Friday, February 02, 2007

Amy Goodman, Russ Feingold

Friday at last! :D We're back with Rebecca and had an easy evening so far. They usually are but we were waiting to blog due to the snapshot going up late. Ava, Jess and C.I. had travel problems and then some today. And they also ended up doing an unplanned speaking thing. C.I. just wanted to get home and said, "Give me 20 people who are prepared to do something, write their Congress members, write their local papers, whatever, about Ehren Watada and I'll do one more." Ava said they ended up with 67 students showing up and her first thought was, "Oh, this is going to last awhile." :D

As soon as they landed, a little over an hour ago, Ava phoned me to fill me and say C.I. said, "Post if you haven't, you don't have to wait for me." I said of course I will. Ava goes, "C.I. figured you'd say that. It'll be at least thirty minutes. We're in the bar at the airport and C.I.'s working the phones and trying to piece together a snapshot right now." She called back forty minutes later to say, "Five more minutes, computer problems!" I told her I wasn't in a rush and just holler when it was up.

I was reading it and, damn. 40 to 45 minutes? Geez, I spend two hours some nights and end up with a few paragraphs of my words and two excerpts. You got to read it all and I think the Amy Goodman suggestion at the end is a good one. So do Elaine, Rebecca and Flyboy. I called Ava back (they still weren't home) and asked about the conclusion. She said it almost went up without one and C.I. was going, "I can't end with a corpse count!" And one of C.I.'s cell rang and it was about CounterSpin so that came just in the nick of the time.

C.I.'s suggestion? Molly Ivins passed away and now the space she has in newspapers around the country is up for grabs. John Nichols said that people needed to contact their local papers and say "I want a progressive voice" or something. C.I. points out that's not good enough. (It's not. I don't know if most newspapers know what a progressive voice is -- look at how many run Michael Kinsley!) C.I. also points out that Molly Ivins was the highest circulated female columnist and makes the argument (I agree) that it should go to a woman, Molly's space. She did a weekly column. Amy Goodman's now doing a weekly column and C.I.'s point is that when you suggest to your local paper, you should suggest Amy Goodman. That way you're arguing for someone who is going to address things that matter and you're also arguing that the space remain a space for a female columnist.

So if Molly ran in your paper, let me echo C.I. and say, "Tell 'em to run Amy Goodman!"

Now let's go to Big Russ! No, not Timmy Russert's daddy, Russ Feingold. This is from "How To End The War:"

Last week Vice President Cheney was asked whether the non-binding resolution passed by the Foreign Relations Committee that will soon be considered by the full Senate would deter the president from escalating the war. He replied: "It's not going to stop us."
In the United States of America, the people are sovereign, not the president. It is Congress' responsibility to challenge an administration that persists in a war that is misguided and that the nation opposes. We cannot simply wring our hands and complain about the administration's policy. We cannot just pass resolutions saying "your policy is mistaken." And we can't stand idly by and tell ourselves that it's the president's job to fix the mess he made. It's our job to fix the mess, too, and if we don't do so we are abdicating our responsibilities.
Yesterday, I introduced legislation that will prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment. By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the president to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm’s way.
This legislation will allow the president adequate time to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq, and it will make specific exceptions for a limited number of U.S. troops who must remain in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism and training missions and protect U.S. personnel. It will not hurt our troops in any way--they will continue receiving their equipment, training, salaries, etc. It will simply prevent the president from continuing to deploy them to Iraq. By passing this bill, we can finally focus on repairing our military and countering the full range of threats that we face around the world.
As the hearing I chaired in the Senate Judiciary Committee made clear, this legislation is fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States. Since the president is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its constitutional power to stop him. If Congress doesn't stop this war, it's not because it doesn't have the power. It’s because it doesn’t have the will.

Did anyone else grow up with old Speed Racer cartoons in the VCR? If so, you know the theme song. I sing "Run Russ Feingold! Run Russ Feingold! Run!" to "Go Speed Racer! Go Speed Racer! Go!" :D I really do wish he'd run for president.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts tonight. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is scheduled to take place in three days, 'civil war' to describe Iraq becomes a less loaded term and the myth of Najaf continues to be dispelled.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first comissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June and now faces a court-martial in Fort Lewis, Washington on Monday.
Daisuke Wakabayashi (Reuters) says the case "could determine the limits of free-speech rights for officers." Dean Paton (Christian Science Monitor) takes a look at the life that led up to the brave stand: "When it came time for Watada to enlist, he was diagnosed with asthma and declared physically unfit. He paid $800 to have an outside test done and was accepted into the Army's college-option program. He completed basic training in June 2003, and went to Officer Candidate School in South Carolina. He emerged 14 weeks later as a 2nd lieutenant." Ben Hamamoto (The Nichi Bei Times) reports on some of the activities Carolyn Ho has been taking part in to raise awareness of her son including suggesting people write letters to Congress, sign petitions (one is at Ehren Watada's site) and "post signs demanding that the military drop the charges and allow Watada to resign" because, Ho stated, "The way this resolves itself will speak to the soldiers and tell them whether or not they are being supported and it will speak to the politicians as to how we feel about the war (and soldiers' rights)."

Diane Kay (The Maine Campus) traces his life from college to speaking out: "Watada was a finance major, and graduated magna cum laude. The war in Iraq had just begun, and Watada, like many Americans, believed that Iraq posed a real threat to the United States, had WMDs and was connected to Sept. 11. He entered the U.S. Army officer candidate program following graduation to pursue a career in the military. Watada served in Korea in 2003 and 2004, earned the rank of lieutenant, and received excellent reviews of his work by his superior officers. In 2005, Lt. Watada and his unit returned to the United States, and were stationed in Ft. Lewis, Wash. Lt. Watada knew that his unit would eventually be deployed to Iraq, and he began to study as much as he could to prepare himself and his unit for deployment." This is where Ehren Watada starts to learn about the Bully Boy's lies of war. He had been assigned to Iraq. It was his duty (and superiors encouraged him in it) to study up so that he would be more effective and also able to answer questions from those serving under him (big one: "Why are we even here?"). It took the American people (many, not all) time to wake up to the lies of war and that didn't happen overnight. (Nor did it happen via the media as Liza Featherstone laughably suggests in The Nation. But then how would she know about the Downing Street Memos -- which The New York Review of Books, not The Nation, published. Jessica Lee, of the Indypendent, covers what Featherstone can't or won't -- click here.) What happened in the United States was activists and some journalists and publications pursued the topic (again, really not The Nation -- they had food issues and environmental issues and so much more to cover -- which is why they've never once written of the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer). People carved out a space for it and certainly Cindy Sheehan took it up a notch.

All that was needed for the lies to be exposed and the public to turn against the war.
Ehren Watada was not in the United States. He was stationed in Korea. And it's really important to remember that. Many who've served in Iraq have seen the lies fall away before their eyes (which reality will do) but in terms of how the war was sold, don't think that troops serving overseas are getting the same media that those in the United States do. In the lead up to his announcing his decision to his mother on January 1, 2006, he was cramming in three-plus years worth of information, reporting, critiques, etc. Which is why Hatsue Katsura of El Cerrito notes to The Contra Costa Times: "It was a gradual awareness and realization of facts about the war that were publicly disclosed over time. It became obvious our administration lacked reliable intelligence and was lying to justify an illegal and immoral war.I respect and support Watada for his decision. By refusing to obey orders, he knew he'd probably face a jail sentence. But he responded to a higher calling to serve his fellow man as an American and a world citizen."

