Friday, March 30, 2007

Law and Disorder

Friday. I'm rushing because Elaine and I were running errands for Ma and the Iraq study group's tonight.

So I'll just focus on WBAI's Law and Disorder.

First off, a friend of C.I.'s played a segment over the phone and also asked that C.I. note the Patti Smith bumper music used, "People Have The Power." "We can turn the world around, we can turn the earth's revolution!" It's acoustic and if you like the song or love Patti, that's reason enough to check out the show. I'm not joking. Go to and listen if you're a fan of Patti Smith's. The song starts about 28 minutes in, it's a recording of her performing it acoustic and live.

Okay, Daliah Hashad had to phone in because she wasn't able to be in the studio. I'm listening to it Wednesday night (that's when I got the burned CD of it from C.I.'s friend) and Ma comes in just as Daliah says, "I'm here." Ma goes, "Where?" She was looking around, and Michael Ratner had started speaking -- he wasn't on the phone -- and Ma's looking around my room while I'm laughing. Daliah and one of my sisters sounds just alike. Ma walks in, hears the voice she knows saying, "I'm here" and is just looking around the room. :D She finally realized it was Law and Disorder.

Okay, so Daliah and Michael (Ratner) talked about the forced confessions and how torture doesn't produce honest confessions. Daliah ended up reading off the confession of Kahlid Sheik Mohammad (and that's probably mispelled but I don't have time to look it up or to call C.I. -- you want a post tonight, live with my errors! :D). He's got everything on that confession except Enron as far as I can tell!

Seriously, there's no way one person could do all of that. It's obvious he was tortured and tortured until he'd make up anything just to get the torture to stop.

They noted that, Daliah noted this even with the problems in our court systems, we do have them and they are set up and should be used to prosecute crimes, not these kangaroo tribunals. Michael noted that not doing so gave them a classification of "warrior" as opposed to "whatever you call it" criminal.

Michael then weighed in on Alberto Gonzales' scandal. I agree with him that torutre is more important than firing 8 prosecutors. But the reality is Congress won't move on torture (he knows that, he's talked about it before and talked about it again). They're cowards. And too many Americans still don't want to know about it, even after Abu Ghraib, they want to avoid the realities that the United States has authorized torture, has carried out torture.

As Rebecca points out, it's not the firing. It's the conspiracy that they plotted to lie to the people and to the Congress. That is important and as important, my opinion, as torture. You can't have a democracy when the people are lied to like that.

This is what they've done all along. Do what they want, then lie to the people -- they did it with torture.

I think Alberto sweating this and going down for this could lead to a lot more.

But, like Michael Ratner, I don't believe for a minute that Congress is going to do one damn thing. They've done nothing -- Democrats and Republicans. They've ignored it over and over, year after year. They've given Michael the excuse that they can't do anything right now because they have an election coming up -- that was the 2002 excuse, the 2004 excuse, that's always the excuse.

Okay, so Guieliann Sgrenia (sp!) and Anthony Arnove were on the next segment and spoke with Michael (Ratner). GS was talking about the shooting of the car carrying her in Iraq after she was kidnapped -- she was wounded, the man driving was wounded, and one of Italy's agents was killed. She talked about how there was no warning shot or anything.

Okay, I'm swiping from C.I.'s Monday "Iraq snapshot" (which Elaine just said "Go!" she'll copy and paste it, Tony's going, "Come on dude!"):

On WBAI's Law and Disorder today, Michael Ratner noted that Anthony Arnove's latest book was IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal and asked him about the Congressional measure and what's been proposed by US Senators and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

Anthony Arnove: In terms of the proposal that's now in Congress about withdrawal it has about 8 million loopsholes. First of all it refers to combat troops even those combat troops that it talks about setting a timetable for removing from Iraq -- that timetables is based on conditions so in other words at any point along the line they can say "well the conditions require us to continue as an occupying force". Then, of course, it's not calling for a complete withdrawal of troops. It's not talking about the mercenaries that the US is sponsoring in Iraq.

Ratner: Which are probably almost the equivalent of the US soldiers, right? It's over 100,000.

Arnove: Well there are more than 100,000 private contractors. We don't know if all of those are involved as actual mercenaries but certainly the second largest contigent of military force in Iraq is private contractors, not England -- which is what you hear about in the media. But also the plans say nothing about removing US military bases. They don't address the fact that today the US is building the largest embassy it has in the world in Baghdad.

Ratner: It's 300,000 square feet, right?

Arnove: It's just this enormous compound. And it's very clear that they're going to stay that they want to establish military bases, that they want to establish a client regime in Iraq, they want to continue a presence in Iraq and they want to be able to not only control events in Iraq and, of course, control the oil in Iraq. but They want to be able to use Iraq as a staging ground to protect their power in the region particularly vis a vi Iran but also Syria and other countries.

Ranter and Arnove then discussed
Antonia Juhasz' op-ed that ran in the New York Times regarding the oil privatization and how the issue was about the control -- who will get it, who won't, a weapon against other countries whose oil needs are growing such as China.

Okay, I'm picking up there, Arnove said that the laws "favor the interest of US oil corporations and that the US will ultimately determine which way the oil flows." It's not about using the oil for the United States, it's about making sure the U.S. decides who can use it. He made that real clear when he talked about how they wanted to use the resource as a "weapon" and that "The bigger question is who controls Middle Eastern resources and the power that flows from that."
Michael Ratner pointed out that this is Democrats and Republicans. I don't have time to find it but community member Lynda is somewhere at The Comon Ills asking about that or saying that she doesn't think the Dems will do a damn thing until Iraq's oil is privatized because they want it too. Ratner's point was that they both supported it. Both parties support this -- it's why it's in the Senate and House bill (me on that last part).

Anthony talked about how you have "the sentiment expressed in opinion polls" and how the "political leadership" has different priorities. I believe he said "If we rely on the Democrats we'll bury ourselves." I'm rushing and don't have time to go back on the CD and find that. Ratner would agree with that from past statements, but I think Anthony said it by my notes.

Let me grab the last segment, it was from this year's Left Forum and it was Vincent Warren (Center for Constitutional Rights) talking about 4 main issues of concern and I've got to start the presentations in group tonight (Tony and me are addressing how Dem cheerleaders like David Sirota prolong the war by telling people to fall in line and lick Dem boots like Sirota does) so I'll note two of the thing he mentioned:

1) the creation of perpetural war
2) mechanism of bringing in, through congress, a broad grant of presidential authority to do whatever it is that he wants to do

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

March 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continues in Iraq, war resister Corey Glass appears before a supposed independent body, and the puppet of the occupation plays catch & release while the 'crackdown' again cracks up.

Starting with war resisters. In Canada, a US war resister appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board today. Matthew Chung (Toronto Star) reports that Corey Glass and his attorney, Jeffrey House, will attempt to argue that the Iraq war is illegal. Chung notes: "Glass joined the National Guard in Indiana four years ago to, so he says, fill sand bags and help guard U.S. soil. Instead he was sent to Iraq, a war he said he doesn't believe in. He fled during a two-week leave." So he says, Chung? He's maintained that repeatedly including when he spoke at Tilley Hall Auditorium in October of last year "filling sand bags to stop a flood on American soil". After self-checking out, Glass was underground for seven months before going to Canada and, during that time, the Army (which supposedly just waits for traffic violations to catch self-check outs) was visiting his parents, calling phone numbers trying to track him down. As October started last year, Corey Glass, Justin Colby, Ryan Johnson and other war resisters in Canada were considering returning to US as a result of the way Darrell Anderson's discharge was resolved. However, once the military attempted to screw over Kyle Snyder, that changed. Glass told Brett Barrouqere (AP) at the start of November, "After what they did to him, I don't see anybody going back." In September of last year, Glass stated, "I knew the war was wrong before I went, but I was going to fulfil my end of the bargain, right or wrong and eventually my conscience just caught up with me. . . I felt horrible for being a part of it. If I could apologise to those people [Iraqis], every single on, I would." The supposed independent body of the Immigration and Review Board has refused to grant asylum thus far to every Iraq war resister who has come before it.

