Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iraq, the Who

Okay, so I am going to talk music tonight, but first let's note Iraq. Don't want to be a baby gas bag wasting everyone's time with talk of Trent Lott. (See Cedric's "A baby gas bag explains how (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BABY GAS BAG IGNORES IRAQ!") Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"New Challenges for the Anti-War Movement: Iraq After November 7" (Walden Bello, CounterPunch):
Iraq is the test case. As many have pointed out, the Democrats have no unified strategy on Iraq. The situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point where only bad choices are available.
The current Bush strategy is to shore up the Shiite-dominated government militarily, and that isn't working. Bringing in more troops temporarily to stabilize the situation, then leaving-a plan originally endorsed by John Kerry-won't work since the civil war has progressed to the point where even a million troops won't make a difference. Partitioning Iraq into three entities-the Sunni center, the Shiite South, and the Kurdish North-will simply be a prelude to even greater conflict tying down more U.S. troops. Withdrawing to the bases or to the desert to avoid casualties will simply raise the question: why keep troops there at all?
Getting Iran, Turkey, and Syria to come in to create a diplomatic solution-one that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton may propose-is not going to work because no foreign-imposed settlement can counteract the deadly domestic dynamics of a sectarian conflict that has passed the point of no return.
Bush, of course, remains the boss when it comes to Iraq policy. It is not likely that this stubborn man has ceased to believe in victory, which he restated as his goal at the same press conference where he announced Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. The more Machiavellian Republican strategists like Karl Rove will probably want to enmesh the Democrats in a protracted bipartisan exit strategy that will cost more Iraqi and American lives so that by the time the 2008 presidential elections come around, the mess in Iraq will be bipartisan as well.
As of now, the Democrats have the moral weight of the country behind them. They have an opportunity not only to eliminate a foreign policy millstone but to open the road to a new relationship between America and the world if they take the least worst route out of Iraq-that espoused by Rep. John Murtha, who, perhaps among the key Democrats, knows the military realities on the ground: immediate withdrawal. With all their inchoate feelings about wasted American lives, "our responsibility to Iraqis," or being seen as "cutting and running," many of those who voted for the Democrats may have some difficulty accepting the reality that immediate withdrawal is the least worst of all the options. But that is the function of leaders: to articulate the bitter truth when the times demand it.
It is not likely that most Democratic politicians will embrace immediate withdrawal of their own accord. Without more sustained pressure, the likely course they will take is to come with a plan that will compromise with Bush, which means another unworkable patchwork of a plan.

That really is what it boils down to. Do the Democrats have the spine to end the war or not? This is the test and they will be remembered for how they handle this. There's a lot in the snapshot -- I'm very impressed with Dennis Kucinich -- and it does matter. If they refuse to address Iraq or if they want to provide cover for the illegal war to continue, they are revealing themselves to be useless. "Modify the course" appears to be the new official slogan. It's not better than "Stay the course." The US needs to get out of Iraq.

The snapshot includes details of KPFA's The Morning Show which I did not hear this morning and usually do not hear. No offense to the show, I'm doing sessions. I do get cancellations from time to time during the afternoons but never in the mornings. However, Sunny frequently listens online at her desk and she wanted two things noted. First, she really enjoyed Natalie Goldring as a guest. (I've promised to attempt to listen to this segment, Sunny says it's the first segment of the show.) Second, Goldring made a comparison of Iraq to a relationship and Sunny said, "You've got to link to C.I.'s thing again!" That entry is actually on my blogroll and is listed as "Should This Marriage Be Saved? (C.I.)." I love that entry to this day. I especially love that for all the hula-hoopers with their talk of "frame," they didn't come up with a concrete example that Iraq could be put into. C.I. did. The Common Ills hadn't taken off at that point. But it was getting there. C.I. was spending a great deal of time on e-mails (reading the ones coming in and responding) and, of course, going here, there and everywhere to speak out against the war. I had asked a few days prior to this entry whether or not it was worth all the time it was taking. (I was one of the people telling C.I. to start a website throughout 2004.) I enjoyed the site before the marriage analogy went up; however, I did wonder about all the time spent on entries and e-mails -- especially with everything else C.I. was attempting to do.

