Saturday, December 09, 2006

Danny Schechter on John Lennon

Saturday morning, early. I'm not much of a blogger ("Blogger by demand" should be my title) on a good day, so this will be another of those posts that has people wondering why they ever rallied behind Mike's efforts to get me to start a site of my own. (Nod to Virgina Wolfe.)

"Bush Now Says Its 'BAD' in Iraq" (Danny Schechter, News Dissector, Media Channel):
Can we all spend a few minutes thinking about John today, John Lennon, the artist who urged us to IMAGINE a better world. Today's the day he was struck down outside of his posh apartment building, the day we realized that artists and maybe even art itself were at risk in this maddening world of ours.
I was privileged to have met him, to have visited with Yoko and him at their white on white pad in the Dakota overlooking Central Park. I was once so excited interviewing him for WBCN, back in the day in Boston, that I forgot to put my microphone in my tape recorder. He pointed it out to me with a big smile. A photo of that embarrassing encounter can be viewed online.
But to me he and his music don't belong to the past and in an age when so many abandon their idealism, its reassuring that Yoko has not and is still putting up WAR IS OVER billboards and taking out fill page ads in newspapers to call on all of us to embrace John’s call. Amen Sister for keeping his spirit

C.I. e-mailed that to me Friday with a warning in the e-mail title ("It's about John Lennon"). I was sad, but not surprised, when Kurt Cobain died and, on the wrong day, a Cobain story can still wreck the whole day. ("Not surprised" doesn't mean Cobain "had it coming." Nor does it mean that his 'lifestyle' meant he was going to die young.)

It also may have had something to do with the fact that John Lennon's death was such a shock. I'm actually reminded of something Ruth wrote filling in for Kat. "Guns and Butter (Ruth)" I think we can 'adjust'. Lennon's shocking death 'adjusted' me.

In this day and age, for younger people, it may not make sense. It may seem like another pile on the coverage moment because someone famous died. There are some people who just loved his music. Some of them preferred the older stuff, some of them the later Beatles work, some of them certain portions of his solo work. There are some who loved it all. (I would be one of those.) But for a lot of us, it wasn't just his music.

I can toss out five musical deaths from the last ten years that are supposed to be 'moments' and 'touchstones.' I didn't see them that way because, while I enjoyed the music, that's all they offered to me. John Lennon made artistic contributions, no question. His public life was much more than just that. He stood for something. He and Yoko stood for something (and Yoko continues to stand for it). The art created blows me away.

But at a time when so few even try to stand, I'm not really sure if it can come across now, what a blow his death was?

The 'celebrity' factor wasn't all he had to offer for public life. That seems all many today are capable of and we're supposed to be thrilled by the invitation to get caught up in their shallow lives. They're 'entertainers,' they aren't artists.

To be fair, there are artists today. But there was a time when the hitmakers could be more than just entertainers. I'm trying so hard not to be cruel or pop anyone's bubble here about someone they enjoy listening to.

But without an example, maybe my point's not clear?

The American Idol set, the Disney kids, take your pick. There's not a one of them that has anything to say. Clay Aiken is today's Barry Manilow. (Though he may not write whatever hits he has.)

Here's another example, the Dixie Chicks. They're the alternative to the fluff. They've provided hits that people know and love. But years from now, there will always be a place in many hearts for them, through the natural ups and downs of a career, because they did speak up.

The fact that they did and were made to pay for it only makes what they did all the more important.

They could have rallied around the Bully Boy -- the way many did. But a war was about to start, a war that's still going on. They didn't bore you with their divorces or break ups. They didn't 'slim' down for the cover of a magazine about how they were 'rebounding from heartache.'

I don't think, personally, that Natalie Maines felt there would be any fallout (or wouldn't be) for her remarks. I think she just spoke what she was feeling.

Putting it out there is what an artist is supposed to do.

Once it was out there, there was an attempt to demonize them. Diane Sawyer repeatedly attempted to shame them. They didn't back down.

At a time when many backed down from a much smaller backlash, they stood strong.

They're now not just a group that puts out an album. (The Long Way Home shows just how much what they went through helped them creatively.) They are a group that demonstrated they were a part of this world and willing to offer something to it.

All the hits in the world won't redeam the ones who stay silent. They're today's 'hitmakers' who will be gone in the blink of an eye. Brought back at a later date for kitsch value, possibly. But they've got not legacy.

John Lennon did a great deal more than music and, I think, those actions spurred the music on. It's why he continued to have songs that you moved after the Beatles broke up and Paul McCartney just had hits. Paul has no "Imagine." He can point to "Band on the Run" or "Maybe I'm Amazed." I like both songs and others, but they're just hits and I won't be torn apart when he dies.

He's a businessman and that's all he is.

Lennon had many Dixie Chicks moments. They made him a part of the world.

It's like Britney wanting Madonna's early impact but not being willing to take on all that Madonna (up through Erotica) put out there. It's play acting for Britney. (It was probably a manipulation on Madonna's part but she didn't manipulate safely.)

So they fade and you don't really care.

We used to call that "plastic" and "plastique" and "white bread" and a host of other names. The point was that, whether they were Cowsills or whomever, they churned out their hits and they faded -- with most never missing them. They provided product, they didn't make history. That takes more than a hit single or celebrity for celebrity sake.

Blink-182 was always a Green Day clone. They produced Green Day-lite with 'naughty' little songs that you could enjoy but they really didn't move anyone. They played it safe then and the members still do now that the group's disbanded. They might have provided a background soundtrack, but they created no bond beyond that. Green Day's American Idiot commented on the world around them and, despite the fretting by some, they ended up with one of their most popular albums. I think that's because people want something more than just celebrity. Lennon provided so much more.

Did it destroy my day? Reading Danny Schechter? No.

I thought he said everything that needed to be said. I probably should have just included his excerpt and left out my rambles.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; US war resister
Kyle Snyder continues speaking out against the illegal war; Bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter Peggy Poop demonstrates that not everyone ages well; over 200 protest the war in San Francisco;
you know it's ugly when the US military dubs children 'insurgents'; and the Rumsfled has one more persona to test before he bows off the public stage.

Starting with peace news within the United States.
Kyle Snyder is currently traveling the West coast speaking out against the illegal war. Snyder was heavily and repeatedly targeted by a recruiter who promised the moon and delivered nothing. Because verbal agreements can be broken . . . on their end. On leave from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out and went to Canada in April of 2005. Happy there, speaking out, a job he enjoyed working with disabled children that paid well. Snyder began to consider returning to the United States. As October drew to a close, he did just that and on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering that the military that lied to him before had lied yet again.

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder. Barrows-Friedman noted his Army Corps of Engineers training and Snyder explained that he thought he'd be in Iraq doing construction "asphalt and concrete, laying foundations for schools, hospitals, roads." Instead, they made him a gunner and "an escort for high ranking officials." He saw a number of things in Iraq, reconstruction wasn't one of them.

Kyle Snyder: The things that I saw there for instance, you know, when we're told that we're liberating the people of Iraq and we're doing positive things you know I expect to at least see the civilians and stuff, you know, accepting us more. And basically accepting what we're doing. But children were flipping us off, they were begging for food and water almost all the time when I was out. I had seen people killed, I had seen people injured and it's just basically what led me to leave the war in the first place were the policies that drove the war. You know, when the Bush administration in 2004 and 2005 were saying 'We're liberating the people of Iraq' like I said I expect to see some of that happening. You know, no matter what rank you are, I think that we deserve to know why we're fighting. And basically it felt like a lie. It felt like a lie. And mainly because we couldn't explain what the mission was.

Despite a warrant for his arrest, Snyder's "going around speaking to povertized areas, mainly African-American and Latino communities, around the country because they're targeted by recruiters and I think that recruiters should tell people the truth." He didn't have that himself. No one was warning him. The mood of the country then was still Rah-Rah, he was targeted heavily in high school (recruiter evern came to his graduation) and he grew up in foster homes. Snyder knows what it's like to think some adult's really interested in you, really concerned about you, only to realize after they were just trying to hit their month's target goal.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And Kyle, if you were speaking with a young person who was considering joining the military right now, they were weighing their options, what advice would you have for them and what would you talk about with their families?

