Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday finally

I need to note three things right off the bat.

1) "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly (Year in Review)" -- this is hilarious. I honestly feel like a fool because C.I. is sick and was telling me all week not to expect much so I didn't. I should have known better. It captures 2006 perfectly and contains so many laugh out loud funny passages that it may be my favorite thing C.I.'s done this year. Sunny and I were going over it at lunch on Thursday and again Friday. (What? We were going to listen to Democracy Now! salute a wife beater?) It is priceless and pulls together all the strands of 2006 -- it's a tapestry of the year.

2) "2006 in books (Martha & Shirley)" -- Martha and Shirley carved out the book slot for themselves and I doubt anyone in the community would have been offended if the two had made their own picks for the top ten books of 2006; however, they did poll. My top vote made the list but I also voted for Giuliana Sgrena's Friendly Fire which didn't make the list. (It was at number 12, Martha told me, right behind Thomas E. Ricks' book.) I think the list, just the ten titles are worth noting, but I also enjoyed the commentary Martha and Shirley provided and the excerpts they picked. I haven't read Alice Walker's book yet (C.I. gifted me with it) but I'm sure I'll enjoy it. That's not an insult to Walker, I'm wanting to read it, but my days have been pretty hectic the last few weeks. Honestly, I have read sections of it. Just while breaking the binding and there was section that really caught my eye on the abuse of Native Americans. Rebecca's almost through the third critical week of her pregnancy and then it should be smooth sailing. That's not blaming my lack of time on Rebecca but it is noting that I have spent most of my free time worrying. (Although I know we're all not supposed to worry.)

3) "Kat's Korner: 2006 in music" -- Kat has picked a ton ten list (that actually has more than ten albums on it) that captures the best in music. I know she enjoys Bruce Springsteen so I'll imagine she wasn't keen to write the commentary on that album but I think she's 100% correct. I love her choices and would have only tinkered with it to add Thom York's CD.

So if you missed any of those, please read them. I have actually read each of them several times.

"Peace Mom Aims to Ramp Up 'Peace Surge' After Arrest Thursday" (Erin Quinn, The Waco Tribune-Herald via Truthout):
Crawford - Minutes before the "Peace Mom" was arrested Thursday for blocking a road near President Bush's ranch, Cindy Sheehan said she plans to become more "confrontational" and that it's time to "ramp up" peace efforts.
"We're the only people that can stop Bush now," she said, standing with about 30 other peace protesters at a barricaded Secret Service checkpoint outside the Crawford-area ranch.
Bush was meeting with top advisers to consider strategy in the Iraq war, including a possible surge in troop levels.
About 20 minutes after talking about her new plan, called a "peace surge" as a poke at Bush, Sheehan, 49, and four other protesters lay down in front of Secret Service barricades and refused to move. Texas Department of Public Safety troopers carried each one off the roadway and to a ditch along the side of the road - their hands tied with flexible nylon ties, a gentler handcuff police often use during protests.
It was Sheehan's first arrest at the Bush ranch in McLennan County.
The five protesters, including Dede Miller, Sheehan's sister; Gerry Fonsecca, Sheehan's boyfriend; Carl Rising-Moore; and Jeri Reed, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstructing a roadway. The group is expected to be bonded out of the McLennan County Jail today.

Cindy Sheehan just doesn't stop. The woman's had surgery this year and that honestly didn't slow her down. I have a lot of respect for her. Especially right now when I'm about to fall over. I've got a nasty cold and Flyboy's been insisting I take some NyQuil for it. I think he and Rebecca suggested to many tablespoons (I don't generally use cough syrup -- if I'm getting a cold, I usually just eat a couple of oranges and/or lemons) so between that and his putting on Crown of Creation (Jefferson Airplane), I'm a bit woozy and sleepy. (Well it was "NyQuil" and not "DayQuill.")

