Wednesday, December 05, 2007

National Lawyers Guild, Glen Ford, Sharon Smith

On October 23, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 by a vote of 404-6. The bill will be referred out of committee this week and will then go to the Senate floor. The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly oppose this legislation because it will likely lead to the criminalization of beliefs, dissent and protest, and invite more draconian surveillance of Internet communications.
This bill would establish a Commission to study and report on "facts and causes" of "violent radicalism" and "extremist belief systems." It defines "violent radicalism" as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." The term "extremist belief system" is not defined; it could refer to liberalism, nationalism, socialism, anarchism, communism, etc.
"Ideologically based violence" is defined in the bill as the "use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs." Thus, "force" and "violence" are used interchangeably. If a group of people blocked the doorway of a corporation that manufactured weapons, or blocked a sidewalk during an anti-war demonstration, it might constitute the use of "force" to promote "political beliefs."
The bill charges that the Internet "has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens." This provision could be used to conduct more intrusive surveillance of our Internet communications without warrants.
This legislation does not criminalize conduct, but may well lead to criminalizing ideas or beliefs in violation of the First Amendment. By targeting the Internet, it may result in increased surveillance of Internet communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly urge the Senate to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.
Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is a community of progressive law teachers working for justice, diversity and academic excellence. SALT is the largest membership organization of law faculty and legal education professionals in the United States.

Mike and I are both opening with that press release. I was actually hoping to write about Guantanamo tonight but I was so busy today I barely finished one newspaper and, during lunch, Sunny and I didn't even have Democracy Now! on. There was actually an e-mail on that. Sunny told me someone had e-mailed about how we -- the entire community, apparently -- had not linked to Democracy Now! yesterday. In my office, we're busy. I really can't talk about it other than that. But we are busy all week. I doubt I will hear it tomorrow. I hope to hear the program on Friday. So that is one reason I didn't note it. It's equally true, that when I thought about it, I realized what show it was. We noted the Lou Dobbs interview Sunday at Third. I know for a fact, without calling, that Ava, C.I. and Kat did not listen on the road. Ava's not going to waste her time listening to Lou Dobbs the xenophobe. They don't watch him on cable, they're certainly not going to listen to him. That's true of all three, not just Ava. I went to Ava because the immigration issue and the illegal war are the two issues she's focusing on. That doesn't mean Goodman's interview with him wasn't worth others catching. Last week she was asking for input on questions to ask him. But Ava's not going to sit there and listen to Dobbs. Nor should she have to. So I'm sure all three of them skipped it. In fact, I know it because C.I. and Ava are always in agreement and there's no way Kat was going to say, "Ava, I know you think Dobbs is a xenophobe, but I really want to hear it!" Kat wouldn't say that because she doesn't like Dobbs, but even if she did, she still wouldn't say it out of respect for Ava.

Whether others took cues from it not being in the snapshot or not, you'd have to ask them. But I know why it didn't make yesterday's snapshot: they didn't listen. There are some people who are anti-immigrants that Ava could listen to but she considers Lou Dobbs to be such a liar that it's just not worth the anger it would create for her if they listened. That's a wise decision.

Others who were able to listen, or watch or read, probably had a very enjoyable experience.

