Monday, November 13, 2006

Jeanne 'Linda' Michel, Gregg Mitchell, Chip Pitts

I want to start by noting three things from last week, Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen," Betty's "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" and C.I.'s "Ellen Willis." Two went up Saturday and the other late Friday night, so I want to be sure everyone is aware of them. Let me note three more things: TV: Saturday Night Dead" (Ava and C.I. review Saturday Night Live, this is a really strong commentary and considering how strong they generally write, you know that's saying something), "The Full Brobeck" (we all worked on this and it's about when independent media can't find the time to note war resistance), and "Remember Ehren Watada?" (hopefully, you heard the news about Ehren Watada, but I doubt you heard it via independent media). Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and he and I will be taking Friday off to see a movie before the Iraq group gets together. If possible, I will post on Saturday.

"She Survived Iraq -- Then Shot Herself at Home" (Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher):
Her name doesn't show on any official list of American military deaths in the Iraq war, by hostile or non-hostile fire, who died in that country or in hospitals in Europe or back home in the USA. But Iraq killed her just as certainly.

She is Jeanne "Linda" Michel, a Navy medic. She came home last month to her husband and three kids (ages 11, 5, and 4), delighted to be back in her suburban home of Clifton Park in upstate New York. Michel, 33, would be discharged from the Navy in a few weeks, finishing her five years of duty. Two weeks after she got home, she shot and killed herself. "She had come through a lot and she had always risen to challenges," her husband, Frantz Michel, who has also served in Iraq, lamented last week. Now he asks why the Navy didn't do more to help her.

You know what? I don't just blame the Bully Boy, or the War Cheerleaders, or the Navy for the above. Know the name? During the 2004 presidential campaign, this supposedly 'objective,' non-partisan site leaned right at every turn. It was a joke to read, especially if you're in the health care field. If you're in that filed, you were fully aware, in 2004 if not before, that the Bully Boy administration was not providing the needed funds to cover returning troops. That's why I don't charge my Thursday night group -- or anyone in it who needs individual sessions. They're all vets. That's not, "Look at how wonderful I am." I'm not wonderful. But anyone in any form of healthcare knew by 2004, if not sooner, that there was not sufficent funding for returning vets. But said there was. Of course they know so much better then those of working with vets. From their desks, far from the people who served, they know just what the 'truth' is.

Up until that moment, when they were addressing that item, I was one of the people taken in by the organization. I often disagreed with a level of interpretation but was willing to put it off as just interpretation. There was no reality when they disagreed with John Kerry's statement about the administration not providing funding. They were wrong. Why they were wrong everyone can decide for themselves.

For me, I started paying closer attention when they'd pop up on, for instance, The NewsHour. They leaned over backwards to see the Bully Boy's side repeatedly. I don't think they're balanced, I don't think they're fair and I don't think they're factual. Seeing a very real issue, a very real failing of the administration, dismissed by them while they claimed Kerry's claim didn't hold up, I saw something really ugly because this wasn't pie-in-the-sky or something (like the debt) that future generations would have to deal with -- this was something happening right now. But they closed their eyes and acted as though it wasn't happening. I have no respect for them. They gave cover to the Bully Boy and, on this issue, they allowed a debate to be silenced and people to go without needed assistance.

For me, the way it happened, was that C.I. would call me anytime a vet was encourtered in my area. Always with, "Elaine, I'll pay for it . . ." Which is nonsense because we all need to do our part. By the second month of 2004, there was enough for group sessions. C.I. still bumps into people and always checks with me first. My attitude is always, "Send them to me." Some are able to get the tools they need more quickly than others, some aren't. I had tried doing the group on Saturday, moving it to that, but it didn't work out. There are people who reach a point where they're comfortable and, they've already finished individual sessions, they leave the group. Then something happens and they want to check back in. It's just easier, because there have been so many, if I keep the group on Thursdays. By keeping it on Thursdays, if someone needs the support of the group (or doesn't want to pick up the phone and ask if they can come in for a session), they can just drop in. I've talked about that before (talked about it here). When we were moving it to a week night, I put it to the then current group and explained my own preference (Thursdays) and why. Many from that group have now found their tools and don't need to come to the group regularly but 6 from that group that voted to go back to Thursdays have come back. Each of them has said that when they needed to check in, it helped to know the group was there each Thursday. So, for newcomers or visitors, that's why I never blog on Thursday. Next week, we'll do a meeting on Wednesday, a small group. That's due to the fact that it's Thanksgiving. Holidays can be stressful and I'm on the fence about this. But the current group won't be coming in on Thursday (due to the holiday). (I'll be checking for messages throughout Thursday.) Last year, I went out to visit C.I. and it wasn't a problem. But I am concerned about a few right now. Probably I'm nervous for no reason.