Staying on war resistance, Joshua Key, who is in Canada with his wife Brandi Key and their children, wrote, with Lawrence Hill, his story in the new book The Deserter's Tale which has been receiving favorable reviews across the political spectrum. Karen Alego Krizman (Rocky Mountain News) is the latest to review the book and observes, "Key admits he believed the recruiter who promised he wouldn't have to go overseas or into combat if he joined the Army - mere months after 9/11. Couple this naivete with the steady dose of racism Key says the Army fed recruits and it's no wonder that abuses such as Abu Ghraib occur." Paul Gessel (Ottawa Citizen) notes the Ottawa International Writers Festival from April 15-22 will include Lawrence hill, David Suzuki, Tom Harpur, Roy MacGregor and Barbara Gowdy and reports: "Hill is riding high this year with two books, one a novel about the slave trade called The Book of Negroes and the other a non-fiction story called The Deserter's Tale, about an American soldier who went AWOL while home on leave from fighting in Iraq. That soldier, Joshua Key, is trying to obtain refugee status in Canada and will be joining Hill at the festival April 16."

On Monday, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees took a look at Kyle Snyder and other war resisters who were making a life in Nelson British Columbia. Cooper noted, "We all know the stories about Vietnam War-era deserters who fled to Canada. But less well-known are the members of today's armed forces who are refusing to serve in Iraq. Many have fled to the same town in Canada where they're being welcomed with open arms." Thelma Gutierrez was the reporter for the segment.

Kyle Snyder: I joined when I was 19. . . I sat back, I put my weapon down beside me, and then, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, real quick, very, very loud, I could just remember the look on the man's face. . . . I was a .50 cal. machine gunner and I was an escort for very high-ranking officials. What drew the line for me was one mission in particular where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me. . . . I was first angry at that. And then I became angry at the fact that there were no repercussions. This -- there was nothing done to prevent this from happening again. . . . I made my decision off of the things that I personally witnessed in Iraq. I didn't just wake up one morning and say, 'I'm going to leave my country, I'm going to leave my friends behind, I'm going to leave everything that I know and everything that I love and built my entire life on,' nobody does that. . . . I can walk around shops here and, you know, I see "war resisters welcome here" signs. I see community getting involved and getting together. High schoolers come up and say, what can I do to support the anti-war movement?

Meanwhile, Canada's Chronicle Herald reports, "Police have initiated an investigation into" Snyder's arrest "which will be conducted by the Abbotsford police". Snyder was pulled from the home he shares with Ryan and Jen Johnson, the day before his wedding, arrested in his boxers and carried to a jail where he was held (still in his boxers) for several hours as a result of some sort of 'special' and 'unofficial' deal between the police and the US military.

Glass, Key, Snyder and Johnson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In the United States, the press continues to believe that claims of a withdrawal garner more interest than headlines of "Some Troops May Come Home . . . Someday." The realities were addressed on yesterday's Flashpoints:

Meanwhile in Washington the Senate a sort time ago passed a long discussed resolution that ties military funding to non-specific suggestions that President Bush accept the goal but not the requirement of removing less than half of the 150,000 US occupation troops from Iraq by the unenforceable deadline of March 2008. Nevertheless, President Bush has promised a veto. Today's 51 to 47 vote was mostly along party lines and now the Senate and House must resolve their respective legislation neither of which require a full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq till well after the installation of the next American president. And that's some of the news this Thursday, March 29th, 2007. From exile, I'm Robert Knight.

Robert Knight has been one of the consistent voices throughout. (Also on yesterday's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein interviewed the Washington Post's Peter Eisner. Rebecca will be covering that late tonight.) This week's CounterSpin (which began airing today) featured a discussion on the issue of what the US House and Senate bills actually state as opposed to the way the press has portrayed them. Co-host Janine Jackson spoke with The Institute for Policy Studies Erik Leaver. Leaver noted that
the bills' "terms of reference only are for combat troops and if you look at the current number of troops deployed in Iraq only half of them would be considered as are combat troops." Jackson, noting reality versus coverage, asked, "Well then are some of the press characterizations or glosses of this as a withdrawal bill, it sounds as though that's not quite on the money?" To which Leaver responded, "That's exactly correct."

Janine Jackson: Well looking at that broader context and we don't have much time left, the majority of the population want an end to the occupation and the war and media acknowledge that, it's their polls that show that, but it doesn't seem somehow guide the questions that they ask or the sources that speak to and I wonder in this case were there not other pieces of legislation that maybe came closer to what the public was calling for? Was there no way for journalists to kind of put this in the context of: "Is this going to end the war sooner?"

Eric Leavler: I think that is the missing element in the story. Again, if the news media reported on: "This brings half the troops home" I think you would see a lot more public discontent about the bill and they would perhaps I think there would be a lot more dissatisfied with Democrats than they are.

Michael Shank (Foreign Policy in Focus) interviews US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich explains why he refused to vote 'yes' on the House bill, "It's very simple: the bill kept the war going. I want to see this war end. I have created, with the help of people who worked on security and peacekeeping missions for years, a plan to end the war. It's embodied in H.R. 1234. It would end the U.S. occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, establisha parallel process creating a peacekeeping and security force, reach out to the nations of the region and the international community for help -- something we won't get as long as we continue to occupy Iraq. That plan is much more expansive and in the course of this interview I'd be happy to over it with you but in short, I oppose the resolution because it kept funding the war. And I say we need to the war now. Not a year from now, not two years from now, not five or ten years from now, but now."

Military Families Speak Out issued (PDF format) "Military Families Speak Out Responds to Senate Vote To Continue Funding For Iraq War" yesterday which notes:

"People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. Congress is now continuing that betrayal by failing [to] cut off funding for this unjustifiable war."Miliary Familes Speak Out renews our calls for Congress to use their 'power of the purse' to support our troops and de-fund the war. We call on Congres to fund our troops by funding a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and by funding care for our troops when they return home. This is the 'funding for troops' that is desperately needed."Leadership and courage, two character traits that our loved ones rely on every day as they put their lives on the line, seem to be in short supply on Capitol Hill. We hope that as the Supplemental Appropriations bill goes through the House-Senate Conference Committee and then back to the floors of the House and Senate, we will see our elected officials stand up for our troops and for our nation by ending the funds that allow this unjustifiable war to continue and providing the funds for a safe and orderly withdrawal and the care they need when they get home."