"When NOT to Vote Black (at least in Memphis)" (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report):
Memphis is home to probably the largest concentration of backward clergy in Black America, and proved it in August when Black Baptists declared:
"The Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association stands in total opposition to any legislation that will silence churches on the matter of sin and abomination. It is our belief that the New Hate Crime bill is a subtle attempt on the part of the Gay Community to further legitimize itself as an acceptable lifestyle. We find nothing in Biblical Scripture to support the same.
"We also recognize the difference between homosexuals and homosexuality; God loves the homosexual but hates homosexuality. We further believe that all citizens of these United States of America are equally protected under the 14th Amendment of our Constitution.
"The new Hate Crime Bill spelling out specific groups is immediately a red flag for suspicion - attaching it to the Defense Authorization Bill raises further concern. All citizens are protected under the present laws.
"We go on record that we detest the alignment of African-Americans with homosexuals and lesbians as being equal. There is absolutely nothing immoral about being African American." - Dr. Basil Brooks, President
Ugly words - and stupid, too, unless one understands that this federal issue is being used as a local club to bludgeon the not-gay Rep. Cohen, whom key members of the Baptist group seek to associate with tolerance for sin and “abomination.” It does not matter that, as Cohen has accurately noted, the entire Congressional Black Caucus (and 30 Republicans) support the Hate Crimes bill.
What we have in Memphis and across Black America is a confluence of old-line conservative Black preachers who know they will cash in politically and monetarily if they deliver their congregations to the boss-man’s camp, and an equally ancient corporate enemy that has learned in recent years the art of grooming secular Black minstrel-politicians. Harold Ford, Jr. was once their favorite performer, not just in Memphis, but nationally. Nikki Tinker is his designated successor.
It appears that this type of despicable political tag-team - well-dressed corporate-trained Negroes from the suites operating in tandem with vile, spittle-spewing preachers working their shows in the ghetto - is the current model for corporate takeover of Black electoral politics, especially in the South. However, Memphis, in this primary season, presents a particular, transcendent challenge to African Americans. A white incumbent has reversed ten years of abject betrayal of Blacks by the previous, Black representative. He is challenged by the very same deceitful forces, who would no doubt continue the sell-out legacy. Will Blacks in Memphis vote their fundamental interests, or be hoodwinked by sucker-solidarity with the skin color of the criminal that is preparing to rob them?
If the answer is the latter, then Black Memphis will have shown itself to be too deeply mired in the Jim Crow experience, too addicted to hollow "Black faces in high places" celebrations to defend itself in the modern world, or to be of use to any of the rest of us.

Harold Ford Jr.'s protege should be scary just because she is his protege. Glen Ford offers many other reasons to be concerned.

"The Anti-War Enablers" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
Perhaps more alarming than Hayden's election year strategy is one from the Institute for Policy Studies' Phyllis Bennis that appeared in the November issue of "Deepening the Majority: Anti-War Organizing in an Election Year." Bennis, a long-standing champion of Palestinian rights, might appear an unlikely bedfellow for the has-been Hayden. Yet she likewise argues, "It is very hard, at an emotional level, for people to understand that none of the Presidential candidates likely to win in 2008 is committed to ending the war Still, it matters very much who gets elected in 2008."
"Even those of us whose work is focused almost exclusively on ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan don't have the luxury to say that all candidates, for Congress or for the presidency, are the same," Bennis continues. Here Bennis strikes down a straw figure, since virtually no one opposed to supporting Democrats in this election year has argued that all Democrats and all Republicans hold identical political positions.

I am going to be moving really fast because I just looked at the time and I had promised Rebecca I'd call before she started blogging. I really enjoy Sharon Smith's writing and I enjoy this piece. I cringed twice while reading it. That's fine. Truth can be uncomfortable from time to time. I don't know that I've given up hope on Tom Hayden (that's another section of the article). I understand why Smith has no hope for him. She may very well be right and he did write what C.I. called a "voters' guide" last week (and C.I. noted that students need leaders, not voters guide). The reason I disagree with Smith slightly on Hayden has to do with the points C.I.'s made in the essay which will probably (Kat is right) go up at The Third Estate Sunday Review and not at The Common Ills. That essay has similar conclusions to Smith's but gets there by a different road. The other cringe was over the part I quoted above. I am not in disagreement there and think Smith may be too kind. But, reading it, I thought, "Bennis is referred to." In C.I.'s piece and one of the reasons I didn't want it to be a group piece of writing at Third was because of the fact that there will be a number of us who will want to expand the Bennis section. I'm going to be fighting that, to be honest. It's not an individual issue in C.I.'s piece, it's a whole crowd.

