, when there was no idea of how this was going to end. That took guts. I do have that CD and my favorite song is, of course, "Not Ready To Make Nice." I think that's so cool that it was chosen as the song of 2006. It's one of my personal themes. :D

I'm through with doubt
Nothing for me to figure out
I've paid a price
And I'll keep paying
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time to go round and round

Too may people want to make nice with people who support illegal wars, support torture and support the destruction of civil liberties and much more. I'm not making nice with those people.
Or wasting my times going, "Oh look at that brave Congress!" On that, here's some of
Dave Lindorff's "The Co-Dependent Congress:"

It's time to simply admit the obvious: The president of the United States is crazy as a loon, and the Congress and the media are functioning as co-dependents as he runs the country off a cliff.
Bush says in his latest press conference that he is "certain" that Iran is providing "technically sophisticated" roadside bomb weapons to Iraqi insurgent forces to help them to kill Americans.
He probably is "certain." But nobody else of consequence in the government is, and the evidence to support his claim is simply not there.
Shaped charges are not sophisticated. They can be made in a garage. The technology was invented in 1888 by a Navy engineer. It was widely used in World War I and II, as well as in Vietnam, and was even provided to by the British to the IRA in a botched sting operation that led to its being disseminated around the world to every conceivable resistance and terror organization. Instructions on how to do make these weapons are available on the web. A highschool student could do it in shop if the teacher wasn't looking.
On top of that, the people who are primarily responsible for killing Americans in Iraq are Sunnis, who are certainly not the beneficiaries of Iranian government assistance, since Sunnis are killing Shias, who are the ones that Iran is close to.
None of this matters to Bush.
Why? Because he's crazy. Reality and Bush are wholly different worlds, people.

So that's it for me tonight. A warm bed with lots of blankets awaits me -- my sick bed! Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq -- despite the never ending 'crackdown' and it's latest phase, the Iraqi refugee crisis continues to be largely ignored though Bully Boy wants applause for doing practically nothing, the US military announces the death of more troops and reality slaps against the latest Operation Happy Talk.

Starting with news of war resistance. Today, City on a Hill Press editorialized in favor of
Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the subject of a recent court-martial that ended in a mistrial. City on a Hill Press notes: "As the house of cards that was constructed to lead us into Iraq continues to fall down, City on a Hill Press salutes US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who is courageously standing atop the most solid of foundations--the United States Constitution. The first active-duty soldier to refuse deployment in Iraq and publicly speak out against the war, Lt. Watada has joined the growing group of brave dissenters whose voices and rights are being repressed after questioning the unjust decisions of the Bush Administration. With the war in Iraq escalating toward more violence and chaos each day, and Bush's preparations to attack Iran, this country desperately needs the likes of Lt. Watada to fulfill duties as soldiers, as Americans, and as humans."

The Santa Barbara Independent reports on the January 20-21st Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S.Actions in Iraq and we'll note this conclusion from the hearing: "Institute mandatory training of all members to recognize their responsibility not to follow illegal orders that violate international law, and to cease training that may condition soldiers to view civilians as the enemy". Ben Hamamoto (Nichi Bei Times) reports that Judge Toilet has scheduled the next court-martial of Watada for March 19th but notes Eric Seitz (Watada's civilian attorney): "It's my belief that there are going to be serious problems re-instating this case" due to the issue of double-jeopardy and quotes attorney Robert Rusky explaining, "The problem appears to be that the Army wanted to argue that Ehren had implicity stipulated he had a duty to deploy to Iraq once he received his orders. . . . How can the Army be allowed to argue Ehren had a duty to comply with the deployment order, which necessarily assumes it was a lawful order, while denying Ehren the right to contest that it was a lawful order? (The ruling) inherently and clearly frames the issue. I think we need to emphasize: the legality of the Iraq invasion that the deployment order was part of."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey 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.

Courage to Resist noted the following yesterday:

Demand Army drop charges and accept Lt. Watada's resignation now! Next step following mistrial victory: Demand that the Army respect the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy by not attempting to court martial him again. Also: "How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army"We (heart) "Augie"U.S. Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo is a Iraq War vet facing court martial in Germany on March 6 for refusing to return to Iraq. Send him a Valentine's Day support greeting!Mark Wilkerson refused to redeploy, sentencing Feb. 22"There comes a time in a person's life when they must do the right moral decision for themselves, doubtless of how popular," he told the media in Crawford, Texas last August. (link only)Ivan Brobeck, Iraq vet and war resister, released from brig!Marine L/Cpl Ivan Brobeck was released from the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Virginia on Feb. 5, three months after returning to the United States from Canada with a letter to President Bush asking him to "Bring the Troops Home Now!" (link only)

On January 27th in DC, following the massive rally and march, people gathered at
Busboys and Poets later in the evening to hear Kelly Dougherty and Anthony Arnove speak. The Socialist Worker provides the text of Kelly Dougherty (co-founder and executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War) speech and we'll focus on this section:

People ask me: If the war is wrong, and soldiers know it, why don't they just not go? I think that leads to the bigger issue of war resisters. We were joking in the
Iraq Veterans Against the War office that February and March are the two court-martial months, because Lt. Ehren Watada is being court-martialed at Fort Lewis on February 5, Spc. Mark Wilkerson at Fort Hood on February 22, and Specialist Agustin Aguayo in Germany on March 6. There are all these public war resisters, taking the lead, following those who came before them, and standing up and saying no -- and putting themselves and their families at a big risk, because people are getting sentenced to prison. Lt. Watada faces six years in prison, and the judge said that he couldn't use his defense, which is that the war is illegal. So basically, he has no defense. He's facing six years for refusing to go. Other men and women have spent up to a year in prison. When people say that they support the war resisters, I think they really need to do more than just say, "Oh, that's great." Because these are men and women who are poised to lose everything. They can lose the people they care about, because a lot of their friends and family may not agree with their stance. And there's a huge financial drain as well, because attorneys are hugely expensive. So I think this is really one of the crucial things -- to encourage GI resistance. We need for us all to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak -- and really show that we're in solidarity with war resisters. We're going to be there."