"We The People?" (Chip Pitts, Common Dreams):
Last Tuesday's election results reasserted popular sovereignty over an administration that ignored checks and balances to lead us to an unpopular and counterproductive war in Iraq and reduced civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad. It’s an unambiguous victory for democracy which will undo the damage and usher in a new era of peace, prosperity, and responsibility -- right?
Not so fast. While elimination of one-party rule certainly offers prospects for enhanced congressional oversight and attention to the common good, major obstacles continue to block broader intelligent action.
First, President Bush and the lame-duck 109th Congress that remains in office until January seem not to have heard the people's voice. Despite the brief, shining moment of bipartisanship that lasted for a nanosecond on Wednesday, the president announced Thursday that his top legislative priority for this period is authorization for his secret, deceptive, and evidently illegal program of warrantless domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency. President Bush cares not that the new 110th Congress starting in January would be unlikely to approve this program or immunize the telecommunications companies and others who participated, or that the American people rejected the campaign platform of fear that insisted on ever-expanding "tools" supposedly needed to fight terrorism but actually used primarily for domestic law enforcement and to consolidate executive power in ways that threaten civil liberties. The administration's stubborn persistence in the face of a possible Democratic filibuster isn't a good sign.
Second, as we move from campaign slogans to concrete choices for Iraq, it becomes clearer that there are no good options. The widespread sentiment for change within the respective publics and politicians in the United States and Iraq masks widely divergent views about what should be done -- with chatter continuing about trying to somehow find more troops to send, or resorting to even more counterproductive force -- making it more likely (as in Vietnam for years) that nothing productive will happen. The president's intent to push through the lame-duck session approval of his undiplomatic, recess-appointee as U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton, augers ill for more diplomatic policies -- including attempting to work with Syria, Iran, and other Muslim countries -- that will be required for lasting progress in Iraq.

I liked this piece but I only read it because I recognized the name. (C.I. knows Chip Pitts. I've never met him. I have heard of him from C.I.) Pitts has been very active on the issue of the Patriot Act. The way C.I. gives all to stopping the war, Pitts gives to waking up the nation about the Patriot Act. Pitts is all over the place speaking out and organizing and has been for years. When most of America was too scared to question the Patriot Act, he was out there, all over the country, questioning it, creating a space for a discussion, a safe space that our media didn't create. Need another reason to use the link and read in full (or just note the name)? Pitts is a huge fan of Lewis Lapham's writing.

