Saturday, November 10, 2007

Settles rules for Watada and the Constitution


That's Isaiah's "Go Flush Yourself" after Ehren Watada had the kangaroo-court-martial that Judge Toilet presided over in February. He is the story of the weekend because US District Judge Benjamin Settle has said a second court-martial cannot go forward until the double-jeopardy issue is addressed and that he thinks it is likely when that is addressed it will be in Watada's favor. The US military if filing more papers. It's not over, but it's a victory for Watada.
And it is a victory for the Constitution. It says that the military's claims that double-jeopardy do not apply because they say so are not claims that the military can make. It says it takes more than "I say so" to override and dimiss the Constitution.

This is a big thing.

"Roundtable," "Roundtable," "Roundtable in the Kitchen," roundtable," "The Keeping It Real Roundtable," "Roundtable," "Community roundtable" and "Roundtable" is C.I., Rebecca, Betty, Ava, Kat, Ruth and Trina discussing a number of topics including Watada and my reaction was a lot like what Betty describes. When I heard the ruling, I did stop breathing for a second and because, like Betty says, there have not been a lot of rulings that really are anything for the country to be proud of. Judge Settle's decision is one to be proud of. I support Watada but it shouldn't matter whether you do or not because Settle's decision is about affirming the Constitution as the highest law of the land. That's something we should all be willing to celebrate and get behind.

This is my second post today. I did "Norman Mailer" about the sad news regarding Mailer dying. Then I took a long, long walk and ended up buying a ton of candy, honestly. I got some Christmas candy (chocolate covered marshmallow Santa) and some lemon sours. I'm on a candy rush now and a candy high.

This is from Tom Hayden's "An Appeal to Barack Obama:"

What I cannot understand is your apparent attempt to sever, or at least distance yourself, from the Sixties generation, though we remain your single greatest supporting constituency. I can understand, I suppose, your need to define yourself as a American rather than a black American, as if some people need to be reassured over and over. I don’t know if those people will vote for you.
You were ten years old when the Sixties ended, so it is the formative story of your childhood. The polarizations that you want to transcend today began with life-and-death issues that were imposed on us. No one chose to be "extreme" or "militant" as a lifestyle preference. It was an extreme situation that produced us. On one side were armed segregationists, on the other peaceful black youth. On one side were the destroyers of Vietnam, on the other were those who refused to submit to orders. On the one side were those keeping women in inferior roles, on the other were those demanding an equal rights amendment. On one side were those injecting chemical poisons into our rivers, soils, air and blood streams, on the other were the defenders of the natural world. On one side were the perpetrators of big money politics, on the other were keepers of the plain democratic tradition. Does anyone believe those conflicts are behind us?
I can understand, in my old age, someone wanting to dissociate from the extremes to which some of us were driven by the times. That seems to be the ticket to legitimacy in the theater of the media and cultural gatekeepers. I went through a similar process in 1982 when I ran for the legislature, reassuring voters that I wasn't "the angry young man that I used to be." I won the election, and then the Republicans objected to my being seated anyway! Holding the idea that the opposites of the Sixties were equally extreme or morally equivalent is to risk denying where you came from and what made your opportunities possible. You surely understand that you are one of the finest descendants of the whole Sixties generation, not some hybrid formed by the clashing opposites of that time. We want to be proud of the role we may have played in all you have become, and not be considered baggage to be discarded on your ascent. You recognize this primal truth when you stand on the bridge in Selma, Alabama, basking in the glory of those who were there when you were three years old. But you can’t have it both ways, revering the Selma march while trying to "turn the page" on the past.
This brings me back to why you want to stand in the presumed center against the "Tom Hayden Democrats." Are you are equally distant from the "George McGovern Democrats.", and the "Jesse Jackson Democrats"? How about the "Martin Luther King Democrats", the "Cesar Chavez Democrats", the "Gloria Steinem Democrats"? Where does it end?

I like Tom Hayden a lot but pleas to Obama, whether from Hayden or Laura Flanders, strike me as a waste of time. He was never what the press spit-polished him into. I thought he was a phoney before he declared he was running for president. And Elaine and C.I. hadn't told me about the fundraiser they went to for his 2004 Senate run (where he insisted that the US could not withdraw from Iraq). I thought he was a phony just based on the fact that he campaigned as anti-war and then when he was in the Senate, Chicago Indymedia had something about this, in January or February of 2005, he's at a townhall and basically scolding and ignoring citizens calling for an end to the illegal war.

I think he's a hypcroite and think Wally and Cedric, better than anyone, have documented that in their humor posts. Check out their posts today "THIS JUST IN! SENATOR BAM-BAM LOSING IT!" and "Bam-Bam keeps losing it" and also check out Glen Ford's "Obama and Clinton: The Siamese Twins" which really hits hard.

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

Friday, November 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, 5 more officials are targeted (and killed) in Iraq, the Democratically-controlled US House of Representatives attempts another con related to the illegal war, Iraq War resister Ehren Watada and the Constitution win a victory, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today, "There has been a development in the case of Ehren Watada -- the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. A federal judge has ruled the Army cannot hold a second court-martial for the Iraq war resister until the court resolves Watada's claim that it would violate his right against double jeopardy. Watada's first court martial ended in a mistrial." Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicy refuse to deploy to Iraq. When he was informed he would be deploying to Iraq, he did as his superiors had advised him, learn as much as he could so he could better serve those under his command. As he began researching, he realized that the Iraq War was illegal. In January 2006, he phoned his mother, Carolyn Ho, to advise her that he was going to be doing something very difficult, refusing to deploy. Shortly after that, he informed the US military which made the pretense of wanting to work out some sort of alternative. As his unit's deployment grew closer and nothing was being accomplished, Watada went public via an interview in June 2006. The initial interview was followed by others. He would tell his story on Democracy Now!, on MTV, on CNN, at Truthout, in LeftTurn, New American Media, Nichi Bei Times, and many other outlets. His mother Carolyn Ho, his father Bob Watada, his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi would appear in multiple outlets including, again, Democracy Now!, Laura Flanders' radio program, Law and Disorder, KPFK's Sojourner Truth and Uprising, KPFA's The Morning Show and Aaron Glantz's reporting on all aspects would spread the issue over all of KPFA's programming, etc. Rolling Stone magazine would put Watada on their "Honor Roll" for the 2006 year-end issue. Watada, as the first officer to resist, would garner more attention than any other Iraq War resister thus far and, in doing so, underscore several realities. Of chief interest to war resisters and those who support war resisters, the silence from The Nation magazine. Readers of the print magazine would make it through the end of the 2006 issues of the weekly 'political' and 'left' magazine without ever seeing the words "Ehren Watada" though there was plenty of time to provide glossy fluff on bad candidates (the DLC's Harold Ford being only one example) and to do 'theme' issues (such as their food issue). There just wasn't time to cover war resisters. Watada would finally make it into print in the January 8th issue (actually a double-issue but we're not going into that nonsense) where he would be called a "coward." The magazine that sat out Watada (and Abeer) throughout 2006 finally prints his name and it's in a statement calling him a coward. (No e-mails on the 'online exclusives,' they were covered long ago.) The article's a cover story (done by The Pooper) and it also contains a tiny sidebar that kind-of, sort-of tells Watada's story . . . after The Nation has already introduced him to print readers as a "coward." It was a telling event that would finally call to everyone's attention the magazine silence on war resisters under the 'leadership' of The Peace Resister. In their laughable article over the summer of 2007, they would manage to insult everyone participating (left, center and right) but the telling moment (after the fact that they wanted praise for an article which bragged of "dozens" of photos of abuse to Iraqis but printed NONE -- the photos did and do exist) would be in the way they reduced war resisters -- Camilo Mejia was a "deserter" (that call is in question since the military legally could not extend -- as they did -- Mejia's enlistment through stop-loss since Mejia was not a US citizen) but he wasn't billed as a "war resister." The coverage and non-coverage of Watada was a water-shed moment in many ways which did include instructing news consumers on who stood with and who stood far, far away. It's also worth noting that many other resisters went public in the wake of Watada: Darrell Anderson, Agustin Augyo, Kyle Snyder, Mark Wilcox, Ricky Clousing and . . . stop there. Stop there and don't continue because that's how All Things Media Big and Small, with every few exceptions, have treated 2007's crop of war resisters. Despite the fact that 2007 is set to be a record year -- according to the military's own official numbers -- for war resistance, emerging war resisters fell off the media map. James Burmeister was the strongest example. Either you followed Canadian media or you caught NOW with David Brancaccio or you didn't have a clue. Too bad for everyone because the last week of September "kill teams" (US service members setting out equpiment as traps to shoot Iraqis) would become a huge story but Burmeister was telling the story when he went public in June of 2007. Eli Israel would remain "Eli Who?" to All Things Media Big and Small despite the fact that he became the first war resister resisting publicly while stationed in Iraq. The Kamunen brothers? In These Times could find them when no one else in independent media could or would. The mainstream media showed some interest because three brothers -- Leo, Leif and Luke -- all electing to self-checkout over the same Christmas 2006 holiday was news . . . to some.

