Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Howard Zinn, Isaiah, Joshua Frank


The above is "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Peace Resister'" from Sunday. I thought it was hilarious. Isaiah pulled me aside Friday morning, in DC, to show it to me. (It was just ink then.) C.I. had already repeated (again), "That's your space, do what you want. You don't need my permission." But Isaiah wanted to be sure that was correct. I said, "Of course it is." But Isaiah wanted me to talk to C.I., which I did, and the attitude was (firmly) that whatever Isaiah wants to draw, he should. After I told Isaiah that, he went ahead and went to work on the coloring of it.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the "Peace Resister." I thought it was hysterical and appropriate. I was thinking today about the various movements in this country and the various people who have represented them. Then I started wondering how The Nation would cover them if they were happening today?

I don't think they would. I've seen no indication that they would. I think they're comfortable with a dead man or woman (they prefer a man) but they can't deal with what's going on today. I think we saw that when Coretta Scott King died. I'm sure in ten years or so, they'll have something to say about that. But in real time, they offered a little paragraph. That was so shameful, the ignoring of Coretta Scott King.

But it was so in keeping with The Nation today. Of course they'd ignore a woman who dedicated her life to social justice and peace. They really aren't about peace which is why their so-called "peace columnist" can never write about peace. He can try to scare you into voting. But when a nation's at war and you're the peace columnist, you should be covering the peace movement, you should be covering war resisters. Instead, he's given us no nukes and he's given us scare tactics. That someone wants to be the "peace columnist" and they can't even write about the peace movement demonstrates all that's wrong with the useless magazine.

Look at how they cover Bully Boy's illegal spying. David Corn covered it like reporting because he's not a columnist, he's a reporter. I had no problem with his approach. But the magazine seemed intent (in editorials and columns) in not letting today's readers know just how much abuse was exposed post Watergate. On that, and too many other issues, The Nation seems to exist solely to clamp down on outrage. They underinform their readers. Their columnists are frequently both misguided and unfocused. It's a really sad magazine.

Without Naomi Klein to raise the level of writing, 2006 was an awful year for The Nation. (I believe Klein wrote one piece in 2006.) It was scattershot and useless. (As noted before, I consider Alexander Cockburn to be part of his magazine, CounterPunch. I've also noted that Corn's not one of my favorites but I can read him and I can enjoy the writing and the actual work that went into it.)

I think trees die in vain to print The Nation. I think when outrage builds over Abeer (during Steven Green's trial) and The Nation decides to weigh in (they've not offered one word in print this entire time), it'll demonstrate how they don't lead, they just copy the mainstream.

Rebecca and C.I. have hit hard on the issue of the lack of women being featured in the magazine as writers. I agree with them 100%. As feminists, we don't appreciate that the magazine is run by a woman but women have disappeared from the magazine. You can search "The Nation Stats" plus "The Third Estate Sunday Review" on Google and pull up the results for each edition so far and you'll see the byline rate is nearly 4 males for every 1 female.

That's embarrassing. This is the best way can do? After all the battles feminists have fought, battles that benefitted women who have shown no interest in assisting other women, that's what we can expect from The Nation, edited and published by a woman, 1 woman for every 4 males?

I can tell you that we didn't accept that when I was in school. We didn't shrug out shoulders and act as though there was nothing to be done. We called people out. So I am happy to stand with Rebecca and C.I. today and call out The Nation on their discrimatory practices with regards to women.

There seems to be some belief that we can only call out the right and that we have to accept whatever scraps we're tossed by the left. I don't buy into that. I really don't see The Nation as all that left to begin with -- I think their opposition to the Iraq war has been grossly inflated and that we're really talking about Naomi Klein when we talk about opposition to the Iraq war.

I'm sure the Cindy Brady of the faux left will bathe his nearest and dearest with spit over that remark; however, it's true. The editorials were weak, the columns were weak. There is no bravery. There's a lot of bad musing. Broken promises on every page, to be sure. But they aren't left and they never will be.

In 2006, they could and did dedicate an entire issue to the media, food and the environment. They could do their series of issues on Hurricane Katrina. But they didn't have even one issue devoted to Iraq. They aren't that left and they really aren't committed to much of anything as a magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel, in fact, attempted to downgrade the war's importance in the November vote in a column she did shortly after.

