Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bully Boy on the run but the press is too busy playing Red Cross

Saturday. I want to start off with new lyrics that Kat, Jess and C.I. came up with to Paul McCartney & Wings' seventies hit "Band on the Run." If you've missed it, the Bully Boy's cut short his usual Crawford time in August due to the fact that Cindy Sheehan will be there. He's a Bully on the run.

"Bully on the Run" (Kat, Jess, C.I., Kat's Korner):
Safe inside these four walls
Safe inside my bubble
Don't want to see no one nice again
Like you, Cindy, you, Cindy, you.

If I ever get to Crawford
Gonna' sleep it all away
Like a bad hangover
Won't you protect me, Secret Service, if I get to Crawford?
(If I ever get to Crawford).

Well, the movement exploded like a thunder clap
In the summer of 2005
From the first Camp Casey to the second one
She was ruining all my fun.

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And the Secret Service and FBI
They're searching ev'ryone
I'm the bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

Well Condi clutched her head and sighed
At what the Mid East had become
And Dick Cheney took to the chat & chews
Snarling "cut & run!" ("cut & run!")

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And the Secret Service and FBI
They're searching ev'ryone
I'm the bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

Once I could clear the brush and tell a joke or two
It was a quiet town.
Then the camp set up and they were ev'rywhere
Now no peace can be found.

Bully on the run, bully on the run
And to tell the truth, I hold a grudge
And what's more, I'm pissed and sore
I'm a bully on the run, bully on the run
Bully on the run, bully on the run.

"Band on the Run" is one of my favorite post-Beatles McCartney songs. It's ahead of "Live and Let Die" but right behind "Baby I'm Amazed" (probably tied with "My Love" -- which Cass Elliot does a great version of it which is available on Dream A Little Dream: The Cass Elliot Collection). I read that Friday and laughed, then started singing it to the tune of "Band on the Run."

Bully on the run . . . bully on the run. The movement did explode with Camp Casey and it's due to start back up this month so keep that in mind.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq today, August 4, 2006 and one of the locations is only a surprise to those not paying attention to yesterday's (US) Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. There was a key section that was
apparently missed by several. Mosul's one of today's hot spots so let's draw back to this exchange from yesterday's hearing:
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I' worry about is we're playing a game of
whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
transcript of this (Congressional Quarterly) can be found at the Washington Post. For audio of the above (most), check out Leigh Ann Caldwell's report which aired on Thursday's The KPFA Evening News and Free Speech Radio News.
Mosul? That's where the 172nd Stryker Brigade (scheduled to be back home before their year deployment got four additional months added to is) was pulled from, Abizaid testified.
Reuters is reporting: "Heavily armed insurgents battled U.S. and Iraqi troops in the restive northern city of Mosul on Friday where at least four policemen, including a top officer and four militants were reported killed."
That is the "strategy" (being generous) and it's the very point McCain was making yesterday. (McCain generally uses that type of observation to support adding more troops to the slaughter, I believe the troops themselves add to the conflict.) The exchange was not heavily stressed in most reporting but McCain was outlining what currently passes for "strategy" in Iraq -- a "strategy" that once again (always) blew up in the military geniuses' (and the administration's) faces.
BBC notes that the US announced last week the withdrawal of 5,000 troops "to re-deploy them in the capital, Baghdad". AP places the figure at 3,500. China's Xinhua notes that "Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, has been a bastion of insurgency against U.S. and Iraqi forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." Reuters reports that, in Mosul, "authorities have ordered everyone off the streets until Saturday and closed the city's bridges across the Tigris river."
AFP notes that, today, "Mosul woke to a dawn blitz of six bombs and a hail of mortars which killed at least nine police officers and triggered a six-hour gunbattle in which an unknown number of insurgents were killed." One bomb, Reuters notes, resulted in the deaths of "police Colonel Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards". The Times of London estimates that, in Mosul alone, 24 people died today from car bombs of various kind.
AFP reports a man was shot dead in Amara. The Associated Press reports that two police officers were shot dead in Falluja and describes one of the incidents: "armed men attacked several government buildings and police patrols in central Fallujah at about 8:30 s.m. (0430 GMT), leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded".
AFP notes that a couple enroute to a hospital in Baquba for the impending birth of their child were killed by a roadside bomb (cab driver and mother-to-be's sister were wounded) and that, in Baghdad, a civilian was killed by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol. Reuters reports that a bombing in Hadhar, during a football game, resulted in 10 dead and 12 wounded. A police officer described the attack ("suicide car bomber") to the AFP: "He drove into the police guarding the pitch, and blew up." KUNA notes of the attack on the football game: "the football field was for the use of Hadhar policemen and police department staff only."
CBS and AP notes one corpse was discovered (in the country). AFP notes the interior ministry declared twelve corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The AP notes that six corpses were found in Kut with "four of them decapitated".
In court news,
prosecutor/Captain Joseph Mackey delivered his closing argument in the Article 32 hearing of Corey Clagett, William Hunsaker, Raymond Girouard and Juston Graber, who stand accused in the May 9th deaths of three Iraqis. Mackey argued that the three Iraqis were not killed while trying to escape but had, instead, been released by the four US troops and then killed by them, "For this they are not war heroes, they are war criminals. And justice states that they face trial." As Reuters notes, all four accused elected not to provide testimony to hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury).
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco continues.
Eleanor Hall and Conor Duffy discussed the latest development's on The World Today (Australia's ABC) noting that "military standing orders" were not followed with the transportation of Jake Kovco's body (contractors with Kenyon International were used instead) and that, while the Australian government alleges this was for speed, Jake Kovco's roommates say it was due "to cost and they told the inquiry that they thought that if it had been a foreign dignitary or even a more senior officer, that military aircraft and US military morgue would have been used throughout the whole procedure."
For anyone arriving late to this story and wondering why Kovco's destination back to Australia matters, Kovco's body was somehow switched and the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic was sent to Australia while Kovco's body remained at the motuary.
AAP notes that Alastar Adams ("first secretary at the Australian Embassy in Kuwait") testified that "he had not checked the photo against the corpse of a Bosnian carpenter . . . he had taken a quick look . . . told the mortuary staff they could close the coffin and stamp it with the embassy's official seal."
AAP also notes the following which appears to back up Kovco's roommates' judgement: ". . . air force warrant officer Chris Hunter told the inquiry he believed the body mix-up could have been prevented if the civilian morgue had not been used. He said Pte Kovco's body was transferred from a professional and clean mortuary facility in Baghdad run by US troops to a rund-down morgue remsembling 'a third world country hospital'. WO Hunter stopped eight of PTE Kovco's soldier mates, who had accompanied the boday as a bearer party, from entering the morgue, fearing they might start a riot upon noticing its condition."
In court news in the United States, the
Justice Department is announcing that Faheem Mousa Salam "has pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by offering to bribe an Iraqi police official" at the start of this year by offering "approximately $60,000 in exchange for . . . [help] facilitating the sale of approximately 1,000 armored vests and a sophisticated map printer for approximately $1 million." Though the Justice Department fails to note it, he was then employed by Titan Corporation.
In peace news, Phil Runkel is in "a federal courtroom in Alexandria" today facing "a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for his war protest last March"
reports Dennis Shook for Runkel and other peace activists (51 in total) were arrested March 20th in front of the Pentagon. Brian Huber (GM Today) notes that the activists were wanting to meet with Donald Rumsfeld and that some climbed or went "under a temporary fence that Runkel said was erected to stop them, resulting in their arrests."
Activists on the
CODEPINK and Global Exchange sponsored trip to Amman, Jordan --including Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden and Diane Wilson -- have arrived in Amman. Cindy Sheehan (Truth Out) reports: "The most horrifying testimony of the day was when we met with "Dr. Nada," an Iraqi doctor who stayed in Baghdad to help her people during the sanctions and the invasion. She didn't abandon her country, or sell it out like many privileged people who exited during the Baathist regime (like Iyad Allawi or Ahmed Chalabi) or the sanctions ... which she, as a supervisory physician at a major Baghdad hospital, said killed two million children. The children died of pollution and sicknesses from depleted uranium during the first gulf mistake of George the First. The babies died because of the war, but also because there is no medicine and very limited medical facilities to treat them. Dr. Nada brought the daughter of a friend, three-year-old Farrah, who had short brown hair and big brown eyes. There were so many young children playing in Queen airport yesterday when I got here and dozens running around the hotel. My heart almost bursts with sorrow when I think of all of the children in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan who have had such horrible lives and had many of their lives cut short by the evil war machine that seems to be running our world."
Troops Home Fast continues ("We will keep the fast going until September 21, International Peace Day, when there will be a week of mass actions against the war")
with at least
4,350 people participating from around the world on the 32nd day since the action began. Some are fasting long-term, some are grabbing a one-day, one-time fast, some are grabbing a one-day fast each week. More information can be found at Troops Home Fast.
Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports that Ehren Watada will likely face an Article 32 hearing August 17th because Eric Seitz's pretrial offer of a "reprimand, fine and reduction of rank" has not yet been accepted. As noted before, this offer was twice refused. Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."

