Friday, July 25, 2008

Working Ralph and 'too busy' Barack

It's the weekend at last! :D And I'm at C.I.'s and we're all staying for the week so that's going to be a lot of fun. A lot!!!! Okay, Nader news. I checked with Betty to make sure because we do not highlight the Atlanta paper except in rare cases. That's Betty's local paper and she loathes the faux progressive there -- the one Ben & Jerry's packages as a leftie and serves up in a cone. This is from Jim Galloway's "Ralph Nader at UGA, criticizes Obama's corporate ties:"

Athens -- Three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader continued to attack rival Barack Obama on Friday for "talking white," and called him a "corporate Democrat" who has surrendered his principles.

In a speech to 150 on the University of Georgia campus, Nader accused Obama, poised to be the first black presidential nominee of a major party, of binding himself with ties to major U.S. corporations.

"I don't want him to talk black. I want him to talk justice," the 74-year-old independent presidential candidate said. "What's the point of this country being on the verge of electing an African-American president, after all these years -- and then have it mean nothing?

"[Obama is] always talking about his past as a community organizer. But again and again, day after day, he's back-tracking, surrendering, flip-flopping -- and appointing the worst corporatist advisors you can imagine," Nader said.

And Ralph was also in South Carolina. This is from John O'Connor's "Nader campaigns in Columbia:"

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said Friday that he wants to force discussion of issues and open the political process up to more third-party candidates.
Nader, who has appeared on at least one state's presidential ballot four times since 1992, has petitioned to appear on South Carolina's ballot in November.
Nader appeared in Columbia on Friday, promising he would campaign in all 50 states.
Nader's campaign is focusing on three issues in particular: granting all U.S. citizens health-care through Medicare; requiring employers to pay a "living wage" of at least $10 an hour; and setting a six-month deadline to withdraw from Iraq.
"They represent a minority viewpoint," Nader said of the positions of Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama on those issues. "We represent a majority of the American people."

So the Nader-Gonzalez campaign is on the move. Taking names and all of that.

Did you hear Barack's other bad news? Barack was supposed to be visiting US service members, wounded ones, in Germany. He cancelled on them. He's trying to blame it on the Pentagon. But that's not what apparently happened. This is from Dan Balz' "Obama Campaign Cancels Visit to U.S. Service Members in Germany:"

The Pentagon said on Friday that it did not prevent an Obama visit.

"Nobody denied Senator Obama the opportunity to visit our wounded being cared for at Landstuhl. Obviously, as a sitting senator, he has an interest in that and can certainly visit in an official capacity," said Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the Pentagon, who added that there are "restrictions on what you can do as a candidate for political office, that stems from trying to maintain political neutrality and not have the military involved in politics."
"The senator's staff was informed of the limits on what the military can do with respect to a political campaign and how we could support a senator's visit to Landstuhl and, quite frankly, I expected them to have the visit," Whitman said.

Poor Barack. Exposed as the fraud he is and on an issue like wounded soldiers. Barack has a world to conquer, he can't be bothered with the little people. And aren't we all just little people in the World Of Bambi. It's all about him. Always!

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

Friday, July 25, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Congressional hearings, BonusGate and more.

Starting with war resistance. "When we arrived Al Assad, this was April or the beginning of May 2003," declared Camilo Mejia, "and this is the very beginning of the occupation and this is when we were being told that we had to keep people on sleep deprivation, to psychological torture; the orders came from way up top. Actually the people who were in charge of running these camps were ghost agents, you know, working for the US government. And when the Abu Ghraib scandal came out they tried to tell the American public that, you know, this was an isolated event that had only began in November or December of 2003. And that it was the result of a few people, you know, who one day woke up and, you know, they were evil, when -- in reality, you know from -- from my experience, I can tell you that this was actually something that was coming from the very top and that happened from the very beginning and that it was not isolated to Abu Ghraib but that was happening elsewhere in Iraq from the very beginning of the occupation." Mejia was speaking on PBS two weekends ago and he continued, "Well in the military, we have what is called spooks. And these are people who are highly trained in counterinsurgency. They're highly trained in linguistics and interrogation and weapons systems and things like that. And they don't wear name tags. They don't wear Unit ID badges or anything like that. They . . . [use] pseudonyms and you know they don't respond to anybody in uniform. They -- they basically take their orders from -- from the very top. And they're -- they're untraceable and -- and obviously, you know, they can conduct themselves with absolute impunity. These were people who were giving the commands when we were there -- not our commanders, not the people who belonged to any unit, you know, but basically people with top secret clearance and, you know, who would never be held accountable for any of the things that happened."

The PBS program was
Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal and Ava and I wrote about that appearance two weeks ago. (And have heard the complaints re: streaming, transcripts, DVDs, et al and we will be noting that in Sunday's TV commentary. But anyone using that link will quickly realize that they can't watch online.) When we noted it previously, we focused on Camilo's rejection of the illegal war. Camilo tell his story in Road to Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia and he is also the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War. In terms of his place in the resistance of the Iraq War, he was the first Iraq War veteran to publicy oppose the illegal war. As noted earlier this week, "The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international human rights organization based in Cambridge, Mass., will be hosting a series of training sessions and workshops at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association to be held from Wednesday, June 24 to Sunday, June 29, at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida." Mejia will be a speaker on June 25th as well as on June 28th. More information can be found here."

Though Meija never went Canada during his resisting while in the military, he has been a very vocal supporter and has joined many in calling on the Canadian government to grant safe harbor to US war resisters in Canada. To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor
the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

On Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled "VA's Response to the Needs of Returning Guard and Reserve Members" and the most interesting exchange took place at the end of the second panel in the last thirty minutes. The second panel was made up of Dr. Joseph Scotti (West Virginia University), Col Bradley Livinsgton (Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, Montana National Guard), Lt Col John Boyd (Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Vermont Army National Guard), Sgt Roy Meredith (Team Leader Maryland Army National Guard) and Maj Cynthia Ramussen (RN, MSN, CANP Combat Stress Officer Sexual Assualt Response Coordinator 88th Regional Readiness Command).

Senator Jay Rockefeller: My first question would appear to be hostile but it's not. Why is it that everybody, but Dr. Scotti, had to say "I'm speaking personally not on behalf of the Reserve, the Guard or the Department of Defense? I really want to know that. Does that mean that they're afraid that you might tell the truth? Does that mean that they are embarrassed by what you might say because their culture is "everything always works and it always works right"? I'd like to know why you have to say that?

Col Bradley Livingston: Sir I might be able to address that because my testimony --

Sen Jay Rockefeller: You can't correct it because you said it --

Col Bradley Livingston: (Overlapping) Correct --

Sen Jay Rockefeller: you can explain it.

Col Bradley Livingston: Okay, I can explain it then. My testimony had not been vetted through DoD and so I --

Sen Jay Rockefeller: Well Isn't that a very good thing?

Col Bradley Livingston: Sir, . . . I was instructed that my testimony had to have that statement put on it, sir.

At "I was instucted," everyone burst into laughter including Livingston.

Sen Jay Rockefeller: You see, I can understand that I'm -- I've got so many questions, I don't even know where to begin. I can understand that if you're from the Department of Transportation. If you come back from the kind of experiences that you've all come back from your testimony, Major Rasmussen, probably was the best I've ever heard here and I've been on this committee for 24 years. I -- it just -- it just breeds a sense of suspicion. Not at you but in them. They got to be "right." You didn't vet it with them. Therefore, you're dangerous. You're telling the truth, you're telling the truth like few people ever do before this committee. One of the -- one of the problems in fact is that when -- when the VA and other people come before this committee we know that everything they've said has been vetted. So there's no real reason for us to listen particularly careful to them because we know that it's not necessarily what they think. You're telling us what you think. And therefore, you're real. You really help us. This is superb help to us just at the time that the whole care of veterans has become -- along with global warming -- one of the two top issues for the entire Congress because it's like we've suddenly rediscovered you. Our own guilt, our own mistake, regardless of political party or anything else going back over many years. And there are reasons for that but I won't go into them. It annoys me that you have to say that because it implies that if you didn't, you'd get in trouble. And that makes me angry.

We'll come back to the second panel but
Les Blumenthal (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the first panel when the committee learned that the VA "failed to send benefit packages to nearly 37,000 National Guard and Reserve members" who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which had Senator Patty Murray pointing out, "While the VA has targeted outreach programs in place to help service members, we still miss far too many veterans who need help and aren't aware of the services and benefits they have earned." You may remember Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation in March. From the March 17th snapshot:

The panel on The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare followed. Adrienne Kinee spoke on that panel and a correction to
Friday's snapshot: Kinne did not state that, "The best preventative healthcare . . . for our soldiers in uniform is to not use them to fight illegal wars"; she stated, "The best prevantative healthcare . . . for our soldiers in uniform is to not use them to fight illegal occupations in the first place." Kinne testified about serving in the military, discharging in 1998 and then enlisting again and discharging during the Iraq War. The differences she saw were immense. The first time she left the US military, she found a great deal of help and resources, people helped her with her paperwork, they advised her of her benefits and assisted her in a smoother transition to civilian life. By contrast, when she discharged during the Iraq War, she was provided no help, no assistance and something as simple as having a physical would require that she live on a base for four to six more weeks before the military would discharge her. There was no attempt made to explain the benefits available to veterans.

For any who missed
Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation -- which was broadcast live at IVAW's site, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA -- you can find archives at IVAW, War Comes Home and -- via 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 anchored Pacifica's live coverage.

