Friday, December 22, 2006

John Lennon & Yoko Ono's "Happy XMAS (War Is Over)

Happy Holidays for those celebrating. I am and will be at Rebecca's all weekend. Mike is here as well -- and of course Flyboy.

"War Is Over If We Do More Than Want It To Be" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
So this is Christmas.
And that old John Lennon song keeps playing in my mind: "War is over, if you want it."
I've always puzzled over this song, though--especially that lyric.
War isn't over just by wanting it to be so.
A majority of Americans want it over now, but the war keeps going.

I am not going to tear Rothschild a new one. I will note that it's not "the old John Lennon song." The single is credited to John and Yoko and the song was written by John and Yoko. I do understand his point; however, I think there's a tendency to be far too literal. War really is over, if you want it.

That was true in Vietnam, it's true today. If the people want it to be over, it will be. He, Rothschild, is saying that it will take more than wishing (and hoping -- as the old song says). But the point of "Happy XMAS (War Is Over)" is that the power rests with the people. The song came out in 1971. That was the year of "Imagine" and "Power to the People" -- both of which speak to owning your power.

"War is over if you want it" is stating clearly that the power isn't with a president or with a Congress, it's with the people.

On the subject of John Lennon, Jon Wiener has posted the latest released FBI files on John Lennon. (Note, I typed "latest." I'm not sure this is all of them -- despite what the government says.) You can examine them yourself. (Some still have redactions.)

Back to Rothschild's question -- what the song is about -- if people want the war over, it will end. People in the US have turned against the war. Now they need to demand that the government ends it. Lennon and Ono weren't advocating just wishing (though wishing it important -- it allows us to conceive the future). We'll need rallies, marches and much more. But we already have the numbers to end the war -- if we're willing to exhibit the will to do so. By the way, my favorite cover version of the song is Carly Simon's from her Christmas Is Almost Here CD.

That's going to be it. Happy holidays.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; American military fatalities in Iraq hit
2964 -- 36 shy of the 3,000 mark and Condi Rice is pleased with that figure and want to see it go higher, HIGHER, HIGHER; a US war resister will be released from the military brig tomorrow; Carolyn Marshall demonstrates you don't have to serve in the US administration to be useless; and a remedial walk-through for confused visitors from yesterday.
Starting with news of US war resister
Ricky Clousing. Joe Miller (Jacksonville's The Daily News) reports that Clousing "will be released from the Camp Lejeune brig on Saturday." As Bob Geary (Raleigh-Durham Indpendent Weekly) reported yesterday, there is a rally scheduled in Fayetteville (North Carolina) "midday Saturday to be greeted by human rights supporters at the Raleigh Friends Meeting House, 625 Tower St. (the street behind the Cameron Village Post Office). His reception is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before he catches a flight from RDU back to his hometown of Seattle Wash." Once arriving in Seattle, as Courage to Resist notes, there will be a welcoming at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 10:15 p.m. Saturday night -- "Concourse B., Baggage Claim 11."
Clousing self-checked out of the US military in June 2005 and,
on August 11, 2006, announced he would be turning himself in. Following an attempt at turning himself in at Fort Lewis, Clousing was told to go to Fort Bragg. On October 12th, Ricky Clousing was court-martialed and has been in the brig since then. Like Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, and Agustin Aguayo, Clousin is a part of resistance within the military that includes Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on 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. Information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.
Resistance within the military was the story of 2006 but too few were interested in reporting it or, let's face it, in reporting at all. Chatting on some charges, don't call it reporting,
Carolyn Marshall (New York Times) continued to flaunt ignorance today, as well as what may very well be xenophobia, as she chirped away about 8 US marines charged in the November 2005 Haditha slaughter without ever noting a reaction on the part of Iraqis -- even a previously reported reaction. (Marshall does have a co-writer. Her past bylines indicate she grabs all the blame for the latest.)
On today's
Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez rebroadcast an interview they did with Time magazine's Aparisim Ghosh about the Haditha massacre explaning (pay attention, Carolyn Marshall), "The more we dug, the more we thought something didn't quite add up." How so? The Iraqis "were killed in their homes, in their night clothes. The night clothes were significant because . . . women and children especially, are unlikely to go out in their night clothes, it is a very conservative society." "The victims," yes, Carolyn Marshall, Aparism Ghosh spoke with victims and eyewitnesses, "told us that the Marines came in and they killed everyone in sight." One young girl told of how the Marines killed everyone in her home except for her and her young brother. Click here for the full report from May 30th's Democracy Now! and we'll note what Dahr Jamail said in that discussion: "And the other really aspect of that, I think is important to note on this, is the media coverage, again, surrounding what has happened around Haditha simply because Time magazine covered it, and thank heavens that they did, but this has gotten so much media coverage, and in comparison, so many of these types of incidents are happening every single week in Iraq. And I think that's astounding and important for people to remember, as well."
If Carolyn Marshall needs futher examples of what real reporters do, she might also
check out Majid Hameed (Reuters) who spoke with people in Haditha today. Khaled Salman declares, "Those soldiers killed 24 people. They killed women and children, isn't that enough for them to be excuted? Just so that the family can have peace." Her sister was killed in the slaughter. Hameed also notes a local judge, Talal Saed, who states, "They should be tried in Iraq and under the Iraqi law. . . . This is a show trial just to show that the Americans are doing something to be fair with Iraqis but it's nothing more than that."
Equally oblivious is the US Secretary of State. Yes, Condi Rice continues to flaunt her loose grip on reality. Her failure as US National Security Advisor (remember, 9-11 was on her watch) trails her as US Secretary of State.
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) reports that Condoleezza Rice "said Iraq was worth the cost in US lives and dollars". Today, the US military announced: "Three Marines and one Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Also today, the US military announced: "An attack against a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol killed a Soldier west of the Iraqi capital Dec. 22. The Soldiers came under sporadic small arms and indirect fire during a patrol. One Soldier was killed and another wounded." Five deaths and Condi says it's worth it. The total number of US troops killed in the Iraq war is 2965 and Condi says 'It's worth it.'
As for the financial costs, the
National Priorities Project has released their summary of the US federal government's budget for 2006 which notes ". . . the total cost of the Iraq War rose to nearly $380 billion. . . . Broken down another way, on average, the federal government spends about $11 million every hour on the Iraq War, $256 million each day, or around $8 billion per month."
Condi's statements about things going swimmingly come as the
BBC reports that at least seven Iraqi police officers were arrested by British troops in Basra due to suspicions of "corruption and leading a death squad in Basra."
While Condi proves she's useless in every position,
Bully Boy hopes and prays that Santa Clause will bring him a way out of the illegal war he started so that he can announce some new 'plan' in 2007. 75 US troops, who lost their lives this month so far, won't be able to wait for that news. It is the deadliest December for US troops since the start of the illegal war and December isn't over.
And in Iraq?
AP notes that two people died and four were wounded in a car bombing in Samarra while two police officers were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Reuters identifies the two dead in Samarra from the car bomb as Ahmed al-Yaseen and his wife (name not given) and the four wounded were their children while also noting that two police officers were killed in Samarra from a roadside bomb and, in Suwayra, a bombing left five people wounded. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that an explosion in Baghad "targeting police patrol in Al Saadon street, central Baghdad" left eight citizens wounded.
Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Hiba Abdullah was shot dead while in her car in Baquba and her two-year-old son Mohammed Ahmed was injured.
Reuters notes that the corpse of a "hospital employee" who was kidnapped Thursday was discovered today in Kut. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that 21 corpses were found in Baghdad, Baquba and Kut today.
NN reports that iman Emad al-Shimari was kidnapped "at a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers."
In peace news,
Veterans For Peace announces that they, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Working Assets were able to purchase 24,000 phone cards which "were distributed to 149 VA hospitals nationwide."
Also in peace news,
Guy Smallman (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports that England's House of Lords has determined, three years after, that the police response to a March 2003 demonstartion against the war was "illegal and the protesters' human rights were violated. Lord Bingham has described the police's actions as 'wholly disproportionate' and said that the right to protest is 'an essential foundation of a democratic society'."
In let's-walk-the-visitors-through-real-slowly news (for visitors lost
yesterday), the US government wants to sideline Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqis want foreign troops to stop occupying their country. This week US troops ceded control of Najaf to Iraqis. As the BBC reported yesterday, an attempted end run around al-Sadr took place yesterday when Shia leaders met with Ayatollah ali al-Sistani in Najaf. For visitors who got lost in the basic yesterday, note this from Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP): "In Najaf, Shiite delegates were meeting the country's top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to ask for his blessing for the new coalition. The deal would excluse al-Sadr, but participants sought to reassure him that it would not sideline his influence". Today, Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that following the meeting with al-Sistani, the same group of leaders will meet with al-Sadr and discuss with him the possibility of a one month truce/cease fire. Already one part of the plan has been enacted, al-Sadr's followers announced yesterday they would return to their cabinet and parliamentary functions. If it's still too hard to put together, the AFP reports: "US officials have made it clear that they favour a realignment in Iraq's unity government, which would exclude Sadr and his Shiite militia". Despite that desire and the Pentagon report blaming al-Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki refuses (thus far) to heed the US call. And, as AFP reports, "this week Iraqi politiicans trampled down to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to talk to Sadr's allies and encourage him back into the coalition." To review, in an attempt to win the favor of al-Sistani and his followers, US forces handed control of Najaf over to Iraqi forces. The US government's hope was that al-Sadr would then be shut out in the talks that took place on Thursday, that a new coalition would be formed which would sideline him. That, however, did not happen. Another bet Condi made that someone else will have to pay off. For visitors still confused, Sam Dagher (CNN) reports: "'President Bush is being misled,' senior Shiite parliament member Ali al-Adeeb said in response to Bush's statement Wednesday that an emerging 'moderate coalition' would marginalize those who 'use violence to achieve political objectives'."