That is a lot of news and a lot more than I got in the morning paper. (I'm at Trina's by the way, for the Friday discussion group. Let me put something in here, Trina says Wally is the best house guest. She's not had to lift a finger to clean or do the wash all week. She keeps telling him, "You're a guest." But when Mike's in class or at work, he gets bored and ends up helping out. They all pitch in normally so Trina says everyone's having a vacation at Wally's expense.) It amazes me that we still can't get a peace column in any newspaper or magazine (mainstream or independent) because there is surely more than enough to cover in one. You have the group in Jordan -- and did I miss it or is Truth Out the only one really covering that? I'm talking about our left magazines online or otherwise.

Did any reporter, freelance or otherwise, decide to accompany the group to Jordan to report on the meeting? This isn't news?

Or the case of Phil Runkel, that's not news?

It's past time that both the mainstream and the independent media started covering the peace movement (independent news broadcasts already do) regularly. Not an article once a year or twice a year. The peace movement grows inspite of the coverage, not with any help from the media.

This attitude that Iraq can be placed on the backburner because of what's going on elsewhere in the Middle East is a cop out. It's a nice easy out for the Bully Boy as Iraqis die (it's estimated that a hundred die each day) day after day. I don't see anything brave in the coverage I'm getting. I'm pretty disappointed in it.

There's a big rally the weekend of September 21st and we should be building towards that. But by losing focus on Iraq we're hurting that rally and we're providing the Bully Boy with a nice few moments while people demand that the US do something regarding Israel (I believe the government already has, that's how the Israeli government got the impression that their actions would have no consequences).

"Bully Boy! You must do something!"

Takes the pressure off on Iraq which was his illegal war and which has gotten so bad that even Thomas Friedman in yesterday's Times said it was time for a withdrawal from Iraq. But we're not getting that point because a lot of "journalists" are trying to make their name of Israel's actions with really bad coverage. (That's mainstream and independent.) Both are important. Both are not being covered as important. Claude e-mailed me to draw my attention to an hour long broadcast of a news magazine (independent) that covered Iraq on Thursday by . . . mentioning that Donald Rumsfeld might not testify to the Senate Armed Service Committee on Thursday (he did testify).

That's our brave journalism?

Quit kidding yourselves. When things have gotten so bad that War Cheerleader Thomas Friedman says the US needs to pull out of Iraq, you're providing a headline isn't covering it.
This is the moment when the Happy Talk's been exposed as lies, when Operation Happy Talk has gone so bust that even Hillary Clinton says to Donald Rumsfeld that she doesn't want "Happy Talk." Some people have been doing the heavy lifting while you've kidded yourself that you're doing anything. CODEPINK's done heavy lifting, C.I.'s done heavy lifting (and then some) and so have a few others.

But most have acted chickens with their heads cut off. Squawk, squawk. It's as though they rush from one crisis to another. They don't continue the coverage, they're too busy playing the Red Cross to do that. If you're in the news business, you can't afford to let Iraq fall off the radar.
But that's what happened. It hasn't shared focus, it's been pushed off the damn stove.

That's not journalism.

On the Thursday broadcast of an hour long program, Iraq was dismissed at the top of the show, given the same amount of time basically as a Las Vegas law outlawing people from feeding the homeless. That's perspective? That's journalism? Quit kidding yourselves.

We heard about that in last night's discussion group, about how the pressure should be on the Bully Boy to address Iraq. Instead, the same voices that would pressure him over his Bully Boy ways are now pleading with him to do something about Israel. Get real.

The Israeli government is acting with the consent of the administration.

He didn't listen on Iraq, he's not going to listen on Israel.

But he's probably basking in his power over the cries of "do something!" and really grateful that during his vacation the attention is on what the Israelie government is doing as opposed to the fact that his illegal war is destroying the lives of Iraqis.

Possibly, that's why the administration gave Israel the go-ahead -- to take some heat off Bully Boy?

You hear a great deal of talk about our brave, independent media. I'm not seeing it. I'm seeing everyone pushing Iraq to the side to present conversations on Israel.

These are US, domestic programs. They can't address Iraq which results from domestic actions.
They weren't that comfortable addressing it before the Israeli government launched its latest attacks.

If they had been comfortable, you might have seen cover stories on Ehren Watada. But you didn't. You might have seen serious attempts to cover Suzanne Swift's case or the cases of those arrested for protesting (Runkel was one of 51 persons arrested).

You're not getting the coverage you need and don't kid yourself that it's because of Israel. The election in Mexico was an earlier excuse to drop coverage of Iraq.

Supposedly, a lot of people are against it. You don't see that in their actions. They don't make Iraq the focus of their programs or their publications. They do an occasional story and we're all supposed to say, "Wow! Compare that to the mainstream media!"

Why? Isn't the independent media supposed to be better than the mainstream?

How about being good in relation to what you do and not by comparison?

I'm disgusted with pretty much everything, mainstream or independent.

Every day that the war in Iraq drags on, C.I. has several stories to post about. Why doesn't the media (independent or mainstream)?

There's no perspective at all. An illegal war killing a hundred a day (Iraq) is somehow the same as a stupid municipal law that bans the feeding of homeless? That's perspective? Get real.

An interview (that's poorly edited) where the war is mentioned in one response and that's your coverage for the entire issue? Maybe you shouldn't have published.

Without the media, the war has come home. But that moment doesn't even matter now because our independent media isn't even interested in it. People need to get serious real fast.

Mike wrote about "Lotta Links" with over 100 links that found time this one day this week for one Iraq link. Wow. How impressive. (Since Mike called them out, they've added a few more each day. But don't pretend like they're not still wasting everyone's time with nonsense repeatedly.)

Here's what's going to happen if something doesn't change real quick, after Labor Day the big media and the indy will be chasing after domestic election stories. They'll be playing the same game and indymedia will argue "We go deeper." Who gives a damn?

Really, who gives a damn that you offered a few more minutes to horse racing?

People have serious problem with perspective. When, as one so called "news" magazine did, they have time to play a speech to DC crowd that's supposed to be "funny," they have a problem grasping what news is. That was a social function. That wasn't news that needed to be explorded, pondered and applauded. I can remember when Eartha Kitt actually did something, not stood up in front of a crowd and tried to crack wise, and that wasn't treated with as much fawning attention as that bit of nonsese was.

"Oh wow, a comedian told jokes about Iraq to a social crowd! It's incredible!"

People need to get serious. Apparently, "news" is now dropping everything to cover one story. There's no effort to weigh whether the news (or "news") is more important or less. The chasing after Israel's actions at the expense of Iraq, Guantanamo and other equally worthy stories isn't a bit different from cable chasing after a car chase.

It's not news and people need to quit applauding themselves for what they're providing.

I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted with the Iraq war and getting more so with the coverage (lack of it or what passes for it) from so-called independent media. It's gotten to the point that if I see one more double issue of a certain magazine focusing on other things when they've yet to do a single issue focused on Iraq, they're off my list.

I'm speaking with Trina while I'm writing this and keep saying, "I'm serious."

I am serious. It's too bad the media isn't.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Goodbye Blue Skies

"Thomas Friedman focuses on foundation" is Betty's latest and brand new, just up. Last night,
Kat, Betty ("Hey Now Young Mothers" -- included because that's at Rebecca's site where she's filling in), Cedric and I included a song we were thinking of yesterday. Susan e-mailed to say that she really enjoyed reading those. I enjoyed reading everyone else's as well. Music is a big thing in my life. I'd rather listen to music than any other pleasure pursuit except reading. In these days of world insanity, music's something that can alternately ground me and uplift. Susan's pick was Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Skies." I love The Wall and think it is the best of the "rock operas." But I don't know the live version Roger Waters staged. Susan recommends it and notes that Joni Mitchell does a "perfect" version of "Goodbye Blue Skies" on the CD. I'll look for it this weekend but Susan's enthusiastic e-mail had me haul out The Wall tonight and I'm listening to it as I write. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed this album. Not just the obvious tracks like "Another Brick In The Wall" (in all its forms) and "Comfortably Numb," but the whole album. I'm more apt to put on Dark Side of the Moon than The Wall so it's probably been at least a year since I last listened. So thank you, Susan, for reminding me of a wonderful album I do not listen to enough. Other e-mails? If the sender is a community member and I recognize the name, I read them. If I don't, I don't. I'm not in the mood for anyone this week telling me how the Palestinians and the Lebanese are getting "what they deserve" (telling me that in some form or another). Nothing will stop the Israeli government's rampage apparently. The Wall was a wonderful perspective -- both because the government (and our's as well) seems to think that walls are answers. As though the answer is either to close yourself off -- that'll help you understand, right?

