Friday, April 25, 2008


Friday! At last. I thought I'd go through some e-mails. The policy is pretty much no e-mails to outsiders. No one's written anything embarrassing privately but people pass them around and think they have the 'goods' on us. So if we don't know you, we don't write you.

Ada Pinkston, I didn't check out the Dick Cheney thing. I did check out the Hillary smear. It was insulting to her, it was insulting to working class Americans. It wasn't funny. It was probably sexist in fact but I'd have to go back and look at it again. If this is what Current TV has to publicize, no wonder nobody watches that channel. I'd say "thanks for writing," but I don't need my inbox junked up with trash.

Kelly Hargraves, C.I. knows Molly Bingham and the documentary she co-directed is one we all love so I'll post your press release in full. I don't know if we'll review this at Third or not. I know we'd like to but there's always time issues. We don't review movies there because they are loyal to their original audience. We can and have reviewed DVDs. I know C.I. will be up for a review so that's two of us who'll vote for it and I can't imagine anyone voting against it but, again, there are time issues. Here's the press release in full but I'm not fixing the quotation marks or anything. They'll come up as squares here and that's because Blogger/Blogspot uses a different font.


Contact: Kelly Hargraves Phone: 1-323-662-1930

Toll free: 1-800-229-8575

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

85 minutes, color, 2007, Arabic w/English subtitles UPC: 7-20229-91324-9 Catalog #: FRF 913249D

Retail Price: $24.95 Canadian Retail Price: $29.95 Pre-book: April 15 Street Date: May 20

Meeting Resistance is an amazing movie. C.I. put the link to the website up at Third at the start of the writer's strike and I know C.I.'s written at length about this movie because I knew ALL about it before I saw it. And when I saw it? I was still blown away. This is one to check out on May 20th.

Barbara G. Ellis, good luck to you on April 29th. That's all I can offer you. The time for impeachment was a sliver of a window. I don't believe it's happening. (And my mother outlined repeatedly why she didn't believe it was possible barring Bully Boy bombing Iran.) The time's passed, my opinion, it's not happening. Good luck to you but I think it's a waste of time. Pelosi won't let it happen. The Congress is focused on veterans, the econmy and the Petraeus nomination. The country's focused on those things and the elections. (Congress is focused on the elections as well.) I don't promote things I don't believe in. So good luck to you.

The others aren't worth mentioning. If you automatically went into the junk folder, I didn't check that and don't plan to. Consider it a sign that I wasn't supposed to read your e-mail.

Here's today's "HUBdate: Fair is Fair:"

Fair is Fair: In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Clinton campaign strategist Geoff Garin writes: "The bottom line is that one campaign really has engaged in a mean-spirited, unfair character attack on the other candidate -- but it has been Obama’s campaign, not ours. You would be hard-pressed to find significant analogues from our candidate, our senior campaign officials or our advertising to the direct personal statements that the Obama campaign has made about Clinton." Read More.
$$$: "Hillary Clinton raised $10 million in the 24 hours after winning the Pennsylvania primary, aided by contributions from 80,000 new donors."
Read more and keep it going at
An Open Letter From Dr. Maya Angelou: Poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou wrote an open letter about her commitment to Hillary’s candidacy. "Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion.... I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be."
Read More.
In Case You Missed It: Paul Krugman writes in today's NYT: "From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that 'we are the ones we've been waiting for' (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not."
Read more.
Bringing Troops Home with Honor: Yesterday, Hillary highlighted policies for veterans at "Solutions for America” events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. It’s rare for a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to endorse a candidate but General Hugh Shelton is backing HRC. In NC yesterday, he said: "Unlike any other candidate, [Hillary] understands that maintaining a well-prepared armed forces goes beyond providing dollars....She is the only candidate who has offered a responsible plan for bringing our troops home with honor."
Read more.
Electable…Without FL or OH? The Obama campaign released a memo yesterday on electability, but as Chris Cilizza highlights, "two states that are not mentioned in the Obama memo are Florida, the key battleground in the 2000 presidential race, and Ohio, the Florida of the 2004 contest."
Read more.
Debate Watch: Hillary is willing to debate Sen. Obama in North Carolina, Oregon, and Indiana while Sen. Obama continues to resist. His excuse today: "It's not clear that another debate is going to be the best use of our time." Meanwhile Sen. Evan Bayh said this yesterday: "We have thousands of people in Indiana who...deserve an opportunity to see both candidates stand side by side...We in Indiana don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens."
Read more and more.
Today on the Trail: In North Carolina, Hillary hosts a "Solutions for America" event in Jacksonville, NC. In Indiana, she hosts "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Bloomington, East Chicago, and Fort Wayne. She also meets with steelworkers to discuss creating and protecting jobs in Gary.

Funniest thing I saw online today pissed me off at first. It was nothing but a Hillary slam. I mentioned it to C.I. who said, "Oh, please, he has no ethics. He did favors for his mistress and that's why he lost his job as an editor and why he has to be a blog columnist now." When I heard that, I laughed so hard. I guess it really does all even out at some point. :D

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

Friday, April 25, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, an oversight exploration announces Iraqi Forces figures are wrong, the VA scandals continue and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Claudia Feldman (Houston Chronicle) reported a week ago on consientious objector Hart Vines and his participation at Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier (IVAW's Ronn Cantu who started the first IVAW chapter in Texas, at Fort Hood, is also covered in the article). Feldman reports:

One of his jobs in Iraq was to stand guard with a .50-caliber machine gun while his buddies searched houses supposedly inhabited by insurgents and enemy combatants. At the conference, searches of that kind were described vividly. Sometimes soldiers kicked in the front doors. Sometimes they upended refrigerators and ripped stoves out of walls. Sometimes they turned drawers upside down and broke furniture.
One day Viges was instructed to search a suspicious house, a hut, really, but he couldn't find pictures of Saddam Hussein, piles of money, AK-47s or roadside bombs.
"The only thing I found was a little .22 pistol," Viges said, " ... but we ended up taking the two young men, regardless."
An older woman, probably the mother of the young men, watched and wailed nearby.
"She was crying in my face, trying to kiss my feet," Viges said. "And, you know, I can't speak Arabic, but I can speak human. She was saying, 'Please, why are you taking my sons? They have done nothing wrong.' "

dropping back to a September 2005 speech he gave, here's what happened once he returned to the US:

And after I came home I've come to realise that we've got to make better choices, I applied for Conscientious Objector [status]. I was able to remember the Sermon on the Mount. I'm a Christian, what was I doing holding a gun to another human being? Love thy neighbour. Do good for him. Pray for those who persecute you, don't shoot them. I get my Conscientious Objector packet approved. I'm alone. I'm free, I'm done. It's all gone now, right? No! I still swerve at trash bagsfireworks. I'm looking at everyone's hands and faces [tonight] to see who's going to want to shoot me. I can't express anything, I can't express love. All my relationships are falling apart because they can't f**king understand me. How do they know the pain that I've gone through or the sights that I've seen, the dead bodies? The innocence gone, stripped, dead? I couldn't do it myself. I couldn't stand the pain. People were leaving me. I was alone. I couldn't cut my wrists. So I called the police. They come stomping through my door. I have my knife in my hand. "Shoot me. Shoot me". All of a sudden I was the man with the RPG, with all the guns pointed at him. Misled, miseducated, thinking that "Yes, we can solve all the world's problems by killing each other". How insane is that? Lucky enough I lived through that episode as well. See, you can't wash your hands when they're covered in blood with more blood. It's impossible; the wounds carry on. Families are destroyed.

Meanwhile, in Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to the Dept of Veteran Affairs.
Pia Malbran (CBS News) reports that, "While on the stand in California federal court" yesterday, "where the VA is facing a lawsuit filed by veteran advocates who are demanding better health care, Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA's Under Secretary for Health, said, 'I Disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover up something.' On March 10 of this year, Everett Chasen, the chief communications officer for the VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sent an e-mail message to several top agency officials including Kussman. At the time, CBS News was preparing a report about attempted suicides among VA patients. Chasen wrote, 'I don't want to give CBS any more numbers on veteran suicides or attempts than they already have -- it will only lead to more questions'." CBS News has been covering this story for some time. Today Peter Hart (FAIR's CounterSpin) explained:

Sadly, there's no end of examples of US journalists accepting and parroting official government statistics without challenge so when we find a case of an outlet actually questioning an official source and bringing that challenge to the public it seems worth taking note of. Last year
CBS Evening News reported what they and others have called an "epidemic of suicides" among those who have served in the US military. The network noted that there were more than 6,200 such suicides in the year 2005. Those numbers were challenged however by the Department of Veterans Affairs head of mental health Dr. Ira Katz who insisted that CBS had it wrong, the suicide rate for vets was actually no higher than normal. In a distrubing April 21st follow-up, however, CBS provided evidence that those numbers were not wrong and evidently that's why the VA didn't want the public to know them. CBS reporter Armen Keteyian noted that the VA recently provided date indicating just 790 attempted suicides by vets in all of 2007; however, Keteyian had access to an e-mail Katz sent to his top media advisor in which the VA official said something dramatically different acknowledging that "our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." That's pretty far removed from the 790 a year the VA had reported to CBS and consequently to the public. Even more disturbing is the evidence that Katz knows he's actively misinforming the public on this critical issue. His e-mail was titled "Not for the CBS News interview request" and the opening line was "Sh!" The note closed with Katz' concern: "Is this something we should carefully address before someone stumbles on it?" Clearly this is a story that will require further follow-up to find out what else the VA would like to hide from the public about yet another of the devastating impacts of the war on Iraq. We certainly hope CBS will continue in the way they've started out and that they won't be alone.

