Friday, May 18, 2007

Sharon Smith, Antonia Zerbisias, Robert Knight

It's Friday. Late. We've done the Iraq study group tonight and I'm in the living room with my laptop to relax while Mike's father operates the stereo. He put on Bright Eyes which did surprise me because he's not a huge fan of a lot of new CDs. (Click here for Kat's review of this amazing CD.) Like most of us in the community, he has Kat to thank for turning him onto new releases.
"If I get out of California, I'm going back to my home state, to tell them all that I made a mistake . . ." That's one of my favorite lyrics on the CD. Bright Eyes really has made done something amazing on this CD so I hope you've made a point to listen. I don't know any of the song titles. I can sing along with each track, but I don't know the titles and I just grabbed the CD case and they aren't listed (unless we're supposed to use the Spectral Decoder to see them). There is a lyric booklet but it's not in the case (mine's not in my case either).

I could easily live without TV. I couldn't live without a radio or something to play music on. I'm sure I've shared this before but one of my favorite places to study in college was the rehearsal rooms in the music building. Anytime C.I. would get ready to practice, I'd holler "Hold up!" and grab some texts to go with. C.I. would do the scales on the piano, then play whatever piece was being learned at that moment. Then, the last part was fun. That was my favorite part. C.I.'d play jazz or popular songs. I never learned to play any instrument (C.I. taught me two songs on guitar and I can still play those) and I'm not one of those "Why didn't I . . .?" type people; however, if I ever had enough spare time, I'd probably attempt to learn an instrument.

I was probably intimidated by (as much as I was enthralled) C.I.'s abilities. There was a real game of one upmanship going on in those rehearsal rooms and most wouldn't bother to do the scales. The rooms weren't soundproof and you could easily hear those on both sides and, often, others as well. C.I. wouldn't play the competition game (but when you're good, you don't have to) and would do the scales and do whatever else you're supposed to warm up with. Then C.I. would break down whatever the new (classical) piece was. (C.I. isn't big on a lot of classical music and that comes from having studied it.) It would be a slow break down and there would be people in other rooms that were really trying to be on fire. (This isn't just my guess, this is really true. This is how it was and I bet it is how it still is.) Then when C.I. felt that piece was done (usually a half hour to 45 minutes) the fun began. You would hear every one else come to stop. At the start of each semester, you'd get used to people looking through the window on the door. People would come in and ask if they could sit and listen. My personal favorites were always when C.I. played something "new" (meaning something self-written). I was always surprised that C.I. was ever modest or embarrassed. But, like with the TV commentaries C.I. and Ava did, do not shower with praise. It would be too much. The best piano teacher C.I. ever had was in college because he sensed when it was just too much praise. (At which point, forget it because C.I.'s hands would shake when attempting to play.)

I also remember, each semester, someone being less than secretive about their jealousy and those people never bothered C.I. They'd attempt to figure it out, how to play it the way C.I. did and never could. I think you either have it or you don't. C.I. would hear harmonies and counter-melodies that weren't obvious and grab those. A lot of people, in those days -- I might need to add that, I'm assuming there's a thriving music department on all campuses but that may not be the case anymore -- could play by ear or play by sheet music but they really didn't feel the music.

But I do understand the ones who would pack up and leave (some did so very noisily) because C.I. was my excuse for never learning. (C.I. offered, throughout college, to teach me piano. I did learn the two songs on guitar but that was it.) When C.I. moved a piano into our college apartment, Rebecca would learn a song (I think she knows three that C.I. showed her) and would play those and "Chopsticks." I was always too intimidated to even touch the piano unless it was my turn to dust.

I'm tired and trying to keep my eyes open. So that's my excuse for telling C.I. stories. Usually Rebecca's the one who does that but I'm really tired and hearing Bright Eyes right now, that's what I was reminded of. So let me just share that because Jim Jim and Mike have both written before about how you do not praise Ava and C.I. during a writing edition before they've written the TV commentary. They will hit a wall. They'll overcome it but the bulk of the time they'll spend on the commentary will be getting to the point where they can overcome it. I could guess why Ava's that way (and might guess correctly) but I do know why C.I. is that way (and am not telling). One thing I can share is C.I.'s major. A question came in that Sunny was attempting to answer. In "Roundtable," C.I. said "poli sci major" and an e-mail came in about that. C.I. double majored for the undergraduate degree (poli sci and sociology) and has multiple masters.

I've always teased C.I. on the reasons "poli sci" was selected. There are multiple reasons; however, our first semester, we were all taking one class together. I don't even remember it now. (Rebecca may.) But the professor was looking around at the empty seats and made a joke that they must be poli sci majors because poli sci majors never come to the first class. C.I. was among those missing. I've always teased that the joke gave C.I. the out to skip.

C.I. always earned the grades except in one class. I'm going to share this story because I like it. Maybe you will too? It was a very difficult sememster for a number of reasons including activism and C.I. hates math to begin with. There was a class that was required and C.I. was carrying 18 hours that semester. It was easy to skp and C.I. did. C.I. went to the first two weeks and then didn't show up again until the final. Rebecca was in that class and C.I. shows up and does awful (we're all guessing) on the final but, while turning it in, the professor says, "I understand you had a death in your family" (which wasn't true that semester) and adds not to worry about the grade. Rebecca was pissed because she busted her ass in that course and C.I. blew it off. (C.I. will admit to that. It took place at 'peak' activism hours. It was hang around for that class or get active. As the world around us got more and more active, C.I. planned to just re-take it the next semester.) But you know the nightmare where you show up for class and it's the final and you haven't studied? C.I. has that to this day. About that one class.

Rebecca's planning to blog at her site tonight. She asked what I was writing about and she said (apologies to C.I. for starting this), "Oh good, I can tell C.I. college stories!"

"The Death of Triangulation Politics?" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
A few months ago, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would have seemed the least likely Democratic presidential candidate to lead the charge to repeal the authority Congress bestowed upon George W. Bush to wage war on Iraq in 2002.
Indeed, ever since Clinton laid down residential roots in Westchester County, New York in 2000 (the first step in a calculated plan for a 2008 presidential run), she staked her reputation as a founding member of the "National Security Democrats"--a Congressional caucus including presidential rivals Joe Biden and John Edwards--that embraced the Bush Doctrine's strategy of pre-emptive warfare and the conservative legacy of Republican Ronald Reagan.
As recently as March, Clinton stubbornly refused to apologize for voting to authorize the war in 2002, in stark contrast to the now-former Senator Edwards (who apologized) and the since-elected Senator Barack Obama (who at the time was still protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a member of Illinois' state legislature).
Clinton's handlers appear to have finally recognized that the angry electorate that swept the Democrats into a Congressional majority last November is demanding opposition to the war as a litmus test for supporting 2008 candidates. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal opinion poll released on April 25 showed both Obama and Edwards closing in on Clinton's lead. While she remained 12 points ahead of Obama in March, her lead shrank to just 5 points in April, with only a 36-31 percent margin. Support for Edwards, just 15 percent in March, rose to 20 percent in April.
"Triangulation"--a strategy perfected by President Bill Clinton as he stole the Republican Party's conservative platform in the 1990s--is quickly receding into an historical anomaly for the Democratic Party. This strategy failed miserably for John Kerry in 2004, in a ridiculous attempt to straddle the pro- and anti-war camps, famously declaring, "I did vote for [the war] before I voted against it." If anything, it is astonishing that the Democratic Party establishment has taken so long to realize that pandering to conservative "swing" voters--and its open contempt toward its enormous liberal voting base--only strengthened the ideological hold of the Republican Party, itself held captive to the Christian Right on Election Day.

