Monday, Monday. Did you hear the talk? Hillary has to drop out!
No, she doesn't. Hillary isn't losing. Barack and Hillary are tied. This is p.r. passed off as news. If you wonder why the Bambi's groupies are getting so desperate it's because they're bleeding support among super delegates. C.I. wrote about it last night.
I pulled CounterPunch from my links because Elaine's pulling it. She was trying to ignore the nonsense but little Jeffy offered intense Hillary Hatred today. More crackpot theories from the 'left' site that tells you global warming is a 'conspiracy.' Yeah, real smart people at CounterPunch. They're losers. Toss in the whole Cockburn family -- including self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders and Patrick Cockburn who was crowing about being right recently but I guess he forgot about being wrong about the how the woman in Iraq died -- the detail he got wrong months after it was reported?
Cracky CounterPunch. No more time for Cockburn's lectures about how Jason Leopold isn't a journalist and no one should have ever been foolish enough to publish him. Cocky seemed to forget that CounterPunch had in fact published Leopold. Woopsie!
Cockburn's nuts. "No global warming! It's a conspiracy!" Whatever, old man, whatever.
I'm Irish-American so I wanted to highlight this. This is from Diane Elayne Dees' "Clinton, Once Again, Gets Biggest Northern Ireland Validation of All:"
Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, speaking on a nationally syndicated radio show yesterday, talked about Sen. Clinton's work in Northern Ireland–her "people-to-people approach, her generous use of time in meeting with the various sectors of the region, her interest in the real concerns and needs of the people of Ireland, and her focus on peace." He also talked about Clinton's contributions through her lecturing at the University of Ulster's Tip O'Neill Chair of Peace Studies on the subject of 'Peace in the Modern World'. "I have no doubt, given Hillary Clinton's commitment to peace in the world, as President of the United States, she would give such leadership," Hume concluded.
In another recent interview, Hume said "I am quite surprised that anyone would suggest that Hillary Clinton did not perform important foreign policy work as first lady. I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland."
And this is Peter Daou's "Three Myths About the Democratic Race:"
MYTH: Barack Obama is running a positive campaign that will unite Americans.
FACT: Barack Obama and his advisers have conducted a divisive "full assault" on Hillary's character.
While talking a lot about the politics of hope, change and unity, Sen. Obama and his campaign have been conducting a relentless and singularly personal assault on Hillary's character. They have blanketed big states with false negative mailers and radio ads and have described Hillary and her campaign as "disingenuous," "divisive," "untruthful," "dishonest," "polarizing," "calculating," "saying whatever it takes to win," "attempting to deceive the American people," "one of the most secretive in America," “deliberately misleading,” “literally willing to do anything to win,” and “playing politics with war."
This "full assault" on Hillary's integrity and character has reached a new peak since Hillary's victories on March 4th. One of Sen. Obama's top surrogates equated President Clinton with Joe McCarthy; another called Hillary a "monster;" and his campaign manager held an angry conference call claiming that Hillary is "deeply flawed" and has "character issues." That's neither unifying nor hopeful. If Sen. Obama really is the prohibitive favorite some say he is, these negative attacks make absolutely no sense. Why would a frontrunner seek to attack and divide? If Sen. Obama can't unify Democrats in a primary, how can he unify Americans in a general election?
MYTH: The delegate "math" works decisively against Hillary.
FACT: The delegate math reflects an extremely close race that either candidate can win.
"The Math" is actually very simple: with hundreds of delegates still uncommitted, NEITHER candidate has reached the number of delegates required to secure the nomination. And EITHER candidate can reach the required number in the coming weeks and months. That is indisputable. No amount of editorials, articles, blog posts, charts, graphs, calculations, formulas, or projections will change the basic fact that either candidate can win. Pundits who confidently proclaim that Hillary has no hope of winning because of "the math," have counted Hillary out of this race three times before. Each time they based their sober assessments on 'facts' and 'realities' -- and each time they were wrong.
In a campaign with dozens of unexpected twists and turns, bold prognostications should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Look no further than Sen. Obama's "full assault" on Hillary's character to judge whether he thinks this election is over. The fact is this: Hillary and Sen. Obama are locked in a very close, hard-fought campaign and Hillary is demonstrating precisely the strength of character required of a president. Her resilience in the face of adversity, her faith in the voters, her capacity to rise to every challenge, are part of the reason she is the best general election candidate for Democrats. And it is why she is increasingly strong against John McCain in the polls at the same time that Sen. Obama is dropping against Sen. McCain.