Iraq Veterans Against the War was there, leading the demonstrations, at Fort Lewis and doing an amazing job. Anthony Arnove spoke after and The Socialist Worker also provides his speech in text form -- we'll highlight the following:

We're almost four years into the occupation of Iraq, and you have to laugh because the media says, "Oh, you're talking about a hasty withdrawal from Iraq." First of all, as Kelly pointed out, we've been there for a lot longer than four years. The United States was bombing Iraq. Their presence in the Middle East goes back a long time. It's not just this occupation, but the occupation of Palestine goes back more than 40 years. So this isn't a hasty withdrawal that we're talking about. The United States had no right to invade in the first place, and it should get out immediately now. But all of the reasons that they put forward for why we should stay in Iraq are as bogus as the reasons for why they said we had to go in. Let's spend a moment on democracy. First of all, right now, we're in Washington, D.C. Would anyone like to speak to the level of democracy here in Washington, D.C.? We just had an election in November where the majority of people in this country said they want the troops to come hom and they reject the policies of this administration. And we have a president who says he doesn't give a damn, and a Congress that doesn't seem to have heard us either. Is that democracy? We have an opposition party whose form of criticizing the occupation of Iraq is to pass a nonbinding resolution criticizing the escalation of an additional 21,500 troops -- but not questioning the fundamental presence of the United States as an occupying power in Iraq. It's not about the 21,500 additional troops alone. It's a whole package. You cannot fund the war, you cannot support 132,000 troops in Iraq, as Hillary Clinton is doing, and say you're against the war. You're not -- you're for the war.

Anthony Arnove is the author, most recently of, IRAQ: The Logic for Withdrawal.

Meanwhile, Bully Boy is expecting applause, Hail Marys and apparently a Nobel Peace Prize for allowing 5,000 to 7,000 Iraqi refugees to resettle in the United States. 5,000 is a laughable figure when the United Nations has estimated that over two million Iraqi refugees have left the country while almost two million refugees (1.8 million) are internally displaced within Iraq.
Rachel L. Swarns (New York Times) reports that the proposed "legislation being considered" wouldn't be based upon need but would give extra points to those "who have worked for the United States government in various capacities or have associated with American officials". Some are calling the proposed plan "Snitch Relief" others point out that it's in keeping with a White House that has always, domestically, put who you know ahead of the needs of the people. On Monday, the UN noted that there were over "5,000 Iraqis, fearful of being deported under Syrian immigration regulations, queued up outside the United Nations refugee agency office in Damascus today to register." "Snitch Relief" won't address that. Snitch Relief won't address the nearly 4 million Iraqi refugees. The BBC notes that since the start of the illegal war, the US has only taken in 463 Iraqi refugees and that it has only recently pledged the laughably low $18 million "to the UNHCR to help the millions of people who have fled Iraq since the war began."

The Financial Times of London editorializes: "Nobody in the world with access to a televsion can be in any doubt that the US-led invasion of Iraq four years ago has been a disaster. What they, and we, are much less aware of is that it has already produced the worst refugee crisis in the Middle East since the mass exodus of Palestinians that was part of the violent birth of the state of Israel in 1948. And what we should all be scandalised by is how little the two countries most responsible for the Iraq misadventure -- the US and the UK -- are doing to alleviate this crisis." While Mark Turner (Financial Times of London) notes that the laughable 5,000 to 7,000 'news' "came after Ms [Condi] Rice met Antonio Guterres, the head of the UNHCR, who has recently returned from a tour of the Middle East where he had complained that the burden of the refugee crisis meant that 'a very limited number of countries is paying a very heavy price'." Meanwhile, IRIN reports that the latest version of the ongoing crackdown in Baghdad is resulting in concerns that it "would create more problems than it would solve" and quoted Mizzal Jassim Wasfi ("Baghdad-based independent political analysis") stating, "It is impossible to achieve this goal -- at least for the time being. You can't solve a problem by creating more problems. The government has to find places for those who are occupying such houses or ensure security in the neighbourhoods they have been displaced from to go back to their homes." The analyst is referring to a pattern of homes being claimed by someone other than their occupants. Yesterday, Said Rifai (Los Angeles Times) reported on how his parents home, after they sought refuge in Jordan, was taken over ("house-jacked") by "armed gunmen" and there was really little to do -- the US military "wouldn't do anything," the Iraqi police had done nothing during a home invasion prior so "it's unlikely they would do anything now" and attempts to seek help through Sunni politicians resulted in no help or assistance. So the crackdown, juiced up yet again, ongoing since June, having destroyed any prospect of life in the capital, now sees more hours added to the curfews, more checkpoints, the closing of libraries, searches (home and body) and other 'fun' things. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Damien Cave (New York Times) quote positive Iraqis on the crackdown. In the real world, a report aired on Al Jazeera today (2:17 pm EST) by Al Jazeera correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid presented alternate views from Iraqis -- one tired man stated, "We hope it's the last one. Everyday people are getting killed" and another man who points out that the crackdown hasn't stopped the violence at all: "There was a traffic jam near a checkpoint. A man left his car and it immediately exploded."