ricky clousing

juan gonzalez

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nostalgic Bully Boy and Nostalgic mainstream media

To the left is Isaiah's "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Nostalgic Bully'." Bully Boy's not the only one apparently nostalgic for those 'fun' and fact-free days, read the snapshot.

Mike and I have plans tonight so that's it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the New York Times which continues to act as though
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke no news last week, now plays "I don't see Chatham House" which may make it difficult for them to explain why Britain's Foreign Secretary is fessin' up to her own 'blot'; a large crowd turns out in Honolulu to hear US war resister Ehren Watada; and Bully Boy, who wants to go long with the lives of others, lets slip a bit of truth (naturally, the Times plays dumb).
In England,
a [PDF format] report continues to spark debate. Chatham House issued the six-page report yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and Tony Blair rushed to deny the conclusions but mainly revealed that six pages are about five too many for him to read and comprehend. Along with the prime minister, also issuing denials was the country's Foreign Secretary who termed the report "utterly ridiculous."
"Utterly ridiculous" describes Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and
her performance on BBC Radio 4 yesterday where she attempted to rewrite history. After confessing that the (false) claim that Iraq could attack England with WMDs within 45 minutes, Beckett attempted to make light of it: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance". John Humphrys (host of the BBC program Today) begged to differ and noted that the Blair government never corrected the public record, never came out and stated, "Ooopsy! That was a big fat lie." Beckett snarled back, "Oh, come on -- nobody that it was revelant. Nobody thought it was a big sweeping statement."This is London adds the perspective Beckett attempts to strip from the public record -- Tony Blair made that claim in the 2002 while advocating war, it "was at the heart of the Downing Street dossier issued in September 2002 where Blair wrote: "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair went on to push the false assertion four times more in the dossier and once in a public speech to the House of Commons, and the lie was at the root of the 2003 inquiry into whether or not intel had been 'sexed up' -- as the BBC reported it had -- during which time Beckett and Blair continued to sit on the truth and David Kelly died. Now Beckett wants to say, "Oh, come on"?
BBC reports that the Tory party are calling it "appalling" and noting the false claim did not belong "in a government dossier". William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, states, "If it is true that the 45-minute claim had been discounted before the invasion, it is appalling that there seems to have been no effort or coordination between ministers to put the record straight. This is yet another reason to dismantle Tony Blair's sofa policy-making and restore Cabinet government." The BBC notes what the New York Times can't or won't, "The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that 'at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests'. He also claimed that there was no evidence of 'significant holdings' of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion. "
While the Chatham House report goes largely ignored by the US press,
Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) observes, "If it wasn't so serious it would be hilariously funny. 'Mr Tony', as he now apparently likes to be called, has been explaining his theory of leadership: 'The art of leadership is learning to take decisions.' So far, so good. And, he goes on, 'sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. Some of the decisions are very difficult and someone always gets angry.' Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. Look at the Baker-Hamilton commission in the United States, which gave a devastating critique of the policy, warned of the situation in Iraq deteriorating and of the threat of regional conflagration. Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."
Mr. Tony? Sounds like he's getting ready to do a rinse and set. Tareq al-Hashemi thinks another kind of washing has gone on. The
BBC reports that al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, spoke to the Council of Relations in NYC and, noting that Mr. Tony had been favorable to the ide of a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops, went on to conclude that possibly Mr. Tony had been "brainwashed" by the Bully Boy since he changed his mind on the subject: "It is quite unfortunate that your president made a sort of blackmail out of Mr Blair."
Brainwashed, blackmailed or strong armed, it's exactly the sort of cow-towing, lackey decision making that the Chatham Report noted and stated needed to stop.
In the United States, desperate for something, anything!, to fuel a new wave of Operation Happy Talk, the US government declares (and
CNN runs with) that they have captured yet another al Qaeda leader in Iraq! Six days ago is whispered in sotto voice. al Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the illegal war and, as the US Pentagon underscored yesterday, it's not the force the hyped up talk repeatedly makes it out to be (the Pentagon found militias to be the greater threat to national security in Iraq). But if the US administration pushes it hard enough, maybe the wave of Operation Happy Talk will drown out reality.
Or at least allow people not to note that the same Bully Boy who used Daddy's connections to avoid serving in Vietnam (not due to any opposition to the war, just cowardice of putting his own ass on the line) now tests the waters for sending more US troops to die in Iraq. Speaking to the press today, Bully Boy declared, "
They think they can. They think it's just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen." Once again, he demonstrates how he can sleep easy even after all the blood on his hands -- he just doesn't give a damn. Which allows him to lie with claims such as "I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now." As polls have repeatedly demonstrated, Americans and Iraqis favor, in strong majorities, US forces doing just that.
AP reports that John Abizaid ("commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East") has submitted his plans to retire. That's surprising only to those who missed Thom Shanker (New York Times) report today that Abizaid "argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security." That opinion is no longer in favor with the US administration (or War Hawks in the press like Gordo) so it's no surprise that Abizaid is stepping down.
Robert Gates, the newly installed US Secretary of Defense is all for more US troops being sent to Iraq.
CBS and AP report that Gates visited the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where he "discussed a possible infusion of more U.S. troops into Iraq with American commanders on Wednesday but said no decisions have been made. On just his third day in his post, Gates journeyed to Iraq armed with a mandate from President Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy." There are no new strategies, just desperation tactics. As Peter Baker (Washington Post) reported today, the Bully Boy has admitted that the US is "not winning" which, Baker observed, "was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections declared, 'Absolutely, we're winning'."
Though some Democrats in the Senate may scratch their heads and wonder what happened to Bobby Gates, the reality is that his lackey qualities were well known long before they confirmed him. As
Robert Parry (Consortium News) reports, the thinking was "that Gates was a closet dove who would help guide the United States out of George W. Bush's mess in Iraq. The thinking was that Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, would represent the views of James Baker and other 'realitists' from George H.W. Bush's administration. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his 'candor' when he acknowledged the obvious, that the war in Iraq wasn't being won. Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of 'victory' or 'success,' no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat." As Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) noted yesterday, there's one conclusion left out of Parry's report -- the statement "I was right." Parry was right and had Senate Dems been more interested in exploring the record and less in a hurry to get rid of Donald the Rumsfled (who was out the door regardless), as Rebecca pointed out, "we wouldn't have the new donald rumsfeld. that's all gates is. actually, he's rumsfeld without 4 years of baggage, 4 years of known lies. he's rumsfeld with a honeymoon period from the press that will probably extend all the way through 2008."
Instead of recognizing
the peace mandate of the November elections, as CBS and the AP report, the Pentagon is asking for an additional 99.7 billion for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) which "would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion."
More money and more lives down the drain in an illegal war of choice. In Iraq today . . .
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes two dead and three wounded in Baiji from a roadside bomb. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports "a massive sucide car bomb" this morning in Baghdad "near the entrance to Baghdad University" which claimed eleven lives (plus the driver of the car) "including six Iraqi police" and left "at least two dozen" injured. Reuters also notes three other car bombs in Baghdad: four dead and eight wounded from one "in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office," two wounded from one in the Bayaa disctrict and two wounded from one in the Camp Sara district.
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (LA Times) reports that three people were shot dead and at least seven more wounded at the Bab Al Muadhem bus terminal in Baghdad, that Mahmoud Mohammed Rahseed was shot dead in the Baghdad neighborhood "where he taught middle school," that Ali Arnoosi ("deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad") and law professor Mohammed Hamdani were also shot dead in Baghdad continuing the targeting of educators in Iraq. This comes at a time when, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has made attendence mandatory for both professors and students and failure to comply will lead to "dismissal or expulsion" so "the professors have begun hiding their education by donning ratty clothes, pulling on traditional Arab head scarves and driving to campus in beat-up cars." Like the Bully Boy, the puppet's not concerned with safety just with the appearances. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed." and "A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today."
Reuters notes that eleven corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Mahmudiya while 76 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Repeating, 76.
In addition, the
US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed."
Turning to peace news, in June of this year,
Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, in Honolulu, he spoke out again. Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?"
Watada faces a pre-trial hearing in January and then a court-martial in February. Though the US Congress seems unable or unwilling to excercise their oversight and have largely rebuffed his mother, Carolyn Ho, and her efforts, the reality is that he is one person in a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, 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 while currently there are thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.
Information on 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.

iraqehren watadathe washington postpeter bakerthe new york timesmichael r. gordonthom shankarrobert parry

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Alexander Cockburn, Jon Wiener, John Lennon, Matt Damon, Eartha Kitt

C.I.'s addressing a number of things in today's snapshot but the surprise to me was the report from the think tank Chatham House. I've heard nothing about that, and visiting various websites, I'm not seeing anything on it. The links are in the snapshot (the report is in PDF format) and it is such a strong rebuke to the Tony Blair government that it will be interesting to see how our daily papers work overtime to ignore it.

C.I. also notes Alexander Cockburn and he's one of my favorites so let me include a larger sample of his latest column.

"Harry Reid: More Troops to Iraq! Democrats Prepare to Fund Longer War" (Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch):
This last Sunday Harry Reid, the incoming Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, went on ABC's Sunday morning show and declared that a hike in U.S. troops in Iraq is okay with him.
Here's the evolution of the Democrats' war platform since November 7, 2006, the day the voters presented a clear mandate: "End the war! Get out of Iraq!" and took the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives away from the Republicans.
So somewhat to their surprise the Democrats recaptured both the Senate and the House. Then they went to work--to obliterate the mandate. The first thing they did was reject Jack Murtha, the man who said "Quit Now" in 2005. They voted down Murtha as House majority leader and picked the pro-war Steny Hoyer.
Then Nancy Pelosi, chose Silvestre Reyes as House Intelligence Committee chairman. Reyes promptly told Newsweek, "We're not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies. We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize IraqI would say 20,000 to 30,000-for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military."
Reyes comes to his important post with an open mind, meaning an empty one. He knows nothing of the region. This became clear in his brief parley with a reporter from Congressional Quarterly who had the impudence to ply him with questions at the end of a tiring day when men of mature judgment head for the bar. CQ's man asked Reyes if Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite.
Reyes tossed a mental coin. "Predominantly-probably Shiite." Wrong, of course, since Al Qaeda is Sunni, of a notoriously intolerant strain. It's as if Reyes had called the Pope a Presbyterian.
Then the pesky newshound probed him on the matter of Hezbollah. "Hizbollah. Uh, Hizbollah" Reyes answered irritably. "Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o'clock?"
Back in 2003 Reyes, a Vietnam vet, was opposed to the war. Give him clout as Intelligence Committee chair and he starts citing John McCain approvingly, even upping the mad Arizonan's troop-boost call by 10,000.
Next, the Democrats in the Senate gave unanimous confirmation to Robert Gates as defense secretary. Gates has a career record as one who slants intelligence to suit his bosses' political agenda. Recently, as president of Texas A&M, he deep-sixed affirmation action as college policy. The Democrats in the Senate could have stretched out the hearings, grilled Gates closely on his plans, taxed him with his grimy past as Bill Casey's second-in-command in the Contra-gate Era. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh said flatly
in his memoirs that Gates was not truthful in his 1991 confirmation hearings about his role.
Next, House Democrats welcomed the Iraq Study Group report of James Baker and Jim Hamilton by promptly reaffirming the Palestinian Terror Bill 2006", written by AIPAC.
Then, on December 17 the Democrats' Senate leader, Harry Reid, said it was okay with him to send more troops to Iraq. This was the same Sunday morning that Colin Powell, appearing on CBS, said a troop increase "cannot be sustained" and that the thousands of additional U.S. soldiers sent into Baghdad since the summer had been unable to stabilize the city and more probably could not tip the balance, Powell said.
Yesterday, it was instructive to go to the Democratic websites in the wake of Reid's statement. Nothing on Daily Kos, nothing on Truthout, nothing on any of them. They had many words about Republican warmongering, about McCain's call for more troops. About Reid, one of the top Democratic leaders, about the evolving Democratic posture--nothing.