Watada is big Iraq news today and yet, at The Nation, the main page features nothing. No articles (even 'online exclusives'), nothing (except a screen cap that underscores why some people shouldn't part their hair in the middle). Forget the magazine's campaign blog, look at The Notion where conventional 'wisdoms' are dispensed in the best Kooky Cokie Roberts fashion. Today's posts? Karl Rove and a right-wing event, a week long event . . . that started October 21st. Three weeks old and served up as 'fresh' 'news' today on the rag's 'real time' blog: "Rapid reaction to breaking news and unfiltered takes on politics, ethics and culture from Nation editors and contributors." Rapid reaction to breaking news? Not a word on Watada but a three week old right wing action is worth posting on today? That Karl Rove doesn't care for left blogs is 'news,' but Watada isn't? Never forget that since assuming control,
Our Lady of Peace Resistance has ensured that The Nation ignores Iraq, employs her friend and exists as a promotion tool for herself (hence all those bad e-mails sent out whenever she's booked anywhere and hence the 'notion' that a screen cap of her, with bad middle part, has more 'credibility' than one of Jeremy Scahill being interviewed by Bill Moyers for his PBS show -- give her time, she'll turn it into the 'political' equivalent of Martha Stewart's Living yet.). Why does the war drag on? Look no further than the non-leadership at The Nation.

Those waking up this morning might have been caught by surprise with the news but as the day wore on, the only excuse for refusal to cover it was not caring. (We did
note it early this morning.) Aaron Glantz wasn't wasting his time covering three week old news or GOP poster boy endowed by the left with super-human powers. Reporting at IPS, Glantz notes Watada supporters are calling today's news "a huge victory." What's that? It's what should be one of the biggest stories of the day: US District Judge Benjamin Settle has provided a road block to the military's attempt to court-martial Watada for a second time. The issue that concerned Judge Settle was the same one Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, immediately noted when the first court-martial was ruled a mistrial over defense objection: double-jeopardy.

Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, "Settle ruled that the civilian court's review of Watada's double-jeopardy claim is appropriate, rejecting claims by the Army that the court can only step in after the conclusion of the second court-martial and likely appeals within the military court system. He also found that the granting of a preliminary injunction is necessary in part because Watada will 'probably prevail on the merits' of his case, his ruling said. Settle reached that conclusion largely because of what he said was the abuse of discretion by Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge who presided in Watada's first court-martial, in rejecting a so-called stipulation of fact agreed upon by the government and defense that led to the mistrial, the ruling shows." John Head, better known as Judge Toilet, nuff said. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) quotes Judge Settle's ruling: "The same Fifth Amendment protections are in place for military service members as are afforded to civilians. There is a strong public interest in maintaining these rights inviolate." Bernton also notes Kenneth Kagan's caution that the case is still not over. Kagan and Jim Lobsenz are Watada's civilian attorneys. Glantz observes that the military is already stating they will file additional briefs to argue for a second court-martial and that, "Judge Settle's ruling does not provide a complete victory for Watada, however. The injunction only temporarily blocks Army prosecutors from proceeding." It is the news of the day and it is a deserved victory for Watada. If, as Judge Settle feels, the Constitutional provision on double-jeopardy prevail throughout the process, this is a major victory not just for war resistance but for the Constitution -- especially a heartfelt moment at a time when the current administration has launched one attack on the Constitution after another -- usually without little more than a peep from Democrats in Congress. Double-jeopardy, in the simplest of terms, means that the government does not get a 'do-over.' They have to argue their case and if turns out they did so badly or if it turns out that they have wasted the government's time (and tax payer monies), that's the end of it. They do not get to audition in front of a judge and/or jury to find out which parts of their argument resonate and which parts do not. The provision against double-jeopardy exists to protect citizens from witch hunts by governmental prosecutors. It is a right embedded in the nation from it's founding. In terms of Watada, the prosecution was losing the court-martial -- possibly they should have vetted their list of witnesses better -- and Judge Toilet thought he could call a mistrial to allow them a second attempt at court-martialing Watada. They don't get to reset the clock and start over. That's not how it is supposed to work in the United States. Judge Settle's ruling is a victory for Watada and it is also a victory for the Constitution. It is one of the big stories of the day.Hawaii's KMGB (video and text report) quotes Watada's father, Bob Watada, "For Ehren, hopefully the army will do the right thing and discharge him immediately. That would allow him to get his life going. Because it's been on hold now for over a year." Get on with his life? Aaron Glantz notes that Watada has reported for duty for the last nine months as the appeals process has continued. Equally worth noting is the fact that Watada's service contract expired in December and the military has extended it while the court proceedings continue.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, 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.

Turning to Iraq,
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) pierces through the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk to report on reality, "Despite claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Bush administration officials that violence in Iraq is decreasing, residents in the captial tell a different story." Fadhily notes the increased air war, the increased arrests of Iraqis, and an increase in attacks in al-Anbar Province and Baghdad while quoting teacher Salman Hameed explaining, "Sectarian killings are less because all the Sunnis have been evicted from mixed areas in Baghdad. All my relatives and Sunni neighbours who survived the killing campaign led by the militias under the eyes of American and Iraqi forces have fled to either Syria or to other Sunni cities." Muhammad Younis explains to al-Fadhily that the violence continues "but media coverage has almost disappeared." That is the reality. In a really bad puff piece in this morning's New York Times, even Cara Buckley notes that the US military held 16,000 Iraqi prisoners in February of this year and now holds 25,800. While Buckley works overtime to attribute powers to puppet of the occupation al-Maliki (he had no say in the decision by the US military to release 500 prisoners today) but the reality is that the releases happen because there's a lack of space. Innocence or guilt? The US criminal justice system and the US imposed Iraqi criminal justice system is built around the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Iraqi prisoners rarely get trials. They're imprisoned willy nilly, held for months at a time and then released never having received justice but they are supposed to be grateful that the same extra-judicial process that kept them imprisoned went on to release them when they needed to add a new influx of prisoners.