Note on the above, all links in Peter Hart's commentary go to CBS News which has text and video for each link and the e-mail itself, PDF format warning, is
here. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that Kussman stated on the stand yesterday, "The number of patients who have adjustment reactions to the experience that they have in Afghanistan or Iraq is very important, but we don't believe that's mental illness. It would be unfair and inappropriate to stigmatize people with a mental health diagnosis when they are having what most people believe are normal reactions to abnormal situations." There is no care or concern, just a desire to cut down on expenses. Diagnosis the mental health disorder requires that it be treated. Dropping back to IVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation last month:

Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.
That's the reality for refusing to diagnose, Kinne's point that the VA would then be ethically bound to treat. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. Kinne testified Friday afternoon. Wednesday saw the VA's deputy chief Gordon Mansfield facing questions from the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee. Armen Keteyian and Pia Malbran (CBS News, link has text and video) reported that Senator Patty Murray questioned him about how anyone could have faith in statements from the VA since "every time we trun around we find out that what you're saying publicly is different from what you're saying privately?" Les Blumenthal (Seattle Times) quotes Murray stating, "I used to teach preschool, and when you bring up a 3-year-old and tell them they have to stop lying, they understand the consequences. The VA doesn't. They needed to stop hiding the fact this war is costing us in so many ways." Murray also noted, "I am very angry upset that we find out this week that several inernal VA e-mails that were made public -- not becuase you wanted them to, but because of a lawsuit that ws ongoing -- showed that the VA downplayed significantly the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Just a few months ago in November the VA was confronted with an analysis that said there were 6,250 veterans who had committed suicide in 2005 an average of 17 a day. VA officials said that number was inaccurate, it was much lower. These e-mails that were uncovered this week show that Dr. Katz, who is the VA's top mental health official, not only backed up those alleged numbers but he acknowledged that the numbers were much higher than that. So what they were telling us in November and December was that the number was lower but inside the VA everyone knew it was higher. And there are e-mails saying that and showing that". Thursday on the Senate floor, during a vote on the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act, Murray stated the following:

And just this week, we got more evidence that the Administration has been covering up the extent of the toll this war has taken on our troops. Internal e-mails that became public in a court hearing show that the VA has vastly downplayed the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Last November, an analysis by CBS News found that over 6,200 veterans had committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 17 a day.
When confronted, VA officials said the numbers were much lower. But according to the internal e-mails from the VA's head of Mental Health -- Dr. Ira Katz -- 6,570 veterans committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 18 a day. The e-mails also revealed that VA officials know that another 1,000 veterans -- who are receiving care at VA medical facilities -- attempt suicide each month.
Mr. President, these numbers offer tragic evidence that our nation is failing thousands of veterans a year. And they reflect an Administration that has failed to own up to its responsibilities, and failed even to own up to the true impact of the war on its veterans.
What is most appalling to me is that this is not the first time the VA has covered up the problems facing veterans who sacrificed for our country. Time and again, the VA has told us one thing in public -- while saying something completely different in private. It is outrageous to me that VA officials would put public appearance ahead of people's lives. Yet, Mr. President, it appears that is what has happened again.
When we -- as members of Congress -- sit down to determine the resources to give the VA, we must have a true picture of the needs. And if there's a problem, we have to act. It's our duty -- and the duty of the Administration -- to care for veterans. By covering up the true extent of that problem, the VA has hindered our ability to get those resources to the veterans who need them. That is irresponsible, and it's wrong.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka has joined Murray in calling for Ira Katz' resignation. Meanwhile C.W. Nevius (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the attorney handling the lawsuit against the VA, Gordon Erspamer: "He's a rainmaker attorney for a major firm in the city who has set aside time to take legal action that doesn't earn a penny. And besides that, he's got a compelling and personal back story and a chip on his shoulder to prove it. Erspamer's cause since the late '70s has been the rights of armed forces veterans, and this week's trial has the VA squirming over a shocking rate of suicides among vets and has captured the national spotlight." Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz hosted a live report on KPFA about the trial Tuesday and Gordon Erspamer was interviewed in the first hour.

Yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction released a report entitled [PDF format warning] "
Intermim Analysis of Iraqi Security Force Information Provided By The Department Of Defense Report, Measuring Stability And Security In Iraq." Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The U.S. military does not have an accurate tally of the number of Iraqi security forces who have been trained or who are present for duty . . . The study says some Iraqi soldiers and police who were killed or wounded in action remain on the payroll so their families can receive financial compensation, skewing the statistics. . . . Reinforcing earlier findings, Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and other officials said the data being provided to the U.S. military were inaccurate." William H. McMichael (Army Times) adds that "thousands of others counted as present for duty are not showing up for work because they're injured, on leave or absent without leave . . ." The 21-page report (13 of text and then additional notes) also states, "Evolving changes in reporting methodology make it difficult to compare information from one report to earlier reports." Page five notes of the Defense Dept's most recent report, "Although the March 2008 Section 9010 report, as well as earlier ones, presents an array of numbers, other information in the 9010 reports and elsewhere indicates (1) uncertainty about the number of Iraqi personnel who are present for duty at any one time; and (2) uncertainty about the capabilities of the police force because the police have greater capacity to recruit that to train -- this limits the number of police on the rolls who have been trained. In addition, shortages of officers and/or non-commissioned officers in both the police and defense forces remain a significant long-term challenge that could take a decade to address."

Which fits in with
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) observation that Nouri al "Maliki's campaign" assault on Basra "has resulted in US troops deploying to Basra and left the UK with no choice but to provide additional support to the operation. One person familiar with US military planning in Iraq said the 'fiasco' started by Mr Maliki had 'forced the hand of the British' to support the Iraqi government, in addition to the current core mission of training Iraqi forces." And the strain comes as Daniel Bentley (The Scotsman) reports, "British troop numbers in Iraq will only be futher reducded 'if conditions allow', Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said yesterday." The numbers also matter in terms of The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour earlier this month. Repeatedly the numbers now known to be non-reliable were cited as 'proof' of 'advances'. Gen David Petraeus' seven-page prepared remarks always cited the numbers of Iraqi Forces:

A number of factors have contributed to the progress that has been made. First, of course, has been the impact of increased numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Forces. You are well aware of the U.S. surge. Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.[. . .] A second factor has been the employment of Coalition and Iraqi Forces have grown significantly since September, and over 540,000 individuals now servein the Iraqi Security Forces. The number of combat battalions capable of taking the lead in operations, albeit with some Coalition support, has grown to well over 100 [Slide 10]. These units are bearing an increasing share of the burden, as evidenced by the fact that Iraqi Security Force losses have recently been three times our own. We will, of course, conduct careful after action reviews with our Iraqi partners in the wake of recent operations, as there were units andleaders found wanting in some cases, and some of our assessments may be downgraded as a result. Nonetheless, the performance of many units was solid, especially once they got their footing and gained a degree of confidence, and certain Iraqi elements proved quite capable.Underpinning the advances of the past year have been improvements in Iraq's security institutions. An increasingly robust Iraqi-run training base enabled the Iraqi Security Forces to grow by over 133,000 soldiers and police over the past 16 months. And the still-expanding training base is expected to generate an additional 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and 16 Army and Special Operations battalions throughout the rest of 2008, along with over 23,000 police and 8 National Police battalions.

AFP reports, "Iraq's hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called upon his followers and security forces to stop the bloodshed a week after he warned of 'open war' against the government." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes him stating, "I call upon my brothers in the army, police and al-Mahdi Army to stop the bloodshed. When we threatend an open war, it was meant against the occupation and not against our people. There will be no war between Sadrists and Iraqi brothers from any groups." And the UN human rights envoy, Radhika Coomaraswamy declared today of Iraqi children, "Many of them are no longer go to school, many are recruited for violent activitis or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their everyday lives."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit car bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Falluja mosque bombing that claimed 1 life and left four people wounded and notes two US air bombings of Baghdad after night fall yesterday that claimed the lives of 13 people and wounded forty (those numbers are US military numbers).