In the snapshot, you'll note the last item, the military is going to court-martial a young man that has PTSD and one that they refused to provide assistance to. The court-martialing for it may be a first (at least since it's become a recognized disorder) but the ignoring it and the refusal to treat it is standard procedure in today's military. Maybe the so-called can look into that someday or do they go on holiday except during presidential elections when they trot out to insist all is rosy even when it's not?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, December 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Decemeber is now the deadliest month this year for US troops,
Ehren Watada finally appears in print in The Nation, is Sabrina Tavernise angling to be the new joke of the New York Times, and the US military reveals how little heart and compassion they have as they move to court-martial a soldier suffering from PTSD -- one they did nothing to help.
Starting with fatality news. Today the
US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Thursday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Watch for the New York Times to ignore that or Little Man Marcs to report "One marine died" if the pattern this month holds true. The Times can't say they weren't warned when they decided to ignore fatalities and minimize the few that they covered but readers of the paper who depend on it to provide reality (no chuckles) may end up shocked when they discover that today December became the deadliest month for US troops. The three deaths up the total for the month to 107. Prior to this announcement, October had been the deadliest month with 106.
Some outlets report 105 and that has to do with the fact that the US military tends to hold the deaths a bit, and has the since the start of the war, waiting for those first of the month look back press accounts to be published and then noting a death or two afterwards.
106 is the number ICCC uses, 106 is the one we'll go with here. 107 is now the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month. The total number of US troops who have died since the start of the illegal war stands at 2996 -- four shy of the 3,000 mark.
US troops have not been the only military fatalities and England's
Ministry of Defense notes:"It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a UK serviceman was killed yesterday, Thursday 28 December 2006, in Basrah, southern Iraq. The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was taking part in a routine patrol in Basra City when the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. He was very seriously injured and airlifted to the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, but unfortunately died later as a result of his injuries." That death brought the total number of British troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 127.
Turning to the issue of war resistance and starting with The Nation magazine. On page 14 of the January 8/15 2007 issue (a double issue) Marc Cooper has an article entitled "Lt. Ehren Watada: Resister." The Nation makes the article
availble online to subscribrs only for whatever reasons but seems unaware that they've published it for all (subscribers and non-subscribers) on Yahoo -- click here. Cooper describes Ehren Watada as "the lighning rod case of resistance" (Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq); and notes the speech he gave in August at the Veterans for Peace conference in Seattle (click here for text at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which offers both text and video of the speech) where Watada declared, "The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it."; and notes that, in January, "a 'Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq,' featuring Daniel Ellsberg and Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk will be convened in Tacoma, Washinginton, in support of Watada".
January 4th is the date scheduled for the military's pre-trial hearing and Feb. 5th is when the court-martial is scheduled to begin. The US military is attempting to force journalists to testify at the pre-trial hearing (see
yesterday's snapshot).
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing (who was released from the military brig on Satuday) Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, 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.
Resistance takes many forms in the peace movement. As noted in yesterday's snapshot,
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in Crawford, Texas outside Bully Boy's ranchette along with four other activists. Sheehan called the action a "peace surge" to combat Bully Boy's notions of escalating the number of US troops in Iraq. The AP reports that Sheehan's attorney Robert Gottlieb believes the arrest will have no impact on the conditional verdict the judge issued this month in Manhattan. The Smoking Gun reports that, were Sheehan convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in prison and the maximum fine is $2,000.
In another mother for peace news,
Theresa Hogue (Corvallis Gazette-Times) reported last week on Michelle Darr, a mother of six, who was arrested December 12th for attempting to get US Senator Gordon Smith to sign the Declaration of Peace (her third arrest this year for attempting to lobby Smith, she was arrested twice in September) and will face a tril in January. Darr told Hogue, "What they (her children) see me doing is as important as what they don't see me doing. If Im not using my voice and efforts in the cause of the common good, how can I expect them to take initiative when the need arises? I don’t want them to ever think oppression and genocide are acceptable, or that war is a way to solve problems."
Along with courageous acts of resistance like Sheehan's and Darr's, demonstrations will take part around the United States to note the 3,000 mark for US fatalities in Iraq.
United for Peace and Justice notes:
Another Grim Milestone -- 3,000 Deaths Too Many