MYTH: For Hillary to win, super delegates must "overturn the will of the people."
FACT: The race is virtually tied, the "will of the people" is split, and both candidates need super delegates to win.
The Obama campaign and Sen. Obama's surrogates have engaged in a sustained public relations effort to convince people that the election is over and that if super delegates perform their established role of choosing a candidate who they believe will make the best nominee and president, they are somehow "overturning the will of the people." They have the audacity to make this argument while quietly and systematically courting those very same super delegates. They are courting them because they know that Sen. Obama needs super delegates to win. The Obama spin is being parroted daily by pundits, but it is patently false. The race is virtually tied; the "will of the people" is split. By virtually every measure, Hillary and Sen. Obama are neck and neck -- separated by less than 130 of the more than 3,100 delegates committed thus far and less than 1% of the 27 million+ votes cast, including Florida and Michigan. Less than 1%.
An incremental advantage for one candidate or the other is hardly a reason for super delegates to change the rules mid-game. Despite the Obama campaign's aggressive spin and pressure, the RULES require super delegates to exercise their best independent judgment, and that is what they will do. Even Sen. Obama's top strategist agrees they should. If not, then why don't prominent Obama endorsers like Senators Kerry (MA) and Kennedy (MA), and Governors Patrick (MA), Napolitano (AZ) and Richardson (NM) follow the will of their constituents and switch their support to Hillary? After all, she won their states. And if this is truly about the "will of the people," then Sen. Obama's short-sighted tactic to run out the clock on a revote in Florida and Michigan accomplishes exactly two things: it disenfranchises Florida and Michigan's voters; and it hurts Democrats in a general election. Apparently, for the Obama campaign, the "will of the people" is just words.
Forward this to a friend.
Okay, let's talk Third Estate Sunday Review:
The 4,000 mark -- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. wrote this Sunday night when the count reached 4,000.
Truest statement of the week -- This is a guy with the Washington Post and he may be the only one who caught how much Bambi sounded like Bully Boy last week.
A note to our readers -- Jim breaks down the edition in his note.
Editorial: NO judgement -- Barack Obama has no judgement. Bambi hangs with a man who thinks damning the United States (from the pulpit!) is okay. It's not okay. It shows very little 'average person' judgement and it certainly says he isn't fit to be president. This really isn't a minor issue. He wants to hang (for over 20 years) with someone who damns the United States, he's not fit to be president. You can't hate the country and step into the White House.
TV: Broadcasting False Narratives -- Ava and C.I. and, like Jim points out, they really carried the weight. We weren't in the mood to do an edition. Ava and C.I. sent the rest of us to sleep for a three to four hour nap (I took four hours) and they wrote their TV commentary. It's amazing and when Jim was reading it out loud to all of us that's when we knew, yeah, we could do an edition. They take on Bambi, they take on the Hillary Haters and they give you realities about the Iraq War today.
There's only one fighter in the Democratic race -- Two topics became one. I think it reads okay. If we hadn't been so tired, it would have been two articles. This is one of those things where maybe being tired made it better. There is only one fighter and it's Hillary Clinton.
Roundtable -- This is about why we didn't even want to do an edition.
Liang's comments to Barack Obama -- TCI community member Liang breaks it down for Bambi and the press, the speech didn't address "race." Liang's Asian-American and there was nothing in the speech for her.
Hillary spoke about Iraq, Panhandle Media blacked ... -- This is a reposting of Hillary's speech on Iraq that the media ignored last week. Even Joan Walsh of (Salon) seems unaware that this speech was given.
Mr. Pretty Speeches offers a 'history' lesson -- Bambi doesn't know much about patriotism so it's no surprise he's not really all that up on history.
Theft, C.I.'s not Bambi's speechwriter -- Mr. Pretty Speeches cribbed from C.I. No, it didn't result in praise from any of us. (Though we agreed with the points C.I. made two days before Bambi tried to make them his own.)
Highlights -- Kat, Marcia, Rebecca, Cedric, Wally, Betty and I wrote this and picked all the highlights unless otherwise noted. Something was lost in posting. We must have had a link that was "open." We ended up with some stuff missing. C.I. called me and I said I couldn't remember what we wrote so C.I. just pulled the stuff that messed up when it was posted.