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Baghdad with three Iraqi soldiers wounded and 5 "gunmen" killed. CBS and AP report: "Assailants on Friday gunned down an Iraqi journalist who had been working for a local radio station run by a Shiite political party that is the chief rival of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the station and police said. Jassim al-Batat was killed by gunmen in a speeding car as he left his house in the town of Qurna in his own car, said Adnan al-Asadi, the head of the local al-Nakhil radio station based in the southern city of Basra. Qurna is 55 miles north of Basra." Reuters quotes al-Asadi explaining, "His only concerns were his work and his family. He was liked by all his colleagues, and we don't know any reason why he should be killed." Reuters also notes 1 adult male shot dead outside his Iskandariya home, 1 fisherman shot dead in Mosul (another injured), 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and 2 people shot dead in Iskandariya.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad, April 24." The announcement brings to 4052 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to US politics. First up, Wednesday's snapshot referenced Big Tent Democrat's post (TalkLeft) on the nonsense of Tom Hayden -- the latest nonsense from a lifetime of nonsense but the link was wrong. My apologies.
The correct link is here. Wednesday night, Elaine provided the letter Hayden needs to write -- the public letter -- and why no woman need listen to him until he does. (Not that they need to listen to him after, for that matter.) Wednesday night, Taylor Marsh also weighed in on Tom's nonsense and, let me repeat something here, Tom invents things. He invents conversations that allegedly happened years ago when he needs them for modern times. We've avoided commenting on his current wife here because who knows what the woman did or didn't know. Tom loves to embellish a tale. But the point is that he's a longterm sexist and no women needs him speaking for her. On the topic of sexists, Keith Olberman of MSNBC, as Jeralyn (TalkLeft) points out, made a comment on air that has some wondering if he was calling for Hillary Clinton to be assaulted or murdered: "Hyperbole? A figure of speech? Sexist? Or a call to snuff her out?" Joan Walsh (Salon) explains Olberman has 'apologized' -- he still doesn't get how offensive his statement was and how his add-on only more so. He gets that it sounded to some like murder but he still doesn't get (and Walsh doesn't appear to either) that the "apology" is still stating a woman needs to be taken into a room and forced "politically" out of the race. It's undemocratic and, with his pattern, it's sexist. Susan UnPC (No Quarter), writing before the 'apology,' gets it very clearly, "Take notice of his use of the pronoun 'he'." Meanwhile Paul Krugman (New York Times) examines the working class support for Hillary Clinton and how Obama still -- all these months later -- can't connect with those voters? Jonathan Mann (CNN) explains, "Hillary is back. Until now, Hillary Clinton's campaign hd one consistent quality -- it kept coming up short. . . . The biggest question about her campaign was when it would finally succumb to being so second-place. This week that changed. She won the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points, a margin that convinced contributors to flood her Internet site with $10 million."

Seth Bringman ( explains "
Hillary Clinton's Plan to Address the Student Loan Crisis:"

Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton called on the Bush Administration to address the growing problems in the subprime mortgage market. Instead of listening, President Bush stood by as the subprime crisis spiraled into a larger housing and credit crisis that is driving our economy downward. This economic crisis now threatens to claim another victim: student loans. As the result of the credit crunch, more than 50 student lenders, accounting for almost 14% of private student-loan volume, have already withdrawn from the guaranteed student loan program [Wall Street Journal, A3, 4/24/08]. Hundreds of thousands of students who are actively considering how to finance their college educations could be left in the lurch, without the ability to pay for college. And when those students are not able to college, that is not only tragic for them but a loss for our economy as a college graduate earns $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.
Now is the time to act to prevent a student lending crisis. In Indiana, where six of every ten students graduate with debt, and that debt averages $21,000, it is vital that we ensure that every Hoosier student can count on the loans they need to attend school in the fall [Project on Student Debt]. Today, Hillary laid out her plan for addressing the student loan crisis. She urged the Bush Administration to support her plan, and act swiftly to head-off this growing crisis.

That's the opening use the link for the itemized list.
Marlon Marshall offers a photo essay of Hillary at the "Solutions for the American Economy" in Indianapolis. And we'll go out with this from Geoff Garin's "Fair Is Fair" (Washington Post):

What's wrong with this picture? Our campaign runs a TV ad Monday saying that the presidency is the toughest job in the world and giving examples of challenges presidents have faced and challenges the next president will face -- including terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting economic dislocation, and soaring gas prices. The ad makes no reference -- verbal, visual or otherwise -- to our opponent; it simply asks voters to think about who they believe is best able to stand the heat. And we are accused, by some in the media, of running a fear-mongering, negative ad.The day before this ad went on the air,
David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist, appeared with me on "Meet the Press." He was asked whether Hillary Clinton would bring "the changes necessary" to Washington, and his answer was "no." This was in keeping with the direct, personal character attacks that the Obama campaign has leveled against Clinton from the beginning of this race -- including mailings in Pennsylvania that describe her as "the master of a broken system."So let me get this straight.On the one hand, it's perfectly decent for Obama to argue that only he has the virtue to bring change to Washington and that Clinton lacks the character and the commitment to do so. On the other hand, we are somehow hitting below the belt when we say that Clinton is the candidate best able to withstand the pressures of the presidency and do what's right for the American people, while leaving the decisions about Obama's preparedness to the voters.Who made up those rules? And who would ever think they are fair?

aaron glantz

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Political fighters, England's non-withdrawal, etc.

Thursday! We just got done with the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and you can read the decision tomorrow in the round-robin. I have no problem sharing my thoughts. Let me back up, Cynthia McKinney is running for the Green Party nomination. Yesterday on Amy Goodman's crap-ass show, Ted Glick was on as a Cynthia supporter and stated that Cynthia McKinney knew she couldn't win the presidential election and she was just running to get 5% of the vote to qualify the Green Party, in 2012, for other things in a presidential election. That kind of ticked me off yesterday and I thought, "She doesn't need that kind of support!"

But today her website has posted a link to the interview under the headline he speaks for her. I don't back faux runs. I don't back chickens. If you don't think you can win I'm not sure how you expect to get people to vote for you. "Vote for me because, I'm not going to win, but I just want 5% of the vote!" What do you say to that? "YEA!" I don't see it.

Now maybe that's practical and helping to build a party and that's fine. I'm not saying, "Drop out, Cynthia!" I'm just saying we have real candidates fighting to win and I'm not interested in wasting my time on a candidate who's not running to win. I could share Jess' thoughts but I don't want to spoil the round-robin.

But those are my thoughts. If you disagree, check out the round-robin tomorrow to see if anyone feels like you do. Four of the strongest Green Party members (not including Jess) were brought into the roundtable to discuss this.

I really am shocked that Cynthia McKinney's doing that. She's a fighter and I thought she'd be in there fighting to win. C.I. offered (I'll be brief) that the link might have been offered without the campaign hearing the interview in full. That could be. If an explanation like that comes along, great. But otherwise, I have other stuff to focus on. Like C.I. says in the snapshot, "Life is too short."

Okay, here's Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: The Tide is Turning:"

Today on the Trail: Hillary highlights policies for veterans at "Solutions For America" events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. Hillary will be joined on the campaign trail by American hero and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Hugh Shelton, Ret.
$$$: USA Today reports "One day makes $10 million difference for Clinton." Keep going to Read more.
Superdelegate Watch: Congressman John Tanner announced his support of Hillary: "in my opinion, the best person to lead this critical effort is Hillary Clinton...Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces" Read more.
"No Brainer" OH Gov. Ted Strickland said on a conference call yesterday: “This is for me a no-brainer...If we're going to plan to win in November, we need to choose the candidate that has the greatest strength in the states that are necessary to get us the electoral votes we need...I hope the superdelegates are paying attention." On the same call, NY Gov. David Paterson said "I don't think the tide is turning, I think the tide has turned."
Read more and more.
Sen. Obama Calls Debates a "Game:" The Indianapolis Star is calling on Sen. Obama to accept an invitation to debate Hillary in the Hoosier State….In OR, Clinton "proposed two debates, including one on the challenges facing rural Oregonians." Sen. Obama responded "call[ing] Clinton’s challenge 'an old, Washington game.'" Since when did debating the issues and giving voters a choice become a "game?"
Read more and more. Watch the challenge here.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Yesterday in Indianapolis, Hillary said: "This campaign for me in Indiana is about jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs…This is not about speeches. It is about solutions."
Read more.
Oregon Compact: Yesterday, Hillary "issued the most detailed, on-paper description to date from any of the presidential candidates on their intentions for Oregon. The 13-page document gave specific descriptions of how she intended to deal with each issue." Read more.
Montana Momentum: "Montana for Hillary announced the endorsements of seven more Montana legislators, leaders and Democratic activists, demonstrating [Hillary’s] growing support throughout Montana."
Read more.

And staying with political races, this is Pete Becker's "Some votes rejected over address, wrong party" about Wayne County provisional votes:

According to Cindy Furman, Director, Wayne County Bureau of Election, some people had not voted before in the Primary and may have been unaware that they had to be registered either as a Democrat or a Republican and are limited to voting in that party. In the November General Election, anyone registered to vote may vote for any party they choose.

That really should be the rule period. If you're not a Republican, stay out of GOP primaries, if you're not a Democrat, stay out of the Democratic primary and if you belong to another party, no one wants you butting in to either. Work on getting your party together and stay out of the GOP and the Democratic primaries.