Richard W. Behan (CounterPunch) zeroes in on one aspect of both the Senate and the House's measures, the privatization of Iraq's oil law, defined by the Bully Boy and both houses of Congress as a 'benchmark' Iraqis must meet, "If passed, the law will make available to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell about 4/5's of the stupendous petroleum reserves in Iraq. That is the wretched goals of the Bush Administration, and in his speech setting the revenue-sharing 'benchmark' Mr. Bush conscisously avoided any hint of it. The legislation pending now in Washington requires the President to certify to Congress by next october that the benchmarks have been met -- specifically that the Iraqi hydrocarbon law has been passed. That's the land mine: he will certify the American and British oil companies have access to Iraqi oil. This is not likely what Congress intended, but it is precisely what Mr. Bush has sought for the better part of six years." Steve Kretzmann (Oil Change) notes that the Iraqi oil unions were locked out of the drafting process but they are quite clear where they stand on the law: "The British and American oil companies were the first to obtain the concession to extract and invest Iraqi oil, nearly 80 years ago. After Iraq got rid of this octopus network, these foreign oil companies have again attempted to dominate this important oil wealth, under numerous pretexts and invalid excuses."

The House and the Senate managed to endorse the privatization of Iraq's oil even if they didn't bother to address the malnutrition -- Cartias Internationalis reports "[o]ver 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today," that one third of Iraqi children now suffer from malnutrition, and quotes President of Caritas Middle East North Africa Claudette Habesch stating, "Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparble to sub-Saharan Africa. The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worser rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi. And people are voting with their feet. Everday 5000 people leave Iraq. In 2007, one in ten Iraqis is expected to leave the country. We are seeing minority groups such as Christians completely disappear from the country or leave their homes for safer areas."

And when someone tries to return? Edward Wong and Ashley Gilbertson (New York Times -- Wong text, Gilbertson photos) report on Suaada Saadoun, a 49-year-old Iraqi woman who made the mistake of believing a wave of Operation Happy Talk that the latest juiced up version of the eternal 'crackdown' would make Baghdad safe. Suaada returned to her home last month amidst the big talk of the protection and how things would be safer. She, her four daughters, her son-in-law, and grandchildren returned to her Baghdad home after fleeing Iraq for Syria when the Shia gangs and militias became too threatening. Upon returning, Suaada attempted to deal with the new threats by notificing the Kurdish and US military. When two thugs, Abbas Radhi and Zuhair Naama, showed up with papers from the Ministry of Finance (which, make the connection, they obviously worked for), she phoned the Kurdish and American military. The Kurdish military was able to stop the two men at a checkpoint. They and the US military arrested the two men. Suaada was shot dead the next morning in front of a bakery. Her family has now fled the home.

But it was safer, said US military flacks, things were better in Baghdad -- this version of the crackdown was really something, really accomplishing something . . . Really nothing but more of the same. Oh, there is a difference. More attacks. Attacks on the fortified Green Zone are up. Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports the US military is saying that car bombs have "soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month" -- since the start of the latest version of the crackdown that's been ongoing since June of 2006 is ther reality. David Byers (Times of London) reports that "the death toll rose to nearly 400 in four days following a multitude of deadly bomb and shooting attacks." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that "violence is returning to previous levels throughout the country. The number of unidentified bodies found dumped on Baghdad streets, which had dropped to an average of 13 per day in the weeks just after the plan began, has averaged 19 a day for the past two weeks. The average numbers of people killed and of car bombs also have increased slightly, according to statistics that McClatchy compiled."

Meanwhile CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr "is calling for an anti-American protest in the Iraqi city of Najaf on April 9, the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad." Sounds like Clear Channel needs to get off their asses and head on over to Iraq to stage some of their propaganda rallies they held in the US during 2003. CBS and AP note that al-Sadr's call comes as "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose backing is dropping even among fellow Shiites, issued an angry statement pledging to bring the bombers responsible for Thursday's attacks to justice." That apparently means al-Maliki will make a big show about detaining them and then release them hours later with no fanfare. Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that the 18 police officers who went on a massacre in Tal Afar, dragging people from their homes, killing at least 70 people, the ones identified by survivors, the ones who were taken into custody with much, much fanfare -- "had been freed after being detained for only a few hours." CNN reports that they were arrested (re-arrested) today. No word yet on whether they've also already been released.


CNN reports: "A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood about 2 a.m. Friday killed at least 16 people and wounded 14 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. He said all of those killed were guards who protect neighborhoods in Sadr City. The U.S. military said it is looking into the report."


Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Hilla.


CNN reports 25 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Today, the US military announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol, a MND-B Soldier died and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldiers in a southern section of the Iraqi capital March 29." AP notes this brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal to 3,245.

CBS and AP report that six weeks after the Washington Post (Dana Priest and Anne Hull) and ABC News Brian Woodruff put the scandals of veterans health 'care' front and center, Bully Boy mosied down to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to throw some empty words around about how "we're going to fix the problem" and that he toured an "empty" patient room. Hopefully, his prepared remarks weren't delivered there but with the Bully Boy who knows . . .

Finally, students in the US have been protesting and continue to protest the Iraq war. The latest indication that gas bags need to rethink is The Nation magazine which makes the new SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) their latest cover and includes a sketch (no articles -- it's fastly becoming the Highlights of the political set). Been there, done that and never awarded a student, as The Nation did not that long ago, for writing an essay spitting on her peers, LeftTurn was there first and best with Doug Viehmeyer's article "Steppin It Up: The New SDS." From the article: "SDS has gone forward, with 250 chapters springing up nationwide (and internationally). The most surprising aspect of the growth of SDS has been the number of chapters established at high schools and community colleges. When compared with the initial years after the founding of the original SDS, we are ahead of the curve. The spring and summer of 2006 was the incubation period for SDS, with the initial chapters getting off the ground and spreading via word of mouth and the web, participating in joint actions with other groups, and beginning the slow development of organizational vision and strategy." Applause to Viehmeyer and LeftTurn for doing such an amazing article that The Nation (already suffering bad campus cred -- for good reason) had to rush to copy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Thursday! Almost the weekend! For tomorrow's group, Tony and I have prepared a cutting of the worst (hard call) of Stupid Ass Sirota. A lot of us are going to be addressing the liars who keep the illegal war going and we grabbed Sirota. That's the great thing about the people's Iraq Study Group, we get the truth out. :D

I was in the e-mails and a number are asking how come I have written about Dallas already? I meant to. I kept forgetting. I've offended some Dallas community members as well as made some other people wonder if I was ever going to write about it. To community members, I apologize. And to make up for it, I'll talk about Law and Disorder tomorrow, okay? I'll push it to Friday and talk about Dallas tonight.

Okay, so we were in Dallas on Thursday and Friday for the Texas trip. What did we see? I wrote about the West End and Deep Ellum and the only thing I'd add there is that those places are really packed. I think I said already that West End was something you couldn't drive through. They've blocked off the entrance of the street that runs through it. So everyone's walking through it and both sides of the street have all these places to eat and all on it. We ate out on this big patio thing. And I do not remember the name of the place. I had the sampler. Where we were facing, across the street, there's nothing and it dips down. That's where, Eddie said, people will perform sometimes. They had Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers perform there one time. It was a free concert and there was a big turnout. Eddie and his friends were out on the patio facing the concert and he said they had to get there three hours early and order non-stop to hold that table! :D

Now the West End is downtown. And downtown Dallas has lots of stuff but mainly a lot of parking lots. They've got buildings that are parking lots, they've got asphalt and concrete covered areas that are just parking lots. So while it's good that you can only walk in the West End because people drink hard there, it's not like they walk home. And there are buses that go by but the train station is a walk from the entrance even though they have a train station called the West End Station.

Oh, I talked about Denton's trolly so I should note that downtown Dallas has something like that too. They're old trolly cars and they ride around and you can ride them for free. They're just going a few miles so you'd have to live real close to be able to take one home but they have those.