Or, as
Ehren Watada asked Daisuke Wakabayashi, "When you have leaders that are unaccountable, who have already deceived people over something as serious as war and are willing to do it again, you have to ask yourself, 'where do you stand?'" Or, as he explained to Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet), "I'm willing to go to prison for what I believe in. . . .
I've taken an oath to defend the constitution, I must be willing to sacrifice."

That sacrifice shouldn't involve sacrificing the truth of his story so possibly some might need to correct
Tom Zeller Jr. (New York Times) who writes: "But Lieutenant Watada is no ordinary deserter, and he did not claim to be a conscientious objector." Ehren Watada is "no oridinary deserter" -- in fact, he's no deserter of any kind. Not since Zeller Jr. dismissed concerns over the Ohio vote immediately after the 2004 election has he seemed so out of touch with what he is supposed to be covering. Watada isn't a deserter. He refused to deploy. That is not desertion. He is not charged with desertion. Since he refused deployment, he has reported to the base for work every day. Zeller's fact-free approach to reporting made him a laughing stock in 2004 (all the more so with the recent Ohio convictions on voter fraud in the 2004 election) and he's obviously more concerned with maintaining that status. So let's speak slowly for Zeller Jr.: Desertion follows AWOL. AWOL is what most are charged with if they are gone for less than thirty days. Watada is not charged with desertion because he never went AWOL. He has been at Fort Lewis for every scheduled hour since he went public. He is not a deserter and the fact-free approach of Zeller's is not reporting. If the Junior Zeller is still confused, someone can refer him to the reporting of Andrew Buncombe (Independent of London): "When Lt Watada refused to go to Iraq last summer the army charged him with missing movement -- for failing to deploy -- as well as several counts of conduct unbecoming an officer."

Amnesty International has issued a press release entitled "
USA: War objector's freedom of conscience must be respected" which notes: "'If found guilty, Amnesty International would consider Ehren Watada to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release', said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas Programme Director. 28-year-old Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada faces a possible four year prison sentence on charges of 'missing movement' -- due to his refusal to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 -- and of 'conduct unbecoming an officer' --- because of his public comments regarding his objections to the war in Iraq. Ehren Watada has stated that his refusal is based on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral. In a pre-court martial hearing held on 16 January, a military judge ruled that he could not base his defence on the legality of the war in Iraq." As Amnesty International steps up to the plate and The Nation plays useless, is it any wonder that so many are starting to believe organizations are more worthy of their dollars than those in independent media who make themselves useless?

As noted, Watada will not be allowed to present a defense. Lt. Col. 'Judge" Head will preside. A military jury will render the verdict on the charges. The hearing itself is expected to go rather quickly since the 'judge' has disallowed Watada's right to present a defense. (The August Article 32 hearing went quickly, since witnesses like Ann Wright, Denis Halliday and Frances Boyle will not be allowed to testify for Watada this time, it's expected to be over in a couple of hours.)

Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian of London) interviewed Watada who told her, "It was so shocking to me. I guess I had heard about WMD and that we made a terrible, terrible mistake. Mistakes can happen but to think that it was deliberate and that a careful deception was done on the American people -- you just had to question who you are as a serviceman, as an American."

Ehren Watada will be speaking:

Your last opportunity to hear from Lt. Watada in person prior to his military court martial!! Saturday, February 3, 7 PM University Temple United Methodist Church 1415 NE 43rd Street, Seattle WA(next to the University Bookstore). $10 suggested donation for the event. No one will be turned away.

In addition, his mother, Carolyn Ho, will be speaking Saturday in Little Tokyo (in Los Angeles) at an event Saturday organized by the Asian Emrican Veterans Organization (event starts with a meet up march at the intersection of San Pedro and Second at 4:00 pm)..
More information on all events can be found by
clicking here.

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

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Again, the court-martial beings Monday.
Courage to Resist lists actions taking place at Fort Lewis and elsewhere. They note that the court-martial is open to the public (you need to get a visitors pass), will be held (at Fort Lewis base) in Building 2027 and that the proceedings are scheduled to begin at 9:00 am.

Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging actions throughout the weekend:

Friday, February 2nd through Monday, February 5th, the day of Lt. Ehren Watada's court-martial, IVAW's Olympia Chapter and
IVAW Deployed will be holding a series of events/fundraisers in order to raise awareness on the importance and details of Ehren's action, and subsequently, his court-martial.
We will show up on the day of Ehren'' trial with a presence and message that cannot be ignored nor denied. Our message is simple: George W. Bush and those who choose to partake in war crimes are the people that should be on trial. Lt. Ehren Watada's argument is legitimate and should be adopted by all who might be given unlawful orders.

Yesterday on
KFPA's Flashpoints, co-host Nora Barrows Friedman interviewed Dahr Jamail about the Najaf massacre. "What we do know for sure according to Iraqi doctors," Darh explained, that "253 killed and another 210 wounded." Jamail described the people in the region as wanting to self-govern and that "members of the tribes were starting to stand up because they want to be self-governing". The violence started with a tribal leader and his wife being gunned down which is a far cry from "the bogus story about a Shia messianic cult" plotting and conspiring to kill clerics.

Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily have covered many details of the Najaf story (see "
Official Lies Over Najaf Battle Exposed") and Stan Goff (Huffington Post) notes their work and compares the lies of Najaf (from the US government and from the mainstream media) to the 'glory' days of Centcom past: "They were dead at the hands of the US and its sketchy Iraqi armed forces 'allies,' and one of the perennial CENTCOM lies of the day is that every Iraqi who dies during any US operation is an 'insurgent' or a 'gunman.' In fact, most of them were religious pilgrims who were gunned down without any provocation . . . more then 200 of them. This was no 'battle.' It was a massacre. The dead were religious pilgrims, not a 'cult.' All of us should figure it out, especially news people, that urban guerillas do not concentrate in groups of 200-plus, and that any time we learn that more than 200 people have been killed, it is a pretty good bet that they were mostly civilians.

Dahr also spoke of what happened in Baquba which had been a "very mixed town" for Shias and Sunnis prior to the illegal war but "just weeks after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003" the US military "brought together all of the religous leaders into a tent" in Baquba and had Shia and Sunnis go to opposite sides which is the sort of division that the US created and cemented and which some politicians (such as US Senator Joe Biden) favor: splitting Iraq into three regions (Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites). What Dahr spoke of echoes what MADRE's Yanar Mohammed witnessed and discussed with Laura Flanders on the December 9th broadcast of RadioNation with Laura Flanders -- after the invasion, all Iraqis faced one question when dealing with the occupation government (Americans): "Are you Shia or Sunni?"

That helped solidify divisions and conflicts. Today,
Karen deYoung and Walter Pincuse (Washington Post) broke the news of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq which found the biggest obstacle in Iraq today to be the sectarian conflict. David Morgan (Reuters) reports: "Escalating violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites met the definition for a civil war, but the politically charged term did not describe all the chaos in Iraq, the report said. . . . An unclassified version of the NIE's key judgments said the term civil war 'accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence and population displacements'."