But the point is, Congress keeps getting the same song and dance and the first panel was indicative of that. It's a problem Senator Murray has noted.
On Tuesday (link has text and video), she took to the Senate floor to address the issue of the suicide rates of troops and veterans:

Earlier this month, we lost a young man in my home state of Washington just hours after he sought care at the Spokane VA hospital. He was the sixth veteran in that community to take his own life this year. Now, the Spokane VA is investigating all six of those cases. I have also spoken to Secretary Peake. He has assured me that his team is also on the ground, taking a hard look to see what went wrong and what they can learn from the situation.
[. . .]
More than five years later, we should have the resources to treat the psychological wounds of war as well as we do the physical ones. But we don't. It is the duty of the VA and of a grateful nation to be prepared to care for their unique wounds. And in order to do that, we need strong leadership and attention to detail in Washington, D.C., Spokane, Washington, and everywhere in between. At the end of the day, this isn't about bureaucracy or protecting turf, it's about saving lives. We must make it a national priority to address this tragedy.

1-800-873-TALK is the VA's suicide prevention hotline, 24 hours. That was Tuesday. Back to Wednesday. "The military is a culture of its own," Maj Cynthia Rasmussen explained in her opening testimony. (
Click here for prepared remarks but that's nothing like what she delivered in her stated opening remarks.) Sen Rockefeller would single her out for praise and we'll note a portion of her opening testimony (again, it will not match up with the prepared remarks submitted prior to the hearing).

Maj Cynthia Rasmussen: Multiple competing tasks when a service member gets home cause confusion. We don't know how to think that way. We know how to be mission oriented. We receive an op order it tells us who, what, when, where, why and how -- basically. We don't get op orders when we get home five days after when we take the uniform off. Owen Rice -- who is a Hennepin County sherrif deputy in Hennepin County Jail has been to Iraq, Traumatic Brain Injury in Iraq -- says, "Ma'am it's like this: One person talks in the military and everyone else listens; when you get home: everyone talks, everyone listens and nobody hears." What I hear from soldiers across the country -- service members across the country: "Ma'am, it's too chaotic here. Please send me back where I know how to survive, I know how to function, I know how to do that." [. . .] Emotions and anger. In war, we control our emotions. Obviously, you would not want your warrior having their emotions out in the open anywhere. Plus we cannot accomplish a mission if we have different emotions going on. We numb out. Anger is useful. Anger is not only useful, anger is an awesome emotion. We want anger, we like anger we encourage it. Because it's the fight/flight response. It makes your body, your mind and everything about you be the best that you can be and accomplish the mission you need to accomplish. We encourage it, we live that way, we like to live that way. But guess what? When you take the uniform off, that anger that you've learned in practice and felt good about does not go away. It looks like this: Not talking about your emotions and being angry in war is a strength. It only leads to you can't talk about your emtions at home which is considered a weakness. We look insensitive to others when we get home. It's not that we're insensitive, it's that we have not practiced those emotions for a long time. Emotions take practice. We have a decreased ability to read other's emotions -- not because we don't care, not because we're cold hearted warriors, but because we haven't practiced that for a long time. This can lead to increased irritability and defensiveness because if you're spouse, you're mom, dad or someone accuses you of not caring anymore and not showing emotions. We're not going to say, 'Oh, yes, you're right thank you. Thank you. I'm sorry I was unable to articulate that.' We're going to say, 'What are you talking about? That's not true.' We're going to get defensive -- as all of us would if someone siad that to us. It leads to increased alcohol and drug use to cover up our emotions. You know why? Not because we're warriors and we learned to do that. It is more socially acceptable in our society to go to the bar and have a few drinks or to sit home and slam down a case of beer with your friends or buddies then it is to raise your hand and say "I need help. I need medication. I need to talk to someone" -- not just in the military but across the board. In our program we work with all branches of the service and many VA and civilian organizations across the country. Despite this amazing comprehensive program, service members and families are still falling through the cracks. I had the honor and opportunity to speak to 150 Purple Heart National Service Officers at their training in Phoenix a few months ago. I received this note, handwritten, put it in my pocket and went back to my hotel room. And it read: "Ma'am, for the last three years I've been treated for PTSD by doctors, nurses and others that have no clue over what is being a soldier and have this feeling inside," this is a quote by the way, "I can't thank you enough for coming today. In the last two hours, you have done what nobody could have done: You make me feel normal again. That is a feeling that I thought I would never feel again since I was discharged from the army. Thank you and God bless." This was an Operation Iraqi vet from Puerto Rico, approximately 24-years-old. One final point I want to make. Not all issues with service members are about PTSD. We need to deal with the combat stress, the operational stress, those things I just talked to that are normal habits for all service members. When I spoke to the Purple Heart receipiants, a WWII vet raised his hand and started sobbing and said, "Where were you when I came home?" I had a Korean wife say to me last weekend, Battle Creek VA, if you had been around 40 years ago I would not be divorced from my husband who is a Korean vet because now I understand why we had all the problems we had. This isn't PTSD. This is a warrior taking his uniform off and trying to come home. We have operational stress, we have grief issues, we have lost a year or more in whatever life it was we thought we were going to have. We have depression, we have anger issues, we have PTSD, we have all king of issues. Please, please, please stop just calling it PTSD, I want to be called a combat vet coming home with some issues. Thank you.

Wednesday's snapshot covered Tuesday's House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing.
Dana Milbank (Washington Post) covered it in depth (and was noted in that day's snapshot) Talk Radio News Service provided a summary of the main points and that was it from the press. Today the New York Times makes that hearing their lead editorial (A18), entitled "Wounded Warriors, Empty Promises" and describes it as "the latest low moment for Army brass". From the editorial:

Under skepitcal questioning during a hearing in February, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, told the subcomittee that "for all intents and pruposes, we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be staffed." He also said: "The Army's unwavering commitment and a key element of our warrior ethos is that we never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield -- or lost in a bureaucracy."
That was thousands of wounded, neglected soldiers ago. There are now about 12,500 soldiers assigned to the warrior transition units -- more than twice as many as a year ago. The number is expected to reach 20,000 by this time next year.
The nation's responsibility to care for the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan will extend for decades. After Tuesday's hearing, we are left pondering the simple questions asked at the outset by Representative Susan Davis, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the military personnel subcommittee: Why did the Army fail to adequately staff its warrior transition units? Why did it fail to predict the surge in demand? And why did take visits from a Congressional subcommittee to prod the Army into recognizing and promising -- yet again -- to fix the problem?

Still on Congress and veterans,
Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reported on a Congressional bill 'addressing' stop-loss. Stop-loss is the (illegal) policy by which Bully Boy has extended service members' length of service. The service contract has been completed but instead of moving towards discharge, Bully Boy is claiming a national emergency and extending service. If the Iraq War has caused a "national emergency" for the United States, you certainly can't tell it by the tiny trickle of reporting on the Iraq War. So Congress has decided to 'address' it. By writing a law making clear how unlawful the policy is? No, by tossing out a few dollars at the problem -- "an additional $1,500 a month of extnded duty . . . retroactive to October 2001". If this is step-one, it's needed. It's past due. But if this is the 'fix,' it's not repairing anything. IVAW's Kristopher Goldsmith favors ending the illegal stop-loss and tells Colimore, "Instead of being a civilian again and starting my life, I was doing the polar opposite: putting on a unifoorm and returning to Iraq. I had come back with pretty severe PTSD and depression and was having panic attacks."

It's Friday. And Gidget's finishing up the World Salvation Tour so the press can't be bothered too much with Iraq. In the limited reports from Iraq . . .


Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing that left three police officers injured.


Reuters notes that 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes that 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad.

Turning to US presidential politics and starting with Gidget the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. But don't tell his staff that. Apparently, selecting his shade of lip gloss tires them out. Which is why the Telegraph of London's
Toby Harnden (at RealClearPolitics) explains that Jim Steinberg got huffy with the press and started talking about how when he worked for another president (Bill Clinton), he never had to go on record with the press -- only to have the press remind Steinberg that Barack was not president. He's not even the nominee. But don't confuse them. Susan Rice -- lunatic and War Hawk -- was defending Barack Does Berlin and insisting he wasn't be political, "When the President of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally." Causing a reporter to shoot back, "But he is not President of the United States." It's all so confusing for the Cult. He's not even the nominee yet. Cedric and Wally weighed in on Ms. Minelli's Cabaret last night.

