Friday, May 02, 2008

Stephen Zunes, 6 eggs short of a dozen

Friday! At last! And if you need a good laugh to start the weekend, don't worry, loony Stephen Zunes is back to supply one!

Crackpot Zunes, so famous for claiming earlier this year that Hillary had only visited Iraq once, returns with more lies to shame himself. Here's one:


In Michigan, Obama withdrew his name from the ballot as requested by party officials while Clinton kept her name on the ballot, thereby running essentially unopposed.

No, Obama took his own name off the ballot. He wasn't asked to. Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel and Hillary Clinton all kept their names on the ballot. Obama was afraid he'd lose. Edwards was as well. Both decided to take their names off the ballot. Zunes can't help lying. You sort of picture him each night with a photo of Barack on his pillow as he humps his mattress and says, "Harder, Barack, give it to me harder!"

He's delusional. He's lusting over a political candidate. How juvenile and insane do you have to be to do that?

He really is pathetic. He really is disgusting. You vote for a politician, you don't drool over them. He's a little teenager with a scrapbook trying to pretend he's a grown up. His mind has gone to mush.

If you don't believe it, you can read the latest group of lies and half-truths he's assembled entitled "The 2008 Presidential Race: A 1972 Redux?" at the crap-fest that is Common Dreams.
Zunes needs to be locked away. Why the University of San Francisco continues to employ him as he has displayed shoddy scholarship over and over is a question that the Dean's office should answer. Hopefully, Zunes will soon be shown the door and he can push a shopping cart around while muttering about how much he loves Barack. He's disgusting and delusional.

He's as pathetic as John Nichols. There aren't any men for Obama, just a bunch of little school girls who grew up with a penis. :D

You know Barack's in trouble when all the little school girls take to their word processors to attack Hillary. From AP: "Clinton's campaign also announced a superdelegate endorsement Friday, by Jaime Gonzalez Jr., a member of the Democratic National Committee from Texas."

This is today's "HUBdate: A Star Endorsement:"

A Star Endorsement: The Indianapolis Star today endorsed Hillary: Hillary "offers nuanced positions on how to address the war in Iraq, trade with China and economic expansion. Her depth of knowledge is remarkable…[she] is well prepared for the rigors of the White House. She is tough, experienced and realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished on the world stage…Hillary Clinton is the better choice." Read more.
HRC Strongest v. McCain: "A spate of new public polls out this week confirms what we have been arguing for some time: Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate to beat John McCain in November. The data shows that Clinton not only outperforms Obama in head-to-head matchups, but is also stronger in the all important subcategories that serve as bellwethers for a candidate’s overall strength. In addition, new data out [yesterday] in three swing states vital to Democratic prospects in November show Clinton beating McCain."
Read more and more.
Superdelegate Watch: Five superdelegates announced their support for Hillary yesterday. Read more and more.
Relief for Millions of Americans: In Indiana yesterday, Hillary talked up the gas tax holiday and went after those who are out of touch with millions of Americans: "I find it, frankly, a little offensive that people who don't have to worry about filling up their gas tank or what they buy when they go to the supermarket think it's somehow illegitimate to provide relief for...millions and millions of Americans." Chief Strategist Geoff Garin had this to say: "There's a real gap here in how some people see this from 30,000 feet and how real people in places like North Carolina and Indiana experience it every day, and they really want somebody who will say, 'You know what, we get that you’re facing a very difficult economic situation here - we're going to stand by you.'"
Read more.
If You Watch One Thing Today: A senior takes Obama to task over his gas tax position. Watch here.
Three Generations in Brownsburg, IN: Hillary, joined by Chelsea and her mother Dorothy, spoke to supporters and their children yesterday in Brownsburg, IN. Read more.
Energy in Terre Haute, IN: Today’s front page of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star features Hillary’s latest visit...Hillary told the crowd: "There’s another source of energy we’re going to harness…the people of Terre Haute." Read more.
Derby Picks: Yesterday, Hillary visited the Kentucky headquarters and "revealed her sentimental choice for Saturday's Run for the Roses -- the filly Eight Belles."
Read more.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hoosier singer and songwriter John Mellencamp performs at an event with Hillary in Indianapolis, IN.

Okay, that's it. Have a great weekend. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, May 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Sadr City sounds off against the puppet, Turkey and northern Iraq continue to be in conflict, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Courage to Resist notes war resister Ryan Jackson is currently at Fort Sill having turned himself at the start of the month after being "absent without leave since December when a local commander vetoed his pending discharge from the 35th Signal Brigade at Fort Gordon, Georgia." They note that there is a defense fund here, that he can be e-mailed via ryanjackson@couragetoresist.org and that you can find an audio interview they did with him here.

US war resisters in Canada who are hoping to be granted safe harbor status. What's the status on the motion?

Community member Dallas passed on the following. "Citizenship and immigration" issues have taken the forefront and the war resister motion, "it's kind of taken the wayside." (All quotes from Canada's NDP's spokesperson.) For now, the best thing to do would be continuing utilizing the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (
pm@pm.gc.ca -- 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. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses 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.
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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).

Meanwhile, northern Iraq was assaulted again.
Hurriyet reports, "Turkey's General Staff confirmed on Friday its warplanes had bombed outlawed separatist PKK bases in nothern Iraq late on Thursday in a 'comprehensive and effective' air operation. The White House on Friday endorsed Turkey's air strikes against the PKK targets in N. Iraq." Speaking at and for the White House today, Gordon Johndroe emphasized that Turkey, Iraq and the US "are all committed to dealing with this problem" and declared the air assaults to be part of "ongoing operations". Mark Bentley (Bloomberg News) notes that the Turkish military is claiming responsibility for "many" deaths and labeling all dead as "terrorists" while BBC points to local television, "A television station run by the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said several villages in the Pishdar district were bombed by Turkish jets on Thursday night. It said there were no casualties in the villages." C. Onur Ant (AP) explains, "Turkish warplanes bombed a key Kurdish rebel base deep inside Iraq for three hours overnight, Turkey's military and a rebel spokesman said Friday. A Kurdish Iraqi official said four rebels were killed." CNN states that the bombing began at 11:00 pm ("local time") which would mean it ended at 1:00 a.m. this morning. Turkey, the United States and the European Union label the PKK as a terrorist organization.

On Wednesday, the US State Department provided their annual "
Country Reports on Terrorism" to the US Congress and included in the section on Turkey was the following:

Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners, including, on occasion, USG personnel, in Turkey, for more than 40 years. Terrorist groups that operated in Turkey included Kurdish separatist, Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, and pro-Chechen groups. Terrorism in Turkey is defined in the Anti-Terror Law #3713 (TMK, 1991). "Terrorist" activities are composed primarily of crimes outlined in the Penal Code committed within the context of terrorist group activities, which target the structure of the state, changing or destroying the principles of the state, and aiming to create panic and terror in society. Thus, Turkish law defines terrorism as attacks against Turkish citizens and the Turkish state, and hampers Turkey's ability to interdict those who would target non-combatants globally.
Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kongra-Gel/Kurdistan Worker's Party (KGK/PKK). Composed primarily of Kurds with a separatist agenda, the KGK/PKK operated from bases in northern Iraq and directed its forces to target mainly Turkish security forces. In 2005 and 2006, KGK/PKK violence claimed hundreds of Turkish lives. This persisted in 2007, when the KGK/PKK continued its terrorist tactics. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a group designated under E.O. 13224, is affiliated with the KGK/PKK and has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks on Turkish and foreign citizens in Turkish cities in recent years. KGK/PKK and TAK-linked individuals were discovered in late May in Istanbul, Adana, Konya, and Mardin with explosive materials designed to carry out suicide attacks. On May 25, the KGK/PKK claimed responsibility for the bombing of a cargo train in Bingol Province.
In the midst of weeks of violence, during which KGK/PKK attacks claimed scores of killed or wounded Turkish soldiers and citizens, the Turkish parliament on October 17 overwhelmingly passed a motion authorizing cross-border military operations against KGK/PKK targets in northern Iraq. Turkish forces carried out extensive operations along the Turkey-Iraq border in the latter part of the year. On November 5th, President Bush committed to provide Turkey "real-time, actionable intelligence" to counter the KGK/PKK in northern Iraq.

In the section on Iraq, with regards to Turkey, the report noted the following:

Iraqi government officials continued to strongly condemn terrorists. On September 28, Iraq and Turkey concluded a counterterrorism agreement between its interior ministers to increase cooperation in countering the militant Kurdish separatist group, Kongra Gel/Kurdistan Workers' Party (KGK/PKK). Following an October 7 attack by the KGK/PKK that killed 13 Turkish soldiers in Southern Turkey, Prime Minister Maliki publicly stated that the KGK/PKK was a terrorist organization and would not be tolerated in Iraq. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials in northern Iraq also took concrete actions against the KGK/PKK presence there by closing off re-supply routes via additional checkpoints, increasing airport screening for KGK/PKK members, and directing the closure of KGK/PKK-affiliated offices.

Today's Zaman notes the report maintains that support comes from Europe (are they the next 'axis of evil'?) where "the group maintains a large extortion, fundraising and propaganda network" and the paper adds, "Turkey has frequently criticized European countries for tolerating PKK fundraising and propaganda activities in their territory, although the European Union, like the US, recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization." James Orr (Guardian of London) states, "The PKK leadership is thought to be hidng in the Mt Qandil area, which straddles the Iraq-Iran border and is 60 miles from the border between Iraq and Turkey. In recent months, Turkey has launched several air assualts on PKK targets in northern Iraq. In February, it staged a major ground offensive which lasted eight days."

