Friday, August 17, 2007

Danny Schechter, Andrew Clevenger

It's Friday at last! :D The weekend's here. It'll go by in the blink of the eye so try to enjoy it before it does. Let's get started. Okay, this is from News Dissector Danny Schechter's "'An Entity We Can’t Even See' Mythifying Markets and Mystifying the Public About the Financial Crisis:"

Feeding our ignorance on the origins of this rollercoaster, which some fear could lead to other bubbles bursting and a global recession, or something worse, is a media that mythologizes markets and presents them as neutral self-correcting mechanisms that fairly regulate supply and demand and deserve confidence. There is nary a word on how they can be dominated, monopolized and ologopolized. (Is that a word?) Last week we were warned about "contagion." This week, the calming buzzword is "correction."
Left out in all this is any discussion of the shadowy forces that we don't see who are calling the shots and the many ways in which the game is damaging our society and is even self-destructive to business. (Remember Lenin's warning: "sell them enough rope and capitalists will hang themselves.") Who is investigating the profiteers and the tactics they use? What politicians are speaking out? Isn't the handwriting on the wall?
Steven Lendman writes, "Some astute financial observers now believe current excesses and resulting turmoil were caused by the intentional engineering of the US housing bubble with the Fed in on the scheme." The Federal Reserve Bank) by the way, contrary to appearances, is NOT a government agency but a private body run by big banks.
"Insiders made loads of easy money in the process and now stand to cash in big troubled assets for a fraction of their value the way they always do in the wake of market meltdowns. It’s called "vulture" investing with shrewd buyers profiting hugely in good and bad times that are all good for them."
He concludes, "The problem is deep, structural and aided by stripped away regulatory protections giving predatory lenders and Wall Street schemers free reign to target unsuspecting victims." In other words, see who benefits.
Enough of all the uncritical market hyping in the media! Lets get at truths that are obscured with vague references to faith-based market "psychology" which has actually been described as motivated by "animal spirits" as if that's a good thing. They make it sound like fun time-when it's a crime.

I could follow that (but would have posted it if I hadn't, I like Danny). It's amazing, if you think about it, how markets 'just happen.' At best, we get told of official deals. Little attention is ever made to the 'deal' that involves a declared or undeclared war.

If you're scratching your head over that, I was going to include something someone e-mailed to me. But as I read it some more, I was puzzled and then went to C.I. and Elaine with questions.
The guy is supportive of today's SDS and attacking the old SDS. He's also misrepresenting today's SDS, by the way. But I just couldn't follow his nonsense. They knew him then and pointed out he wasn't as involved as he self-presents ("from time to time") today. He writes like he's cheering SDS on but he's really trying to steer it. He's not a part of it and needs to find something else to steer.

That's really pathetic, really pathetic. Think about it. Here's a man who really did nothing during Vietnam to end that illegal war and today he's trying to insert himself in as the adviser to SDS. Why? So they won't do anything? He really needs to find another group to 'report' on. And maybe next time he can try reporting on something instead of counseling on it.

He also let a lot of his opinions on the Weather Undergound spill into his supposed discussion of his SDS days. C.I. said, "He supports some of Weather Underground's actions depending upon what day you catch him. The rest of the time, he's running from them." I said,"There's no way he ever would support Weather Underground" because I'd just read his column. C.I. goes, "Save your post." I did and C.I. did a quick search on the computer and found 4 different pieces where the guy's writing favorably of Weather Underground. (C.I.'s staying over tonight after speaking in the area.)

How can anyone be so schizoid? Elaine says the guy was always like that and never really able to commit to the peace movement in any form. I say, "Loser!" :D

Okay, this is from Andrew Clevenger's "Couple Arrested at Bush Rally Settles Lawsuit for $80,000:"

The federal government has agreed to pay $80,000 to a Texas couple arrested for wearing anti-President Bush T-shirts at a 2004 event with the president in Charleston.
Jeff and Nicole Rank went to Bush’s Fourth of July speech at the state Capitol wearing homemade T-shirts with a red circle with a bar through it over the word "Bush."
On the back, hers read "Love America, Hate Bush" and his read "Regime Change Starts At Home."
When the couple refused to cover up their shirts, they were arrested and charged with trespassing. Those charges were later dropped by the city of Charleston, and city officials later apologized.
The American Civil Liberties Union subsequently filed a lawsuit on the Ranks' behalf in federal court in Charleston, alleging that the Ranks' First Amendment right to free political speech had been violated.

That's our better news for today. I won't say "good" news because first of all the arrests should have never happened and weren't an accident, second of all I'm not Koo Koo Katrina babbling on about "Sweet Victory" while Rome burns.

Now for news on Iraq, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, August 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, al-Maliki tries to save his ass via a Sunni shut out, the 4,000 mark for foreign fighters killed in Iraq has passed, a mosque is attacked in Iraq, A.N.S.W.E.R. is attacked in the US, IVAW & Vets for Peace & Military Families Speak Out and others gear up for a march in St. Louis this Sunday, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Melissa Fryer (The Nanmio News Bulletin).reports on war resister Timothy Richard who enlisted in the National Guard in 1999 and self-checked out and moved to Canada after he was stop-lossed: "In August 2005, just three months before his six-year contract expired, he was called up and moved from calvalry to infantry, and began training at Camp Shelby, Miss. for deployment to Iraq. . . . His contract was extended to 2031 without his permission, due to a clause that allows the U.S. government to extend military contracts at their discretion". Camilo Mejia, who tells his story in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, also found his 'contract' (legally binding only when it's in the military's favor) extended to 2031. Richard self-checked out during the Thanksgiving 2005 break and moved to Canada. Fyrer reports,
"Because his dad is Canadian, Richard was able to acquire Canadian citizenship, which allows him to work and go to school, and protects him from extradition to the U.S. to face desertion charges. . . . Other war resisters are not so fortunate. To support them, and to help repay the support he was shown when he landed in Nanaimo, Richard is using his singing talents to raise money for the Nanaimo War Resisters Support Group and St. Andrew's United Church" with "A Concert for Peace" scheduled to take place August 19th, starting at seven p.m. at St. Andrew's Church (ten dollars is the price for a ticket).

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th. (And, on the 19th, there will be a march led by, among others, war resister Darrell Anderson. See further details at later in the snapshot.)

Earlier this month, when the United Nations Security Council voted to 'expand' the UN's role in Iraq,
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) wrote of the "fig leaf" nature of the UN 'mission' in Iraq observing that "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expects to send all of thirty more U.N. personnel to Iraq. But the staff union at the U.N. opposes this, and even wants those currently in Iraq to be withdrawn until the safety situation there improves" and also noted how it was "difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes 'the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capactiy building in Iraq's southeast'." Basra would be the site where the UK has seen many losses throughout the illegal war (the current number of UK soldiers killed in the illegal war is 168). So the "all of thirty more U.N. personnel [sent] to Iraq" is laughable and, indeed, a fig leaf.