More than 2,990 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. By the time you read this, the death toll may have reached 3,000. We must bear witness to this tragic milestone, even though many people are already beginning their celebrations of the new year. And when we do take action on this occasion, we must remind others that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men have also died in this outrageous war and occupation. Our call to end this war and to bring all the troops home now must be heard in every corner of the country! The killing must stop. Click here for some suggested ways to bear witness.
Military Families Speak Out notes:
MILITARY FAMILIES MOURN 3,000TH TROOP DEATH, PARTICIPATE IN NATIONWIDE VIGILS AND CALL ON CONGRESS TO END THE IRAQ WAR Family Members of Fallen Soldiers and Families of Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq Available for Interview Dec 29, 06 On the eve of the 3,000th troop death, the next horrific milestone in the Iraq war, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), an organization of over 3,100 military families opposed to the war in Iraq, calls on the 110th Congress to honor the fallen and prevent further deaths by taking action to end the Iraq war. read more »
3000 Deaths Too Many As Bush considers sending thousands of additional troops to Iraq to control the violence, our troop death toll nears the 3,000 mark. It is crucial that we commemorate this grim milestone in Bush's disastrous war by pressuring Congress to bring the troops home NOW, and to stop this insanity NOW! Click here for CODEPINK suggested actions you can take.
Also refer to
World Can't Wait's Protests & Vigils Planned the Day After the Number of US Troops Killed in Iraq Reaches 3,000
As the press continues to note that Bully Boy is seriously considering escalating the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq,
Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) note: "Two attempts last summer to stabilize Baghdad by sending in more troops failed. The increased U.S. presence led to a brief drop in violence, but as soon as the troops left the neighborhoods where they'd deployed, the violence skyrocketed." That was the crackdown that cracked up and accomplished nothing. It began in June and by August, the US military was noting that, in July, attacks on US forces were up (double the January amount) and bombing attacks on civilians were up 10%. And last week Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported on the US Pentagon's findings "that the violence in Iraq soared this fall to its highest level on record" and this during the continued increase of US troops in Iraq. But like a greedy tele-evangilist, Bully Boy can just cry out, "Send more! Send more!"
CNN reports a bomber "waited near the house of Sheik Kadhim Hameed Qassim" in northern Bagdad and then detonated the bomb "when the clearic, his security and family members arrived after Friday prayers" leaving the Shi'ite cleric dead and also killing "his brother and severn others" and leaving 15 wounded.
Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Jurf al-Sakhar and seven more wounded. AFP reports a police officer and "a bystander" were shot dead in Hindiya while, in Mussayib, a police officer was shot dead and five more wounded. KUNA reports four Iraqi soldiers were shot dead "southwest of Kirkuk" and a fifth Iraqi soldier was injured while, in nothern Iraq, "two employees who . . . worked for the Petroleum State Company" were shot dead.
KUNA reports that the corpse of a kidnapped police officer was discovered in Kirkuk.
AFP reports on the increasing demise of communal baths in Baghdad from violence and financial costs: "In its glory days when Iraq was one of the most developed Arab countries in the Middle East, the hammam used to employ 16 people. Today only four permanent staff remains on the payroll as massive inflation takes hold." and quotes the owner of the bathhouse explaining, "The electricity is often down. Gas for heating has become too expensive. We pay 20,000 dinars ($14) for a bottle compared to 1,000 just two or three years ago. How do you expect me to carry on? There are days when it costs me more to open than doing nothing. I love my profession but it's disappearing."
In I-Schilled-for-the-U.S.-military-and-all-I-got-was-a-red-face news,
Sabrina Tavernise's 'scoop' in the New York Times had holes blown through it earlier this week and has now fallen apart completely. The US military announced (to her and James Glanz of the New York Times) that they had been holding Iranian 'terrorists' and 'insurgents' since the 12th of December. In the latest development to rip the story of Iranian 'terrorists' to shreds, the BBC reports that the two diplomats who were held by US forces but in the country of Iraq at the invitation of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, were released. On the detention of the two diplomats, AFP quotes the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hasan Kazemi Qomi, stating: "Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the US forces who firstly denied their arrest were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them. The arrest of these diplomats was carried out contrary to international laws and the Geneva convention."
In the US, the
AP reports: "Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, of Mont Alto, died Wednesday afternoon at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas" after being injured in November 13th bombing in Ramadi and quotes his grandfather, Edward Shaffer, stating that "All they could do was try to keep him comfortable. They couldn't do any more for him." 24 year-old Shaffer is among many troops who die from physical injuries recieved in Iraq but, due to dying after they are shipped out of Iraq, do not get included in the official body count.
Another war related death not included in the count is
covered by Megan Greenwell (Washington Post), 29-year-old James E. Dean, who had served in Afghanistan and recently recieved orders to deploy to Iraq, barricaded himself in his father's house on Christmas day, and was killed in an exchange with police officers.
NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reported that the US army's crappy record on addressing PTSD within the ranks just got worse: the army is moving to court-martial Tyler Jennings who suffers from PTSD and was diagnosed with "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness" five months ago and received no assistance.

