Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cindy Sheehan

Okay, the plan for tonight is one link, the snapshot and, in between, a little talk from me. Nothing ambitious.

"10,000 Mother of a March" (Cindy Sheehan, Information Clearing House):
I submit that "women" like Hillary, Condi and Madeline are "female" and not "women" Just because one has a female reproductive system and outward female sexual characteristics does not make one a "woman." A true woman is someone like our very first female Representative in Congress, from the state of Montana: Jeannette Rankin. She was elected to national office even before suffrage was granted to women in the rest of the country. She was an early feminist beginning the debate to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution righting an injustice whose timing was far overdue.
Four days after she arrived in Washington, DC, in 1917, she was one of 50 Congressional Reps who voted "No" to the USA entering WWI. She was vilified by even Woman Suffragettes but she explained: "This is no time to be polite." She was the ONLY person in Congress to vote "No" on entering WWII and in casting her vote she said: "As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anybody else. I vote NO." In an even more heightened period of insane nationalism and fear of the bogey-man du jour, this was an extra-ordinarily courageous and responsible thing to do.
Jeannette Rankin continued to work for peace until her death in 1973 at the age of 92. The Jeannette Rankin Brigade of 5,000 women descended on Congress during the Vietnam War and she said: "If we had 10,000 mothers willing to go to prison, we could end the war."
The time for being polite to our war-mongering politicians and organizations which support them is over. The time has been up for years now: over four to be exact. Women in Iraq are afraid to go to the market or send their children to school. Our occupation has killed many babies and destroyed many Anglo-Christian families and brown Muslim families and, really, families of all color schemes and religious/non-religious persuasions.
We mothers have to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. We must look into the best parts of ourselves that make us mothers willing to care for and protect all children of the world, not just our own. We need to access our hearts and souls to lead from a place of compassion and love not from war/fear mongering hatred and disgraceful threats and use of bullying force.
I am calling on a new Jeannette Rankin Brigade to rise up and have join us on our "10,000 Mother of a March" on Congress on Monday, May 14th, 2007, which is the day after Mother's Day. Marches on the weekends are not effective. We need to shut the city of DC down and we need to show people like Hillary Clinton and NOW that there are true women/mothers who want the needless and indiscriminate killing of our world's children to end. We need to surround Congress, demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressional leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail!
I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in DC, if they are able…or descend on US embassies all over the world that day. I would love to see at least 10,000 Iraqi women marching on the Green Zone that day: marching in solidarity with us to end the slaughter of their children. I believe millions of mothers around the world are tired of their children being used as cannon fodder and political tools in the games of war and killer sanctions.
Mothers united will never be defeated! It's time.
Please go The Camp Casey Peace Institute for more info.

Cindy Sheehan being her usually amazing self. I really love the opening, by the way. But as someone who signed on to "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich" (Kat's Korner), and wrote "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" -- plus many of you also read Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich" and C.I., though not endorsing anyone, was highly vocal in the two snapshots last week about how the endorsement from NOW PAC (of War Hawk Hillary) arrived just as the NOW web page stripped the slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" and the dove that has accompanied it for how many years? It vanished.

Maybe War Hawk Hillary ate is. We should check her teeth for blood and bones.

But with all of that already known to this community, I felt it was more important to go with the second part. I do, however, love (and agree with) all that precedes the excerpt above. When Kat was pulling together her entry, she remembered a TV commentary and then asked C.I. if it was fine to use it? Due to the fact that C.I. couldn't endorse. C.I. told her she didn't have to ask. I want to include it as well. This is from Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Commander-in-Chief aka The Nah-Nah Sisterhood" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):

What really frightens us, besides the fact that a backlash only takes root when people who should know better applaud this junk, is an elitist attitude that seems to greet this show."We got our woman president!"
Consider us too grass-rooty but we don't see that as an end all be all. We weren't among the ones saying "At least we still got Martin Sheen on TV" so maybe we're missing it. But honestly, we'll take an Alice over a Commander-in-Chief. Give us working class women who pull together over a queen bee living a rarified life.
We've never doubted that a woman could be president (and at some point will be). But we've never assumed that gender would be an answer. A woman who supports equality? Absolutely, that's a great thing. A woman who makes her way as an exception, backs up an agenda she doesn't believe in and does nothing to help other women? We don't see the point in applauding that.
It's a pertinent issue as two women are repeatedly named as potential candidates in the real world: Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton. If either woman (or both) runs, will we get the same giddy "It's a woman!" nonsense? Under no circumstance would either of us vote for Rice. We'd be reluctant to vote for Clinton considering her waffles on the issue of choice and her stance on the war. But will those issues be silenced in the giddy cry of, "It's a woman! It's a first!"
That's troubling.