CNN reports 5 children dead ("ranging in age from 4 to 8") from a roadside bomb in Tikrit.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports four dead and twenty wounded from "two parked car bombs . . . near one of the main vegetable markets in the southern section of Baghdad", 3 dead and 25 wounded from "a parked car bomb . . . near Al Hay Market in Sadr City eastern Baghdad" and two British soldiers wounded "by Katyusha rockets and small arms fire in Al Hussein neighborhood . . . west of Basra". Reuters notes three car bombs in Hawija that killed three people and one police officer dead from a roadside bomb in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman was shot dead and two more were wounded in an attack on a minibus en route to Balad, an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad was shot dead, a police officer was shot dead in west Baghdad, while gunfire and mortar attacks in the Diyala province claimed 8 lives and left 14 wounded, and a police officer was shot dead in Khalis. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead in Mosul. AFP notes an attack on the bodyguards of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari "in Iraqi Kurdistan" that resulted in three of them being shot dead and two more wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today: "Task Force Lightning Soliders were attacked while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province Feb. 14. Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed as a result of injuries sustained following explosions near their vehicles. A fourth Soldier later died of wounds at a Coalition medical facility." And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Wednesday and I'm dragging so consider yourself warned. I'm sick of the cold and then it seems like things warm up and then it's cold again. This week, it's really cold and I'm sneezing and stuff and that just makes me want to get under the blankets and sheets and hole up until I feel better. But the way I feel tonight, I might go into hibernation until spring!

Seriously, I am just freezing. I've got socks, sweats and a sweater on. The heat's on in the house and Dad ended up getting a space heater and putting it in here because he goes I look like like Casper I'm so white. I've been cold all day. Inside, outside, I've been cold. I've actually felt warmer outside so that's how I knew I had a cold. And I've got this thing in my throat where it's like a scratchy thing down deep that's going to become a cold and the only thing I can think about is hopping into bed and going to sleep.

So I tell you all that right off the top so you know there's not going to be anything special here tonight.

I ended up logging on and then sitting on the bed (knew if I laid down, I'd go to sleep) trying to think of what to say tonight and figured I'd just talk about the cold to start off with which seems kind of obvious but it took me about forty minutes to realize that.

So let's talk about the crackdown that keeps going and going and going to hell. This is from
Michael Schwartz' "Baghdad Surges into Hell: First Results from the President's Offensive:"

In his Iraq policy address on January 10, President Bush promised three new initiatives: a "surge" of American troops accompanied by a new "clear, hold, and build" strategy in Sunni insurgent strongholds; an offensive against Shia militias, particularly the Sadrist Mahdi Army which "U.S. military officials now identify as the greatest security threat in Iraq"; and forceful action to prevent Iran from further increasing its influence in Iraq and the Middle East.
Events in the last few weeks make it clear that all three prongs of this strategy are being enacted, even while the Congress is engaged in a prolonged debate over its (non-binding) opposition to the "surge" part of the new regional plan. The "surge" strategy was actually initiated one day before the speech was even given -- in an offensive on Baghdad's Haifa Street that briefly dominated the headlines. The new initiative aimed at Shia militias appears to have begun with a
battle outside of Najaf in which about 200 members of the Al-Hawatim and al-Khazali tribes were killed by American and Iraqi forces -- apparently because the tribal militias had been involved in a growing (if under-reported) "anti-U.S. and anti-Baghdad" guerrilla war that "has been spreading like wildfire" in the Shia south. And the new aggressiveness towards Iran is now being played out not only in Iraq, but in the increasingly credible threats of an American or Israeli, or combined American and Israeli, air assault on Iran itself.
We may have to wait weeks, or even months, to evaluate the consequences of American actions against those Shia militias and Iran. But the Haifa Street offensive, now almost a month old, already offers us a vivid portrait of the horrific consequences that are the likely result of the Sunni insurgent part of the President's "surge" strategy.

Michael Schwartz was a guest on WBAI's Law & Disorder not long ago, they had speeches by him and Anthony Arnove on January 22, 2006. And speaking of WBAI's Law and Disorder, Monday's show had a lot of topics. They talked to Michael Deutsch about the victory of Muhammad Salah who was accused of things like "racketeering conspiracy" for donations in the 90s and called terrorists. They ended up having to drop terrorism charges against him.

Then there was the issue, and this is the thing that interested me most, about the Black Panthers. A while back, they had a great speech by Michael Smith (one of the hosts) from a panel where he was talking about the destruction of civil liberties in this and on that same show, they had some Black Panthers talking about torture and imprisonment. I was confused and must have missed a program or something because I had to call C.I. and ask, "This is something recent, right?" It was. If you were confused like me, they address it again this week. (They probably covered this before but I'd missed it until the episode with the panel.) So here's the basic story. In 1971, a police officer was killed in San Francisco. They ended up trying to charge eight Black Panthers with the crime. Two of them ended up being held in a New York prison for decades (Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim) but the 'evidence' that was being used came from torture.