There's an event in C.I.'s snapshot that I wished I'd known about. A rally in Chicago that Kyle Snyder was at. I think that's amazing that Snyder's not only underground, but surfacing to speak out.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, November 13, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Bully Boy meets with tutors (we didn't say they were good tutors), the US military starts the day announcing the deaths of more US troops, the decision to court-martial
Ehren Watada continues to receive The Full Brobeck from independent media, and Nouri al-Maliki continues to go on about a "Cabinet Shuffle."
Last week (Thursday), the US military announced they were moving to a court-martial of
Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. The court-martial is expected to be held early next year. Sunday, Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reported that Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is predicting the court-martial will "be a spectacle. It's going to raise a lot of issues that frankly I don't understand why the Army wants to raise." Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq because his studies, encouraged by his superior, led him to realize the Iraq war is illegal. Courage to Resist quotes Ehren Watada explaining, "The reason I spoke out, I saw that what was being in terms of this war was so illegal and so immoral and not being checked. It was a danger to our troops and a danger to our country. So, I think what needs to be done is some kind of accountability in Washington, D.C. and also investigations into how this war started in the first place."
In the first place? The fact that many would rather talk fine-tuning, the reality that the war is illegal and built on lies is too little examined.
Speaking with Joshua Scheer (Truthdig) last week, Congress member Dennis Kucinich declared, "We need to have hearings on Iraq again. We need to go over again why we went there. We need to review the statements and all the errors that were made, and from that we bring the country together to take a new direction. It's all fact-based. And then we start to heal our nation. But we cannot heal America if we continue with policies that are based on lies. We'll never be able to bring closure to this Iraq matter unless we tell the truth about what happened. So America needs a new approach of truth and reconcialiation." [Micah noted that yesterday.] In March of this year, Kucinich declared "Not One more Dime" noting: "After three years arrogance and incompetence, contempt and lies, death and destruction, Congress should say enough is enough and provide not one more dime for this Administration's ill-conceived, ill-advised, misguided and failed Iraq policy." Quite a bit more than many asked by Aaron Glantz on Countdown 2006 were willing to state. Writing for IPS, Glantz notes Pratap Chatterjee on the issue of stopping the war via the Congressional purse: "The main control Congress has is financial. Congress can refuse to pay for the war, which is what they did in Vietnam, but they can't really dictate how it's waged." For the article, Glantz also speaks with Tom Hayden who sees some hope in the public stance Democrats offered against the war but "[w]here they aren't so good yet is what to do about it, and they don't have that obligation yet because they aren't to take back the presidency -- if they ever do -- for two years. There will be an attempt by both parties to keep the war going and get rid of Iraq as a public issue, but that seems to me to be impossible." Writing at The Huffington Post, Hayden advises: "The peace movement needs to gear up for the 2008 elections, by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states. The first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- have large peace-and-justice constituencies."
Mobilizing took place Saturday in Chicago.
Ofelia Casillas and Charles Sheehan (Chicago Tribune) report that Vietnam Veterans Against the War held a ceremony that brought out at least fifty and the closer was US war resister Kyle Snyder who stated: "I followed my conscience. And I'm being persecuted for that." Kyle Snyder self-checked out and moved to Canada after serving in Iraq. He returned to the United States last month and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. As Courage to Resist notes, "At the risk of arrest, he is speaking out bravely on behalf of war resisters and active duty GI's." They are asking that you: "Call Ft. Leonard Wood Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Commanding General Major General William McCoy, Jr., 573-596-0131 and the Public Affairs Office, 573-563-4013 email: -- Demand that the Army 'Discharge Kyle Snyder with No Punishment'."
Obscuring the reality of the illegal war's basis provides the coverage for the continuation of it. And all the deaths that come with it. Sunday, the
US military announced the Saturday deaths of three troops in Al Anbar Province. Also Sunday, the British military reports that four of their troops have died and three are injured while they were on boat patrol in Basra which brings the total number of British troops killed in Iraq to 125. The four deaths came on the same day that "UK Forces personnel at home and overseas have been united in paying their respects to the fallen of past and current conflicts" in their annual day of Rememberance.
the US military announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were killed Sunday when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Two other Soldiers were wounded in the blast and were transported to a Coalition forces medical treatment facility." They also announced today: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed during combat operations when an improvised-explosive device detonated at approximately 10:20 a.m. in Baghdad Nov. 13. Two additional Soldiers were wounded in the same incident." That makes four announced deaths of US troops today. (Seven deaths announced so far this week.)
In other violence . . .
CBS and AP report the mini-bus bomb in Baghdad which took the lives of 20 and left 18 wounded when it exploded "at a major intersection in the northeast Baghdad neighborhood."