On that, a woman who I will call Penny called me today. She was very active during Vietnam and I hadn't spoken to her in years. She got very burned out in the late
70s (for good reason). I was happy to hear from her and told her I'd call her this evening (which I did, after work). Last week, C.I. and the gang showed up at her doorstep and basically kidnapped her. C.I. told her, "Students need to hear from you, you're coming with us." She hadn't spoken in public in years. She said C.I. gave her an intro that made her want to cry (every word was more than earned, I'm sure) and she was just so blown away by the reaction to what she had to share. There's a reason for that but I can't go into it until C.I.'s piece posts. (Where ever it ends up posting.) Since that college campus was in her town, she gave out her number to a few students after and they asked her to come and speak to another group which she did yesterday. Good. That's what's needed. Not "voters guides" or Phyllis Bennis offering nonsense. Reality is needed.

I hadn't read Smith's piece when I spoke to her briefly or when I called her back this evening but I was using Smith as an example. She was explaining the reactions of the students and was just really surprised. I explained to her the landscape today and also told her that we have a lot of women who avoid the topic of the illegal war and a lot of women who go all namby pamby. Penny's a strong voice and we were joking on the phone that C.I.'s going to start "activating the Old Girls Network across the country." That would be wonderful and amazing. It would also get the truth out there. The campus was one C.I. had visited several times during this illegal war to speak with students and already once this fall because it's a very active campus. There are so many lies being told about the earlier period of resistance that C.I. apparently made a spur of the moment decision (or more likely feared Penny would beg off if she had notice) and they just stopped on the way and grabbed her. We need the strong women. Whether it's Sharon Smith or Penny, we need them out there fighting. Not acting like they float on a cloud above us all, but telling the hard truths that students today largely are not hearing. I am stopping on that or I'll end up poaching C.I.'s essay.

But I really love Sharon Smith's writing and I loved that column. I only quoted those two paragraphs out of fair use concerns (C.I. quotes the opening in the snapshot). I hope you will read it in full because, to repeat, we need strong women. Smith is a very strong woman.

I have to call Rebecca so I'm stealing one of Kat's tricks. I've written about the following tonight:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
and Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)

Usually I insert the links but I don't have time tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Bobby Gates gets greeted with trumpets (well . . . car bombs) as he visits Iraq, realities continue to emerge about the myth of the 'great return' and more.

Starting with war resistance. December 11th the Canadian Parliament will hold public hearings on the issue of war resisters. A legislative remedy to allow war resisters to remain in Canada is necessary following the Supreme Court of Canada's November 15th announcement that they would not hear the appeals of US war resisters
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Various war resisters hope to testify and Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:

Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):

In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.

Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6

One of the war resisters in Canada is
Kimberly Rivera who lives there now with her husband and two children. At her site, she reflects, "Its funny how Recruiters work, every year in high school they are allowed to set up a table in the lunch room and discuss your future as a Soldier or what have you and every school had a ROTC program. I was never in ROTC or have I ever thought of becoming a soldier, on several occassions I had the recruiters approach me and ask me what my plans where and I told them I am just 16 i don't need to disclosing info about my self to strangers, and because i was under age of 17 they didn't talk to me further that year. How ever in my junior and senior year they were calling my house with school rosters that they get from the schools. And each recruiter is assigned to a certain school." She recounts her experiences in Iraq, how her husband Mario found out information online, and how they made the decision to move to Canada and shares "we crossed the broader on Feb 18th 2007 i missed my cycle in febuary and in march and late april i started having sever pain and heavy clotting and was depressed because i know that i misscaried it last about 2 weeks." Now the Rivera family is trying to make a life for themselves and Canada's Parliament can do the right thing, they can step up and address the issue in a number of ways.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at
Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

"I think you heard about Cholera infections in Iraq,"
writes an Iraqi correspondent at Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers). "If you read the statistic you will be astonished that this wounded country is able to withstand in front of this outbreak disease in spite of all the probems that surround it. When this disease showed for the first time in north of Iraq I thought that this disease will spread in our country like the fire spread in dry stalks." The reporter goes on to share a story of a woman in Baghdad who ended up with cholera but her relatives feared the "shame on our family" if she was taken to the hospital and placed "under quarantine" so, instead, the woman ended up dying. Cholera was first detected back in August and in Kirkuk. By mid-September cholera was showing up in "twenty one districts of Northern Iraq" according to the World Health Organization. On Sunday, David Smith (UK Observer) provided an update noting that the factors were in place to "create an epidemic" with 101 cases in Baghdad. Yesterday, AAAS Science and Techonology Policy Fellow Mark D. Drapeau (at the New York Times) observed that cholera "doesn't respect borders" and that includes who is at risk in Iraq: anyone. Children, adults, foreign forces, anyone. Drapeau argues, "Cholera is a grave threat for the American project in Iraq, but also an opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of the population." No, not really. The ship sailed on that long ago. More importantly, a people under threat -- and that's what it is to live under an occupation -- usually includes a healthy number of people who will assume that outbreaks of whatever are launched upon them by the occupiers. Cesar Chelala (Qatar's Gulf Times) quotes Oxfam's Jeremy Hobbs declaring, "The terrible violence in Iraq has masked the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition amongst children has dramatically increased and basic services, ruined by years of wars and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty."