There's another segment but I haven't had time yet to listen to all the tape. I'll write about it tomorrow and may write some more about the above. That's going to depend on me feeling better. I saw the next thing, by one of my favorite writers, and thought, I'll put some of it up and I'll also talk some about it. Now I don't know if I'll have anything to say about it but here's some of Dave Lindorff's "The Press Bites, Again:"

A word of caution on US "evidence" that Iran is providing armor-piercing weapons to Iraqis.
If reporters could all stop the heavy breathing for a moment, they might ask the folks at the White House and in the Pentagon to explain why those bombs that they displayed as "evidence" of Iranian perfidy had English words and numbers on them, instead of Persian.
I understand that Iranian manufacturers use English to identify products produced for export, but these devices--if they are Iranian--aren't really part of their general export product list.
That's not to say that Iran is not involved in any of the fighting in Iraq. It would be astounding if they were not, being as they are right next door and have an intense interest in the future of Iraq, a country that fought an eight-year US-supported war against them not long ago. But I think it raises questions about the quality of the US evidence purporting to prove that Iran is providing bombs that can pierce American armored vehicles.
Of course there are other reasons to doubt the administration too, besides the simple fact that it has shown itself to be seriously truth-challenged. A major problem is that most of the Americans who have died in Iraq, and who are continuing to die in Iraq, are being killed by Sunni fighters, and Iran has been backing the Shia side there, not the Sunnis.
At least until Bush came up with his bright idea of escalating the Iraq War by attacking Moktada al Sadr's forces in Baghdad last month, the Shia forces were leaving American troops alone, and were focused on killing Sunnis and the occasional Brit.

I like Dave Lindorff's writing because he's always got something to say and he just says it. He's not trying to hide what he thinks or play it off. That's true of the book he and Barbara Olshansky wrote together too and if I had the energy to get out of this chair, I'd tell you the title. I think I have the energy to get out but I think if I did, I would get up and go plop down on the bed. I don't even have any music playing. For most of the time I've been trying to write tonight, I've been telling myself if I put on David Rovics or White Stripes, that would give me energy to write but it really hasn't.

It's Valentine's Day and I did wish Elaine a happy V-Day and send her some flowers. (She got me CDs and that's how sick I am, I haven't even opened 'em. I'm sure they're great but I just don't have the energy.)

I'll tell you the big news on campus in my crowd. There's this guy who's kind of, I guess, weird. Like he voted for Bully Boy in 2004 and that probably tells you everything, right? He's also a bit older than most of us on campus and always hitting on every female. In the fall semester he was getting some dates and stuff but then word got out that he was married and had three kids. He's just this weird guy. He's probably close to 30 if he's not 30 and he tries to act like he's the King of Hip-Hop or something. (He's White.) While I was in Tacoma last week, he was no where to be found. He wasn't in Tacoma! He's a Republican. But he was in jail. He told some people it was because he was a witness the police needed. But it turns out he was probably involved in a drive-by.

Now that's pretty bad, drive-bys. But it's worse when you start thinking, this guy is like around 30. What's he doing trying to act like he's a gangsta? You hear about teenagers making mistakes and stuff but here's this guy who's oldest kid is 8 years old and and he's got three kids and he's going to college and he's around 30 and he's riding around with high school kids doing drive-bys. If it's true, he's a real loser as well as a criminal.

Back in January, someone busted in Tony's car and stole his stereo and people were telling Tony, "Dude it's got to be" this guy. And at the time, Tony thought, "No way." But now with the drive-by and other stuff I haven't written about, Tony's thinking maybe it was that guy. He was going around and around the parking lot, according to some people, that day and he doesn't have a car.

So that was the big news on campus today. Everybody was talking about because his "I'm was a witness" excuse ended up not being true and he told one guy and one guy told another. I should put in here that none of it may be true. Not just because the way campus gossip works but also because the guy is a real liar. Yeah, he lied about not being married and all of that but he also gets caught in all these other lies all the time. We know he's married and has three kids only because when he was seeing this one female, his wife showed up on campus, went to one of his classes, with their three kids, and confronted him because he hadn't been coming home that whole time.

You know I'm tired (and sick) if I'm boring you with campus gossip. Okay, C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" which makes more sense than anything I've written tonight:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Baghad's under more 'extreme' crackdown and nothing's changed; Bully Boy says "Who needs proofs?"; the US military announces more deaths; and who is getting into the US military?

Starting with news of war resistance and staring with
Ehren Watada. Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June. Last week, he became the first officer to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy in the illegal war. The court-martial ended in a mistrial. Many rush to weigh in and while we disagree with the right, we can respect their passion. It's the useless we have no respect for. Meet Kati Irons.

Apparently upset that she can't bore everyone with her thoughts on Battlestar Galatica one more time, Irons hems and haws and throws some stones. For instance, she doesn't care for Sean Penn's speech in Tacoma. Now in a very small setting, she's quite happy to stay silent even while she is disturbed by a conversation - dumb ass and a coward. Congratulations, Kati! And congratulations on being offensive to everyone: "Under present circumstances, to have one child in the military may be considered a source of pride, but four seems like carelessness," Irons offers. Insulting everyone doesn't mean you're "telling it like it is" -- it just means you're an idiot. (Irons scractched down a few thoughts for Blogcritics -- we don't link to trash.)

Fortunately, not all are useless idiots. As
Paul Guggenheimer (Sioux City Journal) notes,
"If there is one story that strikes at the heart of the immorality and unethical nature of the war in Iraq, it is the story of U.S. Army 1st Lt.
Ehren Watada'." As Mike Davis (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reminds: "He has refused to serve on the ground that the war is 'immoral and unlawful . . . and would compel complicity in war crimes'." Jason Farbman and Sam Bernstein (Socialist Worker) report on the double jeopardy issue that Judge Toilet's (aka Lt. Col. John Head) decision to call a mistrial (over the objection of the defense) is only one issue that may prevent a retrial: "If the court-martial does resume March 19, Watada's lawyers will object and appeal, possibly pushing the trial back to May. But in the meantime, Watada will have served out his remaining time in the Army. His lawyers are now saying they think he could walk away a free man."