Fig leafs are all that's left to cover the illegal war and the new one this week has been
the so-called 'alliance' Nouri al-Maliki has formed which shuts out the Sunnis. Always quick to parrot the US government's talking points, Damien Cave (New York Times) misses every bit of reality and promotes the 'alliance' as just another manuever while quoting an unnamed US official who declares its too soon to tell whether the alliance will be successful or not? Too soon to tell? The shut out of the Sunnis violates the White House endorsed, Congressionally mandate 'benchmarks' two and sixteen. Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports that the make up of the 'alliance' "effectively undermines the coalition's chances of breaking the political gridlock that has frustrated U.S. and Iraqi officials" and quotes Sunni Hachim al-Hassani declaring, "This is not the solution for Iraq's problems. The solution for Iraq's problems is for the real parties to get together and agree on an agenda to fix Iraq's
The Australian observes that the Sunni shut out in the 'alliance' "immediately raised questions about its legitimacy as a unifying force" and declares, "The key disappointment after days spent negotiating the pact's membership was the absence of Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, and his moderate Iraqi Islamic Party. That portends even deeper political divisions, but Mr. Maliki chose a more optimistic assessment." The Sunni shut out also comes after US efforts to arm and train some Sunnis alarmed many Shi'ites in the puppet government and the back-and-forth dance the US does with Sunnis and Shi'ites serves to throw everyone off balance (which is the point of it). al-Maliki, while trashing two 'benchmarks,' is already (once again) eager to spin happy about the chances to pass the theft of Iraqi oil, the privataziation of Iraqi oil opposed by most Iraqis but something the US administration wants. Sabah Jergest (AFP) reports "Leaders of Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab community on Friday slammed the new Shiite and Kurdish alliance formed to salvage Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government. The National Concord Front, the main Sunni Arab political bloc in the country's 275-member parliament, said the new tie-up between the two Shiite and two Kurdish parties was a 'futile' excercise."
David Hardaker (Australia's ABC) notes that "Sunni leader and Vice President Tariq Hashemi has severely criticised the government's record on security and human rights." And so has the mainstream press in recent months but the 'alliance' is a new chance to spin 'possibilities.'

Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitor) provides context: "With a mid-September deadline looming for the Bush administration to deliver its Iraq progress report to Congress, American diplomats in Baghdad are working overdrive to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government from total collapse -- something that could shatter all efforts to forge a long-elusive national reconciliation." Fig leaf. That's all the 'alliance' is. An effort by the US and al-Maliki to have something -- anything! -- worth spinning as the September 15th 'progress' report (to be delivered to Congress) looms. In light of this comes the 'alliance' and also talk of a crisis summit. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review observes of the latter, "How familiar is this dirge. The government is run by the Shiite majority, the Sunni minority feels put upon and many Kurds would just as soon go their own way." Among the Shi'ite militias Sunnis have called "death squads" is the Badr Brigade. Last week, the governor of the Qadasiyah province was assassinated. CBS News and AP report today that Sheik Hamid al-Khudhan, "secretary-general of the Badr Brigade" has just been elected the new govenor "by a narrow majority" of council members. With these and other actions, the puppet's cry of "We must unite" seems less like a slogan and more like a threat.

How familiar is this dirge? Tuesday multiple bombings in northern Iraq led to mass deaths. Today
BBC reports the death toll at 344 with four hundred wounded and that Abdul Rahim al-Shimari, mayor of Baaj, held a press confrence where he declared, "People are in shock. Hospitals here are running out of medicine. The pharmacies are empty. We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe." The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that they are "dispatching surgical and medical supplies to Telaafar General Hospital which is receiving an influx of casualties resulting from the four explosions that rocked the Sinjar district in the north west of Iraq late on Tuesday evening. Similar supplies for the treatment of over 400 wounded have also been dispatched to Sinjar General Hospital and Dohuk Emergency Hospital." While the Red Cross (and Red Crescent) provide aid, Damien Cave (New York Times) gets giddy that Nouri al-Maliki's puppet government has announced it will provide families with $1600 (US) for each family member killed. Ignoring all context and reality, this meager sum stands in stark contrast to to the puppet's July 2006 declaration that he would send $35 million (US) in aid to Lebanon.
Diamond Jim Brady al-Maliki has all the cash in the world to toss around . . . outside of Iraq but when Iraqi lives are to be compensated for, he sends the message that the lives are of much less value on the monetary scale.

Staying on the topic of money,
CNN reported yesterday on Iraqi women who have been forced into prostitution due to their losses from the illegal war as they attempt to support themselves and their children with some earning $8 (US) a day. Suha, not her real name, is 37-years-old, the mother of three children and she tells CNN, "People shouldn't criticize women, or talk badly about them. They all say we have lost our way, but they never ask why we had to take this path. I don't have money to take my kids to the doctor. I have to do anything that I can to preserve my child, because I am a mother." The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq's Yanar Mohammed explains to CNN that her group "pounds the streets of Baghdad looking for these victims often too humiliated to come forward," victims of the illegal war whom she points out have been forced into prostitution: "At this point there is a population of women who have to sell their bodies in order to keep their children alive. It's a taboo that no one is speaking out. There is a huge population of women who were the victims of war who had to sell their bodies, their souls and they lost it all."

On the anniversary of the fourth year of the illegal war, the
Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq released the following statement:

Women of Iraq have gradually let go of most of their 20th century gains and privileges in the last 4 years of occupation. Iraq turned from a modern country of educated and working women into a divided land of Islamic and ethnic warlords who compete in cancelling women from the social realm. Millions of women's destinies are wasted between the destructive US war machine and different kinds of Islamic rule who have have turned women into helpless black objects of no will or worth.
After 4 years of "democratizing" Iraq, systemic group rapes of detained women have become a routine procedure to be practiced in police staions and detainment camps. It has also become another ugly face of the atrocious sectarian war where assaulting females of
the other sect is considered a political victory and punishment.
Abeer, Sabrine and Wajidah's sufferings were known, heard, and ended but hundreds of unknown assaulted women still get beaten, raped and videotaped daily in the Iraqi ministries and around the American bases.

And yes, Virgil and Virginia, there is prostitution in Iraq and in Baghdad and it's been known throughout the illegal war though many outlets have worked overtime to officially ignore it (officially ignore).

CBS News' Lara Logan files an update on the Baghdad orphan horror story (back in June, US soldiers found an 'orphanage' that was practicing neglect and abuse and rescued the children) by noting that the US soldiers who saved the children have been awarded but she fails to mention the names of those receiving awards other than Osman Koroma. She also fails to mention how the situation (and others like it that remain unreported) came to be.
Congratulations to Koroma (and the others) for a well deserved medal but the facts remain -- and remain unreported in US media -- that the orphanage and others like it exist due to the illegal war. This was not a case of children made orphans, this was actually (though Logan doesn't note it) a special needs residential center. In the Arab media, parents of the children and of other children have been interviewed, have discussed how they placed their special needs children there because they hoped the children would have the best chance at safety in a war torn country. Parents have been vocal -- outside the US media -- about how the story CBS broke (and others picked up) have made them decide that bombs falling, shootings, barely enough food to survive on, be damned, they were going to pull the children from these institutions. CBS News continues to act as if an isolated center was found and what took place happened by mere chance. That is not reality. There are many others and 'care givers' know they can get away with it because the daily violence makes visits by parents near impossible (and, as one father revealed, many of these centers require the parents to make appointments to visit) and they thrive because Iraqi parents (or in some cases, an Iraqi parent since the illegal war has left many families with one parent -- some with none) see the daily violence from the illegal war and look for any sort of safety for their children. By all means, applaud Osman Koroma and the other US soldiers who made a huge difference by not just discovering the children but by rescuing them (up the chain commanders deserve no credit or applause for the individual actions of the soldiers) but don't ignore the fact that this center and others like it exist due to the illegal war.

yesterday a mark stood at 3999. The mark? The number of official military members who had died after foreign governments had sent them into Iraq to fight in the illegal war. The 4,000 mark has passed. Today the US military announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad. An investigation into the cause of death will be conducted." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died of wounds sustained from enemy gunfire in Baghdad Province, Thursday." This took the total to 4001. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported earlier today, "In Iraq, the coalition death toll has now topped four thousand. The vast majority are American, with thirty-seven hundred and two U.S. troops killed. Forty-four U.S. service members have died this month."