It's among the many reasons Iraqis want all foreign forces -- including the US -- out of their country. But
Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland (writing at CounterPunch) report that efforts are underweigh to strip Iraqis say in the matter, "The United Nations Security Council, with support from the British and American delegations, is poised to cut the Iraqi parliament out of one of the most significant decisions the young government will make: when foreign troops will depart. It's an ugly and unconstitutional move, designed solely to avoid asking an Iraqi legislature for a blank check for an endless military occupation that it's in no mood to give, and it will make a mockery of Iraq's nascent democracy (which needs all the legitmacy it can get." The Iraqi parliament is the only central government that can be considered to have been, in any form, elected by the people. The parliament has repeatedly favored the expulsion of foreign forces -- a position favored by the majority of Iraqis. However, past renewals of the United Nations mandate have taken place without their input. Most recently, al-Maliki (who was not elected by the Iraqi people to the post of prime minister) ignored the country's constitution and decided by himself (with pressure from the US) that the mandate would be extended. When that took place, the Iraqi parliament vowed that was the last time they would be double-crossed or caught unaware. Jarrar and Holland note, "The Iraqi executive branch -- the cabinet and the presidency -- are completely controlled by separatists (including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and sexuclar politicans.) But the parliament is controlled by nationalist -- nationalists from every major ethnic and sectarian group in the country -- who enjoy a small but crucially important majority in the only elected body in the Iraqi government." The reporters inform that after al-Maliki extra-constitutionally renewed the mandate (that power rests with the Iraqi parliament), they "passed a binding reolution that would force Maliki to go to the parliament and give Iraqi lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the mandate." The Iraqi parliament notified the United Nations of that June 2007 binding law. However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the law a "non-binding resolution" in an October 15th report that's only now surfaced. The law wasn't needed, the Iraqi constitution gives the parliament and not the prime minister the power to renew or cancel the mandate. But the law was passed in addition to the Constitution and now the UN Secretary General wants to waive it off as some symbolic action when it is now the law of Iraq.

Iraq's president, Jalal al-Tabani, insists that the key legislation will be passed before the end of the year while the reality, as Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) reported, that al-Maliki has given up on wooing the Sunni bloc that walked out in August. His cabinet is missing five ministers (had he met their demands, that wouldn't be the case). This is the same al-Maliki that missed the deadline, after being installed as prime minister, to appoint a full cabinet. Meanwhile the World Health Organization found -- date covers through last week -- disturbing news, "The most important development this week is the steep increase in the number of cholera cases reported from Baghdad compared to last week. The number of laboratory confirmed cases jumped from 11 to 24 cholera cases representing an increase of 227% in the cumulative cases." How did the MSM miss that?

"If you know some history that is outside the establishing view of history, you will not be fooled by the things you hear from the White House, or from members of Congress, or from leaders of political parties."
Vivian Ho (The Daily Free Press via Common Dreams) quotes historian Howard Zinn explaining that in a speech to Boston area students and activists.
From November 10 through December 16th, Rebel Voices will be perfomred at
Culture Project -- based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. Along with war resister Camilo Mejia, the voices of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (opening night). Tickets are on sale now. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the timing of the play with Zinn today:

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the importance of these voices of resistance at a time when -- of resurrecting them at a time when so much accommodation is occurring to what the United States is involved in around the world, even among many right here in our own country?

HOWARD ZINN: The word "accommodation" brings to mind the Democratic Party, which was voted into power in Congress in 2006 and which has shown us a pitiful example of what an opposition party should be, accommodating itself basically to the Bush and Republican agenda, accommodating itself to the sort of orthodox political notion that you must be timid and quiet and not speak the truth. And the advantage of bringing back these historical figures is that these people give us an example. They spoke the truth no matter what. They took chances, they took risks. And so, we need to listen to them and to be inspired by them and to have us realize that wherever we are, whatever walk of life we are, our job is to speak loudly, to speak boldly, to tell the truth, and with the idea that the truth has a power which is very special, and if people keep uttering the truth, the idea will spread and a power will be created that even those who hold the reins in Washington, whether the Democrats or Republicans, will have to listen.

AMY GOODMAN: Howard Zinn, we began today's show with Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, who has been trying to force the issue of impeachment, wanting to start with the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. The Democratic leadership is fighting hard to stop it from coming to the House. Your thoughts on that issue as an historian and an American?

HOWARD ZINN: I believe that impeachment is an issue that should be raised all over the country. If Congress and the Democrats are too timid to raise it, then it should be done in grassroots meetings all over the country. I understand at least thirty or forty town meetings in Vermont have called for impeachment, that local groups in various parts of the country have called for it. It's the kind of situation that we faced on the eve of the revolution against England, where the colonial officials were not going to lead a fight against England, and so people gathered in various towns in the colonies, and they formed committees of correspondence, and they brought up the issue of independence. We need to bring up the issue of impeachment, because when you bring up the issue of impeachment, whether it succeeds or not -- I mean, the idea of counting votes to see whether you're going to win an impeachment misses the point. To bring up impeachment would excite the country, because it would force a discussion on all the most fundamental issues on the war, on civil liberties, on the stealing of the people's money to pay for the war and to enrich the rich. Impeachment would excite the country. And if the people in the leadership of the Democratic Party don't realize it, then the rest of us should try to make them realize it. I applaud Dennis Kucinich for bringing it up. I hope that John Conyers, who is head of the Judiciary Committee and who at one time showed signs of being a true progressive and a leader of and person of courage, I wish that John Conyers would stop playing with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic policy of conciliation and caution. And John Conyers, as head of the Judiciary Committee, could hold hearings and start the ball rolling on impeachment. I think everybody who is listening to this broadcast, everybody should write, talk, email their congressman, email John Conyers, and demand that they begin the impeachment process against Cheney, against Bush. I think it would galvanize the energy of the country in a good direction.