Ralph Nader is a presidential candidate, not a 'presumptive' one, an actual candidate for president. Stealing from
Marcia yesterday, "Ruth (Ruth's Report) has been covering it, Kat [Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) ] has been covering it, Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) has been covering it, Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude ) has been covering it. C.I. (The Common Ills) has covered it over and over and Third Estate Sunday Review has covered it." She had noted Mike in the previous paragraphs but he's covered BonusGate as well. BonusGate, where at least 50 Democrats conspired to keep Ralph Nader off the state's ballot in the 2004 eleciton. John L. Micek (The Morning Call) explains that Pennsylvania's AG Tom Corbett was "armed with a 74-page grand jury presentation two weeks ago, alleged that Democratic House employees worked to challenge the 51,273 signatures Nader and running mate Peter Camejo had gathered for access to the 2004 presidential ballot. A dozen former and current House Democratic lawmakers and employees face theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest charges, partly for their alleged role in derailing Nader's campaign." Nader held a news conference on the issue yesterday. Charles Thompson (The Patriot-News) reports "Nader wants relief from an $81,102 penalty for legal costs following court battles over his presidential nomination petition in 2004. He said he will file a challenge with the state Supreme Court. Nader said those damages should be dropped in light of criminal charges brought this month" and quotes Nader stating, "This was one of the most fraudulent and deceitful exercises ever perpetrated on Pennsylvania voters." Amy Worden (Philadelphia Inquirer) quotes him stating, "According to the grand jury, millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, resources and state employees were illegally used for political campaign purposes -- including to remove the Nader-Camejo ticket from the ballot." Alex Roarty (Politicker) reported yesterday, ""House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D-Greene County), law firms and the country's 'corrupt' two-party system -- each were warned Wednesday by Ralph Nader that the ongoing 'Bonusgate' investigations will reveal their rampant political corruption." Surprisingly, "Democracy" "Now" can't be bothered with this story. While addressing all of that, Nader's still running a presidential campaign and Nader and Matt Gonzalez are on the move all weekend. From Team Nader:

We need gas money.
Starting today, Ralph Nader is on the road again.
This time campaigning through the South and then out West.
Over the next two weeks, Ralph will be in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Utah and up and down California.
His VP, Matt Gonazalez, will be joining Ralph on the campaign trail starting in Texas.
Check out the schedule below.
If you are in the neighborhood, come on out to hear and meet Ralph and Matt.
With both Obama and McCain saber rattling over Iran, the Nader/Gonzalez message of peace through justice is now more important than ever.
If your friends or relatives in the neighborhood, give them a shout and let them know.
But right now,
we need gas money to fuel Ralph's South and West Coast Tour.
We've rented a car.
Gas prices are high.
And Ralph is on the move.
So, please donate
whatever you can now to fill up our tank.
You can give up to $4,600.
But $500, $100, $50 - whatever you can donate is what we need.
Help us fill 'er up.
So we can get 'er done.
The Nader Team
Ralph Nader's Tour of the South and West
Friday July 25, 2008 5:30 p.m. Athens, GeorgiaNader for President 2008 RallyUniversity of Georgia, Georgia Center- "Masters Hall" 1127 South Lumpkin St. Athens, GA 30602Contribution- $10/ $5 student(404) 446-7093 or
Friday July 25, 2008 8 p.m.Atlanta, GeorgiaEvening with RalphSuggested Contribution $100 minRSVP (202) 471-5833
Saturday July 26, 2008, 6 p.m.Jackson, MississippiBook Signing/ SpeechLemuria Bookstore202 Banner Hall- I-55 North Jackson, MS 39206(601) 842-6769 or
Saturday July 26, 2008 8:00 p.m.Jackson, MississippiEvening with Ralph NaderRSVP (202) 471-5833Suggested Contribution $50
Sunday July 27, 2008 2:00 p.m.Houston, TexasRalph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezHilton University of Houston4800 Calhoun Suite 207, Houston, TX77204Contribution- $10/$5 student(202) 471-5833 or
Sunday July 27, 2008 7:30 p.m.Austin, TexasRalph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezTrinity United Methodist Church600 East 50th St. Austin, TX 78751Contribution $10/$5 student(202) 471-5833 or
Thursday July 31, 2008 7:30pmSalt Lake City, UtahNader for President 2008 Rally w/ Rocky AndersonLibby Gardner Concert Hall1375 E President Circle, Salt Lake UT Contribution-$10/ $5 students(801) 916-6307 or
Saturday, August 2, 2008, 8:00 p.m. Davis, CaliforniaNader for President 2008 Speech Ralph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezVarsity Theater616 Second StreetDavis, CA 95616Contribution: $10/ $5 students(202) 471-5833 or
events@votenader.orgSunday August 3, 1:30 p.m.Sebastopol, CaliforniaNader for President SpeechRalph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezSebastopol Community Center390 Morris St., Sebastopol, California 95472Contribution: $10/ $5 students(202) 471-5833 or
August 3, 2008, 4:30pmHealdsburg, CaliforniaNader for President SpeechRalph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezCopperfield's books104 Matheson St., Healdsburg, California 95448Contribution: $10/ $5 students(202) 471-5833 or
events@votenader.orgAugust 3, 7:30 p.m.Kentfield, CaliforniaNader for President 2008 Speech in MarinRalph Nader w/ Matt GonzalezCollege of Marin- Olney Hall835 College Ave., Kentfield, CaliforniaContribution: $10/ $5 studentsMore Info: (415) 897-6989 or
PS: We invite your comments to the blog.

NOW on PBS (begins airing tonight in most markets) sits down with John Edwards to discuss the troubles facing families across the country, some struggle to make it in single parent homes, for example. Bill Moyers Journal explores torture (among other topics) and Jane Mayer is a guest. BMJ's Michael Winship files an editorial on torture, "The Company We Keep:"

The administration remains in denial. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft told the House Judiciary Committee, "I don't know of any acts of torture that have been committed by individuals in developing information," he said. "So I would not certainly make an assumption. I would attribute the absence of an attack [since 9/11] at least in part, because there have been specific attacks that have been disrupted, to the excellent work and the dedication and commitment of people whose lives are dedicated to defending the country. Interrogators have used enhanced interrogation techniques but they haven't used torture." Grim hairsplitting. This week, as the result of a Freedom of Information Act suit, the ACLU received a heavily redacted copy of an infamous August 2, 2002 memo, signed by then-head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee and written with his subordinate, the equally infamous John Yoo. "An individual must have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering," it reads. "… The absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture… We have further found that if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent." Jameel Jaffer, head of the ACLU's national security project told Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent, "Imagine that in an ordinary criminal prosecution a bank robber tortures a bank manager to get the combination to a vault. He argues that the torture was not to inflict pain, but to get the combination. Every torturer has a reason other than to cause pain. If you're going to let people off the hook for an intention other than to cause pain, you're not going to be able to prosecute anyone for torture." Deborah Pearlstein, a constitutional scholar and human rights lawyer who has spent time at Guantanamo monitoring conditions there, testified to Congress that, "As of 2006, there had been more than 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel have, incredibly, alleged to have abused or killed detainees. This figure is based almost entirely on the U.S. government's own documentation. These cases involved more than 600 U.S. personnel and more than 460 detainees held at U.S. facilities throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. They included some l00-plus detainees who died in U.S. custody, including 34 whose deaths the Defense Department reports as homicides. At least eight of these detainees were, by any definition of the term, tortured to death."

More is online at
Bill Moyers Journal where you can watch, listen or read (transcripts) and BMJ never forgets to serve all communities and remembers public television's key word is "public." On Washington Week, Gwen and the Gas Bags jaw over the non-news. Helene Cooper (New York Times) is the only one qualified to address the international scene so expect a lot of snorts, bromides and tidbits from the rest.

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aimee allison
david solnit
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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Thursday! One day until the weekend. We can make it, we can make it, just hang in there. :D Now despite what some illiterate bossy person thinks, this community has been covering BonusGate and has been covering it for some time. Not just me, not just C.I. Pretty much all of us. I started not to cover this tonight because some illiterate bossy person e-mailed C.I. to order C.I.. to cover it. I don't know if that's why it's not in today's snapshot or not? I know C.I. had covered it this morning before the order came in. C.I. doesn't take orders, none of us do. We especially don't take orders from people who attacked Hillary during the primary.

I'm going to cover it tonight because there were developments and because I support Ralph. (The bossy illiterate supports Cynthia McKinney.) Today Ralph Nader held a press conference to comment on BonusGate, the Democrats conspiring to keep him off the ballot in Pennsylvania in the 2004 election. David Spett's "Nader asks state to waive legal fees for 2004 ballot removal" reports:

It is "inconceivable" that state House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese was not aware of bonuses paid to state employees for Democratic campaign work, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader said at a news conference yesterday.
In a presentment that named 12 state elected or appointed officials, the state attorney general alleged that one project the staffers were involved in was getting Mr. Nader off the 2004 presidential ballot in Pennsylvania. He was removed for having improper signatures on nominating petitions and ordered to pay more than $81,000 in legal costs, which yesterday he asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider in light of the illegal campaigning by state employees.

I'm not done yet. Here's Eric Veronikis' "Nader to ask Pa. Supreme Court to reopen decision:"

Ralph Nader stopped by the state Capitol this afternoon to announce he will ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reopen its 2006 decision against him.Nader today filed a lengthy complaint with the Federal Election Commission and plans to file another with the U.S. Department of Justice, he said.The decision forces Nader to pay litigation fees amassed in a challenge to keep him off the presidential ballot in the commonwealth in 2004. Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo submitted nomination papers as independent candidates for president and vice president, respectively, in 2004.

This is from Alex Roarty's "Nader says DeWeese, others to pay price for 'Bonusgate':"

House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D-Greene County), law firms and the country's "corrupt" two-party system -- each were warned Wednesday by Ralph Nader that the ongoing "Bonusgate" investigations will reveal their rampant political corruption.
Speaking in the Capitol rotunda, the three-time Green Party presidential candidate said the revelations already delivered by Attorney General Tom Corbett have "shocked the conscience of those who believe in clean elections."
But Nader is asking the attorney general, the Federal Elections Commission and U.S. Department of Justice to delve deeper, particularly focusing on what connections DeWeese an unnamed law firm referenced in the attorney general's presentment had with the alleged corruption. The attorney general's charges were very thorough, he said, but showed only "the tip of the iceberg."

Got one more. This is from Charles Thompson's "Nader condemns House Dems for Bonusgate activities:"

One example that figured prominently in Corbett's case was the caucus' effort - involving as many a 50 staffers working on state time - to get Nader thrown off the general election ballot in 2004.
Democrats were working around the country to disarm Nader's candidacy that year, in hopes of boosting John Kerry's candidacy.