Kyle Snyder: . . When a recruiter comes up and talks to you, it's not because you're a special kind of person. It's not because you have any type of thing that some other human being doesn't. And a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds assume that, you know? 'Oh a recruiters talking to me because I have some kind of special ability that no other person has.' And they over-glorify it making you know basically the Army into Rambo-like figures and things that you know are in action movies when that's not the case. They really need to look at what they'll be doing. . . . You're a gunner, medic, driver or, you know, an escort. Those are the only four jobs that are in Iraq regardless of what you sign up to do. I'd say, you know, if somebody signed up no matter what branch of service, I'd say it's about an 80% chance you're going to Iraq as long as the Bush administration is in power. So they really need to look at that and understand that, yes, they're going to Iraq as long as, like I say, the Bush administration has their say, the war's going to last. So they just need to understand that. And I can understand people that do join the military and that believe in what they're doing but they need to understand people like me as well --that are lied to to get into the military. And, you know . . . I don't know. That's basically all I can say.

Kyle Snyder is a public US war resister. He is part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson,
Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.

When asked to speak about this movement, Kyle Snyder noted, "There's over 8,000 AWOL soldiers in the United States right now, 200 in Canada, 38 have applied for refugee status in Canada and I'm hoping, you know, that they start coming out. And I know that some of them are going to be coming out in the next few months. . . . I could use Bush's words, 'Are we going to solve this problem now or are we going to wait for the next president 5 years from now, 10 years from now when 8,000 Iraq veterans are homeless or hiding in a corner because it wasn't taken care of like it could have been?'"

Rebecca wrote about Snyder's interview here.]

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Tina Kim (WorldNow) reports on Appeal for Redress and notes that Jonathan Hutto and others involved with the appeal will be holding a news conference next Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to raise awareness on the project which is gathering signatures of active duty service members calling for the US troops to be brought home. The appeal will be presented to Congress in January. Jonathan Hutto was a guest last week on WBAI's Law and Disorder. [Mike noted it here.]

Today begins the National Days of Action to Support GI Resistance, called for by
Courage to Resist, which run through Sunday the 10th. Indybay IMC notes: "Other Bay Area Events: On Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film 'Ground Truth' will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film 'The Ground Truth' will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

Sunday, the 10th, is also Impeachment Day and click
here for David Swanson's overview of the goals and list of events. Action is needed to end the illegal war. And each day it drags on, more and more are wounded, more and more die.

They Kill Civilians, Don't They?

CBS and AP report that, on Friday, "20 insurgents, including two women," were killed in a US airstrike (in the Salahaddin Province). The US military has a breathless press release on it that's all blah, blah, blah until this line: "Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately." And children too, right?

CBS and AP note that the area's mayor, Amir Fayadh, says that "seven women and eight children" were killed. AFP reporters "found and photographed relatives weeping over several mangled bodies, including those of at least two children, near the ruined homes." AFP also notes that the US military's flack Christopher Garver denies children were killed, even when presented with photographic evidence by AFP. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the "charred and bloody blodies laid out" were covered with blankets and "An AP photo showed an Iraqi man who had pulled back one of the blankets and uncovered the face of one of the dead, who appeared to be a boy about 10 years old". Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports that "grieving relatives showed the bodies of five children wrapped in blankets to journalists."


CNN reports a bombing in Tal Afar that left three dead and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed four lives and left eight more wounded. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports: "On the outskirts of Baghdad, three mortar rounds hit a Shiite residential area, killing 25 men, women and children, and wounding 22" according to police.


Reuters reports that Human Nuri ("head of customs in the city of Najaf) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad while in another Baghdad incident an unidentified person was shot dead and three more wounded.


Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 7. The Soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol responding to a possible IED, south of the city, when a roadside bomb detonated, killing two Soldiers and wounding two others." And earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

And the
US military boasted of entering Falluja General, a civilian hospital, on a whim. Blood donors were needed . .. maybe 'insurgents' were present! Screw the rules guiding civilian institutions in warfare, lock and load, baby, lock and load. And it's those incidents and many others that explain why the war is lost.

In legal news, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for excercising their right to free speech. To summarize the case so far, a dramatic recreation
based upon the reporting of Samuel Maull (AP).



Typical municipal courtroom. Well, maybe not 'typical,' it is Manhattan.

We see the DEFENSE TABLE where FOUR WOMEN listen: PATTI ACKERMAN, MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE, MEDEA BENJAMIN and CINDY SHEEHAN -- attracitve women all. They stare ahead intently

FOUR WOMEN'S P.O.V. -- a gnome-like woman, in a faded, tattered Kerry-Edwards: 2004 t-shirt, BITTER PEGGY KERRY, sputters on the witness stand in front of D.A. HAN who smiles and nods in sympathy.

I was on my way to meet the group, to take their
petition -- then I saw --

Bitter Peggy begins sobbing. hands her a tissue. Bitter Peggy looks over at the defense table and glares.

Then I saw -- Peace Mom!

Bitter Peggy points a menacing finger. Cindy waves and grins sheepishly.


Free speech, peace doves, compassion
Peace Mom
Passion, peace sign, bravery
Is Peace Mom
She's tinsel on a tree . . .
She's everything an American should be!
If you find one to emulate
Only one to emulate
Let it be Peace Mom . . .
Peace Mom!*

Han smirks to the defense table as DEFENCE attorney rises and walks to the witness stand.

Bitter Peggy Kerry, you agree that you were
notified that a petition would be dropped off?

Yeah, so?

And you agreed to accept the petition?

What of it?

You were on your way to accept the petition and
then something stopped you.

Peace Mom.

Just the sight of Cindy Sheehan was enough to
make you break your agreement?

Damn right. "Peace"? Please. I'm bitter
and angry and mad at the world. Keep Peace Mom
away from me. Every where she travels, there's always
a chance that, at any minute, peace could break
out! I hate her. I hate her! I hate her!

Bitter Peggy goes into spastic convulsions while Defense looks on. Alarmed, D.A. Han leaps to her feet.

Your honor, a recess?

I'll get that Peace Mom. I'll get her. I hate
her. I hate her like I hate kittens and puppies.
And Christmas! And peace! I hate peace!
War! I must have war! I do want war, I do!
Screw Peace Mom, find me Kill Mom! I want
Kill Mom. Kill mommy! Kill mommy!


So ends the docu-drama recreation. [*Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff wrote the theme to the TV program That Girl starring Marlo Thomas -- who also was the executive producer of the show.]

In other news of courage,
Steve Rubenstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the 200 plus people march yesterday from Grace Cathedral to the federal building downtown which was led by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus to protest the Iraq war. The Bishop was among those arrested and he stated, "God is with all who have suffered in Iraq. This war needs to be opposed. Even though there is widespread sentiment against the war, we need to continue to push for peace. There is good reason to believe this is an unjust war." Zach notes that Wendell Harper reported, from the protest, on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.

And finally, he's been the White Queen, the Scold, the Nag and, on his way out the door, the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided he wanted to try on one more persona: Axel Rose.
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Rumsfled thinks what the world . . . needs . . . now . . . is just a little patience. Just a little patience.
The tragically unhinged Rumsfled declared that Iraq was still 'winnable' "if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power." Rumsfled's "staying power" -- obviously in question now -- can surely take credit for the 655,000 estimated Iraqis killed during the illegal war. To the would-be-Axel-Rose, the world responds, "There's no room for you here, go away, girl, there's no room for you here" (White Stripes).

kyle snyder

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

John R. MacArthur on the "Centrists"

I'm not in a good mood. So let me start off with something that did brighten my day. I don't know John R. MacArthur (who publishes Harper's). I know C.I. thinks highly of him. I know that along with Lewis Lapham's astue commentaries, they've tackled Iraq seriously (it was in Harper's, and not The Nation, that Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" was published -- the benchmark piece on Iraq to this day in my opinion). I know he stood for the First Amendment when a lot of people rushed to toss it aside for short term gain.