Sharon Smith's correct that it has killed the Democratic Party, triangulation. It's still around. It seems to be more silent and stealth these days. They seem to know they must make public noises but then they go vote and you're aware that they're still triangulating. Obama did it. He started out anti-war and stayed that way while he had competition (Jack Ryan). Then he had jokes running against him and backed off of the stance. I don't see him as against the war. Not after reading that latest book. We did "Nation Isle" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) last Sunday and there's a point "Ralph Nader" makes in that (it's fiction) that I thought summed Obama and Clinton up pretty well:

Katrina: B-but, Hillary and Obama were so much alike. Surely the party triangulated as it always does. Surely it is still alive.
Ralph: It tried to triangulate. Hillary tried to triangulate and then Obama tried to triangulate and top her. Then she'd do it again, then he'd do it again, and come November 2008, they were both running as independent Republicans. With John Edwards not receiving a majority or even plurality in the primaries, The New York Times editorialized that he was "frivolous" and that "Now is the time for all good Ameircans to come to the aid of the Republican Party."

It wouldn't surprise me tremendously if it came to that.

"Making Sense of What Doesn’t Make The News" (Antonia Zerbisias, Common Dreams):
In Herman and Chomsky's
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the authors proposed their propaganda model as a way of understanding how the mass media "filter" the news through five sieves.
Stripped down for purposes of, as Chomsky would say, typical media "concision," they are: ownership interests, advertiser concerns, the nature of journalists' sources, flak (or negative feedback) and ideology.
No recent failure of the media has been more spectacular than that during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when they marched in lockstep to promote the weapons of mass destruction lie.
Few journalists ventured outside the Pentagon for their information. Those that did and dug up contrary evidence, or lack of it, were confined to back pages, marginalized or scorned.
The facts underreported because of media filters "are the inconvenient and larger truths that the Herman-Chomsky model forces us to confront and challenge," said Valerie Scatamburlo-D'Annibale, an associate professor here.
(For the record: The Star was the only major metro daily in Canada not to back the war on Iraq. It has however endorsed the Canadian "mission" in Afghanistan.)
Noting that both the New York Times and Washington Post eventually apologized for their shoddy reportage, Herman said, "The ink had hardly dried when they were doing the exact same thing with Iran."
This is why New York-based Danny Schechter of talked of media "war crimes." He cited historical examples of indictments of media -- from Tokyo Rose after World War II to radio stations in Rwanda.
Reminding his audience that the Nuremberg trials were really about "crimes against peace," he said, "We have the right to demand accountability.
"This is a story about crime, collusion and complicity between media and government."

I liked this article and it mentioned Danny Schechter, so I'm happy to note it. But I was just reminded of something I never noted. Everyone noted this last Thursday that posted then. I don't post on Thursdays. But I'm happy to note it.

"The Knight Report" (Robert Knight, KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, May 9, 2007)
In today's "Knight Report" --
VP Cheney gets another thunderous respomse to his secret visit to Iraq; and
Democrats decide to continue the War in Iraq by giving President Bush a bimonthly "allowance," rather than an annual "trust fund."
I'm Robert Knight in New York.
The man who mapped Iraq's oilfields as the payoff for the Bush administration's 2003 invasion today visited his prize territory under cover of darkness, where security required Halliburton alumnus and VP Richard Cheney to wear a massive flack-jacket under his blue blazer during yet another secret visit to Baghdad. Nevertheless, Cheney was serenaded with the percussive sound of nearby explosions, just as he was duriung his secret visit to Bagram airnbase in Afghanistan several weeks ago.
Today, mortars fired by the Iraqi patriotic resistance struck near the heavily guarded home of the Iraqi puppet parliament and prime minister inside Baghdad's US controlled Green Zone, with such force and proximity that Cheney's traveling team of reporters and mainstream media stenographers were quickly hustled from the rattling windows that framed a scheduled press conference, to the basement bunker of the US embassy compound, for their own safety.
Following the upstaging of his meeting with US "proconsul" Ryan Crocker and Iraq's de facto military governor, General David Petraeus, the surly VP terminated reporters' questions by growling that "This is just a photo spray." and grumbling that "There still are some security problems, security threats, no question about it." Later, as reporters filed into an embassy conference room for another photo-op of Cheney they overheard him tell his staff "...then we kick the press out."
Cheney's primary purpose was to pump the unratified Iraqi oil law, which was actually written by an American consultancy based near Langley, Virginia -- and which would abolish Iraqi national sovereignty over national petroleum reserves, in favor of lucrative extraction agreements with multinational oil conglomerates, whose proceeds the Bush administration had fondly hoped would help fund the 2-trillion-dollar cost of the ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The legislation would also lead to a defacto partition of Iraq by disempowering the central Baghdad government, as well as Iraq's 18 provinces, in favor of so^called "regional governments" -- of which there is currently only one: namely, the Kurdistan regional regime in northern Iraq, which has long enjoyed the favors and clandestine presence of the CIA and Mossad.
But the legitimacy of the Kurdish construct was also challenged during Cheney's visit by the Iraqi resistance, which launched a suicide truck attack in the fortified Kurdish capitol of Irbil, killing nearly 2 dozen and wounding more than 100, in the most significant attack in three years. The "Islamic State of Iraq" claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the Kurdish government's dispatch of Peshmerga troops and militias to Baghdad for the American security surge.
Cheney's secondary purpose in Iraq was to demand speedy compliance from Iraq's "plantation parliament," which has yet to rubber-stamp the Bush administration's desperate desire for the oil law giveaway. The absentee assembly seldom reaches quorum because nearly half of its members now reside in London and in neighboring countries for their own safety. Cheney (along with most of the American mainstream media) feels competent to judge the parliament's plans for a 2-month recess during the 100-degree summer days of Iraq -- just like the US Congress enjoys during its annual recesses, as do most of America's schoolteachers and students.
More than 4 years into the disastrous occupation that Cheney and the the White House said would be "welcomed with open arms," Cheney today blamed the US-constructed occupation regime for the lack of post-invasion progress, saying of the scheduled Iraqi recess that "Any undue delay would be difficult to explain," and adding that "I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I'd seen previously."
But, unfortunately for Cheney, much of that urgency is in direct opposition to his presence in Iraq.
The Mahdi Army movement led by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr today announced large demonstrations in the three holy cities of Kufa, Karbala and Kadhemiyah to protest Cheney's visit. al-Sadr has also withdrawn a half-dozen Sadrist party members from the occupation cabinet of puppet PM Nouri al Maliki, over his refusal to demansd a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Yesterday the Sunni VP of the occupation, Tarek Al Hashimi, gave Maliki a one-week deadline for accomodatoing Sunni interests and ending the occupation -- or face the withdrarwal of Sunni contingents from Maliki's shaky coalition government.
There was also some back-tracking in Washington, where Democrats in Congress are adopting a new strategy to maintain the war in Iraq, while appearing to oppose it.
The latest Democratic party gambit in prolonging the bipartisan war is to not end funding for the war, but to transfer President Bush from an annual war-making "triust fund," to a bi-monthly "allowance."
The Democrats' proposal would pay for the war through July, then give Congress the option of renewing more money if conditions meet up with arbitrarily-defined "benchmarks" -- not the least of them being... passage of the oil law. The Democrats would also agree to eliminate withdrawal requirements and give Bush a blank check for a potential invasion of neighboring Iran. The bill would fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months, but "sequester" $48 billion until Bush made an automatic and unchallenged claim of "progress" in Iraq.
Even so, the White House said today it would still veto the new conditional House legislation -- which Democrats consider a "win-win" tactic, because it would give the impression (with renewals every few weeks) that they are "opposed" to the war and occupation that more than 2/3 of the American public wish to come to a rapid comnclusion.
Nevertheless, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day commander for U.S. military operations in Iraq, revealed today there are NO plans to end the US escalation in Iraq anytime soon. Odierno said "The surge needs to go through the beginning of next year for sure," .
And that's some of the news of this Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for