"Goodbye Blue Skies" is a wonderful song but I had always gotten lost in the music (and the "Did-did-did-did"s). A lot of times, I'll just get lost in the sound and it's very easy to do that with Pink Floyd's music. At their best, they really create something amazing and I can get as lost in a note as a lyrical passage.

Did-did-did-did you see the frightened ones?
Did-did-did-did you hear the falling bombs?
Did-did-did-did you ever wonder
Why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath the clear blue sky?

Something to think about with what goes on in Gaza, in Lebanon and in Iraq. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue in Iraq but
after the 'jokes' of "at least 44" made it into print today, other 'cut-ups' apparently want to have their fun too.
First up, Iraq's president who will surely be the lead in all the stories today though, come December 31st and January 1st, don't look for news outlets to lead with his happy talk not panning out.
CNN reports that Jala Talabani has predicted Iraqi forces will control all eighteen provinces by the end of 2006. For those with any short-term memory left in them, it wouldn't be surprising if this thought was the focus: "The U.S. military is moving at least 3,700 soldiers from Mosul to Baghdad and is gearing up for a new security operation to wrest control of the capital from Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, kidnap gangs, rogue police and freelance gunmen" (Robert H. Reid, AP). Those with short-term and long-term memory may flash back on other things, such as Jun 8, 1969 when a beaming Tricky Dicky Nixon and South Vietnam puppet Nguyen Van Thieu boasted and . . . the war didn't end. (For more on that sort of deception, see Ruth's "Ruth's Report" from Sunday.) Fall elections are coming up and, just as surely as the leaves will brown and fall, false promises will bloom at heightened levels. The BBC quotes Talabani self-describing "We are highly optimistic." And apparently just high, period.
Good drugs, apparently are back in vogue and not confined to the Green Zone (well they went in and out of Vietnam back then as well). Which might explain
AFP's DC based report on the supposed degradation of the US military. Whenever they scream "More money!" they offer up this same scenario. While that's what the War Mongers & War Hawks do, there's no reason AFP needs to josh readers: "Members of the group comprise a Who's Who of moderate-to-liberal political thought in the United States, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman John Shalikashvili, and retired four-star general and fomer presidential contender Wesley Clark."
"Moderate-to-liberal political thought"? Howl with laughter.
Then return to reality.
If you're thinking things can't any worse (you're wrong) read
Omar alIbadi and Michael Georgy's (Reuters) report on the Shi'ite non-pilgrimage describing events that sound like scare tactis hollered by some from the halls of the US Congress in the fifites ("Red" hunt). Thing is, the US administration is supporting these type of "demonstrations" that are taking place. al-Ibadi and Georgy report: "Young men in civilian uniforms and headbands, all members of what is known as the popular committees, chanted as a speaker called on them to crush "terrorists" and loyalists of ousted President Saddam Hussein leading a Sunni Arab insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government."
This as
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Shi'ite Muslim leaders are speaking of the country falling "into full revolt." Youssef quotes Sheik Bashir al Najafi stating: "The government formed after the fall of the regime hasn't been able to do anything, just make many promises. And people are fed up with promises. One day we will not be able to stop a popular revolution."
In court news,
Robert F. Burns (AP) reports that the inquiry into the November 19, 2005 deaths of 24 Iraqis "suppots accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday." This as Frank Wuterich ("staff sgt.") files a libel suit against US Representative John Murtha for libel claiming that his reputation has suffered from "false and malicious lies" about those involved in the 24 killings.
In other courtroom news,
Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Bradley Mason testified in court today that he was threatened by four fellow soldiers (William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber) if he spoke of the May 9th events around the shooting deaths of three Iraqi civilians. Mason also testified that "Col. Michael Steele" (of Black Hawk Down 'fame') instructed them to: "Kill all of them." Finally, Mason testified that when the news of shooting the detained and bound three Iraqis was learned that the others "just smiled" but he informed Girouard that he wasn't "down with it. It's murder." The AFP reports that the notorius Steele "has signed a document declaring his intention to refuse to testify in the case to avoid incriminating himself".
In Baghdad, on a soccer field,
AP reports nine "young people" (ages 15-25) died from "hidden bombs" and three ("younger than 15") died from a mortar shell that landed on the soccer field. Reuters reports that an Iraqi soldier died near Diwaniya and three were wounded from a roadside bomb; two and a civilian died from a roadside bomb in Hawija (four civilians left wounded); a police officer died from a roadside bomb in Mosul; and three roadside bombs claimed three lives and left nine wounded in Baghad. On the soccer bombing, the BBC reports that "the bombs had been buried in the middle of the football pitch" and notes that it "came hours after Iraq's president said Iraqi forces would take over the security of the entire country from US-led forces by the end of 2006."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, "gunmen in a car opened fire on a checkpoint outside the Ministry of Oil building . . . injuring three guards". Reuters notes these shooting deaths: in Baquba, the chief of traffic police (Ahmed Adbel Hussein) and his bodyguard; and in Diwaniya "an employee of a human rights group outside his home".
CNN notes that "two traffic police were killed and two other officers wounded in Khalis".
Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Qamishli ("blindfolded . . . hands bound"); eleven corpses were fished out of the Tigris ("Near Suwayra . . . . shot . . . signs of torture"); and, in Kirkuk, a handcuffed corpse was discovered ("signs of torture . . . gunshot wounds in the head").
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad goes on and it's like no inquiry most would be familiar with. The press runs with a tale of Kovco as someone who played with his gun based on . . . Eye witness testimony?
No. There's been none. Soldier 17 stated he'd heard of it Kovco playing with his weapon. The entire inquiry is based, not on facts, but on second-hand testimony.
Dan Box was among the first to tie in today's hearsay with the earlier hearsay writing: "The inquiry had previously heard that Kovco was reprimanded twice by senior officres in the month before his death for mishandling his pistol." They heard that but the witness could only affirm one incident -- the second one was hearsay.
Now with Soldier 17's hearsay testimony today, it needs to be noted that Soldier 17
made comments on May 10th about this and on that day and while testifying in the inquiry, Soldier 17 refuses to provide names of the "others" who saw what he did not but is claiming happened: that Kovco played like a "cowboy" with guns. Frank Holles (Judy & Martin Kovco's attorney) stated: "I put it to you when it suits you, you will not provide invormation." Which pretty much sums up the testimony being trumpeted as "Cowboy Kovco" in the news.
Conor Duffy reporting on The World Today (Australia's ABC) and I'm adding bold print: CONOR DUFFY: That's right, Eleanor [Halll]. We've just seen a statement that he gave to NSW Police just after the shooting, and in it he said that other members of his unit in Baghdad had detailed instances of Private Kovco messing around with weapons. He said he never saw this, but he was told that other people had seen Private Jake Kovco imitating old school weapons. He said, 'Like quick draw and you spin it around and all that sort of s[**t].' And he mentioned specific instances of him spinning the pistol around on his finger. He said that he didn't see that, but he said he'd seen other soldiers in the unit in Baghdad messing around with pistols, and on one occasion he said he was upset when another soldier had pointed a pistol at him and he wasn't sure if it was loaded."
Now let's note Soldier 17's "defense" as to not providing names of these alleged witnesses or fellow gun players: "
They said if I didn't wish to give I didn't have to." Well, as long as "they said" it, then no problem, I guess. But when you think about the description he's giving (of "Australian soldiers in Baghdad" playing "games with their pistols, including 'quick draw' and twirling them like gun-slinging cowboys" as Peter Charlton sums it up), the fact that both he and the other roommate claim not to have seen Kovco holding a gun though they were in the room with him, you're left with questions and hearsay 'testimony' doesn't answer any.
In peace news,
Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Gael Murphy, Diane Wilson, Tom Hayden and Geoffrey Millard will soon be en route to Amman, Jordan today where they will meet with memebers of the Iraqi parliament. In NYC tonight at 9:00 pm (JFK Airport), Cindy Sheehan and Tom Hayden will hold a press conference. KWTX carries a report that states the meeting will take place "Friday and Saturday" and that those fasters on that trip will then end their fast.
The Troops Home Fast action continues. Today
at least 4,350 people are participating. The fast is to be ongoing until September 21st.
In other peace news,
Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace will hold a press conference Thursday (Aug. 3rd) across from the Russell Senate Office Building in DC at 11:00 a.m. to note the end of the first phase Operation House Call and begin phase two. Those scheduled to speak incldue Jennifer Davis (whose husband is with the 172nd Stryker Bridgade that was due to come home this month but have now had their stay in Iraq extended by at least four months), Gilda Carbonaro (mother of Alessandro Carbonaro who died May 10, 2006 from wounds received in Iraq, and Larry Syverson (who has three sons in the military including one treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which didn't prevent the military from sending him to his current post on the Kuwait/Iraq border).