That last paragraph doesn't surprise me. Very few seem willing to hold the Democrats accountable. If they're not willing to hold them accountable now, when will they be ready? They need their feet to the fire right now (even then, they'll do very little). Instead, they get a pass and everyone acts like Harry Reid didn't just shame himself. I don't like Harry Reid, I've never liked him. He was supposed to be the 'fighter' yet for two years we've seen no fight. He's a joke put into leadership precisely because he'll never fight for any left values. What he is, as Isaiah pointed out, is "Super Bendy."

I'd also recommend "Harry Reid: Determined to lead us to the promissory note land?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) which charts the sort of 'leadership' Harry Reid provides.

If you read this site or even just visit from time to time, you're probably aware that I'm a huge John Lennon fan. Kat e-mailed a column by Jon Wiener to me and I want to post an excerpt here.

"He Didn't Have to Do It. That's One Reason He's Still Admired" (Jon Wiener, Guardian of London via Common Dreams):
The striking fact is that Lennon could have avoided all of this. He didn't have to campaign against Nixon. It didn't sell records or help his career. But Lennon wanted to use his power as a superstar to do something worthwhile. And the great issue of the day was the unjust and disastrous war in Vietnam.
In some ways Lennon was naive. When he moved to New York, he thought he was coming to the land of the free. He had little idea of the power of the state to come down on those it regarded as enemies. His claim that the FBI had him under surveillance was rejected as the fantasy of an egomaniac, but 300 pages of FBI files, released under freedom of information after his murder, show he was right. The FBI is still withholding 10 documents - which we hope will finally be released today - on the grounds that they contain "national security information provided by a foreign government": almost certainly MI5 documents on Lennon's radical days in London.
Lennon never apologised to the president. He fought back in court to overturn the deportation order. But in the year after Nixon's re-election, Lennon's personal life fell apart and his music deteriorated. In the end, Nixon resigned in disgrace after Watergate, and Lennon stayed in the US.
For 30 years the idea of a tour combining rock music and voter registration languished - until 2004, when a group of activist musicians organised an election-year concert tour of battleground states with a strategy very much like Lennon's. Headlining the Vote for Change tour were the Dixie Chicks.
For young people in 1972, it was thrilling to see Lennon's courage in standing up to Nixon. That willingness to take risks with his career, and his life, is one reason why people still admire him today.

Imagine what the world would be like today if more people were willing to put it out there instead of hiding. Matt Damon's speaking out against the war. I'm not providing a link because the article I know best is one that C.I. was discussing and I agree with C.I.'s opinion, Editor & Publisher should report what Damon said and not fret over 'fallout' that only they see. (Damon didn't complete a sentence and E&P couldn't shut up about how it was going to lead to a John Kerry moment.) Good for Matt Damon. I was disappointed recently when I read an article on Eartha Kitt. Kitt was semi-blacklisted during Vietnam after she told the truth about the war to Lady Bird Johnson. Reflecting on that in her twilight years, Kitt reinvented it as something much milder (bad enough) and then (worse) went on to gripe about "all" the celebrities speaking out against the war. All?

Who's come forward, other than Damon, that wasn't speaking out before the illegal war started? Where's that long list? There's Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Janeane Garofalo, Jane Fonda, and they all spoke out against the war before it started.

I think E&P was courting controversy with their foolish comments. Matt Damon's not going to be hurt by his statements and that's true of most people who speak out. It's even more true today when the American people are against the war.