ehren watada

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Ford & Brown blather

First off, please read C.I.'s "Correction to Barbara Ehrenreich on Democracy Now! today" about the embarrassing and shameful speech Barbara Ehrenreich gave that was broadcast on Democracy Now! today. Ehrenreich did not know what she was speaking of but saw a chance to deliver a cheap slam at Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and GreenStone Media. It was embarrassing and it was shameful. It also calls into question Ehrenreich's own critical abilities.

To stay on Democracy Now! today, I didn't get the idea that Goodman or anyone got what Ford proposed for those who dodged the draft during Vietnam. That was rather shocking. The program they seemed to be referring to was Jimmy Carter's. Possibly they werent, if so, the confusion stems from the fact that they did shout outs and not discussions.

Micah's already complained about Victor Navasky's mouth run ons. You know what, no one needs to listen to that. Let me tell you what that story was in full:

1) Gerald Ford wrote his memoirs.

2) Victor Navasky was passed information on it pre-publication.

3) The Nation published the information, that Ford may have worked out an agreement with Al Haig to pardon Nixon prior to Nixon resigning.

4) Time magazine, Reader's Digest and the publisher were unhappy that The Nation 'scooped' and a lawsuit resulted -- Time and Reader's Digest had intended to excerpt the book.

5) The case landed in the Supreme Court. The Nation lost the case.

This was, at best, a three minute story -- the three minutes includes any exchanges between Goodman and Navasky. Instead, this was the most annoying, most boring moment of broadcast radio for the week, the month and possibly the year. It was the never ending anecdote and it was also pointless in terms of a press issue.

This wasn't about free speech. The story The Nation 'broke' wasn't in danger of being suppressed. The 'scoop' was the same sort of nonsense the New York Times prides itself on -- something that will be known in a day or a week gets leaked to them ahead of time and they rush it into print. It's not breaking news, it's running with a leak. It's not investigative reporting because it doesn't uncover anything, it just cuts ahead of line.

What was more embarrassing about the Ford focus was that, big deal, Gerald Ford died. Exactly why Democracy Now! has to cover the 'statesman' is beyond me. I was making that point to C.I. who recommended I check out something. I did and I enjoyed it enough to share it here.

"Gerald Ford, Unsentimentally" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
Sorry, but I refuse to let my tear ducts open over the death of Gerald Ford.
There's something profoundly undemocratic and vaguely medieval about the almost mandatory salutes that we, the people, are supposed to offer when a former President dies.
The niceties of custom all too often reinforce the habits of blind obedience to the unworthy wielders of power.
Say no ill of the dead, we are told.
Hogwash. Let’s look at Gerald Ford's record.
The first thing he did was to pardon Richard Nixon, even though ten days previously he had said that the special prosecutor should proceed against "any and all individuals" and a year before, he averred that "I do not think the public would stand for it."
The pardon short-circuited the necessary prosecution of Nixon, which would have served as a salutary check on future inhabitants of the Oval Office. Instead, the pardon set a precedent for such flagrant lawbreakers as we have in the White House today.
If impeachment of Bush and Cheney may be just a remote possibility, prosecution and incarceration remain inconceivable. And so Bush and Cheney, thanks to Ford, can float comfortably above the law.
On domestic policy, Ford was a standard issue Republican, vetoing social spending bills, cutting food stamps and housing and education programs, infamously denying aid to New York City while all the while boosting Pentagon spending. And, in a move Bush and Cheney would have applauded, he proposed the nation's first official secrets act to provide criminal penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of classified material.