When "Should This Marriage Be Saved? (C.I.)" went up, I was reminded of the difference the site could make. Those could come every day (or at least every week) if C.I. wasn't having to chase down the Times daily. (But members want that.) Jim will tell you that C.I. avoids these type of entries quite often thinking it might be something that could be a topic for a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review. When Rebecca went on vacation the first summer after starting her site, I got a very clear picture of what it's like to blog. I would start the day with these hopes, thinking I really had something wonderful to write about, then I'd be dealing with links and technical issues and usually have lost all my enthusiasm for anything by the point I was mid-way through a post that night. Early on, I realized I was just tossing out copy and maybe something in it, a small point or a highlight, might be of worth. That's really all you can hope for. Blogging then and blogging now at my own site really makes me appreciate what C.I. does. Both the wonderful entries as well as the day to day ones. I don't have that kind of time. I can't imagine how C.I. does (even resorting to dictating for many entries.) There's a column for the gina & krista round-robin each week, a column for Polly's Brew each week, all those entries at The Common Ills, filling in for Kat on Fridays while she's in Ireland, working with The Third Estate Sunday Review each weekend (and Ava and C.I. do the TV commentaries by themselves) and beyond all of that is a life far removed from computer screens.

This morning, C.I. had to get ready to go out of town to speak. There were still three entries and I think "'Arrest of Iraqi Police Officials Ordered After Kidnapping' (John F. Burns and Michael Luo)" ends with some very powerful commentary. I wanted to pick up on that. C.I.'s talking about the refusal to cover Iraq as anything beyond 'officials' be it generals (past or present) or jaw boning about the Iraq Study Group. The failure to put the sort of scope Howard Zinn brings to history into the coverage of the war. We're getting one side only from most of our independent media, the side of the officials -- voices more than represented already in the mainstream coverage. We're still not hearing of the peace movement, we're still not hearing of war resisters. One of the earliest community sites (I believe the third one) was Folding Star's A Winding Road. If you missed it, FS dealt with the Senate and with books. When FS decided the site wasn't worth the aggrevation or the time, FS deleted the site. I doubt C.I. would ever do that with The Common Ills. So it could be out there for years to come. If you ask me, it will be of much more value than many sites for magazines. When the next Howard Zinn is attempting to trace the voices against the war, he can turn up one cover story on Cindy Sheehan at The Nation and, really, what else?

If he wants to know where Bob Watada's speaking tours took him, he can go to The Common Ills. Or she can. The next Howard Zinn could be a woman. If s/he is looking for a wide range of sources for the death of Abeer, s/he can go to The Common Ills. I don't think The Progressive or The Nation will be of any help to historians. I think they've wasted three years that the country was at war with nonsense for the most part. Names that never make it into those magazines, supposedly covering the world from a left perspective, are known and noted.

The desire to hide behind the generals to cover Iraq is, frankly, disgusting. I think the point C.I. makes this morning, about the coverage coming from publications that appear to have absorbed the revisionist's history of Iraq is accurate.

Now the music. A friend asked if I was going to "ever write about the Who"? I am a Who fan. So I started asking myself what really spoke to me from them today? I think my choice may disappoint but it's what I'm going with: "You Better, You Bet."

This 1981 single was the Who in all their glory. It's raucus, it's Pete Townsend at his story telling best. "I call you on the telephone, my voice too rough from cigarettes . . ." The chorus is wonderful, the backing voices ("You better love me . . . All the time now . . .") are wonderful.

"Won't Get Fooled Again" was, at one point, my favorite Who song. It's been ruined for me. Possibly forever. CSI uses it as a theme song for three shows. Over and over. I can turn on the TV and hear it. It feels like it's been taken from me and turned into some sort of ear candy for people who never appreciated the group. Had it just been used on one show, okay. But it's now the CSI song, it's no longer the Who song.

I still enjoy "Pictures of Lily" and other songs. "I Can See For Miles" still makes me smile. But I went with "You Better, You Bet" because in 1981, the Who didn't seem that great or that powerful. They seemed to be on their last legs. Then they managed to cough up this five-minutes-plus of rock and roll perfection.