It's even worse when some people, such as Kitt, try to reinvent themselves. The truth is, Kitt doesn't have many years left and there are not endorsements or major leading roles in films in her future. So for her to attempt to recast what happened at the Johnson White House was both sad and pathetic. It was a moment of bravery and one that many of us have long applauded but she wants, today, to turn it into something so unimportant that she destroys her own legacy.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; an international policy think tank in London delivers a devestating evaluation on the failures of Tony Blair's leadership;
Ehren Watada's mother speaks out on WBAI's Law and Disorder to raise awareness of her son and his upcoming court-martial scheduled to begin in February; bank robbers in Baghdad make off with the equivalen of nearly a million dollars; and Harry Reid and his favored 'surge' are rightly called out.
Starting in England where Tony Blair is coming under renewed criticism.
Chatham House is a London based think tank that was created in 1920 which has just released a [PDF format] report grading the British prime minister's performance. Sophie Walker (Reuters) reports that Britian's Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has termed the report "ridiculously wrong." Which indicates how correct it is. Victor Bulmer-Thomas ("OBE . . . Director at Chatham House since April 2001") is the author of the report.
Tracing the emergence of Blair as Poodle to Bully Boy,
the report examines the post 9-11 period and notes that the prisoners held in the gulag of Guantanamo Bay "barely raised an eyebrow in British government circles" nor did Bully Boy's State of the Union address (January 2002) prompt a reaction from Blair despite Bully Boy labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of the so-called 'axis of evil' when "the United Kingdom had diplomatic relations with the last two and there was no link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the atrocities of 9/11."
report notes that "by mid-2002 Tony Blair had concluded that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq and that Britain needed to be a partner in this excercise. The British role was therefore to provide diplomatic cover and to enrol allies in Europe and elsewhere as far as possible. This was without a shadow of doubt the defining moment of Blair's foreign policy -- indeed the defining moment of his whole premiership. It will shape his legacy -- for better or for worse -- for many years to come."
report further notes: "The problem Blair faced was not how to maintain European unity in the face of a threatened US pre-emptive war. . . . . Instead, the problem was how to obtain United Nations approval for a war of choice when NATO intervention was ruled out by French and German opposition. A case for human intervention could have been made, but that was unlikely to command support in the UN Security Council and could have provked a Russian or even Chinese veto. Instead, in close cooperation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the decision was made to emphasize the need to eliminate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
report offers that, "in hindsight," the illegal war "was a terrible mistake" and that "the jury is still out" whether or not that call could have been made in real time because that depends upon how much Tony Blair "knew the claims about WMD were overblown or even fabricated." But diplomatic means were ignored ("Hans Blix was calling for more time for the UN weapons inspectors") and there was no threat to England ("even if Saddam Hussein had WMD, they were not directed at the United Kingdom"). Reviewing other areas, the Middle East in general and Afghanistan, Chatam House's report concludes that there has been no 'reward' to England for Blair's decision to throw his lot in with the Bully Boy: "The root failure, however, has been the inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice -- military, political and financial - the the United Kingdom has made. . . . Tony Blair has learnt the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for very little."
BBC reports that Tony Blair has rejected the conclusions of the report; however, his comments demonstrate that he's not read it (it's only six pages) -- Blair says that the US needs to be a partner and the report doesn't question that. The report does note the importance of the European Union, the need to respect allies and the fact that Iraq ("disaster") resulted, for the British, from a failure to question (publicly) baseless claims and that working with the US did not require (and the report concludes will not in the future) "unconditional support for US initiatives." Blair, who will be out of office shortly, makes some self-serving claims about the Middle East and the report's already addressed that.
The report's release comes four days after
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke the news on the recently disclosed 2004 testimony of Carne Ross to the Butler Inquiry which stated that Hussein being "effectively contained" was a common view "among British officials" all the way up to the illegal war and that an invasion would result in "chaos" for Iraq (". . . Iraq would collapse into chaos") and that there was no threat "of CW [chemical warfare], BW [biological warfare] or nuclear material". All was known and all was ignored by Tony Blair who wanted the same illegal war of choice that the Bully Boy did.
Colin Brown and Andy McSmith published their report of the revelations on December 15th. To date, the New York Times has refused to cover or note them -- even at their website by posting either the AP or Reuters article. The blackout on the news is so huge that even in Sabrina Tavernise's lengthy open mouthed kiss to Tony Blair (ran in Monday's paper) there was no time to note Carne Ross' previously classified testimony.
Tavernise 'report' only grows more laughable today as
BBC News' Andrew North weighs in on the photo-op and notes that both Blair and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki "looked like they were on auto-pilot, saying much of the same things they've said before."
North observes: "But as on previous trips, Mr Blair did not really visit Baghdad. He stopped off for three hours on another planet called the Green Zone, the the sprawling fortress housing the US and British embassies and most Iraqi government ministries. Even in this maze of razor wire and concrete-walled compounds, it is not totally safe. Mortars often rain down. Mr Maliki's residence is ringed by 20ft-high blast barriers and gun towers. Mr Blair arrived with an impressive army of gun-toting bodyguards in armoured vehicles bristling with high-tech electronic equipment. But life in the Green Zone bears no relation to the unpredictable chaos of Baghdad beyond - the Red Zone as it is known by Green Zone residents."
Tavernise's problematic 'report' utilized White House talking points ("the way forward in Iraq") as though they were her own, failed to note Sunday's mass kidnapping utilized 'security vehicles' that were also used by Iraq's security forces, and somehow failed to report that on Sunday (the day she was 'reporting' on), the US military had announced the death of three US soldiers. But didn't she manage to quote Tony Blair. Good stenography. Lousy reporting.
In the United States, the Pentagon releases its congressionally mandated accounting.
CNN reports the Pentagon's summary concludes that militas are a greater threat in Iraq than is the mythical al Qaeda. Interviewed yesterday by Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints, journalist Robert Fisk made sport of the inflated claims of an al Qaeda led resistance within Iraq. [Rebecca discusses the appearance here.] However, for the Pentagon, this is a belated but huge step in truth telling. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that the Pentagon announced "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and that this occurs "despite increased troop levels -- including a higher-than-anticipated U.S. force level of 140,000 troops".
The troop increase resulted from the so-called 'crackdown' on Baghdad that began in June and never ended -- nor did it ever suceed in lowering the violence -- a fact proven by the Pentagon's own report. However, despite this reality,
US Senator Harry Reid, who is expected to become the Senate Majority Leader next month, has given his okay for a 'surge' in troop level with the laughable qualifier that it was only "two or three months." Those qualifiers fly out the window very quickly -- the raised level of troops for the 'crackdown' were also supposed to be short-term.
Military Families Speak Out had issued their [PDF format] statement noting that they represent "over 3,100 military families" and they "have grave concerns" over Reid's statement. The organization "is calling on Congress to stop focusing on what others may or may not do, and take action itself to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The U.S. Congress has the power of the purse, and can cut off funding for the war. MSFO understands that there is enough money currently appropriated in the Defense Department's budget to bring all U.S. troops home quickly and safely -- funding the equipment, armor, supplies, food and other items they will need during their exit."