Thursday night's assault was preceeded by Turkish officials visiting the central (puppet) government in Baghdad.
Hurriyet explains, "A Turkish delegation arrived in Baghdad on Thursday to meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, PM Nuri Al Maliki and Kurdish administration PM Nechirvan Barzani. . . . The delegation, consisting of a senior Prime Ministry official Ahmet Davutoglu and Turkey's Special Representative to Iraq Murat Ozcelik, arrived in Baghdad on Thursday." Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) quoted the Kurdish regional government's foreign policy chief, Falah Mustafa, stating, "This is the first time a meeting has taken place between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan goverment" and, when asked about the issue of the PKK, Mustafa stated, "Of course we discussed it, but only in general terms, not in specifics. And we agreed to find a peaceful solution." But Today's Zaman quotes Turkey's foreign minister Ali Babacan stating PKK remains an issue for relations between the government and Turkey and of the Kurdish region of Iraq, "The manner and stance that will be displayed by the local administration in northern Iraq regarding their discourse and activities concerning the PKK will by all means influence our dialogue -- postively or negatively. . . . The extent to which they can put distance between themselves and the organization and the extent to which they can strongly display their intent to do so with concrete steps will certainly influence the characteristic and frequency of our dialogue with the local administration in northern Iraq." AFP explains, "Ankara is under pressure from Washington and at home to back up military action against the PKK with political and economic gestures to the sizeable Kurdish community and erode popular support for the rebels."

As with every assault, the usual economic response took place.
Thomson Financial reports, "Oil prices have jumped higher as a result of the attacks, due to concerns, supplies from nothern Iraqi oil fields could be disrupted." Moming Zhou and Polya Lesova (MarketWatch) observe that the rise in prices was "the first day in four" for a rise and that the increase was "more than $3 to near $116 a barrel, boosed by news reports that Turkish planes bombed bases of separatist Kurds in nothern Iraq." Grant Smith (Bloomberg News) quotes Nordea Bank AB analyst Thina Saltvedt declaring, "Even though this Turkish invasion hasn't done anything to the supply side, there is the risk premium that violence will spread to southern Iraq, which is more important for oil."

Meanwhile Sadr City was in very vocal opposition to the puppet of the occuaption Nouri al-Malik today.
Hassan Jouini (AFP) reports that "crowds" took part in "a tirade" agains the puppet as they demanded he "end a stalement with their leader Moqtada al-Sadr and quotes spokesperson Salman al-Fraiji declaring, "Nuri al-Maliki has compounded misunderstandings and false accusations. He seeks to cover the failure of his domestic policy. You are trying to cover up the crimes of your protectors in Sadr City. Heinous crimes have been perpetrated by the occupiers in our area. Why are you hiding them? You have failed to convince Arab countries to open embassies in Iraq." Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) explains, "At issue are the coming provincial elections scheduled in October which both the Iraqi government and the American administration eye as vital in stabilising the war-wrecked nation. Both fear that Al-Sadr's supporters will fare better than the US-favoured Islamic Supreme Council and Al-Maliki's Daawa Party, thus excluding them from most of the southern provinces, so despite having grassroots support they were not represented in local governments."

An important documentary that takes a look at the resistance in Iraq is th,
Meeting Resistance by Molly Bingham and Steve Connors. It's been playing to raves across the country and will be out on DVD this month (May 20th is the DVD release):


MEETING RESISTANCE An "Astonishing" Journey into the Heart of the Iraqi Resistance Available on DVD May 20, 2008 MEETING RESISTANCE is a daring, eye-opening film that raises the veil of anonymity surrounding the Iraqi insurgency by meeting face to face with individuals who are passionately engaged in the struggle against coalition forces. It documents for the first time the sentiments experienced and actions taken by a nation's citizens when their homeland is occupied. With unique insight into the people involved in the resistance, this acclaimed film explodes myth after myth about the war in Iraq and the Iraqis who participate. Voices which have been previously unheard -- both male and female -- speak candidly about their motivations, hopes and goals, revealing a kaleidoscope of human perspectives. Through its unprecedented access to insurgents and clandestine groups, MEETING RESISTANCE is the missing puzzle piece in understanding the Iraq war -- not only the toll of the occupation but the mindset behind those who resist. MEETING RESISTANCE was directed by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham. Connors was born in Sheffield, England. He began taking photographs while serving as a British soldier in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. Connors has worked for most of the worlds' newspapers and magazines including Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times and spent fifteen months from November 2001 on in Afghanistan. During the invasion, he went to Iraq and spent fourteen months there working on MEETING RESISTANCE. The film is Connors' directorial debut. Molly Bingham was born in Kentucky and graduated from Harvard College in 1990. She began working as a photojournalist in earnest in 1994, traveling to Rwanda in the wake of the genocide. She has worked as a photojournalist for many different publications and has also completed projects for Human Rights Watch. Bingham teamed up with Connors in August of 2003 to begin a film about who was behind the emerging post-war violence in Iraq. DVD Bonus Features:
Directors' Audio Commentary • Film Notes • Biographies • Theatrical TrailerFeatured on Good Morning America, National Public Radio, ABC World News, Anderson Cooper 360, This Week with George Stephanopolous, CNN, Vanity Fair, and more!
SCREENED BY THE U.S. MILITARY
Shown to Iraq-based and Iraq-bound troops "I spent several years studying and fighting the insurgency at the tactical and operational levels, and I strongly recommend MEETING RESISTANCE. It provides the best view into the minds and motivations of Iraqi insurgents I have found in years of research." - MAJOR DAN FICKEL (RES)
"The single most astonishing documentary yet on the Iraq war. A breakthrough film!" -- SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL,
SALON.COM "Powerful and fascinating!" -- SHAUNA LYON, THE NEW YORKER "A remarkable piece of war reporting." -- RICHARD LEIBY, WASHINGTON POST "DARING...COURAGEOUS...ENLIGHTENING! Sometimes a film serves as a potent weapon of endangered truth, dispelling official lies and giving voice to those whose collective pain has been silenced. MEETING RESISTANCE is that film and more, an act of resistance in its own right to the US war on Iraq." -- PRAIRIE MILLER -- WBAI RADIO "A rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of those who have dedicated themselves to ridding Iraq of its invaders." -- RONNIE SCHEIB, VARIETY "he documentary equivalent of a Seymour Hersh investigative story in The New Yorker. REQUIRED VIEWING!" -- JOE GARFOLI, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE"EYE-OPENING!" -- PETER MARTIN, CINEMATICAL More information about the film can be found at meetingresistance.comMEETING RESISTANCE
85 minutes, color, 2007, Arabic w/English subtitles UPC: 7-20229-91324-9 Catalog #: FRF 913249D Retail Price: $24.95 Canadian Retail Price: $29.95 Pre-book: April 15 Street Date: May 20


Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Bombing?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, a Diyala Province bombing that wounded one person.

Shooting?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Awakening members were shot dead in an attack in Baquba and five wounded before their building was blown up. Reuters notes that US forces state they killed 4 people (suspected 'gunmen') in Mosul yesterday and today and 2 people in Baghdad's Sadr City (suspected 'gunmen' -- and via ariel bombings on the Sadr City) as well as 7 people in armed clashes in Baghdad.

Kidnapping?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mass kidnapping (7 people) in Diyala Province today.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In US presidential political news. Senator Barack Obama wants to be president . . . of some of the people. Apparently not of the people hurting economically over rising gas prices. He's shot down both Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain's plans for a gas tax holiday. But
Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) points out that "Obama voted for it multiple times in Illinois in 2000 ... The Obama-based moral of this and all other Obama stories: If it doesn't help Obama, it's not a good thing. Period." Meanwhile Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez are gearing up for a West Coast Tour next week where they will be working on ballot access in California, Oregon and Washington.

Returning to the topic of Barack, he received another endorsement from another loser today. Paul G. Kirk Jr. who has long been Ted Kennedy's biggest suck-up came out for Barack today. Kirk Jr.'s 'expertise' and 'wisdom' were probably on 'best' display when he was the head on DNC during . . . Michael Dukakis failed presidential campaign. We're sure Junior will bring all the 'help' to Barack that he did to Dukakis.
Dan Baltz (Washington Post) points out that Junior actually came out for Barack in February. Well, when your life means so little, you probably have to grab all the headlines you can. Ask the Loud family. But whatever you do, don't ask Barack basic geographic questions. Pagan Power (No Quarter) explains that Barack has a 'plan' for Oregon and it includes "the Great Lakes" which, pay attention, are in the MidWest, not the North West. Hillary's plan is entitled "Oregon Compact." Barack apparently rushed his last-minute homework. Which explains both his errors as well as other portions appearing to be lifted from Hillary's plan. Maybe he can claim she's his best friend just like Deval and that makes it okay?

Barack keeps claiming Jeremiah Wright is preventing a discussion of the issues. Apparently, Wright prevented Barack from discussing issues for 20 years?
Reid J. Epstein (Newsday) reports that academics watching polls in North Carolina see the Wright friendship as hurting Barack at the polls. People do wonder why it took him 20-years and how stupid he thinks Americans are that we're all supposed to believe that Jeremiah Wright transformed/shape-shifted over the weekend into someone Barack had enver seen before? In the real world, Eloise Harper (ABC News) reports Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declared in Indiani yesterday, ""Part of our family is divided and our Party is divided and the reason we are divided is because we have two extraordinary candidates both running for president both who will make unbelievable presidents of this country. . . . but let me tell you why they're wrong and I'm right, because I know Hillary Clinton better than they know Barack Obama."
Meanwhile, Hillary picked up an important endorsement today. From The Indianapolis Star's editorial entitled "
Experience makes Clinton better choice in primary:"As impressive as Obama appears, he is still in his first term in the U.S. Senate, and only four years ago was serving as an Illinois state senator. His inexperience in high office is a liability. Clinton, in contrast, is well prepared for the rigors of the White House. She is tough, experienced and realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished on the world stage.