We'll return to the topic of impeachment shortly. But let's zoom in on the latest con-game coming out of Congress and then go into violence because the shell game will allow more bloodshed to continue. US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is once again pushing another symoblic, non-binding kind-of end the illegal war proposal. As with the earlier bits of nonsense, it doesn't call for any troops to come home because the (non-binding) measure allows for classification of troops. Who exactly will be classifying them? Pelosi? No, the Bully Boy. So when they propose X combat troops out of Iraq or even all combat troops out of Iraq but leave troops behind for "counter-terrorism" (counter-insurgency, let's get real) and "police" they allow Bully Boy to follow anything they might pass (if he's in the mood to follow anything -- binding or not) simply by reclassifying the categories for the troops. For example, should he declare that all US service members in Iraq are "counter-terrorism" troops, no one could really act surprised by that because he's been allowed to lie about 'terrorism' in Iraq for years now. What these symoblic actions actually do is allow the Democratically-controlled Congress to continue to fund the illegal war while pretending that is not the case and acting as though they are really working to end the illegal war. The House of Representatives wants to give Bully Boy $50 billion more for the illegal war while he wants $70 billion. Pelosi pretends that she's accomplishing something with her non-binding measure that follows the House approval of a $471 billion defense budget. On Thursday's
Free Speech Radio News, Leigh Ann Caldwell reported that the $471 billion defense budget does allow Bully Boy some wiggle room on taking a little here and there to apply it to the illegal war --"but a provision was included in the bill to allow the president to borrow money" if his blood lust is not satisfied. So Pelosi's once again backing a 'symoblic' and toothless measure and trying to convince the public that she's doing something when the reality is the House has already given Bully Boy the means to continue the illegal war and the $50 billion -- which will be approved, Congress has no backbone -- is just going to be the cherry on top.

The con games are disgraceful and they have allowed the illegal war to continue and so many to die and be wounded. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Kirkuk car bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi police officer and wounded another as well as two civilians, a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded one civilian, another Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed the life of Captain Hassan Khalaf and left three other Iraqi soldiers wounded while yesterday a Khaniqeen bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers with three more wounded and another three were wounded in an Al Saidyah roadside bombing. In the continued targeting of officials in Iraq, Reuters notes that, today, 5 "Sunni Arab tribal leaders" were killed in Dojemah bombing (in which the bomber also died), while a Bagdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 people with two more injured, a Balad Ruz mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (five people were injured), and a bombing outside Baquba claimed the life of 1 child and left six other members of the family, including five children, injured. On the targeting of officials, Reuters notes the five "were members of the Diyala Salvation Council, a body set up to oppose al Qaeda in Iraq" and that Sheikh Faeiz Lefta al-Obaidi was among the five killed.


Reuters notes 3 people were shot dead (and two wounded) outside Bauba and that "four gunmen" were then killed by residents.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a "citizen in Toz Khirmato" was kidnapped yesterday.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Reuters ups the count by 1 to make four corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Returning to the topic of the US Congress,
Dennis Kucinich moved this week towards the impeachment of Dick Cheney. "Impeachment," Nancy Pelosi pompously declared in an October 2006 interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, was "off the table." Steny Hoyer repeated that nonsense this week. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "An American Research Group poll in July found 54% of Americans support beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney. 74% of Democrats were also in favor." From today's DN! broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what you did this week.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The articles of impeachment that were introduced under a privileged resolution cite the Vice President's persistent lies relating to Iraq. He claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that necessitated the US response. He claimed that Iraq somehow was connected to al-Qaeda's role in 9/11. He has been beating the drums for war against Iran. Those are the elements of the articles of impeachment that were introduced into the House this week.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And why introduce your resolution in regards to Vice President Cheney and not to President Bush?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, certainly President Bush also has to be held accountable. However, I think that any constitutional process that begins for the removal of an official, when you have the Vice President, who led the effort to deceive this country with respect to a war against Iraq, it's appropriate that he be dealt with first, so that you don't create a condition where you remove the President first and then Mr. Cheney becomes his successor, and then you have to have an impeachment of two presidents consecutively.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the leadership's position and why you chose to do what you did this week.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I think it's very difficult to explain their position, because I don't think their position is defensible. I think when you consider that our whole nation is at risk, our constitutional form of government has been undermined by lies, by illegal war, by massive debt, how can you explain the position of Democratic leaders?

Blackwater was also addressed today on Democracy Now! with the Washington Post's Steve Fainru and we'll grab that on Monday. This is a dictated entry and there is a K-limit in terms of size -- too many K, over 54K, and it will not hit the website when e-mailed. Quickly, as Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) notes, Bully Boy is indifferent to the suffering of Iraqis (it's not just Dem leadership) having declared that Iraqis should be saying, "God, I love freedom!" The Independent of London's Patrick Cockburn (at CounterPunch) continues his reporting on the PKK and the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey which has not ceased -- just the MSM coverage of it -- and examines the historical roots of the PKK as well as the possible reasons why and why not Turkey may soon take action.

raed jarrar

Norman Mailer

The explosion of the first atom bomb had an immensely greater effect upon human identity, worldwide human identity, than 9/11; yes, an order of magnitude more. We've never recovered from the knowledge that our earthly universe is chained to a bomb larger than human measure. So many of the roots of human history were pulled out by that bomb, and we have been paying the price ever since.

That's from Norman Mailer's Why Are We At War? I was driving C.I., Ava and Jess to the airport this morning and Jess was going station to station trying to find some good music or news worth listening to when it was announced that Norman Mailer had died. We were all kind of shocked. And depressed.

Ava fished around her purse for a CD, popped in Tori Amos' American Doll Posse and the first track is "Yo George" aimed at guess who. It really seemed to fit the mood. For me anyhow because the first thing I ever read by Mailer was Why Are We At War? which calls out the nonsense of the Bully Boy administration. Here's "Yo George" by Tori:

I salute to you commander and I sneeze
‘Cos I have now an allergy to your policies it seems
Where have we gone wrong America?
Mister Lincoln we can’t seem to find you anywhere
Out of the millions from the deserts to the mountains
Over prairies to the shores
Is this just the madness of King George?
Yo, George
Is this just the madness of King George?
Yo, George
Well you have the whole nation on all fours

This is from the paper in my area -- or the one we read -- and it's online and probably in tomorrow's paper. Mark Feeney "Literary giant Norman Mailer dies at 84:"

Norman Mailer, the self-proclaimed heavyweight champion of postwar American letters, whose six decades in the public eye helped make him one of America's most acclaimed, and controversial authors, died this morning of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He was 84.Mr. Mailer was 25 when he published his first book, "The Naked and the Dead" (1948). Based on his experiences as a combat infantryman in the Philippines, the novel was a great literary and commercial success.Mr. Mailer went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes: for "The Armies of the Night" (1968), a nonfiction account of a 1967 anti-war march on the Pentagon, and "The Executioner’s Song" (1979), which Mr. Mailer described as a “real life novel,” about executed murderer Gary Gilmore.
The key book among the dozens Mr. Mailer published -- the one that did the most to create his outsized persona -- was "Advertisements for Myself" (1959). An audacious gathering of fiction, journalism, essays, and interviews, it served as Mr. Mailer's announcement that he was king of the literary hill.