Dan Carptener (The Indianapolis Star) reports on Carolyn Ho ( Ehren Watada''s mother) whose "voice was cracking from overuse and a lingering cold as the soldier's mother recounted the story, having spent the past six months traveling the country on his behalf" who spoke of the change she'd seen since her son went public in June: "In the early days one individual wrote me that I was a terrible mother and he was going to send me a one-way ticket to France. Since that time we've had an overwhelmingly positive response. It's a telling commentary on how people feel about this war."

Talking about the war and the mistrial, David Mitchell spoke yesterday at the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Upper Nyack.
Akiko Matsuda's (The Journal News) reports: "Mitchell gave his own analysis, saying the judge manipulated the trial because as it proceeded, Watada's good standing as a soldier became apparent. Mitchell also thought the judge was afraid of the impact on the other soldiers should Watada be acquitted. Mitchell said that at one point in the trial, a female officer told the judge she was impressed by Watada's action because he stood by what he believed in."

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Mark Wilkerson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey 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.

Patrick Hart, noted above, is a war resister who went to Canadal.
The Buffalo News reports that "Hart was a dealt a setback when the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board denied his claim of refugee status" and that his next step is to "appeal the decision to the Canadian Federal Court." In July, Patrick, Jill and Rian Hart appeared before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board to make their appeal. Peter Koch (Art Voice) noted in July that "everyonw who has received a decision has been denied." The denial was a denial to Patrick Hart and it was also a denial to Jill Hart and to their son Rian. These are people who are attempting to start a life in a Canada. The Harts, like Joshua and Brandi Key, have uprooted their families and moved to Canada not as a stop-over, but as a final destination. During Vietnam, Canada was welcoming of war resisters. Today, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada makes laughable their claim to be the "largest independent administrative tribunal" as they show no independence and make the same 'finding' repeatedly, over and over with no indication of indepence, no indication of thought, but strong indications that they are afraid to take a stand. Since none of the war resisters can be called a "security risk" or seen as having violated human or internatioinal rights, committed a serious crime or been involved in organized crime, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has made a loud, repeated joke of itself and done so while the world was watching.

Meanwhile, England is in violation of UN protocol,
Robert Stansfield and Maggie Barry (The Daily Mirror) report, since they've been sending service members under the age of 18 to fight in Iraq and, while Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram can claim that was a mistake, it was also illegal. Stansfield and Barry speak with one who was under 18, "Chris," and he explained why he decided to self-check out and joined over 1,000 British soldiers who have done just that since the start of the illegal war as well as sharing his opinions of the illegal war: "I think they should just take everyone out of Iraq. If the Americans want to stay then just let them but they should take our troops out. It's not worth being in there. It's not worth getting killed for."

Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics by Howard Zinn and David Barsamian, pp. 118-119:

David Barsamian: You're 1967 book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was reissued by South End Press. I was reading some of the exchanges in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that you reproduce there. And although there are no such hearings going on now, it almost replicates a lot of the media commentary about how we cannot just quit and run from Iraq, that our prestige would suffer, we would lose credibility. What do these things mean? What is prestige? What is credibility?

Howard Zinn: That's an interesting point because those statements are made again and again, from war to war to war, that we must continue doing this because if we don't continue doing this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in this, we will lose standing, lose prestige, that other countries in the world will lose respect for us. I think what they really mean is that other countries will stop fearing us. The truth is that the United States in general does not get the respect of other countries in the world, but it instills fear in other countries, fear that they will lose economic benefits given to them by the United States. As a result, some of them go along. But, of course, those words prestige and fear need to be examined to see what they mean because if you looked at them in moral terms, you would ask, What presitge adheres to a government that conducts an immoral war? What respect does the United States get from the rest of the world when it engages in such a war? What's interesting in this case, and I think this is really unprecedented in the case of Iraq, is that on the eve of the war the world as a whole rose up everywhere and protested agains the U.S. entrance into the war, making it claer that by going into the war the United States was losing the respect, losing whatever prestige it had in the world.

Something to remember as the
US House of Represenatives debates the nonbinding resolution. The vote is expected Friday, it is expected to pass in the House, it is nonbinding. KPFA has posted online various statements during the House Debate for those who can listen online. AFP notes: "Democrats won control of Congress in November elections marked by voter anger at the war." Now Vermont's legislature passed a symoblic measure calling for withdrawal, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, but that's what is within their power. The US Congress has the power to do more (as Bully Boy knows, read on). As Vermont state rep Michael Fisher explained to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) the resolution passed both state houses (House and Senate) -- Michael Fisher: "Sometimes states have to step up and lead, when Congress is not doing enough and this was a time when Vermonters were able to speak up and say clearly that it was time to take some real leadership and to end this war. . . . The resolution . . . calls for the immediate and orderly . . . withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq."

In the capital of Iraq, the never ending crackdown goes on and the latest additions include, the
BBC reports, the suspension of permitted weapons "to all but Iraqi and US forces and registered security firms" (registered security firms would be mercenaries), the ongoing curfew was "extended by an hour," and "[i]ncreased stop and search powers in the capital." Reuters notes that Samawa is also under curfew (9:00 pm to 6:00 pm).


Reuters reports a car bombing in Baghdad ('near a hospital") which killed four and left ten more wounded, a roadside Baghdad bomb that killed one person and left three more wounded, another car bombing in Baghdad ("in a market in the southern Bayaa district") claimed two lives and left seven wounded, a mortar attack in Baghdad killed one and wounded at least 16 more, another roadside bombing in Baghdad ("in the western Yarmouk district") killed one person, and a Mosul car bombing killed three and left 20 wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* an IED explosion in Baghdad that wounded two civilians and a mortar attack on a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Baghdad that wounded two people.