Dire poverty. A characteristic of those Iraqi refugees being tricked into returning from Syria.
Hamza Hendai (AP) reports that Iraqi state television is broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at Iraqi refugees with tag lines such as "How sweet it is to return to Iraq". Yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition, Deborah Amos reported the reality revealed from refugees returning to Iraq: "many are going back because it is too difficult to stay in Syria. In October, Syria made it harder for Iraqis to enter the country. About 1,000 return to Iraq every day, but at least 500 cross into Syria daily -- running from kidnappings, bombings or personal threats. Falah Jaber, an Iraqi sociologist, says that those who have been personally targeted by violence will be the last ones to consider going home" and quoted Jaber stating, "What we have seen this far is just a trickle. We have one and a half million" external refugees so "the return of 30,000 is not yet a pro-return case." Jamie Tarabay (Morning Edition) broadcast the thoughts of Suad Moahmmed who explained, "We were kicked out of our home in Dora. They took my house and furniture" and, upon returning, discovered that a militia leader had sold the home. [The Red Crescent notes that the number of internal refugees has dipped from 2.3 million to 2.19 million.] Next month, as IRIN reported yesterday, Iraqis will discover that the items available to them will drop from ten to five and that the remaining five will be distributed in lower numbers. The food rations that Iraqis need just to struggle through are being cut because the (puppet) government wants to do the White House's bidding. Children's milk is not being reduced, it is being CUT OUT all together. This at a time when you have at least 28% of Iraqi children suffering from malnutrition and when over 11% of infants are underweight. This is criminal. The rations cards were something Paul Bremer tried to stamp out but couldn't. It took an allegedly independent puppet government to betray the already suffering children of Iraq. And these are the people that the White House says must be supported. Of course they say that, the White House wants to do away with the rations as well. But that's the sort of 'leadership' in the puppet government of Iraq: the already suffering children, living in a war zone, can suffer a lot more because the puppet government has other priorities (which we will no doubt learn, a year or so from now, included lining their own pockets).

And, in other bad news,
the US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, went to Iraq. Iraq trumpets greeted him -- if car and roadside bombings can pass for trumpets.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two police officers, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 14 lives with at least thirty-three more wounded, a Mosul car bombing claimed 1 life and left seven more injured, a Diyala car bombing at a Baquba bus station claimed 5 lives leaving twelve more wounded and Biji roadside bombing claimed 1 life. Reuters reports a car bombing targeting Brig. Gen Kakamen Hameed that left him and nine other people wounded in Kirkuk and also killed 2 people (inlcuding one of Hameed's bodyguards).


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a Kurd security officer" was shot dead in Tuz Khurmatu. Reuters notes a sheikh was shot dead Kut.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Dhuluiya.

Today the
US military announced: "Two Multi-National Division-North Soldiers were killed as a result of injuries sustained from a complex attack involving an improvised explosive device and small arms fire while conducting operations in Salah ad Din province, Dec. 4." And today they announced: "A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died Dec. 5 as a result of wounds sustained from an attack involving an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire while conducting operations in Salah ad Din province Dec. 4." And late yesterday, they announced: "A U.S. Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from a vehicle explosion during a vehicle recovery operation in Al Anbar province Dec. 3. "