It's also true that after her family's lawsuit (which was tacky), no one needs to hear her talk about economic justice or the poor. When your greed came through like that when the rubber was meeting the road, no one needs to hear your dopey thoughts on minimum wage.

As I've said before, I didn't care for the tot and I don't care for the adult.

She was spoiled and pampered as a child (prone to tantrums) and I think she play acts at her role today. Possibly featuring women in equal numbers might expose her as the fraud even she probably fears she is. But by being the token, she's able to stand out.

Rebecca's mother-in-law shared her thoughts on the woman with Mike and Mike's probably not going to share those again because the general feeling is that C.I. was hurt by it. Not bothered, but hurt. C.I. likes her and thinks she's a nice person (sees qualities I never did). But my point in raising that is, despite that, C.I.'s not going to give out free passes to the magazine.

No one should. Katrina vanden Heuvel is in a postion where she could make a difference for women and she's not doing that. That is unacceptable in any wave of feminism. Feminism didn't come about so that one woman could be elevated above the rest of us. Role models are important but so is representation and The Nation fails there.

If you think The Common Ills community, the sites, the newsletters, the members, you realize that women aren't a sidebar. Women don't sit on the edges hoping that just maybe one day this week they'll get heard. Women are very much a part of the community and that's one of the keys, one of the strongest points, about the community.

Today, in "Other Items," C.I. addressed the issue of Sarah Olson. She is loathed by the community. Sunny read that and we discussed it at lunch. Sunny grasped it, the point isn't that Sarah Olson gets a pass, the point is that she needs to be held accountable for her own words and deeds. The males who seem to see her as some sort of Sleeping Beauty whose rescue they'll come to need to be held accountable for their nonsense. What we saw with the lies of war was that Judith Miller was held accountable for her 'reporting' and that alone would have been fair. When she became the scapegoat for all the other 'reporters' that wasn't fair. Hold her accountable for what she did. But don't make the mistake of thinking she was alone (at her own paper or in the rest of media). War was sold to the American people, lies were presented as facts and doing that required more than one reporter and more than Fox "News."

Sarah Olson didn't lie anyone into war. The anger towards her is over the fact that she became a media topic (as well as some of her own statements). Hold accountable the people who made her the media topic while ignoring Ehren. (Hold her accountable for her own statements.)

I would say that she can even be held accountable for allowing herself to be turned into a missing blonde. I was talking to a guy I used to date today. He saw "Other Items" and wanted to weigh in. I was surprised, because he is a news producer, by his comparison. He brought up Mary Richards. That was the lead character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He noted that there was enough sense, in the immediate post-Watergate era, not to turn Mary into a tragedy figure. She didn't want to go to jail, but she was willing to and she did. He pointed to various 'strategies' (press) that the Olson crowd presented and utilized and offered that they robbed Olson of all her strength. I would agree with that.

But this nonsense that is still going on, that's not really her doing. She's issued one statement and sat down with Amy Goodman. She seems to grasp that she is not the story. Whether or not she grasps that Ehren is the reason she no longer has to worry about being asked to testify, I have no idea. But the males so quick to to paint her as a damsel in distress don't appear to grasp why she's off the hook. It had nothing to do with a petition. It had to do with Ehren.

Yet, once again, we see him written out of his own story. Be angry about that, be mad about it, but be mad at the people who are doing it.

"What America Really Needs to Hear" (Joshua Frank, CounterPunch):
Shortly after President Bush's State of the Union address last week Jim Webb, the freshman Senator from Virginia, delivered the Democrats' televised response to Bush's annual speech. Many antiwar progressives were pleased to hear a Democrat confront the Bush rhetoric head-on. Media critic Jeff Cohen went even further and argued that Webb's riposte was not only aimed at the Bush administration, but also at Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
"Whether intended or not," wrote Cohen, "Webb was offering a way for Democrats to win elections -- a script for any presidential candidate who wants to distinguish him or herself in the primaries, and then defeat the Republicans in Nov. 2008."
Cohen and I must have been watching different programs. Sen. Webb's position on the Iraq war was little more than a sugarcoated pill packed full of the usual irony. Webb painted the situation in Iraq as a result of Bush's poor planning and not the more obvious illegalities and lies that drove our country into battle. As Webb put it, "We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed."
Never once did we hear Webb utter the bitter truth about the Iraq crisis. Certainly the invasion and subsequent occupation were not "mismanaged" as Webb and many others have put it, rather the civil war now engulfing Iraq is a result of a criminal performance carried out by President Bush that was enabled and encouraged by the leaders of the Democratic Party dating back to President Clinton.