Independent journalist, photo-journalist and artist
David Bacon examines and explores the issues of immigrant rights frequently. Last week, Bacon (Political Affairs Magazine) sounded the alarms over Hayley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, having "signed into law the fartherest-reaching employer sanctions law of any on the books in the U.S. Employer sanctions is a shorthand name for laws that prohibit employers from hiring immigrants who don't have legal immigration status in the U.S. That provision was part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, passed by Congress in 1986, which for the first time in U.S. history required employers to verify the immigration status of employees. The Mississippi bill, SB 2988, requires employers to use an electronic system to verify immigration status, called E-Verify. That system has only recently been developed by the Department of Homeland Security, and by the department's own admission, is not a complete record." This week, he writes (Political Affairs Magazine):

In the big immigrant marches that swept the country on May Day in 2006 and 2007, one sign said it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!" Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes. The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to this country to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here, not people who mean it harm. Again this May Day, immigrant workers are filling the streets, making the same point. Yet today the Federal government is taking actions that make holding a job a criminal act. Some states and local communities, seeing a green light from the Department of Homeland Security, are passing measures that go even further. These actions need a reality check.

Tonight (in most markets)
NOW on PBS explores the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns with guests Willie Brown and Dan Schnur. The campaign will also be part of the topics addressed on PBS' Washington Week (check local listings) and Gwen's guests will include AP's Charles Babington, Wall St. Journal's David Wessel, NBC's Pete Williams and the New York Times' John Harwood. From TV to radio, Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Reno and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):

A celebration of the life and art of Michael Goldberg, American painter (1924-2007) who gained first acclaim as a Second Generation Abstract Expressionist of the New York School. With art critici Jeremy Gilbert-Rolf, curator Klaus Kertess, painter Ellen Phelan, Bomb Magazine editor Betsy Sussler, Goldberg's stepson Luke Matheissen, and his wife sculptor Lynn Umlauf. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozier.

And we'll close
with Chelsea Clinton:
One of the most fun things about meeting people who support my mom's campaign is seeing all the creative ways they show their support. I've seen a lot of homemade signs, buttons, and shirts on the campaign trail, and I think we need to harness that great creative energy for our campaign.
So today, I'd like to announce the launch of Project T-Shirt, a contest to design the next great t-shirt for my mom's campaign.
I know you agree with me that my mom is the strongest, most progressive, and most prepared candidate, and that she would be the best president! This is a great way for you to show exactly what her historic campaign means to you.
Maybe you've got a slogan that you've been dying to share. Or maybe you want to share your design talents. Whatever your ideas are, I can't wait to see them -- and we'll offer the best shirt for sale in the official campaign store, raising money to help my mom win! I'll also make sure to get a picture of me AND my mom wearing the shirt, which we will post on the website.
So please put on your thinking caps, get those creative juices flowing, and visit our Project T-Shirt website to learn more and submit your design.
Please click here to get started.
I'm so excited to see all the great ideas you have. Thank you so much for all you're doing to help my mom win!
Go Hillary!






pbs


Thursday, May 01, 2008

RFK Jr. and more

Thursday. "Mission Accomplished" day. Five years after Bully Boy stuck a bread loaf in his pants, jacked up his crotch with straps and strutted around beneath the banner. And we all know how that worked out, don't we. Yeah, Bully Boy said some pretty words but didn't have a clue. Who does that remind you of?

Barack Obama! Pretty words that he sort of strings together. They always read better in a "transcript," don't they? Because the transcripts leave out all the "uh -- uh -- uh"s. We really want another leader who can't speak? We really need another moron?

Tina Turner should re-record "We Don't Need Another Hero" in Barack's 'honor' and call it "We Don't Need Another Moron."

So Barack and Michelle are all over the place talking about Jeremiah Wright, really talking around it, and insisting that it's over. The story is dead. They say that every chance they get. It's hard to flip channels without seeing them telling you there's no story there. While feeding the news cycle for another day. Sing it with me, "We Don't Need Another Moron."

This is from AP:

Another pastor in Detroit -- where Wright received a standing ovation Sunday at a dinner for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- directed his anger at the Democratic senator.
The Rev. William Revely, pastor of 300-member Holy Hope Heritage Church, questioned Obama's truthfulness in claiming he had not heard some of Wright's contentious remarks from the pulpit.
"Anybody who has heard Jeremiah preach has heard that," said Revely, who has known Wright since the 1970s. "Jeremiah, he's a pastor, and as a pastor you have to see things as they are. Politicians see things as they want them to be."
The punches and counter-punches thrown by Obama and Wright are leaving black churchgoers angry at both, said the Rev. Bennie Whiten, a retired United Church of Christ minister.

Say "oopsie"! Fortunately not every Democrat is a raving lunatic. This is from Eloise Harper's "Robert Kennedy Jr. Says Family Members Are Wrong in Supporting Obama:"

Introducing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in Jeffersonville, IN, Robert Kennedy Jr. had some pretty harsh words for his family members who are backing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president.
"There are some members of my family who've decided to do the wrong thing, support Senator Obama," he said of the Democratic presidential fight.
Kennedy continued, "Part of our family is divided and our Party is divided and the reason we are divided is because we have two extraordinary candidates both running for president both who will make unbelievable presidents of this country."
Continuing his argument, Kennedy said, "but let me tell you why they’re wrong and I’m right, because I know Hillary Clinton better than they know Barack Obama," said Kennedy to a loud applause.

Yeah, Ted Kennedy's wrong. Even with him, John Kerry and Governor Who endorsing Bambi, my state still went for Hillary. And they're going to stab us in the back, the ones who elected them, by supporting Barack Obama? They better get through their heads that we're sick of all thre of them. John Kerry may not emerge a US Senator after November's election. He may be sent packing. Ted Kennedy, who got too cozy to Bully Boy during the two terms, has pissed off a lot of people. Mainly over that lunatic "No Child Left Behind" nonsense that is destroying our schools and what had Ted hop in bed with the Bully Boy. If they can't stand up for those of us who put them into office, they better get ready for the payback.

Ted turning around and supporting Hillary comes at no cost. Let's say Hillary becomes president and screws up. All he has to say is, "I changed my support to reflect my state." He can push it back on us. But if he continues to support Barack and Barack gets the nomination, Ted's in trouble. He's in trouble because Barack can't win in November and we will hold him accountable for supporting the losing candidate. By the same token, should a miracle take place and Barack get the nomination and land in the White House, we will hold him accountable for every mistake Barack makes. The easiest out for Ted is to switch over to support Hillary. Any problems come up, he just says, "That's who Big Mass supported." He just pushes it back on us.

Instead, he's begging for same reaction John Kerry's getting. RFK Jr. is right, Ted is wrong.

Here's today's "HUBdate: Strongest v. Sen. McCain:"

Strongest v. Sen. McCain: A spate of new polls out in the last two days confirm that Hillary is the strongest general candidate vs. Sen. McCain. Sen. Clinton beats Sen. McCain handily (50-41) while Sen. Obama is virtually tied with Sen. McCain (46-44), according to the AP-Ipsos poll released Monday. A new poll from CBS/NYT shows Sen. Clinton beating Sen. McCain by five points (48-43), while Sen. Obama ties Sen. McCain (45-45). The new Fox poll has Sen. Clinton beating Sen. McCain by 1 (45-44), while Sen. Obama trails Sen. McCain by three points (43-46). And in Gallup’s daily tracking poll, Sen. Clinton leads Sen. McCain by one point (46-45) while Sen. Obama trails Sen. McCain by two points (44-46).
Today In The Hoosier State: Joined by Chelsea, Hillary hosts a Conversation With Families in Brownsburg, IN. She also hosts "Standing Up For Jobs" events in Jeffersonville, IN and Terre Haute, IN.
Superdelegate Watch: Two more superdelegates endorsed Hillary yesterday: PA State AFL-CIO President Bill George and Puerto Rico Democratic Vice Chair Luisette CabaƱa. Said AFL-CIO President George, "I feel that she is our strongest candidate to carry Pennsylvania in November and win back the White House."
Read more and more.
By the Numbers: Yesterday’s daily Gallup poll showed Hillary once again leading Sen. Obama nationally (47-46). "This marks the fifth consecutive Gallup Poll Daily tracking report in which the two Democratic candidates have been within a point of one another" and the second consecutive day Hillary has led.
Read more.
New Ads In NC: In two new 60-second ads airing statewide in North Carolina, author and activist Dr. Maya Angelou and Gov. Mike Easley describe why they support Hillary.
Watch Dr. Maya Angelou's ad here. Watch Gov. Easley's ad here.
Clinton Commutes To Work: Hillary commuted to work yesterday with sheet metal worker Jason Wifling in a "white Ford F-250 truck. For half a tank of regular unleaded gasoline, they paid $63.67." Hillary has a plan to address soaring gas prices at the pump, including suspending the federal gas tax and enforcing a "gas tax holiday."
Read More.
Making Trade Work For Indiana: Hillary highlighted her trade agenda yesterday in Indiana. "With working families squeezed by soaring gas prices, stagnant wages and an economy sliding into recession, Hoosiers need a President who will fight for their economic interests from day one. Americans need a President who will fight for fair, pro-American trade policies that will not trap them in a race to the bottom."
Read details here.
"Hold Her To It" The Lafayette Journal Courier reports on Hillary's "Standing Up For Jobs" town hall yesterday in Lafayette, IN: "'I want you to remember that we were here in Lafayette on the last day of April, and I told you what I wanted to do with the tax code, the trade policy, with new investments to create jobs,' Clinton said. 'So that as I move toward the White House, you can say, ‘I remember when she said that, and I can hold her to it.'"
Read more.
No Shortage of Enthusiasm: Hillary hosted an event in Portage, IN: "Long Lines, But No Shortage Of Enthusiasm"
Read More
If You Watch One Thing Today: Hillary was on Bill O'Reilly's "The O’Reilly Factor" last night.
Watch here and here.