I had an e-mail asking me why I wasn't noting the (US) Socialist Worker these days? I'm not interested in their bulls**t. My grandfather (who's been a Socialist longer than the rag's been around) called it right, they're enlisting into the Bambi campaign. It's a Democratic primary, they need to butt the hell out. Second of all, they've got an article about "bitterness." I'm tired of stereotypes and I'm tired of insults. My family's working class, I don't need some candy ass bullsh**ers telling me about the working class. When they decide the truth is more important than being the advance team for Obama, let me know. Until then, they can f**k off. Referring to them and others like them, my grandfather says they drive people away from Socialism. He says they're so bound and determined to speak down to people that they drive them away. He said in his day, they didn't create walls between each other, they tore them down. These days they come off like the snottiest kids in the class and who wants to hang with that? They really need to do a self-check.

If you missed it, England's called off their so-called "withdrawal" from Iraq. This is from The Scotsman:

BRITISH troop numbers in Iraq will only be further reduced "if conditions allow", Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said yesterday.
Ministers still planned to cut the 4,000-strong force during the next six-monthly rotation, he told MPs in the House of Commons.

However, the Defence Secretary added: "While the situation on the ground continues to evolve rapidly, and while military commanders continue to assess the changing environment in Basra, it remains prudent that we take time to fully consider further reductions."

In other words, Tony Blair lives on in Gordon Brown. Forever. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the National Security State is addressed in the Senate, whose the man calling a woman vain when he's had surgery to reduce his weight, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. He cited the war was illegal and his duty to the Constitution. For his bravery, the US military brass attempted to railroad and an embarrassing court-martial was staged in February 2007. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) called a mistrial (over defense objection) and then tried to railroad through another one. The Constitutional provision against double-jeopardy should prevent another court-martial. While that matter is settled, Watada waits and continues reporting on base every day even though he was supposed to discharge out of the military in December 2006. Watada has made history. As such, he is often cited. "I'm not another Watada," Sabrina M. Wiener tells Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and she isn't. She isn't against the war. She was ordered to go to Iraq but didn't feel her Navy training prepared her so she refused. She's already been discharaged. Meanwhile, Robert L. Jamieson Jr. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) feels required to state school teacher Carl Chew "just pulled 'a Watada'" for refusing to give a standardized test (one mandated by the hideous No Child Left Behind aka No Child Left Time To Learn). Becoming a cultural reference is a sure sign of just how much you have permeated a society.

In Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Apparently breaking news. This is
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's statement from yesterday:

The next CENTCOM commander and field commander in Iraq will have to help the next President with a number of critically important challenges: making America more secure, restoring America's power and influence in the world, fixing our costly strategy in Iraq, and articulating a more effective strategy for winning in Afghanistan and defeating Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
Our ground forces' readiness and the battles in Afghanistan and against al Qaeda in Pakistan have suffered as a result of the current costly Iraq strategy. These challenges will require fresh, independent and creative thinking and, if directed to by a new President, a commitment to implementing major changes in strategy.
The Senate will carefully examine these nominations and I will be looking for credible assurances of a strong commitment to implementing a more effective national security strategy.

Harry Reid is the US Senate Majority Leader. His statement is neither a power grab nor an attempted coup; however, reading today's press you might wonder.
William M. Arkin (Washington Post) actually knows the beat he covers and a thing or two about American democracy which is why he grasps that Gen David Petraeus has been nominated. But it's far too much for many to grasp. We'll be kind and not note all the Brits who get it wrong (US democracy may not be their natural area expertise) but let's point out that Australia's ABC understood what many did not -- including many US reporters for US outlets. Ann Scott Tyson and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) also grasped the difference between nomination and confirmation. Gordon Lubold and Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) don't grasp it. They also miss that news reporting is documenting what happened and seeing into the future is left for the likes of a psychic and a 'life coach.' (Petraeus, they write, "will now be promoted to command the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan). It's, sadly, a very long, long list of reporters who don't grasp US democracy. (We noted Nancy A. Youssef's article this morning.) The even sadder thing is some outlets report that US Secretary of Defense Gates has promoted them. US Senator Joe Biden also issued a statement on Petraues' nomination:

I have great respect for General Petraeus and the job he has done in Iraq. But if confirmed, Gen. Petraeus' mission will no longer be just Iraq -- it will be the entire region, including the Afghnistan-Pakistan border area where those who actually attacked us on 9-11 have regrouped, where our Ambassador to Iraq [Ryan Crocker] acknowledged to me that Al Qaeda is a bigger threat, and where we do not have enough troops because of Iraq. Congress must ensure that Gen. Petraeus does not bring an Iraq bias to his new job, at the expense of America's broader security needs.

US Senator Hillary Clinton's statement on the nomination:General Petraeus has been an able and respected leader in Iraq under incredibly difficult circumstances. In this new role, General Petraeus will face responsibility broader than Iraq. It will be critical that he takes a wide view of the serious challenges facing the Central Command area of operations, including the threat posed by Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I look foward to considering his nomination and hearing from General Petraeus how he will meet these important changes.

Senator Barack Obama does not serve on the Armed Services Committee and maybe that's why he's issued no statement? Senator John McCain does serve on the committe and, like Barack, he has issued no statement. Senator Russ Feingold did issue a statement yesterday:

During his testimony before Congress, General Petraeus stated that since his focus has been on Iraq, he was unable to comment on why the threat from al Qaeda has increased, specifically in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As CENTCOM Commander, General Petraeus will be responsible for assessing the entire region, including the impact our presence in Iraq is having on our ability to combat al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout that region. The truth is our perceived occupation of Iraq is destabilizing the region while the administration's myopic focus on Iraq has overlooked the rising threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. General Petraeus's predecessor, Admiral Fallon, understood the need for a comprehensive strategy for the Middle East which extended beyond Iraq. As he begins the confirmation process to become the next commander of CENTCOM, General Petraeus must answer the most important question we face, which is not whether we are winning in Iraq, but why we are not defeating al Qaeda.

Senator Ted Kennedy also issued a statement:

In his new position, General Petraeus will have a much larger regional and strategic responsibility especially as to how our mission in Iraq affects Afghanistan and our role in the Middle East as a whole. For too long, President Bush has pursued an open-ended commitment of our troops in Iraq, with no regard for the impact it has on them, their families or other critical national security challenges. That's not a plan for success. It's simply a delaying tactic to hand off the problem to the next President. I look forward to hearing the views General Petraeus has on these and other important questions during his confirmation hearing.

Hopefully, the process is now grasped by all. No "promotion" has taken place unless the nominee is confirmed (or unless Petraeus were to be a recess-appointment). What has many curious (to use the mildest term) is that the White House is doing this with a goal of confirmation by the end of May. Bully Boy is a Lame Duck and why he would want to tie the future president's hands to Petraeus is seen as curious (mildest term possible). While he focuses on personalities, real problems are ignored. And Petraeus is an interesting choice considering the
April 9th Congressional performance:

US House Rep Ellen Tauscher noted the opposition to the Iraq War, that more people are saying (in polls) that the Iraq war was "not worth it) and how "my constituents repeatedly tell me that we can't sustain" the costs (human and monetary). Tauscher noted that a new president would be elected in November and sworn in at the start of 2009. "If you report to a commander-in-chief . . . that wants a plan" for withdrawal "what would you advise?" Petraeus stated, "My response would be dialogue again on what the risk would be." He then tried to take the curtness off his response by noting the US military is under civilian control: "we are not self-employed, we take orders and we obey."

[. . .]

He [Brad Sherman] asked Petraeus, "Will you begin on November 5th . . . to prepare plans to execute the policies of the incoming president or alternatively, will the incoming president . . . find a dilemma where if they order immediate withdrawal it will be an unplanned withdrawal" which would lead to more of the same currently going on (stuck in a quagmire).

Petraeus: Congressman, I can only serve one boss at a time.

"As a transition approaches," he continued, "obviously there is going to be back and forth to facilitate and not me, this will be the Secretary of Defense, the chair of the Joint Chiefs and, at some point, there will be contingency plans directed."

Brad Sherman asked, "So you would expect to get contingency plans?" And David Petraeus replied, "I'm very uncomfortable candidly describing" this. He spooks so easy.

That's whom Bully Boy wants to put in charge of Centcom, a post he would begin in the fall -- the same fall that the 2008 elections will be held in.

Today the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing that should receive a great deal of attention but may not. The title was "Implementing Smart Power: Setting an Agenda For National Security Reform." Committee chair Joe Biden explained the importance in his opening remarks:

Today the Committee on Foreign Relations holds the second in a series of hearings on smart power. It is part of a larger effort to reexamine our nation's foreign policy and present a new vision for policy makers. As the current administration ends, we face a multitude of new challenges. The emergence of China and India as major economic powers. The resurgence of Russia floating on a sea of oil revenue. A unifying Europe. The spread of dangerous weapons and leathal diseases. The shortage of secure sources of energy, water and -- as witnessed by rioting in several countries -- even food. The impact of climate change. Rising wealth and persistent poverty. A technological revolution that sends people, ideas and money hurling around the planet at ever faster speeds. The challenge to nation states from ethnic and sectarian strife. The struggle between modernity and extremism. That's a short list of forces shaping the 21st century. These challenges raise the question: Do we have the right non-military instruments, the right institutions and the right relationships among those institutions to deal with new threats and opportunities?