Covering the rich and powerful, Democracy Now! C.I. pulled something from the snapshot (noting, "I'm too angry right now") that I will note here. Democracy Now! failed to tell you that 100 people died in Iraq on Tuesday -- corpses, bombings and shootings. They also failed to tell you the number of US troops who were announced dead on Tuesday. But they had time for Ford, they had time to trash Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, and they had time to tell you about James Brown's upcoming funeral/memorial.

Since (a) Brown was an apologist for Richard Nixon, (b) a supporter of Ronald Reagan, (c) an all around suck up to Republicans, (d) his arrests for battering women, I really don't give a damn that James Brown is dead. James Brown died around the time he buddied up with Tricky Dick. His career from the 70s to today has been one long embarrassment after another -- an embarrassment of crap, most of which failed to chart. On the domestic abuse charges, has everyone forgotten how many times he was arrested for beating up Adrienne Rodriegues, his third wife?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths of US troops while they call up 3,500 more troops, a British general calls for more war money while lowering expectations, England and the United States face strong backlashes in Iraq and the puppet of the occupation proves unpopular.
As December has become the second deadliest month in 2006 it's easy to see who covers the fatalities (Washington Post -- usually
Nancy Trejos) and who doesn't (New York Times). Today the US military announced: "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died as a result of non-combat related injuries on Logistics Support Area Anaconda Dec 23." And they also announced: "A second Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died of injuries received when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." ICCC lists the total for the month of December thus far at 94. October is the month with the highest US fatalities in 2006 (thus far): 106. The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 2983, 17 away from the 3,000 mark.
Meanwhile the
US Defense Department reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hasapproved John Abizaid's request and 3,500 troops of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team were informed today that at the start of next month they will deploy to Kuwait to replace the 15h MEU who moved to al-Anbar Province last month.
The call up means that 3,500 troops have had to head to Fort Bragg and cut short the holidays. In Iraq, the holiday reflected the illegal war.
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that, for little girls, crying dolls were the most popular gift and, for little boys, tanks and guns because, as Ahmed Ghazi told the reporters, "Children try to imitate what they see out of their windows." Jamil and Al-Fadhily write:
Social researcher Nuha Khalil from the Iraqi Institute for Childhood Development in Baghdad told IPS that young girls are now expressingtheir repressed sadness often by playing the role of a mother who takes care of her small daughter.
"Looking around, they only see gatherings of mourning ladies who lost their beloved ones," said Khalil. "Our job of comforting these little girls and remedying the damage within them is next to impossible."
[. . .]
"The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation," Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the Association of Psychologists of Iraq told reporters at the launch of a study in February this year.

Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that Major General Richard Shirreff ("commander of British troops in southern Iraq") is stating that the British Army is underfunded and lowering expectations for 'democracy' and/or 'liberation' in Iraq -- Shirref stated: "When I set up, came up here and initiated the operations we have been conducting, I was looking for a 100% solution. But this is Iraq, this is Arabia and this is reality, so a 60% solution is good enough for me." This as Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that Monday's raid and destruction, by British forces, on a police station in Basra is resulting in a backlash: " Several local leaders, including the head of the city council and a Basra police commander, have condemned Monday's raid. Mohammed al-Ibadi, provincial council chairman, said the council had decided to cut off ties with British forces pending an explanation of why they destroyed an 'Iraq government building flying the Iraqi flag' and removed detainees he described as suspected terrorists'."
This as the US faces their own backlash over a death in Najaf. Earlier today, Reuters reported that,
despite earlier denails by the US military, a US soldier was the one who shot an official of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports: "Thousands of supporters of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in an angry funeral procession after a senior Sadr aide was killed by a U.S. soldier on Wednesday. Chanting 'No to America' and carrying placards decrying U.S. occupation, mourners, including black-robed clerics, carried the coffin of Saheb al-Amiri through the streets." Supporters maintain that Saheb al-Amiri was shot dead "in front of his wife and children" and that he was a charity lawyer, not a 'terrorist.' The attack on the member of al-Sadr's bloc follows last week's (unsuccessful) efforts by the US to isolate Moqtada al-Sadr as outlined by Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) Friday.
While England and the United States face backlashes,
Reuters reports that a bomb has killed two Latvian soldiers and left three more wounded. In other violence today . . .
BBC reports a car bombing in east Baghdad that has claimed 8 lives and left 10 more wounded. The Press Association reports that seven British troops were wounded by a roadside bomb in Basra. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left five people wounded and a roadisde bomb in Suwayra that killed three Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes an attack on "a bus carrying employees of the Ministry of Higher Education" that left two wounded.
In peace news,
Dana Hull (San Jose Mercury News) reports that Nadia McCaffrey, mother of Patrick Ryan McCaffrey who was killed in Iraq by Iraqi security forces he was training, is planning to build a retreat for returning troops -- Nadia McCaffrey: "Patrick isn't dead. His spirit is very much alive, in me and all around us. The rest of my life is going to be dedicated to peace and justice, and to helping the veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.''
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that the support for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki continues to nose dive among Iraqis (some polls noting 90% of Iraqis are displeased with al-Maliki's 'governing') and notes that Tariq al-Hashimi ("leader of the Islamic Party") feels that many have been shut out in al-Maliki's so-called unity coalition while Dr. Salih al-Mutlaq tells the reporters, "This government will definitely lead the country into a disaster."

iraqthe washington postnancy trejos

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Vacationing Bully Boy

The illustration is Isaiah's "Miss Congenital Liar."
So it's still December which means Bully Boy is still silent on what to do about Iraq. He's taking his time . . . as he vacations at Camp David and now at his ranchette in Crawford, TX. He has all the time in the world because he's not in Iraq where people are dying. Will the US troops fatality count reach 3,000 before Bully Boy announces his non-plan?

When you consider that he's vacationed over 365 days since January 2001, possibly Americans should have demanded that he give up his vacation, roll up his sleeves, and figure out how to fix the illegal war he started?

Remember how it started? Remember how the media pushed the lies instead of questioning them? Remember how we're all supposed to pretend it was just a mistake on the part of the media? Notice how the New York Times is pushing nonsense still. (Including advocating war with Iran. I saw Monday's 'exclusive' and checked later that night at The Common Ills. C.I. didn't note it so I called and was told, "It's all hearsay and bunk that was questionable before they printed it." C.I. addresses that in the snapshot today.) If you've forgotten how they didn't just get it wrong but worked over time to silence dissent . . . .