This is who worked on the edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.
And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, March 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the 4,000 mark has been reached, what's al-Sadr and his movement up to, and more.
War resisters in Canada were dealt a setback in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Though Panhandle Media can't be bothered with that story Ben Ehrenreich (the New York Times' Sunday Magazine) reported:
Next month, the Canadian House of Commons is slated to debate a resolution that would allow conscientious objectors "who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations" to apply for residency in Canada. The phrasing is vague but the intent is not. The war in question is the Iraq war, and the resolution represents the culmination of a four-year debate about what to do with the small but steady stream of American soldiers who have fled across our northern border to avoid fighting in Iraq. It all began in Jan. 2004, when a young American with a long, serious face walked into the Toronto law office of Jeffry House to ask for help with what was at the time a highly unusual immigration case. The American turned out to be a soldier named Jeremy Hinzman, an infantryman in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. He told House that his petition for conscientious-objector status was denied while he was stationed in Afghanistan. He crossed the border into Canada just days before his unit was to be deployed to Iraq. Of the more than 25,000 American soldiers who, according to the United States Department of Defense, have deserted since 2003, the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign estimates that 225 have fled to Canada. (The D.O.D defines a deserter as anyone who has been AWOL for 30 consecutive days or who seeks asylum in a foreign country; desertion carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.) The majority of the deserters in Canada have chosen not to make the authorities aware of their presence. Like any other illegal immigrants, they have settled for invisibility. A few dozen, though, followed Hinzman's lead. Most found their way to Jeffry House. One young Army medic named Justin Colby read an AOL news posting about Hinzman's case while stationed in Iraq. He telephoned House from Ramadi and showed up in his office a few months later. House would eventually represent between 30 and 35 American deserters. Most of them, like Colby, say they joined the military in part out of patriotism. "I thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11," Colby says, "that they were the bad guys that attacked our country."
Canada's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (email@example.com -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Sunday night MNF announced, "Four Multi-National Division Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 10 p.m. March 23 after terrorists attacked them with an improvised-explosive device in southern Baghdad while conducting a mounted vehicular patrol. One additional Soldier was injured from this attack." With that announcement, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war reached the 4,000 mark. Hannah Allem and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) note it is "a new milestone to mark the start of the sixth year since the U.S. invasion in 2003." Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) explains, "At least 426 of the Americans killed in the war were from California, more than any other state". Deborah Haynes for the Times of London adds, "The morbid milestone will likely strengthen calls for US forces to be withdrawn from the country; a contentious topic in this year's Presidential elections. A US military spokesman played down the significance of the 4,000th death, which followed a day of bombings and rocket fire across the country that killed at least 60 Iraqis and left many more wounded". Chair of the US House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton issued this statement, "My heart is broken 4,000 times over. When the history of the Middle East is written, I hope it will have been worth it. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of our service members and military families, whose daily sacrifices must never be taken for granted." US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement as well: "Today we mourn American's fallen heroes; the deaths of 4,000 American soldiers is a grim reminder of the enormous costs of war in Iraq: the human costs. We honor those soldiers, America's best and bravest who have paid the ultimate price, and pray for their families and loved ones. With 4,000 American lives lost and thousands injured, many of them permanently, Americans are asking how much longer must our troops continue to sacrifice for the sake of an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to secure its own future." US Senator and Democratic presidential nominee contender Hillary Clinton declared:
Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, there have now been 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq. On this solemn day, we remember the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We honor the tens of thousands more who have suffered wounds both visible and invisible, wounds that scare bodies and minds, and hearts as well. We honor the sacrifices of their families, a price paid in empty places at the dinner table, in the struggle to raise children alone, in the wrenching reversal of parents burying children. In the last five years, our soldiers have done everything we asked of them and more. They were asked to remove Saddam Hussein from power and bring him to justice and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi people the opportunity for free and fair elections and they did. They were asked to give the Iraqi government the space and time for political reconciliation, and they did. So for every American soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice for this mission, we should imagine carved in stone: 'They gave their life for the greatest gift one can give to a fellow human being, the gift of freedom.' I recall the great honor of meeting many of our brave men and women who have served our country. In meeting them, I am always struck by how, no matter how great their suffering, no matter how grave their own injuries, they always say the same thing to me: 'Promise that you'll take care of my buddies. They're still over there. Promise you'll keep them safe.' I have looked those men and women in the eye. I have made that promise. And I intend to honor it by bringing a responsible end to this war, and bringing our troops home safely.