So, knowing all of that, I shouldn't be surprised that he would tackle the political assassination of John Murtha.

"'Centrist' Democrats Want It Both Ways" (John R. MacArthur, Providence Journal via Common Dreams):
Besides, if Emanuel and the Democratic caucus have recognized the merits of opposing the suicidal American occupation of Iraq, then why did they smash John Murtha's bid to become majority leader? Last year, Murtha courageously broke ranks with his party's establishment by calling for a rapid pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq (he cleverly calls it "redeployment"), but his initiative attracted little congressional support. Even so, as a Pentagon insider and Marine Corps veteran, Murtha cut a high profile in the war debate, so voters aiming to protest Iraq may well have mistaken the Pennsylvania Democrat's position with his party's position.
Following Murtha's defeat, the next House speaker, the increasingly anti-war Nancy Pelosi, was pilloried in the press for backing Murtha against Steny Hoyer, an early supporter of Bush's Iraq folly. Evidently taking its cue from Emanuel, The New York Times's editorial page declared that because of his near-indictment in the Abscam scandal, "Mr. Murtha would have been a farcical presence in a leadership promising the cleanest Congress in history" and tut-tutted that Pelosi "has managed to severely scar her leadership."
Received wisdom is a bipartisan taste, and right-wing columnist John Podhoretz was also happy to take the Emanuel feed, calling Murtha in The New York Post Pelosi's "sleazy born-again-peacenik buddy" and arguing that the Democrats won Congress "in spite" of Pelosi and her anti-war allies. "Rather, [the Democratic victory] was the handiwork of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Democrat who recruited the right candidates, raised money for them and made sure they knew what themes were working, according to Democratic polls."
I think that Murtha would have weathered the Abscam video tape (after all he did turn down the proffered bribe), especially if it was contrasted with the corrupt awarding of vast amounts of money to Halliburton and the other sleazy defense contractors currently looting Iraq. And Podhoretz is simply wrong on the politics: Emanuel's batting average, 9 for 22, doesn't justify his crowning as the mastermind of victory. You could just as easily say the Democrats won in spite of Emanuel.
Of course, House Democrats haven't suddenly become Puritans. A bigger reason for the hostility to Murtha is that he meant what he said about leaving Iraq and would have quickly forced the issue come January when the 110th Congress convenes. For now, the "centrist" Clinton wing controls the party's agenda and wants to have it both ways -- responsible critics who support the president's alleged mission of democracy building in Baghdad.
Things are worse in the Senate. The brightest hope for the anti-war Democrats was Ned Lamont's insurgent candidacy, which nearly knocked out Bush's loyal war ally, Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Here I was wrong again, and this time I am sorry. I thought Lamont would carry not only anti-war Democrats, but also fiscally conservative Republicans appalled by the sheer cost of Iraq.
Unfortunately, collusion between the national Republican Party and a significant minority of the Democratic Party in Connecticut rescued Lieberman and, for the time being, Bush's war policy. In a 51-49 Senate, Lieberman holds the balance of power on Iraq, since he can always threaten to switch to the Republicans and throw control to Dick Cheney, who as vice president can vote to break ties.
The New York/Washington power elite, dominated by Bush and the Clintons, doesn't have the guts or the honesty to admit that Iraq is hopeless and that U.S. soldiers are being killed and mutilated for nothing more than Bush's vainglory. The power elite's spokesman, the champion equivocator and ace sloganeer Thomas Friedman, provides the purest distillation of the current conventional thinking on Iraq. The other day, The New York Times's star columnist was still clinging to the fantasy that America could have "properly occupied" Mesopotamia and even now could send more troops and "crush the dark forces in Iraq and properly rebuild it."
Friedman and many Democrats haven't figured out that lots of Iraqis view America as a dark force of colonialism and don't want our version of "progressive politics."

That is an amazing column and I was very tempted to go with the first half. I may have chosen my excerpt wrong. I love the entire thing. On a day when I felt lied to and hyped (and worse) (Gates was confirmed among other things and a lot of hype is coming from the left on the laughable report assembled by the James Baker Circle Jerk), this really did reach me. (Robert Parry did as well, he's in the snapshot; however.)

I'll assume MacArthur will get some of the hate mail that Ava and Jess have seen in the public account to C.I. for noting the assassination. That's what it was. John Murtha was taken out. That's not "I am in love with Murtha!" I'm not. But to pretend that the hit job, which some on the left and 'left' participated in, didn't happen is to be willfully ignorant. I think your committment to telling your truth has to be greater than a desire to run with the pack for you to make the needed calls. So please read MacArthur's column. It cheered me up.

If you missed the Senate vote on Robert Gates for Secretary of War, only two senators voted against him and both were Republicans. One was "Man on Dog" Rick Santorum. He's been the butt of many jokes for good reason. How sad is it when the joke of the Senate votes correctly (for the first time) and Democrats can't?

Pretty sad. MacArthur makes the point (before the excerpt I chose) that the Democratic Party may be less pro-war and more anti-anti-war. I think that's likely. They remain the party with no stand.

Myself? The Green Party is looking very good right now. If I do vote Green in 2008, I will be noting it here. You can see it as an "enorsement" because that's what it will be. I know C.I. doesn't do endorsements and I understand why. C.I. doesn't even share support during a primary until friends have made up their own minds. I hope you'll make up your own minds as well. But if I do go Green, I will be noting it because they do not get attention. What they get is "Don't run a candidate!" The Democrats do not own votes and if this is how they're going to excercise their "control," they don't deserve votes in my opinion.

I've always supported the Democratic Party blindly. This election cycle, I did take the pledge (the same one C.I., Rebecca, Ava and many other women who'd opened their pocketbooks to the party before took) not to donate to any candidate who was anti-choice. I followed that. I'm a soft touch for a direct mail and always have been. Call me on the phone and I'm usually offended. Partly because I have an unlisted phone number by choice (so I don't enjoy it when my number is given out by magazines or candidates I've donated to) and partly because if I'm not running out the door, I'm relaxing. I can, and do, say, "Don't ever call me again" and hang up the phone.
A direct mailing, done well, can usually result in my reaching for the check book. I don't feel generous to the Democratic Party today.

I'm tired of the weakness on display in the Democratic Party, the constant caving, the refusal to stand up for what is right. The excuse for the last six years have been "we're not in power!" That doesn't matter. You can take brave stands and motivate the people. Even if you lose, people will realize that you will fight. Fighting has left the Democratic Party handbook and been replaced with caving. It was a sad day today (and the hearings yesterday didn't make for a great Tuesday either). I'm sick of championing a party that won't stand up.

With reproductive rights being disowned and trashed, the Democratic Party is not my party. It doesn't matter that women swept them back into power. They show no indication of acknowledging that anymore than they seem willing to stop the war.