As I understand it now, Diane Wilson is going off her fast on Friday when she begins participating in the meetings with the five members of the Iraqi parliament. If that is correct, as I said yesterday (when I wrongly thought nothing had changed with regards to the end of her fast), that's great. Diane Wilson made a point (a water only diet up through Friday -- begun on the Fourth of July). If you know her story, you know she's fought many battles and, with the world the way it is today, I believe we need Diane Wilson and people like her too much to risk losing them. I am not insulting the symoblic nature of the fast or the message it clearly sent. I believe Dick Gregory was on a multi-year fast in the Vietnam era. The message such actions can get across are very important.

Tomorrow Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families for Peace hold their press conference and, I fear, not many in the press will pay attention. I hope I am wrong on that.

The Jake Kovco case? I agree this is nonsense -- people giving testimony about what they heard as opposed to what they witnessed. I am beginning to understand why Judy Kovco (Jake's mother) walked out last week.

The press coverage of Iraq itself? I had the AP article in my paper but I wonder how many did? If you had the New York Times or the Washington Post, I think you got a very weak version of what happened in Iraq on Tuesday. Please read C.I.'s "NYT & others: Our drag queens of the press show up dressed as Hazel" which captures the difference between the way the big papers reported it (national papers) as opposed to the way others did. If you read the AP story, you had "70 killed in Iraq." If you read the big two, you had "at least 44." (If you read the Times, you also got an insulting characterization of people evacuated -- due to lack of electricity -- in Chicago who were now "lounging" on cots. Lounging?)

"Israeli Prime Minister Says 'Attacks will Continue'" (Free Speech Radio News):
As the Israeli military offensive against Lebanon has entered its third week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said today that Israel will not stop its military campaign until an international force is deployed along the southern Lebanese border. Jackson Allers has more from Beirut.

I have no interest in reading any daily print coverage on this topic. I tried initially and it just made me too angry with the one-sided nature, the distorted nature, of the coverage. A friend called today and asked me if I had a suggestion for her on what paper to follow? I told her don't read any of them. There must be some paper covering it in a worthwhile manner (in the United States) but I haven't found it. I recommended Free Speech Radio News to her.

I firmly believe that if you're trying to follow it through most of the bad coverage, you're harming yourself more than helping -- there are too many distortions, too many efforts to restart the clock on what led to the actions Israel is taking (anything that might portray the Israeli government as less than noble gets ommitted/forgotten).

Bully Boy (domestic) has led to this. He's set the world on fire as he's attempted to play the biggest bully on the block. Others now ape his sense of entitlement and kill in the name of "justice."

I'm just going to spend the evening listening to The Wall. Thank you, Susan, for reminding me of a wonderful album.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Night Ride Home

Mike's already posted but Kat just called (she missed him) and I told her I could redo my opening and work it in. She was hoping we could note a song lyric at the top today (she and Betty had this idea). I love music, but, oh, the pressure.

Once in awhile
In a big blue moon
There comes a night like this
Like some surrealist
Invented this
4th of July
Night ride home
-- Joni Mitchell, "Night Ride Home" (off the CD of the same name)

I'm going with "Night Ride Home" because I've had the melody in my head all day and humming it in the elevator, on the way home, etc. I also think this is a night -- how long it will last, I have no idea. Whether it will be darkest before dawn or continue to darken (metaphorically), I have no idea. But we're seeing people wake up across the country. Tonight, I'll be optimistic about these surreal times. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

A 48-hour cessation of Israeli air attacks in Lebanon has been replaced by heavy bombardment of civilian areas along the southern Lebanese border. The Israeli military is preparing for what appears will be a massive ground invasion to extend as far as 18 miles into Lebanon. 3 Israeli soldiers and 6 Hezbollah guerrillas were reportedly killed today in fighting along the common border. Jackson Allers has more from Beirut.The brief cessation of violence allowed rescue workers an opportunity to get to villages in southern Lebanon to retrieve the bodies of at least 90 people killed in Israeli air strikes and artillery barrages over the last 21 days. It also allowed thousands of refugees trapped by the Israeli military offensive to stream north to relative safety -- humanitarian sources say that more than 25% of the Lebanese population has been displaced -- or about 800 thousand people. Images from BBC and Al-Jazeera television showed hundreds of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers amassed along the northern Israeli border -- a precursor to what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said would be a 10-day to 2-week ground offensive to push Hezbollah back to the Litani River -- a symbolic dividing line between north and south Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Lebanese government says that over 750 civilians have been killed since Israel launched its military offensive against Lebanon to retrieve two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a military raid on July 12. At least 52 Israeli's have been killed by Hezbollah rocket fire. Reporting from Beirut, this is Jackson Allers for Free Speech Radio News.

The birth pains of Condi. As Rebecca said on the phone today, "Maybe she should have just adopted." (Condi's referred to the war Israel's raging on Lebanon as "birth pains.") 750 dead. Maybe she should have gone for a C-section instead of attempting her unnatural birthing method?