What is downtown Dallas like? I told you about the parking lots. The other thing is all these skyscrapers. They have a ton of large buildings. The newer ones are usually glass on the outside. The newspaper is The Dallas Morning News and it also owns a TV channel in town. They are downtown by the train station. They have at least three buildings. There's the old building with the paper's motto on it. Then next to it, they have a bit newer building and across the street they have a real new building that's pretty tall (and glass on the outside). The train station they're by is Union Station. The Dallas train goes through there and so does a train that goes elsewhere (and I think I was told all the way up to Oklahoma on one end). (Oklahoma's on top of Texas).

It was hot when we were there. Austin and Dallas were probably the two hottest. East Texas was pretty cool, nice temperature. But downtown Dallas, I don't know how people walk around there in the summer because there's got to be no breeze with all those buildings. Reunion Areana is to the west of Union Station and the paper and that's where the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars used to play. It has a place you can eat at the top of this tower. I don't know why anyone would even if they don't like heights because the city of Dallas took a nice arena and turned it into crap. All they can book are conventions. The city made a deal on that.

So concerts in Dallas go to the American Airlines thing (auditorium?) if they can get a big enough crowd. Otherwise, they go to a city that's not in Dallas city limits but in the county. They're giving away tons of concert business and I heard that complaint from about seven members. AA is where the Dallas Mavericks play and I just remember that not everyone follows sports. The Mavericks are the basketball team, the Stars are the hockey team. Like I said before, the Dallas Cowboys are not in Dallas.

What else does downtown have? It's got some churches and it has a museum. Lots and lots of hotels. We saw the convention center which is where the Hurricane Katrina evacuess stayed.

What does Dallas need? A used bookstore is the thing I kept hearing. They have those stores that sell the books that no one ever bought but they have no used bookstore? If that's right, that's pretty shocking because it's a really big city. Even if you don't take in all the surrounding cities or Fort Worth.

Downtown also has El Centro which is one of the colleges they have in Dallas. They have a lot of junior colleges and they even have an auxirally for University of Denton.

The TV show Dallas was filmed there (I never watched it, sorry), Walker Texas Ranger was filmed there and they shoot some stuff for Prison Break there now. Lots of stuff used to get filmed there but the city sort of dropped the ball and now they're starting to get back on track, that's what I was told.

We saw SMU and spoke there and it's not in Dallas. It's like an island in the north part of Dallas but it's Highland Park. Highland Park didn't want to be a part of Dallas. That's where H. Ross Perot lives, by the way. We passed that but it was pointed out as we were passing and I'm not wild for crazy millionaires so I didn't pay much attention.

SMU is where Laura Bush used to go and, the rumors say, earned a little cash on the side by dealing pot. Dime bag Laura? True or not, it's a great story! :D

I had a great steak in Dallas and I think it was at the Cattle something. That was uptown.

I saw no cowboy hats on the streets of Dallas. I don't even remember cowboy boots. So that was a myth exploded.

We did the drive that JFK was shot on, but at night. The Texas Book Depositry is now a museum. The Sixth something. After he was shot, they took him to Parkland and that was the closest hospital then. It's got new buildings now but if you've seen JFK, you might find this interesting: They have this international Fashion Trade Mart. Tommy Lee Jones was involved in something like that in JFK. But the movie didn't mention the one in Dallas.

There was a Thai place that Ma really loved and went to with a lot of community members. I didn't go there but she still can't stop talking about how good the food was. I'm going to go ask her the name so I can put it in here. She says it's the Thai Lotus Kitchen and that if you're in Dallas, try it out. She wrote about the trip to Texas in "Steamed Fish and Green Apples in the Kitchen." And the recipe in the title is Billie's recipe.

It was great to see some Texas members who'd been in DC for big the rally. And it was great to meet some I hadn't met. We also saw Oak Cliff. Oak Cliff is now a part of Dallas (has been for like 100 years or something). They were different cities once upon a time but Oak Cliff, which is south of downtown, decided to go in and was promised all this stuff. I don't think they got it. Oak Cliff is where Oswald was when the police arrested him, at The Texas Theater, which they've just remodeled. It's on. I'm trying to remember. I should have written when this was fresh. Jefferson Street, I think. That was a big street in Oak Cliff back in the 60s and you can tell that even today because there are all these buildings on it. They used to have lots of stores now though it's not that way. Everything's moved to the north side of town. (I was told it was worse for south Dallas where everything's leaving the mall.) You have a lot of 'antique' stores and most of them aren't open that often. You also have a lot of places that serve Mexican food. Places to eat are pretty much it though they have some grocery stores on the street and some rent a center type stores. They did get a Subway on that street recently.

I'm not putting down the people in Oak Cliff, by the way. There are some really nice people living there. But I am pointing out that the city doesn't seem too concerned about it (which is what I heard over and over). They're not really trying to get business in that area.

Between Oak Cliff and downtown is the Trinity River which is a real river in that area when the rains come in but most of the time it's just a dry valley with a muddy puddle. There's this big road going from downtown to Oak Cliff that's way up in the air because the river's below. Oh, when you ride across that, if you look around, you'll see a gas station with a swimming pool on the west side. You need to look for that because you'll see cows right behind the gas station. The only cows I saw in Dallas.

The Texas Rangers (baseball team) aren't in Dallas and you have to drive down a street thing named after Bully Boy's father, George Bush Turnpike, to get to it so we passed on seeing that.
So that's what I can remember of Dallas right now. I didn't mean to wait so long to write about it, I just kept forgetting. I'll talk about Law and Disorder tomorrow night and a big "I'm sorry" to Dallas members who were waiting (and waiting and waiting) for me to write about it.

Some members of the community have endorsed for the 2008 Democratic primary and you can read about their endorsing Dennis Kucinich in "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich," "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" and "this now member is endorsing kucinich."

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq with over 100 reported deaths in one day, Party Hacks continue to lie about the realities of US Congressional measures on Iraq, and, in response to NOW PAC's endorsement yesterday, some NOW members make their own endorsement.

Starting with news of war resistance, US war resisters
Kyle Snyder was arrested at the end of February in Canada, by the Canadian police on the orders of the US military. More recently, 3 non-Canadian police officers posed as Canadian police officers while they searched for US war resister Joshua Key. The search was conducted at the same time the US military admits they were looking for him. Both Snyder and Key are in Canada attempting to receive refugee status. CBC News reports that The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) is asking questions and spoke with Alex Atamaneko who "said Snyder should not have been arrested because being absent without leave from a foreign military is not an extraditable offence and Snyder has no criminal record" and that "Our concern is that there could be other Kyle Snyders in Canada. We know that there are a couple of hundred other war resisters here. Are there those that are being apprehended now?"

Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In "THINKERS? WHO NEEDS STINKING THINKERS?" news, The Nation continues to embrace Party Hacks (and males --
1 female byline to every 4 males is the current ratio for the print magazine in 2007) as opposed to real thinkers so it's not that surprising that a Party Hack -- consider him another one of Katrina vanden Heuvel's coffee fetchers -- weighs in to reveal not only how shallow he is but how shallow The Nation has become. After a few 'cutes' on Dennis Kucinich, Ari Melber (at the ha-ha blog Campaign Matters) offers, "It's hard to imagine how the failure of a more 'pure' bill advancing immediate withdrawal would do more to end the war than the succss of Pelosi's bill." It's hard to imagine who thought a Party Hack was fit to write for an opinion journal? But for chuckles, click here for (cached version) of when Party Hacks Attack Each Other. Something truly amazing -- David Sirota (of all people) calling Melber a "Self-Promoting Sellouts." For the record, both Party Hacks now regularly foul The Nation magazine. For the record, Ari forgets to disclose MoveOn ties.