They wrote the above in November of 2005. How true it turned out to be, eh? But, and not to take anything away from Ava and C.I., no crystal visions were required, you just had to pay attention. There was the idiotic White House Project, or whatever it was called, which existed solely to get a woman into the White House.

Is that not the most insulting thing? Actually, I can think of something more insulting, feminist praising the non-feminist Commander-in-Chief. That happened and NOW started a campaign to save that show.

Is that, or endorsing Hillary, what feminism is about? That's not what I signed up for. I'm not about to disown my feminism but I do think it's past time that a lot of this nonsense got called out. I had no problem with NOW endorsing CMB in 2004. But I felt she was endorsed for something other than just being a woman. I thought we were endorsing what she was propsoing. With Hillary, why the hell did she get endorsed other than the fact that she has a vagina?

Ava and C.I. called it out in November of 2005, the giddy cry of "It's a first!" I've lived long enough to see how those "firsts" don't pan out for women in most cases. I saw that Geraldine Ferraro was bragging that she had Hillary's back. My honest impression? Crawl back under your rock, Gerry.

Like C.I., I supported Elizabeth Holtzman in the 90s race, not Ferraro. I strongly resented the women pushing that Ferraro "owned" the nomination or that it was "owed" to her. Holtzman would have made a wonderful Senator. That wasn't allowed to happen. Instead women worked to actively derail her campaign because we "owed" Ferraro something due to her being the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984 -- for younger readers asking, "Who is Ferraro?"

It's a fair question, by the way, because Ferraro has done nothing. Holtzman has called out the war, has called out the Bully Boy and called for his impeachment. Many people who know her name today may not know that she was a member of Congress or other details of her public life, but Holtzman is a figher (and that's why C.I. and I supported her run). Ferraro could have used her voice to call out the war in Iraq. She didn't. She did nothing. In fact, she only resurfaced, after years of doing nothing, to let it be known that she's for Hillary.

That alone should make people question that endorsement. The non-active politically, the ones who shirk their public duties, come forward to endorse Hillary. Ferraro smiled nicely and gave a prototype for Hillary (the wife trying not to be embarrassed by her husband's scandolous press) and then she went away, never to be heard from again until it was time to say, "You go, Hillary!"

So, in the early 90s, we were dealing with a very vocal group telling us that Holtzman should drop out of the race because the nomination was Gerry's due. She was a lousy candidate in that race. Now some in that same group are pushing Hillary. It's Hillary's "due" now as well, apparently.

Hillary is a War Hawk. She does not represent all women. She doesn't even stand up for us. She backed off reproductive rights in 2005 (at the start of it) to reposition herself while her kiss ups (don't think they're handlers, they've orbited the queen's sphere forever) rushed to say Hillary wasn't retreating, that she'd always talked like this. No, she did not. She's sold out reproductive rights and she gets rewarded for that by NOW?

In the excerpt, I agree strongly with Cindy Sheehan that now is the time for voices, not silence. I am appalled that so many women will not speak about the war. I don't mean in daily life. I know many women who are passionate about the war. I'm referring to our pundit class on the left who won't say a word. "Stab" is the perfect example. (Sunny read me the thing C.I. wrote about "Stab" this morning -- about Jet Blue and how "Stab" seemed to be in a contest to see who could go the longest without mentioning Iraq.)

So I'm sick of that. I'm sick of Katha Pollitt and her silence on the war. I'm sick of all the supposed brave women who want to bore us all with their jaw boning that has nothing to do with the big issues of the day. By all means, get hot under the collar over a Vanity Fair cover . . . if you've bothered to cover the war. If you haven't, and your nation is at war, then you're just an immature child. You're not a feminist. You're not even wearing a feminist training bra. You're just boring the world and hurting it with your silence.

I love how Katha and "Stab" are supposed to be brave "feminist" voices but they won't cover the war. "Stab" has written another bad book (and, again, it's not selling) that tries to help us connect with our joy . . . via a male god from mythology because, apparently, there are no female goddesses in Greek or Roman mythology. Does "Stab" even grasp that she's accepted the male measurement while presenting as a feminist?