It was a really sad day. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts, he's a little more upbeat tonight. Mainly because of the reaction to "Jim Lafferty, Law and Disorder, peace movement," which is wonderful.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 6, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the James Baker Circle Jerk finally spews,
Dow Jones reports ten US soldiers dead in Iraq today from two IEDs, and the Democrats demonstrate that "bipartisan" is Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter."
Starting with the vocab lesson first, for all the gas bagging after the election by The Elector (in all their forms) and all the talk of "change" and "listening to the people," Democrats -- swept into power by voters wanting change -- demonstrate that "bipartisanship" is just Beltway Latin for "Screw the voter." First up was the character assassination took John Murtha out of the running for the post of House Majority Leader and allowed War Hawk Steny Hoyer to be installed. Last week Dems were supposed to be cheerleading around the nation over Silvestre Reyes who was being installed as House Intelligence Committee chair. "Yeah, Silvestre!" was the kind of "critique" the public got as the gas bags of the left (and 'left') tried to paint over the fact that others were (again) passed over. Now,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes an interview Reyes gave to Newsweek where he expressed his desire to send an "up to 30,000" additional US troops to Iraq.
The vocabulary lesson is not limited to House Dems, Democrats on the Senate Armed Service Committee collectively stated, "Screw the voter." As
Robert Parry (Consortium News) observes, "Despite winning the Nov. 7 elections largely due to public anger over the Iraq War, congressional Democrats crumbled in their first post-election confrontation with President George W. Bush on the future direction of that conflict."
As elected Dems attempt to 'educate,' the mainstream press attempts to present the marginalized as the norm. Though polls repeatedly demonstrate US citizens want US troops out of Iraq, though polls repeatedly demonstrate that Iraqi citizens wants US troops out of Iraq, Big Media thinks they can pull one over on the public again.
Tossing Judith Miller onto the stake and burning her as the public scapegoat is supposed to satiate the masses and allow
War Pornographer Michael Gordon to get off scott free again. (Gordo was Miller's writing partner quite often including on one story that was mentioned in the Times' mini-culpa.) Norman Solomon (Common Dreams) observes that Gordo and David Sanger have both contributed articles pushing the "the US must stay myth" and concludes: "What's now going on in mainline news media is some kind of repetition compulsion. And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives."
It's not limited to the New York Times, but to stay on Gordo and the Times,
FAIR notes that, on November 15, 2006, Gordo was on CNN telling Anderson Cooper "while the politicians in the United States would like to see a withdrawal of forces, particularly on the Democratic side, that's simply not realistic given how precarious the security situation is at this point in time" and drawing a comparison between Democrats who actually call for a withdrawal (there are a few of those) and 'insurgents': ". . . there are a significant number of players in Baghdad today who don't mind if the Americans withdraw. These are the militia leaders. They would be happy if the United States withdrew . . ." Now does any of that sound anything like a policy judgement or recommendation?
Because when attempting to foist his bad book off on the public, Gordo refused to weigh in on the war itself,
telling Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), "Well, that's a policy judgement and a political judgement that's really beyound the scope of our book."
But now, he can can make those judgements? Of course he can, he made them during the invasion as well -- in fact, he made them on CNN. March 25, 2003,
Gordo took the CNN airwaves (Aaron Brown's now cancelled show) to cheerlead a US attack of a civilian target, a TV station, stating, "And personally, I think the television, based on what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message, I think, was an appropriate target." Three year later, Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted to Gordo that his [Gordo's] remark were "condemned by many journalism organizations around the world" and Gordo sputtered: "Well, I think, when -- you know, I don't know what was in General Franks' mind . . ." Blah, blah, blah. Gordo can't own his own mistakes, neither the can the paper.
Judith Miller was one person. The dog pile on her while others were ignored created a climate of impunity. Ditch digger Dexy is outed as a the go-to-boy (outed by a mainstream daily) for the US military and, if noted, it's reduced to an aside. While everyone obsessed and dog piled on Judith Miller's pre-war 'reporting' (which included co-writers), there wasn't time to call
sob sister Dexy out. Even now, as the paper's attempts to marginalize US public opinion is called out, who's noting the story, filed from Iraq, that couldn't find a single Iraqi who wanted the US to withdraw (a position held by the majority of Iraqis)? No one.
Miller's departure changed nothing at the paper. But bash-the-bitch and golden oldies did allow many to feel, three years later, that they were 'commenting' as they again trotted out the name "Judy Miller." The only thing surprising about Gordo is that
his war porn has taken so long to be called out.
Qais Al-Bashir (AP) reports a mortar attack in the Sadr City section of Baghdad which took 8 lives and left "dozens" wounded. while in Iskandariyah, a bomb claimed 4 lives and left at least 12 wounded. The US military reports a blast "near the Old Ministry of Defense building in the Rusafa neighborhood of central Baghdad" which killed at least 15 Iraqis and left 25 more wounded. Reuters reports that a bomber "blew himself up inside a minibus" in Baghdad resulting in 3 other deaths and at least 16 people wounded
KUNA reports a British soldier wounded in Basra "after armed clashes between British troops and an armed group". Conflicts in Basra have already resulted in the British pulling embassy staff out of the area. Reuters reports a police officer was shot dead in Hawija while a police brigadier was wounded in an attack in Baghdad and his driver shot dead, another shooting attack in Mosul left a college professor wounded, and in Khalis an attack on a farm workers traveling in a bus left one dead and eight wounded. On the college professor, CNN notes this is "a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged that the government would protect professors and students in the wake of a Sunni insurgent group's threat to target professors and students."
Reuters reports three corpses were discovered in Mahmudiya, one in Kirkuk and a headless one in Mosul. And, in an update, Reuters notes that 48 corpses ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture) were discovered in Baghdad.
US military notes: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations in the Iraqi capital Dec. 3" and also says 'Woops! We issued the information on two deaths in two different press releases Sunday!' ICCC counts 2907 US troops dead in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. And AFP notes that the total of US troops who have died in Iraq has passed the 2900 mark and counting. This comes as Dow Jones reports that 10 US troops have been killed in Iraq today and cites MSNBC on the "two incidents involving improvised explosive devices." That would take the 2907 up to 2917. And possibly it will also give the New York Times and others still silent the chance to note that the 2900 mark was passed?
The James Baker Circle Jerk released their report today. The thing that should stand out the most is that the 142 page report is actually 96 pages (with illustrations) and that 36 pages are end credits -- including a special spotlight for each member. Apparently, notions of a group shot were ditched due to the fact that a visual like that would have most Americans asking who those Circle Jerkers were supposed to reflect? They're old, they're White (one African-American), they're male (one woman). "Tell Us What To Do About The War, Rich Gramps?" could be the working title.
Having stroked each other raw, the Circle Jerk spews 79 recommendations. With few exceptions, they're all based on a principle: "Stupid Iraqis! We will educate you!" You see that in "Recommendation 76" and its focus on "civilian tasks" and "key civilian agencies, including Treasury, Justice, and Agriculture" which "need to create similar technical assistance capabilities." Every now and then, a concrete recommendation stumbles in such as "Recommendation 72" which addresses the requesting of funds for the war ("should be included in the President's annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year") or noting that need to keep an accurate count of incidents of violence and death.
But in the end, you're left with gas bags tasked to do the job that Congress should have. In the real world, the people's
Iraq Study Group released their findings last week. Using the same phrase, The Nation notes a poll by World Public Opinion who will release their full results tomorrow. The summary of the polling is currently available. From that:

*1,326 Americans were surveyed.

*75% of respondents desire talks between the US and Iran (something Bully Boy is nixing,
click here)

*58% of respondents want a timetable for withdrawal

*78% of those who identified Democrat "think U.S. forces should be out within two-years or less, including 61 percent who favor a one-year or less"

*Withdrawal is supported even stronger by respondents "if the majority of the Iraqi people say they want the U.S. to commit to withdraw U.S. forces"

From the summary: "A poll of the Iraqi public conducted by in September 2006 found that 71 percent want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year." Again, the full results will be released tomorrow.
William Roberts (Bloomberg) reports that Tom Vilsak (who declared he was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008) has called for the withdrawal of "most American troops from Baghdad and southern Iraq" and declares, "We have created an opportunity for the people of that nation and its government to make fundamental decisions for themselves. We have given them enough time."
Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reports that Nouri al-Maliki wants a "regional conference on stabilizing his country but rejected a proposal from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that it take place outside Iraq."
Finally, in peace news US war resister
Ehren Watada is noted as the United Methodists reflect on 2006: "United Methodists rallied in support of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, who has refused deployment to Iraq because he feels the war is 'morally wrong' and 'a breach of American law.' He faces charges of missing troop movement, conduct unbecoming an officer and contempt towards officials. United Methodists joined a vigil and rally at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, where Watada is being held."
And as
Indybay IMC notes, "December 8th through 10th with be National Days of Action to Support GI resistance and GI rights." More information can be found at Courage to Resist and in the Bay Area, "Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film "Ground Truth" will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film "The Ground Truth" will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

democracy nowamy goodmanjuan gonzalezthe new york timesmichael r. gordon
the washington postnancy trejos
robert parry
norman solomon
ehren watada

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Zohra Yusuf Daoud, Sunita Mehta, Women For Afghan Women

The artwork to the left is from "The One About The Nation" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) and let me join Rebecca in praising the art that the gang does. I keep telling them that if they ever wanted to take a week off from writing, they could just do illustrations.