The above should give you the idea of how serious this is. It's also a slap in the face to all of us who have spent years expressing outrage that the Republicans would disenfranchise in Florida. I really thought, "Bad Republicans!" Now it turns out that Democrats are just as bad -- at least the ones in Pennsylvania. And I guess the 'leadership' too because where's their apology for what the Penn Dems did?

This is like paying off the referee so you'll win the game. It's not a fair competition by any means. And it's nothing to be proud of. A win that you cheat to get isn't a real win. You cheapen the victory by refusing to play by the rules.

And it goes to exactly how corrupt the system today is that anyone would think they could 'get away' with this. Not only does it show a disrespect for democracy and rule of law, it shows a huge level of self-disrespecting.

It's not 'strategy,' it's not 'skill,' it's cheating. And there's not a kid in elementary school that doesn't know right now that cheating is wrong. But somehow a major political party forgot that. It's disgusting.

And so is the silence on it.

If you believe in democracy, you should be highly offended by what went on in Pennsylvania. It was undemocratic and it was cheating. If you played any sport in school when you were a little kid, you heard over and over, "Cheaters never win! Winners never cheat!" It may sound real simple but apparently it was too complex for adults in Pennsylvania to grasp.

That's disgusting.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a 'milestone' is reached (and only CNN catches it), another reported suicide bombing in Diyala Province as a 'crackdown' approaches, Nancy Pelosi reveals she never really cared about ending the illegal war, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Last week, US war resister Robin Long was extradited from Canada. Nanthaniel Hoffman (Boise Weekly) reports, "Long was escorted back to his Army unit at Fort Carson, Colo., on July 18 and promptly went before a magistrate judge. He faces charges of desertion, and is being held at the jail in Colorado Springs because there is no detention facility at Fort Carson, according to Army spokesperson Brandy Gill." Hoffman also steers readers to Rachael Daigle's interview with Robin in 2006. In that interview he spoke of many things including CO status, "I tried to get conscientious objector status but my first sergeant told me he couldn't find the forms to apply and he didn't feel like looking for them. I didn't know about conscientious objector status until a month before I got orders and that was when I first tried to do it. Shortly after that, I got orders so I never really got a chance to apply for it." Again, Robin was extradited and became the first US war resister ejected from Canada during the Iraq War. Others are attempting to be awarded safe harbor in Canada. "A plea from Vietnam war resisters to let Iraq resisters stay in Canada" (Owen Sound Sun Times) is a letter where past war resisters show solidarity with today's war resisters:

Almost 40 years ago, being young and idealistic, we came to this beautiful country to escape the demands that the U. S. military and government were placing on its citizens and society. We knew little of the country we came to but soon learned how important it was that people in Canada cared to help U. S. conscientious objectors. In 1968, with the help of the Mennonite, Quaker and United Church communities, the Canadian government agreed to allow U. S. deserters and draft evaders to stay in Canada and not be forced to return. This is not true for the current illegal Iraq war, where the Americans continue to send troops. There are hundreds of American Iraq war resisters in Canada. In spite of the fact that a majority of Parliament voted to allow the resisters to stay, the Conservative Harper government has stated that resisters will be deported and returned to the United States to face prosecution. Only Harper's Conservatives are supporting this deportation, but they get to decide. While this small deportation may look unimportant to most Canadians, Vietnam era immigrants remember the feeling of arriving in a country that If we help them stay, they will contribute their efforts to Canada as we did then and they will remember your kindness as we do now cared about its citizens; a country that believed in aspiring to fairness and justice.We know that most Canadians do not agree with Prime Minister Harper's order for deportation -- recent national polls indicate that 64 per cent of Canadians support granting permanent residency to U. S. war resisters -- and we also know that Harper is not about to change without significant pressure. We ask that you remember and recognize the value that Vietnam war resisters brought to this country over the last 40 years and that you recognize the same potential in these new young U. S. resisters asking for the same opportunity.
If we help them stay, they will contribute their efforts to Canada as we did then and they will remember your kindness as we do now. Please contact your local MP, Prime Minister Harper, Immigration Minister Diane Finley and Public Security Minister Stockwell Day to add your voices to the many other Canadians who are saying "let war resisters stay." Andrew Armitage, Leigh Tim Hill, Owen Sound thill@bmts.comDonald Holman, Traverston, zetlin@bmts.comRobert Hope, Owen Sound bob@rbhope.caTerri Hope, Owen Sound terri@rbhope.caTony McQuail, Lucknow mcqufarm@hurontel. Elizabeth Zetlin, Traverston,

Kimberly Rivera is a US war resister and Iraq War veteran in Canada -- with her husband Mario and their two children (soon to be joined by a third). Will DiNovi wrote about her in one of those 'online exclusives' at The Nation. (Not an insult to DiNovi.) Link goes to CBS News. 26-year-old Kimberly Rivera is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. After serving in Iraq, she returned home for a brief leave and tells DiNovi, "I was really messed up when I got back, with feelings I'd never had before. Sometimes I just got angry, just completely explosive." She and her husband originally headed east with no real plan on her part (Mario had already brought up Canada) before they ended up in Canada.

Kimberly and her family were unprepared for some of the hardships they experienced in Canada, but also for the support they received. The War Resisters campaign arranged housing for the Riveras with a family in a suburb of Toronto when they first arrived, and three months later helped them move into their own apartment. It took eight months for Kimberly and Mario's work permits to be processed, and during that time they relied on the assistance of the War Resisters campaign and made trips to the local food bank every Thursday. Now, as refugee claimants, they can work legally and receive healthcare benefits. After a part-time stint at a photo-shop, Kimberly is working five days a week at a bakery, putting in shifts from 2 until 10 in the morning. Mario does occasional computer assembly work and is searching for part-time jobs. Though money is tight, their schedules allow them to be with their 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter at all times. Kimberly's experience has also made her more engaged politically. She directly petitioned her Member of Parliament to stop the food bank her family had relied on from closing down, and now regularly attends the War Resisters campaign meetings and rallies. "I don't like the attention," she says, but "I do it because I feel like there's a story that needs to be told." Kimberly will have her pre-removal risk assessment hearing on July 23 and may face deportation as early as this fall. After learning this month that she is pregnant with her third child, her desire to stay in Canada is stronger than ever.

At her own site, Kimberly often blogs about her experiences and shares her poetry. In April,
she began one post, "I guess the hardest thing for people to understand is the reason you joing the military is not the reason you leave it. Not knowing the truth. Your basic role as a sodlier being invalidated, finding out your job has no meaning. No reason." In a poem that fellow US war resister in Canada Patrick Hart should put to music, Kimberly explains:

I was fighting your kind for killing my kind.
I was fighting to find weapons that could wipe out large populations of peace.
I was fighting to free you from the bad men, that harmed you and your family.
I was fighting for your liberty.
I was fighting for peace.
I was fighting to keep my family safe from you and your family.
But in reality I was fighting to destroy everything you know and love.

The end of that poem is, "Canada I am here will you take the time and the heart to understand what I am now fight for, with words and not a gun."

To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor
the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to the US, last week US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed that Congress could have ended the illegal war when the Democrats took control of both houses after the November 2006 elections . . . if they'd wanted to. Though it was reported on, no one seems to have caught it. Pelosi has offered a number of excuses ("we don't have the votes" and It's-the-Senate's fault being among her more popular ones). Any funding measure for the illegal war could have been filibustered as former US Senator Mike Gravel repeatedly pointed out but the simple truth is that as House Speaker, anything Nancy Pelosi didn't want to come to a vote, didn't have to come to one.
Carl Hulse's report in the New York Times was buried on A15. Maybe that's why people didn't notice? Or maybe they were stunned by the 1987 photo of Pelosi that ran with it? Or maybe it was Hulse violating the rules of newspaper journalism by opening with backstory (1987) instead of offering "Yesterday" in the lede or anywhere early on. In his fifth paragraph, he finally got around to today and quoted Pelosi in paragraph six stating, "The president of the United States, with gas at $4 a gallon because of his failed energy policies, is now trying to say that is because I couldn't drill offshore. That is not the cause, and I am not going to let him get away with it." After which, Hulse noted, "Her voice carries considerable weight because Ms. Pelosi, who is now House speaker, can prevent a vote on expanded drilling from reaching the floor." Yes, she could, but, no, she wouldn't. (For the record, I'm opposed to offshore drilling and opposed to it because of the ecological damage. Pelosi, for the record, is opposed to it because her donating base doesn't want to see their property values drop -- an ocean-front property decreases in value when the view is of a drilling rig.) The same need to take action she feels on offshore drilling never applied to the illegal war. But Pelosi always had the power to end the illegal war by burying any funding proposal and refusing to let it come to the floor. But she would have been up against the White House! And Republicans in the House! And she is now. Somethings matter to her, somethings do not.