Hard to imagine, Ari? Just for the intellectually stunted.
The Institute for Policy Studies is an actual think tank -- not a Democratic party talking points mill. The IPS' Phyllis Bennis (via Democracy Rising) explains how the bill's not ending anything: "The Congressional resolution passed last week gives Bush another $100 billion to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq. That much is now guaranteed. The timeslines and restrictions included in the bill -- clearly responding to the strong public support for ending the war -- were weakened almost to the disappearing point to allow the razor-thin vote. . . . Congress is not the peace movement. So the peace movement must stay unified on our principles and our demands, in the face of congressional waffling and 'realistic' pragmatism, unfortunately promoted by one influential part of our movement. Whatever they do, we must stay consistent on demanding an end to the U.S. occupation: de-funding (not re-funding) the war, and bringing home (not redeploying) all (not just some) of the troops (including the mercenaries). The longstanding AFSC slogan has it right: 'Not one more death, not one more dollar.' That means STOP funding the war. STOP allowing Bush to send more U.S. troops to kill more Iraqis and be killed in the process. Just stop."

Some of the Party Hacks are, feeling nostalgic, hoping they can drum this into a Bill Clinton drama: "The right's after him, we all must come to the aid!" It's not playing that way because the measures do nothing and the Party Hacks spent most of last week proclaiming how stupid the peace movement was and even though,
as Mike pointed out, one Party Hack quickly tried to shine on his faux populism, people are not buying it. Yes, Bully Boy is against the bill. So?

The Democratic Party ignored the people. This is, as Robert Knight (
Flashpoints) reported Monday, the DLC's bill. The left's job isn't to prop up the right-wing, not even the right-wing of the Democratic Party. Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) made it very clear before any measure passed, "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on."

If Ari's still confused (or pretending to be),
Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) makes it very clear: "What House Democrats actually did was pass a special budget bill giving George Bush every dollar he requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a few billion extra, and little more for vets health care, with a few tens of hundreds of millions worth of legislative prok on the side to secure the votes of reluctant Democrats on each flank. The 'withdrawal measures' in the Democrat-approved war budget are unenforceable suggestions, a patchwork of loopholds held togethr by the empty pretense that President Bush and Pentagon will not lie to us." Dixon notes that the Congressional Black Caucus "shattered" and "once again proved the near uselessness of the CBC as presently constituted."

CODEPINK's Gael Murphy spoke with Deepa Fernandes and Mitch Jeserich (WBAI's Wake Up Call Radio) Wednesday, who stated of the continued demonstrations to protest the continuation of the illegal war, "It's about having that opposition to this continuing war as visible as possible and as loud as possible." Jeserich noted the more visible activity and Murphy agreed they had "stepped up our activity since the supplemental discussions and we will stay there through the Defense authorization debate. Fernandez wondered what the main goals were and Murphy replied, "Cut the funding for the war. We want the war to end this year. We want Congress to take its responsiblity and to, you know they've been repudiating the surge, they've been repudiating the conduct of the war so it's time for them to do something about it. And we want them to cut the funding. We want them to use whatever funding they have for a full, complete, rapid, safe, orderly withdrawal." A clip was played by Robert Byrd "a new direction and it points the way out" and Free Speech Radio News' Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Well it's a suggested timeline for withdrawal next year, of March 2008. That timeline is a goal. But what is binding is that the president is supposed to, or has to according to this, it's a statute that says that he has to start withdrawing troops within 120 days of the passage of this bill. And so that part is binding and the real question is: Is the president actually going to listen to it? He doesn't follow many of the other, laws and regulations that are passed. The fear that he'll sign a signing statement or that he just will ignore it. The fear of many progressives is that it will end up in the courts."

Caldwell then made the comment that "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding." Where is the funding cut? No where. Murphy stated
CODEPINK's goal, "Our call is absolutely, let's cut the funding now use whatever funding we have for the complete withdrawal. So our focus is very much on what's going to happen when the supplemental leaves the conference -- cause what's going to happen after the House passes it's version they'll be a conference committee where the two resolutions will be reconciled and then what comes out will likely be a supplemental bill with a timeline and the benchmarks. We're hoping that Bush does veto it because I think it is in our favor. And when he does, we are expecting and will put pressure on members of Congress not to go back to him with a weaker bill but, in fact, a stronger bill and that's where we're going to be putting our pressure to make sure that there is a stronger bill and that it's about getting the troops home by the end of the year."

As Robert Knight (
Flashpoints) noted yesterday, "Democrat and Republican senators continued quibbling over a 125 billion dollar appropriations bill that would guarantee a continued military presence in Iraq wll into the year 2008 if not beyond. The Senate measure, which awaits a final vote and resolution with a similar non-specifically binding House bill is expected to be voted on later this week even though it faces a presidential veto. Meanwhile Democratic leadership is already announcing that it's willing to negotiate with president Bush to water down the provisions during markup in order to avoid a veto."

Progressive Democrats of America grasped the nature of the bills last week and issued their statement ("Disappointed in Democratic Leadership") -- PDA director Tim Carpenter, "It is antiwar sentiment that put Democrats into majority control of Congress. The recent USA Today - Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, or earlier. We are profoundly disappointed that the Lee Amendment -- which reflects majority sentiment in the country -- was not allowed to be debated and voted upon by the full House. In a free vote, we believe roughly 90 members of Congress would have supported the Lee Amendment and the desires of most Americans to get out of Iraq. Having prevented that vote, the leadership's weak supplemental that prolongs funding of an unwinnable occupation is now more susceptible to wrong-headed attacks from Republicans and certain media circles as somehow risky or extreme." This week, PDA has noted, "The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush's troop surge and won't bring our troops home until a Sept. 1 2008 'deadline' -- with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined 'training' or 'anti-terrorism' missions. (That's why a group of progressive Congress members -- including Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, John Lewis and Dennis Kucinich -- felt the need to stand firm and vote no.) More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership's arm-twisting and the intervention of in support of the leadership's arm-twising."

RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders (The Nation via Common Dreams) observes, "Nonbinding this and that, deadline lah-di-dah, Bush/Cheney are going to ignore the mandate of the midterm elections and every pressure from Congress on Iraq, because Bush/Cheney know their opponents' bark has no bite. And that's because those opponents have yet to renounced the Bush/Cheney vision of US supremacy in the world. In fact, mostly, they share it."

Which gets to the heart of the matter.
Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that the Senate's bill has passed "a mostly party line 51-47 vote". Flaherty also quotes White House Flack Dana Perino stating, "I think the founders of our nation had great foresight in realizing that it would be better to have one commander in chief managing a war" blah, blah, blah. Perino should realize the people of the nation have said no to the war and the issue of 'managing' is not a valid one -- the issue is ending the war.

In Iraq today, the violence and chaos continues as even the supposedly 'secured' capital is rocked with explosions.
CNN reports that two "bombers wearing explosive vests self-detonated in a crowded market in a Shiite district in the northeastern part of the capital." Ahmeed Rasheed (Reuters) reports that an official for the Health Ministry believes most of the dead are women and children and quotes eye witness Wissam Hashim (injured in the blast) stating, "I saw heads separated from the bodies and legs blown off." This after, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, The John McCain Showboat Express pulled into DC on Tuesday to proclaim "we are starting to turn things around." Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes the assertion by US Senator and presidential candidate McCain "that an American could now walk unharmed through several districts of Baghdad was heard with bemusement by Iraqis. He would certainly be murdered or kidnapped by Sunni insurgents, Shia militiamen or criminal gangs before he had taken more than a few steps." And today's death toll from the market bombing in Baghdad alone proves there is no straight talk to John McCain. Rasheed reports that at least 62 people are dead from the bombings while CBS and AP go with 60 and note 40 wounded.