Senator Richard Lugar is the ranking Republican on the committee and he noted in his opening statements:

It is clear that the US government is paying insufficient attention to fundamental questions about whether we are building national security capabilities that can address the threats and challenges we are likely to encounter in the future. Although our defense, foreign affairs, homeland security, intelligence, and energy budgets are carefully examined from the incremental perspective of where they were in the previous year, our budget process gives neither Congress nor the Executive Branch the ability to adequately evaluate whether the money flowing to these areas represents the proper mix for the 21st Century. In the process, funding for diplomacy and foreign assistance persisently falls short.

Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye Jr. appeared on the first panel and anything Armitage has to say judged of interest (ask Valerie Plame) usually leaks to the press. Note that
the hearing is archived online. The issue Lugar was raising about funding was an issue that the second panel addressed and it was the more informative of the two.

Due to a vote about to take place on the Senate floor, many senators had to leave during the second panel so it was mainly Biden and the two witnesses -- James R. Locher III and Gordon Adams -- involved in an exchange. Locher noted in his opening statement a concern, "the lack of prepardeness of civilian departments and agencies to rapidly deploy their expertise overseas. The problem of the underfunding and under-preparedness of civilian departments and agencies stem in part from our outdated concept of national security." Adams' concerns included:

First, our civilian national security tools -- primarily diplomacy and foreign assistance -- are weak, poorly focused, and dispersed. Diplomacy is not adequately linked to foreign assistance, and the foreign assistance agencies are scattered and poorly coordinated. Strategic planning is not used, and both strategy and budget planning are not pulled together. And, they are woefully understaffed and underfunded.

The National Security State" is a phrase many writers have long used (long before 9-11) and there seems to be some idea on the part of some that, were a renewal of that 1947 Act to take place, we'd play closer attention this time. That time has come and -- like Petraeus' nomination -- this could have huge implications for the future.

To tie it into Iraq, Biden spoke of the raw sewage he saw in Sadr City and how the US government has a half-billion dollar contract to fix it and that may happen -- years on down the line. But there are people on the ground who think they could fix it right now. He spoke of the issue of potable water in Iraq and noted he was told, "Senator we produce and built the biggest water fountain in the world." He was told that because "it's not hooked up to anything. Not a joke. Not hooked up." Which means the people of Sadr City who need potable water are required to go out with a bucket. Biden spoke of how "Iraq used to be the breadbasket of the Middle East in the fifties" and how some on the ground feel that investing strongly in farming right now would mean that the militias would shrink. He spoke of how the best diplomats he sees in the field tend to have stars on their shoulders (meaning military) and he feels their hands are too often tied. "Is there a need for a change," he asked, "in the culture at the State Dept? Is there also a need for us to go out and attract something other than -- and we haven't even been attracting them -- the typical foreign service mentality?" He wanted to exploring changign the curriculum, changing the training, for the foreign diplomatic staff.

Locher noted, "There is no intergancy culture" at the Dept of Defense and Biden wondered, "What do we do change that? . . . It goes back to the president -- the next president choosing the Secretary of State and Defense." Biden was running for the Democratic presidential nomination until recently and he noted that if he were president, "The single most important task" he'd have "would be to make sure my Secretary of State and Defense were on the same page."

Adams felt that the recruiting process was key and how those recruited for the foreign diplomatic service were rearded and moved up but "the problem here is developing that capacity both near term and long term" and that the job is "develop program, budget program, implement program and evaluate program." All those steps, Adams argued, must be taken while looking at today's needs as well as tomorrow's. He also explained that while he was at OMB he used to budget first for State and then Defense and, though he says it was a minor tool, it was an important one becuase "you need to take some of the key purposes" and ensure that they are focused on. Biden asked him to conceptualize these needs into a document and noted that "they" -- Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama -- "all think of this . . . they all get a sense of this" and how important it is to the future of the United States.

Biden noted that earlier reforms "didn't contemplate then that we might be deploying for xis and up to twelve months our national reserves. . . . They are breaking. . . . We're a hundred billion dollars short now in equipment for the states in terms of them responding to national emergencies -- you saw what happened to the town in Kansas that had that tornado that just devasted the town. They didn't have the trucks. They're in Iraq." Across the US, "you're talking about these governors being over a hundred million dollars short just to handle national disasters or, God forbid, another terrorist attack."

The discussion should be of interest to everyone because it does have to do with what future is being charted for the US and, again, many writers have warned of the National Security State. So this is something to follow. What was agreed upon -- Biden was the sole committee member attending the hearing in full -- was that the two witnesses would visit with him and other senators "to get much deeper into the weeds" as they continued to explore the topic.

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing injured three members of the Iraqi military, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two Iraqis, a Baghdad bombing claimed 3 lives and left fifteen wouned, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and left six injured, another Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life and wounded three and a Baghdad mortar attack left two people wounded. Reuters notes that the US military called in an airstrike at "the al-Rashad mental hospital near Sadr City" and that at least 4 'fighters' were killed and that US airstrikes (by the US military's own statements) claimed 6 other lives throughout Baghdad and that a Baghdad rocket attack "hit Poland's embassy inside the Green Zone" resulting in at least one guard being wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul and a drive by shooting in Diyala province left District Commissioner Wayis Mohammed Zaidan and his driver injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division -- North Soldiers were killed when their vehicle rolled onto its side during movement to a combat outpost in Salah ad Din Province, April 23. Another Soldier and one interpreter were injured in the incident and taken to Coalition force medical facilities for treatment." The deaths bring the total for the month to 38 and the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4050.

Turning to US presidential politics and the always chatty independent Douglas Wilder. Let's repeat that because he keeps being credited as "a former Democratic governor" when he is in fact a former Democrat. There's no lie to big for Wilder (who executed 14 people and feels damn good about that).
When Bill Clinton rightly noted Barack Obama was telling a fairytale about his Iraq stand, independent -- read, not part of the Democratic Party, he left the Democratic Party -- started insisting that Bill Clinton had called Barack a fairytale and that fairytale was racist. Give it a rest, tired and old, give it a rest. He left the Democratic Party so what does or does not happen in a Democratic primary really should be none of his damn business. But that hasn't stopped him.

On CBS' Face The Nation in February (link has text and video) Wilder declared that if Barack was not given the nomination there would be "chaos" -- "there will be chaos at the convention. And if you think 1968 was bad, you watch; in 2008, it will be worse." For those who can't grasp what Wilder was doing (PDF format warning: click here for full transcript), the last guest, Roger Simon clarified: "My impression is that Doug Wilder came close to predicting riots in the streets, literally if Barck Obama is not -- enters the convention with the most elected delgates but that decision is overturned by superdelegates." Doug Wilder's not a super delegate and he's not one because he left the party. So he really needs to butt the hell out of what the Democratic Party does or does not do while THEY select their candidate. Like anyone else, he's welcome to support in a general election. But, having left the party, what the party itself does is really none of his damn business and when the press interviews him these days, they need to make it very clear that he's not a super delegate and clear as to why he is not one. He left the party in 1994 -- 14 years ago. Old and tired, non-Democratic Party member Wilder is race baiting yet again. Heidi Przybyla (Bloomberg News) quotes tired and old saying Barack experiences more "ingrained difficulty" than Hillary Clinton in the race and Wilder goes on to offer stereotypes and distortions which is all the old fool has left to offer: "hissy fits," "the crying and the weeping". There was no reason for Bloomber or any other outlet to run the garbage. Wilder's a sexist and has long been one (born in 1931). Hillary did not "cry" or "weep". She did tear up -- not, as Jesse Jackson Jr. has repeatedly lied, over her appearance. Let's review that because it wasn't something we covered in the snapshot but since LIARS are going to repeat it, let's clear it up. Hillary didn't cry and she didn't cry about her appearance but guess what Vain Male Peacock (never afraid to parade) smeared her with those lies?

Hillary Clinton: And I couldn't do if it I just didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know I have so many opportunities from this country [the eyes tear] I just don't want to see us fall backwards. You know? So. This is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game, it's like, who's up and who's down. It's about our country, it's about our kid's futures, and it's really about all of us together. You know some of us put ourselves and do this against some [sardonoic voice] difficult odds, and we do it, each one of us because we care about our country. But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one and some of us haven't really thought that through enough. And so when we look at the array of problems we have and the potential for really spinning out of control, this is one of the most important elections America has ever faced. So [smiling] as tired as I am, and I am, and as difficult as it is to keep up what I try to do on the road like occassionally exercise, and try to eat right, it's tough when the easiest food is pizza, I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. So I'm going to do everything I can to make my case and then the voters get to decide.

That's the reality of what happened and there were no tears streaming down her face ever. No tear even spilled over the eye lid. Her eyes moistened. Doug Wilder should not be allowed to repeat his lies but no one stopped Jesse Jackson Jr. Junior refuses to call Hillary "Senator Clinton" -- then again, he struggles with "Clinton," and stumbles out "Crinton". But he managed to go on MSNBC and LIE to Norah O'Donnell. Here's kind of what he said -- he lacks his father's speaking ability --

Not in response to voters resp-, uh, not-not in response to Katrina, not in response to uh-uh other issues that have devastated the American people, the war in Iraq, we saw tears in response to her apprearance. So her appearance brought her to tears --

No, Jesse Jackson Jr., that never happened and your lies and attacks were and are embarrassing. Hillary wasn't worried about appearances but, of course, Jesse Jr. was.