This was and is an amazing recording. All the more so because of the tragic death of Keith Moon. Moon was the drummer for the band until he died in 1978. "You Better, You Bet" suggested that the group could make it without Moon, that there was direction and promise in the future. That wouldn't turn out to be the case. Pete Townsend would occassionally have an interesting song idea in the future, on a solo album, but the spark was never there for me again. I would hope I'd hear something living. But it was more reflective and, even when on an actual album (Fear City) for example, it lacked the spark. Townsend became a "writer" and his songs became slightly more lively than anything you could hear on Sweet Baby James.

The Who's back, or at least Townsend and Roger Daltry. I'm not all that interested in the new album. At some point, I will no doubt get it and do the first listen struggle -- where I hope the next track, or the one after, will sport the spirit that was the Who. I'll tell myself that this might be the album that offers something. But, most likely, it won't. The cough, the last gasp, that was "You Better, You Bet" never came again.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
November 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; there are some indications that there may be justice for
Abeer and her family; testifying before Congress, John Abizaid appeared to think he was at an Atlanta Brave (check the hand gestures) and blathered on repeatedly making it clear there was no plan for Iraq; Ehren Watada's father Bob begins winding up his speaking tour; and real discussions on Iraq take place (outside of Congress).
"It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." Today, an honest discussion on Iraq took place but it wasn't in the US Senate. On Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with former US senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich and someone scraped off the bottom of the right-wing non-thought tank AEI. The AEI-er appeared to be attempting some sort of homage to the character of Audrey with his constant whining. (Clea Lewis intended to be humorous when she played Audrey on Ellen.) He whined "Let me have my turn" repeatedly and also referred to Goodman as "Miss moderator" proving that Iraq wasn't the only thing he failed to grasp, he'd also missed the last forty years (try "Ms. moderator"). Meanwhile Kucinich challenged the AEI-er with, "It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." The AEI-er, Joshua Muravchik, wasn't up to the truth and tossed around the usual (pre-9-11?) nonsense of 'blame America first' and 'blood is on your hand' but has no answers. Goodman asked if he was "proposing staying in Iraq and bombing Iran?" to which he replied "Yes and yes."
McGovern reminded, "Well they were saying the same thing they're saying about Iraq. We were told all during those long years when I and others were trying to terminate our military involvement in Vietnam -- an intervention that the chief architects now say was a dreadful mistake -- and they said that if we pulled out, maybe it was a mistake, to go in, but if we pulled out there would be a slaughter of people in Vietnam of indescribable dimensions, that Ho Chi Minh and his people would just slaughter everybody in the country that disagreed with him. We also were told that the countries next door would start toppling into communism if we left Vietnam. None of that happened. There was no great bloodbath inside Vietnam and the Vietnamese became our friends almost immediately after we took our army out of their country. They assisted us in trying to locate missing American soldiers. They were ready for diplomatic relations. We have no problem with Vietnam today and as a matter of fact none of the countries next door toppled into communism so those were the scare tactics that were used to keep us in Vietnam for about twenty years. The president has said recently that maybe we have to stay [in Iraq] until the year 2010 and that's another four years during which time we'll probably kill several thousand more American troops and the terror now going on inside Iraq that began when we invaded the country will only get worse. No country in the long term wants a foreign army lodged in their country."
Goodman asked: "How did, how did it ultimately end up that the troops were pulled out of Vietnam?" McGovern replied, "Well, you know, we were finally forced out. You remember the pictures of the American ambassador being air lifted off the, off the roof of the embassy there and Vietnamese trying to cling to the helicopters that took him out? I don't want to see that happen in Iraq. I don't want to see us just kicked out. I want to see an orderly withdrawal that would begin next month in December and be completed by June and we can do that. Let me cite one poll that was conducted recently in Iraq. It was conducted by our newspaper USA Today, CNN -- the television network -- in cooperation with the Gallup polling organization, America's oldest polling. And they asked the people of Iraq 'Do you regard the Americans as liberators or as occupiers of your country?' 81% of the people said they didn't see us any longer as liberators, they see us as occupiers of the country and they made it very clear they want us out."