But isn't that too mean spirited to Condi? I mean we've seen how well the "birth" happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, right? Afghanistan? What was the goal? I believe there were two main ones: get Osama and bring freedom to the women. Well freedom hasn't come for the women (though I'm sure some Fox "news" viewer will beg to differ), the war lords are back in charge (three British soldiers died in Afghanistan today, by the way) but at least the US caught Osama. Wait, they didn't do that either. Well, Condi & co can point to Iraq, right?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continues today, Tuesday, August 1, 2006. The bombings continue, the shootings continue, the death continues with the estimated number of the dead jumping in the last hour and half from at least 39 to at least
63. (Possibly Damien Cave will write in tomorrow's New York Times "at least 12"?) Reuters notes that among the dead are "at least 26 soldiers" (Iraqis as well as one British soldier stationed in Basra).
A series of bombings throughout Iraq account for the largest reported fatalities.
CNN places the first as a roadside bomb that targeted "a bust carrying members of the Iraqi military". AFP notes this as "the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul". Al Jazeera places the death toll at 24 minimum. Reuters notes "[t]he charred remains" that "were scattered across the bus" and "[t]wo skulls . . . in the vehicle along an empty highway." AFP reports that in addition to those killed (they say "at least 23"), 20 more were wounded. Joshua Partlow and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note an Interior Ministry source who placed the number wounded at 40 (killed at 23).
BBC notes "at least 14 people died" in Baghdad when a car bomb ("suicide") went off "outside a bank where security forces were collecting pay." Sandra Lupien on KPFA's The Morning Show noted the timing and planning involved in that attack. Jane Peel (BBC) noted the "black fumes" wafting from the bombing to the sky and that, "The security forces seem unable to stop the attacks." [C.I. says if link to Peel doesn't work, there's a link to the report on the page "BBC notes" goes to.] Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) report: "The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were withdrawing their monthly salaries." Reuters notes a child of 12-years-old "sobbing and tearing his shirt after seeing his dead mother" and kisosk owner Abu Fadhil saying: "We should carry guns to protect ourselves. If we expect Iraqi security forces to protect us we will burn, just like those innocenct people."
Reuters notes that at least seven died and fifteen were left wounded from a car bombing in Muqdadiya. Partlow and al-Izzi (Washington Post) note that the car in question was "a Kia sedan" and that the bombing took place outside a hospital.
David Fickling, Ben Hammersley "and agencies" (Guardian of London) report the death of a British soldier today in Basra forma "mortar attack". CBS and AP note: "The infantry soldier died after being airlifted from a base in Basra to a field hospital outside the city, said the spokeswoman on customary condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy."
In addition to the above,
Reuters also notes a "roadside bomb . . . in northeastern Baghdad" that killed one civilian and left one wounded; a car bomb aimed at "an Iraqi army patrol" that left "two civilians" wounded; and that the US military announced today that a "U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Monday".
RTE News reports the an attack on a minibus carrying electricity board employees which left four dead and four wounded "when their minibus was sprayed with gunfire in central Baghdad." AP raises the numbers to "five killed and injured the other six". Reuters notes two separate shooting deaths in Mosul; in Kirkuk, "A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly . . gunned down"; and, "outskirts of Baghdad," an attack on an Iraqi checkpoint left four Iraqi soldiers wounded as well as one civilian. AFP gives Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi as the name of the ACA member gunned down and notes that he "was shot dead outside his home."
CBS and AP note that two corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Baquba. Reuters also notes that "[t]he body of Adel al-Mansouri, a correspondent for al-Alam television station, was found dumped with bullet holes on a street". By Reuters count, al-Mansouri is the eleventh journalist reported killed in Iraq this year. On April 14th of this year, Dahr Jamail's web site featured the Mosaic Video Stream featuring a report al-Mansouri had done for Abu Dhabi TV. Adel al-Mansouri opened with this statement: "Iraqis hope that their political leaders will be able to overcome their differences and quickly form the new government in order to deal with the problems that plague the country." Not only did that not happen quickly the rumors now float about a shake up in Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet (with the Interior Minister being mentioned most often as at least one person who will be replaced). Since that report, Baghdad has been under the so-called "crackdown" for over six weeks and now an estimated 4,000 US troops are being repositioned in the capitol.
Associated Press is reporting that Asaad Abu Kilal (governor of Najaf) has announced that six buses were "waylaid" and that "45 people from Najaf" have been kidnapped. The AP quotes an Interior Ministry flack who says the number is correct but the kidnappings have taken place "over the last two weeks" and it's "[l]ike two or three people snatched a day." Apparently that's when you panic if you serve in the Interior Ministry -- not when 45 people are kidnapped over a two week period, when they are kidnapped all at once. It doesn't change the number but apparently spreading it out over several days lessens the impact. Vijay Joshi (AP) notes: "U.S. officials estimate an average of 30-40 people are kidnapped each day in Iraq, although the real figure may be higher because few families contact the police."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues.
AAP reports that Kovco's former roommates (billes as "Soldier 17" and "Soldier 19") provided DNA on Saturday. The gun believed to have been utilized had Jake Kovco's DNA on it as well as unidentified DNA. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that the DNA has been tested and the roommates' DNA doesn't match what is on the gun so Wayne Hayes ("Detective Inspector) is heading Iraq "to ask other soldiers in hi platoon to give DNA samples." The current developments were best summed in this exchange on Australia's The World Today -- Eleanor Hall (host) asked, "So Conor, the source of the DNA remains a mystery then?" to which Conor Duffy (reporters) responded, "That's right Eleanor, like so much of what happened in room 8 at the Australian embassy where Jake Kovco died, the source of the DNA on the gun that took his life remains a mystery."
Dan Box (The Australian) reports: "Evidence presented to a military board of inquiry into Kovco's death and failed repatriation now suggests the soldier killed himself in a tragic accident, probably without realising his pistol was loaded. But the army's decision to clean his room and wash his roommates' clothes after he died has destroyed almost all the forensic evidence and may now mean the exact cause of death will never be known." Brown notes that Soldier 19 testified "no way, sir" that Kovco would have committed suicide and AAP notes that 19 states he didn't see the shooting because "he was bending down at a bar fridge in the room". Conor Duffy noted that this would put 19 "probably about one to two meters away from Private Kovco at the time" and that both 19 and 17 are "expected to remain in Sydney for at least this week before they return to Baghdad."
In peace news,
Carol A. Clark (Los Alamos Monitor) reports that Cindy Sheehan will speak at Ashley Pond on August 6th ("this year's Hiroshima Day") for an event that will include others and last from two to nine p.m. and will include "free buttons and balloons, live music, face painting and activities for the kids" as well as "the lighting of 3,000 floating candles on Ashley Pond at dusk."
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on Day 29 with over 4,350 people participating from all over the world. David Howard ( writes about the reasons for participating in the fast including "to end the immense horror and suffering for Iraqis and to ensure that our high school graduates of 2006 and 2007 don't end up dead, like Tony Butterfield." Tony Butterfield was Anthony E. Butterfield ("Lance Cpl.") who died on July 29th in the Anbar Province at the age of 19. In addition, as Howard notes, Butterfield was "a 2005 graduate of Buchanan High school in Clovis, California." The fast is ongoing (until September 21st) and people can pick a one-day, one-day a week, or more at any point between now and September 21st. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.

Nineteen years old. Tony Butterfield graduated last May. He died last month. Think about him, think about the twelve-year-old boy seeing his mother dead from the car bomb. If you watch the Jane Peel report (I did using the "BBC notes" link -- it's on the left hand side of that story "Watch Video"), you see so much destruction. Cars. That plume of smoke, the black smoke, it's just . . . Watch the video.

The fast is still going on. Sunni saw online that it was off. It is not off. Diane Wilson has not gone of her fast. Those headed to Jordan are off (they're meeting with members of the Iraqi parliament) the fast. But the fast continues. It's day 29 of the strike. C.I.'s still on it. The plan was to go off August 1st but then came news of Jordan and C.I. felt like since Diane Wilson (and others, but mainly Diane Wilson) was still on it and since some might think it was over (it's not over), one more week was do-able. 29 days. I couldn't do 29. I couldn't do 3 probably. (Unless forced to due to circumstances like being ship wrecked.) I can't believe C.I. has stayed on it. It wasn't supposed to last this long. But there were members who were doing it and they'd see out the month if C.I. would. My fear now, since August 1st is today and C.I.'s extended it another week, is that there will be another reason to extend it. I hope not. Sunny and I are both doing one day a week. I think most people can give up one day a week and hope you'll consider that if you're not already. Picture Diane Wilson (that's what C.I. does) and the fact that she's drawn up a will in case anything happens to her. She's very serious about this hunger strike. With that kind of dedication, if nothing else, I hope you'll honor Wilson by at least grabbing a one-day, one time only fast.

Diane Wilson isn't going off it on September 21st. She's going to attempt to stay on it until the troops come home. This is a very brave stance (and should she give it up, I won't think any less of her, I really wish she'd go off it on the 21st of September) and when someone does something like that, you can look away or you can ask, "Okay, how can I do something to demonstrate that I am a witness to what she's doing?"

To end the war, that's what it's going to take, people taking strong stands and others bearing witness. You may be a driver on the "Night Ride Home" or just a passenger but you take the ride.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mainly a magazine report

"How tired were you when you posted last?" was the question in e-mails, in phone calls from friends and from Sunny this morning at work. Pretty tired. I'd done sessions all day Thursday and my night group, came home and did the "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" -- a rare Thursday post (and again, consider that a joint post and thanks to C.I. and Rebecca). I probably got three hours of sleep (I stayed on the phone with C.I. and Rebecca for quite a bit after the post went up), did my Friday sessions, went to Mike's, took part in the discussion group he, Tony and others started (on Iraq) which ended sometime around midnight, we then talked with Tony's family and helped them clean up (there were so many people, they had to move the meeting to the backyard to have room for everyone), at which point, Wally, Mike and I went back to his place, I pulled a C.I. wake up trick and took a shower, didn't even dry my hair, opened up my laptop, logged on and started that post. If Wally hadn't come in to note the time, I would have continued writing (and leaving a greater wake of typos in my wake). Later Saturday, after I had grabbed some sleep, Dona (The Third Estate Sunday Review) phoned and spoke of the post (she was very kind) and told me I hadn't put the radio interview in the post -- I generally go back and add links (and check to make sure they are in, in some cases) before posting. I had left out the interview so if you read it before Saturday afternoon:

(**Listen to Matthew Rothschild's Progressive Radio where Elizabeth DiNovella is the guest for Rothschild's interview.**)

That is a great interview. If you want to know what the mood was prior to, during and immediately after the election in Mexico, listen to that. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and The Third Estate Sunday Review has new content with:

A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: Does Condi Rice understand her job duties?
Sense of Purpose
TV: What Could Be Lower Than A Cesspool?
McKinney v. Lieberman -- who you gonna root for?
Slam poetry
Non-Think Progress Plays Bash the Bitch
Recommended: Danny Schechter News Dissector

Why do I feel like I have just finished a marathon?

Maybe because I've been working harder than our Secretary of State? Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts below:

If it looks familiar, the illustration, I e-mailed Isaiah and he said I got it -- he was inspired by the cover of Carole King's Music album. "Sweet Seasons" and "Brother, Brother" were the hits off that. I loved "Sweet Seasons" and share Kat's distaste for the way King changed it -- made a joke of it -- on her latest album. That song meant a lot to me then I heard King turn it into a joke and I can't stand to hear the song now. After "Only Love Is Real," it was probably my favorite King song that didn't appear on Tapestry. To hear her laughing about how politicians didn't like to hear the word "lose" was goofy, to hear her change the line "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose" while performing it to non-politicians, change it to: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you win." Nobody won. Not fans of the song, for sure. Months later, when Kat reviewed Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun, she put her finger on the problem with Carole King's Living Room Tour. King really was the queen of the peaceful, easy vibe with one song after another and only increasing the number of those songs on each album as the years passed. But then, when the US is engaged in an illegal war against Iraq, she's got nothing to say. The Peace Queen goes silent.