As the number of dead and wounded pile up, that needs to be remembered. Today
Sabrina Tavernise and Riyadh Muhammad (New York Times) report "Arkan al-Naimi, the son of the editor in chief of the weekly newspaper Sound of Villages, was accidentally shot dead by American soldiers on Wednesday, when he failed to stop his car after a convoy of Humvees pulled out in front of him" according to Kirkuk police officer Capt Mahmou al-Bayati. On Sunday, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "An American Special Force raided the residence of Khalaf Issa Turk in al-Asri neighbourhood, Baiji at dawn, Sunday and opened fire upon Husam Hamed Hmoud al-Qaissi, son of the Governor of Salahuddin Province while he was asleep in the guest room and also opened fire upon Auday Khalaf Issa al-Qaissi, his cousin killing them both, and detained two others without giving any explanation, said a security source in Salahuddin Province. The American military said its forces shot two armed men during a raid because they felt they had 'hostile intent'. The statement added that the forces also injured and captured an al-Qaida financer during the operation." Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ali Hammed (New York Times) covered the shooting noting that the death had Hamed al-Qaisi, father and uncle of the dead and governor of Salahuddin Province, making noises about resigning and that the treaty the White House wants with puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki already has a "contentious sticking point . . . an Iraqi demand that American troops no longer be immune from Iraqi criminal laws, an ultimatum that Iraqi officials say has been spurred by unwarranted attacks on civilians." There is talk in the local government of other such shootings (at least two) and the version from the governor's side is that "American Special Operation forces broke into a house at 3 a.m. and fatally shot the governor's 17-year-old son, Hussam. Maj. Muthanna Ibrahim, a spokesman for the governor, said Hussam was shot in his head, stomach and shoulder while he slept. Hussam's 23-year-old cousin, Uday Khalaf, awoke and tried to push open the door to Hussam's room, but he was also shot and killed by the American troops, Major Ibrahim said. The house is owned by Hussam's aunt".

AFP reports that northern Iraq was bombed last night by Turkish planes. BBC points out, "Wednesday's attacks, in the Zap region, were the latest in a series carried out by Turkey since it intensified operations at the end of last year." Hurriyet asserts "13 outlawed PKK targes" were hit according to the Turkish military. AFP notes the PKK asserts they "did not suffer any losses in the bombing".

In Diayala Province today, a Baquba bombing claimed multiple lives.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a woman "wearing an explosive belt targeted an Awakening Council Commander" and blew her self up and also claimed the life of the 'commander' Naeem al-Dulaimi, 2 of his guards and 4 people with twenty more wounded. CBS and AP report that the death toll climbed to 8 (not counting the woman wearing the explosive belt) and note that, "Last week, double suicide bombings killed 28 army recruits outside a military base in Diyala." AFP points out, "It was in Diyala that the phenomenon of women suicide bombers first appeared." CNN estimates, "There have been about two dozen female suicide bombings in Iraq. The bulk of them have been in Diyala -- an ethnically mixed province."

Tuesday's snapshot noted that the 'crackdown' (assualt and slaughter) on Diyala Province is suppoed to begin August 1st. As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) points out, the bill for provincial elections is now buried by the Iraqi presidential council. That means the 'planned' and 'announced' provincial elections may not take place in October, may not take place this year. The March 'crackdown' on Basra saw peaceful protests as well as violent ones break out across Iraq and Moqtada al-Sadr is thought to have calmed that -- and to do have done so with an eye on the then-upcoming elections. The assualt on Diyala may see reactions similar to those that broke out during the Basra assault. Nicholas Spangler (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Some members of the Sunni Awakening, tribesman paid by the United States to fight al Qaida Iraq, are fleeing. 'They think the security plan will target them after the insurgents,' Mulla Sh'hab Alsafi, leader of one local Awakening group, told McClatchy. Diyala, home to Kurds, Arab Sunni and Shiites, is one of the most ethnically and religiously mixed provinces in Iraq. Rich in agriculture, it's likely to be hotly contested in the upcoming provinical elections".

In some of today's other reported violence . . .

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Abudlrahman Mohammed Dawood ("Dawa Party member") was wounding in a roadside bombing (apparently targeting him) as were two of his bodyguards and a Mosul car bombing that killed the driver and 2 Iraqi soldiers with an additional two left wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 members of the "Awakening" Council were shot dead at a checkpoint in Baghdad by unknown assailants. Reuters notes 1 teenager was shot dead by the US military in Kirkuk and 1 US service member was wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 2 corpses were discovered in Yusufiya and 3 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Last week, the
US Defense Department noted, "Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Wash., died of natural causes July 17 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. She was assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif." CNN reports Larsen is the 100 female US service member to die Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) noted, according to Beale Air Force Base, that "Larsen was from Tacoma but was originally from the Philippines. She joined the Air Force in 1990. At Beale she was the lead noncommissioned officer in the base legal department. She is survived by her mother and her husband, an active-duty airman also stationed at Beale".

Staying on the topic of women in the military,
Sherry Jones (WeNews) reports that a "disproportionate number" of discharges (firings) for being gay are falling on women and that: "In fiscal 2006, women made up 17 percent of the Army but 35 percent of discharges under the 'don't ask' law. One year later, women were 15 percent of Army members, yet discharges of women increased to 45 percent of the total." And Jones' report notes that straight women are also effected and often targeted as lesbians by others who want them out of the service. Marcia covered that aspect last month when Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported the figures for the Air Force were women making up 20% of the personnel but 49% of the dischares under Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell. As Marcia noted then, "I should probably also point out that the ones kicked out aren't necessarily lesbians. Or even bi-sexual. It can be a straight woman just as easily. All it takes is some whispers. Which is why straight people should be against sexual closets as much as the LGBT community (or the parts of the LGBT community that have pride in themselves)." Staying on the topic of women in the military, IVAW's Jen Hogg wrote a column for Women's Media Center about the realities for women serving in the military: "Imagine if those flashy recruiting commercials showed the real dangers a woman can face while serving in the military, living her formative years in a hazardous work environment where racism and homophobia are tolerated for the sake of 'getting by' and sexual harassment goes unreported so you don't 'ruin his career.' All this while women work twice as hard to prove themselves as soldiers -- more than just a 'bitch,' 'dyke,' 'whore'." She covers women murdered in Iraq by men they served with such as Kamish Black and Lavena Johnson (I'm saying Lavena was murdered, to be clear, not Hogg) and the unexplained suicide of Tina Priest after she reported rape. Hogg is a co-founder of SWAN -- Service Womens Action Network.

Turning to the US race for president.
Allison Stevens (WeNews) is wrong that Barack Obama has won the Democratic Party's nomination. No one has. The convention has not yet been held. He is the 'presumptive' nominee. Stevens quotes Hillary supporter Marj Singer (president of the Virigina chapter of NOW) explaining that this talk of Barack going with one of his 'female' 'friends' doesn't mean s**t to her, "It's not enough to say, 'Oh, whoop-de-do, we'll get somebody else with a vagina. We were not doing this because she was a woman. We were doing this because she was fantastic on our issues" -- and then Marj Singer points out Senator Clinton and Senator Patty Murray taking action to stop the White House's attempts to place birth control under "the definition of abortion" with Singer stating, "There's just a feeling of, 'We really put a lot of energy into this and we got a bad deal. People are just saying, 'Maybe we just shouldn't vote this time'." Then it's time to trot out Nancy Pelosi who (wrongly) thinks she can speak to the 'girls' and get 'em in line. Having refused to call out sexism (by the media, by the Obama campaign and by his Cult) throughout the 2008 primary, no one gives a damn what Nancy Pelosi has to say. As noted, Barack isn't the nominee of anything at this point. The Denver Group is attempting to bring democracy to the DNC convention in Denver. PUMA and Just Say No Deal are two other groups that are not going to fall in line no matter how many times Nancy Pelosi thinks her tired ass has any weight at this late date. Staying with women, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente (McKinney is the Green party presidential nominee, Clemente is her running mate) are not the first women of color ticket in a US presidential race. Amy Goodman repeated that nonsense on Monday (and we called it out Monday -- and Jim did with the note he added to my morning entry) and has refused to correct it. As noted in the July 11th snapshot and many times since: " What About Our Daughters? explains that, if McKinney is the nominee, this is the third time two women of color would be on the ticket with the first being Lenora Fulani and Maria Elizabeth Munoz in 1992 (New Alliance Party) and Monica Moorehead and Gloria La Riva (Workers World Party) in 1996." Workers World Party confirmed to Martha this week that, yes, Moorehead and La Riva were women of color and also noted that the party's publication (Workers World) has endorsed a presidential candidate for this election: "This time we are taking the unusual step of endorsing the candidacy of Cynthia McKinney because these are unique times and this is a unique candidate. McKinney, a courageous Black woman and former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, has become one of the most militant leaders and voices for the U.S. left, progressive and Black movements. Because of her militancy in the struggle against the war, the struggle to impeach Bush, as well as her struggle to expose the government's role in the displacement of survivors of Hurricane Katrina, she was branded too Black and too radical to walk the halls of Congress. She was pushed out, not once but twice, by the leadership of the Democratic Party. Last year, McKinney severed her ties to that party."

Turning to Barack,
Jarrett (In These Times) points out that former US Secretary of State Colin Powell is advising Barack and wonders, "Where were the rest of the media on the fact that Obama, the candidate 'who was against the war from the start,' is 'wooing' one of the worst offenders responsible for the start of the Iraq War? Why wasn't this striking hypocrisy reported far and wide, turned over, and analyzed ad nauseum? Oh, that's right, because The New Yorker published a cartoon." Barack loves Collie! Blot and all! But that's the War Hawk Barack for you. As Bob Feldman reminds, Barack also voted to confirm the present Sec of State, Condi Rice.