Reuters reports a man ("former police captain") was shot dead in front of his home in Diwaniya and three Iraqi soldiers were shot (wounded not dead) in Baghdad. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports* "three passengers in" a vehicle in west Baghdad were injured when their car was attacked with gunfire and: "Around 10:00 a.m. an Iraqi university student was killed said Haider Hamid, a student of a technical college in Basra, today. A British military convoy randomly opened fire after an IED exploded targeting the convoy near the college (10 miles west of Basra) on the road leading to Zubair town. The random shooting killed the student Ahmed Fahmi, a second year student of the electricity department, Hamid said."


Ryan Lenz (AP) reports that five corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("bullet riddeled").

[*Note Mohammed al Dulaimy's report is of today's violence -- the date in the headline is incorrect -- check the posted date and you can click
here for the actual roundup of February 6, 2007 to see that the date in the headline is incorrect. Ali Faddam covered the roundup on February 6th.]

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Tuesday in a non-combated related incident which is currently under investigation." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when insurgents targeted a combat patrol north of the Iraqi capital Feb. 13."

Question of the day,
per CBS News: "Where Is Muqtada Al-Sadr?" Answer -- no one knows despite US officials claiming otherwise.

Claims were all Bully Boy had to offer when he held yet another dog & pony show (if dogs and ponies are this ugly).
CBS and AP report that he's okay with the US Congress wasting time on non-binding resolutions but it's another story if they use their Congressional power to cut the funds for the illegal war. Bully Boy also continued to insist that Iran is supplying Iraq (sometimes it's Sunnis, sometimes it's Shias, it always changes -- that's what happens with lies) with weapons but he had nothing to offer but his word. His word is worth even less than Michael R. Gordon's -- if that's possible. As Lebanon's Daily Star reports, Bully Boy "does not know whethere the weapons were 'ordered from the top echelons of government'" which did not stop him from adding, "But my point is what's worse? Them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?"

Finally, who is the US military signing up these days?
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that waivers for recruits with criminal records were up 65%." Lizette Alvarez (New York Times) reports this increase has come in the last three years, that "[t]he number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent," and that "[t]he Defense Department has also expanded its applicant pool by accepting soldiers with criminal backgrounds and medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure and attention deficit disorder". These facts, by the way, were the ones John Kerry could have made on October 31, 2006. Instead, he backed down, buckled and took himself out of the presidential race on November 1, 2006.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Marjoie Cohn, Ralph Nader, Derrick Z. Jackson

Tuesday! And Monday's an off day! I just learned that. I had agreed to grab two hours last week for a guy at work and he goes, "I'll work for you" on this coming Monday. I was all, "It's just two hours." He had a thing he had to do and I understood and didn't mind covering. But he insisted and I was all, "Cool." I didn't realize I had the whole day off until today. I was talking to my grandfather on the phone and he mentioned it. So now I'm really happy! (Watch, we will have classes Monday -- too bad, so sad if we do, I'm cutting.) The other thing my grandfather brought up was if I was adding ISR-International Socialist Review to my blog roll?

Yep, I told him it was on the things to do that Elaine and I were both doing doing it and we already have. He was really glad C.I. had added it last week. I go, "Did you e-mail C.I.?" He goes no. I told him it would have been added and that if was some hang up about e-mailing, if there was something he wanted added some time to just pass it on through me if he didn't want to e-mail.

My grandfather's really cool and, like I said before, he's a socialist from way back. I wish I'd thought to add the link before. But C.I. was going through a stack of magazines (C.I. always packs magazines and books) while we were in Tacoma and we both ended up reading from ISR while we were in Tacoma. And I just realized that Pru had asked for England's socialist magazine to be linked to a long time ago. It's up at The Common Ills but I'll add it to my site too. I probably won't go back in the template until the end of the week but I will add it this week. Pru's really cool and you know that from the stuff she highlights but, if you're lucky, you also read her column in the gina & krista round-robin and you get how really cool she is.

Okay, C.I. passed something on to me (C.I. was speaking today and didn't think there would even be a snapshot -- there was, don't panic) and it's by Marjorie Cohn who is president of the National Lawyers Guild (not the National Lawyer's Guild -- :D I had a typo last week). This is a sample of her "From Iraq to Iran:"

It's deja vu. This time the Bush gang wants war with Iran. Following a carefully orchestrated strategy, they have ratcheted up the "threat" from Iran, designed to mislead us into a new war four years after they misled us into Iraq.
Like its insistence that Iraq had WMD, the Bush administration has been hyping claims that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, has found no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says there is plenty of time for negotiation with Iran.
Bush has sent two battle carrier groups, replete with nukes, to the Persian Gulf and a third is reportedly preparing to follow. In support of Bush's case that Iran poses a danger to the U.S., three unnamed American officials ceremoniously trotted out metal parts found in Iraq and claimed Iran supplied them to kill our soldiers in Iraq.
This "evidence" - or "packaging," as the Associated Press calls it - doesn't pass the straight face test with most reputable observers. "The officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the 'highest levels' of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for attacks against U.S. troops," according to Monday's Washington Post.
Saturday's New York Times cited information gleaned from "interrogation reports" from Iranians and Iraqis captured in the recent U.S. raid on the Iranian embassy in northern Iraq. They allegedly indicated money and weapons components are brought into Iraq over the Iranian border at night. If those people indeed provided such information, query what kind of pressure, i.e. torture, might have been applied to encourage their cooperation. Recall the centerpiece of Colin Powell's 2003 lies to the Security Council about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda came from false information tortured out of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.
Any Iranian weapons in Iraq may belong to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shiite resistance group the U.S. used to support. There could be old Iranian munitions lying around which are left over from the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s. A former high level U.S. military officer told me it was not uncommon to find large caches of weapons around Iraq. He cited the 2004 discovery of 37,000 American Colt 45 handguns in a warehouse near the Iranian border on the Iraq side, likely procured "when Saddam was our friend." The United States armed both sides in the Iran-Iraq conflict.