In Iraq today,
CNN reports: "A U.S. Apache helicopter went down Friday in Iraq, killing two American soldiers, the military said. It was the fourth helicopter to crash in two weeks.
The U.S. military recovered the soldiers' remains and secured the site northwest of Baghdad near Taji. The number of U.S. military fatalities in the Iraq war stands at 3,090, including seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department." For those who've forgotten, New Year's Eve brought the news that the count of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war had reached 3,000. For those who've missed it, helicopters have been coming down in Iraq for some time. "Crash landings" and "emergency landings" and no press follow up to determine what happened. In January, that finally began to change. The helicopter that went down today was shot down. This morning,
Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported, "An American helicopter crashed north of Baghdad Friday morning, and an Iraqi police spokesman said it had been downed by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile." AP confirms it was shot down: "A U.S. Army helicopter crashed Friday in a hail of gunfire north of Baghdad, police and witnesses said -- the fourth lost in Iraq in the last two weeks. The U.S. command said two crew members were killed, and the top U.S. general conceded that insurgent ground fire has become more effective." Note that it was brought down with gunfire. As has happened before but the flacks for the military have dismissed crashes resulting from gunfire and have maintained that the 'hardware' needed to down helicopters just wasn't to be found in Iraq. Such claims fly in the face of reality, of memories of Vietnam and of your average action adventure film that features helicopters. It's taken some time for the mainstream press to address the realities that, yes, helicopters can be shot down with gunfire.


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two bombings in Baghdad that left three people wounded, three people wounded in Kadhimiya "as a result of a Katiosha missile aimed at the area today", and three people wounded in Khalis from a mortar attack.

Kim Gamel (AP) notes a roadside bombing in Mosul that killed one police officer.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the death toll for the two bombings in Hilla yesterday has now reached "at least 73 killed and 152 injured".


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that yesterday's shooting of the Dean of the College of Physical Education (Walhan Hameed Al-Timimi) and his son was carried out "in full view of the teachers on campus" at Dyala University and that some are pointing the "finger at the President of the univeristy, Dr. Alla' Al-Atbi, saying that he is involved with armed groups and facilitates their tasks by setting up targets and doing nothing in way of calling for assistance if any attacks took place".

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that "Sunni chairman of the Fallujah City Council, Abbas Ali Hussein" was shot dead.


CNN reports that 32 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.

Lastly, on
CounterSpin today, John Nichols discussed Molly Ivins passing and worried that Ivins, whose columns were the most heavily circulated progressive ones in newspapers around the world, death would mean the space would go blank (of course, it could also go to a right-winger or centrist) so he suggested that if your local paper carried Ivins' columns, you contact them and ask that they continue to carry a progressive column. To go one further, Molly Ivins was one of the few women to make the top twenty most widely circulated columnists. So if you want to continue to see columns that address reality and you'd like to see a woman continue to be represented on the op-ed pages, you can ask your local paper to carry Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now!). Goodman's doing a weekly column now. I personally doubt that top 10 lists make for worthy or even "good" reading. Molly Ivins stood for something in each column (and humor was a part of it though Nichols wanted to downgrade it -- don't stand by him at a party). It's not just that any progressive voice is needed (or liberal voice), it's one that will use the space well. Goodman's demonstrated that she intends to tackle real topics. Goodman's columns can be found many places and Common Dreams is one. That said, if you're recommending that it be picked up to a newspaper, you need to note a paper that provides the column. "Resistance to war cannot be jailed" is Goodman's most recent column and the link takes you to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you're pitching Goodman to your local paper, you should also note that she wrote (with her brother David) two bestselling hardcover books (Exception to the Rulers and Static) (say "New York Times bestsellers") and that she is an award winning journalist (George Polk Award, Aflred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting and is the 2006 RECIPIENT OF THE PUFFIN/NATION PRIZE FOR CREATIVE CITIZENSHIP). You should also note that she hosts (with Juan Gonzalez) Democracy Now! which is broadcast on over 500 radio stations around the world as well as online and as a podcast. Also stress that Ivins wrote a weekly column and Goodman does as well. (Important because, from time to time, a columnist may choose to do a series of columns -- think Bob Herbert -- and newspapers with a weekly slot now open aren't going to want to fill it with a twice weekly column when they only have one day open each week.)

Amy Goodman is my personal choice. Members may have their own choice. If your choice is someone else, e-mail and we'll figure out the best way to present to present your choice to your local paper. But it is not enough to say, as John Nichols did, demand a progressive voice. (He may have been trying to leave it up to listeners or may not have wanted to pick one person over another.) You need to provide a concrete example otherwise you may find that the same editorial boards that boast Thomas Friedman is a liberal (I'm referring to his column in syndication -- the Times is stuck with him) have a very different idea than you do of what "progressive" or "liberal" is. This isn't something you wait on. The op-eds are 'valuable real estate' and they have a fast turn over. Once a spot is occupied, it is very difficult to get a paper to drop a columnist. (Complaints are sometimes seen as 'proof' of how many people read the columnist.) (Sometimes it is proof -- sometimes it's just a sign of how bored and tired readers are with the same-old, same-old.)

amy goodmandemocracy now

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins, Marjorie Cohn

Thursday. Yesterday, Rebecca didn't highlight Robert Parry like planned. (She's doing so tonight.) That's because of the bad news about Molly Ivins:

Molly Ivins, a celebrated feminist author and political columnist, died at her Texas home on Wednesday after fighting breast cancer. Ivins was well known for her up-beat criticism and commentary of "politics, Texas, and other bizarre happenings."

There's a roundtable in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin that we all did this evening. So if you're a community member, check out your inbox tomorrow morning. We talk about Molly Ivins in that and what her work meant. Rebecca wrote about her last night and, if I'd known about it yesterday, I would have too.

She was a one of a kind writer.

So now, let me put up another one kind of a writer, Marjorie Cohn and this is from "Cruise Missile Diplomacy:"

As Congress and the American people protest the travesty Bush created in Iraq, our President is gunning for a confrontation with Iran. Bush is rattling the sabers and opting for gunboat diplomacy by pledging to "seek out and destroy" Iranian networks "providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies" in Iraq. But he has produced no hard evidence that Iran is supplying forces in Iraq with such weapons or manufacturing their own nuclear weapons.
When I say "gunboat diplomacy," I mean that literally. Bush recently sent US warships and Patriot missile batteries to the Persian Gulf and moved US attack aircraft to Turkey and other countries on Iran's borders. US forces stormed the Iranian consulate in northern Iraq and captured six Iranian nationals, and Bush announced he will go after any Iranians he considers a threat. There are also indications the Bush administration would support military action by Israel against Iran.
On Tuesday, the administration stepped up its inflammatory rhetoric. US officials said Iranians may have trained attackers who killed five Americans in Karbala on January 20. They also implicated the Mahdi Army, the militia controlled by Moktada al-Sadr. It's very interesting that the New York Times characterized the focus on Iran and the Mahdi Army as "convenient from the point of view of the Bush administration."
Investigators were stumped at how the attackers, who wore American-style uniforms, secured forged US identity cards and American-style M-4 rifles, and used stun grenades like those used only by US forces. They are also confounded at the way the attackers' convoy of S.U.V.'s gave the impression that it was American and slipped through Iraqi checkpoints. Wednesday's article in the Times cites a theory that "a Western mercenary group" may have been involved. In the past the US government used the CIA to covertly overthrow governments, such as Iran's in 1953 and Chile's in 1973. Could mercenaries now be doing the Bush administration's dirty work?
The plan to attack Iran has been in the works since Bush inaugurated that country into his "axis of evil" in January 2002. Bush's 2006 National Military Strategy says, "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran." In April 2006, Seymour Hersh revealed the US military was making preparations for an invasion of Iran. "Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups," Hersh learned from current and former American military intelligence officials.