Zavis also notes that "more than 60 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured in attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital" on Sunday while Allem and Fadel describe "the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the U.S. and Iraqi governments are headquartered, smoking from a barrage of rockets and mortars" on Sunday. Let's turn to some of today's violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad bombings that wounded four police officers, 1 person killed in Salahuddin province in a mortar attack and a Diyala Province bombing that claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left two people wounded.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
al-Sadr, or 'his' movement, is back in the news and let's drop back to the February 22nd snapshot when the cease-fire/truce was being renewed for the following:
Alexandra Zavis and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) note, "But in recent days, Sadr's followers, including loyalists in the national Parliament, have complained that their foes have used the cease-fire to try to crush his movement politically and militarily. Until the last minute, they had held out the possibility that Sadr might order his militia back into action." So the real issue isn't al-Sadr now. Having agreed to an extension, he is now out of the picture. He is also out of Baghdad and whether or not the Mahdi Army will continue to listen to him from out of town, while he labors away as a hotel clerk and busies himself with studies, is the real issue at this point. The anger and resentment that has been breeding in the Sadr City section of Baghdad has been doing so without al-Sadr's oversight. How much pull he will have, how much control, is in doubt. Residents of Sadr City have complained of mistreatment and abuses (including raids) throughout the truce/cease-fire and many noises were made by "aides" and "loyalists" throughout (made publicly to the press) that there was no way al-Sadr would renew the truce/cease-fire. He has now done that and how much weight he will have now as someone not living in Sadr City is up in the air. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports that his supporters are in the "thousands" and can al-Sadr control "thousands" via communiques he has delivered to mosques? Is he the remote-control leader? Haynes quotes Abu Zahra'a al-Saadi complaining of the cease-fire, "We decided on peace and they decided to put us in jail." "They" refers to "US and Iraqi forces". Despite the reports of al-Sadr being in Najaf (and working a hotel there), AFP notes, "Sadr did not appear publicly at Friday prayers" in Sadr City "and it is not clear where he is now based. Some reports have suggested that he has crossed the border into Iraq's neighbour Iran, but his group would not confirm this." AFP further notes that his announcement "was not universally welcomed by Sadr's supporters" and that goes to the issue that they're living in Sadr City and he isn't. Is he really going to be able to control the area from outside of it? Will a new leader emerge? Will it faction off instead with some following his latest decree and others ignoring it? Those are valid options under any study of resistance or rebellion. Mark Kukis (Time magazine) offers another, "Sadr could just as easily be simply biding his time until surge troops leave in July."
Today, Alalam News reports that Hazim al-Araji, "Sadr office spokesman," has informed them that "that the US troops along with some of the Iraqi forces have detained members of the Sadr Movement in several Iraqi provinces. He put the number of the detainees at more than 1500." Ahmed Rasheed and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) report that al-Sadr has instituted a "civil disobedience campaign" in which stores "in some Baghdad neighborhoods" were closed today and quote a Sadr spokesperson, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Sabihawi, declaring, "U.S. forces mistakenly thought that the extension of the truce was a sign of weakness on the Mehdi Army. That is not true, they are still strong, but we are obeying the orders of Moqtada al-Sadr."
Turning to the US. "Why would people not want to believe these [Winter Soldier] stories. Which are so -- they're so many of them that say so much of the same thing which have so much evidence for them. And I think there are four reasons and the first three are money, money, and money. Meaning there are massive amounts of money and human labor that go into the project every single day of convincing the American public that these stories are not true. From 2003 to 2005, a GAO report found that the Department of Defense spent 1.1 billion dollars on contracts with advertising, public relations and media firms. $1.1 billion in just those couple of years a number on sharp upswing since trouble with public sentiment on the occupations. That money is meant to convince us of what we would otherwise not believe for a second." Who said that? Catherine Lutz.
We're back on Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier which took place over four days. We're focusing on the last panel on Saturday: The Cost of the War at Home. When it was noted that we'd include Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessin's remarks in this, e-mails came in from visitors stating Nancy Lessin didn't speak at Winter Soldier. She did. This panel wasn't broadcast on KPFA and apparently isn't part of The War Comes Homes. Among those appearing on the panel were MSFO's Charley Richardson who noted "the biggest myth of all, that funding the war is somehow funding for the troops -- when what we as military families know is funding the war is killing our troops and the people of Iraq." From there we'll move in to a large excerpt from Lessin.