A war's going on and, let's be clear, the only feminist view is to oppose it. Women's lives have been destroyed in Iraq. There is no "all opinions are valid" if you're a feminist. If you are a feminist, you are opposed to the war. (Opposition to war is at the root of feminism. But some of the children today don't appear to know their feminist history.) If you're opposed to it, it is your responsibility to use your voice and call it out.

If you're not doing that, you're wasting your time and your life and you are wasting the time and lives of others. Your silence says the war is okay and, if that's what you are saying, you are not a feminist.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the court battle US war resister Robert Zabala won gets more attention, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates plays Psychic -- or Belated Psychic, and forty years ago today MLK gave his historic "Beyond Vietnam" speech.

Starting with war resisters, yesterday
Free Speech Radio News filed report on Robert Zabala by Aaron Glantz:

Aura Bogado: A federal judge in nothern California has over-ruled the military justice system, and ordered the Marine Corps discharge a soldier who says he wouldn't be able to kill. In his ruling, US District Court Judge James Ware of San Jose ruled reservists Robert Zabala whould be discharged from the military as a conscientious objector. It's extremely rare for civilian courts to over-rule military courts, but Zabala's attorney says it's at least the second time it's happened during the Iraq war.
FSRN's Aaron Glatnz reports.

Aaron Glantz: University of California Santa Cruz student Robert Zabala received money for school because he joined the military. He entered the Marine Corps thinking it would be a place where he could find security after the death of his grandmother in 2003. But when he came to boot camp that June, Zabala said he had an ethical awakening that would not allow him to kill other people. Zabala was particularly appalled by boot camps' attempts to desensitize the recruits to violence.

Zabala: The response that all the recruits are supposed to say is "kill." So in unison you have, maybe 400 recruits, you know, "Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!" And after awhile that word almost becomes nothing to you. What does it mean? You say it so often that you don't really think of the consequences of what it means to say kill over and over as you're performing this, you know, deadly technique, a knife to the throat."

Glantz: In his ruling, Judge Ware noted Zabala's experiences with his first commander, Capt. Sanchez during basic training, Sanchez repeatedly gave speeches about blowing BLEEP up or kicking some BLEEP. In 2003 when a fellow recruit committed suicide on the shooting range Sanchez commented in front of the recruits BLEEP him, BLEEP his parents for raising him, and BLEEP the girl who dumped him. Another boot camp instructor showed recruits a motivational clip video showing Iraqi corpses, explosions and gun fights and rockets set to heavy metal songs that included the lyrics "Let the bodies hit the floor." Zabala he abhored the blood lust his commanders seemed to posses. Aaron Hughes served six years in the Illionis Guard, including one tour as a military truck driver in occupied Iraq. He says Robert Zabala's experiences are typical of basic training.

Hughes: It's a lot of competition and a lot of learning how to not see yourself as a person or others as human beings. It's just, you're a piece of property and that's the way it functions and that's your job is to function like an object under command. I mean, it's a really simple life though when you're under complete complete orders.

Glantz: Hughes says at the time he believed basic training helped capture manhood
he felt he lacked being raised by his mother but after being sent to Iraq, he changed his mind.

Hughes: I think it's wrong now looking back at it. How can you not be see it as a step away from your humanity? I mean basically you get in there and they -- you go -- you -- automatically start isolating you and they tell you how your girlfriend's not going to be there and she doesn't matter when you get home or your husband. Like don't trust anyone but the military. They really start fostering that as . . . your sole relationship in life.

Glantz: When Robert Zabala realized he couldn't kill another human being he submitted a written application to the reserves. He saw two chaplains and a clinical psychologist who all agreed his moral objections were legitimate and that he should be discharged from the Marine Corps. But his platoon commander . . . called Zabala insincere and recommended his petition be denied. So Zabala went to federal court. Geoff Millard is the Washington DC representative for
Iraq Veterans Against the War. He says Judge Ware's decision to force the military to discharge Zabala will make an impact.

Geoffrey Millard: Someone who's sitting back and thinking about c.o. and they really are very sincere, but they're not sure if their claim will make it, then this may give that person hope and will not have them violating their conscience. That's the reason why we have a c.o. process in military relgulations is so that you make sure that you don't ask people to violate their conscience.

Glantz: The Marine Corps has yet to say whether they will appeal Judge Ware's decision. For
Free Speech Radio News, I'm Aaron Glantz.