The alternative will likely be the Iraq-ization of Iraq that will follow the same patterns of the Vietnamization of Vietnam as
outlined by John Graham (Common Dreams). But the US Congress shows little desire to utilize their power of the purse and deny funding for the illegal war. [The White House budget director, Rob Portman, announced today that the finanical costs on the part of the US for the illegal war will be greater than $110 billion.]
CODEPINK and Gold Star Families for Peace are among the groups calling for actions in DC next month, January 27th through 29th, to demand the new Congress live up to the peace mandate they were voted in on.
Among the violence today in Iraq was an armed heist.
CNN reports that approximately 20 men, utilizing four vehicles, made off with the US equivalent of nearly one million dollars while some "were dressed in camouflage uniforms similar to Iraqi Security Forces' uniforms". Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that they "drove up to the Zuwiyah Bank i Baghdad's Karradah neighborhood and fired automatic weapons in the air, then handcuffed guards and robbed accountants" (he also notes that 26 of the people abducted in the mass kidnapping at the Iraqi Red Crescent's Baghdad offices on Sunday have been released -- 16 are still unknown and the total number of those kidnapped Sunday is 42.)
Reuters report that a roadside bomb in Kirkuk left seven police officers wounded while, in Baghdad, a car bomb took one life and left three wounded. CBS and AP report at bombing "at a medical facility flying a Red Crescent flag" in Baghdad. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack "west of baqouba" that killed 3 children and left eight more injured. Christopher Torchia (AP) notes two dead in Baghdad and seven wounded from a mortar attack while two died from a roadside bomb.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that 2 police officers were shot dead in Baquba. Christopher Torchia (AP) notes that a college sudent was shot dead in Mosul.
Reuters reports that four corpses were discovered in Mosul, 12 corpses were discovered in Baquba. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that 53 corpses were discovered in Baghdad (and offers a very thorough breakdown of who was found where within the capital), that Mitashar al Sudami's corpse was also discovered after the actor was "kidnapped yesterday" and that eight corpses were discovered in al Tahreer.
As the violence and chaos continues, 'normal' is a dream.
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examine the issue of children attending school in a war zone and find that "attendance rates for the new school year, which started Sep. 20, are at an all-time low" -- while approximately 75% of Iraqi children were attending schools in 2005, the figure has now dropped to 30 percent. Along with falling attendance is falling literacy rates (and Iraq had one of the highest rates of literacy in the Middle East prior to the illegal war). Jamail and al-Fadhily note Um Suthir who explains that her children are in danger just traveling to school and another Iraqi who explains, "We are now living in a factory building, and there is no school near our shelter. I've had to ask for my oldest boy to help cover expenses by working as a cleaner at a mechanic's shop nearby."
No 'justice,' no 'liberation,' no safety and even the area Iraqi's long taken pride in (their high levels of literacy) are now falling as the illegal war drags on. In peace news, Carolyn Ho, mother of
Ehren Watada, was interviewed by Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith, and Michael Ratner on WBAI's Law and Disorder Monday. Ehren Watada is the first US officer to refuse publicly to deploy to Iraq. Ho spoke of being "stunned" on January 1, 2006, when her son told her of his decision. Dalia Hashad asked, "You were upset with your son because he didn't want to go to war?" Ho replied, "Well, you know, all I could think of was I just did not want him to be vilified in the press. All I could see was this was my son trying to face the military-industrial complex. It was just totally overwhelming and I just was not prepared for it. It was days that I had to think through this. It was just feelings of grief, of anger that he was doing this to himself."
Ho has spoken with member of Congress and hasn't been overwhelmed by their response. She noted, "I feel that my son's case is not seperate and apart from the legislative branch." And though Congress and the military wishes to act as though it's as cut and dry as her son just refusing an order, Ho feels "this government is going to have to face reality."
Ehren Watada knows the war is illegal and the resaon for the refusal to deploy is not a secondary issue but the primary one in his case -- whether the military or the US Congress wants to admit it. Michael Ratner revealed that Eric Seitz' attorney has spoken with him about the prospect of Ratner testifying at Watada's February court-martial.
Dalia Hashad raised the issue of Watada's role in "the larger anti-war movement" and Ho offered, "I think that he holds the banner as do all the other refusenics. I think that people sometimes say that he is a part of it and not the other way around but I think it needs to be perceived in the broader context and that with his victory, I believe truly that it will be a victory for the people and for the movement because the movement progresses with each case and each victory is something that brings us further along the line. I think that he does not operate in a vacuum, that he has been inspired by others that went before him and he will be an inspiration for other to follow."
Watada is a part of a resistance movement within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, 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. Information on 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.
Ehren Watada spoke with Robert Shikina (Honolulu Star -Bulletin whose Gregg Kakesako is among the reporters subpeoned by the prosecution to testify in the February court-martial).
"It'll all be over pretty soon. In one way or another, it'll all be over,"
Watada told Shikina. "Now at least I know I have a date and it's set. And I know after that point, one way or another, it's going to end." Though the court-martial is due to begin in February, pre-trial motions start January 4th. Watada and Ann Wright (retired US army colonel, retired US State Department official) will speak at 7:00 p.. tonight at the Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Ave, in Honolulu.
Meanwhile, in England, new developments emerge in the inquiry into the 2003 death of a British soldier. Steve Roberts died March 24, 2003 in Iraq.
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports that at an inquest into Roberts' death (classified under the euphimism "friendly fire"), Osfordshire's assistant deputy coroner, Andrew Walker, testified, "To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgiveable and inexcuseable and represents a breach of trust that the soldiers have in those in government." Last week, as reported by Yorkshire Post Today, the inquest heard a tape recording that Steve Roberts had intended to be a letter to his wife, Samantha Roberts, where he noted, "Kit we're being told we are going to get, we're not. It's disheartening because we know we're going to have to go to war without the correct equipment." Samantha Roberts' reaction to the latest development in her husband's inquest, "The coroner found failing in training and command in the run-up to and after the shooting, but the single most important factor was the lack of enhanced body armour. If Steve had had that he would be with us today."
Returning to the issue of the US Congress funding the war,
Cindy Sheehan (writing at BuzzFlash) wonders where Democratic Congress members such as Sherrod Brown believe that the monies for the domestic programs they're advocating will come from if the illegal war continues to be funded? Noting that, the Harry Reid's 'surge' and more, Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch) analyzes the work of the New York Times war pornographer Michael Gordon: "Indeed no reporter has played a more assiduous role in fostering this 'surge' option than Gordon, a man who somehow skipped free of the misreporting charges that finally caught up with his former colleague Judith miller, even though he shared a byline with Miller in the very worst report, the claim that aluminum tubes were hard evidence of Saddam's WMD program. In the past months, in the Times and on CNN Gordon has been laying down a propaganda barrage against speedy withdrawal and for a hike in US troop numbers in Iraq. When [John] Murtha ran for the House majority leadership position, the New York Times front-paged two stories by Gordon attacking Murtha's advocacy of rapid withdrawal, and promoting a troop increase."