That's it for me tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 18, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, day 7 passes with no news of the whereabouts of the 3 missing US soldiers, the US miliarty announces more deaths, America's ABC announces the death of two of their journalists in Iraq . . .

US military announced that they were continuing the search "for three missing U.S. Soldiers who are believed to have been abducted . . . Saturday in Quarghuli Village". The soldiers remain missing. One identification that has been made is the fourth soldier killed on Saturday. CNN reports that he has been identified as Anthony J. Schober of Reno, NV.
CNN lists the three missing soldiers as being: Byron W. Fouty, Alex R. Jimenez and Joseph J. Anzack Jr. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes: "The manhunt has involved an extraordinary array of resources, including helicopters, drones, manned aircraft, forensic experts, FBI interrogators and dogs that can sniff for bombs and bobieds."
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that, yesterday, "the wear was showing, not just on the soldiers obsessed with finding their comrades but also on the hamlets that dot the region southwest of Baghdad, which is blessed with groves of elegant date palms and riddled with pro-Al Qaeda insurgents. Hundreds of local men have been detained for questioning, leaving women, children and legions of ferociosly barking dogs in charge of Iraqi towns such as Rushdi Mullah, a community of 86 households under a virtual siege by troops looking for their buddies."

snapshot noted: ". . . protests take place in Baghdad, . . ." That was it (my apologies). The protests were described yesterday by Thomas Wagner (AP): "In northern Baghdad, about 200 Iraqis marched down a street in the mostly Shiite neighbourhood of Shaab, shouting slogans and carrying banners demanding that the thousands of US soldiers conducting a security crackdown in the capital stop creating forward operating bases in neighbourhoods and searching homes for suspected insurgents and militiamen." Thursday protest resulted from the tensions that Susman describes today. Today was day seven of the 3 US troops being missing and, only on day seven, did the New York Times decide it was front page news (Damien Cave's "Hunt for 3 G.I.'s in Iraq Slowed by False Trails"). Also in the paper is Paul von Zielbauer's report on the just revealed story (AP broke this yesterday) about the army's investigation of the June 2006 attack and kidnappings (2 US soldiers) and later deaths revealed that the dead "had been left for up to 36 hours without supervision or enough firepower or support to repel even a small group of enemy fighters." No one in the Times draws the obvious comparison from the June 2006 events and the attack last Saturday. This despite the fact that the report on the 2006 attack noted the 25 minute arrival by the "quick reaction force." Last Saturday's attack took one hour before other troops arrived. Or one hour until Wednesday when the US military changed their story and began insisting that it took 30 minutes. The report on the 2006 attack wasn't criticizing the responders -- it was noted that the distance plotted was too great -- a command issue, not an on the ground issue. The same thing appears to have happened with last Saturday's attack.

As the war drags on, some work to end it.
Judith Scherr (The Berkeley Daily Planet) reports US war resister Agustin Aguayo took part in "a gathering Tuesday morning outside City Hall sponsored by the city's Peace and Justice Commission, Courage to Resist and the Ehren Watada support committee. The event was to celebrate the city's first Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters Day, an event to be observed annually every May 15." Monday, pre-trial motions begin for Ehren Watada -- the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and the first officer to be court-martialed (in February, it ended in a mistrial and double jeopardy should prevent him from being court-martialed again). Also on Monday, airs Questioning War-Organizing Resistance from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST and will address the issue of war resistance with guests including Pablo Paredes, Michael Wong, Jeff Paterson and Camilo Mejia. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).

Camilo Mejia's just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) traces his journey. From pages 224-225:

Through media contacts from before I went underground, I had gotten the contact information for a man named Steve Robinson, a retired Special Forces veteran who led an organization called the National Gulf War Resource Center, which provides support to veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Steve in turn put me in touch with Tod Ensign, the director of the soldiers' rights organization called
Citizen Soldier.
Thus a couple of weeks after the end of my leave I found myself on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue outside the address that Tod had given me over the phone. Looking at the building from the street, I thought at first I had arrived at the fancy headquarters of a well-funded organization. Once inside, however, I found that the
Citizen Soldier offices were quite modest. Furthermore, far from the uptight, heartless image I'd always had of attorneys, Tod turned out to be a down-to-earth kind of guy, with a big smile and a physical resemblance to Christopher Walken -- a similarity only enhanced by his heavy New York City accent. As a young attorney in the sixties and seventies, Tod had been involved in the Vietnam GI resistance movement, and had helped underground soldiers living abroad with safe passage back to the United States, a legal defense, and the means to get their stories out to the media.
As soon as I spoke with Tod the door to a new world opend up before my eyes. I went from feeling powerless and alone to realizing that there was a whole network of people and groups, from women's rights organizations and antiwar veterans to military families and religious groups, who all felt as I did about the war.
Tod and I discussed how I was going to handle my absence from the military. We agreed that I should do everything I could to avoid getting arrested and then give myself up voluntarily while insisting in court on my right to be legally discharged from the service. This strategy of surrendering myself would defeat the charge of desertion, which is roughtly defined as unauthorized absence from the military with the intent to remain permanently away.

Mejia has been taking part in a speaking tour that wraps up today:

Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Tod Ensign, who Camilo Mejia wrote of, also started up the
Different Drummer Cafe where a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke in March. Eric Ruder (ISR) provides a transcript and we'll note Matt Hrutkay today:

About a week and a half ago I was browsing through the VA Web site. They have a section in there devoted to PTSD. It has a guide for VA medical providers, doctors, psychologists, etc. that are dealing with people coming back from Iraq having these issues. And they have in there an encouragment to physicians to diagnose people with "adjustment disorder," "anxiety disorder," and "personality disorder." The reason they're doing that is so they can claim that there was a pre-existing condition before I joined the army and my issues have nothing to do with being blown up twenty-one times.
According to statistics, 18 percent of soldiers coming back from Iraq suffer some form, mild or severe, of PTSD. That's 18 percent according to an army physician at the VA. Of those, add to that people like me who have multiple symptoms of this but still get diagnosed as it being "my own problem." Add to that, people who are scared to go to mental health clinics because of their chain of command, because they're scared they won't get promoted. Because they're scared their buddies will make fun of them. I think you can then see how much prevalent that issue is and what the numbers are probably more likely to be. I'm not going to say what percentage really have PTSD coming back because it would be a guess. But I think it's clear from my own experience that this issue is probably the most prevalent issue facing returning soldiers and it's being compltely ignored.