Marjorie Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild and they put out this today:

February 1, 2007 -- Today European, international and United States legal and human rights groups issued an open letter warning of the illegality of any offensive military action by the United States against Iran. Signatories include the American Association of Jurists, Center for Constitutional Rights (U.S.), Droite Solidarite (France), European Association of Lawyers for Human Rights and Democracy, Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers, Haldane Society (United Kingdom), International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Indian Association of Lawyers, (India), Japanese Association of Lawyers for International Solidarity, (Japan), Lawyers Against War (Canada), National Lawyers Guild (U.S.), Progress Lawyers Network (Belgium).
Open Letter to All Members of Congress, the Bush Administration And the U.S. Armed Forces From Legal and Human Rights Groups
There are increasing indications that the Bush administration intends to take military action against Iran. There are also indications that the administration would support military action by Israel against Iran.
The undersigned organizations issue this Open Letter to All Members of Congress, the Administration and the U.S. Armed Forces to reiterate their affirmative duties to prevent military action and to refrain from ongoing threats to peace.
Offensive military action against Iran would be illegal, as the United States is bound under the United Nations Charter to settle international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any state or act in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations. (Article 2 sections 3 and 4). While Article 51 of the charter recognizes the inherent right of individual or collective self defense, such a right exists only if an armed attack occurs and is allowed only until the Security Council can take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Any other type of military action by the United States would not be in compliance with the UN Charter.
The UN Charter, as a treaty ratified by the U.S., is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI §2 of the United States Constitution. If the President and Congress fail to abide by the law as provided in the Constitution they violate their sacred oaths of office.
Any military action against Iran in the absence of a military strike by Iran would be a war of aggression outlawed under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.
If the United States or any other nation were to act outside of its UN obligations it would risk starting a war of aggression and committing a crime against peace. Furthermore, the sending of aircraft carriers combined with recent threatening statements constitutes a threat to wage a war with Iran. This is also prohibited by the Charter. Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles also makes crimes against peace punishable under international law. Crimes against peace include: planning, preparation, initiation or waging a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy to accomplish these acts.
The United States and all countries that have ratified the UN Charter are required to abide by their obligations under it. It is in the interests of all countries of the world that the United Nations be a viable multilateral institution capable of carrying out the mission of its charter to preserve peace and promote development and human rights. Actions which violate that charter undermine it. Actions by the U.S. which violate the charter prevent the UN from acting effectively; they also undermine the credibility of the United States in the world community. The U.S. cannot demand that other countries obey the terms of the UN Charter while it is violating those very provisions with impunity.
The War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval of military action, must be read consistently with our obligations under the UN Charter and international law not to engage in wars of aggression. We urge:
1. The President, Vice President, and all other members of the Bush administration who have a decision-making role with regard to taking military action in Iran, to immediately renounce such efforts to engage in this war;
2. The members of the military to refuse any requests by the administration to invade or take other military action against Iran in light of the illegality of such actions; and
3. That Congress immediately pass a binding resolution reaffirming the United States’ legal obligations and informing the President and the administration that it will not concur in any invasion of or military action against Iran, would refuse to approve funding for any such military action, and would consider actions taken in contravention of the resolution as impeachable offenses.

The American Association of Jurists
Vanessa Ramos, Secretary General, vramos1565 at
Clea Carpi da Rocha, President, carpi at
Beinusz Szmukler, szmukler at

The Center for Constitutional Rights
Vincent Warren, Executive Director, vwarren at
Bill Goodman, Legal Director, bgoodman at

Droite Solidarite
Roland Weyl, President, mrwjur at

European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights
RA Thomas Schmid, Secretary General, ra-th-schmidt at t-online.dem
Professor Bill Bowring, b.bowring at

Haldane Society, United Kingdom
Liz Davies, liz at

International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Jitendra Sharma, President, jsharma at
Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General, mirerfam at

Indian Association of Lawyers
Mr. G.K.Bansal, General Secretary, gkb at
Mr. T.M.Mohammed Youseff, General Secretary, youseffdelhi at

Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers
Fabio Marcelli, fabio.marcelli at

Japanese Association of Lawyers for International Solidarity, Japan
Osamu Niikura, Secretary General, oniikura at

Lawyers Against the War, Canada
Gail Davidson, Chair, law at

National Lawyers Guild
Marjorie Cohn, President, libertad48 at

Progress Lawyers Network, Belgium
Jan Fermon, jan.fermon at

So that's some of what is going on in the world (more in the snapshot). I wanted to talk a little bit about Molly Ivins. In the round-robin, you'll see everyone has a lot to say and they say it really strongly. Don't expect that from me. Death freaks me out. Always has. I can do the "it's awful" thing, but otherwise, I'm probably not much good.

C.I. was crying while talking during the round-robin about Molly and if I say anything even a little worth reading in that it's because of that. I wish I had that kind of bravery.

I think that is hard, to just talk about what you're feeling. I can joke about what I'm feeling but if you want deep on something like that, I'm probably the last one you want to come to.

Whenever anyone dies, I automatically start thinking about people in my life who are older and how they might be next. Like I thought about my grandfather.

Maybe when you get older, you learn to deal with really bad news like this better? I hear it and all I want to do is get into bed and pull the covers over my head.

The news about Molly Ivins death brought out the usual reaction in me. I was grumpy all day and when anyone asked me what was wrong or, like my bud Tony, knew what was wrong and tried to talk about it, I just shut down.

The big question for me was, "Why her?" I mean there are a lot of people who do nothing. They add nothing, they bring nothing to the table. Take Molly's pledge to cover Iraq in every column until the war ended, okay? Who's making that pledge now?

You see any Nation columnist rushing in with that?

Her writing was funny and could make you laugh even when the things she was covering was about how the world was going shit. When I start thinking about how many famous writers write about nothing day after day (like useless lists and especially useless lists to the Democratic Party), the loss of Molly Ivins just seems even more unfair.

The thing I liked about her work was that, like Howard Zinn, she wasn't worshipping politicians. It wasn't, "They will rescue us!" She didn't identify up. (That's what C.I. said when I made that point in the roundtable tonight.) And that's really true. She was writing to us like she was a part of us. There was none of the patronizing crap that Katrina vanden Heuvel does or any of the faux populism that a lot of others try to push off for a column or two before they let their real natures show.

She was just real and when you read her columns it was like you were reading a letter that a friend passed to you. She had something to say and a way of saying it that made you want to read every word. And because she wanted you to join her in laughing at how crazy things were, I always enjoyed her writing.

We need more real writers like that and the fact that we don't have them (a) shows how valuable she was and (b) makes you realize how unfair it is that we lost her instead of the many useless writers who seem to think they're up on the mountain doing the masses a favor by tossing down a few words.