iraqehren watada

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bully Boy, Isaiah, Iraq, Ron Jacobs, etc.

First off, thank you to Isaiah. I loved Sunday's The World Today Just Nuts, "Bully Boy O'Hara."
It sends up Bully Boy's announcement that he will wait until next year to announce what he 'plans' to do in Iraq. The film is Gone With The Wind. Dick Cheney grabs Bully Boy's dress and is saying, "But the James Baker Circle Jerk . . ." and Bully Boy replies, "Fiddle-dee, Dick. I'll worry about Iraq next year."

I do love Isaiah's movie comics. He actually was supposed to take Sunday off because he was helping Francisco, Miguel and Maria out with their newsletter (and didn't they do an amazing job?). He e-mailed me to say he was sending the physical version of the comic to me (thank you, so much!) and I e-mailed back to hear why he ended up doing a comic after all? He was reading The Third Estate Sunday Review Sunday afternoon and saw something he thought he could play with (I can't find it) and thought about how it really needed to go up today. Then he was weighing whether or not he could wait on it and finally said "Screw it" and drew it ("quickly") and e-mailed it to C.I.

I know he (and Maria, Francisco and Miguel) worked very hard Sunday on the newsletter so I'm sure he was exhausted. I loved the comic.

Staying with art for a second, "Kat's Korner: David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Masscre" went up Saturday. As always, Kat has found a way to write about music that makes you care. I do have this CD and I do enjoy it but I wouldn't have known how to write about it. I think she found the perfect way (which doesn't surprise me one bit). Please check out the review and please check out Rovics' CD.

To note two other things, Trina's "Oven Roasted Chicken in the Kitchen." I always enjoy her recipes and her commentary. A few weeks back she wrote about me (and others) and I couldn't link to it because I didn't know if it was a topic I could talk about. Nina was mentioned in it and she's a nice person so I would hate to ever say something that would upset her.

The second thing was Betty's "Did you hear the one about a Fat Ass who'd do anything for a Blizzard?" which is funny and accurate -- Betty did a lot of work to point out what Thomas Friedman 'overlooked.'