Other bombings?

AP notes that 25 people died in Khalis from three car bombings. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) notes that the toll climbed to 43 dead and 86 wounded "according to police and officials in the predominately Shiite town." Other bombings noted by Reuters include a western Baghdad car bombing that killed 3 people (16 injured), a southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 4 police officers "and one civilian" (9 injured), another southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 2 police oficers (6 wounded), a western Baghdad bombing that wounded 3 Iraqi soldiers, a southern Baghdad bombing that claimed 3 lives (20 wounded), a car bombing in Mahmudiya that killed 4 (20 wounded), and a Mahmudiya mortar attack that killed 2 (7 wounded).


Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Wiwaniya, two traffic police officers were shot dead in northern Baghdad with two more wounded, an eye doctor was shot dead in Mahmudiya


Reuters notes 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.

Finally, returning to US political news. Yesterday the NOW PAC endorsed US Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Later yesterday, "
NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich." NOW members Kat, Rebecca, Dona, Ava, Betty, Gina, Krista, Keesha, Kayla, Elaine, Martha and Shirley as well as former NOW member Trina used their voices to note that NOW PAC, which did not poll membership, does not speak for them and to decry the removal of the white dove and slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" from the NOW website in time to endorse War Hawk Hillary Clinton.
Along with "
NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich" (Kat's Korner). Elaine's "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" and Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich" also address the issue and why they are endorsing Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. All who signed encourage other NOW members to announce their own endorsement. NOW PAC is a political arm of NOW but it is NOW and NOW members should, as they have so powerfully throught the years, use their own voices to speak for themselves.

This week,
Kucinch amplified his call for a national discussion regarding impeachment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dave Lindorff, Dave Zirin

Wednesday, hump day, and how are you? Except for a few comments about Dennis Kucinich, we'll focus on Daves tonight. Ma's latest is "Bean Salad in the Kitchen" and, in it, she talks about why, if the election were tomorrow, she'd vote for Kucinich. I think she's going to win the whole family over to Kucinich. :D Seriously. She's got Dad supporting him and my sibs. If she gets through to the rest of our family, watch out. I mean I'm one of eight kids. My dad's got a big family, Ma's got a big family. I'm still on the fence. I support what he's doing and saying and, unless someone else enters the race, it's between him and John Edwards for me. I think he's running a great campaign, Kucinich, and that if the media was covering it, people would be talking about him non-stop. He's like the real Howard Dean. (What, did I break a few hearts there? The centrist governor isn't still seen as the great liberal hope, is he?) So I haven't picked yet but I won't be sad if Kucinich gets the nomination and it's really down between him and Edwards for me. You need to check out Kat's Korner tonight. Check out Elaine tonight too.

Yesterday, I talked about Stupid Ass Sirota. But to make sure everyone knows that there are cool Daves too, :D, I'm highlighting two of the coolest -- outside of sports! First up, Dave Lindorff's "Impeachment, Like Spring, is in the Air:"

It's time for impeachment to come out of the deep freeze.
For a year now, Democratic leaders like Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and DNC head Howard Dean have been working to tamp down the pressures to hold the president accountable for his crimes and abuses of power by way of impeachment.
House Speaker Pelosi for her part made it clear after the Democrats won the House that she would tolerate no talk of impeachment, even reportedly threatening one-time impeachment advocate Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) with the denial of his cherished position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee if he pushed ahead with or accepted bills of impeachment from other House members.
House leaders and Democratic Party leaders also worked behind the scenes to kill off grassroots attempts to follow Thomas Jefferson's alternative route to impeachment by getting state legislatures to pass bicameral impeachment resolutions. They strong-armed legislative leaders in the senates of both Washington State and New Mexico to block efforts to put such resolutions to a floor debate and vote in those two states, and have been working mightily to block a similar grassroots campaign in Vermont.
But the Democratic Party's efforts to tamp down impeachment efforts are coming unraveled, courtesy of the ongoing criminality of the Bush administration, which seems hell-bent on aggrandizing as much executive power as it possibly can before the clock runs out on Bush¹s second term of office.
Democratic state committees, the top party organizations at the state level, in both Oregon and Vermont, have overwhelmingly passed resolutions calling on the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings. In Vermont, 38 towns–roughly a third of those holding annual town meetings this past month--voted impeachment resolutions (only six were rejected), and an effort continues to move forward in both houses of that state's legislature to introduce and pass a Jeffersonian impeachment resolution to send to the House in Washington. Other efforts are underway in New Jersey and Maine.
Republican Senator and presidential dark horse Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has publicly stated that impeachment is a possibility, given the president’s arrogant rejection of public or congressional accountability with regard to the war in Iraq and other issues.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has openly talked of submitting a bill of impeachment.
What's missing in all this has been media attention. In fact, until lately, the media have pretty much only reported about impeachment in the negative, running stories when an impeachment resolution gets blocked by a state legislature, but not when it gets backed by a legislative committee, or by a Democratic state party organization.
There has not been a scientific poll asking about impeachment sentiment since last October, when Newsweek Magazine published a poll showing that an astonishing 51 percent of Americans favored impeachment--half of those people even saying it should be a priority for Congress. Now things may be starting to change. Sen. Hagel's comments on the possibility of impeachment, first made in a Vanity Fair magazine profile, were reported on ABC, and impeachment advocate John Nichols was interviewed about impeachment and Hagel's comment on MSNBC. CNN also ran a story.
That's not much, but it's an indication that the ground is shifting.

And Kucinich was discussing it today on Democracy Now!. It's really interesting how 'leaders' think they can tell us what to think. (And their megaphones like Stupid Ass Sirota.) Do we have a democracy? Do we have a working Congress? If the answer to both is "yes," then we should have an impeachment. "Off the table," the three stupidest words any politician can utter, I thought. Isn't that what War Hawks like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say? Don't they say they can't rule out an attack on Iran because all options are on the table? Don't they say it's a mistake to take any option off the table?

Why the hell are the Dems running from impeachment? The GOP already tried to scare off voters in 2006 with the claim that there was going to be an impeachment. Voters didn't say, "OH MY GOD! I MUST VOTE GOP!" They voted for the Dems.

So when can we get serious and discuss impeachment? I think Kucinich is right to push for a national discussion because one's not going to come from the halls of Congress. There are too many cowards in Congress which is why (a) we don't have a bill to end the war -- despite the Dems and media lies and (b) Bully Boy's gearing up to attack Iran.