But the number climbed still higher later in the day. Later today, the
US military announced: "One Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated during a patrol in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Aug. 17." And they announced: "Thursday, a MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related cause in Baghdad." ICCC's total for the number of US service members who've died in the illegal war thus far this month is 48 and the total number who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 3706. The total number of foreign military members (US, UK and "Other") killed in the illegal war currently stands at 4003.

As noted above a US soldier died of gun wounds on Thursday. The guns were fired from the roof of a mosque and have resulted in a mosque being the site of a battle.
AP reports the US fired missiles at Honest Mohammed Mosque (which was damaged) as worshippers fled.
CNN reports 14 Iraqis were killed by the US including a "boy." The US military states the mosque battle took place in Tarmiyah while glossing over Iraqi fatalities.

In other violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left three people wounded and 3 bombings that claimed 2 lives and left 8 people injured (four were Iraqi soldiers). KUNA reports a Kirkuk bombing wounded four civilians and five Iraqi police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two people wounded from gun fire when unknown assailants in five vehicles opened fre as they drove through Albu Faraj village. AP reports the airing today of a taped execution of Alaa Abboud Fartous Diab who had been an official at the Iraqi Defense Ministry and was "killed with two pistol shots to the back of the head."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Haditha ("gunshot wounds and signs of torture").

Yesterday, the media began reporting on US Army study that found a 15% increase in suicides among active duty members of the army which AP had. Today, Pauline Jelinek (AP) notes that "nearly a third of 99 [suicides] committed in 2006 were among soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time of their deaths. Iraq accounted for the overwhelming number of those -- 27 of the 30." Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessing says, "This report only shows the tip of iceberg, as it does not cover those who took their lives after leaving active duty service. Until the war in Iraq is brought to an end, we think the tragic reality will only become worse" and notes the suicides of Brian Jason Rand and Jeffrey Lucey -- two of many suicides that were committed after the service members left active duty status and are not tracked in the heavily covered study.

This Sunday,
[PDF format warning] Military Families Speak Out and others including war resister Darrell Anderson will be conducting a march in St. Louis, MO called "The National March Through the Arch" which will begin at 10:45 a.m. with partipants encouraged to meet at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 9th and Cole streets.

Many organizations and individuals will also be taking part in an August 25th march in Maine.
Kennebunks Peace Department announces the August 25th Rally and March for Peace which will include Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Melida and Carlos Arredondo, David Rovics, Indigo Girls, Pat Scanlon & Band and others. Participants should "gather in the park outside the Kennebunkport Consolidated School on School Street at 10 a.m. for a morning of speeches and music. Then the group will march to the Bush family compound on Walker's Point. The march will be followed by another speaking and music program."

In other peace activisim news,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported yesterday that A.N.S.W.E.R. is being targeted for a demonstration next month, "In Washington D.C., city officials have threatened a ten thousand dollar fine to the anti-war group ANSWER unless it removes posters promoting an upcoming peace march. Several hundred yellow posters have been posted around the city announcing the September 15th event. The protest is timed to coincide with the release of a Pentagon report on the so-called troop surge in Iraq. D.C. officials say the posters are illegal because they don't meet city standards on adhesive use. ANSWER calls the fine threat a political move aimed at silencing the march."
A.N.S.W.E.R. maintains it "will not pay one penny to the government for our First Amendment rights or to stave off their threats against us. We are working with the expert constitutional rights attorneys at the Partnership for Civil Justice to determine our next steps for legal action against this government harrassment and attempted repression." They are asking for people to take action by calling the Director of Department of Public Workds, William O. Howland Jr. at 202-673-6833 and the DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty, at 202-724-8876 and/or to use this link to send or a letter or fax. And, to be sure everyone is clear, the march remains on.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Helen Thomas, John Nichols

Thursday. Hope everyone's geared up for the weekend but I got a feeling I don't even have to ask. :D

Okay, if you still believe in Santa Clause, you should stop reading now. Everyone else can continue. Helen Thomas has an interview with Howard Dean. I know C.I. supported Dean for DNC chair and I know C.I. was for John Kerry in the Dem primary and Elaine was for Dean. Elaine actually lobbied C.I. to get on the Dean bandwagon and C.I. said, "No, thank you." This is from Elaine (who had no a/c in her area today again! and they ended up giving her some empty space in aother part of the building to do her sessions) so it's second hand. But C.I. told her it was no use. And Elaine kept asking and C.I. said (2003), "He may come to believe in what he's saying but he doesn't now and he's not really all that on Iraq to begin with. His position has changed." And there was the issue of Vermont and gays which he took a lot of credit for later on in the campaign but also gave an interview where he back tracked and there was the fact that he had a centrist record. Elaine told me after it was over, she gave to John Kerry. C.I. found out and told her not to split her money like that. :D But Elaine lobbied hard so C.I. finally told her to get her to back off (and also told her, "The media is taking Dean down next year").

I know at The Common Ills, C.I. has been supportive of Dean's campaign in every state plan and that's why the community endorsed Dean for DNC chair. But to this day, if you're face to face, you'll get an eye roll if you bring up Dean and the illegal war.

I get that. Now I do. Reading Helen Thomas' interview with him, I really get it. He's lying for Dems who aren't for pulling out all troops. He's pushing war in Africa. And he thinks Katrina is important than the illegal war.

Dean's wrong on that last half. With Katrina, there was so much coverage initially that there was burn out before it was over. And as to incompetence of Bully Boy showing, the illegal war shows up every day. It's also true that Blanco and others did enough to piss of a lot of people so I don't agree with him that Katrina is more important than the illegal war.

I know that a lot of LIARS like Katrina vanden Heuvel want to push that. I know that a lot of LIARS want to push it because it backs up their position re favored and dreamed of government programs; however, that's not reality.

Reality is a lot of people were burned out on Katrina before the press lost interest.

Reality is that a lot of people cringe when Katrina's the topic again.

I'm not saying that's the right way to feel (and I do care about the victims of Katrina) but I know on my campus there's a lot of . . . There's a feeling of, "Good God, that was forever ago! Can't they get it together!" And if you point out that they don't have their old homes, that the government screwed them over with everything (including the payments), there's still this attitude of, "Well they got X from the government and they should have known it wouldn't last forever. It's been two years. They need to get on with their life."