CODEPINK is in DC for the summer of activism and Rae Abileah shares, "Today when I was at Congress for a meeting I stopped by the underground subway between the House buildings and the Capitol as many Congressmembers were walking through to vote on something. Though I didn't have a specific bill to ask them about, I did shake many of their hands, and to every one I asked the question, 'Have you done something today to staop the war in Iraq?' 'Help us bring our troops home!' Because it is possible to walk these halls of Congress and feel very distant from the mere idea of war, it felt very effective be a constant voice about the conflict outside the passageway to the Capitol. Imagine if every time there was any vote in Congress, every member going from their office to the Capitol was confronted with the message that it is time to bring our troops home and get out of Iraq.
Our Congresspeople are for the most part behind the times in terms of public opinion about the war. Not only do we have to 'push' them to do the right thing, support key legislation, stop the war... we have to 'pull' them, by leading them towards the right direction. I envision hundreds of people here on a daily basis helping to pull Congress away from the Bush Agenda and towards peace. To increase our numbers from a dozen to a hundred... we need YOU! Click on the links to the right to find out how to join us in DC! Or raise a ruckus at your Congressperson's nearest office!" The links she was referencing are:

Apply to Join Us in DC
DC Pink House Info
DC Sumer Trainings
CODEPINK Women for Peace
Cindy Sheehan and a number of other individuals and organizations are working to make this summer one of activism and volume so that Congress not only grasps that the people have turned on the illegal war but that it is time to end it.

United for Peace & Justice notes:

Peace activists are surging on Washington DC -- to bear witness as Congress again takes up Iraq War funding and the Pentagon budget, and continues to hold hearings on civil liberties, torture, and more.
Click here for the latest legislative information.
May 15-July 31: SWARM on Congress
June and July: CODEPINK DC Activist House
UFPJ hopes you will get the word out: There is plenty to do in Washington, and a steady flow of people into the nation's capital will have a tremendous impact in the coming months. UFPJ endorses these efforts, and encourages other creative actions and projects, both in DC and around the country. (If you are organizing an action,
please post it on our events calendar.)

Turning to Iraq, two journalists who worked for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) were killed in Iraq yesterday: Alaa Uldeen Aziz and Saif Laith Yousuf.
AFP reports they were "ambushed and killed as they returned hom from work at their Baghdad office" and notes: "At least 170 journalists and media professionals have been killed in the fighting that has gripped Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion, according to the watchdog Reporters without Borders." AP quotes Terry McCarthy (ABC correspondent in Baghdad) stating: "They are really our eyes and ears in Iraq. Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out. . . . . Without them, we are blind, we cannot see what's going on." ABC notes:

Aziz is survived by his wife, his two daughters and his mother. Yousuf leaves behind his fiancee, his mother and brothers and sisters. Mike Tuggle, an ABC News producer who worked with Aziz, remembers a game of pool they played on his first trip to Baghdad.
"I had some down time and got into a game of pool with Alaa. He beat me badly. Just before he hit the last ball in he looked up at me and said, 'My name is Alaa Uldeen, but you can call me Aladdin, because I have his magic on the pool table," Tuggle wrote in an e-mail message.
"The balls they just disappear," Tuggle continued, "And his face lit up with that big smile of his."

In Iraq today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attack at Abu Dhaba killing one ("5 were injured including children"). Reuters reports: "A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at an Iraqi police checkpoint in the town of Mussayab, south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding four police said."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a police officer was shot dead in Baghdad, that following an explosion in Baghdad's Al Hurriyah, two people were killed (6 wounded), two police officers were shot dead in Al Wajihiya (2 more wounded) and Bku Shukr Saber ("Kurdish Iraqi army officer") was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports five corpses discovered in the Babil province. Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and 15 corpses in Baquba.

Today the
US military announced: "While conducting operations two MND-B Soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in separate attacks in the southern section of the Iraqi capital May 17. Three soldiers have been returned to duty." And they announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province, Friday when an explosion occurred near their vehicle."

IRIN reports on the educational crisis in Iraq and quotes Baghdad University's Professor Fua'ad Abdel-Razak, "Violence and lack of resources have undermined the education sector in Iraq. No student will graduate this year with sufficient competence to perform his or her job, and pupils will end the year with less than 60 percent of the knowledge that was supposed to have been imparted to them."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chalmers Johnson, Ben Terrall

Wednesday and Mike have I been on the phone wondering how C.I. does it? We just complained and complained and whined and whined to one another for about an hour. How do you find the energy drive to post every time it's your time to?

I don't know but after our mutual whine fest we ended up agreeing we'd do it somehow. I only blog here four times a week. I do help out at Third Estate Sunday Review. But even so, I used to wonder why some columnist only wrote twice a week. My favorites are smart and usually funny. If they can do that twice a week, they shouldn't hoarde the wealth, share it. Now I get why they don't. It probably takes everything they've got for those two weeks.

Just to clarify, I'm not on the level of my favorite columnists, let alone any columnist. I am saying that I understand their process more and respect it even more.

"Iraq Oil Workers Strike to Stop Privatization" (Ben Terrall, CounterPunch):
In ongoing negotiations between Congress and President Bush about continued funding of the Iraq war, the President late last week began to make accommodating statements about negotiating on "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government.
On May 10, the New York Times reported:
"After a briefing at the Pentagon, Mr. Bush said he had instructed Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, to reach "common ground" with lawmakers of both parties over setting firm goals, or benchmarks, to measure progress in Iraq. Mr. Bush had previously insisted that he wanted about $95 billion for the military with no strings attached.
"'It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward,' Mr. Bush said, even as he threatened to veto the House plan, approved on a 221-to-205 vote Thursday night, which would require him to seek approval in two months for the balance of the war money."
But these benchmarks are hardly a compromise for the Bush Administration, and the Times, along with most other U.S. news outlets, continue to ignore one of most important of the criteria being used to judge Iraq's "progress": legislation imported from the U.S. that threatens to give most of Iraq's oil to Western oil giants.

The Democrats are on board with this. It's not just the White House. So what does that really tell us? I think it tells us that we won't see troops leave if there's a chance this law can be passed first. I think, for some in Democratic leadership, this is a sought for goal. It's easy to dish out hollow words about just wishing that US forces could leave and then doing nothing when you've got your eye on the theft of Iraqi oil.