"More Troops, More Body Bags" (Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch)
Talk about stepping into the abyss. George Bush and his Pentagon allies are considering increasing the number of troops in Iraq by 40,000. The idea is supported by some members of Congress, with John McCain being the first member to express his support publicly. Democratic leader Harry Reid chimed in over the weekend, saying that he would support an increase just as long as it was only for "a few moths." This is despite the fact that over 60% of US residents want the troops out of there sooner rather than later. Reid's position also conveniently ignores the fact that once roops are in country, it becomes a lot harder for politicians and generals to pull them out. The current situation makes that all too clear. The White House position not only represents another blow to the idea that the people of the US run the country, it is a blatant kick in the voters' face. Yet, as long as Congress continues to give the White House and Pentagon whatever monies they want to fight the war, any other legislative actions mean less than zero. In a reversal of Bush's domestic initiatives like the No Child Left Behind act--an act which demanded individual states to follow certain mandates from the federal government without providing any funding, Congress provides unlimited funding of the war effort without asking for any guidelines, much less requiring any show of success.
It's not like this is unusual. Certain funding requests rarely get a careful examination in Congress. Two of the most obvious ones both concern the Middle East. One is the constant funding that Tel Aviv gets no matter what they do or how they do it. The other is the budgeting that concerns those countries that contain big oil's profit source. Sometimes the money for the latter is to prop up a regime friendly to Washington's interests and sometimes it's used to destroy a regime with different ideas. In Iraq, the former is taken to its historical extreme. In other words, a regime that appears to be barely holding on to its power is being supported with unabashed US military power--to the tune of approximately 180 million dollars per day. This is only the financial cost, of course. Human costs are immeasurable, but here are some raw numbers regarding them: over the course of the war, US troops have died on the average of more than two per day; somewhere around a half million Iraqis have died (probably more rather than less), over 20,000 US troops have been wounded, along with unknown numbers of Iraqis.
Despite these statistics, the war continues. In fact, as noted above, it may very well escalate. The Democrats squeak a lot about their frustration with the war and say they will do things differently, yet very few have made any genuine indication that they will refuse to fund the war. Instead, a good number have signed on to the suggestions of the essentially irrelevant Iraq Study Group, whose report suggested a continuation of the war by renaming the mission of the troops on the ground and eventually withdrawing the combat troops--a move that a Washington Post report said would leave 75% of the troops in country. In addition, not a single Democratic Senator voted against the appointment of CIA man and war apologist Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like more business as usual. The Democratic Congress' first test will come soon after they are seated. it will come in the shape of a $100 billion request for continuing the Iraq war. Other than a few noises from the left wing of the party--mostly from Congressman Kucinich of Ohio--there has been no indication that this request will not be granted. Indeed, a cursory reading of newspaper reports regarding the request leads me to believe that the only problem the Democrats have with the administration's war funding request is the manner in which he requests them. Instead of the emergency requests Messrs. Bush and Cheney tend to prefer, the Democrats want the war funding requests to be included in the annual budget.

Where is the anger or is everyone still deluding themselves that, right after they are sworn in, the Democrats are suddenly going to start speaking out? Please, all this pre-honeymoon period has been was their lowering everyone's expectations. That's why they keep saying it's Bully Boy's problem. No, it's the nation's problem and, as the legislative branch, it's Congress' job to fix it.

And if the Democrats don't or (more likely) won't, don't expect votes because people don't vote for known losers. They vote for candidates they think can make changes.

Troops home now.

You can't do that? Then what good are you. If you don't have the guts to cut off the funding of the illegal war, what good are you?

"Oh, we can't do that!"

Yes, you can.