So I'm going to miss her for what she did and for who she stood for.

Check out Elaine's "Howard Zinn, Isaiah, Joshua Frank" and closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 1, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Najaf-'cult' story takes another hit, Ehren Watada's court-martial approaches, Bully Boy's Iran tales aren't easily swallowed, and Molly Ivins passed away yesterday.

In June of last year,
Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.In four days, he faces a court-martial in Fort Lewis, Washington where, if convicted of all the charges, he could face four years in prison. "You can jail the resisters but you can't jail the resistance," reminds Amy Goodman (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) before asking, of Watada and other war resisters, "Without Congress taking decisive action, these soldiers are left to fend for themselves. How many must die, how many must be sent to prison or flee to Canada, before Congress ends this war?"

Ehren Watada spoke at the South Puget Sound Community College in Washington yesterday. Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports that Watada "was greeted as a hero" with the audience providing him "several times with standing ovations." Hill reports: "Concluding his speech, Watada said that in the years ahead, Americans will look back and recognize 'the criminality of this current administration.' People then will ask who stood up against it, he said. He ticked off a several names: Women in Black, the local chapter that holds weekly silent vigils in downtown Olympia, and Veterans for Peace, an anti-war group that has been a key supporter of Watada. 'And Ehren Watada,' someone in the audience yelled out."

The court-martial is scheduled for Monday.
Ehren Watada will not be able to present any defense, 'Judge' Head has ensured that will not happen. Paul Rockwell (Baltimore Sun) notes that with "the outcome of the hearing Monday . . . all but pre-determined, Lieutenant Watada's attorneys are prepared for appeals. Eventually, the Supreme Court may be called upon to reject the Machiavellian doctrine that 'in war, the laws are silent'." Events will be taking place around the country and Courage to Resist has more information on that.

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

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

While war resisters continue to increase, the war enablers haven't dropped like flies. Two incidents aren't working out quite the way the US administration wishes they were -- Najaf and Iran.

Starting with Najaf. We're all supposed to buy a 'cult' was bound and determined to kill in a huge conspiracy-based plot (notice how those fly out of the mouths of domestic reporters when it involves another country) and the Iraqis led and the US backed them up and, goodness golly, justice was preserved, a cult stopped and al Qaeda thwarted.

Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) investigate and find things are far less 'blockbuster' than many of the reports keep telling you. Jamail and al-Fadhily: " Many southern Shia Arabs do not follow Iranian-born cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. They believe the religious leadership should be kept in the hands of Arab clerics. Al-Hatami and al-Khazaali are two major tribes that do not follow Sistani. Tribal members from both believe the attack was launched by the central government of Baghdad to stifle growing Shia-Sunni unity in the area." (And, it should be noted, when money's to be made rivalries become intense -- this is the area where the US government has bought off several tribal leaders.) The Independent of London's Patrick Cockburn appeared on Democracy Now! today and noted that "it's very difficult to maintain the theory that there was this bunch of conspirators that were about to attack Najaf and muder all the religious leaders there. The governor of Najaf, Asaad Abu Gildel, has actually said now that he -- his council had a convened secret meeting and made a decision to attack people who he describes as outlaws. So, even those who carried out the attack are no longer insisting that they discovered a conspiracy at the last minute and they were able to nip it in the bud. They've completely changed their story." Earlier this week, Cockburn reported on this incident and noted: "The story emerging on independent Iraqi websites and in Arabic newspapers is entirely different from the government's account of the battle with the so-called 'Soldiers of Heave,' planning a raid on Najaf to kill Shia religious leaders." As details continue to emerge, it's worth remembering what Bully Boy said of the events at the start of the week: "My first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something." Show him slaughter of innocents?

Moving to the second item of Lies My Bully Boy Told Me news, as Bully Boy continues to beat the war drums on Iran,
Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) notes the stone walling others ignore: "The Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence, U.S. officials said. U.S. officials promised last week to provide evidence of Iranian activities that led President Bush to announce Jan. 10 that U.S. forces would begin taking the offensive against Iranian agents who threatened Americans. But some officials in Washington are concerned that some of the material may be inconclusive . . ." Doesn't it feel like a flashback to the lead up to the Iraq war? A lot of charges made. No proof offered. Tom Baldwin (Times of London) reports: "Senior British officials, citing mistakes over Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, are voicing scepticism about US efforts to build an intelligence-based case against Iran. Sources in London and Washington suggest that the British Government has been 'badly scarred' by its Iraq intelligence dossiers. Amid signs of a concerted American operation to prove that Iran is threatening US troops in the region, British officials say that they are 'not aware of a smoking gun' they would justify taking military action against Tehran." File it under another story about a little (Bully) boy who cried wolf.

AFP reports a Baghdad bombing that "tore through a bus on the main room in Karrada district" that left 6 dead and 12 wounded while another car bomb claimed three more lives and left 2 wounded (also in Baghdad). CBS and AP report that two "bombers blew themselves up Thursday in a crowded outdoormarket in" Hilla. Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports that the death toll in the Hilla bombings has risen to 61 and 150 were wounded.

CBS and AP note report a mortar attack in Baghdad and quote eye witness Maamoun Abdel-Hadi: "We fell on the ground . . . I saw four wounded persons lying on the ground and screaming for help. We put them in the car and rushed them to the hospital. . . . We are peaceful people who have nothing to do with any militias or armed groups. What is the guilt of innocent children, women and men who were walking in the street?"

Reuters notes three Iraqi soldiers dead and six more wounded in Qaem from a car bombing, four wounded in Tikrit from an attempted bombing of the governor, and 2 dead in Mosul from a mortar attack.Shootings?

Reuters reports two police officers shot dead in Diwaniya and Walhan Hamed al-Rubaie (dean of the Physical Education College of Diyala) was shot dead.


Reuters notes ten corpses discovered in Mosul and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) notes thirty c

Today, the
US military announced: "One soldier assigned to Multi National Force - West died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbrar Province Jan. 30. AFP places the number of US troops killed in Iraq during the month of January at 90 -- a figure that may increase due to the US military's delays in announcing deaths. CNN notes a source in Iraq's Interior Ministry who states that the toll they ministry has for January is 1,990 civilians killed, 1,9836 civilians wounded.

In addition, Reporters Without Borders has released their (PDF format) "
Freedom of the Press Worldwide in 2007" which documents press freedom around the world and notes that 65 journalists were killed in Iraq in 2006 "making it the deadliest year since fighting began in the country in March 2003. The Iraqi authorities imposed restrictions on the media that could endanger news diversity." On the latter, "Iraqi journalists faced restrictions and bans imposed during the year by the authorities. The government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki regularly threatened to shut down media outlets it blamed for 'inciting violence.' TV stations were accused of 'stirring up religious and ethnic passions' and banned from showing film of 'blood and killing' that officials said 'amplified the horror of the violence.' In addition, the report notes that 30 journalists were arrested in Iraq "during 2006 and four of them were still being held without charge at the end of the year."

In legislative news,
KUNA reports that Mahmoud al-Mashhadani will lead a delegation to Kuwait "early next week for talks with Kuwaiti officials." al-Mashhadani is the Speaker of the Iraqi parliament and he and others will "implore them to waive off Iraq's debts to Kuwait."