Only one candidate can defeat McCain and that's Hillary. She's also the only one who helps the ticket. She solifidies the base and doesn't have the whole Wright and Ayers controversies swirling around her. You know it's bad when Human Q-Tip Chris Dodd's whining. He's the idiot that no one supported in the primaries and decided to support Barack. Now he's whining that his lover boy's being hurt. Stop you're whining, what a sniveler.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, May 1, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the VA scandals continue, 5 years since "Mission Accomplished," and more.

Starting with war resistance. Kyle Snyder is an Iraq War resister living in Canada. He is one of many. A variation in Snyder's story is that he self-checked out twice, going to Canada both times.
At YouTube, a video is posted of him explaining that (March 17, 2007):


Kyle Snyder: I just recently traveled back to the United States,
on October 31st. I had to drop my refugee claim. If any of you have been following my story, I was a refugee claimant in 2005 after deserting the Iraq War. I believe the Iraq War to be illegal and immoral on many fronts and I'm currently writing a report on that and why I think that is illegal and immoral. I witnessed what I believe to be war crimes and I witnessed what I believed to be a true occupation for oil resources and not a liberation or a bringing of democracy to the people of Iraq. And I refused to take part in that war. So I basically want to tell you my story about that trip to the United States. Like I said, I dropped my refugee claim meaning I had to go to the Canadian government, CBSA -- Canada Border Services Agency, and sign pieces of paper saying that I was returning to my home country to receive a discharge from the United States military. I worked for two months just west of here in Wetaskiwn, Alberta trying to receive a discharge from a major at Fort Knox, Major Bryan Patterson -- who somehow doesn't exist to the media now. When I turned myself in, I was very, very scared. I was very scared because I had dropped my life here in Canada, I had left my job, I had left my family. I left my friends. All on the chance that I would be discharged when I turned myself in. The lieutenant walked in and said "Don't worry, we'll discharge you within three to five days." That never happened. They put me in a room with a mirror and a phone that was not connected to any wall. There was no phone connection. They denied me access to my lawyer and said they wanted me to -- they ordered me after two years of not serving in their military to return to my unit. Which is now based in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. My unit wanted to re-integrate me into the military and send me back to Iraq a second time. The 94th engineers are deploying for a third time to Iraq. They're one of five units that are deploying to Iraq a third time -- since the surge that Bush ordered while I was in the country. I did the only thing that made sense to me at that point: I refused to sign the orders. I have documents saying the soldier refused to sign. And I went AWOL a second time. I did not catch the Greyhound Bus, instead I went out to eat and enjoy Halloween. And I did the only thing that made sense, again, and I pointed out the atrocities of the Bush administration in New Orleans, where we rebuilt a veterans' home, a Vietnam veteran's home. And I was almost arrested in New Orleans shortly after rebuilding this home with Iraq Veterans Against the War. Anyway, I spoke at 20 different high schools in Chicago, primarily African-American and Latino community schools that were going to be shut down by the American government because there was no funding to them. Recruiters feed off of schools in America like this. And I did anti-recruitment work in these schools. Basically pointing out to the government again that if a recruiter can walk onto a campus legally, why is there not a steel worker standing next to him, why is there not a carpenter standing next to them, why is there not any of these? My plan was to receive a discharge, come back to Canada in time to spend Christmas with my family. I couldn't do that. Instead, I bought my fiancee a ticket back to Wetaskiwin, Alberta so she could spend Christmas with her family and I stayed in the United States and I didn't know what was going to happen. I decided to come back to Canada just this January and I can no longer apply for refugee status even though I was only gone for five weeks. I know people that go on vacation for longer than five weeks and come back to the life that they had. So now I don't know what I'm going to do other than apply for permanent residence status and I don't know how I'm going to be able to stay in Canada. And I really, really need you guys' help to support me in my staying in Canada. And I really want to thank all of you for being here today and calling for the Canadian troops out of Afghanistan especially and calling for the United States out of Iraq. It means so much to me that you guys are doing that. I have one more announcement to make. I'm really pleased to announce that there are enough war resisters in Canada that we can start a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War in Canada. So we'll be doing that very shortly and we'll putting up a website for donations and for anything, just events that Iraq Veterans Against the War will be doing here in Canada in the near future. So I just wanted to announce that. Thanks.

US war resisters in Canada who are hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (
http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=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.
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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).

As
Paul Reynolds (BBC) observes, today's a fifth anniversary, "President Bush did not say "Mission Accomplished" on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln off San Diego on 1 May five years ago. But the banner above him did." CBS and AP remind, "Five years after that speech, after the meaning of the phrase "mission accomplished" and when is a job truly 'done' has been endlessly parsed, and after responsibility for creating and hanging the sign was first denied and later accepted, the White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the banner, with its affirmative message becoming a target of mockery and a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war -- a war in which major combat operations are still being waged. While the White House distanced itself from the message soon after the event, Mr. Bush was not averse to repeating it. Speaking to troops in Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar the following month, Mr. Bush said, 'America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished'." Dan Froomkin (Washington Post) breaks it down -- when Bully Boy gave his speech, the US troops death toll was 139 and the number wounded was 542 while today 4,064 are dead and 29,395 are wounded. US Senator and presumed GOP presidential nominee John McCain made the news today with John Whitesides (Reuters) reports that "McCain said the administration mishandled the war's early stages and raised public hopes by calling the remaining insurgents in Iraq 'dead-enders' in their 'last throes'." Helen Thomas noted the anniversary yesterday in Dana Perino's White House press briefing.

Helen Thomas: How does the President intend to commemorate "Mission accomplished" after five years of death and destruction?

Dana Pernio: What you're referring to is the banner that ran -- that was aborad the ship five years ago. President Bush --

Helen Thomas: I'm talking about the anniversary tomorrow.

Dana Perino: Yes, I get -- no, I understand. That's the anniversary of when that banner flew on that ship. President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said "mission accomplished for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission." And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year. I think what's important is what the President would -- how the President would describe the fight today. It's been a very tough month in Iraq, but we are taking the fight to the enemy. The President, you heard him say yesterday, believes that fighting terrorists, jihadists, al Qaeda, and the Iranian-backed militias --

Helen Thomas: Is every Iraqi a terrorist?

Dana Perino: -- and the Iranian-backed militias --

Helen Thomas: We're fighting the Iraqis, we're bombing their homes. What do mean?

Dana Perino: Helen, we are going after terrorists and al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Shia militia who are killing not only innocent Iraqis but our soldiers as well, and we're doing so in --

Helen Thomas: We're bombing homes with children.

Perino would continue spinning and Helen Thomas' final comment would be, "We're going after Iraqis who are fighting for their own country."

Maybe this will pass for 'success'? Iraq made the top of a list. It's The Committee to Project Journalist's "
Getting Away With Murder" list where Iraq comes in number one for deaths of journalists that go unprosecuted: "Iraq became the world's most dangerous country for the press after the 2003 U.S. invasion led to armed conflict and sectarian strife. Journalists have generally not died in combat, however. Most are targeted for professional reasons and murdered. Most of the victims, such as Al-Arabiya correspondent Atwar Bahjat, are Iraqis. Seventy-nine cases are unsolved."

'Success' also can't be found in the VA.
Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports of the lawsuit filed against the VA by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, with Arturo Gonzalez as the attorney, "The plaintiffs want [U.S. District Judge Samuel] Conti to order the VA to carry out its own plan to improve suicide prevention and overall mental health care -- issued in 2004, but still mostly at the pilot-program stage -- and to direct the agency to set timetables for benefits and allow veterans to be represented by lawyers. Gonzalez said the judge should appoint a representative, known as a special master, to make sure the agency complies." AP quotes Gonzalez declaring, "The system, your honor, has crashed. It's been overwhelmed. And the pattern of neglect continues." This comes as AP reports the VA's inspector general released a report today finding that "Significant needs remain unmet" and "It found that 10 of the 41 veterans who agreed to be interviewed said they weren't getting needed help for health care, vocational rehabilitation, family support or housing. At least four patients specifically cited trouble in getting primary or specialty eye care, while others reported gaps with family counseling for problems such as depression and anger."

On this anniversary, it might be worth examing The Makings of a War Hawk. Fortunately US Secretary of State Condi Rice explained the process on Monday speaking at the Peace Corps 2008 Worldwide Country Director Conference:

Condi Rice: I was very fortunate. I started out life as a piano major -- as a pianist. I was three years old when I learned to play the piano. I could read music before I could read. And I was absolutely going to be a great concert pianist. And it was the end of my sophomore year, and I went to the Apsen Music Festival, which is a great school for prodigies, and I met 11-year-olds who could play from sight what it had taken me all year to learn. And I though, "Okay, I'm about to end up at Nordstrom playing or maybe a piano bar someplace. But, you know, not Carnegie Hall.