So another voice against the illegal war is gone. I read The Excutioner's Song and the book on Marilyn Monroe after I read Why We Are At War? and The Naked and the Dead was actually assigned for one of my classes. That's really all of his work I knew. I saw him and his son on Democracy Now! and I'm not finding that but this is from "Norman Mailer: Why I Am Protesting the Presidency:"

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the role of protest? I mean, you have extensively written about it. You won the Pulitzer Prize for your book --
NORMAN MAILER: I'm all for protest -- I'm all for protest when an election is not coming up, because protest can have a huge effect slowly, steadily. Not immediately. Almost immediately, the media particularly in America does its best, generally speaking, to put protest down. But over a long haul, the march on the Pentagon ended up being a success. I have said this many times, but what Lyndon Johnson saw was that 50,000 middle class people, middle aged and young and a few old, came to Washington, paid their way to get to Washington with the prospect of being hit over the head with a club. Lyndon Johnson was a very canny man. He knew that there's one thing about middle class people: they didn't like getting hit over the head with a club. And it paid. It paid. They are going to spend their money to come to Washington to protest. He was sick. Because he knew if he paid the way of all of the people who would come to support his war in Vietnam, he would be lucky to get 5,000 people. So 50,000 had come this way, in all fear and all determination. Then there probably were somewhere between 5 million and 50 million behind them. He didn't want to find out. It took something away from them. He brought in Clark Clifford at one point to ask him for an honest appraisal of the war in Vietnam. Clifford said, it's a loser. Clifford was respected by Johnson because he was objective. He said, you're not going to win this war, you can't. I think that led to -- well, now we get into all of the complications of history. It's never clean. So, Johnson stepped down, Nixon came in. Nixon knew his advantage was to keep the war going for four years to get re-elected, et cetera, et cetera. Here we get into all of the tangles. I'm saying that we have to enter the land of the tangles.

So this morning I did the airport drop off and they go, "Don't wait. You're tired." I was tired and depressed. I told C.I. I was going to go home and crawl back into bed so the entries at The Common Ills might go up late. C.I. did those before we ran this morning (and, FYI, C.I. hadn't been to sleep, there was a roundtable last night that I'll link to in my next post that went on forever and after that was typed and posted, C.I. did the morning entries -- there are two -- and then I was waking up and we went for a run before it was time to get ready for the airport). C.I. said not to sweat it and that they could get posted whenever I woke up, no rush. But I was driving back home and thinking of all the voices against the illegal war and how so many of them seem to be leaving before the illegal war ends. Like Molly Ivins. And then the next thought it who will be next? A lot of our strongest voices, like Howard Zinn and Gore Vidal, aren't 'youngsters.'

And I thought about how so many of the ones that are considered 'voices against the war' are Party Hacks who only use the war as a topic to push elections and then drop the topic (like they did after the 2004 elections and like they did after the 2006 elections -- and after the 2006 elections no one proved that point more than idiot Katrina vanden Heuvel with her 'it was about economics' b.s. post -- it was about the illegal war, stupid!). Norman Mailer was a great writer, no question, but it was calling out the illegal war with no ifs, ands or buts that really spoke to me. He was courageous when most people were meek. And a lot still are.

So those are my Norman Mailer thoughts. The quote is "probably" on page 31. On the car ride to the airport I said I loaned out the book and wish I hadn't because I wanted to quote something from it. C.I. grabbed a piece of paper and wrote that down for me. C.I. say it is "probably" page 31 because C.I. was writing down the quote from memory.

I'll do a second entry but I'm going to go for a walk (a) to wake all the way up and (b) to try to get out of my funk. I posted C.I.'s first entry and I'll post the second one when I get back from the walk and before I do my second post.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Amy Goodman, Danny Glover, Nicole Lee

Thursday! One day to the weekend! :D And it's almost Thanskgiving too! Like Elaine pointed out last night, she and I are going to the West coast to spend Thanksgiving at C.I.'s so that will be a lot of fun.

Okay, Beau, Leigh, Leaigh Ann, Alex and Lydia all caught Democracy Now! today and they wanted me to put up something from earlier. This is me fuming on October 1st:

I caught Democracy Now! today in pieces. I was HUGELY unimpressed with the Nobel Peace winner. I thought she spoke like an uninformed gas bag. Her answer on Iraq? Well we just have to do basically what humanity's always tried -- move away from war as an answer. Thank you for the platitudes. Then, and remember this woman won a Nobel Peace Prize, she talked about US politics (she's from Kenya) and lamented that the US couldn't have both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for president. Neither of whom will promise to end the illegal war (if elected president) by the end of their first term. What a gas bag and what a waste of time. The peace queen didn't know a damn thing she was talking about. Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel have come out for ending the illegal war and the Nobel Peace Prize winner didn't even mention them. What a DUMB ASS gas bag.
As for her la-di-da, let's raise people to grasp that war is not the answer, maybe her DUMB ASS will have a sense of urgency when she grasps that Africa is next on the US' sights. We're building up bases in Africa. That's part of the reason we are reducing our military presence in Europe. That is the next battle -- long after Bully Boy's gone. And if I see her whimpering on TV in five to twenty years, tears running down her face about the wars the US is conducting in/on Africa, I'll just laugh and say, "Dumb Ass."

Yeah, the US military is gearing up for militarizing Africa. This is from Amy Goodman's intro today:

AMY GOODMAN: West African military chiefs added their voices Tuesday to a growing number of critics of a new US military command called Africom. Africom was established by the Pentagon in October and covers every country in Africa, except Egypt. It’s expected to be fully operational within a year.
But it's already generating controversy and skepticism. Several African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria and Libya, are opposed to Africom. And late Tuesday, West African military chiefs denounced the US approach to the project.
Africom officials claim the project will strengthen humanitarian and peacekeeping operations and is not about building more US bases. But critics say it's a move to secure US access to natural resources and counter the growing Chinese presence across Africa. African nations supply the US with more than 24% of its oil, this according to the US Energy Information Administration.

And this is from the discussion with Danny Glover and Nicole Lee of TransAfrica:

DANNY GLOVER: Well, certainly, TransAfrica has been on the cutting edge of a number of issues. As we look back on TransAfrica's issues, the issues that TransAfrica has put forth, whether it's the fight against apartheid, the fight to restore democracy to Haiti, and also the battle that TransAfrica waged around the AGOA, Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which we understand and feel were some of the right decisions to oppose that act.
Certainly, we oppose the strategic military presence of the US government in Africa. We see what is happening in Somalia right now, where a US surrogate, Ethiopia, has played a large role in disrupting and certainly destabilizing that country, and further, rather, you know. And so, we're very concerned about that. It's very telling that a number of countries have voiced on the continent -- at least more than eleven countries on the content have voiced their concern and their opposition to this military presence and US presence in the region. There are issues, certainly, in the Horn of Africa. There's issues in the Gulf of Guinea, as well. And certainly Africom is not a new brainchild; it's something tha's been in the works for some time.
AMY GOODMAN: Nicole Lee, can you explain exactly what Africom is?
NICOLE LEE: Well, it's difficult to give the exact definition of Africom, mostly because the State Department and the Defense Department have made Africom a moving target. When the Bush administration first announced Africom, they suggested that there would be a military presence, military bases, and that it would cover all countries, except Egypt, and it would be in addition to our presence in Djibouti. As criticism mounted, the Pentagon then said, no, actually this will be floating bases.
But what is very clear about Africom is there is certainly a move to find a home for the base and that there will be both technical advisers and the ability to bring US troops on the ground to Africa. This is something that concerns many, many African nations, and overwhelmingly they have spoken up and said even the creation of such a mechanism is extremely dangerous, given the historical realities Africa still deals with, in terms of US militarism in the past on the continent of Africa.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the countries being promised?
NICOLE LEE: Well, the countries that have been interested in hosting -- and there's been very, very few -- certainly aid is involved. The State Department is very much involved in the creation of Africom. Interestingly, this is one of the first times that the State and the Defense Department have worked so closely together, and it's sort of a hybrid departmental initiative, where you have General Kip Ward, who is the head of Africom, but the associate head of Africom, if you will, is a State Department official. And so, you have a situation where aid to Africa is being uniquely tied to militarization, and this is extremely dangerous. We know that many countries in Africa need aid for HIV/AIDS medication, for debt relief -- I mean, this is a reality. Yet, having the State Department tied so closely to Africom is concerning many countries who truly believe that self-determination must be a priority for US policy towards the continent.