Let me quote Kat from that review because she said it perfectly:

Carole King spent the 60s churning out hits for others. She didn't take a serious stab at recordings (forget "It Might As Well Rain Until September" and other one-offs) until 1968 with The City. That group's album features a New York City woman trying to act like a hippie. Which is probably why Lou Adler, of the Mamas and the Papas fame, produced it and her solo work for years. If you're hoping to find a peace song on the album, forget it. She's high . . . on the land.
For years, I'm a long time Carole King listener, she's been trashed by some critics as a "Pollyanna." I never saw it that way but understood the position that critics were trashing. I don't know that she still maintains that position. Or, in fact, if she ever really did.Yes, she made generic statements that could be read to be about Vietnam and the mood of the country on her first solo album Writer (1970). On the break-through follow up (
Tapestry), "Smack Water Jack" could be read as a statement against the bullies Nixon, et al. She campaigned for George McGovern. But 1973's Fantasy contained no real statement on the war. It did allow her to pretend to be someone else.
That's key to the type of writer King started out as. She wrote for others. (With her husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin.) They would try to figure out a way to write the next Drifters' hit based on the last hit they'd had. It was pretend time. Some great work came out of that period.But what
Living Room finally drives home is that the whole thing, the entire career, may have been pretend. That's why I hated it so much. 1975, when it would have been safe for our peaceful, easy feeling King to make a statement regarding Watergate or Vietnam, she's off doing a children's album (Really Rosie). Before that, when record buyers had turned against the war but elites and pols still hadn't in large numbers, she was offering her "Been to Canaan" type songs (toss in "Brother, Brother"). They gave the appearance of someone with beliefs. But maybe someone with real beliefs would have actually written about what was going on in the country? So the army withdrew from Vietnam and suddenly King had a lot to say. Nothing specific but more on the mark than anything she'd written (or recorded in cases where she recorded others' lyrics) while the war was raging.This is the "One to One" period. The "One Small Voice" period. The "A Time Gone By" period. She was being called Pollyanna constantly. I wonder now if I was wrong to defend her -- and think others might have been wrong to attack her as a Pollyanna for different reasons than I had thought at the time. Now it looks like it may have all been an act.
"What will the kids buy?" she and others who wrote songs in the 60s would ask and then try to write that in the style of a popular group. I'm now wondering if she wasn't doing that her entire damn career.
In 1993, when it was cool to be political for some in music, she beefed up her sound on Colour of Your Dreams and actually had some concrete statements (such as in "Friday's Tie-Dye Nightmare"). Our Queen of Peace continued her reign in song as late as July 2001 when she put out Love Makes The World ("go round," if you don't know the title track off the album).
So let's be really clear, Carole King sat out the sixties (chronological sixties) and when the seventies rolled around, there she was a solo, writing non-specific evocations of peace, brotherhood (never sisterhood) and the like. She continued that throughout her career. Stopping only after 9/11.
I guess it really did change everything. It certainly changed a Carole King recording as mealy mouth statements cancelled out anything a live version of "Peace In the Valley" might have offered (however weak). That's really it for the piece of crap, double disc
Living Room. King would be smart to figure out what happened? Was she too scared to offer one of her peace songs? (This is, after all, the woman who rarely performs songs by others but went all over California in the nineties singing Patti Smith's "People Have The Power.") Was she, not scared, but afraid it wouldn't reach her perceived market? (Don Kirshner would be so proud if she instilled that.) Did she decide war was the answer after all? Or was she pretending (and therefore wasting everyone's time) with all those musings on the state of peace and the state of man (after we withdrew from Vietnam)?

So let me use those wonderful paragraphs as a jumping off point to Ruth Conniff's book review in the latest issue of The Progressive. "The Great Liberal Debate" is the title and the thing that struck me the most about the review was how little Conniff appeared to want to enter that debate. She gives you a brief synopsis of each book (Peter Beinart's The Good Fight; George Lakoff's Whose Freedom?; Joe Klein's Politics Lost) and the closest she comes to offering an opinion on the arguments presented is this: "I can't help it, though, I enjoy reading Klein. He is funny, and full of tasty anecdotes about politicians."

I'm guessing only Frances Moore Lappe and C.I. will ever question the wisdom of this decade's hula hoop ("framing") and what happens to women's issue when a "frame" is created by men, for men and of men? I guess that's not something that will be addressed? We'll just have to live through the damage much as we live now through the damage of Reinventing Government (the previous hula hoop).

I don't find Joe Klein funny. I don't find what he's done to the left in his many TV appearances "funny." I have to wonder what Ruth Conniff thinks about that and I have to wonder partly because she fails to address it -- she's too busy telling us that he amuses her.

The Progressive is independent media so what's going on here with Conniff? Peter Beinhart's book (C.I. passed it on) should make many on the left have a very strong reaction. Not merely because he really doesn't take any accountability for The New Republic's promotion of the war and, basically, every program by the Bully Boy while he was high in the polls. He appears to be red-baiting and Conniff has nothing to say on that? Three books and nothing really to say?

I remember a review she wrote not that long ago where she addressed the issues of motherhood. Now those books weren't written by mainstream "names" and, like many in the community, I'm wondering if the "name" factor is why the books get such passing glances as opposed to real probing?

I just know that wasn't a review (of any of the three books). I don't know why The Progressive would want that review in the magazine. The magazine takes brave stands. Matthew Rothschild is the editor, he's also hosting the radio show, writing for the magazine, and he's been doing some speaking. I know about the speaking because C.I.'s spoken to some of the same people and they've been full of praise for Rothschild as a speaker.

But I know after Conniff appeared on Kris Welch's Living Room (not Carole King's!), a lot of people were scratching their heads over her comments about the war. I know Nader supporters (from 2004) who feel her coverage of Ralph Nader was insulting. So the question becomes, is she trying to be a Beltway pundit?

The Nation (rightly) panned Beinart's book. I guess Andrew J. Bacevich and myself read another book than Conniff did? Here's a taste of what Bacevich wrote:

Beinart devotes much of The Good Fight to constructing this narrative of an anti-totalitarian crusade running from World War II to the present. In his telling of the tale, as long as steely liberals like Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy were at the helm, heeding the counsel of tough-minded liberal intellectuals like Reinhold Niebuhr and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the crusade proceeded swimmingly. When liberals lost their nerve, however, and conservatives came to power, things went awry.
Sustaining this thesis requires an extraordinary combination of omissions and contortions on Beinart's part. Readers will learn, for example, that Kennedy was a visionary statesman who instituted the Alliance for Progress and created the Peace Corps. They won't learn anything about the Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose, or U.S. complicity in the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. Nor will they get any assessment of what Kennedy's ostensibly progressive foreign policy initiatives actually accomplished. (Answer: not much.)
Readers will learn further about the unfortunate tendency of conservatives -- in contrast to sophisticated, worldly liberals -- to see things in terms of black and white. Beinart offers up John Foster Dulles, who "painted the cold war as a quasi-religious struggle between good and evil," as a prime offender. Yet he ignores a mountain of evidence, starting with the Truman administration's NSC-68, suggesting that liberals were equally susceptible to Manichean -- indeed, apocalyptic -- views. As for Dulles, Beinart rather conveniently overlooks the fact that the very pragmatic Dwight Eisenhower kept his Secretary of State on a short leash. Dulles preached good and evil; more often than not, Ike discounted the preaching and opted for prudence.
According to the Republican version of the American Century, Ronald Reagan all but single-handedly brought about the collapse of Communism. Not so, insists Beinart. Just as liberals framed the cold war in the 1940s, so too they saved the day in the 1980s by preventing reckless right-wingers from abandoning that frame. Credit for turning back the forces of totalitarianism in Central America goes to those hardheaded liberal Democrats in Congress who repaired the flaws in the Reagan Doctrine, thereby subverting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and keeping El Salvador from slipping into the Communist orbit.
This imaginative, if largely spurious, depiction of postwar history serves Beinart's larger purpose in two ways. First, by revalidating antitotalitarianism as the era's overarching theme, Beinart promotes it as the idea that ought to define U.S. policy in the aftermath of 9/11 as well. Second, by portraying hawkish liberals as heroes, doves as fools, and conservatives as knaves, he suggests that restoring the fortunes of today's Democratic Party ought to be a piece of cake: All liberals need to do is to reject the wimpy anti-imperialism of Howard Dean and Michael Moore and embrace the muscular principles that inspired the Americans for Democratic Action back in the late 1940s.
To legitimate this fraud and to wrap anti-totalitarian liberalism in a mantle of moral superiority, Beinart shanghais Reinhold Niebuhr and subjects the great Protestant theologian to ritual abuse. In essence, he uses Niebuhr much as Jerry Falwell uses Jesus Christ, and just as shamelessly: citing him as an unimpeachable authority and claiming his endorsement, thereby pre-empting any further discussion.