Not since
Ernestine's hopes to be a ballerina were dashed by the dropping of a six pack on her feet has one taken so much inner bitterness and inflicted outward. [Ernestine is one of Lily Tomlin's classic characters and Tomlin will be appearing at the Olympia, Washington Friday at 8:00 p.m. -- at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts (512 Washington Street S.E.; 306-753-8586).] While Condi laments her piano car and ignores diplomacy, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A delegation from Iraq's governing Shiite alliance traveled to Iran on Wednesday to meet with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other ranking Iranian officials, said a senior advisor and two other politicians with close ties to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki" and quotes Nouri al-Maliki's aide Haider Abadi stating, "We are looking for good, neighborly relations with Iran, but it cannot go on like this." AFP quotes Moqtada al-Sadr's spokesperson Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi explaining, "Moqtada al-Sadr did not permit his leaders to meet the Iraqi delegation. Sadr insists that the crisis can be solved only through a parliamentary initiative backed by President Jalal Talabani and speaker Mahmud Mashhadani."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the lives of 8 Iraqis and wounded 21 more (there's another death and we'll get to that shortly), 3 Baghdad roadside bombings that wounded thirteen people, a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded three people, a US airstrike on Baghdad that claimed 4 lives and left twelve people injured, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four more wounded, a Diyala Province bombing involving two bombers (one male and one female) that resulted in 36 deaths (plus the bombers) and sixty-five people wounded and a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 members of the Iraqi military. On the last bombing, Nico Hines (Times of London) notes, "Police said the attacks occurred in the busy market town of Balad Ruz in the restive Diyala province. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore hallmarks associated with al Qaeda in Iraq. A second bomber was said to have struck as crowds rushed to evacuate the wounded from the first attack, a common tactic used to maximise casualties." AFP quotes eye witness Ibrahim Hassan stating, "The first blast happened in front of an ice cream shop. A lot of people ran to help the wounded, but two minutes later another bomber blew himself up in the crowd." Selcan Hacaglu (AP) reports, "In the suicide assault, a woman bomber blew herself up as people were dancing and clapping while members of the passing wedding party played music in Balad Ruz, a predominantly Shiite town 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. A male bomber attacked minutes later as police and ambulances arrived at the scene, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim al-Rubaie, head of the Diyala provincial operations center that oversees Balad Ruz. The two explosions tore through the stalls and stores that lined the area, and al-Rubaie said at least 35 people were killed and 65 suffered wounds, including the bride and groom."


Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person wounded by a Baghdad shooting,

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.


Today [PDF format warning] the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad soldier was killed from wounds sustained when a vehicle-borne improvised exposive device struck the soldier's vehicle during a combat patrol in central Baghdad at approximately 9:15 a.m. May 1."

Turning to the US,today is May Day and
Kelly Kearsley (The News Tribune) reminds it "is traditionally a day to celebrate labor and workers' rights." John Holusha (New York Times) reports that over 25,000 dock workers went on strike today on the West Coast. The workers are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union whose official statement (PDF format warning) notes:

More than 25,000 longshore workers at 29 west coast ports are excercising their First Amendment rights today by taking a day off work and calling for an end to the war in Iraq.
"Longshore workers are standing-down on the job and standing up for America," said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath. "We're supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it's time to end the war in Iraq."
McEllrath says rank-and-file members made their own democratic decision in early February when Longshore Caucus delegates voted to take action on May 1. Employers were notified of the plan, but refused to accomodate the union's request despite plenty of advance notice. The employer group, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) consists of large carriers and port operators, most of which are foreign-owned.
"Big foreign corporations that control global shipping aren't loyal or accountable to any country," said McEllrath. "For them it's a all about making money. But longshore workers are different. We're loyal to America, and we won't stand by while our country, our troops, and our economy are destroyed by a war that's bankrupting us to the tune of 3 trillion dollars. It's time to stand up, and we're doing our part today."

Ronald W. Powell (San Diego Union-Tribune) explains, "The work stoppage was . . . not the first such protest. Last year, the union called for workers to take off to protest U.S. immigration policy." KNBC reports, "Art Wong of the Port of Long Beach said the action was affecting that facility. Arley Baker, a spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles, said none of the cargo terminals at that facility were operating." The Central Valley Business Times states that the action "struck 29 West Coast ports from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest, including the Port of Stockton in the Central Valley." Kristopher Hanson (Long Beach Press-Telegram) informs, "Trucks and trains ferrying cargo from the nation's busiest seaport in Long Beach and Los Angeles were backing up during the morning and early afternoon, but port authorities didn't expect any long-term effects." Louis Sahagun (Los Angeles Times) offers this perspective: "The show of force by the union came two months before the contract expires between the dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which respresents port operators and large shippers, many of them foreign-owned." The Iraqi General Union of Dock Workers released a statement:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of ILWU in California
The courageous decision you made to carry out a strike on May Day to protest against the war and occupation of Iraq advances our struggle against occupation to bring a better future for us and for the rest of the world as well.
We are certain that a better world will only be created by the workers and what you are doing is an example and proof of what we say. The labor movement is the only element in the society that is able to change the political equations for the benefit of mankind. We in Iraq are looking up to you and support you until the victory over the US administration's barbarism is achieved.
Over the past five years the sectarian gans who are the product of the occupation, have been trying to transfer their conflicts into our ranks. Targeting workers, including their residential and shopping areas, indiscriminately using all sorts of explosive devices, mortar shells, and random shooting, were part of a bigger scheme that was aiming to tear up the society but they miserably failed to achieve their hellish goal.
We are struggling today to defeat both the occupation and sectarian militia's agenda. The pro-occupation government has been attempting to intervene into the workers affairs by imposing a single government-certified labor union. Furthermore it has been promoting privatization and an oil and gas law to use the occupation against the interests of the workers.
We the port workers view that our interests are inseparable from the interests of workers in Iraq and the world; therefore we are determined to continue our struggle to improve the living conditions of the workers and overpower all plots of the occupation, its economic and political projects.
Labour Movement released a statement of thanks


Turning to the US presidential race. This morning on
NBC's Today Show, Meredith Vieira interviewed Barack and Michelle Obama. (Click here for audio and video available today and for podcasting available throughout.) Meredith's interview will also air (in extended form) on MSNBC Saturday. Michelle Obama tried to steer the interview and schill for her husband stating that her husband was "trying to move us as a nation beyond these conversations" -- these conversations? About the crackpot mentor, pastor, inspiration, friend, et al Jeremiah Wright. Michelle's part of the co-interview because, clearly, Barack can't handle it alone. She really took control during the interview (in most instances that was a good thing or the campaign's talking point would never have gotten out -- as defocused and meandering as he is, she's like a laser beam). However, Michelle Obama is not running to become president and the question is about the nominee's judgement skills. Equally true, if the country wanted to 'move on,' Michelle and Barack would not be guests on Today's first hour to talk about the subject. She refused to answer Meredith's question about Wright ("Do you feel that Rev. Wright has betrayed your husband?") even when Meredith repeated it. Barack lied about his own and Michelle's life and should have just kept his mouth shut because the question was to Michelle and she was the smarter of the two. "I should have said angry and frustrated instead of bitter . . . I should have said people rely on their religion instead of cling to . . ." Can he please stop lying? (No, he can't. Listen to his I-Can-Big-State lies. It's embarrassing. He's either lying or completely stupid.)

Transcript is available at Time. Word substitution does not change what he said. Key passage: "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Point, anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-trade sentiment are not seen by Barack as 'good' things so let's all stop pretending that anything changes with a word substitution. He was spitting on Small Town Americans. He stated that they cling to God, guns and racism. That's the reality of the insult.

Adolph Reed Jr. (The Progressive) weighs in on why he's not supporting Barack and notes:

It may be instructive to look at the outfit where he did his "community organizing," the invocation of which makes so many lefties go weak in the knees. My understanding of the group, Developing Communities Project, at the time was that it was simply a church-based social service agency. What he pushed as his main political credential then, to an audience generally familiar with that organization, was his role in a youth-oriented voter registration drive.
The Obama campaign has even put out a misleading bio of Michelle Obama, representing her as having grown up in poverty on the South Side, when, in fact, her parents were city workers, and her father was a Daley machine precinct captain. This fabrication, along with those embroideries of the candidate's own biography, may be standard fare, the typical log cabin narrative. However, in Obama's case, the license taken not only underscores Obama's more complex relationship to insider politics in Daley's Chicago; it also underscores how much this campaign depends on selling an image rather than substance.

And note, the piece got more comments (a lot of them positive) than most of what The Progressive posts during any given week. Hillary Clinton is also attempting to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and
12-year-old Alec Noland Huffman writes at her site about what the campaign means for him: "I started volunteering for Hillary Clinton because she is very educated in politics because she has 30 years experience and that's a lot. My family is a middle class family. We are the working class. Middle class families work 2, 3 sometimes even 4 jobs for some of them. It is not easy for them; they have to work a lot with no time to spend with family or friends. In the 90s we were thriving in America and now we live paycheck to paycheck and it's not good. When I started volunteering it was a little boring but as I did it more I got better and it got fun and now it is something I like to do. I believe she will win. Amonther thing that Hillary is for is veterans. My grandfathers are veterans and they aren't treated well. I would vote for Hillary because she will bring our troops home and take care of them physically and mentally."

We'll close with Hillary's statement regarding the fifth anniversary of Bully Boy's "Mission Accomplished" photo-stunt:

"The fifth anniversary of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech comes the same week as a chief architect of the Bush administration's war in Iraq conceded "We were clueless on counterinsurgency." That statement confirms what we have all known: the planning and strategy was flawed. Our troops deserved and deserve better.
"All Americans honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in Iraq. We are grateful for the tremendous burden they have carried. Our troops have done their job.
"The path forward is to use American diplomacy and our allies to allow U.S. forces to come home, and turn responsibility back to Iraq and its people.
"That is the plan I have laid out to the American people as a Senator and as a candidate, and that is the plan that I will carry out as President."




mcclatchy newspapers



Maya Angelou, CBS Evening News

Quick post. I'm always wanting to do videos and have no idea how. C.I.'s on the phone so I'm grabbing a few seconds. This is a video of Dr. Maya Angelou speaking about her support for Hillary Clinton.



You can find text here.

From The CBS Evening News, this is a report on the campaigns.




That's it for me. I'll blog tonight.




Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sean Wilentz, Susan UnPc

Hump day, hump day. :D Starting late because the snapshot was late. Not a complaint, we were given a heads up (and we all could have posted -- or done a post while waiting -- without it). Betty was going to blog at Rebecca's site tonight. Not as a replacement but as an additional post. Due to the delay, she's going to instead fill in for Ruth tonight so be sure to check that out. (It will be late, Betty has church tonight and then has three children to get to bed.) So be sure to check that out.

Wally's "THIS JUST IN! WRIGHT RESPONDS!" and Cedric's " THIS JUST IN! WRIGHT RESPONDS!" last night notes an article in The New Republic. Normally, we don't rush to highlight that publication. Rebecca did note the article back when it first went up. But Cedric found an e-mail in his junk folder from TNR about the article and planned to highlight it Monday but they couldn't fit it into their joint-post so they did so yesterday. I told Cedric I'd note it here as well. It's by Sean Wilentz and called "RACE MAN" and he walks you through how the Obama campaign played the race card and all the phony events they inflated. It's a really important article and you should read it now because enough time has lapsed that you may have forgotten some of the tricks that took place or you may not have ever known. The Obama campaign publicly said that they were running a 'post-race' campaign. That's insulting but it wasn't even true. They actively sought to create controversies.

Barack's drug use is mentioned by one person (who was a Hillary supporter) and it's "racism!" Mark Penn's then on MSNBC, questioned about it repeatedly -- with David Axlerod (Bambi's campaign manage) present for the same interview and not raising any objections -- and finally, trying to talk around it, mentions "cocaine." "Racism!" It wasn't racism when people talked about Bill Clinton's pot habits as a college student. It wasn't racism when people talked about Bully Boy's drunkness and cocaine use. Barack Obama wrote about it in his book (and may have inflated his own use) and then made jokes about it with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show but for anyone else to mention it was "racism." That's such crap. If you did drugs, you did drugs. If you wrote about it and talked about it, it's okay for anyone to bring up the subject. And it has nothing to do with race.

But didn't the LIARS like Amy Goodman try to pretend it did? They are so pathetic and they are such liars. They are disgusting. Then you learn about the memo that was sent out by the Barack Obama campaign on how to keep the false charge in the spotlight. And how they distorted what Hillary Clinton said regarding LBJ and MLK. And you see the usual losers and liars come out and scream "Racism!" Another lie. And let's remember that Amy Goodman played that clip repeatedly -- a sound bite! of it -- while trying to make people think Hillary said something insulting. (What she said was it took MLK to create the movement and LBJ, as president, to support legislation.)

Barack knew he could count on a bunch of liars and there's no bigger liar than Amy Goodman. Someone needs to take that "movement child" to a summer camp and let her try to earn a badge in ethics. She wouldn't be able to earn one but it would keep her busy all summer long and spare the country her crap. She's a filthy liar and saying that hurts a lot of Reds' itty-bitty feelings. I was talking to Martha today about an upcoming event and saying I might note it. I wondered why C.I. had only noted it once and Martha explained the Red who usually asks for those events to be noted by e-mailing the public account hadn't. Oh poor baby. Amy Goodman got called out for being trash and your itty-bitty feelings are hurt. Oh, boo hoo. It's all so upsetting for you that a liar got called out.

Amy Goodman is filthy trash and she can never redeam herself at this point. She has lied non-stop for Barack Obama -- like so many other closeted Communists -- and she has trashed her own name and image. She has no one to blame but herself. She has no business butting into a Democratic primary to begin with. Don't give me that crap that she was 'covering' it because she was miscovering it and doing so on purpose solely to bring Hillary down. Of course Red Amy doesn't like Hillary, Hillary's a Democrat. But Red Amy looked the other way on Barack, didn't she? She lied for him. She brought on his supporters and campaigners and never told the audience that they were that. She stacked the deck against Hillary and, from what I understand, her days on NPR stations are probably numbered. That's her own damn fault. She could have critiqued Hillary the same way and no one would have batted an eye if she'd taken that standard to Barack but she didn't.

Think about Mark Penn for a moment and how many times Amy Goodman wanted to 'explore' him. But she never explored Bambi's adviser responsible for the deaths in East Timor, did she? And she supposedly cares about East Timor. She didn't want to explore Samantha Power and Sarah Sewall who were Bambi advisers (Sewall still is) and who endorsed counter-insurgency in Iraq. But Mark Penn was in public relations! We must trash Mark Penn! The people responsible for counter-insurgency (Sewall was over the Army's manual) and for the deaths in East Timor didn't matter but it was a big deal what Penn did in public relations.

She's just a cheap, trashy liar. Barack was supported by movement (and closeted) Communists (for a number of reasons -- none of which include that he's a Communist because he's not a Communist) and that was good enough for Amy Goodman to flush whatever reputation she had down the toilet. It's a Democratic primary. Goodman had no business catering her show to any candidate but especially not a Democrat when she's not one. Boo-hoo for 'poor' little Amy raking in the millions. Boo-hoo that the Red Army's biggest propaganda outlet in this country is taking huge hits.

The piece of trash hasn't interviewed an emerging war resister since the fall of 2006. She was too busy trying to put Barack in the White House. So let's all quit pretending that Amy Goodman gives a damn about ending the Iraq War. She's about many things and they all stink. She is not about ending the illegal war. Pravda on the Hudson is what Ava and C.I. called Democracy Now! (and it's really caught on with the Real Press) and they were exactly right. Her latest cut & paste book is being ingored by the book buyers and by national outlets and it's because everyone's tired of her lying ass.

It was liars like Amy Goodman who spread the smear that Bill Clinton was racist. She'll now live in journalist hell: obscurity and that's where she belongs because she's a filthy liar. This could have been her decade. She could have really accomplished something. Instead, she decide to bet everything she had on Barack's campaign. By decade's end, she may not even be on Pacifica. By decade's end, Pacifica may be facing real fall out. Goody brought it on herself.

This is Dawn Yingling's "What Hillary Means to Me:"

Dawn is a volunteer from Fishers, Indiana.
I had the unbelievable opportunity to stand on stage with Hillary Clinton in Indianapolis and speak about what her candidacy means to me -- all while she stood less than two feet away from me! Here's what I told the audience: I am a single mom with 3 kids, 2 of which still live at home. I work a full time job, I don't have a lot of free time, and I don’t have a lot of money. But when Hillary's campaign came to Indiana I knew, after volunteering (for the first time EVER) in the primary in Ohio back in March, and absolutely seeing what volunteers can do -- that I was going to have to get involved in my own "village" of Indiana.
I told the crowd how I work in downtown Indianapolis so I go to the downtown campaign office 4 or 5 days a week on my lunch hour and make calls to Hoosiers and talk to them about Hillary. I also come in two nights a week when my son is at his grandparents for the night. I canvas on Saturdays. I talk to hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in Indiana every day. And I am so excited to hear the vast majority of them are planning on voting for Hillary. Sometimes I'm on the phone for under a minute -- "Yes, I'm voting -- pause -- You bet I'm voting for Hillary." But sometimes, I'm on the phone for twenty minutes, listening to someone's story, about their husband losing his job, or their mother who can't afford her medicine. I hear their story and then they tell me why they're voting for Hillary. Everyone has their own reasons and their stories are compelling and they remind me of why I'm not eating lunch again today, and why I'm still working long after my regular job ended. I also spoke to the audience about going online and donating to the campaign. I told a crowd of strangers that I live paycheck to paycheck (not something you usually shout from a stage) -- but, I also told them that I have $20 a month deducted from my checking account and donated to the Hillary's campaign. I know it’s not much, but that $20 and the $20 of thousands of other people just like me who trust and believe in Hillary Clinton -- that money adds up! This campaign needs donations -- our opponent outspends us everywhere we go! Like it or not, it takes money to run a campaign, to compete even for the ears of potential voters, to give everyone a yard sign who walks in the office begging for one! So I asked that crowd of people to do what they would do for their kids baseball team -- donate time, donate money -- but this time, do it for their children's future. I think they got it. I think when you put it that simply; people understand that they have to get personally invested in their own future and their children's future. I couldn’t have put my $20 in better hands.

So there are some strong reasons to support Hillary and if you're wondering what's up with Barack, Susan UnPC has some interesting topics. This is from her "Father Pfleger & Rev. James Meeks: Who They Really Are:"

Here's a sampling of the thinking of Father Michael Pfleger, who Barack Obama has often cited as a "spiritual adviser" and whose testimonial is on Obama's official campaign site:
I'll be damned if I'm going to sit back while you tear down Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. How dare you. How dare you. How dare you seek to reduce Jeremiah Wright, who's one of the greatest Biblical scholars this nation has, to a 30-second sound bite and try to demonize him and trivialize him. You cannot do that.
Why does Barack align himself with so many radical religious leaders? Besides Rev. Wright, there are Father Michael Pfleger, closely associated with Wright and Farrakhan, and Rev. James Meeks, also close to Obama's spiritual advisers


Yeah, Wright was far from the only problem. Let's see if the media explores that. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, figures for April refute claims of a slow-down in violence, Robert Gates tries to happy talk it, and more.


Starting with war resistance. Iraq War resister
Ehren Watada will be the topic Friday at Carleton College (1 North College Street, Northfield, MN). Esther Pak (Carleton News) reports:

Dr.
Vijay Prashad will present a convocation entitled "Watada's Election: Asian Americans and These Asian Wars" on Friday, May 2 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Prashad's presentation will examine Asian Americans, the Iraq War, and the upcoming election, with reference to Hawaii-born First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who was the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation. Following the convocation, Prashad will sign copies of his books, which will also be available for purchase at the event at a 15% discount. Prashad's appearance is free and open to the public.