Turning to US politics, yesterday Democratic contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination (except Bill Richardson) took part in the NPR 'debate' that was pretty embarrassing.
Click here for audio (and transcript link) and here for just transcript. First thing you may have noticed is that Iraq fell off the radar. That's not the first debate this has happened but Barack Obama didn't even appear jazzed to use his "I was against the war before it started" (while refusing to note his change of position beginning in 2004). What's happening? The public hasn't lost interest in the illegal war. In fact the latest poll found it the issue most noted by respondents -- you could take the second and third most cited issues (economy and healthcare), add them together and Iraq would still outrank them. But the media has lost interest. Commenting on a new report by Media Lens, John Pilger (New Statesman) summarizes, "Like the reported 'success' of the US 'surge' in Iraq, the Soviet equivalent allowed 'poor peasants [to work] the land peacefully'. Like the Americans and British in Iraq and Afghanistan, Soviet troops were liberators who became peacekeepers and always acted in 'self-defence'. The BBC's Mark Urban's revelation of the "first real evidence that President Bush's grand design of toppling a dictator and forcing a democracy into the heart of the Middle East could work" (Newsnight, 12 April 2005) is almost word for word that of Soviet commentators claiming benign and noble intent behind Moscow's actions in Afghanistan. The BBC's Paul Wood, in thrall to the 101st Airborne, reported that the Americans 'must win here if they are to leave Iraq . . . There is much still to do.' That precisely was the Soviet line." That really does summarize the nonsense of the 'debate.' Mike Gravel, naming one specific answer he didn't have, stated, "I don't have an answer to be able to persuade the American people that they are the solution, not their leaders. I wish I had the answer to convince them of that." The worst moment -- a tough call -- probably involved when this was declared: "Oh, come on. You know what you want to do on that. You want to impeach people." That was aimed at Dennis Kucinich. Which candidate decided to freak out Kucinich? No candidate. That was Steve Inskeep of NPR. And, no, he didn't speak to other candidates like that. Exactly what did NPR think of that? If that's NPR 'tude, it certainly wasn't spread out to the other candidates. More importantly, Kucinich doesn't want to "impeach people." He's introduced a resolution to impeach Dick Cheney and he thinks the Bully Boy needs to be impeached. "People" certainly sounds 'wilder.' 'Oh, that crazy Dennis, he just wants to impeach us all!' Steve Inskeep embarrassed himself and so did Ruth Conniff for failing to note that in her commentary (at The Progressive) or to note that Iraq -- the most cited issue by voters -- wasn't addressed seriously in the debate which, again, lasted two hours. Two hours and they couldn't explore Iraq. NPR needs to take a look at themselves. Were the 'moderators' unaware the Iraq War was still going on? That is shameful even before you note that NPR is 'public radio.' The public ranks Iraq as the most important issue, it's a damn shame the fools at NPR don't.

Staying on politics, we'll close with the opening of
Sharon Smith's latest commentary at CounterPunch:

The December 17th issue of the liberal Nation magazine contains an article penned by former California Senator Tom Hayden, purporting to offer antiwar voters a glimpse of hope for mainstream relevance in the coming election year-which will certainly be a contest between two pro-war candidates from the two corporate political parties. Hayden's article, "How the Peace Movement Can Win: A Field Guide," exudes confidence that antiwar activists have a role to play in spreading a message of peace as the presidential primaries begin on January 3rd.
Hayden acknowledges that, even as a Congressional majority over the last year, Democrats have provided little more than an "echo" for the Bush administration. He also admits that leading Democratic presidential contenders refuse to guarantee troop withdrawal before 2013, arguing, "The platform of 'out by 2013' may be a sufficient difference from the Republicans for some, but it won't satisfy the most committed antiwar voters." He notes that all the leading candidates vaguely assert the need, as Hillary Clinton does, for "a smaller American force left behind dedicated to training Iraqis and counter-terrorism."
Nevertheless, Hayden's "Field Guide" exhorts antiwar activists to get out the vote for 2008-for whichever candidate becomes the anointed Democratic nominee. "Only in this way," Hayden argues without evidence, "will the peace movement succeed in expanding and intensifying antiwar feeling to a degree that will compel the politicians to abandon their six-year timetable for a far shorter one."

jeremy hinzmanbrandon hughey