It is a problem and it's the sort of thing that doesn't get a lot of attention so I really enjoyed the report today. But in terms of why I knew about it, I heard about it two summers ago at C.I.'s. It was a presentation on this topic basically. So since then, I've been paying attention when it gets like a paragraph in a news summary in the paper. Which isn't very often, even that isn't very often.

Robert Parry's explaining how the Democrats caving goes far, far back in "Democrats' Year of Living Fecklessly:"

Though some voters have been surprised by the consistency of these Democratic cave-ins, the pattern actually started immediately after the surprising election results of Nov. 7, 2006, when Democrats won narrow majorities in the House and Senate.
Rather than escalate their political confrontation with Bush, the Democrats opted for a course of wishful thinking and empty gestures. Most importantly, the Democrats chose not only to keep impeachment off the table, but avoided any comprehensive investigation into controversial Bush policies.
There were no Fulbright-style hearings on the origins of the Iraq War; there were no broad challenges to the excessive secrecy that Bush clamped down around his constitutional violations in the "war on terror"; the best the Democrats could muster were scatter-shot hearings by Rep. Henry Waxman's House Oversight Committee.
In short, the Democrats not only failed to mount a sustained challenge to Bush's policies, they avoided any systematic hearings that would educate the American public about why Bush’s presidency has represented such an extraordinary threat to the Republic. They have acted as if the people simply should "get it" without any more information.
This Democratic tendency to de-value information -- and a timidity toward real oversight -- can be traced back to the 1980s when accommodating Democrats, such as Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, sought to finesse, rather than confront, abuses of power by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during the Iran-Contra Affair and related scandals.
The pattern deepened in 1993 when Bill Clinton won the presidency and the Democrats still controlled Congress. At that point, they shelved investigations of Reagan-Bush crimes, including clandestine military support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, drug-trafficking by the Nicaraguan contra rebels, and still-secret dealings with Iran.
Clinton and the Democrats judged that the hard work of getting at the truth and exacting accountability was less important than wooing some moderate Republicans into hoped-for support of Clinton’s budget, health-care and other domestic priorities. [For details on this failed strategy, see Robert Parry's
Secrecy & Privilege.]

We're doing the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and I thought I could do my post and participate but it didn't work out as easy as I thought. :D But the conflict between northern Iraq and Turkey is off the domestic radar but not off the radar outside the US. This is from Gareth Jenkins' "Yet another invasion of Iraq?:"

Turkey's threats to launch an incursion into northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) appeared to be bearing fruit last week, attracting lots of media and other attention, but it was still unclear whether it would be enough to avoid a military strike. The Iraqi government and then the Bush administration promised to step up their efforts to eradicate the organisation. However, it remained unclear whether they would succeed or whether their pledges would be enough to prevent Turkey from taking military action by itself.
Turkey began massing an estimated 100,000 troops on its border with Iraq after a group of 150-200 PKK militants infiltrated from Iraq on 21 October and overran a Turkish military outpost, killing 12 soldiers and taking another eight prisoner. It was the third major attack by the PKK in less than a month and triggered an unprecedented public outcry in Turkey as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets calling for revenge. The Turkish government responded by threatening to launch a military operation against the PKK's main camps in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq unless the Iraqi authorities clamped down on the organisation's activities in the country.
The threat inevitably overshadowed a recent conference in Istanbul, which brought together Iraq's neighbours and representatives of the major international powers to discuss how to stabilise and rebuild Iraq but turned into a scrabble to find ways of preventing the country being invaded for the second time in less than five years.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Blackwater back in the news, Pelosi tries to fool the public again, and more.

Starting with war resisters. September 21st,
Nick Watt (ABC's Nighline) examined war resisters and noted the number of people being processed for desertion at Fort Knox "jumped 60% last year" (to 1,414 for Fort Knox -- US military figures) while concluding his report with, "If the total for the first six months of 2007 doubles by year end, it will become the highest annual total in twenty-six years." Michael Sharp of the Military Counseling Network explained to Watt that last year he met with eight to ten people a month seeking a way out of the US military while, in 2007, it is fifteen to twenty a month: "One thing that is clear to me however is that the number is increasing, and the ranks of these people are increasingly higher. I would say take the biggest number you ever get from the military and double it. There is no reason for the military to give out that information."

Watt also spoke with war resister Chris Capps who served in Iraq and then checked out in March of this year, turned himself in after sixty days, and was discharged from the US military.

Capps: How the reporting here outside of America is completely different . . . Yeah, it definitely made me think about what I was doing, what I was a part of.
. . . What was going on outside and what was going on inside Camp Victory were two completely different things. It was like we put a little tiny America inside Baghdad and there was hell breaking loose outside our walls. At first I was thinking about what I was doing. My job was very compartmentalized, you know. . . . That [Abu Ghraib] was kind of a cut clear concise picture of what I was doing in Iraq. I helped repair communications that were being used for things that were just wrong. . . . They've got mixed reactions, they don't know how to react to it. I had a couple of people say, "Wow, that's impressive, that's awesome." . . . I took a Greyhound down to Ok and I turned myself in at Fort Sill.

In Peter Laufer's
Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq., Iraq War veteran Kelly Dougherty spoke about how, "My friends and I would discuss refusing. We would dicuss the point at which we were going to refuse to follow orders because we felt that they were putting our lives in complete danger. But as much as we talked, we never did anything. When it came right down to it, you're either going to have to take a stand and suffer maybe the ultimate consequences or you're going to have to suffer maybe the ultimate consequence, which is death. It was like, death is uncertain. I know that if I refuse I'm going to get court-martialed. So I guess I'll just choose possible death." She also states, "I would say it takes a lot more courage to refuse to go and to stand up against the status quo and all your fellow soldiers than it takes to just go along with it." Dougherty is one of the founders of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The organization's chair is war resister Camilo Mejia, the first veteran of the war to resist.

From November 10 through December 16th, Mejia's words will be featured in a new play at
Culture Project as it presents Rebel Voices -- based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. Along with Mejia, the voices of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Zinn will take part in the November 18th presentation (opening night) and poet Staceyann Chinn and musician Allison Mooerer will hed the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who appeared on Democracy Now! today addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, 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.