Nancy Lessin: In fall 2002 when MSFO was founded the drum beats for war were getting deafening, we noticed that all those who were saying "We got to go to war" weren't going anywhere nor were their loved ones. It was our loved ones who would be sent off as cannon fodder to kill and die in an illegal, unjustifiable invasion. And people said to us, "But you're loved ones volunteered." We told them about contracts which is something Charley and I know something about, our days jobs are in the labor movement. We both are adjunct faculty right here at the National Labor College. All in the military signed a contract to defend the Constitution. But contracts have two sides. The implied vow of the United States government is that you will never be sent into harm's way for no good reason for wars based on lies and that's the side of the contract that's been broken. We tried to prevent the invasion. We even brought a lawsuit against George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Plantiffs included three service members, fifteen parents of soldiers and marines and twelve members of Congress. We sought a restraining order to prevent an invasion of Iraq absent a real Congressional declaration of war. The lawsuit went two rounds in the First Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately failed on March 18, 2003. The bombs dropped on March 19th. We wanted to prevent the invasion for so many reasons. Among them was a deadly equation we learned from the history of this country from the Vietnam war: Racism + dehumanization = horror. From early on the invasion, we got e-mails like this, "My son will be leaving for Iraq in a month and in his last phone call he said he was ready to go over there and kill any Muslim in sight. He even said he'd kill women and children and anyone whose skin is brown. Ironically, he's Asian, his skin is very brown. He was calling the Iraqis "ragheads." How does a mother respond to that kind of anti-human ranting? He was calling the Iraqi people sub-human. Probably a common tactic for hyping up soldiers but I don't understand who this person is becoming." Our loved ones began telling us about fellow troops putting laxatives in detainees food without comprehending that there was something terribly wrong with this. We heard cadences that you march to about killing grandmothers and children. We heard about, pardon me, bitch in a box -- an interrogation technique where Iraqis are put in the trunks of black cars and driven around in 120 degree heat. On November 14, 2003 we asked one of our members with long military experience if he could write something for our loved ones and all service members about not losing their humanity -- that's how we put it. The next day Stan Goff had written an open letter to GI's "Hold Onto Your Humanity," it's out there on the table and it ends this way -- "You are never under any obligation to hate Iraqis, you are never under any obligation to give yourself over to racism and nihilsim and the thirst to kill for the sake of killing, and you are never under any obligation to let them drive out the last vestiges of your capacity to see and tell the truth to yourself and to the world. You do not owe them your souls. Come home safe, and come sane. The people who love you and who have loved you all your lives are waiting here, and we want you to come back and be able to look us in the face. Don't leave your souls in the dust there like another corpse. Hold on to your humanity." We tried to find ways to ask this of our loved ones. MSFO member Rick Hanson wrote about saying good-bye to his son at the airport, "I was a father talking to a son with total absence of reference. I had no wisdom to offer. Instead I asked more of him. I asked him to stay focused, I asked him not to let his guard down ever. I asked him to do what he was trained to do. I asked him to do what he needed to do survive and yet maintain his moral compass in the middle of it all. I asked my 19-year-old son to do all of that and then I apologized as a father for being so asleep, for being so cynical and complacent that I let this country send him to this war. In what might have been my next last hug of Eric I left my tears on his right shoulder as he left his tears on my right shoulder. We held our breaths for seven, twelve, fifteen, eighteen month deployments, back-to-back deployments, third, fourth fifth deployments, the stop-loss deployments, the ringing of the phone, a knock on our door carried new sinister meaning. We held our loved ones close in our hearts until we could once again hold you close in our arms." Today Military Families Speak Out includes almost 4,000 military families from across the US and on bases around the world, many with loved ones now in Iraq. MSFO also includes families of war resisters. A growing number of MSFO members are spouses living on bases and in base towns and there are over 130 Gold Star Families, members of our national chapter, Gold Star Families Speak Out. Their loved ones died as a result of this invasion and occupation. For those of us lucky enough to have our loved ones come home, all is not well. Every day we get e-mails like this, "I need your help. My son's body showed up at the house for Christmas but his mom and I did not know the person who claimed to be our son. He was severely drunk every day, belligerent. He has nightmares every night of the murdered innocent children and Iraqi civilians and the army abandoned him. As far as giving him help, they will go out of their way to help him re-enlist however." Or this one, from MSFO member Stacy Bannerman, "I got my husband back whole physically and I think his heart is here too but I'm not so sure about his mind. He still checks to see where his weapon is every