Junior's the former fatty who had surgery to lose weight while serving in the US Congress. Originally he claimed he "got shots in the butt once a week for three months to boost my metabolism" and apparently that claim fell by the wayside as concerns about "juice"ed athletes became a big deal.
Ebony reported he had "undergone bariatric surgery in 2004 . . . He began to tell me about the procedure he went through, something called a DS or duodenal switch." For those not up on the surgery, you're getting rid of two-thirds of your stomach because you're unable to STOP PIGGING OUT and they then rearrange your small intestine. So Mr. Vanity Jesse Jackson Jr. -- who didn't want to be a fatty but couldn't put the fork down or get off the couch -- had a costly operation to lose weight quickly. And Mr. Vanity then wants to LIE and claim Hillary cried about her appearence? Waist Deep in a Big Fatty looked in the mirror, found his greatest fear and then attempted to smear Hillary with it. (The proper term is "projection.")

We were going to note Cynthia McKinney today. I would be happy too. It's on hold and will be decided tonight (in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin). What happened? A man went on a program yesterday and stated McKinney knew she couldn't be elected president, that she's only running to get 5% of the national vote. That wasn't an issue yesterday because, who cares what a supporter says? But now her campaign has posted a link to that interview with the headline that he "speaks for Cynthia McKinney." Most likely we are done with Cynthia McKinney presidential coverage because we are covering candidates who are trying their hardest to win. When Dennis Kucinich gave his supporters away (or tried to) in Iowa (to Barack), he lost all community support. Those who aren't running to win aren't going to be covered. Life is too short and we all have better things to do.

Ralph Nader's running for president. (Tip, Ralph, curb Matt Gonzalez before he ticks off more potential voters by weighing in on topics that have already caused offense.)
Team Nader documents the rise in the polls Nader's experiencing including one in March that found "one in seven voters (14 percent) would seriously consider voting for Ralph Nader for President in November" (that would be less than a month after he declared his intent to run) while a new poll finds 4% of Pennsylvania voters cite Nader as their choice and it "could potentially quadruple, as 17 percent of Democratic respondents said that if their first choice does not get the Democratic nomination, they may vote for Nader." Ralph Nader's campaign has also just opened their Nader Store where you can purchase buttons, etc. Nader is a independent run so I have no problem noting his store. In fairness, we'll also note that Hillary's store is here. John McCain's is here. Cynthia McKinney doesn't appear to have one (I couldn't find it and the friend I'm dictating this too can't) and Obama says any orders may take two to three weeks to fill -- they're low on stock. That was a one-time only where everyone could have had their stores noted. Yet again, the Obama campaign appeared to be on vacation. Dr. Maya Angelou gets the last word. From her piece at the Clinton campaign:

I am writing to tell you about my friend, Hillary Clinton, and why I am standing with her in her campaign for the presidency. I know the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be because I know the person she is.
I am inspired by her courage and her honesty. She is a reliable and trustworthy person. She is someone I not only admire but one for whom I have profound affection.
Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion. She has always been a passionate protector of families. As a child, she was taught that all God's children are equal, and as a mother, she understood that her child wasn't safe unless all children were safe. As I wrote about Hillary recently in a praise song: "She is the prayer of every woman, and every man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools and a balanced economy."
It may be easy to view Hillary Clinton through the narrow lens of those who would write her off or grind her down. Hillary sees us as we are, black and brown and white and yellow and pink and relishes our differences knowing that fundamentally we are all more alike than we are unalike. She is able to look through complexion and see community.
She has endured great scrutiny, and still she dares greatly. Hillary Clinton will not give up on you, and all she asks is that you do not give up on her. She is a long-distance runner. I am honored to say I am with her for the long run.
I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be. Whether you are her supporter, leaning towards her, undecided, or supporting someone else, I believe Hillary Clinton will represent you -- she will be a president for all Americans. It is no small thing that along the way we will make history together.
Vote for Hillary Clinton and show your support at I know she will make us proud.

mcclatchy newspapers

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Isaiah, Carolyn Lochheed, more


Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Big Cry Baby" and don't we all deserve a good laugh? Haven't we earned it? :D Hillary won!!!!! The candidate they said should drop out, the candidate they said didn't stand a chance. She won! Suck it on, Barack. It's hump day and going to be very easy to get to Friday fueled on the great rush from Hillary's victory.

They said she didn't stand a chance, they said Democrats wanted Barack, they said it was over. The fighter who will never stop fighting for all of us proved them all wrong. I was talking to C.I. this afternoon on the phone and, I go, "Are you crying?" C.I. was. C.I.'s not only still got the nasty cold everybody got from Jim, C.I.'s making every scheduled speaking engagement and doing The Common Ills and lobbying super delegates and it was while we were briefly on the phone this afternoon that it really sank in that Hillary won. :D C.I. had already noted the win several times at The Common Ills but you really have to go on autopilot to get done what C.I. does on a good day and being under the weather probably even more so. I was already thrilled for Hillary (like I noted last night) but getting to be on the phone when it registered with C.I. made me even more thrilled.

Hillary's victory really does mean so much. It means Democrats aren't going to be intimidated by a bunch of hype or lies. They know the country needs a fighter to get it out of this mess and they're not giving up on Hillary because she never gives up on us. Pretty words is all that Barack ever has to offer and the effete (and the striving to be effete) try to pretend like that matters. They try to pretend like this candidate who says he will do -- what exactly? He promises nothing. Just keeps repeating a lot of buzz words. And Dems are not going to stop fighting for Hillary because she is the Democrat who will fight for us and she is the Democrat who has been there for us.

She really is something. Barack gets a little bit of trouble and starts whining, "Not fair! Waaaah! Waaah!" Hillary's had everything under the sun thrown at her and she kept going. This isn't a vanity campaign. Like us, she's fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

Let me put in the "HUBdate: The Tide is Turning - More People Have Voted For Hillary Than Any Other Candidate:"

More People Have Voted For Hillary Than Any Other Candidate: "After last night's decisive victory in Pennsylvania, more people have voted for Hillary than any other candidate, including Sen. Obama. Estimates vary slightly, but according to Real Clear Politics, Hillary has received 15,095,663 votes to Sen. Obama's 14,973,720, a margin of more than 120,000 votes. ABC News reported this morning that 'Clinton has pulled ahead of Obama' in the popular vote. This count includes certified vote totals in Florida and Michigan." Read more.
The Tide is Turning: "The voters in Pennsylvania have spoken. America is listening. And the tide is turning…Despite making an unprecedented financial investment in his Pennsylvania campaign, including millions on negative ads ...Sen. Obama again failed to win a state that will be vital to a Democratic victory in November."
Read more.
$$$: The campaign has raised more than $3.5 million since PA polls closed last night...last night's fundraising total the was the strongest ever.
Fighting for You: In last night's victory speech, Hillary told voters, "I'm in this race to fight for you, to fight for everyone who has ever been counted out ...I need your help to continue this journey. This is your campaign and this is your victory tonight. Your support has meant the difference between winning and losing."
Watch here and read it here.
In Case You Missed It: The Washington Post reports that "unable once again to score a knockout, Sen. Barack Obama is likely to make his new negative tone even more negative."
Read more.
Closing the Deal? The AP asks: "Why can't Barack Obama close the deal? ...Unfortunately for Obama…it's a question that bears repeating... The loss, despite a massive cash infusion and robust campaign presence in the state, underscores the persistent problems he’s had winning over many of the voters who form the traditional Democratic party base."
Read more.
On Tap: Hillary attends an event in Indianapolis, IN today...Tomorrow -- joined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Hugh Shelton - she returns to North Carolina for stops in Jacksonville, Fayetteville, and Asheville. On Friday and Saturday, Hillary campaigns in Indiana.
On the Air: In a new NC Ask Me ad, Hillary responds to veteran David Eichhorn from Hickory, NC: "It is one of the highest obligations of our president and Commander-in- Chief to take care of our veterans. We owe everything to those who have served us."
Watch it here... "Jobs," airing in IN, emphasizes that "the next president has to begin putting the American people first. Your jobs, your health care, your futures." Watch it here.

Okay, now I've got homework! :D I'm joking. When I was on the phone with C.I., I was told, "I have nothing on Iraq!" C.I. hadn't even started dictating the snapshot, hadn't even started listening to the messages and returning the phone calls. So I said, "If you need me to grab something, just holler." Kat called me later and said, "Grab the story from last night."

That's Carolyn Lochheed's article in the San Francisco Chronicle. And I had written about some of this stuff before and didn't realize that when I was glancing over it last night. First off, it's a good article and I'm not insulting the writer of it. I quoted this from it last night:

Yet the campaign has exposed Obama's glaring weakness among the working-class whites Democrats need to win the presidency.
"If I told you somebody was winning California, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida and was not winning the nomination, you'd say something was wrong," said Democratic consultant Doug Schoen. "And something arguably is not right."
If Democrats had the same winner-take-all process that catapulted McCain toward the GOP nomination despite close victories in a fractured field, Clinton would have all but wrapped up the Democratic nomination on Feb. 5, when she took four of the six largest states, including California by a nine-point margin.
The Electoral College is a similar winner-take-all system that would seem to play to Clinton's strengths and prey on Obama's weaknesses.