I know that because in one of my summer classes, I was the only one in a class discussion defending the victims. And that's cool because I don't mind being the only one on some issue. But that was our scheduled discussion topic and there was so much boredom and, honestly, hate in the room. And that was regardless of race. One woman said she was from Houston and do you know how much the crime went up when they took in the evacuees and all they do is cash their check from the government and stay up all night and blah blah blah. She wouldn't stop. I don't know if what she's saying is true (of if she's really from Houston) but I know she's African-American and that all of the African-Americans were agreeing.

They were talking, everyone in class, about them like they were bums. And I kept saying, "What if you lost everything?" And pointing out that the money wasn't for a new life, people thought this was to help them along while they were waiting to return and the city of New Orleans ended up tearing down most of the housing.

So Howard Dean and Katrina vanden Heuvel can push the nonsense that KvH usually does, but there's burnout. At the end, the woman from Houston goes, "I know what you're saying and I understand it and maybe I could agree on another day but I'm just so tired of them. That was two years ago already."

If Dean's thinking Katrina is the big issue in 2008, he and the Dems may be in a lot of trouble. They better focus just on what Bully Boy didn't do to prepare for what happened and the warnings he ignored because if they start trying to talk about the victims, they may get the same loud disagreeing I did.

And that was cool. I didn't back down. It didn't bother me to be the only one in a large class defending the victims. They need defending. But don't confuse your own opinions with what everyone thinks or you're going to find your mouth dropping the same way mine did when I first realized I was the only one sticking up for them. (I'll continue to stick up for them. I just won't be so shocked if I'm the only one in a class that does.)

I also don't know about these people under 30 he's spending time with that he says blah blah and blah blah about. Students against the illegal war probably aren't hanging with Dean. It's probably that Koo Koo Katrina crowd that she funds (well, she has to have friends somehow!) to work on campaigns and vote. They are as useless as she is.

Koo Koo Katrina, Koo Koo.

I think I'll share another of the jokes from the West coast about Koo Koo Katrina in my column for Polly's Brew this weekend. :D

Beau e-mailed me about what got removed per C.I. I won't link to it and that way I can tell you. It was "rhinoplasty." C.I. felt that was a little cruel and pointed out that there were other factors involved. I understood where C.I. was coming from but that joke was perfect and I'd gladly take up a collection for it! :D

Okay, I know a lot of people support Dennis Kucinich (including in my family!) so let me note John Nichols' "An Attempt to Deceive Americans Into Yet Another War" and don't worry, the link doesn't go to The Nation:

Dennis Kucinich may not be a front runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But the congressman from Cleveland has succeeded in distinguishing himself from the other contenders when it speaking those truths that are self-evident.
And in an era of mass delusion and denial on the party of leaders in both major political parties, stating the obvious can be a radical act.
Such is the case with Kucinich appropriate answer to the latest move by the Bush-Cheney administration to ramp up hostilities with Iran. That move -- the unprecedented attempt to label Iran's 125,000-strong Republican Guard as a "specially designated global terrorist" group -- is, as the congressman says "nothing more than an attempt to deceive Americans into yet another war -- this time with Iran."
No one who has paid even the slightest attention to the Bush-Cheney administration's approach to Middle East affairs can doubt that Kucinich is right. Yet, his is a lonely voice of clarity amid the din of Democratic obfuscation that aids and abets this White House's worst instincts.

I haven't made up my mind yet who I'm for. I was late to figure that out in 2004 too. Wait. It's not late. It's not even 2008. It's just the pundits have all come out gas bagging hard early on. So there's plenty of time to make up your minds. I may be for Kucinich or Edwards. Mike Gravel's probably on my list of possibilities too.

I like what Edwards is saying on poverty. I like what the Edwards are saying on poverty. I wish he had a position like Kucinich on Iraq. Or even like Bill Richardson on Iraq. But I've got more than enough time to decide. And so do you.

So if you haven't made up your mind yet, just consider yourself busy focusing on things that really matter. Like the 3700 mark was passed for US service members killed in Iraq today. For that and more, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, August 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths as the toll since the start of the illegal war passes the 3700 mark, the puppet engineers a "Sunni-free" alliance while whispers of his fall continue, the US mandated 'benchmarks' for Iraq see two fly in the trash ('benchmarks' two and sixteen), well over half of Americans in a new CNN poll don't trust Gen. David Petreaus will tell the truth to Congress, the death toll from Tuesday's bombings in northern Iraq continue to climb, and more.

Starting with war resistance, war resister Aidan Delgado, who was designated a CO, tells his story in
The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq and, as noted in a book discussion at The Third Estate Sunday Review, other than the act of freedom in telling the truth, there was nothing easy about the CO process. Delgado's superiors leaked the news so everyone knew Delgado was attempting CO status, he was questioned about his Buddist beliefs by a superior who clearly didn't understand the religion and told that if he read The Lord of the Rings and the Dune series then he couldn't be against the illegal war, they also (as they do with many) attempted to use the self-defense argument (nothing in the CO status the US military has written says or infers that a CO is someone who would not defend themselves in self-defense), they attempt to play like father figures and treat Delgado like an errant child, they encouraged the use of "peer counseling" where attempts are made to shame and isolate you, etc. Point being, it's not just filling out an application and waiting for the results. Dewey Hammond (San Francisco Chronicle) reviewed the book at the start of the month and noted, "He peels away the layers of warfare and Army life, letting readers draw their own conclusions. He offers candid opinions without riding the high horse. The war is his antithesis, but many of its soldiers are his friends. He describes a particularly difficult two-week personal leave that he spent in Florida: He missed the familiarity of Iraq and felt sickened that the only place that felt like home was the place he wanted more than anything to leave." Jessica Klipa (Bradenton Herald) noted the book Monday and an upcoming event: "He also is scheduled to have a book signing at New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, on Sept. 4."

Delgado is the third war resister to tell their story in book form this year. In May, Camilo Mejia shared his story in
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia while in February Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Turning to Iraq,
Nermeen Al-Mufti (Al-Ahram Weekly) offers a run down of many of the troubles facing puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki including the endorsement from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, al-Maliki's visit to Iran's capital (Tehran) on a day that is seen as many Iraqi's as a day of victory in the earlier eight-year war, displeasure on the part of the Kurds over al-Maliki's statements that he will "expel the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) from the Kurdish region (as Turkey wants), continued charges that Shia militias are death squads targeting Sunnis, increased violence in southern Iraq, and the refugee plight which has left over 4 millions Iraqis displaced. Meanwhile, AP reports that al-Maliki has announced he's got a new alliance . . . with Kurds and Shi'ites. The Sunnis have been left out. AFP lists the alliance members as "Maliki's Dawa Party, Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Massud Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Party (PDK)." CBS and AP offer, "The announcement after three days of intense political negotiations in the capital was disappointing because it did not include Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and his moderate Iraqi Islamic Party." Also weighing was the BBC noting that their "Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says, on the face of it, the new alliance is a puzzling move." Despite claims a "senior US official" makes to Andrew England (Financial Times of London) that it is
"too early to assess," it can be assessed beyond confusing or some other weak term.
The Sunni shut out is not just about al-Maliki's latest dance card, it also goes to the issue of the 'benchmarks' the White House touted and the US Congress adopted. In July,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) evaluated the status and we'll note the second of the eighteen mandated 'benchmarks' (US imposed upon Iraq) which is "Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification" of which Youssef explained, "In March, the Iraqi parliament considered a de-Baathification law, but Shiite legislators objected and the law died." So under the second of the eighteen 'benchmarks,' the shutting out of Sunni leaders can be read as "FAILURE." Since the Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, the sixteenth 'benchmark' ("Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.") can also be read as "FAILURE."