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent candidate.
Team Nader notes:

Drop fifteen dollars now on Nader/Gonzalez.
We now enter the most difficult and challenging ballot access stretch of the campaign.
We need to get on fifteen more states in fifteen days.
Last month, we laid out an ambitious ballot access plan.
Thanks to you, we have met stages one and two on time and on schedule.
Now, on to stage three -- 15 more states, a total of 30 states, by August 10 -- on our way to 45 states by September 15.
And we need to raise $100,000 by August 10 to fuel that drive and push us over the $2 million mark for the campaign.
Why is it important to put Ralph Nader on the ballot -- and get him into the Presidential debates this fall?
For one, because Nader is the only candidate who would take the bombing of Iran "off the table."
As Obama made clear yesterday in Israel, he's keeping the military option against Iran "on the table."
As would McCain.
And if you doubt the seriousness of the situation, check out Israeli historian Benny Morris'
recent Op-Ed in the New York Times in which he predicts that Israel will bomb Iran within four to seven months.
Cooler heads must prevail.
While McCain and Obama are fueling the Israeli drive to bomb Iran, even some of their own advisors are warning about the disastrous consequences of such a policy.
Yesterday, Brent Scowcroft
told the Israelis to "calm down" and Obama advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said the "all options on the table" talk was "counterproductive." Brzezinski said he would tell Israel "don't do it."
That's of course why we need the strong Nader/Gonzalez off the table voice in the debates.
And the chances improve as we continue to poll at or above five percent -- see yesterday's NBC/WSJ poll
This was the third major poll putting us at five percent and above. (Remember, John Anderson and Ross Perot both got into Presidential debates because they met the then threshold of five percent.)
So, please, we need 1,000 of you, our loyal supporters, to
hit the button now and contribute $15 each to kick off our drive to get to 30 states.
How will your generous donations help us on the ground?
Think about the more than 50 young at heart, dedicated road trippers working 10 and 12 hours, day after day -- working through blazing hot summer afternoons, ducking under covered awnings during heavy thunderstorms, and bringing the Nader/Gonzalez message to thousands of voters state by state.
We need your $15 donation to help buy gas for their rental cars, feed them, and help pay for thousands of photo copies.
We need your $15 donation to help buy Greyhound bus tickets, Amtrak tickets and airplane tickets.
Of course, we're always looking for one or two angels willing to max out and cover the "filing fees" -- like the one in West Virginia that will cost us $2,500.
How badly and urgently do we need your help?
Our New Hampshire crew needs to collect 4,000 signatures in 10 days -- that's 400 a day.
In Maine, starting Saturday, our crew has 12 days to collect 5,000 signatures.
Our people in Ralph's home state of Connecticut need to collect more than 700 signatures a day over the next 13 days.
In South Dakota, we need 1,500 signatures 10 days.
In Wyoming, we need 2,000 more signatures in 10 days.
In Virginia, we need to collect 600 signatures a day over the next couple of weeks.
In the Buckeye State, our Ohio crew needs to collect 11,000 signatures in the next couple of weeks -- 350 to 400 a day.
In short, our backs are up against the wall.
And the best way you can help get us on the ballot is to
donate $15 now.
Help us lift off toward the debates in November.
Thank you for your generous support.
Together, we are shaking it up.

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the denver grouppumajust say no deal

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mike Whitney, Ralph Nader

Hump day, hump day. Two more days to get through and then it's the weekend. Wouldn't it be great if everyday was the weekend? :D

Seriously. If I could live anywhere in the world, I think it would be Hawaii. I got to visit there with C.I. and Ava and Kat on a speaking thing and that was really cool. I really liked it. I'm sure that it's not like that every season but everything just seemed perfect. The perfect temperature, the perfect mood. Friendly people. It's really sad that we have to think, "Maybe when I retire . . ." Okay, we need a laugh right about now. Here's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Take Three"


The beach party movies? I don't know them but my parents say I have seen them. They say they used to be on TV all the time. I wonder if I was too young to know what was on TV? :D Or maybe they're making it up. Coleco is like a computer or something. But they tell this story about how, when I was 4-years-old, I had an invisible friend named Coleco and he was my best friend. I don't remember that at all! :D I know it's true, my parents remember, all my brothers remember, three of my sisters remember (my youngest sister is younger than I am). But it's like I'm hearing a story about someone else.

Okay, politics. Mike Whitney has a great column. It's called "Reality Check: The Democrats are the Real Problem" and this is an excerpt:

Obama’s candidacy is over; kaput. He’s already stated that he has no intention of stopping the war, so he has disqualified himself. That’s his prerogative; no one put a gun to his head. His op-ed in Monday’s New York Times just removes any lingering doubt about the matter. What Obama proposes is moving the central theater of operation from Iraq to Afghanistan. Big deal. Why is it more acceptable to kill a man who is fighting for his country in Afghanistan than in Iraq?
It’s not; which is why Obama must be defeated and the equivocating Democratic Party must be jettisoned altogether. The Democrats are a party of blood just like the Republicans, they’re just more discreet about it. That’s why people who are serious about ending the war have to support candidates outside the two-party charade. The Democrat/Republican duopoly will not deliver the goods; it’s as simple as that. The point is to stop the killing, not to provide blind support for smooth-talking politicos who try to mask their real intentions. Obama made his choice, now he can suffer the consequences.
Nancy Pelosi is a perfect example of what the Democrats are all about. Just look at the way she brushed aside the people who got her elected. They mean nothing to her. In a matter of months, the “San Francisco liberal” has achieved what former-Speaker of the House Hastert could only dream of; she’s driven the Congress’ public approval ratings into single digits for the first time in history making her the worst speaker of all time. She rubber-stamped the FISA bill, concealed what she knew about the CIA’s global torture programs, and vowed to stop any public effort to hold the administration accountable for its war crimes. (No impeachment) She has betrayed her most ardent supporters and single-handedly transformed an already-emasculated congress into a purely ceremonial body incapable of doing the people’s work.
At least Bush never betrayed any of his supporters. Never. Pelosi is worse than Bush, much worse.
And yet, liberals still insist that we should vote the Democratic ticket. In your dreams!
What leftist or progressive is not totally fed-up with the Democrats cagey “bait-and-switch” hypocrisy? Voting the Democratic ticket is not a sign of “hope”, it’s a sign of being a schmuck. The Democrats have done nothing to stop the war and will do nothing to stop the war. The Obama candidacy is merely a way to replace one group of genocidal maniacs with another. Who needs a charismatic, flannel-mouth glamour boy to lead us into battle when a senile fogy with “anger management” issues will do just fine.

Hopefully, that's enough to get you hooked. When I was reading, I was hooked on each paragraph and, honestly, disappointed at the end. I wanted it to keep going. We used to have an alternative media and we could hear that sort of thing. It's gone. There are a few people (Whitney, Lance Selfa, ect.) but most of them are gone. Replaced with the Cult of Barack. Look at Amy Goodman. She has so sold out and so embarrassed herself. She doesn't even care about facts anymore. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente are not the first women of color presidential ticket. They aren't even the second. The New Alliance party ran a women of color slate in 1992. The Workers World Party ran one four years later. Amy just tosses out crumbs these days and shows how little she gives a damn.

I have no opinion on the 9-11 Truth Movement. If someone sends me something, I read it with interest. But I did follow how they felt betrayed by Goody and I agree they were repeatedly. That should have been the first indication of how she was doing career building and not independent journalism. Since then, we've seen her rake in more and more foundation dough and become less and less give anyone an honest debate. Today she just shills for the Democratic Party nonstop. A few years ago, Whitney could have been a guest on Democracy Now! with two other people and they really could have a conversation about what he's writing about. Those days are gone. She's Cokie Roberts.

That doesn't surprise Elaine and it's why she will not give a dime to 'independent' media. She saw this happen before after Watergate as everyone rushed to become 'professionals' and alternative media died. We're seeing the death of it today.

Mike Whitney and a handful of others are the exceptions, the last ones remaining. Otherwise, alternative media died sometime ago. And it's not coming back. I'll be in my 40s or something before it stages a comeback. And it will last for a few years and then sell out. That's the cycle and that's why they can't keep an audience. They get one by telling the truth and then they like their fame and want to increase it and want the respect of Big Media and the money from foundations and . . . Before you know it, there's no point in even listening to them.

Look at Norman Solomon. How many times has that loser lectured everyone about politicians. And now he's a delegate for Barack Obama. And offering non-stop excuses for Barack. Guess Norman got tired of being on the outside, realized he wasn't young anymore and decided to go for 'professional' in the eyes of the establishment.

Norman needs to marry Jeff Cohen and go off on a long honeymoon. (That's not suggesting either man is gay, that is saying they're perfect for each other -- it's a match of equal worthlessness.)

This is from Jesse A. Hamilton's "Nader Mad He's Not Invited to Anti-Bush Hearing:"

But somebody wasn't invited to the Bush gripe session: Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate and Connecticut son. Because he's been demanding Bush be impeached for years, he apparently feels left out.
Nader -- once a star of congressional committee testimony -- wrote
a letter to Rep. John Conyers, the committee chairman, to complain, pointing out: "The Libertarian candidate for President, Bob Barr is also on the witness list, but I am not."

Elaine and I talked about that and decided to highlight it only because the writer regularly covers Ralph. It's really sarcastic and Ralph didn't deserve that. He has every right to testify. But the Dems don't want him to. They fear him getting the spotlight. The Democrats may be in charge, but it's the people's Congress and they need to treat it with a little more respect.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Talabani says "NO!" to elections this year, the US Congress stages a feel-good session for the US army, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In June 2006, Lt
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war. Since Judge Benjamin Settle ruled last November that the US military could not attempt a second (kanagroo) court-martial of Watada while the double-jeopardy issue remains, he has been in limbo. In a grab-bag column about a number of topics, Christina Clark (Nebraksa's Gateway) mentions Watada while discussing how the Iraq War is illegal: "Bush did not receive permission from the United Nations to invade Iraq. In September 2004, then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that the war was 'not in conformity with the U.N. Charter, from our point of view and from the Charter point of view, it was illegal.' A number of military personnel, most notably 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, have refused to serve in the war because they consider it 'illegal' and have been court marshaled as a result." As Rebecca noted of Watada last Friday, "the contract expired in 2006. it's time for the military to release him. instead they keep him in the military and he has to report for duty on the base every day."