time we get in a vehicle. Although his body is back, there is a war that remains between us. I am left to deal with the lost years of time, the lost love of my life. I want to talk with my husband about what he's going through but I don't have the words. Hell, I don't even have the questions. What's the conversational opener to this, 'So you inadvertantly killed Iraqi children, how's that going for you? How are you living with that now? How am I supposed to? How are we?'" You heard yesterday from MSFO family members Joyce and Kevin Lucey about their son [Jeffrey] taking his own life because of what he saw and did in an invasion and occupation that should never have been and because of the failures of the VA system. Also here with MSFO is April Somdahl whose brother Sgt. Brian Rand was declared psychologically undeployable after his second deployment to the Middle East. The army yet again deployed him to Iraq. Some months after returning from that deployment, he took a gun and killed himself. With suicide rates in the military sky rocketing the army's top psychiatrist, Elspeth Richie, blames failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems. And then, this January she explained it this way, "Families are getting tired therefore sometimes they are more irritable. Sometimes they don't take care of each other the way they should, are not as nurturing as they should be." Shame on Col. Richie for these lies. Economist Stiglitz and Bilmes' new book puts the cost of the Iraq invasion and occupation at three trillion dollars. The title of the article about the book read "Cost of Iraq War Now Beyond Human Comprehension." For military families, the cost -- the human cost -- has always been beyond our comprehension -- before day one and now on its one thousand and eight hundred and twenty-first day. There's a line in a poem about the first Gulf War that bears repeating here. It goes, "If I'm sad, how do you think that Iraqi mother feels?"
US Labor Against the War's Brooks Sunket also spoke and he noted "this illegal and unjust war needs to come to an end, it needs to come to an end immediately" and then presented This war has cost us many things. Most of all the lies of our precious children. It has cost us the lives of Iraqi children, thousands and thousands."
Brooks Sunket: We pay for this war in many ways. We pay for this war in lost jobs and services that billions of dollars of our money could have created. The funds that went to war were no longer available to meet our needs at home. Instead of serving the common good, as government should, the Bush administration, with the support of Congress, took our country to an illegal war. They did so over the objections of the world community. They did so in violation of international law and our treaty obligations. In 2007, the decision to go to war cost us $137 billion.
He concluded noting Iraqi union members Iraq unionism goes back to the 1920s when the labor movement formed the working class based on the struggle of British authority. The Iraqi Trade Union Labor Organization was abolished in 1987. It is after '87 [Saddam] Hussein made it illegal to have trade unions in Iraq. When US invaded Iraq it still remained illegal to have trade unions there. As much as they talk about democracy, democracy's really not exended when they have the opportunity. I'm told I've only got a few seconds left so I just want to make one other point: That even though labor unions are illegal in Iraq, people have risked their lives, they have been kidnapped, there have been bombings of their work place, they have been shot, they have been targeted for assassinations, tortured and yet they still maintain that they will have a union. Thank you very much."
Also on the panel was Fernando Suarez del Solar whose son Jesus died March 27, 2003 in Iraq. After some technical problems with the sound to a video, Fernando explained what was being shown.
Fernando Suarez del Solar: The video is when I visited Iraq in December 2003 with a family delegation . . . because we need to find the same place where my son died. And I need to show the Iraqi families the ordinary Americans no support the invasion, no support the war and like Iraqi people lost the member of the family, American people lost the member in the war. I have an opportunity to meet with the families in Iraq [who] lost 2, 3, 4, 5 members in the same time. And these people opened the door and opened the heart and give me a beautiful welcome. When my son died . . . I got very crazy. Carlos [Arredondo] . . . Entering the fire . . . I have the other reaction. I have a grandson. Jesus have a baby. Only 16 months old. Everybody cry in the house and my baby watched everybody and no understand what happened and cried. And I gathered my grandson and going to the park and played with him for he is mine. I no have opportunity to cry for my son. I no have opportunity because the government told me 'Your son died with a shot on the head. It's impossible you see the body. We no pay the funeral for you because you chose the civil cementary. It's impossilbe you see the body because the face is destroyed and is no good for the family." Morally, I understand, the military system of the government lied me. My son not die when received shot on the head when he stepped on illegal American cluster bomb and waiting two hours for medical assistance and died. He no have opportunity. I miss my son. . . . I cry every single day for Jesus. In five years, the next 27 is five years my son die in Iraq. But when I come in here today with Iraq Veterans Against the War and I see Camilo and I see Juan and I see [Geoff?], I see Jesus. This my new family. This my boys. My sons and my daughters are here in Iraq Veterans Against the War.