James Glanz (New York Times) reports on the fraud and waste found in Iraq reconstruction contracts which has ed to "the country's electrical output and oil production" being "still below prewar levels" Griff Witte and Renae Merle (Washington Post) zero in on the monies that were supposed to go to security forces in Iraq: "The police training program has been repeatedly flagged by U.S. officials as particularly crucial to the war effort. . . . At the $73 million Baghdad Police College, meanwhile, inspectors uncovered numerous examples of shoddy construction, including one that pose potential health problems to Iraqi recruits. The problems, some of which were first reported publicly in September, had still not been fixed when inspectors returned to the site months later for follow-up inspections. Auditors said the contractor, California-based Parsons, knew about the plumbing problems as early as a year ago but failed to correct them."

Finally, author, journalist, columinist, humorist and valued voice for democracy Molly Ivins passed away yesterday (1944-2007). Ivins wrote for many publications over the years. Of national magazines, she is most identified with The Progressive (most identified with by anyone with a functioning brain). Matthew Rothschild remembers her twenty years of contributions with "
Molly Ivins, In Memoriam" "She was, far and away, the readers' favorite. Even my sister told me she read Molly first. She was the favorite not only because of her humor and her style. She was the favorite because she never lost hope in the promise of America." Along with remembering Ivins, Rothschild also provides a cutting from some of her columns over the years. Strange that the New York Times couldn't remember Ivins association with the magazine when one of the paper's columnists (Nicky K) distorted what Ivins said (apparently Nicky K only reads headlines -- how very Cokie Roberts of him). "Enough of the D.C. Dems" (The Progressive) was one of the 2006 most popular columns in the magazine and online -- resulting in a huge outpouring to the magazine because readers recognized the honesty in the writing (a hallmark of Ivins' work). Another magazine the mainstream media ignores in their write ups is Ms. magazine. Ivins work was featured there as well (especially in 1988). The Feminist Wire Daily notes Ivins' passing due to breast cancer and reminds: "In her last column, 'Stand Up Against the Surge,' Ivins urged Americans to be active in their opposition to the war in Iraq, writing, 'We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.'" Margie Burns remembers Ivins here ("best way to praise her is to quote her writing"). Thomas P. Healy (CounterPunch) remembers asking her about the efforts to silence voices against the war and Ivins responded: "People asked me during the Iraq war if I was afraid to speak out. I said no. During World War I parades of patriots used to go around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that they were German dogs. But you'll notice people like that never kick German Shepherds." Anthony Zurcher, who edited her newspaper columns, notes: "Even as Molly fought her last battle with cancer, she continued to make public appearances. When she was too weak to write, she dictated her final two columns. Although her body was failing, she still had so much to say. Last fall, before an audience at the Univiersity of Texas, her voice began as barely a whisper. But as she went on, she drew strength from the standing-room-only crowd until, at the end of the hour, she was forecefully imploring the students to get involved and make a difference." And on today's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez offered Molly Ivins in her own words via a 2004 interview Goodman conducted with Ivins. In response to Goodman's point that Republican pollster Frank Luntz had "advised Republicans to explain 'the policy of pre-emption and the war in Iraq' by recommending that 'no speech about....Iraq should begin without a reference to 9-11," Ivins noted:

Well that's it. You keep making that connection, and that's why something like 70% of the American people thought, when we went into Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was directly linked to 9/11. And the Bush people just made that connection over and over and over and over and over. And it's phony. I mean, it's just not there. The interesting thing to me about politics these days -- and that Luntz piece reminds me of it -- he was explaining how, for example, a Republican candidate would deal with working women. Now, you're going to be amazed, Amy. But by dint of a shrewd professional questioning in focus groups, Frank Luntz determined that what working mothers need most is more time in their lives. We were all so astonished to hear this. And so, what he suggests is the Republican candidates say to a group, you know, when he's campaigning, "Now, I'll bet I know what it is you ladies need most. I bet -- I think you need more free time." And the ladies will nod, and they'll raise their hands and agree, and you've bonded with them, and you've shown empathy toward their major problem in life.
Well, yeah, you've shown empathy toward their major problem in life, but look at the record. The record is, you cut programs to early childhood education, you cut Head Start, you cut after school, you cut K-12, you cut housing vouchers. You're going to change your overtime. They have done everything they can to make this poor woman's life more harried and frantic than ever. That's the record. But what we call politics now and what most political writers write about is the empathy and the bonding and the word choice and the horse rights, and it has nothing to do with what's really happening to people's lives.

Words some should especially pay close attention to.
Kat and Rebecca and Elaine have all written of Ivins recently.

Reminder: Trying to get the word out on her son
Ehren Watada, Carolyn Ho is rallying for one more speaking tour before the court-martial next Monday. Some of her dates this week include:

Thursday February 1

7:00-9:00 pm
Valparaiso University U.S. Hwy 30 & Sturdy Rd Room 234 Neils Science Center Valparaiso, Indiana Libby A Hearn Partners for Peace (student group) (309) 834-2199 Lorri Cornett Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War (219) 916-0449

Friday February 2
Noon Purdue University Wesley Foundation 435 West State St. West Lafayette, Indiana Sheila Rosenthal (765) 404-5489Lafayette Area Peace Coalition

amy goodman
democracy now

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Robert Parry, Mickey Z

While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging George W. Bush’s war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by attacking Iran.

That's from Robert Parry's "Iran Clock Is Ticking" and here's some more:

Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region -- and for a propaganda blitz to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.
One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.
Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war plan has expanded over the past several weeks. Earlier thinking had been that Israeli warplanes would hit Iranian nuclear targets with U.S. forces in reserve in case of Iranian retaliation, but now the strategy anticipates a major U.S. military follow-up to an Israeli attack, the source said.
Both sources used the same word "crazy" in describing the plan to expand the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said that attacking Iran could touch off a regional -- and possibly global -- conflagration.
"It will be like the TV show '24'," the American military source said, citing the likelihood of Islamic retaliation reaching directly into the United States.
Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the Iraq invasion.
In other words, Bush's statements that he has no plans to "invade" Iran and that he's still committed to settle differences with Iran over its nuclear program diplomatically should be taken with a grain of salt.

Rebecca and I were talking on the phone and she realized she hadn't highlighted Robert Parry in sometime. So we're both highlighting him tonight and Kat's going to look for something else to highlight from Consortium News. And, while I'm highlighting, read Betty's "The Wino Friedman" if you haven't already and Ma's "Tomato and Zucchini Casserole Bake" -- both went up Saturday.