I enjoy Frank's writing and I agree that Webb's done nothing that should have the left applauding. The left ignores their own heroes (Ehren is the perfect example) but goes crazy over the mushy center. That's another thing that needs to stop.

"Impeachment by the People" (Howard Zinn, The Progressive):
Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos. But all we hear in the nation's capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about "unity" and "bipartisanship," in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.
These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.
The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government."
The "ends" referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion--that is the persistent record of our government.
Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.

As I believe everyone who visits this site knows, Howard Zinn is one of my own personal heroes.
He never loses sight of the people or robs them of their power in his writing. He doesn't play cheerleader for any party. He is independent in the best sense of the word and he is one of the strongest voices that the left has.

His article is also quoted in the snapshot so I'll wind down with that.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 31, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the White House tries to spin two plates at once (lowering expectations and pushing spin), impeachment discussions refuse to be dismissed by the 'all knowing', and the court-martial of
Ehren Watada is five days away.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq to serve in the illegal and immoral war. He faces a court-martial this coming Monday (February 5th) and, if convicted on all charges, could serve a maximum of four years in prison. Some are weighing in.

US Rep
Mike Honda (in the San Francisco Chronicle) notes that Watada's awakening to the lies of war is reflected in the similar awakenings a large number of citizens have had as time (more so than the press) has exposed Bully Boy's lies of war:

In facing charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, it is my belief that
Ehren Watada has laid bare a fact that is becoming increasingly plain: Mr. Bush has handled this war in a manner unbecoming a United States president. At best, our president misled the nation on the rationale for going into Iraq. He has embroiled this great country in a cycle of brutality there that has grievously tarnished America's international reputation, has further destabilized an already precarious Middle East and has taken the lives of more than 3,000 American fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Watada has risked being deemed guilty of breaking one law in furtherance of a higher, moral one, rather than participate in a fight that, in his and my view, needlessly sends our compatriots to their deaths. In Watada's own words: "To stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers and service members can choose to stop fighting it" (, click on YouTube video).

Noting the reduction of two counts which has allowed the maximum time Watada could spend, if convicted, in prison,
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer observes:

We would prefer further reductions and no prison time for a conscientious refusal to serve in what Watada believes, right or wrong, is an illegal war in Iraq.
Military leaders have shown commendable flexibility in dealing with a variety of conscience- and belief-motivated requests to be excused from service. For instance, the Marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, last week granted conscientious-objector status to Pvt. Ronnie Tallman to allow the 21-year-old to pursue a newfound calling as a Navajo medicine man. Under Navajo spiritual law, Tallman could not serve in a special group of certified spiritual healers if he participated in any killing.
Actions like Conway's have given the military greater rather than lesser stature in the difficult circumstances of the Iraq war. Similar flexibility on policy at a higher level might save many Americans from the dangers of Iraq combat. Unless Congress insists, however, the Bush administration will stay the course.

Reporting on the rally in San Francisco,
Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet) notes Carolyn Ho, mother of Ehren Watada, spoke: "He went in believing he was really trying to do his duty to his country in trying to preserve our freedoms. He said to me at one point, 9/11 happened and I will never be the same again . . . But then my son, after doing the research and finding the facts realized that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that we entered a preemptive war on a lie. That has to stop." Carolyn Ho is on a speaking tour and the dates will be at the bottom of the snapshot.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, 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, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell 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.

In Iraq today . . .


Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports "a car bomb exploded in a downtown street where a crowd was waiting to catch a minibus" resulting in at least five deaths; Zavis quotes Naim Zamel who witnessed the bombing and ended up hospitalized due to injuries: "The sound and the pressure were hard. Shrapnel was flying all over the place. I saw three cars on fire, people injured and shops destroyed." Bushra Juhi (AP) notes another Baghdad bombing in "a predominatly Shiite area in eastern Baghdad earlier Wednesday, killing two people and wounding 10" and quoting Abu Talal on the alleged car bomber: "A seeminly normal person parked this car and told us that he would not be long. When that person disappeared for more than 20 minutes, we tried to call the police but the car exploded as we were trying to do so." Reuters notes a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed four and left 20 wounded; a car bomb in Tal Afar that wounded 10; a roadisde bomb in Kirkuk that killed one and wounded two, and a roadside bomb in Baiji that resulted in six police officers being wounded.


Reuters reports that a teenager was shot dead in Falluja.


AFP reports that the corpses of "three law professors and a student kidnapper Sunday from near the university in Baghdad, a government statement said." AP reports that six corpses were discovered in Falluja. Reuters reports that a corpse was discovered in Mosul and two were discovered in Baiji.

In addition,
Claudia Parsons (Reuters) reports that the US military announced an additional four deaths of US troops while Wlliam Fallon ("tapped to take over command of U.S. forces in the Middle East") stated progress on the illegal war will "be a long time coming." Lowered expectations -- hallmark of the Bully Boy White House.

From lowered expectations to Operation Happy Talk,
James Glanz and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) did their part to be out US government spin that was also quite racist: Iraqis weren't 'smart' enough to have planned the Saturday attack in Karbala that led to 1 US soldier being killed on the spot while 4 others were killed after they'd been kidnapped. The weapons, Glanz and Mazzetti write as the US military whispers in their ears, just weren't available in Iraq! (Apparently Times reporters have never visited the blackmarket? Possibly they can't get a military escort to it?) "The uniforms!!!" cry the boys of the pre-Times. They tick off this and that when the reality is that you truly have to believe that Iraqis are stupid to believe they couldn't accomplish what was done and you have to work for the Times to believe you can sell a war of choice (this time Iran) with whispers and unsourced statements. But damned if the pre-Boys of the pre-Times don't get so excited they keep checking one another to see who's sprouting pubes first? Keep looking boys.

Along with promoting a war with Iran, the US spin allows the puppet government to hide. Puppet in chief Nouri al-Maliki,
CNN reports, is screaming in agreement that, yes, the violence is Iran's fault. As opposed to the inability of a puppet to do anything other than move when his strings are pulled? CNN tells you that the "theory is only a preliminary view, and there is no conclusion." The New York Times prefers the much weaker "may" -- Iran "May" have done this and left the other half of the sentence ("may not") for readers to fill in.

Now if puppet Nouri believed it for a moment, it's doubtful Iran would still be invited to the regional peace conference in March -- but they are
as the AFP notes.

In other news of things-aren't-quite-what-the-US-government-says,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reports that "suspicions in Iraq" are emerging that the Najaf 'cult' story "in wich 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre."

CBS and AP are reporting that the toothless, symbolic, time consuming, non-binding measure proposed by US senators Joe Biden, Carl Levin and Chuck Hagel will most likely be overtaken by an even weaker version of do nothing, this one proposed by Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News notes that, on the other hand, "You don't usually hear cheers like that in Senate hearing rooms" -- Attkisson was speaking of the reaction yesterday to US Senator Russ Feingold's hearing into Congressional powers with regards to war where Feingold declared, "Congress has the power to stop a war if it wants to."

Yesterday, Feingold used his power as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing entitled "
Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War" where he concluded his opening remarks with this:

The answer should be clear. Since the President is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its power to stop him. If Congress doesn't stop this war, it's not because it doesn't have the power. It's because it doesn't have the will.

At the end of yesterday's hearing, Feingold noted, "It is clear that this administration took the country into war on a fraudulent basis with the president insisting we had no other option
but to pre-emptively attack Iraq. Now four years into the war we are still in Iraq, and the president insists that we have no other options but to stay -- with no end in sight and we have to say. As long as this president goes unchecked by Congress our troops will remain needlessly at risk and our national security will be compromised. Today we have heard convinciny testimony and analysis that Congress has the power to stop a war if it wants to.
[Applause, chants of "DO IT!" DO IT!] The president has no plan for ending our mission in Iraq, worse still, his Iraq centered policies have undercut our national security worldwide."
Feingold's plan for addressing the Iraq war is summarized in
this fact sheet.