"Once the election brought the Democrats into more power than they had been in before, [some of our members] thought, 'Now something's going to happen, things are going to get better and the war's going to start coming to an end.' But at the same time, a lot of people in the military [and] veterans didn't necessarily have a huge amount of faith that just by electing a few more people, it was going to drastically change the course of the war,"
IVAW's Kelly Dougherty speaking to Will Dean (Philadelphia City Paper). Which didn't happen and who knew Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would adopt a Beastie Boys refrain ("Yes, yes, y'all -- you don't stop). But she and her Posse In Effect or, more accurately, her Posse Ineffectual have done nothing to end the illegal war. Robert Parry (Consortium News) terms it "Democrats' Year of Living Fecklessly" opening with, "One year ago, the Democrats ended Republican control of Congress, stirring millions of Americans to hope that George W. Bush's Iraq War and his assault on the U.S. Constitution finally would be stopped. Twelve months later, many of those once-hopeful voters feel bitter disillusionment toward the national Democratic Party, which has surrendered in showdown after showdown with the weakened President, from continuing to write blank checks for the Iraq War to ceding more power to him for his surveillance operations." Parry provides a Democratic Worst Flops collection, citing the Michael Mukasey Attorney General nomination moving from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor, the confirmation of the questionable (that's being kind) Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, the illegal wiretapping, the promise by Pelosi that it would be fixed after Congress' month-long summer break (still not fixed -- though immunity for the criminal actions of communications providers is getting a big push), Senator Carl Levin's historical ignorance, and more. Sidebar, Robert Parry and sons Nat and Sam will be speaking at Busboys and Poets in Arlingtion, Virginia Saturday Nov. 17th from four p.m. to six p.m. discussing their new book Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush. Sam and Nat Parry have established their own journalist skills at Consortium News and they and Robert Parry can discuss any of the topics pertaining to the current administration but remember that Robert Parry has been doing investigative journalism for years and, if you're in that area or are visting it on the 19th, you'll have access to one of the most straighforward and determined journalists in this country. More events may be scheduled later but mark your datebooks if you're in the area and note that this is the only event scheduled thus far for 2007. Returning to the dismal Democratically-led Congress, Cindy Sheehan (writing at The Progressive) addresses the Democrats in the House shameful response to Dennis Kucinich's motion to impeach president of vice (nod to Wally and Cedric) Dick Cheney: "Nancy Pelosi's selection as Speaker was groundbreaking, and way past time, as the first female Speaker, but she has been, not only a failure but a disaster to democracy. She admitted it herself last week when she said she would give Congress low ratings, too. She acts like she is a helpless player in this national order of things. If only the world wasn't filled with 'Senators and Republicans,' then she would be able to do her job! If the world wasn't filled with Senators, House Reps, Dems and Repugs, my son would still be alive and I would still be a working Mom in Vacaville, Ca." Let's stay with Fancy Nancy and note her marker: January 4, 2007. In November 2006, voters returned power of both houses of Congress to the Democrats and did so because they wanted the illegal war to end. On January 4th, the 110th Congress was sworn in. On that day, 3006 deaths had been announced. Since the Democratically-controlled Congress was sworn in, 852 deaths have been announced. The November 2006 election was about the war. The polls showed the voters saw it as about Iraq and the politicians certainly knew what it was about. And Fancy Nancy did as well, telling Marc Sandalow (San Francisco Chronicle) in a story published two days before the November election, "This election is about Iraq. . . . If indeed it turns out the way that people expect it to turn out, the American people will have spoken, and they will have rejected the course of action the president is on. . . . A Democratic victory would be in the furtherance of reaching that goal. Absent a Democratic vitory, we'll be there for the next 10 years." She also told Sandalow that preventing the illegal Iraq War "is her greatest disappointment in public life." She needs to add "prolonging the illegal war" to that list. Corporate Crime Reporter's Russell Mokhiber (at CounterPunch) transcribes his questioning of Pelosi from Tuesday that begins with, "Isn't it true Madame Speaker that you single handledly could end the war in Iraq by not allowing the Iraq funding bill to go to the floor of the House?" Pelosi either lies in response or she doesn't even know how Congress works. Mokhiber then points out other thing she could be doing (both the other things and the original action he asked of are things Democratic presidential contender Mike Gravel has repeateldy noted are powers the Congress has) but Fancy Nancy doesn't think it would "be effetive." The Ineffectual evaluating effective? Take a moment to laugh at Pelosi. Pelosi then goes on to declare, "If there is anything that I'm disappointed in is that we haven't been able to end the war." If there's anything she's disappointed in? If? She then lies again about the Senate. The reality is the a filibuster stops a bill dead in the tracks. The reality is day after day roll call votes on Iraq -- as Gravel has pointed out -- sends the message to Americans of who is prolonging the illegal war and who is trying to end it. Pelosi's been useless before, now she's just making herself a public liar. It's why she's sunk to an all time low in local polling (Bay Area). Her negatives are now higher than her positives and that is a first for Pelosi. That's what happens when you no longer represent the people who elected you and, in fact, when you don't even make a pretense of representing them. In the November issue of The Progressive, Lloyd Dangle's Troubletown ("Getting Tough, Dem Style") makes the point about the filubster option -- even a cartoon can convey the reality Pelosi runs from. Pathetic Pelosi, Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports, is now announcing more faux-end-the-war-bills (it's not "legislation" until it passes both houses, is signed or vetoed and, if the latter, the veto is overridden) which takes the weak, non-binding measure that was vetoed last time and pushes it through again with $50 billion more for the illegal war. "We'll end the war by funding it!" Troops would remain in Iraq, the 'classification' systems would be left up to the Bully Boy who could classify 'combat' troops 'police' or 'counterterrorism' troops and not bring a single one home. For those emerging from comas, the Pelosi-led House tried this shell game on the American people once already. It did not go over well.

On polling,
CNN reports on the network's new polls with Opinion Research Corp. which finds, "Sixty-eight percent of poll respondents opposed the war, setting a new record." The high in CNN's previous polling for the illegal war was in March 2003 (WARNING: PDF document on past polls) when 72% were on board. In March of 2005, the pro-illegal war and anti-illegal war was evenly matched. By the summer of 2005, those against the illegal war were in the majority and so it has remained for over two years now. CNN expresses suprise that the results would be what they were "despite reports of a reduction of violence" -- maybe because not everyone's so quick to believe the spin?

Gullilbe brings us to the New York Times and Damien's Dinner Date.
General Joseph Fil takes Damien Cave out for "egg rolls and lo mein" and Cave seems to feel the general's buying dinner meant he had to, journalistically, put out. So Cave includes the myth of The Great Return of Iraqi Refugees myth. Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) has a little more self-respect and a little more professional-respect which is why he notes the claims by the Iraqi government of 46,030 Iraqis returning to Iraq "last month" is "counter to the overal trend detailed in a recent report by the Iraqi Red Crescent, which said the number of internally displaced people had more than quadrupled over the past year, reaching 2.3 million by the end of September." The myth/lie has played with the numbers all week as noted in yesterday's snapshot. Allen Pizzey (CBS News) was proclaiming the good news from the Iraqi government "[o]ver the weekend . . . more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods . . . have returned to their homes in the past three months." The spin dropped out the "past three months" lie and upped the total number of returned (last month!) to approximately 15,500 individuals. Then it was time to up it even further. If they believe 15,500 they'll swallow 46,000 plus! Throughout this badly spun lie, the numbers have increased at the drop of a hat while the time length has increasingly shortened.