One thing I am trying to highlight more is CounterPunch and this is from Mickey Z.'s "Nader Still in the Crosshairs:

I was at the gym, walking by a television tuned to one of the many insipid morning chat shows...but that's not what stopped me dead in my tracks. What got my attention was the guest: Ralph Nader. I watched the host begin the interview with yet another rehash/accusation/question about the 2000 election. You know the drill by now: Nader spoiled it for Gore, ruined his own legacy, blah, blah, blah. It's been repeated so often that most Americans accept it all as fact.
After having read New York magazine the night before, that first question was all I could stomach. You see, David Edelstein, the magazine's film critic, just reviewed An Unreasonable Man, a new documentary about Nader. The self-important Edelstein spoke of receiving an invitation to see the film and meet Nader afterwards. "I wrote (that) I couldn't make it," said Edelstein, "but to leave my seat vacant in the name of the Iraqi and American dead."
Left unsaid, of course, is his belief that Nader cost Al Gore the election and that Gore would never have invaded Iraq. While neither point can ever be fully proven true or false, I do have a question for Edelstein: If Al Gore cares so much about the Iraqi dead, why didn't he speak out against the murderous sanctions when he was vice president? A half-million dead Iraqi children and Gore did not say one fuckin' word in public to condemn it.
I'm also wondering if, during the Clinton-Gore years, Edelstein peppered his film reviews with similar self-righteous political statements. How about when Clinton bombed Iraq in response to an alleged plot to assassinate Bush the Elder and ended up killing Leila Attar, that country's best-known female artist?
What did the millionaire morning chat show hosts and the haughty New York magazine film critic say about that? Better question: Were they even aware it happened?

I'm really tired of that nonsense. No one 'costs' you an election but yourself. If Nader got votes, he got votes because he spoke to voters. Al Gore wasn't entitled to every vote that didn't go for the Bully Boy.

You want to win, try campaigning. Votes aren't sewn up and no Democrat better ever believe they are. Mine's not. I'm lucky because I have people like Ted Kennedy representing me. If I had someone like one of the weak Bens in the Senate, they wouldn't get my vote. And anyone who thinks I'll vote for whatever candidate the Dems put up in 2008 better think again too.

My vote's not going to be taken for granted. Politicians may but I won't take it for granted.

Yeah, I wish Al Gore had been put into the White House but how many excuses are we going to cut him? Ralph Nader stole his votes! He won the popular vote! The recounts didn't happen and there was voter fraud and discrimination. He didn't stand up and fight that. If you're angry that he's not in the White House be angry that he didn't fight. Be angry that he made that idiot Joe Lieberman his candidate. Be angry that every time Gore talked populism, Lieberman was undercutting him.

Of course Bully Boy stole the election. And he knew he could get away with it because Gore couldn't even keep his second (LIEberman) in line.

Al Gore won the election and lost the White House. That's got nothing to do with Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader won votes and that does have to do with Nader -- he spoke strongly enough that people wanted to vote for him. No one prevented Gore from doing the same except Gore.

I wish Gore had made it to the White House but the problems with that campaign go to his not speaking out strongly, press attacks on him (that he tried to play good guy on), picking a sorry person for the second spot on the ticket, failing to keep Lieberman in line (Gore was top of the ticket, Lieberman should have been following his lead, not undermining Gore), and then still wanting to be good guy when, after the election, the presidency is being stolen from.

That's why I'm not one of those "Al Gore should run!" types. If he thinks he should run, he should. That's what a democracy is about. But I wouldn't draft him to run. He lost and he lost because he wouldn't fight. He seems to grasp that but I would need to see strong evidence that he was a fighter now before I'd vote for him. (I didn't vote in 2000. Before someone screams, "You are the problem!" -- I wasn't old enough to vote.)

People need to quit hiding behind Ralph Nader. It's not fair to him and, as long as they hide behind him as the excuse, we risk another campaign with a candidate who won't fight. I don't think John Kerry fought. I think he gave away Ohio and refused to call out voter fraud. I'm glad he dropped out. If you're not going to fight, don't get in a race. If your concern is being the good guy and that means you let attacks go unanswered, no one needs you.

In fairness to Al Gore and John Kerry, they were surrounded by losers. Kerry actually had a good staff before he had the nomination sealed up. Then all the usual losers came in and advised him on how to lose.

Until we can own the mistakes made, we're not going to learn a thing from it. We'll learn to point the finger at someone else when our candidate tanks and that's just lying to ourselves and encouraging other weak candidates to run.

Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, January 31, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the White House tries to spin two plates at once (lowering expectations and pushing spin), impeachment discussions refuse to be dismissed by the 'all knowing', and the court-martial of Ehren Watada is five days away.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq to serve in the illegal and immoral war. He faces a court-martial this coming Monday (February 5th) and, if convicted on all charges, could serve a maximum of four years in prison. Some are weighing in.

US Rep
Mike Honda (in the San Francisco Chronicle) notes that Watada's awakening to the lies of war is reflected in the similar awakenings a large number of citizens have had as time (more so than the press) has exposed Bully Boy's lies of war:

In facing charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, it is my belief that
Ehren Watada has laid bare a fact that is becoming increasingly plain: Mr. Bush has handled this war in a manner unbecoming a United States president. At best, our president misled the nation on the rationale for going into Iraq. He has embroiled this great country in a cycle of brutality there that has grievously tarnished America's international reputation, has further destabilized an already precarious Middle East and has taken the lives of more than 3,000 American fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Watada has risked being deemed guilty of breaking one law in furtherance of a higher, moral one, rather than participate in a fight that, in his and my view, needlessly sends our compatriots to their deaths. In Watada's own words: "To stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers and service members can choose to stop fighting it" (, click on YouTube video).

Noting the reduction of two counts which has allowed the maximum time Watada could spend, if convicted, in prison,
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer observes:

We would prefer further reductions and no prison time for a conscientious refusal to serve in what Watada believes, right or wrong, is an illegal war in Iraq.
Military leaders have shown commendable flexibility in dealing with a variety of conscience- and belief-motivated requests to be excused from service. For instance, the Marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, last week granted conscientious-objector status to Pvt. Ronnie Tallman to allow the 21-year-old to pursue a newfound calling as a Navajo medicine man. Under Navajo spiritual law, Tallman could not serve in a special group of certified spiritual healers if he participated in any killing.
Actions like Conway's have given the military greater rather than lesser stature in the difficult circumstances of the Iraq war. Similar flexibility on policy at a higher level might save many Americans from the dangers of Iraq combat. Unless Congress insists, however, the Bush administration will stay the course.

Reporting on the rally in San Francisco,
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet) notes Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, spoke: "He went in believing he was really trying to do his duty to his country in trying to preserve our freedoms. He said to me at one point, 9/11 happened and I will never be the same again . . . But then my son, after doing the research and finding the facts realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that we entered a preemptive war on a lie. That has to stop." Carolyn Ho is on a speaking tour and the dates will be at the bottom of the snapshot.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq today . . .


Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports "a car bomb exploded in a downtown street where a crowd was waiting to catch a minibus" resulting in at least five deaths; Zavis quotes Naim Zamel who witnessed the bombing and ended up hospitalized due to injuries: "The sound and the pressure were hard. Shrapnel was flying all over the place. I saw three cars on fire, people injured and shops destroyed." Bushra Juhi (AP) notes another Baghdad bombing in "a predominatly Shiite area in eastern Baghdad earlier Wednesday, killing two people and wounding 10" and quoting Abu Talal on the alleged car bomber: "A seeminly normal person parked this car and told us that he would not be long. When that person disappeared for more than 20 minutes, we tried to call the police but the car exploded as we were trying to do so." Reuters notes a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed four and left 20 wounded; a car bomb in Tal Afar that wounded 10; a roadisde bomb in Kirkuk that killed one and wounded two, and a roadside bomb in Baiji that resulted in six police officers being wounded.


Reuters reports that a teenager was shot dead in Falluja.