Doug Schoen (who I don't know) is the only one in the article who has a clue. Well, the only Democrat. A Republican named Jim Pinkerton compares this to McGovern and that's a pretty funny commentary (and I think he's right too). He's right about Republicans hitting hard on Bernardine Dorhn and Bill Ayers. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that has a clue that this will be an issue. Obama sounds like an idiot. He's talking about his "unity" schtick. But, for example, Dohrn and Ayers are Communists, I already wrote about the police issue last night, it's not going to be pretty if he's the nominee.

Joe Trippie WHO DID A LOUSY JOB on John Edwards campaign (John Edwards was my first choice as everyone knows and Joe Trippie did a LOUSY JOB) thinks Bambi is looking good. Or seems to by his insane comments. He ignores the fact that Bambi's not getting the Democrats. He's ignoring the fact that swing voters are fickle and Republicans know how to peal them off. Bambi's swing-voter base took a hit with Jim Wright and that issue is far from over.

But the biggest idiot is telecommunications lobbyist Simon Rosenberg:

What matters is the 13 states listed as battlegrounds this fall, said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a centrist Democratic think tank once closely allied with former President Bill Clinton.
Throwing out Florida and Michigan, which had flawed primaries, Obama has won six swing states (Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa) to Clinton's five (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire), leaving Obama with more potential electoral votes. Moreover, Obama is polling better than Clinton in California against McCain.
Clinton's strength among working-class whites, Rosenberg said, is based largely on women, not necessarily men.

Throwing out Florida and Michigan? If they don't get their delegates counted or get a revote, you are throwing them out. They went for Hillary and they're being denied. I don't know where McCain's polling better than Hillary in California but Latinos gave the primary to Hillary and they could give the election to McCain if Barack's the nominee. Don't scoff, they are the reason Ahnuld is governor. Simon will probably show up after this election pretending to care about Latino voters, the way he did in 2004 -- after the 2004 election. Simon's slime and he doesn't know crap. I mean, the man couldn't even get the DNC post, remember? He's dismissive of women and that's no surprise. C.I. charted the crap that was Slimey Simon long ago. Simon's projections were wrong in 2004, they're wrong now. Hillary has women, has the working class, has the Democratic base. You give the nomination to Obama who's insulted Small Town America, insulted the working class, they'll stay home or they'll go for McCain.

More importantly, Latinos are the largest growing segment of the population and if Hillary's not the choice (she's been their choice), you risk losing Latinos for the next 20 years. This is where you bring them in and solidify the relationship by going with Hillary. You don't run them off by going with Barack Obama. Barack can't win Florida. That's already been proven. There was no "flaw" in their primary. They had a record turnout and more people voted in that primary than voted in the five previous primaries and caucuses. They went with Hillary and Barack knows they would again which is why he doesn't want a revote. They're not going to hand it to Barack. Barack is hated in Florida because he's the reason (a) their delegates aren't being seated and (b) the reason they haven't had a revote. He's blocking both. And after 2000, Florida is very sensitive to being disenfranchised. Without the Florida votes, you're going to have a hard time winning.

And what working class people already feel -- that Barack looks down on them, that he's all words -- will really come to the fore if he gets the nomination and the Republicans go to town on him. He's got no record, people. He's got nothing to run on. A little flash impressed the people who have nothing to lose because they're sitting pretty. But there are more working class people than effete elites. McCain's got experience and undecideds and swing voters will break for him. Barack's a loser. He'll always be a loser. He's ineffectual and weak. That's why people don't like him. He's off in Iowa talking about the price of arugala. That's how he tries to 'relate.' At Whole Foods! And Iowa doesn't even have a Whole Foods! He's out of touch, he's an elitist and that's not changing. What we've got with Obama is Kerry after the windsurfing and the Democratic Party can grasp that or be an idiot and nominate his sorry ass only to lose the election.

That's not even getting into everything that's going to come out if Obama gets the nomination. There is so much more out there and the press does know. Why they're not covering it right now, I have no idea. There's a theory they're waiting for when the Super Delegates start to make their decision. But Obama's toxic.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Turkey apparently bombs Iraq, Hillary wins Pennsylvania, Petraeus gets a non-acting nomination, and more.

Starting with war resistance, war resister Camilo Mejia will join Shontina Vernon, Viggo Mortensen, Staceyann Chin, Sarah Levy and others for a May 5th reading of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave in Portlan Oregon. Kristi Turnquist (The Oregonian) notes that tickets are $20 (ten dollars for students) and posts a video of Mortensen providing a voice over to illustrations of Howard Zinn's life. Camilo is among the first known war resisters. Along with being the first known Iraq War veteran to resist and being the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, he documented his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.

In Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and the Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq,
AFP reports that Lt Gen Lloyd Austin ("number two commander of US forces in Iraq") wants Moqtada al-Sadr's help in the ongoing assault on the Sadr City section of Baghdad, "We hope that Moqtada al-Sadr will influence his elements to stop violence and that he will work in favour of peace." The only problem with that request is that US Secretary of State Condi Rice stood in Baghdad Sunday calling Moqtada al-Sadr a coward. Did anyone think about that before she made that talking point? It was an effective one for the White House to make if they were completely turning their back on al-Sadr but if Austin's now publicly asking for al-Sadr's help, there is a problem. And it's a problem Crispin Thorold (BBC News) explains: "It is now clear that although the initial military planning was Iraqi, US and British forces are deeply involved. In the capital's neighbourhood of Sadr City, US infantry troops are fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers, to try to secure areas that were once firmly under the hold of the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to the Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr. Reports suggest that US combat units have also been deployed at short notice to Basra from elsewhere in Iraq and the Middle East." It would appear the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has yet again been exposed as inept. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) quoted Moqtada al-Sadr's statement over the weekend: "I am giving my last warning and my word to the Iraqi government to the Iraqi government to take the path of peace and stop violence against its own people, otherwise it will be a government of destruction. If it does not stop the militias that have infiltrated the government, then we will declare a war until liberation." The assault on Basra last month turned Moqtada al-Sadr from possible waning influence to the face of Iraqi pride. On the assault on civilians that al-Maliki thought would increase his (and the Iraqi military's) own standing, Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported Monday that unnamed "British commanders" were scathing in their critique: "incompetent officers and unattrained troops . . . sent into battle with inadequate supplies of food, water and ammunition," "unmitigated disaster at every level," Iraqi General Mohan Furayji is characterized "as a 'dangerous lunatic' who 'ignored' advice" and al-Maliki was responsible for the "disaster which felt as though an amateur was in charge." William S. Lind (UPI) observes, "When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent his 'army' to fight the Mahdi Army in Basra, U.S. President Bush called it 'a defining moment.' It turned out instead to be a confirming moment. It confirmed that there is no state in Mesopotamia -- the geographical territory known as the nation of Iraq." Pakistan's The Post notes, "Since Sadr issued his threat, which could unravel months of security gains in Iraq, on Saturday the US military says it has killed around 65 militiamen in Sadr City and other Shi'ite parts of Baghdad." The International Committee of the Red Cross issued a field report today on Sadr City noting that "several hospitals have exhausted their stocks of medical supplies as a result of the ongoing fighting. The ICRC has had difficulty transporting food and medicines where they are needed because of the ongoing fighting. Earlier today the ICRC managed to distribute some three tonnes of medical items to Sadr City General Hospital, Al Imam Ali General Hospital and Ibn Al Baldi Paediatric Hospital in Sadr City. The items included equipment for intravenous infusion, injection and dressing materials, and anaesthetics."

Meanwhile the continuing assaults on Basra and Sadr City aren't the only continued operations. Turkey and PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) continue to have ongoing tensions.
AFP reports that Ahmed Danis (PKK spokesperson) states that northern Iraq was bombed by Turkish airplanes today: "The bombing began at 4:30 pm (1330 GMT) and continued for an hour. The bombardment targeted old rear bases in the district of Kharkurk near the Turkish border." AP notes that Turkey has not confirmed the bombings. Reuters cites an unnamed "Turkish military source" declaring that there were four war planes taking part in the bombing which lasted for about a half hour. Hurriyet notes that yesterday US Secretary of State Condi Rice termed the PKK "an enemy of stability and therefore an enemy of Iraq, Turkey and the United States."

In other reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people this morning and two Baghdad roadside bombings wounded nine people in the afternoon and five were wounded in the evening by a Baghdad roadside bombing, a Mosul bomber killed himself right before a car bombing and 2 other people were killed with nine wounded, a Mosul car bombing wounded seven people, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded four people and a Mosul mortar attack wounded four people and a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded two police officers. Reuters notes a US drone killed 2 Iraqis with a Hellfire missile.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Jalal Khorsheed (a teacher) was wounded by gunfire in Salahuddin Province today. Reuters notes the US military killed 6 Iraqis suspected of being "gunmen" and 7 suspected of being "militants," and 2 man shot dead in Mosul (his wife injured), 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, 4 in Muqdadiyah and 38 were discovered in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 5 corpses received by Baghdad's Al Imam Ali hospital (Sadr City -- twenty-two people were also treated for injuries), 3 corpses discovered in Mosul and 2 "close to Tirkrit."