The Yazidi sect is also a minority in Iraq and they are thought to be the targets in Tuesdays bombings in northern Iraq where the death toll has continued to climb as more corpses have been found. Tuesday's attack is the deadliest non-US attack in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.
Tim Butcher (Telegraph of London) observes, "The blast surpassed the previous deadliest attack when 215 people were killed by mortar fire and five car bombs in Baghdad's Shia Muslim enclave of Sadr City on 23 November 2006. Lebanon's The Daily Star puts the death toll at 400 while CBS and AP put it at "at least 400". Citing medics, The Telegraph of London says the death toll could be as high as 500. Richard Sisk (New York Daily News) reports that "up to 500 people" dead from Tuesday's bombings.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains: "At least five hundred people are now feared dead from Tuesday's massive suicide bombing in northern Iraq. The initial toll of two-hundred fifty had already made it the deadliest attack of the Iraq war. Rescue workers continue to pull bodies from the rubble of more than thirty destroyed buildings, including several homes." The death toll is so great that the same US military who told CBS News yesterday that the number killed in the attacks was probably only 30 today tells AFX that the death toll is "between 175 and 200 killed with another 300 wounded" -- obviously continuing a long (if ignoble) US military history of undercounting the dead -- and, as Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Iraqi and U.S. officials immediately blamed Al Qaeda- affiliated insurgents for the devastation Tuesday".

Williams quotes survivor Murad Samku declaring, "The roofs fell on our heads. . . . What I saw last night in the darkness was a horrible image of my beloved village. The land is deserted now. There's nothing left." James Glanz (New York Times) quotes survivor Hasson Dalahi, "I saw a flash in the sky; I never saw anything like this before. . . . The house was completely flattened to the ground. I was looking for any survivor from my family in the rubble. I found only my 12-year-old nephew" (Glanz notes the discovered "nephew had broken ribs and legs and severe wounds to his head"). The Telegraph of London describes one scene today, "Bodies covered by blankets could be seen laid in the street and outside a municipal building. Rescuers are still digging through the rubble of the bomb-flattened clay-built homes in scenes reminiscent of an earthquake zone.

When the news bleak and you have to deliver a report on September 15th that the US administration and Republicans in Congress have stalled for in order to prolong the illegal war, what do you do? Make noises of troop reductions. Which, as
Richard Sisk (New York Daily News) reports, is just what Gen. David Petreaus is doing right now, indicating that approximately 30,000 US troops could be pulled from Iraq "about a year or so from now". A year or so from now. And the AP reports that, as summer winds down, the number of US troops stationed in Iraq could reach 171,000. That would mean "about a year or so from now," the number could drop to 141,000 which is about the level of the number of troops on the ground prior to the escalation. "About a year or so from now" also means around the time of the 2008 elections in the US (November 2008) which might lead some Republicans to stay silent over the coming months thinking (wrongly) that a 'bounce' will benefit the GOP as a result of the number of US troops dropping to approxminately 141,000.

Petreaus has other problems to worry about such as his September 15th report to Congress.
Jonathan Weisman and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) report that the White House is attempting to set new conditions including that members of Bully Boy's cabinet will deliver parts of the report to Congress and that Petreaus would only testify to Congress in a closed-door session. The latter would, of course, defeat the whole point of informing the people while the former would allow for even more spinning. Richard Sisk (New York Daily News) quotes White House flack Dana Perino declaring that the Congress was asking "for these reports from the President" apparently falsely believing that the US Congress was expecting a PowerPoint presentation from the Bully Boy. The public is less gullible/stupid according to a new CNN poll which finds that 53% of respondents "said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is" (only 33% of respondents "said they support the war").

And as Petreaus peppers the US with thoughts that "about a year or so from now" a measly 30,000 US troops might be allowed to leave Iraq,
Peter Graff (Reuters) reports that, "U.S. forces launched an airborne assault on a desert compound south of Baghdad on Thursday, the first air strike in a major new offensive." As Norman Solomon has long pointed out, this tactic (reduce ground troops, increase the air assault) was used during Vietnam in an attempt to weaken the public cry for withdrawal.

Norman Solomon (at CounterPunch) tackles the realities of the selling of the illegal war today, "The man who ran CNN's news operation during the invasion of Iraq is now doing damage control in response to a new documentary's evidence that he kowtowed to the Pentagon on behalf of the cable network. His current denial says a lot about how 'liberal media' outlets remain deeply embedded in th mindsets of pro-military conformity. Days ago, the former CNN executive publicly defended himself against a portion of the War Made Easy film (based on my book of the same name) that has drawn much comment from viewers since the documentary's release earlier this summer. As Inter Press Service reported, the movie shows 'a news clip of Eason Jordan, a CNN News chief executive who, in an interview with CNN, boasts of the network's cadre of professional military experts.' In fact, CNN's retired military generals turned war analysts were so good, Eason said, that they had all been vetted and approved by the U.S. government'. Inter Press called the vetting-and-approval process 'shocking' -- and added that 'in a country revered for its freedom of speech and unfettered press, Eason's comments would inuriate any veteran reporter who upholds the most basic and important tenet of the journalistic profession: independence." An excerpt of the film War Made Easy was aired on Democracy Now! this year (watch, listen, read). Audio only, Eason Jordan appeared on Democracy Now! in March of 2000 (Alexander Cockburn is also a guest for the segment, just FYI). What was he discussing with Amy Goodman? Goodman and her brother David Goodman explain it in their bestselling The Exception.To The Rulers, and it does apply here, CNN and NPR were allowing the US military to station members of the US Army's Fourth Psychological Operation in their news (or 'news') organizations and, in the audio link only, Eason Jordan maintained that "no goverment or military propaganda expert has ever worked on the news at CNN" but the US military, specifically Army psyops commander Christopher St. John, bragged publicly about the program and stated "he hoped to see more of" it while Army Information Service's Major Thomas Collins also bragged about the program on the record. So allowing the government to vet the generals, while disgusting and against basic rules of journalism, is far from the first public collaboration between CNN and the US military. For more on the psyops program, see the Goodman's book, pages 274 - 275. And note that even when the program was exposed (after it had run its course -- as far as anyone knows at least), Eason Jordan went on Democracy Now! and attempted to deny its existance. It can be argued that both the research done earlier and the vetting of generals later resulted in the hugely successful propaganda campaing the US administration and the US media conducted to sell the illegal war in the lead up.

And thanks to that, we have the daily violence. Including . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 4 lives (six wounded), 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that wounded eight people, a bombing that claimed the life of a "Ministry of Interior commando" (with one more injured" while they were on patrol in Baghdad and three police officers wounded in a Falluja mortar attack.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports al-Noor Newspaper's journalist Ahmed Qassim Mohammed is injured from an attack in Baghdad,


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Zaineb Ali Siwan, a policewoman, was kidnapped from Zayuna, east Baghdad, by gunmen around 04:45 this afternoon."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations in an area north of the Iraqi capital Aug. 15. Six other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." And they announced: "An MNC-I Soldier died of non-battle related causes August 16 in Baghdad." ICCC's current totals are 44 US service members killed so far this month with 3702 US service members killed since the start of the illegal war. The 3700 mark has been passed. For a point of reference, the 3,000 mark was passed December 31, 2006. The means 702 US service members have died in Iraq in 2007 so far.