Reuters notes that a mortar attck in Baghdad left two injured; a roadside bomb in Baghdad left two people wounded; and a roadside bomb outside Kirkuk wounded three guards of General Anwar Amin. Al Jazeera reports a bomb attack on the "outskirts of the Green Zone" using a car bomb which destroyed 13 cars in the garage but only one person was injured. CNN notes that the bombing was "near the Iranian Embassy and the Green Zone."
CNN reports that Mohammed al-Ban of al-Sharqiya TV and al-Massar newspaper was shot dead in Mosul while, in Baghdad, an attack on an adviser to one of Iraq's vice president resulted in the shooting deaths of "two of his bodyguards". AFP reports that a "Brigadier General of Iraq's traffic police and his driver were shot dead by gunmen as he was driving to work" in Baghdad. CBS and AP report the shooting death of a "civilian" in Baquba,the shooting death of Sunni Sheik Namis Karim in Baquba and the shooting death of Assim Mahmoud Abbas in Diyala. Reuters notes a police officer shot dead in Kut, "[f]our male primary school teachers" shot dead in Kirkuk and five people "ambushed and killed" just outside Baghdad.
Al Jazeera reports that 46 corpses have been discovered in Baghdad today. CBS and AP report that the corpses "of two women who had been shot to death" were discovered. Reuters notes that the man with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Yildirim Tek, kidnapped July 23 was "found dead near Baghdad's airport". Reuters also notes that five corpses were discovered in Yusufiya.
In addition to the above, there were kidnappings.
Reuters notes ten people kidnapped in Latifiya on Saturday, Muhammed Salim (a major in the police force) kidnapped in Baghdad and discovered dead; while another major with the police force, Maher Moussa was kidnapped (from his own home) and hasn't been discovered.
As the chaos and violence continue to rage, al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, continues to make noises about a "Cabinet Shuffle" -- all the while very aware that just as likely as that happening is "The al-Maliki Shuffle" which would leave the puppet on the outside (possibly running the streets of London with 'rolldog' Chalabi).
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that al-Maliki is now whining that he didn't get to pick his cabinet and that some posts were filled by names handed to him right before he announced them.
CBS and AP report that he is also "blaming Sunni Muslims for the country's raging sectarian conflict". On Sunday, Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported on the observations of American army Col. Brian D. Jones who speaks of Iraqi Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein al-Kaabi showing up with a list (reportedly composed in Baghdad by Shi'ite leaders) of people who wanted arrested -- Sunni politicians.
Possibly setting himself up to be the next puppet, Iraq's Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi is making soothing noises for the US administration (the bosses of the illegal occupation).
CBS and AP report that al-Obaidi is stating that he doesn't want "to speed transfer of security operations throughout the country to the Iraqi army, saying his men were too porrly equipped and trained to do the job." AFP reminds: "On Wednesday, the main Sunni bloc threatened to quit the national unity government -- cobbled together after December 2005 elections -- warning that they would take up arms if rampaging Shiite militias were not quickly dismantled." Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) reports on Moktada al-Sadr and notes that "parties loyal to him control the single larest protion of seats in Parliament and elevated the prime minister to power. They control five government ministeries"; however, "the more settled he becomes in the establishment, the looser his grip is over his fighters on the streets and those increasingly infiltrating the security forces."
While the above goes on, Bully Boy plays like he's Rodney Dangerfield and he's living out Back to School.
Ben Feller (AP) reports Bully Boy met with the tutors his father endorsed, the Iraqi Study Group led by Lee Hamiliton and James Baker and that, afterwards, Bully Boy stated: "I was impressed by the questions they asked." It's rather sad that over three years after he started an illegal war, there are questions that can be asked which surprise the Bully Boy. Not just anyone can meet with the Bully Boy to discuss Iraq, he refused to meet religious leaders before launching his illegal war. For all his supposed piety, he couldn't make time for them. Ahmed Amr dubs them "the fabulous Baker boys" (let's all hope Cheney doesn't put on something slinky and attempt to warble "Making Whoopeee"), notes that it's a dog-and-pony show "to save Bush's face" and concludes: "We should openly declare that we intend to leave ASAP and dismantle each and every American garrison. Immediately cut troop strength by half. The enduring bases will not and should not survive this plan. We should retreat humbly and in sorrow -- for their losses and ours."
Steve Holland (Reuters) reports that the meeting went over the one-hour-and-fifteen minutes scheduled. No confirmation to the rumors that Bully Boy refused to take his fingers out of his ears until Condi gave him a juice box. What is confirmed, as Alieen Alfandary noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, is Bully Boy's enduring unpopularity which "has plunged to 31% [approval ratings] in the lowest poll by Newsweek."
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq and, as of Thursday, facing a court-martial in 2007. The speaking tour winds down on the 17th, a full schedule can be found here and upcoming dates include:

Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, "The Ground Truth" and Bob Watada,Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B,Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489,

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814,

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,

bob watada