Sarah e-mailed about C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and "NYT: Bono's front page news while US soldiers get left on A10." She wondered why C.I. would wait on those? (Yesterday, I mentioned here that C.I. would be addressing the attack if the press didn't.) The Common Ills is not a 'breaking news' site. C.I. beat Reuters by 24 hours (and they were the first) on the bombing of bridges being an attempt to divide up Baghdad physically. There was the issue of the helicopters as well which were repeatedly being stenographed as "hard landing" with no one ever asking a question about it. There have been more but those are the three from this year that spring to mind. In every instance, C.I. wasn't just made aware of that by friends serving in Iraq, C.I. (and Ava) actively worked their contacts in the mainstream press to go after those stories. When they were dragging their feet on the first two, C.I. took it to The Common Ills. In this case there is the issue that if what those serving is correct about last Saturday's attack, that means others serving in Iraq in danger if the military is leaving them as sitting ducks. It's also true that if the families of the deceased want to ask questions, now would be the time and not months from now -- or years -- when it will be that much more difficult to find out the truth.

The only thing that surprised me was that C.I. didn't go more into the New York Times because they are pissing soldiers off. They have no time for the enlisted and one reporter especially treats the enlisted like trash. Although I'm not sure if it was case on this, I could also note that from time to time, C.I.'s asked by a friend in the press to note something because then they can go in and say, "Look, this website is covering it. We've got the story already. Are we going to do anything with it or not?"

"Is Imperial Liquidation Possible for America?" (Chalmers Johnson, Common Dreams):
In politics, as in medicine, a cure based on a false diagnosis is almost always worthless, often worsening the condition that is supposed to be healed. The United States, today, suffers from a plethora of public ills. Most of them can be traced to the militarism and imperialism that have led to the near-collapse of our Constitutional system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, none of the remedies proposed so far by American politicians or analysts addresses the root causes of the problem.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released on April 26, 2007, some 78% of Americans believe their country to be headed in the wrong direction. Only 22% think the Bush administration's policies make sense, the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when George H. W. Bush was running for a second term — and lost. What people don't agree on are the reasons for their doubts and, above all, what the remedy -- or remedies -- ought to be.
The range of opinions on this is immense. Even though large numbers of voters vaguely suspect that the failings of the political system itself led the country into its current crisis, most evidently expect the system to perform a course correction more or less automatically. As Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported, by the end of March 2007, at least 280,000 American citizens had already contributed some $113.6 million to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, or John McCain.
If these people actually believe a presidential election a year-and-a-half from now will significantly alter how the country is run, they have almost surely wasted their money. As Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of check and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

Which brings everything together. The first highlight on why the Dems are as eager as the Repubes to seize Iraqi oil, the fact that the press will look the other way on many things. They are the enablers who allow the two major parties to act in concert while the public is misinformed.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the 3 missing US soldiers remain missing, Congress sings along to Aimee Mann's "Going Through the Motions," the State Department doesn't want to go the Green Zone, and Chalabi chuckles.

In his newly published book,
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, war resister Camilo Mejia shares how empty talk went over in Iraq (p. 138):

Now that people were realizing bullets fly two ways in war, the gung-ho attitudes that had predmoninated when we were back in Jordan were seldom heard. Pretty much everyone wanted to go home. This new attitude was evidenced by rumors in the unit about how this politician or that officer was trying his best to get us out of Iraq. We called such rumors "cheese," so if anyone had supposed news regarding our departure from Iraq they would announce it by saying: "Guess what the latest cheese is?" This would generally be followed by a story about how some senator back home had written a letter to the Pentagon questioning why we'd been in Iraq for so long, and how come this, and how come that. It never amounted to anything except empty rumor.

Proved again today as the US Senate . . . did nothing.
David Swanson (AfterDowningStreet) laid it out yesterday: "I don't give a damn who 'goes on record' against the war. I care who actually tries to end it. To do that will require voting for bills to end it, AND VOTING AGAINST bills to fund it. Otherwise, you're 'on the record' both for and against the war." Today some Senators went on the record as a proposal by Senator Russ Feingold and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would have ended funds for US combat operations on March 31, 2008. Police actions and 'terrorism' fighting would have still continued under the proposal. As Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse (New York Times) reported this morning, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton waited until yesterday to weigh in and only after "Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, seeking to draw more attention to his presidential candidacy, began broadcasting advertisements on Tuesday in states with early primary elections, highlighting his support for the legislation. 'Unfortunately, my colleagues running for president have not joined me,' he said. Hours later, at least two of his colleagues did."

The full text of Senator and 2008 presidential contender
Chris Dodd's advertisement was: "Half measures won't stop this president from continuing our involvement in Iraq's civil war. That's why I'm fighting for the only responsible measure in Congress that would take away the president's blank check and set a time table for bringing the troops home. Unfortunately, my colleagues running for president have not joined me. I'm Chris Dodd I'm running for president. I approved this message because we can't just wait for a new president -- we should have the convictions to stand up to this one."

So that's what it takes to get Hillary and Barack semi-off their butts? Today, the vote was taken.
Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) reports that 29 senators voted for it and 67 voted against it and notes that Senator and presidential contender Joe Biden was one of the 29 voting for the Fiengold-Reid proposal. "I'm not crazy about the language in the Feingold amendment, but I am crazy," CBS and AP quote Joe Biden stating, "about the idea that we have to keep the pressure on." William Branigin (Washington Post) observes, "It was one of a series of largely symoblic votes today on war spending proposals, testing support for restrictions on President Bush's war policy on Iraq ahead of negotiations with the House on legislation to provide stopgap funding." Also voted on was Senator John Warner's proposal that set timetables . . . Woops! He changed it before the vote so that Bully Boy would be able "to waive the restrictions on U.S. funding." But remember, John Warner swore come September he will get tough. That leaves him three months to grow a spine. Russ Feingold issued a statement: "Today the Senate took another step toward acknowledging the will of the American people, who want to end this misguided mission in Iraq. A majority of Senate Democrats are on the record clearly stating that the President's Iraq policy is a failure and that we need to take real action to change course. Keeping 150,000 American troops in the middle of an Iraqi civil war both hurts our national security and impedes the ability to reach a political solution in Iraq. We must continue to rachet up the pressure on the Preisdent and supporters of this irresponsible war to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq so we can refocus on those who attacked us on 9/11."

Something isn't right
I don't know how I know
But baby, it's despite
Your dog and pony show
I can hear it coming
You're only going through the motions, baby
With your engines humming
You're just going through the motions, baby
-- "Going Through the Motions," written by Aimee Mann off her CD
The Forgotten Arm

And while they do that, 3 US soldiers remain missing. On Saturday, an attack in Al-Taqa, outside Mahmudiya, a "
stationary observation post" that was apprently left unaided and left out in the open for too long, came under attack. 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator were killed. 3 other US soldiers were missing and are assumed captured by an organization that the US military assumes has ties to al Qaeda. Sudarsan Raghavan and Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) noted the US military's identification thus far: James David Connell Jr., Daniel W. Courneya and Christopher E. Murphy are dead while Anthony J. Schober, Alex R. Jimenez, Joseph J. Anzack Jr., Byron W. Fouty are identified as missing -- one listed as missing is dead but the miltary has yet to be able to determine which one. For Joe Anzack's moter this is a replay. Louis Sahagun and Ashraf Khalil (Los Angeles Times) spoke with Theresa Anzack who explained that only three weeks prior, she had been infored that her son was dead. Joseph Aznack, Joe's father, spoke on NBC's Today this morningthat "his son was not the soldier who was killed."