Todd Guild (Santa Cruz Sentinel) quotes Stephen Collier, Zabala's attorney, "This ruling is important because it lets other potential conscientious objectors know that there is hope." L.A. Chung (San Jose Mercury News) reports, "Steve Collier, Zabala's attorney, hopes the ruling will make it easier to obtain conscientious objector status. And it is a victory for those who do not cite religious beliefs as the reason for appying for conscientious objector status. Judge Ware, who teaches federal jurisdiction at Golden Gate University, took the unusual step of holding the hearing here, so that students could attend. 'The judge thought it was an interesting case,' Collier said."

Zabala is a part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.

CBS and AP report on Bully Boy's White House nonsense yesterday where he called the Democrats "irresponsible." Apparently, the man who convinced himself that WMDs were found has now convinced himself that someone else occupied the White House in 2003 when he illegally went to war on Iraq. Staying on topics of the unhinged, Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense has issued a predicition. Reuters reports that Gates announced today that "one real possibility" of the US withdrawing from Iraq is that it could cause "ethnic cleansing." After sharing that vision, Gates predicted the Indianapolis Colts to win the February 4, 2007 Superbowl and that the Democrats would gain Congressional seats in the November 2006 elections. Going into a deep fugue state, Gates advised that JFK would be shot in Dallas and that Time Warner would merge with AOL "sometime around January 2000" and would live to regret the merger but "I see a rebounding for the long maligned victrola."

In the real world,
Tom Hayden (The Huffington Post) observes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs. If this description seems harsh, it is only because our minds are crowded with false or outdates paradigms. First was the dream of Baghdad as an sexemplary democratic domino. Then the kumbaya notion of a unitary neo-liberal state with proportional representation and revenue-sharing among Shi'a, Kurds and Sunnis. All along, the US has described itself as a neutral arbiter among warring factions, a promoter of the rule of law and human rights in the Iraqi jungle. Even as former US ambassador Khalilzad left Baghdad, he was struggling to clinch deals over oil revenue-sharing, reversal of de-Baathification laws, and inclusion of Sunni interests in constitutional reform and local governance. The Shi'a, muttering that Khalilzad was a Sunni apologist, seemed uninterested in anything but window-dressing reforms. Whether by accident or design, the reality since 2006 is that the Shi'a, with Kurdish approval, are carrying out a sectarian war against the Sunni population with American dollars and trainers." Who are US tax dollars supporting?

Why is that lost in a fog of war? That's a very straightforward question that should, after four years and counting of an illegal war, be easily answered.

Also in the real world, today is the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence" speech.
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) note that the "TV ritual" of noting MLK's death doesn't include this speech given April 4, 1967 and observe "You haven't heard the 'Beyond Vietnam' speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 -- and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it 'demogogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.' The Washington Post patronized that 'King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people'." The historic speech can be read at Black Agenda Report, at CounterPunch and an excerpt can be read, or listened to -- video of archival footage can also be watched as you listen to the speech -- at Democracy Now! Excerpt:

If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

The speech big media would like to forget. The lessons hidden away. In Iraq today . . .


Reuters notes a bombing in Mosul that "killed a police major and wounded a civilian" and another one that wounded two bodyguards of Major General Wathiq al-Hamadani. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports, "A suicide car bomber and a mortar attack also hit a police station being manned by U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Shiite Sadr City enclave in Baghdad, wounding two policemen and two civilians, police said," a mortar attack in Khalis killed a woman, left 2 more "and a 4-year-old boy" wounded, while a mortar attack in Baghdad left five wounded.


CNN reports, "Gunmen killed 11 electricity plant workers in northern Iraq on Wednesday after stopping their vehicle and machine gunning them as they sat inside, Iraqi police and army said." Kim Gamel (AP) reports that it's six dead (with 34 reported deaths in Iraq today) and also notes 22 shepherds were kidnapped today. Most reports have the kidnapping taking place on Tuesday. (Reuters asserts 11 shot dead near Hawija and that 18 goat-herders ere kidnapped Tuesday.) Laura King (Los Angeles Times) also reports 11 were shot dead and that "Power plant workers said they would strike in protest of poor security in the area." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports four police officers were shot dead near Baquba and that six of the assailants were killed by police officers, a man traveling in his car through western Baghdad was shot dead, a man driving his car through Falluja was shot dead, and an attack "in the mainly Shiite Kobat area near Baquba" claimed one life and left 7 others injured ("most children").


Bushra Juhi (AP) reports a woman's corpse was discovered "west of Hillah" and two corpses (headless) were discovered not far from Suwayrah.