In more news of US military deaths,
CNN reports that suicide rates are up in the US Army
by 15% among active duty members and notes, "In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army. And it was 5.46 per 100,000 for all women, compared to an Army rate of 11.3 women soldiers per 100,000."
AP reports this is a 26 year high for active duty members of the Army and that: "One out of four soldiers who committed suicide did so while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a report scheduled to be released Thursday. Iraq was the most common deployment location for U.S. soldiers who either attempted suicide or committed suicide" while the Los Angeles Times notes, "About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said." These are active duty. These are not discharged. The US military claims to keep no record of US service members who commit suicide after being discharged. So, for instance, Jeffrey Lucey is not counted in those statsistics (link goes to an interview Amy Goodman did with his parents Joyce and Kevin Lucey, July 31, 2007, on why they're suing over his suicide).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crazyville War Hawks, and Naomi Klein (DN!)

Hump day, hump day. I've been laughing my butt off for an hour. Tony printed up something by a crazy named Jonathan D. Strong who's with one of those crazy right-wing groups and he's
a wack job. I'm tempted to link to it just for the laugh value but you can google him if you're interested.

He's arguing that the New York Times is against the illegal war. What a fool. How dumb do you have to be not to know that Judith Miller, Michael Gordon and others at the paper sold the illegal war and that the paper still does?

He really lives in his own little fact-free world and when Tony showed it to me, I thought it was a put on. I thought it was something he'd found at The Onion and was laughing as I read along. Then Tony goes, "No, that guy's for real."

I read it again and laughed even louder. He writes for a cult called "Family Security Matters." I hope so. Brains certainly don't in that outfit.

The war has turned a corner, he argues today. And I don't think many would disagree with that statement. They'd probably think Strong had some sense. On a day when the fatalities from the bombings yesterday have risen to over 200, I think most people would say, "Yeah, it went from a lost illegal war to an illegal war that got even worse."

But he thinks it's working. He knows about the mass bombings (or should, but maybe the TV reception's not real good in Crazyville?).

Do you know why people are upset with Congress? (He addresses their low ratings but ignores the Bully Boy's as well as Cheney's.) Because they favor the illegal war and they're tired of Harry Reid, Jack Murtha and Nancy Pelosi trying to end it!

I laughed so hard. What an idiot.

Over 60% of the people want the troops home and the illegal war ended but he avoids that repeated polling fact. They are not mad because Congress has ended the illegal war or tried to (they haven't tried). The people are mad because Congress won't end the illegal war, the one the Democrats campaigned in 2006 on ending.

He cites an article by Alexander Cockburn (and uses The Nation and not CounterPunch). But did he read it? Cockburn's talking about the disgust over Congress' refusal to end the illegal war.

Here's a line from his ending, prepare to laugh: "What Republicans and all those who wanted victory in Iraq should remember is that the NY Times, most Democrats, and the mainstream media were desperately hoping for failure in Iraq.: The New York Times is not preaching withdrawal and hasn't. They did a crappy blame the Iraqi people editorial that got praised when it should have been condemned. But that's why the country sucks so, people like Strong. I don't think he's lying, he seems to believe in everything he says. But that's how we get illegal wars and that's how they continue.

People start screaming on the right that "the liberal media and the Dems want to end the war" and that's not reality. Strong doesn't get it that he's just a tiny cog to those in power (I am too, I'm not insulting him by calling him a cog). They don't give him a damn about him or about any of us. If they did, they'd end the illegal war. But there's too much money being made off of it and there's the thirst to control the oil and other things.

We're nothing but cogs that the Dems whip up with promises they don't keep (ending the illegal war) or you've got the Repubes conflating and illegal war with the flag and God & country so the right goes looney over what they see as an attack on their way of life.

Strong, no one's attacking your way of life, they're attacking your very life. This is all propaganda on both sides to continue an illegal war. And it probably benefits the illegal war. If we see it as a right/left split we call play our parts.

Reality is that it's an illegal war and those in power (with few exceptions) don't give a damn about us. Us is the people. They'll send us off to illegal wars for big business. They'll do whatever they want because they don't give a damn about us.

But they know how to play the game and you get Repubes and Dems in public office, playing their parts, convincing you that you can have a say but you're never going to get it from them.
The Dems proved it when they ran on the promise of ending the illegal war and never passed a bill (in either house of Congress) to pull ALL troops out of Iraq. It was all a shell game. We were being conned.

We still all. "Vote for us in 2008, then we'll do stuff!" They won't then either. The only way they'll ever do anything is if they're pressured.

I wish Strong weren't so gullible because he actually seems like someone who really cares. I don't doubt that he does. I don't think he was lying. I do think he's bought into a lie. Because Republicans started an illegal war (with enough Democrats agreeing or being silent), he thinks the war is 'good'. It's not. It's just one more way crooked politicians will use the people, will disrespect the people. He's a Republican, Strong, so I'd expect him to be really offended at this point having supported the war all along. I'd think he'd have to grasp it was all lies. But I guess some people need to kid themselves. We see a lot of that on the left too.

But the reality is, Strong and I really aren't enemies in life. We're enemies on the illegal war and probably a few other issues politicians have ginned up to keep us at each other's throats. But on some level, Strong is arguing for what he thinks is best (I don't doubt his passion and I applaud it). He's still caught up in the cycle.

By the way my right/left is not me presenting myself as a centrist. I'm not. Nor am I trying to serve up some of Obama's Chicken Sop for the Soul.

I am saying that I'm no Katrina vanden Heuvel pushing myths. Dems aren't going to save us. Only we can save ourselves. Dems aren't doing sh*t for the people. They're not doing sh*t for the Constitution. But that's part of the game they and the Republicans play. Put the people at each other's throats and we ignore what's going on.

I'm not at Strong's throat. He made me laugh. And I really do respect his passion. I wish we had passionate voices against the illegal war but we really don't. We've got too many Katrina vanden Heuvels taking up space on the left, lying to people.

Majorie Cohn is passionate on the illegal war and there are others too. But the bulk of them aren't. That's why the illegal war goes on. You've got all these front groups in place to cover for the Democratic Party. You've got all these liars saying things like, "Look at what we did! We made 70 members of Congress sign a letter calling for the end of the illegal war!"

Big f**king deal. They campainged on ending it and we're supposed to say, "Oh, thank you for writing a letter!"? I don't think so.

And maybe this illegal war really will go on for another decade? Maybe we'll have to see 15,000 plus Americans die in an illegal war for the greed of big business before people get outraged enough to stop buying into the crap that Dems are trying to end the illegal war?

But I don't hate Strong. It gets to what C.I.'s been saying at The Common Ills for over a year now, does the left want to end the illegal war as much as the right wants to continue it?

C.I. was right to point that out. And to point out how so many of our 'leaders' on the left were telling us 'Vote! And the illegal war will end!' I was thinking about that when I heard Naomi Klein's speech on Democracy Now! today, especially this part:

The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather at events like this under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. That’s what we’re missing. "The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan's oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of Estee Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity?