"Inside TV News: We Were Silenced by the Drums of War" (Jeff Cohen, Truthout): September 11th made 2001 a defining year in our country's history. But 2002 may have been the strangest. It began with all eyes on Osama bin Laden and ended with Osama bin Forgotten - as the White House turned its attention to Iraq. Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech mentioned Saddam Hussein 17 times, but bin Laden not once.
Everything about my nine-month stint at cable news channel MSNBC occurred in the context of the ever-intensifying war drums over Iraq. The drums grew louder as D-Day approached, until the din became so deafening that rational journalistic thinking could not occur. Three weeks before the invasion, MSNBC Suits terminated "Donahue," their most-watched program.
For 19 weeks, I had appeared in on-air debates almost every afternoon - the last weeks heavily focused on Iraq. I adamantly opposed an invasion. I warned that it would "undermine our coalition with Muslim and Arab countries that we need to [help us] fight Al Qaeda" and would lead to "quagmire."
In October 2002, my debate segments were terminated. There was no room for me after MSNBC launched Countdown: Iraq - a daily show that seemed more keen on glamorizing a potential war than scrutinizing or debating it. The show featured retired colonels and generals resembling boys with war toys as they used props, maps and glitzy graphics to spin invasion scenarios. They reminded me of pumped-up ex-football players doing pregame analysis.
It was excruciating to be silenced while myth and misinformation went unchallenged. Military analysts typically appeared unopposed; they were presented as experts, not advocates. But their closeness to the Pentagon often obstructed independent, skeptical analysis.
When Hans Blix led UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq in November 2002 after a four-year absence, Countdown: Iraq's host asked an MSNBC military analyst, "What's the buzz from the Pentagon about Hans Blix?" The retired colonel declared that Blix was considered "something like the Inspector Clousseau of the weapons of mass destruction inspection program ... who will only remember the last thing he was told - and that he's very malleable."
Retired General Barry McCaffrey was the star military analyst on NBC and MSNBC - a hawk who pushed for an invasion every chance he got. (After the war started, McCaffrey crowed, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle." Unknown to viewers, McCaffrey sat on the board of a military contractor that pocketed millions on the Abrams and Bradley.)
As the war began, CNN news president Eason Jordan admitted that his network's military analysts were government-approved[.]

Please visit Mike's site tonight. We're all trying to do short posts. Also please read "Kat's Korner: 2006 in music" -- I enjoyed it very much.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, December 26, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 3,000 mark for US troops killed in Iraq looms ever closer, Bully Boy continues to remain inactive and mum on what's next in his illegal war, a US war resister returns home and another gets some of the attention his stance warrants (no surprise, it doesn't come from independent media print division).
Starting with US military fatalities, there was no link between Iraq and 9-11. Now the number of US troops killed in Iraq tops the number of people killed on September 11, 2001.
AFP reports their count of US troops who have died in Iraq is 2975 which "is two more than the 2,973 people killed on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda hijackers seized four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvanian field. . . . The landmark American death toll, emerging over the Christmas holiday season, represents another political blow for Bush, who earlier this month was forced to admit for the first time that the US was not winning in Iraq."
CBS and AP note: "CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports that December is already the second deadliest month of 2006 for U.S. forces in Iraq. The depressing question now, Pinkston says, is whether the final figure will exceed October's of 106" and "Another sobering statistic; Iraqi officials report that 12,000 national police officers have been killed since the invasion in 2003, says Pinkston."
noted this morning:

US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 25." And today they announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 25." And finally (thus far) today they announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing three Soldiers northwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26."