One family member who does know the fate of her loved one is Jennifer Courneya whose husband Daniel Courneya who is among the three declared dead thus far.
Speaking to
Joe Mahoney and Rich Schapiro (New York Daily News), Jennifer Courneya, while turning her late husband's fatigues in to a military supply store, noted of her husband, "He was so funny, very loving. He was talking about starting a family." She also shared her feelings "that we don't need to be [in Iraq] anyway" and that her husband "told me in a letter I just got yesterday if he had met me before he went in the service, he would have never gone. He really didn't want to be there." If you wonder why the widow is left out of the press you see, consider that the outlets can't deal with what she has to say. (Jennifer Courneya is being left out of a lot of coverage on the death of her husband -- even coverage that finds the time to interview students at a high school he went to.)

CNN reports that the hunt for the missing includes dropping 150,000 leaflets and "offering a $200,000 reward for any information about the location of three missing American soldiers, or the identity of their kidnappers". The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, Little Willie Caldwell, insists to CNN that the soldiers attacked Saturday had support and maintains that the support was only 1640 feet away. For that to be true, they'll need to explain why 'support' came in the form of the "unmanned aerial vehicle" which, for the record, apparently got there much to late to deteact the missing soldiers or where they might have gone. Little Willie does admit that "the patrol was 'static throughout th enight with concertina wire somewhat around their position'." Somewhat? And a commander rushes in to say Little Willie was wrong, it didn't take an hour to get to the burning wreckage, it took only 30 minutes. Only 30 minutes? Did they travel by tricycle? "500 meters" is 1640 feet. "500 meters" is less than 1 mile (it's .31 miles). They're scrubbing the store to change the one hour to 30 minutes and that might fool some but it's not fooling all the rank and file serving in Iraq -- some grasp this was something that could have and should have been avoided. Not a screw up by the ones who were stationed, but by the ones who stationed them there and the real question is how far up does the screw up go? Little Willie says the military is "looking very carefully at the whole tactical situation to see if there's something they need to do better."

"There's no one left to call me, 'Mom'."
Erin Allday (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on Mother's Day for Karen Meredith whose son Kenneth Ballard died in Iraq three years ago and spent her Sunday addressing the First Unitarian Universalist Church: "He left the day after Mother's Day, and he said he'd make it up to me when he returned. Today is my third Mother's Day that I will not pick up the phone and hear his voice." Also speaking were Iraq Veterans Against the War's Sean O'Neill and war resister Pablo Paredes: "My mother was a very moral person. She instilled in me a sense of brotherhood. War is the antithesis of motherhood."

Paredes, Camilo Mejia,
Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala are taking part in the speaking out tour to raise awareness on the realities of the illegal war and the need to stand up against it:

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837 Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197 Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Iraq Veterans Against the War bring truth with them whenever they speak (and they are available for speaking engagements if you have a group or organization that would like to hear from them). Eric Ruder (ISR) provides a transcript of four members who spoke last March at the Different Drummer Cafe. This is from Matt Howard's talk:

I was given a whole pallet of humanitarian rations on my truck, so the first thing I started to do is hand them out to all the children I saw standing on the sides of the road in the south of Iraq. My first sergeant came up to me and said, what the hell do you think you're doing? Those aren't for the children. I got all the way to Baghdad and all the way back to Kuwait and was ordered to bury these things. Our commanding general said that we don't want to give the Iraqis the wrong impression of why we are there.
So let's cut through the bullsh*t, we were never there to help the people. Our first objective was to secure the oil fields in the south of Iraq. Now we hear that it's for the hearts and minds? We've got to be honest. Coming out of the military I'm told that I'm really courageous for speaking out. No. I feel I have a moral responsibility to speak out. The sh*t I've seen you're not going to see on the news or read it in the newspapers. We as veterans have a responsibility to tell the truth of what we've seen in Iraq and let it be known. Speak about the reality of actually what's happening on the ground. The reality that we will never quell the insurgency, they are fighting a foreign military occupation. We are treating them like sh*t. We go and clear an area and they just go somewhere else and when we leave they come back, and this will go on and on until we finally admit that we're not supposed to be there. We never should have been there in the first place. This war was based on lies. As I like to say, you can't win a crime, you can only stop it.

Someone explain it to the US Congress (the Bully Boy isn't listening and won't): YOU CAN'T WIN A CRIME, YOU CAN ONLY STOP IT.

Until you do, the chaos and violence drags on.
Reuters reported this morning that, on Tuesday, a truck bombing -- using chlorine gas -- killed 45 people (60 wounded) in Abu Sayda. Today?


The Telegraph of London reports a mortar attack on the Green Zone for the second day in a row. AP reports that the nine mortar rounds killed 2 and left 10 wounded ("No American casualities were reported"). Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the Green Zone victims were "eight Iraqis and two non-American foreigners," and notes: a roadside bombing in Baghdad that claimed 1 life and left 3 wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left 1 person injured, a mortar attack in south Baghdad that left one person wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack the injured one person, a Diyala car bombing that killed an Iraqi soldier, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that killed Riyadh's deputy mayor and a city board member, a Hawija roadside bombing that wounded a police officer ;


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Diyala shooting death of a member of the Kurdstand Democracy Party, the Baghdad shooting death of a police colonel, an attack on a Diyala police house that left 3 guards dead and 2 more injured, and, in Basra, "a child was killed and two civilians injured when policemen shot" into a crowd of "people who were furious as they have no power suppy since yesterday".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad, the head of a police officer in the Diyala province and 5 in Basra.

Remember that no "American casulities were reported" in today's attack on the heavily fortified Green Zone?
Scott Canon (McClatchy Newspapers) notes "the unease is growing among career State Department employees in Baghdad over what many fear is inadequate security in the Green Zone, a 4-square-mile sector in downtown Baghdad where acess is strictly limited and that until recently had a reputation for being relatively secure." And life just outside the Green Zone? Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) speaks with serial liar and war starter Ahmed Chalabi and Cockburn notes: "Mr Chalabi's own justification for encouraging the US to invade is simple. He says he favoured the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the US but not the subsequent occupation of Iraq to which he attributes all the disasters that followed. It is not an argument that goes down well in Washington or London." Chalabi also brags of "the US and Britain . . . having unwittingly committed a revolutionary act in the Middle East by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. 'The US found that it had dismantled the cornerstorne of the Arab security order'."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Antonia Zerbisias, Patrick Cockburn

Tuesday and I want to recommend Betty's "The Jowls of Death" which went up Saturday and is very funny. I'm trying to do a better job of noting things so I'm starting off with that. If you've never visited Betty's site (I find that hard to believe), it's a comic, online novel. The lead character is Betinna and her husband is Thomas Friedman . . . so the site could be called Living in Hell but instead is called Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man.

Thank you to Julie for the wonderful e-mail on Donovan and the songs by him she enjoyed the most. In "Kevin Zeese, Third Estate Sunday Review," Mike noted that I felt like I spoke too much in "Roundtable" and Julie wanted it noted that she enjoyed the give and take in that section. So thank you for that as well, Julie, but I did talk too much in that section.