Kucinich spoke the words many shy from: Congress voting to cut off funding of the illegal war in Iraq. "I believe that we're going to be able to get a consensus among progressives to cut off funds . . . I think support is growing in the direction of getting out of Iraq and I think that we'll see a cut off of the funds, we'll use the money in the pipeline to have the orderly withdrawal that Senator McGovern so wisely spoke of. People want a new direction. They know that we have to involve the world community and they know that the direction has to be out of Iraq. I mean, we're losing soldiers at an increasing clip , we're seeing the civil violence increase, the Iraqi people want us out, the American people by and large want us out of Iraq. We need to take a new direction."
The KPFA Evening News Monday, Mitch Jeserich interviewed US House Rep. Lynn Woolsey who stated she would consider cutting off Congressional funds but no one wanted to make that their first choice. She also felt their support was for this option in Congress.
(The interview may have been for Pacifica's
Informed Dissent which Jeserich hosts or for WBAI's Wakeup Call where Jeserich is the news editor.)
The realities of Iraq were also explored . . . in Congress? No, on
KPFA's The Morning Show today. Philip Maldari spoke with Carl Conetta (Project on Defense Alternatives) and Natalie Goldring (Security Studies Program and Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown). They discussed the possibility that the US Congress would be inactive on the Iraq war and Goldring pointed out that this would lead to spreading the blame and allowing the GOP presidential candidate in 2008 to point to the Democratic controlled Congress as part of the problem with regards to the illegal war. Concetta noted it would "tar the Democrats as co-signers" to the war. Goldring noted that it wasn't clear how the administration or the United States "would bring stability to Iraq" and Concetta noted that the spin made "withdrawal . . . always on the horizon, two years in the future" that never seems to arrive. (Or 12 months, a favorite with the US military and tossed around by John Abizaid today -- we'll get to that shortly.)
What does arrive, daily in Iraq, is continued chaos and violence.
CNN reports that eight people are dead and 32 wounded in Baghdad from a car bomb apparently targeting a gas station. CNN updated the figures to twelve dead and 33 wounded while also noting an attack on a Baghdad funeral that claimed the lives of three and left 12 injured.
CNN reports a council member and his bodyguard were shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two construction workers were shot dead and three wounded while they traveled in a car. Xinua reports that journalist Fadiyah Muhammad al-Taie and her driver were killed in Mosul while she was on her way to work.
CNN notes the discovery of 55 corpses ("bullet-riddled") in Baghdad. Reuters notes that four corpses were discovered in Mosul and one in Samarra.
US military announced today: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." That announcement was followed by this one: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 11:30 p.m. Nov. 14 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad while conducting combat operations."
In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was mudered and raped in Mahmoudiyah on March 12, 2006. Also killed in the attack were her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her five-year-old sister. Abeer was fourteen-years-old. Five Americans are accused of being the ones who committed the crimes. Last week, Steven D. Green entered a plea of 'not guilty' in a federal court in Kenutcky. Green had been discharged from the US military before the revelations of the crimes was revealed. Due to the fact that Green is no longer in the military, he is being charged in civilian courts. The other four charged with rape, murder and arson are Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker. Today, AP reports that James P. Barker has enter a plea of guilty. Writing for the New York Times about the then expected plea, Paul von Zielbauer continued the paper's long tradition of rendering AbeerQassim Hamza al-Janabi invisible by providing twelve paragraphs of text that never once managed to give Abeer's name. By contrast, the Guardian of London features a photo of Abeer and manages to name her. The Guardian notes that Cortez "has deferred entering a plea" and that "Spielman will not enter a plea until December." The Guardian notes the following based upon Barker's written statement: ". . . Green dragged the father, mother and younger sister into a bedroom, while Abeer was left in the living room. . . . Barker said Cortez appeared to rape the girl [Abeer], and he followed. He said he heard gunshots and Mr. Green came out of the bedroom, saying he had killed the family, before raping the girl and shooting her with an AK-47."
At the Article 32 hearing for the four still serving in Iraq (plus Anthony W. Yribe, charged with dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident),
AFP reported the testimony of an Iraqi doctor who discovered Abeer deceased and "naked with her legs spread". Al Jazeera added that Abeer was also "burned from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye." During that military inquiry in August, US military investigator Benjamin Bierce testified that "Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl" -- Bierce also testified that prior to the rape and murders, those accused spent their time consuming booze and hitting golf balls only to, after the murder and rape, grill chicken wings. Bierce's statements were basedupon what James Barker had already told him. The fact that Barker had already confessed to the crimes may be what prompted today's guilty plea. Howard? As Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported, Bierce testified that Howard was the designated lookout. Zoroya's report also notes Justin Watt who came forward with what he was hearing in June about the crimes that took place in March. [Watt was not present, was not involved. He has however received death threats for coming forward.]