Turning to reality . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing left three Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Hibhib bombing that wounded four people and a bombing "targeting the motorcade of Director of Eductation of Basra." We'll come back to that in a second. Reuters notes 3 police officers killed by a roadside bombing outside Falluja, a Kut roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left four police officers injured while outside Mousl 1 woman was killed in car bombing and five people were injured (the driver of the car was also killed -- the car is presumed to be "a suicide car bomb"). Reuters also notes Basra Qahtan al Moussawi's mortorcade being targeted and the four people injured and explains al Moussawi is "the top education official in the southern governorate of Basra". This is the continued targeting of officials. On Sunday, Hanna Lafta Muhssim was shot dead -- she was a math teacher. Eman Hussein, a Baghdad principal, was shot dead in Baghad and another female principal was shot dead but survived. (The second one was not named) Yesterday Mizher Al-Sheikhi's son was shot dead (Al-Sheikhli belongs to the Islamic Party's political buerau) and -- in the second attack in 4 days, Maj. Gen Abdul-Jalil Khalaf's convoy was targeted.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 2 corpses were discovered in Mahaweel and 7 in Thar Thar.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds suffered when the dismounted patrol the Soldier was part of encountered an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad Nov. 7."

Some violence never gets reported. Some gets reported with only partial details. Some details take longer to emerge. Take shooting deaths on February 7th of this year.
From the Feb. 7th snapshot: "Kim Gamel (AP) reports that 3 security guards 'at the government-funded Iraqi Media Network' were shot dead in Baghdad while "a female government official" was shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP say the number of security guards shot to death reached four." CBS and AP's real time report in full (on the incident): " At about the same time, four guards at a nearby building housing state television were shot and killed on the rooftop. An official at Iraqiya television said the men were hit by fire from security company personnel escorting foreign visitors to the Justice Ministry just across the street. The television official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media." The reality? Today, Steve Fainaru (Washington Post) reports, "Last Feb. 7, a sniper employed by Blackwater USA, the private security company, opened fire from the roof of the Iraqi Justice Ministry. The bullet tore through the head of a 23-year-old guard for the state-funded Iraqi Media Network, who was standing on a balcony across an open traffic circle. Another guard rushed to his colleague's side and was fatally shot in the neck. A third guard was found dead more than an hour later on the same balcony. Eight people who responded to the shootings -- including media network and Justice Ministry guards and an Iraqi army commander -- and five network officials in the compound said none of the slain guards had fired on the Justice Ministry, where a U.S. diplomat was in a meeting. An Iraqi police report described the shootings as 'an act of terrorism' and said Blackwater 'caused the incident.' The media network concluded that the guards were killed 'without any provocation'." But Blackwater insisted they were fired on -- the standby they tried to use for the September 16th slaughter as well -- and the US State Department did what they always do, say, "Blackwater is right!" As Fainaru observes, "The incident shows how American officials responsible for overseeing the security company conducted only a cursory investigation when Blackwater guards opened fire. The shooting occurred more than seven months before the Sept. 16 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians at another Baghdad traffic circle." On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman asked US House Rep Jan Schakowsky for her reaction to the Post's story:

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Isn't that interesting, though, that we didn't know about that, either, that this is being exposed -- that was February of this year, and it's just being exposed here now? So the untold harm that these companies are creating, in terms of the hatred that they're stimulating -- and Iraqis don't distinguish between those people who are Americans in uniform or out of uniform, and very often, by the way, it looks like a uniform that they're wearing. This is actually helping to recruit more of the terrorists, more people who hate the United States of America. This is counterproductive in every way, except to these companies that are now, because of US taxpayer dollars, reaping billions of dollars for their companies.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Jan Schakowsky, I wanted to read to you a piece, from
Jeremy Scahill's piece, that is coming out in The Nation magazine on the bill, on your SOS bill. Of course, SOS, "Stop Outsourcing Security." He says, "The SOS bill is by far the most hard-hitting legislation to target private forces in Iraq, but it's not without its problems. While Schakowsky understands this issue better than most in Congress, there's a potential loophole in the bill that could unwittingly aid the permanent expansion of the war machine." And he says, "Calling for the government to take over from Blackwater, Triple Canopy and Dyncorp, rather than addressing the State Department's already-massive paramilitary force in Iraq, could amount to de facto support for what is already a dramatic unprecedented militarization of the Department's Diplomatic Security Division by the White House. The department's worldwide personnel protection program was originally envisioned as a small-scale bodyguard operation tasked with protecting small groups of US diplomats and other officials in countries around the world. In Iraq, the administration has turned into a paramilitary force several thousand strong. Spending on the program jumped from $50 million in 2003 to $613 million in 2006." Your comment on this?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I understand what Jeremy, who has done an amazing job with his book about Blackwater -- I understand what he's saying, but I'm a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus. I think we should be getting out of there entirely. But we certainly don't, at the same time as this war proceeds ahead, help build this private mercenary army and aid and abet these companies. I think it -- he absolutely has a point, but I think that what we want to do is get out of Iraq, get a new administration, have a diplomatic surge rather than a surge of war all over the globe. The world's on fire right now because of this administration. So I want to deal with that issue, too, but I think that having these private companies being funded at the rate they are by taxpayers is absolutely against our interest over the long term.

In the November 2007 issue of
The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild's "Blackwater's Black Eye" (pages 8-9) examines Blackwater and opens with, "The Blackwater scandal tells you almost everything you need to know about what's wrong with the Bush Administration: swagger, wanton violence, impunity, cronyism, and privatization gone made." He goes on to connect the outsourcing of military operations with the outsourcing of all functions and a desire to discredit government. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) addressed this push with Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism, yesterday:

AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, Sovereign Deed, you mentioned. Talk about this company.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, this is happening simultaneous to the wildfires. There's a company called Sovereign Deed. It's one of the key -- it's connected to the mercenary firm Triple Canopy, and also a retired brigadier general back from Iraq named Richard Mills is one of the key executives in this company. And they have just announced plans to set up a kind of a privatized FEMA in Pellston, Michigan, northern Michigan, a rural part of Michigan, that happens to have a very modern regional airport. And the idea is that they're going to be turning Pellston, Michigan into their national disaster response center -- once again, only for their members.
So if you go to the Sovereign Deed
website -- and I really recommend that people do read about this company in their own words, because what's really extraordinary about it, Amy, and this is where you have some similarities with a company like Blackwater, is that it's run by people straight out of the military and intelligence who now have gone into the private sector, and they're saying to people -- they're scaring people -- they're saying: you can't count on FEMA, you can't count on the National Guard, we live in disastrous times. Their website is just filled with sort of apocalyptic news about terrorist attacks, climate change, all of the -- pandemics, all of the things that we might face. And we think we're going to face them collectively, but their message is: you can't count on the government; I should know, I used to work there last week, or whatever it is. Pay your $50,000 membership and $15,000 annual fees, and this company is stockpiling drugs, fuel, water, and for an extra premium payment, you can get a VIP rescue in the midst of some sort of unnamed disaster. And this is just amazing, Amy.
I mean, think about the way the country responded after September 11. The heroes of that tragedy were the first responders. And when the Bush administration announced the Department of Homeland Security and this whole new era of homeland security, I think people really thought that that meant a support and funding of the public first responders whose mission it is to protect the whole country, everyone, not just the VIPs. Now, here we are, six-and-a-half -- six years later, and the situation in California, we heard once again there weren't enough firefighters; the National Guard was in Iraq; the public sector, you know, despite all the propaganda around Schwarzenegger, there were many, many failures. But now we see this emergence of this parallel VIP privatized disaster infrastructure.