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed when he was attacked by small-arms fire while his patrol was conducting operations in eastern Baghdad at approximately 2:20 p.m. April 23."

Turning to the US, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been receiving a great deal of attention for statements made this week.
William M. Arkin (Washington Post) evaluates the statements and evaluates Gates tenure in his post finding, "Gates' problem in the end is not just a military institution that resents being held to task for the sins of the civilian ideologues and amateurs. It is that, if the military were doing all of what he and others wanted, we still would not be 'winning' in Iraq. If the military smartly saluted and aggressively implemented all of the civilian plans, the world would not be transformed back in either a pre-9/11 state of contentment or an immediate-post-9/11 age of solidarity. . . . When Gates is gone, too little progress will have been made in resolving these problems." Today Gates also announced that Gen David Petraeus (currently in charge of US operations in Iraq) would become the nominee to head of Centcom. Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) explains, "Gen Petraeus who has been praised for his oversight of the military 'surge' that has helped reduce violence in Iraq, will replace William Fallon, who resigned abruptly last month after a magazine article that portrayed the navy officer as publicly opposing President George W. Bush over Iran policy. Admiral Fallon rejected the charge, but said the perception had made it impossible to do his job." At the Pentagon today, Gates declared, "I do not anticipate General Petraeus leaving Iraq until late summer or early fall" and that Lt Gen Ray Odierno (who has schilled so hard to bring about war on Iran) will be the nominee to replace Petraeus in Iraq. Despite the fact that Petraeus would not be leaving "until late summer," Gates also attempted to strong arm Congress on both nominations by declaring, "I respectfully ask the Senate to move on them expeditiously, hopefully by Memorial Day, so their families and we can plan appropriately." Asked in the conference by AP about Senate support, Gates maintained he has kept Senators Carl Levin, John McCain and Senator John Warner in the loop. Other Senators were apparently unimportant. Gates was also asked whether or not he expected to serve out his term (which would appear to mean "Do you think the White House might replace you") through January 20, 2009 and he replied, "I certainly expect to. Hope so." [Reuters appears to think the question was about whether Gates would serve in the next administration. They're off their rocker. The original question to Gates was: "Speaking of continuity and staying the course, do you anticipate continuing to serve as Defense secretary through January 20th of next year?"] Petraeus statement released today on the nomination is (in full): "I am honored to be nominated for this position and to have an opportunity to serve with America's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coastguardsmen, and Civilians." At the White House today, White House spokesperson Dana Perino echoed Gates by declaring, "We ask that the Senate move as expeditiously as possible and ask that they act by Memorial Day." She also cited the "families" but "expeditiously" appears to be the talking point they want in all media coverage since both stressed it. Perino was also asked if the nomination of Petraeus meant (if confirmed by the Senate) that the July assessment delivered to Congress would be done by someone other than Petraeus and she responded "I understand that Secretary Gates believes that will be General Petraeus. . . . And so that assassment will take -- will be done by General Petraeus."

Levin made no public mention of knowing the nomination was coming; however,
AP states he intends "to use a major defense policy bill to expand federal hate crimes laws to protect gays and bring troops home from Iraq. The Michigan Democrat says he also wants to use the bill to force the Iraqi government to pay more toward reconstruction costs." Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports that, as oil prices are close to $120 per barrel, Stuart Bowen ("special inspetor general for Iraq reconstruction") has informed the AP that Iraq's oil revenues for the year could be as high as $70 billion. Gordon Lubold and Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) report that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "appeared to reserve judgment" on the nominations announced by Gates and quotes Reid declaring, "Our ground forces' readiness and battles in Afghanistan and against al-Qaida in Pakistan have suffered as a result of the current costly Iraq strategy. These challenges will require fresh, independent, and creative thinking and, if directed by a new president, a commitment to implementing major changes in strategy."

Turning to US presidental politics. Pressed for time, we're only focusing on Democrats today.
Cynthia McKinney has a lot of new content up at her site and she'll be noted in tomorrow's snapshot (McKinney is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination).
Yesterday in Pennsylvania, primaries were held. There was big news on the Republican side and on the Democratic side. Let's start with the GOP (all Penn. results are with 9,219 ouf of the 9,264 districts reporting). 215,812 voters went for Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul (Paul has 125,810). That is almost half the number who voted for John McCain (576,088). Not a strong endorsement for McCain -- the presumed GOP nominee barring death or scandal -- from Pennsylvania. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama. Clinton leads by 10% of the vote. The percentage is 45.4% for Barack (rounded down to 45%) and 54.6% for Hillary (rounds up to 55%).
Click here for totals. Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos and Emily Friedman (ABC News) report, "Basking in her 10-point victory in yesterday's Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton told ABC's Good Morning America today that her win gave her a great 'vote of confidence' moving forward." With yesterday's vote, Hillary Clinton now leads Barack Obama in the popular vote by 120,000. Big cry baby Barack says that's not fair to count Florida and Michigan. The press HAS to count them because THEY VOTED. This isn't about delegates, it's about the popular vote. The DNC may not know what to do about Florida and Michigan in terms of delegates but those states held primaries. In Michigan, Barack took his own name off the ballot (others -- Clinton, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich) did not. In Florida, he had the same chance to win as Hillary. He may not like the results but he's the one who refused a revote. The press HAS TO COUNT those results. They took place. The press isn't the DNC and their job IS TO REPORT WHAT HAPPENED. Barack may not like it but, guess what, it's not about what he wants, it's about what happened. (Taylor Marsh explains it here.) The only way the results don't count is if new primaries are held and the one preventing that is Barack Obama. Wasn't Hillary supposed to drop out? Wasn't Barack the Democratic choice (yeah, laugh at that one, we'll come back to it)? He couldn't win Penn and he's got a million and one excuses but if you are the choice, if you are the candidate, if you are all the hype said you were, you would have won. You didn't. Susan UnPC (No Quarter) breaks it down here. Following her victory, the Clinton campaign experienced record donations with $3 million raised by this morning and ten million currently.

Meanwhile Tom Hayden never tires of embarrassing himself (what else is honestly left for him?).
Big Tent Democrat (TalkLeft) notes that Tom-Tom wants Hillary out of the race and is pinning it off on his wife -- that's the current wife and (me speaking) don't expect that to last any longer than usual. Tom-Tom tells you his wife is screaming these days -- well who wouldn't if they had to stare at that pockmarked face in the morning? Seriously, Tom Hayden needs to watch himself when it comes to writing about women. When you went through a marriage treating your step-daughter like crap, destroying her self-image, making her feel unwanted, the only thing you ever need to write about women is a piece entitled "Vanessa, This Is My Public Apology To You." Until that piece gets written and published, he really needs to find a topic other than women to write about.

On the issue of the pathetic males, yeah, we caught it.
Ava and I never laughed so hard. Add "community" to "movement." Nine times out of ten, someone claiming they decided to support Barack for either is a Communist hiding in their closet. "Red baiting"? Ava and I never laughed so hard. We can't link to it, we can't comment on it because we're really not in the mood for Communist Party members who pose as Democrats today. But let's be really clear, the CP and the DNC are two different parties. When you are CP and you interject yourself into a DNC primary, calling you out is not out of bounds. The general election is open to all. The Democratic Primary is not supposed to be influenced by Communists or, for that matter, Socialists or Greens or anyone not of the Democratic Party. If you're not a Democrat and you're deciding to endorse Barack, it's not "red baiting" to clarify that an outsider is attempting to hijack a political party. As a comedy reel, it was wonderful to listen to. As anything resembling journalism? Not so much. (No surprise.) Funniest line: "Senator Clinton can't have it both ways!" Uh, she's not the Communist going on a broadcast today pretending to be a Democrat. It takes a lot of nerve for a Communist pretending to be a Democrat to accuse Hillary of trying to have it both ways. Again, it's a Democratic Party primary. If you're not a Democrat, butt out. If you don't, closet doors can come down and you brought it on yourself by lying. You and you alone. (And it's not "red baiting" anymore than the Democratic Party, in 2004, noting that Ralph Nader was getting support from some Republicans was "conservative baiting". Get real. It's about frauds trying to trick people.) You can endorse whomever you want in a general election but a Democratic Primary is for Democrats and, of course, the Closeted know that which is one reason they pretend to be Democrats. Not playing that game here.

Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) observes:Yet the campaign has exposed Obama's glaring weakness among the working-class whites Democrats need to win the presidency."If I told you somebody was winning California, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida and was not winning the nomination, you'd say something was wrong," said Democratic consultant Doug Schoen, who is unaligned in the race. "And something arguably is not right."

Mike will address the claims of some others quoted in the article tonight. Meanwhile Hillary picked up an endorsement from US House Rep John Tanner, "I do not remember a time when our nation has faced the financial peril that confronts all Americans. To me, this election is not about politics as usual. I believe nothing less than our financial liberty and economic freedom are at stake."

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