They're less thrilled with them. They see it as something to do to illustrate an article and I'm not attempting to say everyone is incredible. Their purpose is to illustrate and I think they always achieve that; however, I also think that they frequently accomplish quite a bit more than just that.

Thank you to Kasey who e-mailed to remind me of something. On Friday, "December 1st," at work Christmas gifts arrived. Sunny and my Christmas gifts from C.I. I still have shopping to do. So when I got home Sunday evening (I spent the weekend at Mike's), I gathered the gifts I had bought and set them around a bookcase here in my bedroom to goad me into wrapping them. I felt like I was forgetting something all last night and then I read Kasey's e-mail.

Women For Afghan Women is the name of the book I was noting in "Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kim Gandy, Bay Fang" on Friday. The editor is Sunitha Mehta and she's one of the two women who gave the presentation. The other was Zohra Yusuf Daoud was the other woman. She contributes the chapter Miss Afghanistan which begins on page 102. Zohra Yusuf Daoud is with the Afghan Women's Association of Southern California (A.W.A.S.C.) From her chapter:

Once, before the Soviet invasion in 1979, women had rights in Afghanistan. They were treated like human beings. Once women were a productive part of society in Afghanistan, helping the nation grow. There was a time when women worked side by side with men in the fields just as there was a time when they worked side by side with men in parliament and in universities. Women once had a voice in Afghanistan; they were heard and acknowledged.
But to say that all women in Afghanistan had as much freedom as women in the United States would be incorrect. More accurately, only the privileged few, sprinkled throughout the urban areas of Afghanistan, gained these freedoms. Unfortunately, the rural areas of Afghanistan were rarely in step with the rest of the country. This reality we must acknowledge, that even before 1979, there was not total equality for all women. But we were working toward that goal and making progress.
I know because I was there. I was a part of that change. I am one of that fortunate minority of women who were modernized and educated in Afghanistan. I grew up in Kabul and led a reasonably charmed life. My father was a Columbia University graduate, a doctor, and Afghanistan's surgeon general. We were a well-off family. We were the kind of family that spent nine months of the year living in one home and the winter months in another simply because we could afford to escape the cold. I had three brothers and five sisters, which by Afghan standards was average. What was not the norm was the fact that my father encouraged us all to pursue higher education. And by all of us, what I really mean is all of his girls. My father taught us that in Islam it is written that all men and women have the right to knowledge, that is their duty as human beings to educate and to be educated. In my family, this belief was practiced.
The thirst for knowledge that my father fostered led me into one of the sweetest experiences of my life. In 1972 something as simple as a beauty pageant would forever change me. I was crowned the first ever "Miss Afghanistan." There was, of course, no swimsuit competition and no emphasis on beauty; to be perfectly honest, I was even a little chubby then. Instead, the pageant was about a woman's intellect and poise. It was about public speaking and academic knowledge. More than anything, however, this pageant was about progress. In America, pageants seem to be trivial events that have had feminists up in arms and perhaps rightly so. In Afghanistan, however, a pageant meant we were catching up to the world, working to fit in, joining the global community. It meant we were moving foward, moving away from archaic notions and toward a balanced modernization.

So that's a taste of one chapter in the book.Sunita Mehta co-writes the introduction (with Homaira Mamoor). Names that many Americans will reconginze include Gloria Steinem and Eleanor Smeal. I should note that Sunit Mehta is with (and co-founded) Women for Afghan Women. To repeat, the title of the book is Women For Afghan Women. The list price is $13.95 and you can also check your libraries.

Thank you to Kasey for reminding me. The gifts (which I did wrap last night) were right in front of the bookcase and I can't believe I didn't think of that when posting last night or when wrapping gifts after; however, Kasey remembered and e-mailed.

I did catch some of the gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Robert Gates hearing on Pacifica Radio today. Sunny listened to the whole thing on her computer and, between appointments, I'd rush out to catch some of it. What did I think? I thought that Aaron Glantz, Larry Bensky and their guests did a wonderful job and I think it's great that at least one of the "public radio" networks cared to cover them. (The snapshot contains a hilarious contrast between Pacifica and NPR today.) I think the Democrats, in the first opportunity to demonstrate that they are a party of change, flaunted that they won't do a damn thing without being pressured.

On the topic of the old Secretary of War, I'll highlight this.

"Rumsfeld's Final Snowflake" (Michael Whitney, CounterPunch):
Nothing Rumsfeld says can be trusted. He spies on Americans' phone calls, computers, medical records, bank records and groups. He has been a stanch supporter of planting propaganda in newspapers and TV. He introduced a program that created a "rapid response" team to rebut information that is critical of US foreign policy appearing on blogs, web-sites and letters to the editor. He controlled the flow of information coming out of Iraq and managed to silence many of the war's critics. He developed a plan for "Total Information Awareness" that is designed to control everything that the public sees and hears from cradle to grave.
Now he is trying to write his own legacy. It is just another in a long list of deceptions; a smokescreen created to conceal his responsibility in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
The memo states that Rumsfeld was planning to make major adjustments and that "Clearly, what US forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough". But "what US forces were doing" was exactly what Rumsfeld told them to do; nothing more, nothing less.
When he told them to bomb Falluja to the ground, they followed his orders; and when they tortured and stacked naked prisoners on top of each other, they followed his orders. And, when they trained the Shiite death squads to kill and maim Sunni suspects, they followed his orders.
Every major decision in 4 years of conflict bears Rumsfeld's imprimatur. It's his policy; it's his war. If Rumsfeld continued as Secretary of Defense, then nothing would change, because he has absolute confidence in violence and deception as the two main instruments for political transformation.
Rumsfeld's memo is great reading for fiction-lovers. It provides a revealing snapshot of a leader who carefully considered every alternative before making a decision. It's a stark contrast to the intractable narcissist who ignored his advisors and bullied his generals. But, like I said, it's great fiction.

I agree with that and, let me add, Rumsfled knew he was leaving in October.