The presentation is scheduled to last one hour. In February 2007, Watada was court-martialed and Judge Toilet (aka John Head) ruled a mistrial over defense objection as the defense was about to present their side (Watada was taking the stand and suddenly Head felt a stipulation both the defense and the prosecution had agreed to, one Head has not only signed off on but explained to the jury, was 'prolbematic,' Watada was prepared to testify, Head stopped the trial). Due to Judge Toilet's ruling, the Constitution's provision against double-jeopardy should have kicked in. Judge Toilet immediately announced a new court-martial would take place in March (2007) but, of course, it didn't. A civilian court found (in November) the double-jeopardy argument compelling and Watada's legal status is currently in limbo. He continues to report for duty on base despite the fact that his service contract expired in December 2006. It's long past time for the military to stop their persecution of Watada and discharge him.

While he waits, so do US war resisters in Canada who are hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (
pm@pm.gc.ca -- 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.
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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).


In Iraq, the assault on Sadr City, a Baghdad neighborhood, continues.
AFP reports that the central (puppet) government in Baghdad is pleased: "'There were 925 martyrs in Sadr City and 2,605 others have been wounded,' in the firefights that began on March 25 and are still continuing, said Tehseen Sheikhly, a spokesman for the government's Baghdad security plan." Prior to the press conference, outlets, such as the BBC, were going with 400 for the death toll. CBS and AP note: "Previous Interior Ministry casualty figures for the past month had indicated that less than 400 people had perished. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting figures. Officials at the Baghdad military operations center said they could not confirm al-Sheikhly's count." Al Jazeera notees Sadr City residents testimonies that they were attacked by an air assault today and the US military's claim that "only rockets" were used because "a sandstorm had grounded US helicopters." For those who've forgotten the assault on Sadr City was supposed to be the sideshow. The main story was supposed to be the assault on Basra and the world was supposed to watch in awe of the awesome powers of Nouri al-Maliki -- the puppet installed by the US as prime minister in the spring of 2006 who has done nothing to ease tensions (let alone violence) in Iraq. al-Maliki was seen as puppet and an ineffective one at that having failed to offer up anything save for the never-ending "crackdowns" that began in June of 2006 when the Green Zone was almost breached. As two years of 'leadership' was being reached, the assault on Basra was supposed to be a for-show measure that would instill global faith in al-Maliki.

It was Easter Weekend -- Bully Boy declared in March 22nd radio address that it was a "special and holy time" -- and what better way to 'celebrate' than beef up the assault on civilians? Monday, March 24th, at the White House, Dana Perino, White House flack, was insisting that the "vast majority" of relatives who'd lost loved ones were insisting that the White House continue the Iraq War and, with the 4,000 mark having been passed, that wasn't going down as easy with the press as it had before.
Helen Thomas had questioned that assertion and asked how Perino could make that claim "with certainty?" Perino's answer was that the Bully Boy had "said that repeatedly" so, apparently, it must be true.Thomas then asked if "he takes responsibility for a war that he started without provocation that led to 4,000 deaths and 30,000 dramatically injured for life?" Perinos shoved that question aside and, pressed by Thomas, stated, "I think that he knew that the war was going to require sacrifices and that --"


Helen Thomas: By who?

Dana Perino: Well, of course by our soldiers.

Helen Thomas: There's nobody in his family or this administration in this war.

Dana Perino: Helen, these are all questions we have dealt with before. I've given you an answer in the President's reaction to the 4,000 and I'm going to move on.

While Perino was 'moving on,' al-Maliki was making headlines for going to Basra in a for-show role that was supposed to convince the world that he was leading the assault on Basra. Basra, like Sadr City, is seen as a strong-hold of support for cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and many believe that the assaults were also intended to prevent al-Sadr's bloc from coming to power in the (currently) scheduled elections on October 1st. As al-Maliki has seen his support within the Iraqi Parliament crumble, al-Sadr's support has appeared to increase. If it wasn't increasing, the assault certainly made sure it did as al-Sadr became the public voice in Iraq against the assault on Iraqi civilians. It was a disaster in every way for the US puppet, it was a disaster in lives lost, it was a disaster in the attempts to build up al-Maliki's image and it made al-Sadr (who had been laying low and had renewed a cease-fire/truce with the US) even more popular.

On
April 8th, The Petraeus and Crocker Variety Hour began their two days of testimony to the US Congress. They opened at the US Armed Services Committee where chair Carl Levin was asking serious questions about Basra, including whether it was correct that US was not informed ahead of time about the planned assault on Basra (which led to uprising in Sadr City, hence the assault on Sadr City)? "It is, Senator," Petraeus had declared, "We had a Friday night heads up." That would be Friday, March 21st. Petraeus went on to state that they were informed more of the assault (that would begin Sunday) at a meeting on Saturday. Levin: "It was not something that you recommended?" "No," Petraeus had replied. He went on to speak of concerns he stated he had about utilizing resources and appeared to indicate that there was a US plan for Basra but that al-Maliki had jumped the gun.

US Senator Hillary Clinton noted, "In response to a question by Senator Levin regarding when you knew of Prime Minister Maliki's plan to go into Basra, and I was struck by it so I wrote it down." Clinton was referring to the fact that Basra had been under British control until recently and that Petraeus' comments were vague. "What did you mean," she asked, "by the resources you were planning to deploy and over what length of time?" Petraeus' remarks cleared up any ambiguity on the subject. "A plan was being developed," he admitted, but instead of waiting to develop it, al-Malik was "moving up the time table and compressing . . . the resources."

This was April 8th and already the illusion that al-Maliki was leading the assault and that Iraqi troops were on the front lines had falled apart. Senator Susan Collins questioned "why should America combat troops continue to take the lead" considering all the time and money already provided since March of 2003? Petraeus tried to manuever his response by noting that the "US didn't take the lead in Basra." No, al-Maliki did. And al-Maliki failed. And Iraqi troops defected and deserted (two different categories) so US troops who were supposed to be present in only a supportive role were now on the front lines. The same was true of Sadr City and has only become more true.

Taking Petraeus at his guarded word, al-Maliki basically grabbed a US plan, ignored the timeline, rushed it into operation, did so when Iraqi troops were far from ready, hustled down to Basra for what he hoped would be his defining photo-ops and all this was done to shore up his weak image as an ineffective puppet. As a result of al-Maliki's actions, the US is now on the front lines backing up what his big mouth couldn't.
Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported today that US forces and Sadr City residents engaged in "[a] four-hour battle" yesterday that resulted in the deaths of "28 Iraqis" leading to "one of the bloodiest days in a month of sustained street fighting. The clashes underscored how deeply U.S. forces have been drawn into heavy combat in the huge Shiite district since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unexpectedly launched an offensive in southern Iraq last month against Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Until Maliki's push into the southern city of Basra, U.S. troops were not intensely engaged in Sadr City, a Baghdad neighborhood of roughly 3 million people that was among the most treacherous areas for U.S. forces early in the war." Today's assault on Sadr City, risking the lives of so many Iraqis and so many US service members, is nothing but the result of al-Maliki's photo-op that backfired. His attempts to prove he wasn't 'weak' is why the dying in Sadr City continues. In the April 8th hearing, Clinton noted that among al-Maliki's critics were General David Petraeus himself and referenced Cameron W. Barr's "Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making 'Sufficient Progress'" (Washington Post). In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the same day (April 8th), chair Joe Biden would note that the 'surge' was not working and had not been working (a point that many senators and representatives would make throughout the two days of testimony from Petraeus and Crocker) and he raised the issue of how there was no government and what was happening was the US was 'taking sides' -- supporting the 'leadership' of al-Maliki. That's a lot of deaths for one person's 'leadership' --- consider the puppet to be just like his puppet master in the White House. As Howard La Franchi (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "The American military's participation in the war declared by Iraqi authorities on Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia -- a fight that in recent weeks has been carried out through intense street battles -- has led to an uptick in US deaths." Along with shoring up the puppet, the assault was also supposed to shore up the Bully Boy and his plans for continued war. The assault was timed to take place before the for-show testimonies to Congress by Petraeus and Crocker that were supposed to convince the American public that the so-called 'surge' was working and deserved more time. Mark Kukis and Abigail Hauslohner (Time magazine) report, "The shell-shocked Shi'ite neighborhood of Sadr City in east Baghdad epitomizes the tragedy and terror that continue to grip Iraq five years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Around 2 million people cluster in homes often shared by as many as six families, caught in the crossfire of an ongoing confrontation between the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr and U.S. and Iraqi forces, streets cluttered with garbage and the rubble of recent battles." They also note that people are fleeing their homes (which will increase the number of Iraqis who are internally and externally displaced).