In other political news,
CODEPINK continues to demand Congress represent the people. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported that the DC office of US Senator Hillary Clinton was occupied, that activists carried banner ("We want a woman for peace, not just a woman.") and six were arrested. Yesterday's actions were part of a series of actions by CODEPINK following Saturday's protest and march in DC. In a press release issued before Tuesday's actions, Jodie Evans explained, "We met with Hillary Clinton right before the war, begging her to oppose the invasion but she refused. She gave Bush the green light to invade Iraq and now pretends she was against the war. Worse yet, she still refuses to take a clear position to defund the war and bring the troops home." Medea Benjamin explained, "We're tired of the lies, the obfuscations, the spin. If Hillary wants to become president, she better start being a leader. If she's in to win, she better stop the spin." And Gale Murphy observed, "This country is hungry for leaders who will get us out of Iraq. We'll be giving Hillary a chance to cut her web of war and join the majority of people in this country who want to bring the troops home."

Gold Star Families for Peace's Carlos Arredondo is in Times Square. Reuters reports that he's gone to NYC with "a pick-up truck carrying an empty flag-draped coffin and a picture of his son's open casket and funeral." Carlos Arredondo's son Alex died in Iraq on August 25, 2004. Last Saturday, he was among the speakers in DC. Arrendondo recognized the other families who had lost loved ones and noted, "This is the cost of war!"

Do costs ever get paid?
Sanford Levinson -- sometime law professor & full time psychic -- said "No" and argued in The Nation that impeachment shouldn't happen because of some gut feeling he had (I believe that was gas). In the real world, Robert Scheer (Truthdig) notes the various developments emerging in the trial of Scooter Libby and notes that Cathie Martin's testmony revealed her own and the vice-president's office role in lying to the people and to Congress when they crafted a statement/cover for George Tenet -- Scheer: "Certainly this deliberate corruption of the integrity of the CIA, the nation's premier source of national security information, rises to the level of 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' which the Constitution holds out as the standard for impeachment. And can there be any more egregious example of betraying the oath of office of president to uphold the Constitution than his deceiving Congress from the very well of the House on the reasons for going to war? The Constitution clearly delegates to Congress, and not to the president, the exclusive power to declare war, and deceiving our representatives in making the case for war is a far more important crime than the perjury charge against Libby."

On the same topic, historian
Howard Zinn, in the (The Progressive), observes:

The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about "realism" (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being "the art of the possible" (while setting limits on what is possible).
I know I'm not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable). There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it's been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual "indictment" has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor,
Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.
There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of "people's impeachment hearings" all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.

Attempting to get the word out on her son
Ehren Watada, Carolyn Ho is rallying for one more speaking tour before the court-martial next Monday. Some of her dates this week include:

Wednesday January 31 3:00 to 5:00pm
The Center for Race, Politics & Religion University of Chicago Chicago, IL

St. Xavier University 3700 West 103rd St. (103rd & Pulaski) McGuire Hall Professor Peter N. Kirstein (773) 298-3283

Thursday February 1 10:00 to 12:00am
Emerson High School 716 East 7th Avenue Gary, Indiana Carolyn McCrady (219) 938-1302 Jim Spicer (219) 938-9615

12:30 to 2:30pm
Purdue Calumet University 2200 169th St. Hammond, Indiana Professor Kathy Tobin (219) 989-3192 Classroom Office Building CLO 110

7:00-9:00 pm
Valparaiso University U.S. Hwy 30 & Sturdy Rd Room 234 Neils Science Center Valparaiso, Indiana Libby A Hearn Partners for Peace (student group) (309) 834-2199 Lorri Cornett Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War (219) 916-0449

Friday February 2
Noon Purdue University Wesley Foundation 435 West State St. West Lafayette, Indiana Sheila Rosenthal (765) 404-5489Lafayette Area Peace Coalition

amy goodmandemocracy now