I've been thinking about that since C.I. brought it up forever ago. If I hadn't, I would've heard Klein today and probably have been offended. I remember when C.I. was saying it, I was defensive but listening (because it was C.I.). But I really was defensive. I even called C.I. and said, "What about ___, ___ and ___" with this real long list. But it really was (and still is) true, they want the illegal war to continue more than we want to end it. Some of us are really passionate about ending the illegal war but it's not a lot of us. If it was Party Hacks couldn't get away with providing cover for Dems who sell the illegal war (or attack Tina Richards). If the majority of us opposed to the illegal war were passionate, Katrina vanden Heuvel would have to cover war resisters. But we go along. Or we say, "That was a great column!" when someone writes the weakest ass thing. And we get the front groups like Vote for Vets which says (sometimes) it wants to end the illegal war but just goes after Republicans. They won't go after Democrats. They're a front group. They provide cover. Instead of trying to end the illegal war, they provide cover. And that's how we end up still stuck in this illegal war. That and the fact that a whole lot of people play stupid and get offended and start spouting nonsense like, "You can't say anything bad about John Conyers!" Conyers is in Congress and has been since the 60s. Whatever he did do in the Civil Rights Movement, that was a long time ago and he's been in Congress longer than the Civil Rights Movement lasted. He's useless, Nancy Pelosi's useless, Harry Reid's useless. They aren't trying to end the illegal war, they aren't trying to hold Bully Boy accountable for ALL his crimes against the Constitution. They are all useless.

Then you get an alleged socialist like Katha Pollitt spouting off that Cindy Sheehan needs to drop out of the peace movement. She's a good little Party Hack, that Katha Pollitt. C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." was perfect. Ma said she loved best how, since Pollitt offered 'tips' of 'kindness' for Sheehan, C.I. offered 'tips' for Pollitt in Punditville. That was funny.

But I'm going to go to sports and this is something a lot will be able to relate to. If you can't substitute a recital because it's not really about playing sports. It's about watching. I was in all the little league and pee wee sports. And my folks were always there cheering me on. And I can remember that and remember thinking I was pretty hot snot. Now I wasn't. I was just a kid trying to learn the game (or piano or whatever) and my parents were cheering me on the same way they probably did when I took my first steps.

And that's what you see with the Party Hacks and Fools today. They cheer on. "Come on little Senator, you can do it, you can do it!" It's nonsense. They're adults and we should be demanding that they get active. Not cheering them on for doing nearly nothing.

Okay, that's it for me tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, over 200 Iraqis dead from yesterday's bombing with the death toll climbing, Cindy Sheehan highlights the Iraqi refugee situation, PR Watch shines a spotlight so it's the Peace Resister to the rescue, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Jeremy Hinzman is the first war resister to self-check, go to Canada and do so publicly. Hinzman, his wife Nga Nguyen and their son Liam went to Canada in January 2004. He hoped to be granted asylum in Canada and began the process to be granted refugee status. In December of 2004, his case was heard. December 13, 2005,
he spoke with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) and explained, "Well, before the hearing even commenced, we had our hands tied a bit. As you have stated, the solicitor general of the Canadian government intervened in our case, and that's only done in about 5% of cases. Anyway, they raised the issue that they felt that the legality of the war in Iraq was irrelevant to our refugee claims. So, we were unable to argue that in any way. . . . Well, basically, they said whether war is legal or whether it's illegal, it's irrelevant to what you are trying to do here. Which, I mean, I would argue is pretty ludicrous, because that was almost my entire rationale for coming here in the first place." Although the hearing was technically held by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada the reality is the 'board' for each case is one person.

Before self-checking out, Hinzman had attempted to be granted CO status but, like many, he was turned down. In March 2005, Hinzman's claim for refugee status was rejected by the 'board' (Brian Goodman, in this case).
Amnesty International declared (May 2005): "Amnesty International considers Mr. Jeremy Hinzman to have a genuine conscientious objection to serving as a combatant in the US forces in Iraq. Amnesty International further considers that the took reasonable steps to register his conscientious objection through seeking non-combatant status in 2002, an application which was rejected. Accordingly, should he be imprisoned upon his return to the United States, Amnesty International would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience."

."I object to the Iraqi war because it is an act of agression with no defensive basis. It has been supported by pretenses that cannot withstand even elementary scrutiny. First, before the U.S. dropped the first bomb, it was quite evident that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Second, the Bush administration had the gall to exploit the American public's fear of terrorists by making the absurd assertion that a secular Baathist government was working with a fundamentalist terrorist group. There was never any intelligence to substantiate this. Third, the notion that the U.S. wants to export democracy to Iraq is laughable. Democracy is by the people, not an appointed puppet theater," Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq quotes Hinzman explaining.

Gerry Condon (ZNet) explained of Hinzman, "He had converted to Catholicism in high school. While in Army training, he was reading about the Buddhist philosophy of living. On Sundays Hinzman and his wife attended the Quaker meetings in Fayetteville, North Carolina, next to Fort Bragg, the 'Home of the Airborne.' They enjoyed the weekly group mediations and were inspired by the Quakers' pacifist message. Hinzman came to realize that he could not in good conscience carry a weapon or kill another human being." Condon, a war resister during Vietnam, has been one of the ones giving back to today's war resisters as has attorney Jeffry House and they have been there for every step of the appeals process for Hinzman and war resister Brandon Hughey. In April of 2006, the Federal Court ruled against Hinzman and Hughey so they carried their cases on up the chain.

May 5, 2007,
Jack Lakey (Toronto Star) reported the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Hinzman and Hughey "are not entitled to refugee status" and that "The latest ruling noted neither made full use of steps open to them in the U.S. to win conscientious objector status, before fleeing here." The next move is Canada's Supreme Court and, as Cindy Chan (Epoch Times) noted earlier this month, that body will announce "late September or early October" whether or not they will hear the cases of Hinzman and Hughey. If the body refuses to hear the appeal, that is not the end of the story.

Gerry Condon noted in 2004, "If Hinzman and Hughey are ultimately denied refugee status in Canada, they will not have exhausted their legal bids to remain in Canada. They may still petition the government to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. By this time they may be well established in Canada, one of the criteria for granting this residency. Or they could ask for permission to apply from within Canada for immigrant status, due to special circumstances (if they were to apply from the U.S., they could be arrested and imprisoned for desertion)."

Whatever happens, one thing is known. Hinzman, Hughey and others have based their applications on the illegality of the war and their refusal to participate in it. This has been refuted repeatedly by Canadian bodies even when war resisters like Jimmy Massey testify before them as a witness. In the November 2006, Democrats in the US were swept into power and they campaigned on ending the illegal war. While US Speaker of the House may or may not be able to 'table' impeachment, the fact remains that the American people were promised serious Congressional probes of the illegal war. Those probes have not taken place. It's been no better than when the Republicans controlled Congress because no one was surprised that they would stall and bury reports on the intell that was embarrassing to the White House. Where are the Congressional hearings? As Congress has done very little, it has had effects, in this country and around the world.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. IVAW and others will be joining Veterans For Peace's conference in St. Louis, Missouri August 15th to 19th.