Chris Vanderveen (9 News Denver) reports that the War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky has gone to Colorado to show his support for US war resister Robin Long who was extradited from Canada last Tuesday and states of Robin being expelled, "(Canadians) are very distressed by this. This is going against the tradition we have in our country." Meanwhile Angela Giles (The Chronicle Herald) argues for war resisters' right to remain in Canada and notes, "They have a higher obligation to international law than their 'duty' to just follow orders. . . . We now know soldiers are systematically ordered to violate international humanitarian law in Iraq -- from torture to intentionally targeting civilians -- and there are more revelations of war crimes emerging every day. . . . The U.S. soldiers seeking refuge in Canada signed up to defend their country, not to commit war crimes."

To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote,
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq and starting with the latest in the provincial elections bill --
CNN reports it has been rejected today. Yesterday, the Kurdish bloc in the Iraqi Parliament staged a walk-out over a bill regarding the alleged provincial elections that allegedly would take place October 1st. The walk-out means the already much postponed provinicial elections may be postponed further. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) covers the political process backdrop for yesterday's actions: "Some Iraqis think that the offensives that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched in the southern cities of Basra and Amara and the Baghdad slum of Sadr City were to weaken his political rivals, the Sadrists, who controlled those areas. The possibility of a months' long delay in the elections could fundamentally alter the priorities of local and national politicians." Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) zoom in on the backstory/history, "The contentious issue was among several points that have delayed a vote on the law that would pave the way for the first local elections since January 2005, when most Sunni Arabs and many Shiite followers of cleric Muqtada Sadr boycotted the vote. U.S. officials believe the participation of such groups could go a long way toward righting the balance of power in provincial politics, in which a small number of parties, mainly Kurdish and Shiite Muslim, have dominated." Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) focuses on the struggle for the oil-rich Kirkuk, "The disagreement centered on the multiethnic city of Kirkuk, one of several areas in Iraq where there are competing claims over which province a city or district belongs in. The question for Kirkuk is whether it should be absorbed into the Kurdistan region -- a particularly charged question because the city sits on some of the largest unexploited oil reserves in the country. Both Arabs and Kurds lay claim to the area. At bottom, the disagreement is also about the ethnic identity of Iraq and about Arab frustration with the Kurds. Although the Kurds are a minority, they have proved adept at turning the political process to their advantage, often to the chagrin of larger ethnic and religious groups." Last December, Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reported on the attempts of the Kurdish region to take control of Kirkuk (with something other than the security forces they currently utilize) -- forcing Kurds out of the Kurdish region and into Kirkuk to live in "the squalor of the Kirkuk soccer stadium." CNN quotes this statement from President Jalal Talabani's office today, "The president, who does not agree with such a law, which was voted on by 127 deputies who do not represent half of parliament, is confident that the presidency council will not pass it." Al Jazeera points out, "Wednesday's move, which comes after protests by Kurdish and some Shia MPs, is likely to delay the elections, which have been encouraged by US officials as a key step toward repairing Iraq's sectarian rifts." BBC states, "Correspondents say this would be a blow to the outgoing US administration of President George W Bush, which sees the elections as a key step to the national reconciliation between Iraq's dividied communities." Is anyone going to make the obvious point? If elections are called out, why does Moqtada al-Sadr need to hold the line on a truce? al-Sadr's cooperation was thought to be in part due to the 'October' elections that were coming. al-Maliki started throwing down rules (or trying to) about who could and who could not participate. This was after the assault on Basra began. al-Sadr calmed the situation. And most likely did so so that the Sadr bloc could turn out for elections in October. Meanwhile AFP reports that August 1st will be the launching date for the assault on Diyala Province according to unnamed Iraqi "army and police officers." If elections are on hold until 2009, the assault might play out elsewhere in Iraq the same way the Basra assault did. In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 woman. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing that left three police officers wounded and a Mosul mortar attack that left two people wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot down in Mosul this mornging with 2 Iraqi troops shot dead in Mosul this afternoon.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

"The purpose of today's hearing," US House Rep Susan Davis said yesterday as she brought to order the House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee, "is to take a hard look at the current state of the Army Medical Action Plan This will be the third hearing this subcomitt has held on the Army Medical Action Plan -- the army's response to the revelations at Walter Reed Army Medical Center last year, since it was issued in June 2007. When the Army Medical Action Plan execution order was issued last summer, the military personnel subcomittee believed that the army had finally demonstrated a full understanding and acceptance of the organizational and systemic short comings that had led to the scandalous conditions at Walter Reed. We felt that the Army Medical Action Plan was a comprehensive and ambitious blue print to tackle these issues head on. After years of frustration many on the subcomittee believed that the army was finally ready to take the necessary steps to solve these problems. However, from our very first briefing on the Army Medical Action Plan, we had two significant concerns. The first was that the army would be unable to initially dedicate and then maintain over the long haul the level of resources required by the Army Medical Action Plan. Specifically, we were worried that the army would be unable to assign adequate numbers of personnel to the Warrior Transition Units. Why? Because the core of the Warrior Transition Units were to be the same soldiers that make up the backbone of our brigade combat teams: mid-grade, non-commissioned officers. And these soldiers were already in short supply. The second concern was that army commanders would overwhelm the Warrior Tranistion Units by sending them all of their soldiers with medical issues rather than just those with complex injuries or conditions that required comprehensive case management. In truth, we do not feel that this was necessarily a bad thing especially if it helped units deploy at full strength while injured or ill soldiers had the opportunity to fully recover Of course, this would only work if Warrior Transition Units were properly resourced to take care of these soldiers. From June 2007 through February 2008, the members and staff of this subcommittee made numerous visits to Warrior Transition Units throughout the army. The overall trend we observed was positive. The Army Medical Action Plan was clearly providing better support for recovering soldiers than the previous medical holdover system. One wounded warrior commented, 'Thank God for the Warrior Transition Unit. Things are so much better than they were before.' That was good to hear but despite the positive trends we were frustrated at the slow progress of implementing the AMAP. We felt that things should have and could have been moving faster. We also felt that there was a discconnect between how quickly the army leadership believed things were happening and what the facts on the ground seemed to indicate. Again, despite the challenges, we felt things were moving in an overall, positive direction. However our concerns about Warrior Transition Unit staffing levels and the potential of line units, quote, 'dumping ' soldier on the Warrior Transition Unit continued. We asked General [Eric] Schoomaker about this repeatedly during our hearing in February to get an update on the AMAP In response to a question asked by Mr. [John] McHugh, the army surgeon-general declared, 'For all intents and purposes we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be staffed.' As the facts at Fort Hood demonstrate that is clearly not the case now. Gentlemen, the Army Medical Action Plan was designed by the army. It is your plan. The army senior leadership has publicly trumpeted your commitment to wounded soldiers at every opportunity -- and we believe that that is true. But the Secretary of Defense agrees -- as Dr. [Robert] Gates has made clear -- apart from the war itself, this department and I have no higher priority." . Over the course of this hearing we will review the following topics. Resources. Why has the army failed to properly resource the Warriror Transition Units population growth. Why did the army fail to predict the growth in the WT population. We were assured by the army in Feb. that you had the processes and reviews in place to stay on top of the population and clearly that's not the case today. Priority. Is the Army Medical Action Plan truly the army's number two priority? Our visits do not leave us with that impression. And creativity. From the outset the Army Medical Action Plan has been sold as a bold roadmap to overhaul outdated, inefficient and deteremental policies and procedures. . . . And oversight. Finally and perhaps most importantly why did it take oversight visits from the subcommittee to identify and spure the army to fix these issues and what will take to ensure that the army follows its own plan and lives up to its own promises it Gentlemen, aside from telling us that you will will harder to implement it -- and we do believe that, we know that you are working very hard at this -- what concrete steps are being taken to ensure better follow through?"

Rep John McHugh (ranking Republican) noted "there continues to be serious shortfalls. Shortfalls that our staff did identify and I know the army continues to try to deal with. Serious questions. That of resources. A mechanism that anticipates the population growth that we have seen -- an explosion" that it is only reasonable to expect will continue. Davis and McHugh were speaking to the army's Lt Gen Michael D. Rochelle, Lt Gen Robert Wilson, Maj Gen David A. Rubenstein and Brig Gen Gary H. Cheek. PDF format warning, you can click
here for the brass' prepared statement.