Do yourself a favor and skip Beinart's book (if you've already read it, I feel your pain). C.I. warned me against it but I thought I'd be fair and see if a War Cheerleader had learned anything? I wasn't so fair that I'd buy it and I knew C.I. had been sent a copy so no money exchanged hands (I'd hate to feather a War Hawk's nest). That is just a horrendous book and for The Progressive, which stood against the Iraq war and still does, to review (or "review") the book and not take on it's premise is just disgusting to me.

I don't think Conniff's putting on her thinking cap much these days. Claiming the war really wasn't reaching people -- despite polls then and immediately after her appearance -- make me wonder. I think we're seeing some really superficial thinking in thought pieces. In this review, she's reviewing a book by a War Hawk (Beinart), a book by a fad promoter (Lakoff) and a book by someone who amuses her but really doesn't amuse me (Klein) with his constant attacks on the left or his efforts to reposition himself as a voice Democrats can turn to.

The review was superficial and a waste of three pages that the magazine doesn't have to waste. After her appearance on Living Room and this review, I have no idea where she stands on the war and, honestly, would be surprised if she had any thoughts more expansive than what could fit on a bumper sticker.

We were in Mexico, for Rebecca's wedding, when this arrived in the mail for subscribers, this issue. Members who subscribe were e-mailing C.I. The review wasn't available online (it shouldn't be now -- they only make a few features available online each issue and there are worthy pieces in the magazine to note, this is not one). C.I. was attempting to track down the issue and finally got ahold of a friend who had received it. The call was lost as it was being read and there just wasn't time to call back so I said I'd take it, I'd review it, forget about it.

I know Rothschild apparently looked (to some) at an appearance like he was under the weather (C.I. was told that by a group that had earlier heard Rothschild speak) and C.I.'s big concern was how much Rothschild was doing already and not wanting to add a headache to anyone who is already carrying their load and several others. I respect that. I respect that and I respect Rothschild dedication and drive. But I have no problem critizing Conniff (negatively or postively) and my criticism of Conniff is not intended as a reflection of Matthew Rothschild.

The magazine has printed the views of those who support the war. If this had been a guest review, I would've thought, "Please, never again from this writer." This isn't a guest writer, it's Conniff and it's hard to argue that she's making a point that needs to be in the issue to give all sides since no point in her review strikes me as being deeper than her sharing that she finds Joe Klein amusing.

Does she know Klein, Beinart or Lakoff? I wouldn't be surprised but if she knows them, she probably should have disclosed that in her review. Her first sentence left me recoiling: "As the midterm elections draw near, the debate over how to win back the government and recapture the hearts and minds of voters is heating up." Forget the superficial nature of that writing -- it's flat and you can practically hear Tim Russert repeating it as the theme music to Meet the Press plays. It's a pedestrian mainstream sentence.

The election isn't the be all for me that it sounds like it is for Conniff. My interest isn't inside the beltway and I'm bothered that this review reads like it's a beltway report because the title of the magazine I paid money for was The Progressive and not Washington Monthly. This is horse race reviewing about the politicians and the people (we the people) really don't fit into this review. I think it's disappointing. Lloyd used the word "disgusting" in an e-mail to C.I. -- when I said I'd grab the review here, C.I. e-mailed Lloyd to note it would be addressed and Lloyd e-mailed me to explain that this is his favorite magazine (it's one of my favorites as well) but that he found the review "disgusting." I don't think "disgusting" is too strong of a word. Lloyd and I exchanged e-mails on this topic and it goes beyond Conniff to a "rave" (Lloyd's term) over JAG.

Now JAG does deserve credit for their work re: Guantanamo. In 2002, C.I. invited me to lunch with a JAG attorney. I made a note after that, in my own conversations, to note the work JAG was doing. That was 2002. In 2006, last week, there's a "rave" over JAG. Excuse me, I think The Center for Constitutional Rights is the one to rave over right now. JAG? Did strong work. No question. In 2002 and 2003, they would have been my top choice. But I really have no idea why in 2006, when CCR has done such strong work, if someone's being noted by The Progressive, it's not them but JAG. Lloyd cited Jane Mayer's strong work in The New Yorker (it has been strong work, no question) and wondered why, if JAG needed to be noted, it wasn't when Mayer was covering the issue "years ago"?

You've got Conniff coming off like a mainstream pundit and you've got the "rave" that Lloyd feels read like "Hide behind the flag and the military when a strong statement is needed." I don't know. I just don't know.

I know I won't spend money on The Progressive again without flipping through it first. My reaction to the review was as strong as Lloyd but, and this may be the same thing Lloyd was thinking but didn't word it this way, I don't buy Washington Monthly, I don't buy The American Prospect. If those magazines speak to you, wonderful. Buy them. But to me they read like organs for the Democratic Party. I don't need that and I don't want it. I don't spend my money on that sort of thing. While Molly Ivins, Matthew Rothschild and Howard Zinn are questioning Democratic positions, I don't need to then flip to something that reads like "Dateline: DNC."

If you can get past Conniff's article, Ivins has a great column, Stephen Elliott provides the second best look at the Vegas embarrassment (CounterPunch remains in first place for me). . . There's a Gore Vidal interview. Judith Davidoff has a strong article (same-sex marriage). Barbara Ehrenreich is her usual strong self. Matthew Rothschild has a strong McCarthyism Watch and, I believe, "Comment" (though that's unsigned).

But to me, the Conniff piece killed the issue. Again, I'm not interested in Washington Monthly. Like Lloyd, I believe the review was embarrassing. It is so shallow and it reads like it could have appeared in any center-left or mainstream publication. In the future, I'll check the contents first. If Zinn's in the issue, I'll probably purchase it regardless. If he's not, I'll probably flip to Conniff and see if she's offering a text version of the Sunday chat & chews. If she is, I probably won't purchase the issue.

I'm just incredibly tired of people acting like everything's fine or it's just another year. The times we live in are not "interesting." They are tragic times and I really think if you're pretending otherwise, you're talking down to me. I can't pay for that.

That's really the issue of the whole JAG thing for Lloyd and I. We don't need 'happy times are here.' We don't need happy talk. Lloyd and I both wondered if, in a month or two, we'll forget Conniff's review? But it's not just that review. There's just so much going on in the world and when the eye turns to DC or the military, it needs to be probing. It needs to go deep. It doesn't need to be cheerleading for those in office. I don't find anything "progressive" about Conniff's superficial writing in the review (or in other pieces I have negatively criticized -- I have also positively criticized her writing here).

I read something like that and it just leaves me feeling wounded because it's just so "insider" and so oblivious to the what's going on around us. There's a line in The Russia House (C.I. always quotes it) and I think that really applies to how I feel about this, "I hope you aren't being frivilous with me, Barley. I only have time now in my life for the truth." (I've probably bungled that line, inverted a word. Rent the movie. It's one of my favorites.)

I don't have time for frivilous and when it confronts me in something I count on, it just really does more than surprise me, it brings me down and makes me wonder exactly how anything ever changes when that's invading my world? Will Durst has a hilarious column. He makes me laugh (Wally loves, loves his work). He can be humorous and tackle the world we're living in. So it's not "Oh, we have to be serious and there is no room for humor." There is plenty of room for humor. But there's no room for something that reads like it's written by someone who's trying to fit in with pundits and elected officials. I don't have time for those providing "cover" and, I am someone who votes with their money, I don't feel comfortable using my money in any way to support that sort of action.