If you missed the Saturday article that she's talking about, you can read C.I.'s thing on it from Saturday, "Gordo's war-on, still dripping" -- Michael R. Gordon's still lying for the administration. He didn't start back up, he never stopped. Elaine's going to be addressing that tonight but I'll add to that this: C.I. has called Gordo on his shit. While everyone else was acting like, "Judy's gone! Things are great!" C.I. has followed the war pornographer and there are tons of entries up about what he's done at the paper since Miller left. He's been selling the illegal war since before it started and he's kept selling it.

Now this is from Ralph Nader's "When Wall Street Whines (You Know They're Making a Killing):"

Wall Street leaders have established a series of self-empowered commissions -- among them the Commission on Capital Markets Regulation (the "Paulson Commission"), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Commission on the Regulation of the U.S. Capital Markets -- to peddle a fantasy story to the public and policymakers. This is their fantasy: U.S. competitiveness in financial services is now in grave doubt. Regulation, litigation and prosecution are driving companies to float their IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) on foreign markets. If something isn't done soon, U.S. economic performance is in jeopardy. Give me a break.
In the real world, things look quite different.
First, a disinterested observer might comment that securities regulations exist to protect investors, not to enhance the interests of Wall Street. Wall Street is supposed to serve business and investors, not the other way around.
Second, the much-touted decline in U.S. IPOs is deeply misleading. The regulatory and litigation climate is a small and insignificant factor in the rising percentage of IPOs undertaken outside the United States. The real issue is that other countries' stock markets are strengthening, and most recent IPOs were done by companies outside theUnited States.

I like highlighting Nader because it pisses people off. :D It does piss people off but I really think they need to stop blaming him for 2000. He didn't 'steal' any votes. Like I pointed out before, there was a time when I thought he did. Of course, I was a high school kid! What's the excuse for all the grown ups? I laughed my ass off when AlterPunk was doing all his "thank you"s to Nader. If AlterPunk had worked hard himself, instead of sobbing "We are the New York Times!" (C.I. said AlterPunk sounded like "a starlet desperate to be cast." :D) then maybe some of the things on AlterPunk's list wouldn't have happened. Nader's not a scapegoat. He was a candidate. He had every right to run and any vote he got, he won. That's reality. People vote for who they want to (unless a voting machine switches their vote) and Nader's votes were votes he earned.

Now this is something that C.I. passed over from Cindy. She was e-mailing C.I. with some highlights and had several for Sunday so she offered that some of them might fit better for others. I saw this Sunday when I got home. Dad had clipped it out of the paper for me. So Cindy was right that I'd be interested in it. This is from Derrick Z. Jackson's "This is When the War Hits Home:"

A new pentagon investigation found that the use of prewar Iraq intelligence by former undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith was "inappropriate," "dubious," and "inconsistent." Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this news was "devastating."
The worst devastation continues to visit family upon family across the United States. This week Massachusetts lost its first female soldier in Iraq, Marine helicopter pilot Captain Jennifer Harris, 28, of Swampscott. She died in a crash two weeks before the end of her third and final tour of duty in Iraq.
The tributes to her have been classically tragic: She was the best this country had to offer. She was proud to serve her country.
This is no different from March 2003, when the Pentagon announced the first fatalities in the invasion of Iraq.
"Excellent role model," someone said of the late Therrel Childress 30, of Harrison County, Miss.
"This is when the war hits home," someone said about the late Ryan Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington, Ill., "when an all-American family loses someone like Ryan."
A relative said of the late Jay Aubin, 36, of Waterville, Maine, "He believed in what he was doing. He believed that Saddam had to be taken out."

All-American men and women believed in a government that was inappropriately using intelligence. The Defense Department inspector general said in an executive summary released yesterday to the public that Feith, the top policy official under former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, "developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and Al Qaeda relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community, to senior decision-makers."

So is the war hitting home with you yet? If you're a regular reader, I bet it hit home long ago. So I hope your doing your part (and bet you are) and making sure that you talk about it. That's the only reason that we can today, because people said, "I won't be bullied into silence." That's another difference between Vietnam and Iraq. And I credit a student in Tacoma for pointing that out to me last week. When we were all taking turns speaking, his point was that the peace movment has come along way because the better comparison is WWII. He says that the attack on Pearl Harbor probably silenced a lot of people the same way that the attacks on 9-11 did. It took time to get a sizeable opposition going against Vietnam and I think we've seen the peace movement move more quickly. But even though there is no link between 9-11 and Iraq, they used that to bully people into silence. (They still try to.) So it is true that we had that to go up against. The space has been carved out now and everyone should be using it to discuss Iraq.

And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

February 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; will it expand into Iran?; a new poll finds most Americans aren't please with Bully Boy but Congress shouldn't breathe easy, and a war resister prepares for a court-martial next week.