Since then, the
US military has announced: "One Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed and two others injured when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26." This brings the total number of US troops killed in Iraq for the month thus far to 90 and the total since the start of the illegal war to 2979 -- 21 away from the 3,000 mark.
In the face of this, all Bully Boy has to offer is the so-called 'surge' option which failed miserably in the continued 'crackdown' of Baghdad -- failed in June, failed in July, failed in August, failed in September, failed in October (when even the Pentagon had to note the all time rise in the number of attacks), failed in November and is failing in December.
AP reports that US Senator Joseph Biden is against the 'surge' option calling it "the absolute wrong strategy," noting he will fight efforts to implement it and that he continues to advocate "a drawdown of U.S. forces and finding a political settlement among the various ethnic factions there." CNN reports that Biden, who is expected to chair the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate next month, has asked US Secretary of State Condi "to testify during three weeks of hearings in January about the Iraq war" that would begin January 9th and would also seek testimony from "former secretaries of state, academics, Iraq Study Group members and other witnesses from outside the administration as the committee examines various approaches to the war."
BBC reports 15 dead and 35 wounded in a bombing of a Sunni mosque today (northern Baghdad) which was preceeded by an earlier attack, using multiple bombs, in southwest Baghdad that "was severe, even by Iraqi standards, the BBC's Peter Greste reports from Baghdad" that claimed at least 15 lives and left at least 60 wounded. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that the number of people killed in the latter attack rose to 25 and also notes an eastern Baghdad bombing that killed four police officers. AFP reports a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi children ("under the age of 12") and left eight more wounded when they were attempting to go to school.Shootings?
Reuters notes two police officers were injured in a drive-by shooting near Kirkuk.
Lauren Frayer (AP) reports: "Police found 49 bodies bearing signs of torture dumped across the country, mostly in Baghdad." Reuters notes six corpses were found in Baquba.
In peace news, US war resister
Ricky Clousing was released from the brig at Camp Lejeune on Saturday where he had been sentenced for three months following an October court-martial. Clousing self-checked out of the military in June 2005 and, on August 11, 2006, announced that he was turning himself in. Cheryl Johnston Sadgrove (The News & Observer) reports that Clousing and some supporters first gathered Saturday at Raleigh's Vietnam Veterans Memorial before heading to the Quaker meeting house and meeting up with about 36 more people where Clousing spoke about his decision to refuse to participate in the illegal war and life in military prison: "I had a bed and food and shelter. To me -- it was a time out. I took that time to read and think about what I want to do after that." The Associated Press reports that Clousing stated, "It feels good, but it feels surreal because I don't have to deal with the military anymore. . . . My decision was never personal to my command. I had to honor my own personal convictions. I'm excited to finally be finished with the military. I've gotten the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and the system I fell under." Kelley Chambers (Jacksonville's The Daily News) quotes Veterans for Peace's Dave Taylor, “(Clousing) said to me, “I was willing to do my duty but I’m not going back to that war because I think it’s wrong,’” said Taylor. “I can’t not back him up because of that.”
Another US war resister,
Ehren Watada, has been the topic of year end media attention (no, not from independent media). Rolling Stone picked Watada for their 2006 Honor Roll noting:

Watada, who enlisted in 2003, was praised by his superiors as an "exemplary" officer. But when he refused to ship out to Iraq, he not only became the first commissioned officer to do so -- he even rejected a desk job. "My participation would make me a party to war crimes," declared Watada, who calls the war a "horrible breach of American law." He now faces court-martial and eight years in the brig.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin picked him for their "10 Who Made a Difference" series and
Robert Shikina observed: "Watada brought his case to the public's attention, appearing at anti-war demonstrations -- he spoke to a crowd of more than 300 recently in Honolulu -- and speaking to the media to defend his beliefs. The army initiated a court-martial against Watada for missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer for statemens he made about the war. A charge of contempt toward a government official for statements he made about President Bush was later dropped. Watada has criticized the government of committing lies to drag the U.S. into war in Iraq for the benefit of large corporations. He said he is defending the U.S. Constitution."
Phil Tajitsu Nash (Asian Week) picked Watada as one of the "Real People of the Year" noting:"When it was more damaging to his career to do so, however, Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada did not flinch when he publicly stated he believes the Iraq war is illegal, and publicly refused orders to deploy to Iraq to lead his troops later that month. He now faces possible court martial and prison time for his position, but refuses to back down. 'It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order -- including the order to go to war,' he said. 'The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes'."
Clousing and Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, 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.
Joel Wendland (Political Affairs) reviews Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to the War in Iraq which examines the resistance and a large number of the resisters (including Joshua Key, Darrell Anderson, Jeremy Hinzman, Ryan Johnson and others). Wendland notes: "While this military-based movement falls numerically short of such opposition during the Vietnam War (approximately 170,000 draftees refused to fight by registering as conscientious objectors), today's numbers are still significant within the context of a so-called volunteer army. Indeed, many war resisters have been denied conscientious objector status and subsequently punished for their refusal to participate in what they consider an immoral or illegal war."
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.
CNN reports on the Iranians arrested in Baghdad (that the US government and the New York Times -- they still are seperate entities, right? -- has spun as 'terrorists' who entered the country to add to the chaos and violence) noting that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani states they were in the country at his invitation and Iran's Foreign Ministry has stated "this action is not justifiable by any international rules or regulations and will have unpleasant consequences."

ricky clousingehren watada