Yesterday in northern Iraq, bombings resulted in mass deaths.
Kim Gamel (AP) reports the death toll has risen to 200 this morning and it is still rising. AFP notes "growing fears last night that more dead were trapped under the rubble." Megan Greenwell and Dlovan Brwari (Washington Post) quote survivor Khidr Farhan declaring, "I found myself flying through the air, and my face was burning. I felt my leg hurting, and I knew my head was bleeding. Then I couldn't feel anything. When I woke up, I was in the hospital" and Haji Sido declaring, "I ran past people screaming on the ground. I didn't care, because I had to get to my family. When I got home, my wife said: 'Calm down and thank God. We are safe'." Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) quotes survivor Aydan Shikh declaring, "There is no justification for this. What crime have the Yazidis committed to deserve this?" and Subhee Abdullah declaring, "I saw people drowning in their own blood. More people are sure to die."

Paul Tait (Reuters) notes that digging through the rubble continues with many people "dazed and crying" as they attempt to locate missing family members and friends. In addition, Tait notes 330 people are classified as wounded. Sam Knight and Deborah Haynes (Times of London) list the number of dead at 250 (wounded at 350) and quote Dakhil Qassim ("mayor of the nearby town of Sinjar") declaring, "We are expecting to reach the final death toll tomorrow or day after tomorrow as we are getting only pieces of bodies." BBC, citing a Tal Afar official, notes the death toll is 257 (350 wounded) and that the attacks precede the upcoming vote on the fate of the area (it's own independent area -- "Correspondents say the planned referendum makes northern Iraq's Kurds a target for politically-motivated attacks." Tim Butcher and Sally Peck (Telegraph of London) note that the attacks have overwhelmed health care facilities resulting in survivors being "ferried to hospitals across northern Iraq" and they remind that US Gen. George Casy Jr.had recently declared "Our guys are seeing progress on the security front." Casey made those remarks to the National Press Club in DC only yesterday, August 14, 2007 where he made one baseless claim after another (and yes, he falsely linked it all to 9-11). He also stated that "The successes" remain unreported.

While Casey got caught by surprise, the US military appears unsure of what it's doing today at any given minutes. First
Gen. David Petraues and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker issue a joint-statment decrying "the barbaric attacks on innocent Iraqi men, women and children in Ninawah Province yesterday." Then the US military insists to CBS News that the death toll was only 30. They also maintain it is the work of al Qaeda . . . no doubt too startled yet to try and create a link to Iran.

In some of the other violence reported today . . .

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported, "The violence comes as U.S. forces have launched new crackdowns across Iraq. More than sixteen thousand U.S. and Iraqi troops are taking part in Operation Lightning Hammer around the Diyala River. In Baghdad, at least two people were killed in a U.S.-led raid on the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City. The victims were reported to be a father and his three-year old daughter, asleep in the summer heat on the roof of their home. Nine others were arrested, including the three sons of local resident Umm Falah" and Falah was quoted explaining, "I used to bake breads and sell it to feed them and when they grew they started to work to help me. We though that we would be relieved when Saddam fell, we did not expect that he was replaced with the worst. Only God can beat them (the Americans)."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Mosul car bombings that claimed 10 lives. Reuters reports 5 lives ended by a Hilla bombing in an attack on "a judge's house".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 people shot dead in Baghdad (one from "random fire by an American convoy") and three police officers were shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters reports one person shot dead in Madaen, "a member of a joint Iraqi and U.S. security coordination" was shot dead in Najaf, 3 "police commandos" shot dead in Doura and one person shot dead in Buhriz.


Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 24 corpses were discovered today "bullet-riddled bodies of apparent victimes of sectarian death squads usually run by Shiite militias."

In other violence, there are the displaced. Over four million Iraqis have been displaced (internally and externally) due to the illegal war.
Cindy Sheehan (Common Dreams) notes that the bulk of the externally displaced have gone to Jordan and Syria: "The refugee catastrophe is going a long way to destabilize the countries to which the Iraqis . . . emergency CPR needs to flow to Jordan and Syria immediately to help the Iraqi people and the two mentioned countries. Significantly, both countries also have vast populations of Palestinian refugees that has now become a generational problem. Solving the problems in Israel will help the Palestinian refugees who want the right of return to their homes as well as help solving our own 'terrorism' problem at home. This is also an issue that needs to be pressed and exposed back in the states." This as IRIN notes the effects on Iraqi children being raised within Iraq "in a climate of fear and violence" And pregnant women in labor try to avoid going to hospitals after nightfall due to the violence. IRIN reports that in 1989, 117 Iraqi women "died during pregnancy or childbirth" but today the "figures has now gone up by 65 per cent." These results didn't happen by chance, they are the direct effects of an illegal war.

Turning to the political situations. At Inside Iraq (a blog run by McClatchy Newspapers Iraqi staff), a
correspondent captures the endless repetition: "Did anyone hear about the meetings our great politician would start soon? OMG Here we are again, again and again and again, we are standing on the first square. new meetings but do these meetings have any solutions to the daily massacre that we live in? I'm sure the demands of the political blocs would be the same, each party and bloc will ask for sure for more power to control, more money to steal and more weapons to kill the people of the other sect. and guess what? Again the US Godfather will sponsor the great meetings. its the same old game, keep them busy, let them kill each other on the name of democracy."

Meanwhile the
Center for Media and Democracy's PR notes that the partisan groups Vets for Freedom and VoteVets have been hailed by the AP as "valuable public relations tools" . . . for elected and those seeking elections and notes VoteVets (with a board of advisers that includes War Hawk Bob Kerrey) " is part of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, the [WalkOn] and SEIU coalition that pressures pro-war Republicans but not Democrats." Too much reality for some and apparently that includes the Peace Resister who felt the need to team with a failed screenwriter (how did Rooster work out? Oh, that's right) to offer the usual sop that the Peace Resister is now known for. Does anyone else wonder why she only teams up with male co-writers or are we never supposed to notice that? That inability to work with women as co-writers may go a long way towards explaining why the magazine published nearly 4 men for every 1 woman in the first six months of this year. So Useless and Failed Screenwriter team up to offer that 'things are changing' (sadly, not at the magazine) and it's a turned corner for the movement thanks to the useless people of and others and provide plenty of 'love' to Americans Against Escalation and a hell of a lot of cover.

The Nation wasn't always worthless and a few at the magazine (or distributed by it) still try to make a difference. Today,
Democracy Now! featured 25 minutes of a recent speech Naomi Klein entitled "Another World Is Possible." From that speech:

We who say we believe in this other world need to know that we are not losers. We did not lose the battle of ideas. We were not outsmarted, and we were not out-argued. We lost because we were crushed. Sometimes we were crushed by army tanks, and sometimes we were crushed by think tanks. And by think tanks, I mean the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks. Now, most effective we have seen is when the army tanks and the think tanks team up. The quest to impose a single world market has casualties now in the millions, from Chile then to Iraq today. These blueprints for another world were crushed and disappeared because they are popular and because, when tried, they work. They're popular because they have the power to give millions of people lives with dignity, with the basics guaranteed. They are dangerous because they put real limits on the rich, who respond accordingly. Understanding this history, understanding that we never lost the battle of ideas, that we only lost a series of dirty wars, is key to building the confidence that we lack, to igniting the passionate intensity that we need.