"She's Always Known How to Get Our Attention" (Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star, Common Dreams):
Last Wednesday, when Jane Fonda sat in Stephen Colbert’s lap, I stood up and cheered.
Currently doing the promotional thang for her not-so-good flick Georgia Rule, she gave the blustery fake cable news talk show host a whole new definition for blowhard.
Let's talk about your anti-war protests, he practically begged as she writhed and wiggled.
"We cannot elect men to office that are afraid of premature evacuation," she cooed, kissing him on the neck.
He looked like a frat boy trapped in a hotel room with the entire cheerleading squad and an open bar. Scared.
Jane Fonda knows how to make people pay attention -- and for all the right reasons.
Unlike Salon magazine chief editor Joan Walsh, who has written paeans to Colbert, I did not find the almost five-minute interview -- now all over the Internet --"cringe-inducing."

Joan Walsh is really challenged. I hunted down the piece, I won't link to it, and Walsh was worked up into a tizzy. I don't like Colbert (Walsh loves him) but I watched the clip. It was funny and funny because of Jane Fonda taking control of the segment. Walsh was acting shocked and saying things about Barbarella, blah, blah, blah. Walsh, as is often the case, was uninformed. Fonda's made her peace with Barbarella and did so sometime ago. It's a funny movie. It's got it's strong points and it's weak points, but it holds up and Fonda's made her peace with it and been public about that. But Walsh just knows she can embarrass by tossing out Barbarella. She can't. Fonda recently said that her pick (there's talk of a remake, been talk of it for several years) would be Angelina Jolie for the remake.

Joan Walsh wondered whether or not she (Walsh) was a prude? No, she's a drip. She pretends shock because she's made her useless by chasing down respectability. She's to the left, slighlty, of John Stossel.

It was funny, what Fonda did, and she has always known how to get and hold our attention. Joan Walsh pretends to have forgotten she was watching what is supposed to be a comedy show. She's too busy attempting to prove how 'respectable' she is. Prude? No, just drip.

C.I.'s been hitting hard on the 3 missing US soldiers (see "NYT: 4 US service members dead in 1 attack ... and it's on A6," "NYT: Gives up even pretending to be in the news business" and Other Items" for starters). Sunny did a web search to see if others were? When she was telling me the results at lunch, I said, "But BuzzFlash has tons on this, right?" Wrong. They had one link. I checked before I started blogging and they still had one link. If you're not familiar with the site, they're a link page with over 100 links to stories they consider important (and silly stuff). The 3 American hostages? Worth one link. They've got more on Alberto, which might make sense (for some) but they've got a lot of nonsense up there. C.I.'s right to hit hard on it (and if the press doesn't tell the truth tomorrow, C.I. may post a few things that need to be said). (C.I. posted late this morning due to getting an earful from friends serving in Iraq.) But if you don't get that it's important for a number of reasons . . .

"An American Nightmare" (Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch):
Even by Iraqi standards Youssufiyah is a violent place. At first sight the well-watered farmland and groves of date palms look attractively green but then you notice the bullet-riddled hulks of cars. Iraqi soldiers and police appear more than usually frightened. The streets of the ramshackle and grimy town conveys a sense of menace.
I used to disguise myself with a red-and-white Arab headdress to pass safely though the lethally dangerous area south of Baghdad where three American soldiers are being held captive. I would sit in the back of my car hoping that the small boys selling cigarettes beside the road didn't recognise me as a foreigner.
Thousands of American and Iraqi troops were desperately searching these towns and the land round about yesterday in the hope of finding a bunker or secret room where three abducted soldiers are being held. It may already be too late. The Islamic State of Iraq, the group which claimed yesterday to have captured them and to which al-Qa'ida belongs, may already have spirited them out of the area.
Here, at 4.44 am on, a US patrol in two vehicles was surprised and overrun by insurgents. The burned bodies of four soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were found on the road. Three others had disappeared. It was obviously a mistake for a small and isolated detachment to be in an insurgent-controlled area. Such is the fear of roadside bombs that a relieving force took an hour to reach them.
The capture of Americans - like the hostages in Lebanon in the Eighties or in the Tehran embassy in 1979 - has traditionally had a greater impact on the US public than the death of soldiers. It is the nightmare of American commanders, going all the way to the Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, for US servicemen to be in enemy hands. The loss of these three prisoners could prove to be even more significant this time, as the public is already firmly against the war. A drawn-out hostage crisis, that ends in tragedy, could be the final blow to President's Bush's faltering support amongst Republicans.

Is that why some of the press refuses to cover it seriously, why it buries it inside the paper, because it's a public relations nightmare for the adminstration? You'd think three Americans being apparently kidnapped would be big news. Possibly, when you carry water for the administration, as the New York Times does, you don't have a spare hand to adequately cover the story?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, May 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, 3 US soldiers remain missing, war resistance gets active (within the military and outside of it), and Bully Boy finds his soul mate (maybe hooked them up?).

Starting with war resistance. Today is International C.O. Day.
Susan Galleymore (Raising Sand, KZSU) interviewed two war resisters of the current illegal war, Camilo Mejia, Agustin Aguayo, as well as David Harris (Vietnam) and Aimee Allison (Gulf War). Both Mejia and Aguayo spoke of the promise of advancement outside the military -- of joining because of promised college benefits and the chance to advance for themselves and their family (Aguayo has two twin daughters, Camilo has one daughter). Late yesterday, Paul McNulty, Deputy AG, stated he would be stepping down and cited "financial realities" resulting from "college-age children" -- well, gee, McNulty, get your kids to sign up. No, that's not why McNulty stepped down but it's a good cover because college costs a lot of money (a great deal more since the Bully Boy began occupying the White House). It's not only dishonest it's insulting at a time when we have a poverty draft (for more on that see Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq).

In fact, we need to stop there and really absorb that. At a time when the poor, working poor and economically struggling enlist to have a shot at college it is appalling that the comfortable McNulty wants to slink off, he uses that excuse.

Mejia spoke with Galleymore about the difference in economic status that resulted from his moving from Latin American (Costa Rica) to the United States. Mejia tells his story in
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. In the book, he covers his return to the United States (as a small child, his mother brought Camilo and his brother to the US before deciding to move to Costa Rica) (pp. 14 -15):

Furthermore, the staff did not understand that even though I was in eleventh grade in Costa Rica, I was a senior. They insisted that I take two more years in order to graduate, and I ended up having to attend night school in an attempt to do two years in one. A good portion of the students in the night classes were troublemakers who had been kicked out of day school for disciplinary reasons.
I also had to work for a living for the first time in my life. My mother had rented out our apartment in Nicaragua, and my father was still sending some child support money, but even with this extra income my mother's salary as a supermarket cashier wasn't enough to pay the rent and put food on the table. So I got a job at a fast-food restaurant, where I swept the parking lot, put the chairs down from the tables, and cleaned the bathrooms every single morning before moving to the kitchen to flip burgers for six hours. After work I had a two-hour break before going to night school, so my days started at five-thirty in the morning and didn't end until I returned home from school at ten at night.
Graduation was also very different from what I'd imagined. There was no prom night for me, nor did I have any friends with whom to celebrate. I just walked into the school principal's office and he handed me my diploma. I think he said "Congratulations and good luck, son." I went to the local supermarket and sat outside on a bench, staring at m diploma and wondering if this was all that happened when you graduated.
The following year, after I attended a community college for two semesters, the government terminated my federal student financial aid, claiming I made enough money at my dead-end job to pay my own tuition. I found myself without any real prospects for the future. It seemed as though I was working my butt off for a life that offered nothing at all.
It was these circumstances that led me to join the U.S. Army in Miami at age 19. The recruiter didn't really have to work hard to get me to sign the treacherous contract. The army offered financial stability and tuition, the military held out the promise of helping me claim my place in the world.