Cut the funds and Bully Boy has to bring the troops home. This nonsense of, "He might keep them there and if they don't have funds they could be hurt . . ." They are hurt now. Iraqis are hurt now. If Congress cuts off funding and Bully Boy tries to keep them over there, he's responsible, no one else.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Monday, December 18, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq,
a mass kidnapping Sunday targeted the Baghdad offices of the Iraqi Red Crescent, KPFA listeners learn on air that the US military is very interested in the station's programming, the US military announces the deaths of three troops in Iraq, and Howard Zinn notes the realities of this illegal war, "They're not fighting for their country. They're not doing their families any good. They're certainly not doing the people over there any good. But they're doing it for their government, they're doing it for Bush. That would be more accurate to say, 'I'm going off to fight for George Bush'."
KPFA's The Morning Show today, guests included attorney Dan Siegel and Gary Hill (Ethics Chair of the Society of Professional Journalists) who discussed the targeting of journalists by prosecutors who are unable to do their own work -- specifically as it related to Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson. Hill reminded that journalists are supposed to act independently and that "is hard to do" when you're supposed to be a witness for the prosecution. Jamail, Olson and Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) are being asked to provide some form of testimony in the court-martial of Ehren Watada. The supposed reason is to provide confirmation that what they wrote is true. Kakesako and Olson have been subpoenaed. Jamail has yet to be. As Philip Maldari (co-host with Andrea Lewis) pointed out, Jamail posted a transcript of Watada's speech in Seattle to Veterans for Peace at Truthout and the same page provides the option of watching the entire speech on video. (Those who prefer audio or do not have video capabilities can refer to KPFA's Flashpoints Friday, September 15th broadcast that includes portions of the speech.) So the US military has trouble determining video it sees with its own eyes? (That might explain the failure of those in commanding roles not to grasp that the war is lost.)
It's interesting request by the US military because
in Watada's August 17th Article 32 hearing, they were able to just play clips from the speech. With regards to Watada, Hill noted that journalists were being sought because the military wants to prosecute Watada for what he said "and I find that very troubling in the United States." [Those charges fall under contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.] Siegel noted that if Watada's going to be prosecuted for his speech, Bully Boy should be prosecuted for his lies that led to war.
Olson was scheduled to appear (I believe Jamail was as well but missed any comment on that) but was advised by her attorney not to while the legal strategy is still being worked out. Last week,
Olson told Aaron Glantz (IPS), "This morning at 8:45 someone came to my house and delivered a subpoena. It's absolutely outrageous. It's a journalist's job to report the news. It is not a journalist's job to testify against their own sources." Olson's interview with Watada originally appeared at Truthout and was run by Left Turn -- Left Turn is the only left magazine to print an article about Watada (or for that matter -- any of the war resisters who began coming forward last summer). Possibly they're so shocked by Olson's interview (conducted in May) because Watada was (rightly) calling Iraq a civil war even then?
In one of the more surprising moments during the discussion, Siegel revealed that
also being asked to supply information. Specifically, the US military has requested a program provide them with a "transcript" of their broadcast. The program, unidentified on air, is most likely
KPFA's Flashpoints where hosts Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman have regularly interviewed war resisters such as Carl Webb, Mark Wilkerson, Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck (the only outlet to avoid performing The Full Brobeck in fact Barrows-Friedman interviewed Brobeck on the November 6th broadcast -- the only interview he gave before turning himself in the next day). Flashpoints airs Monday through Fridays at 5:00 pm PST. Flashpoints began broadcasting in 1991 offering coverage of the Gulf War. Siegel stated that the program had said "no."
KPFA is the nation's oldest public radio station and was started long before NPR. Lewis Hill founded KPFA Pacifica Radio and the station began broadcasting in 1949 (94.1 FM in most of California, originating out of Berkeley and also carried on KPFB and KCFC). KPFA was the first Pacifica Radio station and Pacifica Radio is also the first public radio network in the United States. KPFK would follow in 1959 (Los Angeles), then WBAI (New York) in 1960, KPFT (Houston, TX) in 1970 and WPFW in 1977. In addition there are affiliates throughout the United States. (Click here for the history of the network.) While it's good when anyone listens, even the most casual listener should be aware that all programs are archived and a copy of most broadcasts can be purchased. All of the Pacifica stations are listener supported.
Support Baghdad is currently doing without is the Iraqi Red Crescent. Following Sunday's mass kidnapping at their offices in Baghdad, the
BBC reports that the IRC is suspending operation "till further notice." The International Committee of the Red Cross puts the number of people abducted Sunday at thirty and notes that "The Iraqi Red Crescent officers are clearly identified by the red crescent emblem." The BBC notes that the IRC is Iraq's "biggest humanitarian organisation". CNN reports that six of the thirty abducted were released on Sunday and that the mass kidnapping involved 20 vehicles and men "dressed in camoflage Iraqi commando uniforms". CBS and AP note that the IRC "has around 1,000 staff and some 200,000 volunteers in Iraq." AFP notes that the main office in Baghdad was closed as well as "another 40 subsidiary offices in Baghdad, affecting more than 600 staff, a large portion of them security guards" and notes that. of the 30 kidnapped, 17 have now been released. Al Jazeera quotes ICRC spokesperson Nada Doumani, "All offices in Baghdad have closed, but this will not affect the work in the other 17 provinces."
The kidnapping took a backseat
in some press outlets to Tony Blair's show visit in the Green Zone Sunday -- despite the fact that Britain's prime minister repeated the same song and dance he's been performing for months. The Guardian of London observes: "It speaks volumes about the dire state of the Middle East that a foreign head of government visiting Iraq dare not stray beyond the heavily fortified 'green zone' in central Baghdad and that the entire Gaza Strip - the centre of the region's latest escalating crisis - is now strictly out of bounds on security grounds. Tony Blair's pledge that British troops will stay in Iraq 'until the job is done' had an unreal air as he stood by Nuri al-Maliki yesterday with the disastrous mayhem of daily life -- mass kidnappings, bombings and shootings - continued unabated".
And today?
In Baghdad,
Al Jazeera notes "a car bomb at the entrance of a wholesale vegetable market killed five people and wounded 19". Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that was one of two bombings targeting vegetable markets (the other, seven hours earlier, resulted in seven being injured and a mortar attack in Shah Ali killed one person and wounded twelve more including seven women ("The people were from families displaced from baqouba city").
Reuters notes the following: three police officers wounded by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, a car bomb "planted in a car carrying Electricity Ministry officials killed the driver and wounded two in easter Baghdad", one dead in Hawija from a roadside bomb and another wounded,
Reuters notes an attack onthe "female staff at the Ministry of Education" in Baghdad in which one woman was shot dead and two others wounded; a police officer shot dead in Kirkuk; and that Khaireddine al-Dabagh was shot dead in Mosul where he served on the city council. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the Baghdad shooting death of Colonel Adil Abdullah Kadhum.
AFP reports that 44 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the number of corpses discovered in the capital grew to 49 while a corpses was discovered in Samara, two in Mosul and nine in Baquba.
the US military announced: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Dec. 15 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Earlier on Monday they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Dec. 16 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Later today, the US military announced: "Baghdad Soldier was killed and another injured when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a route clearance mission north of the Iraqi capital Dec. 18. The incident is still under investigation. In the month of December, Soldiers in the same area north of the Iraqi capital have found eight roadside bombs and a weapons cache disabling the terrorists ability to disrupt operations by Iraqi Army and coalition forces and wound or kill innocent Iraqi citizens." This brings the number of US troops known to have died in Iraq this month to 60 -- eight shy of the total for the entire month of December last year; however, there are still 13 days left in this month.
espite this reality, the 650,000 plus Iraqis who have died since the start of the illegal war, some are calling for more troops to be sent to Iraq.
The KPFA Evening News reported yesterday that the group calling for that includes US Senator Harry Reid who expressed his support for a 'temporary' surge of US troops "for two or three months" on ABC's This Week.
On the broadcast Dahr Jamail offered his opinion of Reid's nonsense: "Let's not forget that during the Vietnam war this was called 'escalation' not 'temporary increases' or anything like this, but this is an escalation of the occupation"; while
David Swanson's reaction no doubt spoke for many: "Look we voted on Nov. 7th in the clearest national mandate Congressional election in US history. I mean, this was a statement by the American people that we want to end this war and already our new majority Democratic Senate in Congress are talking about, not ending the war, in fact, of escalating it. Obviously the surest way to end it and withdraw is not to send in more troops but to withdraw."
While Reid lives in the land of delusion, Michael Moss has been exploring the realities of Iraq's prisons. In Sunday's New York Times,
Moss reported on 'justice' -- most Iraqi 'trials' last 15 minutes, the public defenders are paid $15 per class, that you can be convicted -- as two Iraqi males were -- for 30 years when the US military claims you attacked a hospital that even the hospital adminstrator swears was not attacked, and notes Karen Hanrahan (former US "State Dapeartment's rule-of-law coordinator in Iraq") explaining that public defender systerm "was never financed in part because judicial planning was dominated by American prosecutors who took a dim view of defense lawyers."
After delivering that appalling news,
Moss returns in Monday's New York Times to chart the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of a former Navy veteran, Donald Vance, who blew the whistle on the contractor he was working for but the US military couldn't straighten that out; they could, however, deny him and other prisoners "the right to a lawyer at detention hearings to determine whether they should be released or held indefinitely" as the documents Vance left with bear out. Sunday's report by Moss noted that if you are one of the few an Iraqi judge finds not guilty, that doesn't mean you walk out of the court room and are free. Instead, if found innocenct in an Iraqi court, the US military then grabs you and throws you in their prisons. Iraqi 'justice' can be counted on to hand out the death penalty (and has) but the US military doesn't believe it's up to determining innocence which, Karen Hanrahan might point out, has a lot to do with the way the system was set up (by the US).
Meanwhile, a prisoner has escaped from a prison in Iraq.
Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported on October 12th that, the day prior, Iraqi-American citizen and former Iraqi electricity minister Aiham al-Sammarae had been "convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. Afterward, U.S. troops took custody of Sammarae . . .because he fears being killed if he was placed in jail". He need fear not currently. The BBC reports he escaped from his prison in the Green Zone and that this was "the second time that Samarrai has escaped from custody" -- earlier, after he was convicted, he was caught at Baghdad International Airport with a Chinese passport.
In other legal news,
Reuters reports that the US military will announce charges against Marines over "the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha" this coming Thursday.
Finally, Howard Zinn is the subject of
today's Democracy Now! as he addresses the realities of not only the current illegal war but of wars in general. Amy Goodman and company broadcast a speech he gave recently in Madison, Wisconsin which notes the uses of 'terrorism' to build fear, the ways people are manipulated by leaders, the way the press fawns over officials, and a great deal more.

the kpfa evening news

dahr jamail