For more on the hearings, you should read the snapshot. It posted early for a snapshot these days so it only covers the first half of the hearings.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, December 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Senate Armed Service Committee stages a new comedy, and the 2900-dead mark has been passed, who's noting it?
Starting with the American troop fatality count.
On Sunday, ICCC made the call that 2900 US troops had died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. Yesterday, Sandra Lupien noted the 2900 mark on The KPFA Evening News. Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes: "The US death toll in the war has topped 2900." CNN's counts 2,901 while also reporting 2899. The latter figure is what the Defense Department goes with as well, 2899. ICCC reports the number is 2906 (which is what we'll go with).
Does the number matter? It should. It should matter especially if you're appearing before Congress.
Robert Gates, who would like to replace Donald the Rumsfled as Secretary of Defense, cited another number: 2892. Testifying today, he goes with 2892? If this is Gates "on the ball," let's all worry.
KPFA's Larry Bensky and Aaron Glantz are anchoring the gavel-to-gavel coverage of Gates' confirmation hearing and it's being carried live on KPFA, WBAI, KPFT, KPFK, KCFC and at
at the
Pacifica website. Those not in broadcast range can listen online at any of the links provided in the previous sentence. (And if you missed the live coverage, you can use the links for an archived broadcast.) While Pacifica Radio covers the hearings live NPR decided to 'hit hard' by covering the celebrity auction of Dick Clark.
So along with grasping that Gates doesn't care enough about the job to use any accepted figure for the US military's fatality toll, what else have we learned? Bob Dole did standup early on. The former US senator was one of two walking Gates down the aisle. Who gives Gates away? Dole and Doren. Dole told a joke about how the phone rang asking that "Senator Dole" introduce Gates and, too late, Bob Dole realized they meant Elizabeth Dole (his wife who is currently a US senator). Having wowed 'em like he hasn't since he schilled for Pepsi with Britney Spears, Dole stepped aside for the Senate's own Norma Desmond: David L. Boren.
Boren was supposed to be introducing Gates but instead seemed lost in the past, a murky one, that needed to be reclaimed unless we were are prepared to "ultimately destroy the fabric" of the country. Boren couldn't shut up about the past including "15 years ago." So let's take a look at the Senate when Boren still served on it.
Boren did sometimes work with people on the other side of the aisles: Democrats. Though supposedly a Democrat, he was usually to be found triangulating with Republicans. Boren's 'bipartisanship' resulted in many things, a greatest hits reel can't be provided here. But two highlights. Boren voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The country still suffers as a result. Boren was among those who put "civility" above the truth regarding Iran-Contra and, it can be argued since many of the same players repeat today, that doing so implicates him in today's illegal war.
Possibly, he shouldn't grab that white Bible with his bloodied hands? White Bible? Oh, the one he used to publicly swear that he wasn't gay back when those rumors floated. Today's heart-felt intro recalled a great deal of the drama of that 1979 moment.
Robert Gates told Senator John Warner that he felt the Bully Boy wanted him "to take a fresh look and all options are on the table" regarding Iraq. But some things do not require a "fresh look," apparently. On the issue of remaining in Iraq, Gates stated that it seemed to him that the US would "have to have some presence in Iraq for a long time." He then offered the WRONG number and mentioned a woman who approached him to declare, "I have two sons in Iraq. For God's sake, bring them home safe."
After that, it all got even zanier as there appeared to be a contest among Republicans to see who could look the most insane as they attempted to scare Americans and spin the illegal war.
Honorable mentions go to the following:
Jeff Sessions who declared both the need to "reach out and grasp each other's hands" (stay of the cloakroom) went even touchier-and-feelier, soaring into clouds that the laughable Peggy Noons (Noonan) couldn't even approach as he spoke of US troops who had died in Iraq: "I talked to their families. I talked to those who lost their lives."
No word as to whether "those who lost their lives" talked back to Jeff Sessions.
Pat Roberts wants the troops home but frets over how it could be done "the wrong way." See, pulling them out too soon, bringing them home, could cause problems. Such as? Roberts didn't know. He was suddenly discussing "sleeper cells in this country" and terrorists of a second generation. If he truly believes there are "sleeper cells" in the United States, one would assume that the troops might be needed in the US. But Roberts was busy trying to frighten America and that appeared to be the Republican game plan.
Joe Lieberman (officially billed these days as "Independent") attempted to work through his own issues, publicly, in front of the committee. He warned of what could happen "if we end up leaving Iraq in chaos" because, apparently Joe Lieberman has missed the fact that Iraq is in chaos and has been. "Bipartisanship" was a buzz word for NoMentum as well and he wanted the entire nation to band together to go after all the enemies he sees elsewhere in the world ("everybody around the world who wishes us evil") which demonstrated that Lieberman hasn't lost his sense of persecution.
But the winner? James Inhofe in the first round. Inhofe's never met a fact he can't fudge or mangle. His statements were concerned with pushing the illegal war except when he went into alarmist mode of Chinese computer hackers and raged that others (on the Senate? in the United States?) "don't seem to read these, they don't seem concerned about this!" What Inhofe was concerned primarily with was noting that "the mass graves [in Iraq], that's not taking place anymore."
Oh Inhofe, apparently you're not reading what you need to read.
November 30, 2006, the US military announced the discovery of a "mass grave" with 28 bodies in it. And, no, it's not from the era of Saddam Hussein.
The Democrats? Evan Blah showed what a suck up he could be, Carl Levin probed and Hillary Clinton appeared to be setting up for the next round of questioning. (The hearings are on a lunch break. During that Pacifica will be offering analysis.)
The big news is supposed to be that
Gates noted (the obvious fact) that the US isn't "winning." (Nor can it, unsaid by Gates.) What should be noted is how often he couldn't remark, he didn't know enough, his "view is too uninformed," "I'm not well enough informed at this point to make a decision" blah, blah, blah. This is the man who was sitting on the James Baker Circle Jerk, right? He was tasked with recommendations the US should take re: Iraq, right?
And in Iraq?
AFP reports an attack on bus in Baghdad that began with a car bomb and was followed with gunfire resulting in at least 15 dead and 9 wounded, while an attack on a police academy in Baghdad with a car bomb followed by gunfire resulted in 7 people killed and 12 wounded, a roadside bomb in Baghdad resulted in 2 Iraqi soldiers being killed, a car bomb in Baghdad claimed three lives, and a mortar attack in Baghdad left 2 children dead. Reuters notes three car bombs in Baghdad ("near a fuel station) that resulted in 16 deaths and at least 25 injured. The BBC reports that "[m]ost of the victims were people queuing for petrol."
See above combined attacks.
Reuters reports the corpse of a police officer was found in Kirkuk.
Today, the
US military announced: "Insurgents attacked a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol Dec. 4, killing one Soldier and wounding five others. The patrol was conducting operations to deny enemy movements and enforce curfew restrictions in a northeastern neighborhood of the city when it was attacked"; and "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier was killed in an accident when his M-1117 Armored Security Vehicle rolled over North of Logistics Support Area Adder Dec. 4."
In news of sick mind games (played to cover their own ass?, played to keep the news coverage more 'upbeat'?), on Monday
the Department of Defenense announced: "Spc. Dustin M. Adkins, 22, of Finger, Tenn, has been unaccounted for since Dec. 3 in Haditha, Iraq, when the Chinook helicopter he was in made an emergency landing. He is assigned to the Group Support Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Ky." But AP reports that "relatives of 22 year old Dustin Adkins of Finger told The Jackson Sun newspaper Monday night that his body has been recovered after the soldier was listed as missing." Note the key word "after." Ned B. Hunter (AP) reports that "Mayrine Adkins, the soldier's grandmother, said the family was notified about 3 p.m. Monday that his body had been found. Mayrine Adkins said her grandson was one of two Army soldiers on the helicopter along with several Marines."
This is the Sunday helicopter crash ('crash landing,' if you prefer, but it's a crash) that
claimed the lives of four Marines. Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that there were 16 people on board and that the lake it crashed onto was Lake Qadisiya. Though the military claims it was 'mechanical' issues that brought about the crash, Nancy Trejos (Washington Post) reports two sources who state differently: "The mayor of Haditha, Ibraheem al-Bayati, and Iraqi army Lt. Hussein Muslih said the helicopter had been shot down by insurgents with machine guns as it was taking off from the town" and Trejos notes: "the Islamic State of Iraq posted a sign on a nearby mosque in Haditha announcing that the helicopter had 30 passengers on board and had been downed".
Turning to Australia, the military inquiry into the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco
released their report December 1st. Dan Box (The Australian) reports that Judy Kovco (Jake's mother) and Shelley Kovco (Jake's wife) have "received legal advice" and will "demand an independent review of the military's finding that the young paratrooper was skylarking with his pistol when he was fatally shot." Ian McPhedran (Herald-Sun) feels that the inquiry has demonstrated "why a civilian should run such investigations" and McPhedran provides strong examples including "ruling out suicide even before its hearings had concluded"; refusal to apportion blame for the failure to preserve evidence in terms of Kovco's room, et al; and a failure to seriously explore the mix up of Jake Kovco's body with the body of Juso Sinanovic.
MCPhedran notes: "Jake Kovco's mother, Judy, has labelled the excercise a cover-up and she is absolutely correct." Last weekend, Judy Kovco spoke out about some of the problems with the inquiry and its findings noting that she had "sat through three months of listening to all of this" and that no explanations have been provided including why there was "more DNA on that gun that Jacob's own DNA inside and out and their excuse for that DNA being on the gun and the cartridge is just laughable."
Judy Kovco is specifically referring to Steven Carr, identified during the inquiry as "Soldier 14," whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun. Carr maintained that he never touched Jake Kovco's weapon and offered laughable excuses such as maybe he touched a radio and then Jake touched a radio and then Jake touched his gun and that's how his (Carr's) DNA got on Jake's gun. It was laughable but it got picked up and run with as though it was even possible. Forensice expert
Michelle Franco rejected that laughable claim to the inquiry and noted that were that transfer nonsense true that within a half-hour, Carr's DNA would have been all but gone from the gun. Instead, it was found on the gun's slide in significant amounts (it was also found elsewhere) that were consistent with Carr having handled the gun.
The inquiry's findings sidestepped and ignored the government's witness and avoided this issue which is only one example of how they failed to address the death of Jake Kovco.
Yesterday, in the US, Bully Boy met with Shi'ite Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and appeared to offer a 'strategy' that Robert Knight (
KPFA's Flashpoints) called addressing death squads with . . . death squads. Dilip Hiro (Guardian of London) sees the meet up with the Bully Boy as an attempt to divide Shias (and neutralize Sadr). On The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Sandra Lupien noted that "al-Hakim said the only way to stave off civil war in Iraq is for US forces to strike harder against Sunni-led resistance fighters" and that his organization fought on the side of Iran in the 80s Iraq-Iran war. Sheryl Gay Stolberg (New York Times) reports that al-Hakim "remarked last week that if Iraq deteriorated into civil war, Sunni Arabs would be the 'biggest losers' -- a comment that was widely interpreted as a veiled threat to Sunnis." Divide and conquer has worked so well for the US administration -- oops!, it hasn't. It's resulted in a civil war in Iraq.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dave Matthews, Mark Wilkerson