Now if you come by very often, you probably know that I'm a big fan of Dave Zirin's. In fact, Wally and I picked his last book as our favorite book of 2005 (What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States). Zirin's a really great writer. He's got a new book coming out. And he writes about it in "Yet Another Book on Muhammad Ali (And Why I Wrote It!):"

The second strain comes from the "smear Ali" crowd. There is a new cottage industry of books that attempt to prove in the words of one particular piece of trash that "Ali was an unapologetic sexist and unabashed racist" who "was bad for America." This group takes Ali's opposition to the war in Vietnam and his Muslim religion, and crushes him for having the temerity to speak his mind. They come off as a thinly veiled exercise in attacking those today that would dare resist.
These two wings of the Ali School of Falsification share a common destination: the obliteration his wildly attractive and all-to-edgy political impact. Sport - and all popular culture - is the business of perception. Therefore to understand Ali, we must not only know the man, but also how he was perceived. Since the 1960s audience consuming the young Ali were part of some of the most important social upheavals in the 20th century, it makes taking this holistic view all the more important.
My book takes the starting point that Ali was someone who was both shaped by and a shaper of his times: the segregation of the 1950s; the revolts of the 1960s; the sybaritic 1970s; the despair of the 80s and the commercial culture of the 1990s. His chameleon like ability to be a man of all seasons, makes him unique in the history of sports. Many star athletes live in isolation, their lives defined by bodyguards and gated communities: the general public a nation of enemies. For Ali, particularly the young Ali, his ear was to the street. Having a bodyguard was not his way. As he said, "I'm an easy target. I'm everywhere; everybody knows me. I walk the streets daily, and nobody's guarding me. I have no guns, no police. So if someone's gonna get me, tell them to come on and get it over with - if they can get past God, because God is controlling the bullet."
This may be another world from today's athletes, but Ali could not be more relevant and reclaiming his legacy could not be more pressing. We live in an era where sports has become an industry that towers titanically over the grandest dreams of its founders. It is bigger than US steel, and counts profits in the hundreds of billions. The stars of the SportsWorld are given a platform that dwarves both celebrities and elected leaders. But that platform comes at a price: it comes branded with corporate logos and the expectation that those given the stage will toe the line. Muhammad Ali represents a different path: the person that would not be who they wanted him to be. And we are richer not only for the experience but the example.
To tell this story, I wanted the book to be a part of the MQ Publications handbook series. They intersperse almost every other page with rare photos, quotes and interviews. Comparing most biographies to the MQ series is like comparing a map to a globe: it's the same story but told in a radically different way. They deserve the credit for placing my text in a package that is simply breathtaking.

Ali is under attack and it's not a surprise because of the times we are living in. You probably remember the crap Steve Nash took for speaking out agains the war. But he was brave to do that. Ali was brave too and the thing the right wing wants to do is discredit him because they don't want anyone getting ideas! They don't want anyone thinking they can use their voice and speak out. So Muhammed Ali: Handbook is a way to combat that. I haven't read it yet. I just found out about it when I was looking around for stuff to write about tonight. But I will be buying it and, if you can afford it, you should consider buying it too. It's an important topic and he's a strong writer. If you can't buy a copy, get to work at your library requesting it. If the book circulates heavy, you better believe libraries will take notice. So, if you can't afford to get it (it's $17.50 at the link), that doesn't mean you can show support for the effort.

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, The John McCain Showboat Express continues chug-chugging into Crazy Town, the National Organization for Women endorses Hillary Clinton as the dove on their website vanishes and the US Senate pretends to take action.

Starting with war resistance. US war resister
Mark Wilkerson speaking about the military's record keeping, "When I was AWOL I called this Army deserter's hot line about once every two weeks to see if my name would ever show up on the list. I deserted in January 2005 and I started calling this list in February. What I found was that I would call and give them my Social Security number and they would come back and say, 'No you are not on the list yet. You are present for duty'." Mark Wilkerson quoted by Cox News Service in their story on how: "The Army, which has been stressed by repeated deployments in Iraq, is no longer classifying some soldiers as deserters even though they have run away, according to those who counsel deserters and deserters themselves. It is unclear how widespread the practice is but counselors say they believe the Army has failed to classify hundreds of soldiers as deserters even though they have been gone for more than six months." The article also quotes Brian C. Hilferty (Army spokesperson, lt. colonel) stating that "the military no longer tries to hunt down deserters. Instead, it assumes that deserters will eventually run afoul of police who check the NCIC computer." Of course, that's not true either AEB by the military's attempts to bring in the California police while war resister Kyle Snyder was speaking there at the end of last year, by the military's ordering the Canadian police to arrest Kyle Snyder in Canada and by the still unexplained issue of three US military members posing as Canadian police officers and attempting to locate US war resister Joshua Key. Speaking with US House Rep and 2008 presidential contender Dennis Kucinich, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "the men and women who have gone AWOL, there have been thousands of them, some are bing count-martialed, like Lieutenant Ehren Watada, will be court-martialed again -- it was a mistrial in his first trial -- first officer to say 'no' to war, to deployment to Iraq. What do you think should happen to these men? Agustin Aguayo, an Army medic who applied for CO status, didn't get it, and is now in prison in Germany. Do you support their saying 'no'? Do you support their refusing to go to Iraq or redeploy to Iraq?" Dennis Kucinich's response: "I support the troops who serve and also those who don't feel it's right to serve. I think we have to ask our troops to be able to reserve the right of their conscience, and if they feel it's the right thing, we should support that, too. I think we're in a point in the history of this country where many people have looked at the war and realized that it's wrong. Some of those people are soldiers. Soldiers are put in an impossible situation, not only those who are committed to serving in Iraq, but also those who know that the war is wrong and who question the war. I think we have to love our troops, whatever situation they find themselves in. And the way to support them is to bring them home. . . . . You know, I don't think that anyone who's taken a principle and conscientious position should be subject to a court-martial. They should be permitted to leave the service if they so desire, but not be forced through that kind of a process. I think, you know, there has to be an underlying truth here, and the underlying truth is the war was wrong, period. The war is based on lies. We should support our troops by bringing them home, and we should support those who have challenged the war by giving them a chance to leave honorably."

Wilkerson, Watada, Aguayo, Snyder and Key are Clousing and Wilkerson are a part of movement of resistance within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Ricky Clousing, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-nine US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
As the Cox News Service report indicates, the number of those self-checking out is far greater than the US military admits to.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In the US, the Senate passed (50 to 48) an ammendment yesterday on Iraq. As
Andrew Ward (Financial Times of London) observes that "both houses of Congress must first reconcile their differing bills in conference" and Republican senators dropped their "attempts to remove the nonbinding timeline from a $121.6 bn war-funding bill". Non-binding once again being the key point. Robert Knight (Flashpoints) yesterday observed that the "Senate bill . . . is even weaker than the House bill since it only expresses the uneforceable goal, but not requirement, that most troops leave Iraq by March 31, 2008. As with the House's war preservation bill, the Senate version would enable an unknown number of US troops to remain in Iraq beyond April 2008 for counter-insurgency training and security operations. . . . The final legislation will almost certainly be met with a veto from President Bush." [Note:
Flashpoints can be heard over the airwaves and online at KPFA and KFCF. Archived broadcasts can be found at Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives. Yesterday's snapshot included links to Flashpoints that were wrong. My apologies for my mistake. Thanks to Kyle for pointing that out.] Larry Everest (CounterPunch) reminds, "In November, millions voted for the Democrats to protest Bush and the war, and in hopes they would end it. Today, many -- including people who worked energetically to elect Democrats and who've been lobbying them to cut off war funding -- feel bitter, betrayed, and outraged. They should be outraged. The lesson is not that the Democrats 'sold out' or are 'spinless.' The lesson is that the Democrats are a ruling class party (and this is deeply institutionalized, regardless of the desires or intentions of its supporters or even some elected Democrats), acting to advance the interests of a capitalist-imperialist system they're part of and represent."