At the August hearing,
Captain Alex Pickand closed his argument for prosecution noting: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Decked out like Janet Jackson on the cover of Rhythm Nation, John Abizaid, the general, blathered in Congress today. Quote: "Blah blah blah blah blah [karate chop with hand] blah blah blah."
CBS and AP report that Johnny says no timetables because they don't give him 'flexibility' and that he stated he "remains optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq." The yearly physicaly doesn't include some sort of mental evaluation? How bad was it? So bad that John McCain had to declare: "I'm of course disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said that is not an acceptable condition." What may have prompted the battle of the Johns was that Abizaid didn't advocate for more US troops on the ground in Iraq -- something McCain favors. Andrew Gray and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report Abizaid declared, "I believe more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, taking more responsibility for their future." [The gut wrenching sobs you hear are Michael R. Gordon crying for all the war pornographers.] Abizaid also saw 'progress' since August. Apparently, no one handed him a copy of today's newspaper with the front page stories of the mass kidnappings yesterday in Baghdad? To recap, Abizaid said, "Blah blah blah no withdrawal of US troops blah blah blah no timetables blah blah blah I need to be flexible blah blah blah watch me touch my nose blah blah blah."
AP notes US Senator Carl Levin's remarks: "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months."
Jason Szep (Reuters) interviews Ann Clwyd, British MP, who proves you don't have to be a general or American to spin -- Clwyd is against an "early withdrawal" she informed Wellesley College -- because certainly there's nothing more important for a British MP than to address US college audiences in the midst of a war. While MP Clwyd is quite sure of herself, Terri Judd and Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) report that Ted Elliott, father of British soldier Sharron Elliott who died Sunday in Basra. Ted Elliott wonders, "Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?"
He won't find the answers from Clwyd, Abizaid or the Bully Boy.
On yesterday's mass kidnappings,
John F. Burns and Michael Luo (New York Times) reported in today's paper that the number of people kidnapped was still not clear and that remains true. CBS and AP report that currently 70 people kidnapped have been released. Strange when you consider that both the 'informed' puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the US military put the number much lower when attempting to downplay the reality of what took place --- al-Maliki went with 50, the US military with 55. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) provides the details of Tuesday's mass kidnapping: kidnappers came in the front door, told the receptionist they were police (and were dresed accordingly), divided the males and females, left with victims and "blood smeared on the gray floor . . . dirt outlines of boot prints on a door" and also quotes the brother of one of those abducted who wonders, "Where can we go? The police kidnapped him?" It's doubtful comfort will come from AFP's report that puppet al-Maliki has "demanded Wednesday the arrest of all those who were behind the kidnapping operation of 100 government employees on Tuesday." That's how bad the situation is. al-Maliki has to "demand" that kidnappers be arrested.
CNN reports that Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili, Iraq's Minister of Higher Education, has turned in his resignation and states he will follow through on it if nothing is done because "I have to protect my people." CNN estimates that 40 people remain missing and 70 who were kidnapped have been freed. That would result in at least 110 people having been kidnapped on Tuesday. At least. Possibly the puppet and the US military flacks should spend more time addressing reality and far less time spinning?
Spending his time getting the word out on his son
Ehren Watada, Bob Watada continues his speaking tour. Cordell Whitlock (St. Louis' KSDK) noted what was at stake: "Lt. Watada will go to trial early next year in military court. A panel of officers will serve as jury. If convicted, Watada could spend six years in prison and be dismissed from the army."
Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, the military announced that they had decided to proceed with a court-martial against Watada. Bob Watada and his wife Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) are finishing a tour, a full schedule can be found here, this Friday to raise awareness on Ehren's stand:

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo,
DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition,
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

amy goodmandemocracy now