There have been albums I've bought without listening to them first (Carole King's The Living Room Tour) and just been so angry with myself for supporing via my purchase. I have bought many bad, bad CDs in the last few years. Bad music, I can live with that and learn from it. But I purchase something by someone who is providing cover (altering lyrics for politicians and then throwing out crumbs to "the masses" while destroying their song) and it just leaves me feeling bad for days. That's what Conniff's review did to me. (I'll assume it did the same to Lloyd.) There's just too much going on in the world to be providing cover.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue today, Monday, August 31, 2006.
CNN reports that last week alone: "at least 200 Iraqis were reported to be killed across the country." This as the refugee numbers increase, shootings and bombings continue and the war drags on. On July 26, a mass kidnapping took place in Baghdad -- 17 kidnapped from an apartment complex and the paper of record in the US took a pass. Yesterday, another mass kidnapping took place (at least 23) and it wasn't news to the paper of record. Today, another mass kidnapping took place, in Baghdad, 26 people. Will it get the attention it should merit? Wait and see. Meanwhile James Hider (Times of London) puts the death toll at 27 dead throughout Iraq today.
James Hider (Times of London) reports that a bomb in Mosul claimed the lives of four Iraqi soliders. The AP notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer. CNN notes a total of three bombs went off in Baghdad today and, in addition to the police officer already noted, the bombs claimed two Iraqi soldiers and another police officer while eight civilians were wounded (Baghdad) by mortar rounds -- also notes a car bomb in Smarra that resulted in two people dead and 17 wounded.
AFP reports that "Brigadier Fakhri Jamil of the Iraqi government intelligence service" was shot dead in Baghdad while, in Amara, "Bassim Abdulhamid, an employee of the Sunni endowment which manages Sunni mosques" was shot dead at his home. The AP notes "two vendors selling cooking-gas cylinders" shot dead in Baghdad; and one "municipal street sweeper" shot dead (two more injured) also in Baghdad. Reuters notes the shooting death, in Baghdad, of "Maad Jihad, an advisor to the health minister".
AP notes three corpses discovered in Baghdad and that yesterday an attorney and four police officers were beheaded in Hawija. CNN notes on the first three: "All had been shot in the head and showed signs of being brutalized." AFP notes that a "bullet-scarred corpse" was discovered in Suwira and the corpse a "gunshot victim" in Husseinya.
Andy Mosher and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on Sunday's kidnapping, near Baghdad, of "at least 23 Iraqis" who were then "lined . . . up and shot them all". That was Sunday. Today, the AFP reports another mass kidnapping by "[a]rmed men in Iraq national police uniforms" using "15 jeeps of a kind used by police" who went into "the commerical heart of Baghdad and led away the head of the chamber of commerce and 20 co-workers" as well as "15 workers from a nearby office" accounting for a total of 26 people kidnapped. Since Mosher and al-Izzi are among the few to report on Sunday's kidnapping, let's be clear that the latest kidnapping (the 26) happened today (and happened in Baghdad) -- two different incidents. A witness tells Reuters: "I was on the first floor of the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and they took all the men downstairs. They were in camouflage army uniforms. They handcuffed the man and blindfolded them. Me and five others were left behind because all the cars were full." James Hider (Times of London) describes the location the kidnapping took place as "one of the safest parts of Baghdad today" and notes that the area "is controlled by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which forms the main party in the Shia governing coalition. Locals say almost nothing moves in the area without the Badr militiamen knowing about it."
As rumors continue to swirl around the Iraq police forces,
Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) reports that Jawad Bolani is pledging to "clean up the country's law enforcement ranks, widely viewed as a primary cause of ongoing violence and instability." How much he could or could not do is in doubt for any number of reasons but primarily (not noted in the report) due to the fact that he's currently the most speculated of the names that Nouri al-Maliki may be about to replace. AP reports that there are "many" calls for Bolani to be replaced.
In other news,
Michael Georgy (Reuters) reports that "in the last 10 days alone" the amount of refugees in Iraq has increased by 20,000 bringing the official total to 182,154. Georgy notes: "The crisis is likely to be far graver because ministry figures include only those who formally ask for aid within the country, some of them living in tented camps. By excluding thousands fleeing abroad or quietly seeking refuge with relatives, officials accept the data is an underestimate." This as IRIN notes that refugees who fled to Lebanon from Iraq earlier in the month are now in "Baghdad and urgently need assistance" quoting Diyar Salushi (senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) saying: "They have lost everything they had and now depend on assistance from relatives, most of whom are living in poverty."
Meanwhile, from the land of fantasy and myth, it's time for another wave of Operation Happy Talk.
Aaron Glatz (Free Speech Radio News) reports on the ad campaign and coordinated visits of Kurdish officials by the firm Russom Marsh & Rogers -- a firm previously behind the spin campaigns known as "Stop Michael Moore Campaign" and "Move America Forward." This wave of Happy Talk, as reported by Bill Berkowitz (, by the same Russo Marsh and Rogers responsible for the so-called "Truth Tour" which was "a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts . . . to spread the 'good' news about what is happening on the ground." Speaking with Aaron Glantz, John Stauber reminded that, although US tax dollars are not supposed to be used to propagandize within the US, "it has happened with the Rendon Group's CIA-funded creation of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress."
In England, an inquiry into the death of Steve Roberts has completed its findings.
Reuters notes Roberts died ("accidentally shot by his own troops) while manning a checkpoint during the 2003 invasion"). England's Ministry of Defense notes the death occuring "on the night of 23-24 March 2003" and notes the death occuring when troops fired in order to protect Roberts from a man who "continued to advance and attack Sgt Roberts" bu mistakenly hitting Roberts. A redacted copy of the report will be reported (at the Ministry of Defense website) but currently Reuters reports that one finding of the inquiry is that Roberts died because he wasn't wearing body armour which he had been "ordered to give up . . . two days before the invasion of Iraq" and quotes from this from the report: "Had Sergeant Roberts been wearing correctly fitting and fitted ECBA (as originally issued to him and then withdrawn on 20 March 2003) when this incident unfolded, he would not have been fatally injured by the rounds that struck him". And in Australia, Jake Kovco's former roommates returned from Baghdad on Friday in preparation of speaking to the inquiry into Kovco's April 21st death and giving DNA to establish where the additional DNA (other than Kovco's) on the gun is their own.
In peace news,
Erin Solaro (Christian Science Monitors) looks at the case of Suzanne Swift who went AWOL "rather than return to Iraq" and has based "her refusal to return to Iraq . . . upon the harrassment and assault she suffered on her first deployment." Solaro notes her own observations with regards to the US military: "in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, where men kept an informal guard over the only all-female shower at Camp Junction City. I saw it in Afghanistan, where an infantryman warned me that he and his buddies had heard a serial rapist was operating down at Bagram Air Field and they hoped to find him. And I saw it in America, where a National Guard colonel who had problems with male troops from another (badly led) unit intruding upon his female troops in their shower told those soldiers, 'You are armed. Buttstroke these men, and I will back you.'"
CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast is on day 28 with over 4,350 participants from around the world. As noted Saturday, five members of Iraq's parliament have responded to news of the fast by arranging a meeting in Jordan with members of CODEPINK. Last Friday, Medea Benjamin and four other members were arrested in front of the White House as they protested Tony Blair's visits.
Troops Home Fast continues (at least until September 21st and Diane Wilson has stated she intends to maintain the fast until the troops come home) -- it's an ongoing fast so if you've wanted to participate but didn't when it started July 4th, you can grab a day at any point. Some are electing to do a one-day fast each week. Betty Jespersen (Blethen Maine Newspapers) reports on Julieanne Reed "among 14 or so men and women who have publicly committed to join a national fast for peace." Jespersen quotes Reed on the topic of activism: "I felt in the past I didn't know enough to take a stand. Now I know I want the war to stop" and also notes Craigen Healy stating: "Depriving yourself of eating for 24 hours reminds you of the suffering of the Iraqi people. There may be reasons to go to war but what is going on over there is counter-productive. It is making us more unsafe. We have unleashed the terror"; and Lee Sharkey declaring: "Fasting for me brings the cost of the war home on a very personal level. I want to raise this question: Is 'life as usual' an acceptable stance while this immoral, illegal and incalculably costly war continues?"
Reflecting on last week's events,
Cindy Sheehan writes (Truth Out): "I saw the Angel of Death in the skin of Donald Rumsfeld say, while he was busy rushing in or out of the Pentagon (it doesn't really matter), that it is 'unfortunate' that the soldiers have to remain in Iraq. I think it is unfortunate for our troops and for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan that Donald Rumsfeld has to remain as the Secretary of War." Also note that: "The Camp Casey dates have been changed to accomodate George's schedule and will be August 6th to September 2nd. Please go to the Gold Star Families for Peace web site to stay posted on future exciting developments for Camp Casey III this summer."

Read that and then wonder how Conniff can provide cover to someone (Beinart) preaching American imperalism? It just leaves me wounded and makes me feel like, by puchasing the issue, I've supported that.

Although a 48-hour halt on airstrikes against Lebanon is in effect, the Israeli army continues its attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Air strikes and shelling have killed at least seven residents of the Gaza Strip over the last three days and many others have sustained injuries. Manar Jibrin reports.
An Israeli Apache helicopter today fired two missiles into a governmental ministries compound in Sheikh Radwan in the central Gaza Strip, causing structural damage. Two people were injured in a separate missile attack on the two-storey home in Al Sheikh Radwan area today Three Palestinians died today of wounds they sustained a week earlier during the Israeli invasion of areas in the Gaza Strip. A sixteen year old boy was killed after sustaining shrapnel today by the Israeli artillery fired at homes of Biet Hanoun east of the Gaza Strip. Over one hundred Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks in the past four weeks. Saturday, in the West Bank city of Nablus an Israeli undercover unit backed by armored vehicles invaded the city and killed two resistance fighters of Al Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who started a regional tour met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarek on Friday during which they discussed the situation in both Palestine and Lebanon.

Tragedy is what Palestinians live with. Tragedy is what is going on in Lebanaon. You don't hear that point of view from Congress and you probably won't hear it from Ruth Conniff because it's beyond the beltway and the conventional wisdom. Since I was grabbing Conniff already, Mike's going to grab another column.