Dana Milbank (Washington Post) describes the scene: "The generals were nervous.Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson moved his index finger across the page as he read his statement with a halting delivery. Maj. Gen. David Rubenstein, holding a discolored washcloth under the witness table to dry his perspiration, accidentally dropped the cloth and felt for it with his shoe. The anxiety, even for men with two or three stars on each shoulder, was to be expected. They had come before a House Armed Services subcommittee to explain why, 16 months and at least eight fact-finding investigations after the Walter Reed scandal, the Army still hadn't fixed the health-care system for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Milbank rightly notes that the witnesses played contrite. True. They also played suck up. Shortly after stating the obvious ("Make no mistake about it, our army is stretched"), Rochelle would declare, "It is clear to us that this committee foresaw that better than we did." Why was that? No need to explore that. No need to worry because Rochelle insists, "But our heart was in the right place and remains in the right place." Were these adults testifying before Congress? And did this tender-hearted brass miss all of Davis and McHugh's many statements that bordered on the way an adult would speak to a very young child -- stressing repeatedly that the action, not the people, were bad; that the action, not the people, was at fault. It was a bit puzzling to hear Davis and McHugh hit those points repeatedly at the start of the hearings but, a half-hour in, as McHugh had to again reassure the toddlers with stripes and bars on their shoulders, you were left with the impression that anything more age appropriate would have left the generals sucking their thumbs, curled up in a fetal position and sobbing on the House floor.

McHugh had to again do that tap-dance before getting to his point. Having again assured the brass that everyone at the table was a special and wanted general, McHugh slowly and carefully declared, "In many ways, this challenge isn't being met. And I find the current circumstances unacceptable." It seemed to linger in the air as the bragg fidgeted. "You gentlemen agree with that?" McHugh asked. Silent pause. "Anybody disagree with that?"
he then asked. Still no comment. Realizing the guilty children had agreed ahead of time to all stick together, McHugh began noting the numbers. 6,000 WTs were in the program in June of 2007 and increased to 12,000 by June of the following year with current predictions that it will "grow to another 20,000". McHugh wanted to know if the problem was the model, the problem with the personnel or the problem due to the 90-day review not being done? Apparently feeling he had to answer, Rubenstein stated "I'll go first" and quickly began talking about . . . people who weren't hired. McHugh (stating "I'm going to interrupt you") attempted to get the conversation back on track. If hearing Rubenstein discuss how he meets neighbors while he mows his yard is back on track . . . Around that time, McHugh would tell Rubenstein, "I'm not hear to argue with you" and, approximately ten minutes later, "General Rubenstein, I don't mean to engage in a debate per se" -- then why was the hearing held? US Rep Niki Tsongas appeared to waste the least amount of time doling out affirmations to the generals and instead focused on the realities involving the increased number of WTs. She rightly noted that the White House's escalation troops are returning and that "if we do eventually engage in a timetable for the redeployment of our soldiers so again you'll be bringing back larger soldiers at once and particularly where the issue is PTSD -- where you might not have to deal with it really until the soldiers do come home. Can you envision what you would do in a situation where you simply become overwhelmed by the demand?" Rubenstein agreed to go first and then began talking about the need to "keep our arms around" the wounded. If we can leave the happy place for a minute, Tsongas asked about preparation for the expected influx into the program. She didn't ask about group hugs. "Where we can't," he said finally getting near the question asked, "and where we may not be able to meet the needs if the numbers are overwhelming, we fall to our civilian network providers."

US House Rep Niki Tsongas: And this is a plan you have in place so that it kicks in automatically or is it really reacting to any given moment?

Maj Gen David Rubenstein: It's -- it's a plan that's in execution as we speak today. In October at Fort Hood we sent about 350 of our warriors downtown Killeen [. . .] to receive health care. Those same soldiers, six months later, in April of this year had 19,000 appointments downtown so we already use the system

Lt Gen Michael D. Rochelle: May I add, ma'am, Madam Tsongas, the two things that you hinted in your question is being pro-active in looking at both the deployment of individual elements of army unit brigades and support elements and being pro-active for those that are redeploying as well. That we have come to learn is - - is one -is one of our misconnects -- disconnects at the -- at the senior levels of the army and we're going to do better at that. We already have a very reliable -- very reliable -- metric.

The answer to Tsongas' question is "NO." Tsongas was speaking of the troops that will be returning as the escalation continues to wind down so dropping back to last year or last April really doesn't address that. She was also asking noting that there may be some limited withdrawal in 2009 and is the army preparing for that? When Rubenstein is offering that last April Fort Hood (which is supposed to be served primarily by the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center) was already scheduling 19,000 appointments with civilian providers (via the TriCare contracts/outsourcing) the answer is "NO!" the army is not prepared for it and does not appear to be doing anything to prepare for it. (Whining, as Rubenstein did elsewhere, that emergency room nurses in civilian settings can work to 12 hour shifts and get paid for forty hours allowing them to make more than they would working for the military is not "dealing with" or "anticipating" an influx.) Various members of the committee spoke of visiting Fort Drum and their surprise or disappointment that so much was still wrong. Rep Nancy Boyda spoke of a mother of a wounded soldier who was unable to get the help he needed and was in limbo ("literally dying to get in" to some sort of treament) and subcommittee chair Davis spoke of being told about the healing groups ("focused healing environment") in place and instead seeing people sitting around in frustration and boredom "not feeling that things were happening for them." Davis asked "how you see that changing at all? That people are able to get the appointments they need?" Rubenstein offered nonsense about how, military or civilian, no one ever gets what they need or the time they think they deserve in a medical visit. In other words, it was a lot of garbage. Near the end, Davis offered that the army might need more money and that they could meet again in September but Rochelle insisted he felt "September would be too soon." Since the generals could point to nothing accomplished the idea that they're going to skip out on a September meeting is rather appalling.
Dana Milbank (Washington Post) observes, "Finding no argument, the lawmakers brought the hearing to a prompt close, but not before another round of mutal flattery." Yes, it really was that pathetic. Two hours and ten minutes wasted with no answers given, no indications that the military actually is addressing the expected influx of wounded. A lot of airy statements and back-patting. In the 2004 presidential race, US Senator John Kerry (the Democratic presidential nominee) rightly noted these problems were coming. He stated that the White House was underfunding and diverting resources. His reward for that truth telling was to have smack him down with one of their psuedo 'fact checks.' Nearly four years later, there is still no indication that anything is being done unless the Washington Post shines a large flashlight on the problem. The paper did that and brought public awareness and public outcry. The US Congress seems unwilling and/or unable to follow up on that. The hearing was an embarrassment. The fact that Milbank and Talk Radio News Service appear to be the only ones who bothered to cover it is even more embarrassing.

In England Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, is in the news for making another statement.
Philip Webster, Deborah Haynes and Tim Reid (Times of London) reports that Brown is saying that 'most' British troops will be out of Iraq "in a year." There are approximately 4,1000 of them -- that's actually the number of British troops and the number of contradictory statements Brown has made in his brief time as prime minister as to whether England would leave or stay in Iraq. Take the wait and see approach with Brown's statements which, like the weather, seem to change hourly.

Turning to the US presidential race.
MediaChannel -- for some unknown reason -- is pushing a stupid study by "Media Tenor." "Media Tenor" is not a media watchdog, it's part of Democracy In Action -- yet another front group funded with blood money. Go to MediaChannel if you're interested in reading it. (My comments are not about MediaChannel, they are about "Media Tenor"). It's an 'analysis' that is both factually 'free' and non-content based. It's a 'study' in the way your eight-year-old brother or sister might write a book 'report.' It's also insulting. Barack Obama and John McCain are not candidates for president. They are 'presumptive' candidates. Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader are actual candidates and they're shut out of the 'analysis.' It's superficial crap that wants credit for finger-pointing at . . . super-ficial crap. As Phoebe famously said on Friends, "Hello Monica, this is kettle, you're black." Media Tenor's garbage doesn't need to be circulated, it needs to be put in the trash. MediaChannel got a link, but no link to the trash of "Democracy" In Action or "Media Tenor" or all the other partisan outlets staffed with dimwits paid in blood money. Shame on you all. (If need be, Ava says we can revisit the garbage being offered by Media Tenor at Third in our TV commentary Sunday but, if we do, we'll be doing a 'greatest hits' and not offering anything on any program airing this week.)

Paul Street takes on the myth of Saint Barack
here (Black Agenda Report). Kenneth J. Theisen (World Can't Wait) calls out the War Hawk Barack here. Sally Soriano of Team Nader notes:

Yes, indeed.
You read that right.
You can win the grand prize -- a dinner with our main man -- Ralph Nader (at a mutually agreed time and place.)
We're looking to build our e-mail list, to expand our grassroots support, and to spread the bedrock Nader/Gonzalez campaign message -- shift the power from the corporate controlled political parties back into the hands of the people.
So, we're having a contest.
The person who brings in the most e-mail sign-ups by August 7 at midnight to wins.
Open to legal U.S. residents, 18 years or older at time of entry.
You invite your friends, family, neighbors and anyone else to sign up for Nader/Gonzalez updates.
The person who brings us the most e-mails wins the grand prize -- dinner with Ralph Nader.
(Check out our privacy policy
During the course of the contest, you can keep track of how you are doing on our "Win Dinner With Ralph E-mail Contest Leaderboard."
It's sort of like kicking back on a Sunday afternoon and watching the PGA leaderboard.
Except that this isn't golf.
It's democracy.
And even if you don't grab the grand prize, there are a whole bunch of other prizes too.
Second prize is dinner with Ralph's VP running mate Matt Gonzalez (also at a mutually agreed time and place.)
Third prize is an invitation to our election night party in Washington, D.C.
Then the next seventeen people get an autographed copy of Unsafe at Any Speed and an autographed copy of the DVD An Unreasonable Man
Everyone who brings in at least 25 email sign-ups will receive a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Are you ready to play?
You are?
Get out your address book.
Start your e-mail engine.
And let 'er rip.
Click here to
get started.
Remember, you can keep track of who's winning on our leaderboard.
(For the complete set of rules, click
May the person who brings in the most e-mails to win.

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