Starting with news of war resistance,
on August 31st of last year, at Camp Casey III, Mark Wilkerson turned himself in. Wilkerson had served in Iraq, applied for conscientious objector status, had the status denied and told that he could not appeal the decision until after he had served his second deployment in Iraq. While on leave before his second deployment, Wilkerson decided to self-check out of the military. He was gone for approximately a year and a half and then, on August 31st, held a press conference with Cindy Sheehan and others standing with him to announce he was turning himself in. Ryan (Indybay IMC) reports that Wilkerson will be court-martialed at Fort Hood (Texas) on February 22nd. Dick Foster (Rocky Mountain News) reports: "As part of his plea agreement with the Army, Wilkerson will serve not more than 10 months in prison. But he also faces a possible dishonorable or bad conduct discharge and a felony conviction on his record." Reflecting on his time serving in Iraq, Wilkerson wrote (last October): "Before I deployed to Iraq during OIF1, I was full of optimism for what we could do to help the people of Iraq. One of our missions, after all, was to 'win the hearts and the minds of the Iraqi people.' And in this reagard, we have failed miserably. In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first month. Then they threw rocks. Then they planeted IEDs. Then they blew themselves and others up in city squares full of people. The only conclusion I can come up with as to why this has happened is the way the American troops have treated the Iraqi people as a whole. From random raids of whole city blocks, to checkpoints that interrupted the daily lives of the Iraqis, to incidents of torture and even massacres, a majority of Iraqis now feel as that the American soliders, once hailed as heroes and saviors, are now seen as conquerors. Civil was has erupted in the streets, and Americans are caught in the crossfire."

Turning to the topic of
Ehren Watada whose court-martial at Fort Lewis last week ended with a mistrial, Ann Wright (retired col., retired State Dept., writing at Truthout) notes: "The US Army prosecution called only three witnesses to meet its burden of providing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Lieutenant Watada had failed to deploy to Iraq and had committed conduct 'unbecoming an officer' for public statements about the war on Iraq he made in June and August 2006. Ironically, in my opinion, the testimony of the prosecution witnesses underscored Lieutenant Watada's professionalism, dedication to duty and respect for the chain of command as he attempted to resolve his ethical and moral concerns about the war. In effect, prosecution witnesses undercut the prosecution's own case against Watada before the jury panel of seven US Army officers." The prosecution bungled their case. Instead of allowing it to continue and risk the military losing, Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) declared a mistrial. Wright concludes: "As an old soldier with nearly three decades of service, I suggest that the 'good order and discipline' of the Army has not been negatively affected by Lieutenant Watada's actions. Until his unit deployed to Iraq on June 22, Watada had not disobeyed an order from his command. He did not go AWOL. After he was charged, he worked professionally and diligently everyday while awaiting his court-martial. I urge the Army to let the lieutenant, who has acted in good faith, with courtesy and respect for the military and responsibility for his oath to the military and to the country, resign." The Journal News reports that Vietnam war resister David Mitchell (Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice) will speak Tuesday night at 7:00 pm about what he observed while attending Watada's court-martial last week. The location for the speech is the Fellowship of Reconciliation at 521 North Broadway in Upper Nyack.

Watada and Wilkerson are a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey 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.


CBS and AP report: "A suicide truck bomber blew himself up near a college and a ration office in a mainly Shiite area of the capital Tuesday, killing at least 15 people, officials said, a day after car bombs devastated a Baghdad marketplace." Reuters reports the count of those dead rose to 18 and that 40 are wounded. CNN reports a car bombinb ("outside a bakery in southereatern Baghdad") that left four dead.


Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that 28 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were found in Mahmudiya.

And today, the
US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Sunday while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."

Meanwhile the crackdown gets a curfew -- another curfew. David Chazan, reporting for
BBC News, noted the latest curfew announcement from Iraqi Lt. Gen Abboud Gambar: "A curfew on people and vehicles will be imposed at a day to be announced soon around Baghdad security zone. This curfew will be effective from 20:00 to 06:00 local time." Chazan: "The curfews have been tried before and they haven't freed the capital from sectarian violence. This time the borders with Iran and Syria will be closed for at least three days."

Turning to the subject of Iran,
Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported that "Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that he has no information indicating Iran's government is directly the supply of lethat weapons to Shiite insurgent groups in Iraq" -- Pace: "We know that the explosively formed projecticles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se, knows abou this. It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it's clear that materials from Iran are involved but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

Various people in the administration and
war pornographer Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times are pushing a link that has not been established as existing. Dennis Bernstein discussed this with Robert Parry and Larry Everest on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday. Parry: "One has to remember some of the ludicrous stories that Judy Miller of the New York Times published -- including some on the front page of the New York Times which were, in retrospect, laughable. But they're not laughable because they led to the death of so many people." Parry also noted some of the phoney claims used to market the illegal war on Iraq such as: "remember he was going to spray us, he was supposed to have these model planes that were going to fly over the United States spraying us with poisonous gasses." Everest and Parry discussed the likelihood that Bully Boy will attempt to strike Iran, possibly in April, possibly by forcing them to make the first move or possibly after Israel initiates an attack.

John R. MacArthur (Harper's magazine) spoke with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! today noting the 'repoting' on Iran: "And the most damning ommission in the story, if you want to talk about overall perspective, is complete lack of perspective on who's fighting whom, who's shooting at whom in Iraq? Does the Iranian government really have an interest in destabilizing what's now a Shi'ite dominated government? Doesn't make any sense -- if it does make sense to the administration, that the Iranians want to destabilize a Shi'ite-dominated government, when they're a Shi'ite rule nation, then they should explain it. But there's no logic to it, and there's just this massive ommission."

Susan Page (USA Today) reports on the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll which found "six in 10 oppose President Bush's plan to use more troops" in Iraq and that "Seven of 10 say their representative's vote on the war will affect their vote in the next congressional election; more than four in 10 call it a major factor." Where is the New York Times poll on this topic? While other outlets have been providing their polling results for over two months now, the paper of record has been strangely silent.