The attempts to trick the people could backfire on the Democrats who see this non-binding, toothless nonsense as a sure vote-getter for 2008. As
Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) argued, this can be a sold as 'victory' for the GOP come 2008: "bully boy should sign it into law. i'm not in the mind to help bully boy but, seriously, he should do it. and if the dems don't offer anything stronger between now and august 2008, when they start finger pointing, he should say, 'look, i lived up to your bill.' it won't be hard to do. he's the 1 who gets to judge if the benchmarks have been met. he can override things by declaring 'national security'. the dems, if they offer nothing else, have set their own trap."
In one of the more interesting developments,
as Mike (Mikey Likes It!) notes, as more and more people catch on to the realities of the Democrats' measures, one of the biggest cheerleaders of the House action, someone who lectured and hectored people about how they weren't as realistic or as smart as he was, is now attempting to play populist of the people: "How stupid does Stupid Ass [David] Sirota think we all are? Does he think we've all forgotten his attacks on everyone who had the strength to point out that the Pelosi measure did nothing? Does he htink we've forgotten his pompous lectures? Today he wants to play 'one of you'." And some by it. Though Mike didn't link to "Democracy Haters" (nor will we) some are happy to link the nonsense as the political hack now attempts to recast himself yet again.

So-called independent media made a big deal, rightly, about the mainstream media repeating Bully Boy's claims as facts. That criticism looks far less strong when so many supposedly "independent" outlets rush to provide the Democrats spin while presenting themselves as factual outlets. Meanwhile big media has failed repeatedly on the discussion in another regard. Like US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, they all rush to affirm Bully Boy's right to chart the illegal war. A president's commander-in-chief role applies to the battle field -- a recognized and defined one -- and the people of the United States are the check on that. Congress, representing them, can set dealines and should set them considering the 2006 election results. Parroting Hillary, many media outlets rush to state that timelines could interfere with Bully Boy's ability to wage war. The people have decided. In the 2006 elections, in the polls consistently. The one interfering is the Bully Boy who wants to continue his illegal war. (And Congress is certainly aiding him in that.) Bully Boy is not King of America. There is no king in the United States.

Staying on the subject of politics for a moment, Hillary Clinton has been
endorsed in her 2008 presidential bid by NOW -- the National Organization For Women. As to whether or not the endorsement required that they remove "Peace is a feminist issue" -- a slogan displayed on their site for years -- is a question someone should ask NOW. Where the dove and slogan used to be, visitors are now told "Love Your Body" and apparently that somehow factored into the decision process by which War Hawk Hillary Clinton won an endorsement from what was an organization strongly dedicated to ending the war. Again, NOW has removed the dove and slogan "Peace is a feminist issue" from their website and they have endorsed War Hawk Hillary Clinton for 2008.

Today on Democracy Now!, Dennis Kucinich addressed the realities of what was being promised and reality:

Dennis Kucinich: Well, we were given false choices. We were told that we either buy into president Bush's plan, which is keep the war going indefinitely, or accept the Democratic version of the war in Iraq, which would keep the war going for another year or two. I say those choices weren't sufficient. The Democrats could have refused to send a bill forward. We didn't have to fund this war. We're not under any obligation to keep the war going. And yet our leaders took another path. Furthermore, Amy, you may be interested to know that the 2008 budget, which is before Congress today and will be voted on tomorrow, contains another $145 billion for the war, and on top of that, they're putting another $50 billion for the war in fiscal year 2009. So this talk about ending the war by March or by September belies the fact that the budget has money in it to keep the war going into 2009. And I think that's wrong. I think the American people will reject that type of thinking. And I'm standing strong to say "Get out now." I put forth a plan embodied in HR 1234 to accomplish just that.

Amy Goodman: But what do you say to those make the argument that, if president Bush has on his desk a bill that gives money, gives a fortune in continuing the war, and he has to veto it because he doesn't like the timetable, that this puts him in a very difficult position?

Kucinich: Our decisions have to be way above politics. We have the lives of our troops at stake here. There's no military victory in Iraq. We're there illegally. The occupation is fueling the insurgency. Democrats can still, after president Bush vetoes the bill -- which he will -- Democrats can still take the right position, which is refuse to fund the war, use money in the pipeline to bring the troops home.

Kucinich addressed how Bully Boy's not ending the war and how the current legislation isn't addressing it. He noted he "crafted my plan with the help of the people at the UN, and I will tell you that they say that it would take about two months, three months to mobilize a sufficient force that would replace US troops leaving. So I say two, to three months, we could have troops home and have an international force that would help stabilize Iraq. But the international community will not become involved as long as the United States intends to occupy Iraq and keep bases open. So we need to take a new direction. My plan would be as follows: to put in place the provisions of HR 1234, which ends the occupation, closes the bases, sets in motion a plan to bring the troops home, bring in international peace keepers, and stop the privatization of Iraqi oil. One of the things in the bill that passed the House was a demand that the Iraq government pass a hydrocarbon act which sets the stage for broad privatization of trillions of dollars of Iraqi oil interests. Now think about it. If Democrats had told the American people last October that, 'If you vote Democrat in November, we'll not only give you enough money to keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term, but we'll also privatize the oil of Iraq and then help the US oil companies' -- with the prize that I think the war was all about from the very beginning -- I don't think the people would have voted Democrat. So Democrats have to keep faith with the American people."

Interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner (
KPFA's Guns and Butter) today, professor Francis Boyle discussed how a 2003 exploration of impeachment by the Democrats was cut short when John Podesta announced that there would be no introduction of bills of impeachment because it would harm Democrats chances in the 2004 election. Speaking of the measures being applauded by much in the media, big and small, Boyle declared, "It's all baloney. All they had to do was just do nothing and Bush would have run out of money. . . . The DNC fully supports the war, that was made clear to Ramsey [Clark] and me on 13 March 2003 and nothing's changed." John Podesta, former Clintonista, is with the Democratic talking point mill (that attempts to pass itself as a think tank) Center for American Progress -- with an emphasis on "Center" and not "Progress."

Meanwhile The John McCain Showboat Express chugged back into DC in time for US Senator and presidential wanna-be to issue a statement (much more important than his vote).
David Esp (AP) quotes McCain's laughable claim that "we are starting to turn things around" which may strike some as McCain trying out a new campaign slogan: "Vote Insane, Vote John McCain."

In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes truck bombings involving chlorine Falluja, outside a government building, wounding "15 Iraqi and U.S. security forces," a car bomb in Mahaweel killed five and left 25 wounded, a car bombing in Baghdad killed 2 and left 10 injured, a rocket attack in the fortress that is the Green Zone killed one "U.S. government contractor" and a car bombing near Ramadi "killed one civilian and wounded seven others".


Following yesterday's bombings in Tal Afar, more violence took place.
AFP reports that 75 are dead from the Tuesday's bombings and that at least 45 people were "massacred" today and the town is now under "a strict curfew". Kim Gamel (AP) reports that the violence was launched by "Shiite militants and police" in response to the Tuesday bombings, that 40 people are believed to be kidnapped and that 18 police officers have been arrested "accused in the shooting rampage after they were identified by Sunni families."


Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Suwayra.

AP reports that Gale Polluck ("Maj. Gen.") who is the acting surgeon gneral for the Army told the US House Armed Service Committee, "When the original plans were made, we did not take into consideration we could be in a long war" and therefore at question is if "the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan." If the sudden concern strikes you as familiar, it's because Elaine's long made this point (most recently yesterday), Monica Benderman covered it this week in "On Ending War" (CounterPunch).