He spoke of the importance of speaking out and a lack of understanding in his family over that. How many more stories you need?" He noted Carlos Arredondo who was also on the panel and whose son, Alexander Arredondo was killed in Iraq while on his second deployment there. CNN reported, "After being infomred that his 20-year-old son was killed while serving in Iraq, a Florida man doused a U.S. government van with gasoline and set it on fire while sitting inside." That was August 25, 2004.
Carlos Arredondo: I born in Costa Rico. I come here as an illegal alien. I tried to do the best I can to take care my family because it's the most beautiful thing that happened in my life and I call my sons my American Dreams. And I thank God every minute that I have experience with them because they are my greatest teachers. This is Alexander. [Slide of Alexander del Solar graduating.] Many, many of you go through this moment in life. That pretty much was the moment recruiters go to his high school and seduce him with $20,000 cash to sign up is so many thousand dollars for him to go into the military at age of 17. They only require one parent to sign up for him to join the military and the other parent is left behind. That's what happened to me. I am not a sperm donor. This is my son I love so very much and they didn't have the respect to bother to even ask me if it is okay for him to go? They just expect that they can come and grab our sons and daughters from anywhere they wanted to, no matter if you're English, you're Spanish. They're seducing our sons in many ways with fake promises. My son never have the opportunity to enjoy the cash or the school that's not even enough to go to college because you're going to a community college, the liars, they didn't tell him. My son was one more victim like many of us of this immoral, illegal war that is happening right now. It is effecting the whole world.
And we're back to Brown University anthropologist Catherine Lutz (Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century) addressed "some more invisible costs" $700 billion is being spent on the US military in 2008, a doubling since 2001.
Catherine Lutz: We now spend more than 60% of our discretionary dollars on the military including the war in Iraq and other spending so three in five of all dollars that the Congress votes on each year are allocated to the military. . . . This money is being spent on the war not because it's being lavished on soldier pay or on veterans but because the main benificiary of that military spending is American military coporations. That is the majority of the military budget goes to weapons system and operations. That is to say to the military corporations, to the oil companies that put the fuel in jets and battleships. These are where those dollars go. How does this spending effect our society? And I think many of us don't realize how that military spending shapes our communities. Many people have been convinced over many decades of the Cold War and a long propaganda campaign that that money waters American communities, that war is good for the economy, that funding flows into the community in the way of military salaries, contracts, worker salaries in those military industries. But the military spending, obviously, that money goes somewhere, but it is a massive redistribution mechanism. It comes first out of those same communities in the form of taxes and then it goes back not into those communities but mainly into the pockets of the very wealthy CEOs of these corporations, to the Halliburtons, to the Raetheons, to all those corporations and only trickles then into the pockets of the E1s, the E4s, the workers who make minimum wage when they get subcontracted jobs from those corporations. That the military budget redistributes funds in ways that are highly unequal and increases inequality in our communities. They make the rich richer and the poor poorer every day. When I first went to Fayetteville, NC, I thought -- I was looking at Fort Bragg and its impact on the community -- and I first thought, "Well, Fort Bragg happens to be located in a very poor community." Well what I came to realize was that, in fact, Fayetteville was poor because Fort Bragg was there. And it was poor because the main jobs created by a military base economy are minimum wage retail jobs. There are no manufacturing jobs to speak of in Fayetteville compared to the other comparable sized cities in North Carolina. There are jobs at Target, there are jobs at Home Depot, there are minimum wage jobs and that's . . . The working poor in Fayetteville are legion -- there are great numbers of them for that reason.
There's actually one more testimony from that panel that we should note. We'll try to do so later this week, hopefully tomorrow. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday for other panels. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.
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