AFP reports that the corpses of "three law professors and a student kidnapper Sunday from near the university in Baghdad, a government statement said." AP reports that six corpses were discovered in Falluja. Reuters reports that a corpse was discovered in Mosul and two were discovered in Baiji.

In addition,
Claudia Parsons (Reuters) reports that the US military announced an additional four deaths of US troops while Wlliam Fallon ("tapped to take over command of U.S. forces in the Middle East") stated progress on the illegal war will "be a long time coming." Lowered expectations -- hallmark of the Bully Boy White House.

From lowered expectations to Operation Happy Talk,
James Glanz and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) did their part to be out US government spin that was also quite racist: Iraqis weren't 'smart' enough to have planned the Saturday attack in Karbala that led to 1 US soldier being killed on the spot while 4 others were killed after they'd been kidnapped. The weapons, Glanz and Mazzetti write as the US military whispers in their ears, just weren't available in Iraq! (Apparently Times reporters have never visited the blackmarket? Possibly they can't get a military escort to it?) "The uniforms!!!" cry the boys of the pre-Times. They tick off this and that when the reality is that you truly have to believe that Iraqis are stupid to believe they couldn't accomplish what was done and you have to work for the Times to believe you can sell a war of choice (this time Iran) with whispers and unsourced statements. But damned if the pre-Boys of the pre-Times don't get so excited they keep checking one another to see who's sprouting pubes first? Keep looking boys.

Along with promoting a war with Iran, the US spin allows the puppet government to hide. Puppet in chief Nouri al-Maliki,
CNN reports, is screaming in agreement that, yes, the violence is Iran's fault. As opposed to the inability of a puppet to do anything other than move when his strings are pulled? CNN tells you that the "theory is only a preliminary view, and there is no conclusion." The New York Times prefers the much weaker "may" -- Iran "May" have done this and left the other half of the sentence ("may not") for readers to fill in.

Now if puppet Nouri believed it for a moment, it's doubtful Iran would still be invited to the regional peace conference in March -- but they are
as the AFP notes.

In other news of things-aren't-quite-what-the-US-government-says,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports that "suspicions in Iraq" are emerging that the Najaf 'cult' story "in wich 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre."

CBS and AP are reporting that the toothless, symbolic, time consuming, non-binding measure proposed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin and Chuck Hagel will most likely be overtaken by an even weaker version of do nothing, this one proposed by Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News notes that, on the other hand, "You don't usually hear cheers like that in Senate hearing rooms" -- Attkisson was speaking of the reaction yesterday to US Senator Russ Feingold's hearing into Congressional powers with regards to war where Feingold declared, "Congress has the power to stop a war if it wants to."

Yesterday, Feingold used his power as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing entitled "
Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War" where he concluded his opening remarks with this:

The answer should be clear. Since the President is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its power to stop him. If Congress doesn't stop this war, it's not because it doesn't have the power. It's because it doesn't have the will.

At the end of yesterday's hearing, Feingold noted, "It is clear that this administration took the country into war on a fraudulent basis with the president insisting we had no other option
but to pre-emptively attack Iraq. Now four years into the war we are still in Iraq, and the president insists that we have no other options but to stay -- with no end in sight and we have to say. As long as this president goes unchecked by Congress our troops will remain needlessly at risk and our national security will be compromised. Today we have heard convinciny testimony and analysis that Congress has the power to stop a war if it wants to.
[Applause, chants of "DO IT!" DO IT!] The president has no plan for ending our mission in Iraq, worse still, his Iraq centered policies have undercut our national security worldwide."
Feingold's plan for addressing the Iraq war is summarized in
this fact sheet.

In other political news,
CODEPINK continues to demand Congress represent the people. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported that the DC office of US Senator Hillary Clinton was occupied, that activists carried banner ("We want a woman for peace, not just a woman.") and six were arrested. Yesterday's actions were part of a series of actions by CODEPINK following Saturday's protest and march in DC. In a press release issued before Tuesday's actions, Jodie Evans explained, "We met with Hillary Clinton right before the war, begging her to oppose the invasion but she refused. She gave Bush the green light to invade Iraq and now pretends she was against the war. Worse yet, she still refuses to take a clear position to defund the war and bring the troops home." Medea Benjamin explained, "We're tired of the lies, the obfuscations, the spin. If Hillary wants to become president, she better start being a leader. If she's in to win, she better stop the spin." And Gale Murphy observed, "This country is hungry for leaders who will get us out of Iraq. We'll be giving Hillary a chance to cut her web of war and join the majority of people in this country who want to bring the troops home."

Gold Star Families for Peace's Carlos Arredondo is in Times Square. Reuters reports that he's gone to NYC with "a pick-up truck carrying an empty flag-draped coffin and a picture of his son's open casket and funeral." Carlos Arredondo's son Alex died in Iraq on August 25, 2004. Last Saturday, he was among the speakers in DC. Arrendondo recognized the other families who had lost loved ones and noted, "This is the cost of war!"

Do costs ever get paid?
Sanford Levinson -- sometime law professor & full time psychic -- said "No" and argued in The Nation that impeachment shouldn't happen because of some gut feeling he had (I believe that was gas). In the real world, Robert Scheer (Truthdig) notes the various developments emerging in the trial of Scooter Libby and notes that Cathie Martin's testmony revealed her own and the vice-president's office role in lying to the people and to Congress when they crafted a statement/cover for George Tenet -- Scheer: "Certainly this deliberate corruption of the integrity of the CIA, the nation's premier source of national security information, rises to the level of 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' which the Constitution holds out as the standard for impeachment. And can there be any more egregious example of betraying the oath of office of president to uphold the Constitution than his deceiving Congress from the very well of the House on the reasons for going to war? The Constitution clearly delegates to Congress, and not to the president, the exclusive power to declare war, and deceiving our representatives in making the case for war is a far more important crime than the perjury charge against Libby."

On the same topic, historian
Howard Zinn, in the (The Progressive), observes:

The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about "realism" (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being "the art of the possible" (while setting limits on what is possible).
I know I'm not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable). There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it's been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual "indictment" has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor,
Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.
There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of "people's impeachment hearings" all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.

Attempting to get the word out on her son
Ehren Watada, Carolyn Ho is rallying for one more speaking tour before the court-martial next Monday. Some of her dates this week include:

Wednesday January 31 3:00 to 5:00pm
The Center for Race, Politics & Religion University of Chicago Chicago, IL

St. Xavier University 3700 West 103rd St. (103rd & Pulaski) McGuire Hall Professor Peter N. Kirstein (773) 298-3283

Thursday February 1 10:00 to 12:00am
Emerson High School 716 East 7th Avenue Gary, Indiana Carolyn McCrady (219) 938-1302 Jim Spicer (219) 938-9615

12:30 to 2:30pm
Purdue Calumet University 2200 169th St. Hammond, Indiana Professor Kathy Tobin (219) 989-3192 Classroom Office Building CLO 110

7:00-9:00 pm
Valparaiso University U.S. Hwy 30 & Sturdy Rd Room 234 Neils Science Center Valparaiso, Indiana Libby A Hearn Partners for Peace (student group) (309) 834-2199 Lorri Cornett Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War (219) 916-0449

Friday February 2
Noon Purdue University Wesley Foundation 435 West State St. West Lafayette, Indiana Sheila Rosenthal (765) 404-5489Lafayette Area Peace Coalition

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