The illustration is from The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Worst Video Collection." I know they say they're not trying for "art" but I think they do some amazing illustrations (and intend to highlight another one later this week). The illustration is of Dave Matthews. I think they did a very good job capturing him.

For the feature the illustration goes with, we watched a music video collection, Dave Matthews Band: The Videos 1994-2001. Now I like the band and had seen at least two of their videos. Sitting through all of their videos over a seven year period? I didn't know what to say because I thought I was the only one who was disappointed.

That wasn't the case. If you're a fan of the band and the videos have never really registered, don't watch this DVD. You may end up as disappointed as I was.

Musically, they make it for me on CD and in concert. But videos? They don't seem to have a clue. I hated the video for "Crash Into Me," for instance, because I love that song and to see Dave Matthews making a joke out of the lyrics in the video really did bother me.

Are they the deepest in the world? No. But I had thought they were written honsetly. The video made me feel like the whole thing was a put on and, for me, that's why I hated the collection so much. They have no visual style and they seem to exist from one video to another in the imagination of whatever director they've hired. But it was the antics of Dave Matthews in the song that really made me hate the collection.

It's the sort of thing I'd expect from Hootie & the Blowfish, this whole, "we're just here to make you laugh" attitude. One of their readers had checked the collection out at her local library and had suggested they take a look at it. I almost wish I hadn't because it really left a sour taste for me. But I've been reminding myself that some people aren't good with videos. I'll just focus on the music and make a point never to see the videos again.

There's a comparison to Huey Lewis in the article and I think that's valid. But when I woke up Sunday, I thought, "Phil Collins!" I wish I'd thought of that while we were writing it. It is that sort of "showman" and "entertainer" attitude, which Collins has, that tanks the videos.