Joshua Key, Ryan Johnson and many other war resisters can tell that story. Many within the military today can tell that story. It's why Casey Sheehan joined up. So for McNulty to hide behind "college-age children" as he abandons the sinking ship isn't just laughable it's insulting.

Donna Jones (Santa Cruz Sentinel) notes that Mejia and Aguayo are on a speaking tour with war resisters Robert Zabala and Pablo Paredes and reports: "Paredes, a former Navy petty officer, disputed the Army's figures on resisters, saying the counseling hot line he staffs has received 40,000 calls. Many apply for CO status, but get discouraged in the face of delays and intimidation, Paredes said, adding the military definition is very low." Aguayo noted, on Raising Sand Radio, that his struggle to be granted CO status continues (the DC Court of Appeals turned down the motion on Feb. 16th). Jones provides the Army's released figures relating to CO's (an undercount, to be sure): 2001 - 18 approved and 5 denied; 2002 - 17 approved and 6 denied; 2003 - 31 approved and 20 denied; 2004 - 30 approved and 30 denied; 2005 - 23 approved and 38 denied; 2006 (first 9 months only) - 33 approved and 9 denied.

Tonight and through Friday,
the speaking out tour continues:

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Friday May 18 - Berkeley7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

And speaking out goes on around the country on campuses, on streets . . . At the GI coffeehouse
Different Drummer Cafe, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adrienne Kinne, Matt Howard, Drew Cameron and Matt Hrutkay used their voices. Eric Ruder (ISR) captures the discussion and we'll note Drew Cameron (and try to note each of the four this week): "The thing that is most important for us who have been there, for us who are affected by this, for us who know what's going on -- it's just like Matt was saying -- we've got to be honest, we've got to be truthful about what we did, what we're doing, and how we're being treated. . . . So when we get back and we have problems and we need educational opportunities and we need health care, what happens? They are creating veterans every single day who are pissed off and think: I'm done with this. I've got the VA, I can rely on that a little bit, that'll be alright. But instead, we get a cold shoulder. They say, we'll see you in three months or six months. They are creating veterans every single day who come back from combat and there's no suport structure. There's no reaching out. A lot of people have to wait until it gets really bad. When I got back from active duty I moved up to Vermont from Oklahoma and no one told me this is where the VA is, this is what you have to do, this is how you get your benefits, this is what you're eligible for. Nobody told me any of that, I had to find out on my own. I had to go to the clinics and ask do I get this or that. Where's the outreach and support? What happened to all the stuff we were promised? All the stuff that we deserve, where is it? They don't care. That's the biggest realization that I've come to. They do not care. They. Do. Not. Care."

And they don't. If they did, if the administration did, if the Congress did, they'd be addressing the PTSD epidemic. Instead they ignore it.
Military Families Speak Out notes: "Servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to their combat experiences are routinely re-deployed to comabt, and/or kept in combat, according to Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), a nationwide organization of 3,500 military families who have been speaking out in opposition to the war in Iraq." Aaron Glantz (IPS): "At the beginning of May, Corporal Cloy Richards tried to kill himself. 'He punched out all his windows and cut major arteries,' his mother Tina Richards told IPS. 'he had to go to the hopsital because he almost bled to death.' Cloy Richards, who lives in rural Salem, Missouri, has served two deployments in the Marine Corps in Iraq. The military lists him as 80-percent combat disabled. His mother says he has knee and arm injuries, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, and currently has a claim pending with the Army for a traumatic brain injury. 'It's something that affects us every single day,' Tina said, 'when he's 23 years old and he can't even climb the stairs. He has bad nightmares where he thinks he's back in Iraq." And that's why Tina Richards speaks out and calls for action. US House Rep David Obey can scream his head off at her in his public tantrum (and have the usual Party Hacks defend him) but get a damn grip, his life, as 'tough' as it ever may be, is nothing compared to the Richards family live with every day and live with as a result of an illegal war that Congress shows no will to end.

Monday, as
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) reports, Tina Richards joined Cindy Sheehan and over 250 others to march "through Washington, DC to Capitol Hill. When they reached the Cannon House Office Building they formed two circles blocking the street to traffice. The demonstration was the 'Mother of a March spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan whose son died in Iraq. The march kicked off a 'Summer of Action' where anti-war demonstrators will SWARM on Congress from today until June 31 advocating an end to the war." CODEPINK notes that over 30 were arrested in the action including Cindy Sheehan and Tina Richards (link has several photos as well as text and click here for audio & video). Have you been to jail for justice?

Turning to Iraq, the 3 US soldiers who have been missing since a Saturday attack outside Mahmudiya (that left 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator dead) remain missing.
CNN notes that the attack took place at a "staionary observation post" and that there is confusion as to who is missing: "Four other soliders -- three missing and one of the dead -- remain listead as 'duty status whereabouts unkown.' The military can't yet sort out precisely who was kidnapped because one of the four bodies is so badly burned that it can't be immediately identified." CBS' Mark Strassman "reports all the soldiers involved in the ambus were from Fort Drum, in upstate New York." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes of the ongoing search: "Helicopters had logged more than 255 hours and other US security agencies had deployed their assets in the race to locate the soldiers, whom the military still assumed were alive, [Lt. Col. Christopher] Garver said. Other aircraft and jets zoomed overhead, and satellite technology had been tapped, as soldiers scoured the hostile area."


CBS and AP report: "At least one mortar or rocket slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Tuesday, wounding five American Embassy contractors, a spokesman said." Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left 5 dead and 15 wounded, aan Abu Saida bombing that left 12 dead and 22 wounded. Baghdad mortar attack that left 4 dead and 4 wounded, and a mini-bus bombing that left 1 dead and 4 injured. Reuters reports 2 dead and 4 injured in a Mahmudiya roadside bombing and 1 dead, 4 Iraqi soldiers injured in Mosul from a bombing, and 2 wounded from a Hawija roadside bombing.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Colonel Raed Mohamed Shihab shot dead in front of his house and 2 people shot dead in Al Khalis. Reuters notes a Tikrit shooting that left two dead and one wounded.


Mohmmaed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In Iraqi legislation news,
Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports 'progress' on Iraq's constitution plan which translates as the proposed changes (including the privatization of the oil) is being sent to the parliament for a vote. Sunday, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on the troubles some aspects face if put to a floor vote. The laws aren't any closer to being passed. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) notes last week's stand by the Iraqi parliament "against the US occupation and for a rapid withdrawal of American troops. This is the perfect opportunity for a face-saving and orderly US withdrawal based on the request of a soverign government. To reject the offer would paint the US as a naked imperialist without a fig leaf of legitimacy."

on tonight's broadcast of The Bachelor: White House Bully Boy hands a rose to Army Lt. Gen Douglas Lute and says, "You defeat me. Be my war czar." Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) first reported on the search April 11, 2007. 34 days later -- can you say "shotgun wedding"? -- Bully Boy has his man.