It's the end of the month and a number of outlets will be looking back.
CNN notes: "The number of Iraqi civilians killed and wounded nationwide continued to increase during April. According to Iraq's Interior Ministry, 969 civilians died and 1,750 were wounded during April. In March, the total was 923 civilians killed and 1,358 wounded -- a sharp increase over February, when 633 died and 701 were wounded." Those are the puppet government's official figures and the actual figures are probably much higher. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is in spin mode. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday acknowledged that a seven-month lull in U.S. troops deaths in Iraq has come to an end and blamed the bloodshed on Shiite Muslim militiamen who have bombarded the Green Zone and key parts of Baghdad with rockets and mortar rounds." Gates was speaking in Mexico, transcript here. Gates rejected the notion that things were "getting worse" in Iraq. He claimed that the "spectacular act" always catches attention. Apparently nothing -- including losing an illegal war -- catches the White House's attention. Asked about the US being drawn into the middle of a war of "two Shi'a factions," Gates responded that the conflict was "between the Iraqi government and lawless elements" -- echoing al-Maliki's line -- and further claimed that the 'elements' did not want to be "part of the political process." That would be "part of the puppet process." He stated that it has been "made clear" that al-Sadr's supporters are welcome in the political process and that's a falsehood because al-Maliki has threatened them with being barred from participating in the October elections. Further spinning, Gates claimed al-Maliki had "the vocal support of virtually all elements of the government." While he has the support of those on his payroll, his own cabinet is not full and members of the Iraqi Parliament participated in Sunday demonstratrations against the continued assault in Sadr City. Gates ignored that in his reply. He claimed that assaulting Iraqi civilians (that's what's happening in Sadr City) was creating "an Iraqi government more unified". He claimed al Qaeda in Iraq and the Sadrists were the enemies and it was pointed out to him that the White House continues to say that al Qaeda in Iraq is weaker. [al Qaeda in Iraq is largely non-existant.] Gates noted al-Sadr's cease-fire but avoided noting that al-Maliki's actions had overturned it. He began gas bagging at length -- and couldn't get his dates correct ("you will probably recall in either early March or late February, sometime in there") -- and stayed with the issue of al-Sadr. He never addressed the issue of why the White House continues to say al Qaeda in Iraq is a threat and responsible for the violence while also stating that al Qaeda in Iraq is on the decrease. Confronted with that inconsistency, Gates elected to ignore it. He did state that al-Maliki would make decisions regarding Sadr City which is suprising since it is US forces patrolling -- US troops held hostage by policy was a point senators made throughout Crocker and Petraeus' testimonies earlier this month and Gates, unwittingly, appears to be validating their point.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack on the Green Zone, a Baghdad mortar attacks that wounded eight people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing wounded six women and a Hawija roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left two more wounded (all Iraqi security forces).

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the "[p]ronounced presence of gunmen in al-Amin and al-Mashtal . . . forced the schools to send the students home." Reuters notes a home invasion in Kut that claimed the life of 1 woman.

Corpses?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad today (2 found in Tikrit last night).


Today the
US military announces: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed from wounds sustained when he was attacked with small-arms fire by insurgents at approximately 8:50 p.m. April 29 in northwestern Baghdad." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed after the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device at approximately 10:15 p.m. in northwestern Baghdad April 29." And, PDF format warning, they announced: "A Multi-National Division - North Soldier was killed as a result of an explosion occurring near the Soldier's patrol in Ninewah Province, April 30." And they announced: "Two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers were killed when their patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device in southern Baghdad at approximately 4:15 p.m. April 30." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldier was killed from wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device during a dismounted patrol in northern Baghdad at approximately 1 a.m. April 30."
The number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 4063, the number of deaths announced this month so far is 51 which makes April the deadliest month since September when 65 deaths were announced. More deaths for April may or may not be noted over the next few days.

Turning to the US presidential race, this morning on
NBC's Today Show, Andrea Mitchell reported on Barack Obama's speech and remarks yesterday on his mentor, friend, and pastor of 20 years Jeremiah Wright. Mitchell noted the changes in tone throughout Obama's remarks on Wright since Barack declared his intent to run for the Democratic presidential nomination and noted, "Critis say he should known better" regarding Wright. On CBS' The Early Show, Bob Schieffer explained, "The question now is will people him?" Him is Barack. Schieffer listed the questions people would be asking such as, "Why didn't he know about all this before? Why didn't he stop going to the church?"; and wondered, "Will this be enough?" Meanwhile Carol Marin (Chicago Sun-Times) noted of Barack, "And he still had nothing new to say, just what he'd said before, that some of Wright's comments 'offended me, and I understand why they have offended the American people'." Marin observed:This isn't the first time the campaign has waited out a problem, declining to take a controversy by the horns. It took a relentless chorus of Chicago media almost a year to finally get Obama and his people to deliver long-asked-for documents and answer what were, at best, incompletely answered questions about his former friend and now-indicted fund-raiser, Tony Rezko. He finally did so in March. There are judgment questions, fair ones, to be asked about Obama's past dealings with controversial people. Barack spoke out against Wright only because he was tanking in the polls over Wright and because he was offended by what Wright said of him:

What I had heard was that he had given a performance. And I thought at the time that it would be sufficient simply to reiterate what I had said in Philadelphia. Upon watching it, what became clear to me was that it was more than just a -- it was more than just him defending himself. What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that -- that -- that contradicts who I am and what I stand for. And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that -- that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the -- the commonality in all people.

Desperado (Houston Chronicle) notes that unanswered questions and the "many different versions of answer" that Barack has provided, before declaring: "A focal point is Wright being "uninvited" to the announcement of Obama's presidential candidacy. In an interview with the New York Times, Wright had this recollection of the disinvitation, from RealClearPolitics:
'Mr. Wright said that in the phone conversation in which Mr. Obama disinvited him from a role in the announcement, Mr. Obama cited an article in Rolling Stone, "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama." According to the pastor, Mr. Obama then told him, 'You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we've decided is that it's best for you not to be out there in public'." The Rolling Stone article was from the February 22. 2007 issue and was entitled 'The Radical Roots of Barack Obama', a title later changed to 'Destiny's Child'".
Dan Balz (Washington Post, link has text and video) notes that US Senator Evan Bayh (Hillary supporter) has warned that the Republicans would try to make an issue of Wright in the general election. Of course they will. Last week North Carolina's GOP began running ads on Wright. John McCain, the presumed GOP nominee, may or may not call for the ads to cease but North Carolina ignored him (as is their right) and others will as well. The damage isn't just to the top of the ticket if Obama is the Democratic nominee. The North Carolina GOP targeted Obama supporters. That will take place across the country in a general election should Obama be the nominee. The people he has brought in from outside the Democratic Party have proven repeatedly that at least 30% of them are unwilling to vote in other Democratic races -- they show up, vote for him and leave the rest of the ballot blank. That's bad news for every Democratic race in November 2008. That's before others are smeared for Barack's lack of proper judgement. (To put it mildly.) He is a drag on the entire ticket, he runs off the base and his nomination risks the Democratic control of Congress and Democratic state and local offices across the country. A new CBS News - New York Times poll finds Obama's negatives on the rise and Hillary faring better in a match-up against John McCain. In 2004, Dems just knew they'd reclaim the White House. They didn't. Having reclaimed control of both houses of Congress in 2006, they party needs to smarten up and realize what a drag on the ticket Barack will be. Wright is not going away, not during the Democratic primary and not, were Barack the nominee, during the primary. The only way to put the matter to rest is to back the candidate Democrats are overwhelming backing, Hillary Clinton. CBS and AP report (text and video):

Clinton also reiterated her previous remarks about Wright that she would not have stayed in the church after hearing the comments. She said it was up to voters to decide how the controversy over Wright impacts the campaign. O'Reilly asked Clinton to describe how she felt "when you hear a fellow American citizen say that kind of stuff about America." "Well, I take offense," Clinton said. "I think it's offensive and outrageous. I'm going to express my opinion, others can express theirs. It is part of just, you know, an atmosphere we're in today." Meanwhile, Obama was scrambling on Wednesday to put his presidential bid back on track a day after a public denouncing of Wright and both Democratic candidates pushed onward in a nomination struggle that appears to be dividing the party.
Here's Howard Wolfson's "
HUBdate: Making Trade Work" (HillaryClinton.com):

Previewing Today: This morning, Hillary commuted to work with a sheet metal worker, stopping to fill up at a South Bend gas station. Later today, she highlights her trade agenda at events throughout Indiana.
Easley for Hillary: Yesterday, "North Carolina Gov. [Mike] Easley endorse[d] Clinton for president"...."'There's a lot of 'yes, we can' and 'yes, we should' going around' Easley said. 'Hillary Clinton is ready to deliver. That's the difference. She's ready to deliver today. Immediately.'"
Read more and more.
Superdelegate Watch: Superdelegate and Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri endorsed Hillary yesterday "because of her support in rural America, her commitment to national security, and her dedication to U.S. troops." Read more.
By the Numbers: A new Gallup poll shows Hillary now leading Sen. Obama nationally (47-46). "This situation marks a loss for Obama, who had generally been in the lead over [Hillary] for the last month."
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Real Solutions for Fort Bragg: The front page of the Fayetteville Observer reports that Hillary is calling for a congressional hearing into reports of poor living conditions at Fort Bragg. "Something went terribly wrong here…We've asked these young soldiers to risk their lives and bear brutal living conditions... and when they return home, the least we can do is offer them decent, clean living conditions."
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Gas Tax Holiday: Yesterday, Hillary "toured the Miller Veneers wood manufacturing company in Indianapolis and said a lot of people in Indiana would benefit from a gas tax holiday...Clinton said it may not mean much to Obama, but it means a lot to people who are struggling." Read more.
On the Air: In a new Indiana ad, Hillary tells viewers, "My father served in the Navy and ran a small business. My mother taught Sunday school and took care of us... I carry with me not just their dreams but the dreams of people like them all across our county, people who embrace hard work and opportunity... who never stop believing in the promise of America. It's a promise I intend to keep." Watch here and Read more.
"Hillary Thrills Hobart" Last night, Hillary met with Johnnie Parker, "an organizer with the Sheetmetal Workers Union Local 20, and his family for a hourlong kitchen table discussion on the economy." Parker called Hillary "down-to-earth and upfront about economic issues facing Americans."
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"Where's Our Debate?" In the past five days, over 5,000 Oregonians have signed an online petition calling on Sen. Obama to join Hillary in Oregon for a debate. "Sen. Obama is currently spending millions of television ads across our state. Certainly he can spare a day or two to let Oregonians know what he believes beyond his 30-second ads." 6,200 North Carolinians have signed a similar petition for a debate in their state.
Read more.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary holds a town hall in Jeffersonville, IN and a rally in Terre Haute, IN.
If You Watch One Thing Today: Clinton appears on Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" tonight.


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