Now I'm going to do something different tonight, post the snapshot and then zoom in on one thing in it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, December 4, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another marker is passed -- 2900 US troops dead, the US Defense Department notes (in a whisper) that someone did die last week and wasn't "missing," a US war resister finds inspiration from a relative, and
Mark Danner (New York Review of Books) suggests: "Anyone wanting to answer the question of 'how we began' in Iraq has to confront the monumental fact that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, invaded Iraq with no particular and specific idea of what it was going to do there, and then must try to explain how this could have happened."
Starting with peace news: (202) 224-3121. What is that? The phone number to the Congressional Switchboard. Today, as
CODEPINK notes, is " National Call in Day to hold Congress accountable to the Mandate for Peace!" The action asks that those in the United States call the number and ask their US House Representative and their two US Senators to "bring the troops home now."
On Sunday, weighing in on Iraq's civil war,
Kofi Annan (Secretary General of the United Nations) told the BBC that conditions in Iraq are "much worse". Edward Wong (New York Times) notes Annan joins others such as Colin Powell (former US Secretary of State) and Ayad Allawi (former prime minister of Iraq) in making that call. Amy Goodman writes (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) that the hair splitting over whether to use the term or not has stopped "the harangues that the media are not covering the 'positive stories' or the 'good news' -- there simply is no good news in Iraq." Goodman notes it "is definitely in a civil war. A civil war started by the U.S. invasion and fueled by the U.S. occupation."
Meanwhile, in a step usually reserved for couples in the world of entertainment,
Zalmay Khalilzad and George Casey release a joint press statement. No, they're not dispelling rumors of a break up. They are announcing that, "Together we will bring peace to all Iraqis and restore dignity and security to this great nation." Well then, one-two-three-four-five-sis-seven-eight . . . Schlemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated. They're going do it!
Or maybe not.
Reuters notes a car bomber in Mosul killed himself and left five civillians wounded.
AFP reports seven people were shot dead in Baquba today -- "including four employees of the department of agriculture of the Diyala province". Reuters reports four police officers were shot dead in Mosul. CBS and AP report two shooting deaths in Khalis.
CNN reports that a total of 84 corpses have been discovered in Baghdad alone in the last two days. Reuters reports that seven corpses were turned over to a hospital in Mosul and a corpses was found in Mahaweel.
AFP notes that almost "150 Iraqis have died over the last two days alone in sectarian and insurgent attacks." That number doesn't include unreported deaths or corpses discovered.
So, for instance, Hidaib Mejhoul's corpse isn't in the count. Mejhoul's body was discovered Saturday,
he was kidnapped Thursday.
In addition,
yesterday ICCC noted that the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war had reached 2900. This follows Saturday's announcement that "One Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Division died Dec. 1 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." And Sunday's many announcements (from "And the war drags on . . ."): "Earlier today, the US military announces today: 'A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died from injuries sustained when the convoy he was traveling in struck an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq, at approximately 8:30 a.m. Saturday' and 'Two Soldiers assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) were killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting a security patrol in the Al Anbar province of Iraq Dec 2.' Since then, they've also announced: 'Baghdad Soldier was killed during combat operations in the Iraqi capital Dec. 3."and they've announced: 'Two Soldiers assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Saturday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province.'
Today? The
US military announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers, assigned to 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, were killed and two others were wounded from an explosion near their vehicle that occurred while they were conducting operations in Multi-National Division -- North, Dec. 3." They also announced one death in the emergency landing of a helicopter on a lake in in Iraq. CBS and AP note that the count from that crash has now risen to four marines dead (16 were reported to be onboard). CNN notes: "It was not clear if the Marine chopper went down in a lake or a river." The US military notes only that it took place in Al-Anbar province. Al Jazeera cites witness in Haditha who "said it came down in a lake, which was sealed off by US forces" while Reuters says it's Lake Qadisiya.
The military is maintaining the helicopter was not hit or even shot at. On that note, Troy Gilbert was piloting the F-16 that crashed last week. Residents who witnessed the crash stated he had died. For some reason, the US military listed him as "missing." On Sunday,
the Defense Department released the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, 34, of Litchfield Park, Ariz, died Nov. 27 when his F-16C fighter crashed 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq." He died, according to DoD, November 27th and was identified via DNA. Which calls into the question the more than 48 hours the US military pushed that Gilbert was missing to the press while his wife (Ginger Gilbert) waited for answers. (The couple have five children.)
2900 and counting is among the costs of the war. Over 655,000 is another number -- estimate of the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war. The injured, the frightened (those living in a war zone), the ones who mourn, all part of the cost of Bully Boy's illegal war of choice. And currently, the estimated financial cost of the war is $348,000,000,000" (
via the counter on Tom Hayden's website). This comes at a time when James K. Galbraith (writing for the Guardian of London) observes: "The US economy is going soft faster than the inflation hawks and growth optimists thought. . . . The US trade deficit is near all-time records. . . . That is partly why Economists for Peace and Security -- a group I chair -- opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. As far back as 2002, we understood - as the economically illiterate neo-imperialists did not - that a world system very favourable to America was on the line. And it was not, as they seemed to think, just a matter of military might. We knew that if the war undermined confidence in the power, good faith and common sense of the United States, that could lead toward disastrous changes on the financial front. Four years in and with no end in sight, that risk may finally be catching up to the almighty dollar."
In other financial costs,
Julian Borger and David Pallister (Guardian of London) report that Iraq faces a less noted danger -- "being brought down by the wholesale smuggling of the nation's oil and other forms of corruption that together represent a 'second insurgency'". Borger and Pallister note that the US Special Inspector General for the Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, has "referred 25 cases of fraud to the justice department for criminal investigations, four of which have led to conviction, and about 90 more are under investigation."
Not much 'imagination,' just a lot of crooked behaivors. Addressing the lies and myths that led the US into an illegal war of Bully Boy's choice,
Mark Danner (New York Review of Books) theorizes: "[T]he War of Imagination draped all the complications and contradictions of the history and politics of a war-torn, brutalized society in an ideologically driven vision of a perfect future. Small wonder that its creators, faced with grim reality, have been so loathe to part with it. Since the first thrilling night of shock and awe, reported with breathless enthusiasm by the American television networks, the Iraq war has had at least two histories, that of the war itself and that of the American percention of it."
Exploring the British media's response to the illegal war,
Dr. Piers Robinson (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports on a study conducted by social scientists at three universities on the pre-war and earliest days coverage -- the study "found that stories dealing with the justifications for war 'overwhelmingly reflected the official line,' with over 80 percent of stories mirroring the government position and less than 12 percent challegning it."
In the United States, Bully Boy is meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) first met with Condi Rice and that the trip to DC has "fuelled the perception of an administration that is seeking a new direction in Iraq while tacitly admitting it is not winning the war." Or maybe the US administration is just auditioning the next puppet to be installed? The BBC notes that their correspondent, Sarah Morris, "says the meeting has attracted controversy since Mr Hakim has ties to Iran and is thought by many to have links to a militia group."
If Nouri al-Maliki, current puppet is replaced, chances are the next installed will also move only when strings are pulled.
Raed Jarrar (CounterPunch) notes that al-Maliki made the decision to seek a renewal of the United Nations Security Council's occupation mandate without consulting the Iraqi parliament beforehand or advising them of what he'd done which, if it matters, is probably a violation of the Iraqi constitution. If it matters? Without US backing and stroking al-Maliki wouldn't be the current puppet, he missed the Constitutional deadline for naming his cabinet (as well as the extra-Constitutional extension he gave himself). Jarrar speaks with various members of the Iraqi parliament and Sale al-Mutlaq's comments may sum up the consensus: "This is totally unexpected. It is another example of the Prime Minister dismissing the views of the parliament and monopolizing all power."
(Jarrar discuseed this with Sandra Lupien on the November 29th broadcast of
The KPFA Evening News for anyone who would like audio or additional information.)
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) report that, "Disquiet is arising all around because the present Iraqi government is losing support -- and so is the United States in its occupation of Iraq" and that al-Maliki's seen as a failure because, as one Iraqi shares, "He and other Dawa party leaders did not keep the promises made to the Sadr movement before the elections. . . . People are complaining that this government is not paying any attention to them and their ruined city despite the huge contracts signed for reconstruction."
Monopolizing all power includes attacking free speech which is what al-Maliki has done from early on. He has closed TV stations, implemented rules that there will be a 30 minute delay when broadcasting live from the parliament, had a laughable (and failed) "four-part" "plan" whose third part was nothing but censorship. Today,
People's Daily Online reports that Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, a journalist, "was killed in front of his house while he was heading to work". On Thursday, Editor & Publisher explored some of the other issues including that "Iraq's Interior Ministry . . . formed a special unit to monitor news coverage and vowed to take legal action against journalists who failed to correct stories the ministry deemed to be incorrect." The attempts to curb the press continue.
Meanwhile, in the US, war resistor Mark Wilkerson finds inspiration and support from the past -- specifically from his great-grandfather. Writing at his website,
Red, White & Blurry: My Life As An AWOL Soldier, Wilkerson explains that his grandmother passed on a letter to him, one that his great-grandfather wrote then-US-president Calvin Coolidge when his son (John F. Hemphill) died in Nicaragua. Wilkerson reproduces the letter as his site and notes:
"When I read this for the first time, I couldn't help but crying. Because through this letter, I can't help but feel that my great-grandfather would be proud of what I'm going through, and could relate with me on many levels. I feel that reading this somehow connected me again to a part of my family that I haven't been close to much lately, and I'm thankful for that. I also feel more now, than ever, that as a veteran, it is my obligation to speak out when I feel that an injustice is being done in our country today through this so-called War on Terrorism."
Mark Wilkerson self-checked out of the US military for approximately eighteen months before,
August 31st, announcing at Camp Casey III that he would be turning himself in. Speaking with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints the same day, Wilkerson explain that he had applied for c.o. status but been denied and told that he could not begin the rebuttal process until after he completed his second deployment in Iraq.
Wilkerson is part of a movement within the military of war resistance that also includes
Kyle Snyder,
Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Joshua Casteel, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Patrick Hart, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are only some of the names of those resisting who have gone public.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Soldier Say No!, the War Resisters Support Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Their actions are helping to end to the war as are the actions of others demanding an end to the illegal war. Today on
WBAI's Law and Disorder, co-host Michael Ratner spoke with Marjorie Cohn (president of the National Lawyers Guild) about the need to press Congress but also the need to do much more. Cohn agreed and noted that the advances of the Civil Rights era weren't a gift that a generous Congress just decided to offer, they resulted from demands, protests and activism. Mike will be addressing the broadcast later today at his site Mikey Likes It! (The four hosts of the program are Ratner, Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith.)
And finally, tomorrow on
KPFA (airwaves and online):

KPFA Special Broadcast: Robert Gates Confirmation Hearing
Tuesday, December 5th, 06:00am
Live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Robert Gates Secretary of Defense confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. With Larry Bensky, Aaron Glantz and our guest experts.

This will also be carried at the
Pacifica website. For more background on Gates see Consortium News and for Robert Parry's latest click here. Gates shouldn't be back-patted and glad-handed with his history. Danny Schechter the News Dissector notes: "Sadly, I saw John Kerry on CNN say he will vote for Gates because the country doesn't need a debate now on his appointment as the new Rummy Dummy. Huh?"

I wanted to zoom in on Mark Wilkerson. I think everyone's aware of how little media attention the war resisters have been receiving. If you haven't read his post, please do. In terms of the movement, the lack of coverage hurts. In terms of people?

Wilkerson's grandmother passing on that letter meant so much to him and appears to have not only let him find a family connection (at a time when they may not be as strong as usual, his family is a military family of many generations), it also validated his decision. When you make a difficult decision, you do have doubts very often. I would guess his doubts were increased by the fact that such a brave stand taken resulted in so little attention.

That's not to suggest, "Oh, he wanted attention, so he took a stand." It is to suggest that when you go out on a limb and there's so little attention (outside validation) and your life is in limbo as the military determines what they're going to do, you may wonder, "Well was it worth it?"

That letter meant more than any press interview could. At a time when he needed some indication that his choice was not just valid and worth it, but also something that was instilled in him (to stand tall), the letter demonstrates it was. His great-grandfather knew that a meaningless war wasn't worth sending people to die and the message resonates today.

That was my favorite part of the snapshot. I'm very happy for Mark Wilkerson. The letter is something concrete that he can refer to as he continues his stand and find support in.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.