Friday, June 22, 2007

Ruth Conniff, Robert Parry

Thank you to everyone for their kind words regarding Wednesday's post. My main concern as I was writing it was that I might not be clear. It appears everyone who e-mailed grasped that I stand firmly behind Norman Finkelstein's work and support it, that my only problem was involving Matthew Rothschild in a matter he wasn't involved in prior.

Ruth Conniff? I'm about to provide an excerpt from her latest. If you can get passed the conventional wisdom of the opening, you will probably enjoy it. She's writing of a serious topic and, after the initial opening, less concerned that the entire world grasps, "I'm not one of those radicals!"

"Slave Labor, Poisoned Toys Give Global Capitalism a Black Eye" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive):
A few years ago the anti-globalization movement seemed, to much of mainstream America, a fringe concern. Capitalism and free trade are, after all, our national religion. The protesters who disrupted global trade summits in Seattle and Washington, DC, had little sympathy from outlet shoppers jamming big box stores in Middle America. But things have changed. Wal-Mart stories featuring abusive labor practices shone a spotlight on the down side of low prices. And, more recently, the spate of reports about the poison fruits of free trade with China have hit American consumers in the gut.
"In order to achieve modernization, people will go to any ends to earn money, to advance their interest, leaving behind morality, humanity and even a little bit of compassion, let alone the law or regulations," economic professor Hu Jindou says in an article on Chinese child slavery in the June 21 edition of the New York Times. The article concerns the hundreds of people, including pre-teen children, found to be working as slaves at a brick-making factory in Shanxi Province. Children are routinely pressed into service in China’s toy factories. "Work-study" programs ship schoolchildren from poor provinces to factories where they are worked from early morning until late at night without pay.
And then there are the poisonous products–the killer toothpaste containing diethylene glycol found at a Dollar Store in Miami. The questionably "organic" herbs and food products. William Hubbard, the former deputy commissioner of the FDA who now runs an organization called Coalition for a Stronger FDA told NPR about the Chinese food shipments FDA officials turn back at ports after labeling them as "filthy"–that's the term of art for smelly, decomposing, chemical-laden and otherwise obviously unfit food. On NPR, Hubbard described how an inspector found an herbal tea factory where herbal tea was processed by driving trucks over it: "'To speed up the drying process, they would lay the tea leaves out on a huge warehouse floor and drive trucks over them so that the exhaust would more rapidly dry the leaves out,' Hubbard says. 'And the problem there is that the Chinese use leaded gasoline, so they were essentially spewing the lead over all these leaves.'"
And, "That lead-contaminated herbal tea would only be caught by FDA inspectors at the border if they knew to look for it, Hubbard says."

That's an important topic and I know some people do, for instance, drink tea for health reasons. I would recommend you check the boxes to see where your tea is made?
The toothpaste section is equally (more?) frightening. So I will give her credit for writing about this and note, one more time, that if you can get past the opening, it's a column worth reading. Maybe Ruth Conniff will go a vacation shortly, in Central America, and end up involved in something (a la The Little Drummer Girl but with less twists and turns) and lose the need to reassure everyone that she's not a radical? Generally speaking, studies have demonstrated this, women grow more radical as we age. I'd hate to think Conniff would go the other way. But it's an important topic and, except for the opening, I enjoyed it.

"Sen. Levin's False History & Logic" (Robert Parry, Consortium News):
If you're wondering why the Iraq War is likely to continue indefinitely despite mounting public outrage and a failed military strategy, part of the answer can be found in two words: Carl Levin.
Levin, a low-key Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, has wedded himself to a line of thinking that is both historically wrong and logically unsound. Yet, his faulty reasoning, if maintained, virtually guarantees that George W. Bush will keep winning every war-funding round with Congress through the end of his presidency.
On June 21, Levin spelled out his thinking in a Washington Post op-ed entitled "Lincoln's Example for Iraq." Levin asserted that he is modeling his Iraq War position on Abraham Lincoln's stance on the Mexican War, launched by President James Polk in 1846 after a declaration of war by Congress.
"In his only term in Congress, Abraham Lincoln was an ardent opponent of the Mexican War," including voting for an amendment that called the conflict "unnecessary and unconstitutionally begun by the President," Levin wrote.
Yet, Levin noted, "when the question of funding for the troops fighting that war came, Lincoln voted their supplies without hesitation." Levin likens Lincoln's anti-war position to his own, since the Michigan senator opposed President Bush’s war resolution in 2002 but has vowed to continue voting money for the troops as long as they remain in the field.
But what Levin doesn't tell you is that the Lincoln example is by no means an historical parallel to Levin's position on the Iraq War. For one, Lincoln wasn't even in Congress when the war with Mexico was declared on May 13, 1846. Lincoln took his seat in the House of Representatives on Dec. 6, 1847.
By then, the war with Mexico was already won. The decisive battle of Chapultepec was fought almost three months earlier, on Sept. 12, 1847, and American forces entered Mexico City on Sept. 14.
Though there was a delay in negotiating a final peace treaty due to the political chaos in the Mexican leadership, the war was effectively over. So, Lincoln's readiness to supply the troops was not a vote for continuing an indefinite war with Mexico; it was simply to send supplies while a final peace treaty was negotiated.
The peace treaty was signed in the village of Guadalupe Hidalgo, near Mexico City, on Feb. 2, 1848, formally ending a conflict that had lasted less than two years. By contrast, the Iraq War has dragged on for more than four years with no end in sight.
In other words, Levin is historically wrong when he uses Lincoln's stand on the Mexican War to justify his own on the Iraq War. While Levin says he will give President Bush a blank check as long as the Iraq War continues, there is no reason to believe that Congressman Lincoln would have done the same for President Polk if that Commander in Chier were set on a bloody, indefinite occupation of the entire Mexican countryside.

C.I. passed on a note through Mike wondering if Rebecca and I could note Robert Parry tonight? Our response was, "Sure." There wasn't time to work it into the snapshot. That may mean, time ran out or it may mean C.I. tried and time ran out. I suspect the latter. That's a lengthy excerpt and I am not attempting to infringe on Parry's copyright but other than a two sentence summary, I don't think I could have sketched that out. (A two sentence summary would also leave readers confused.) That is not the entire article by Parry but I tried cutting out a paragraph here or there and summarizing. The results? I just ended up screwing the entire thing up.

So Carl Levin wants to build a historical case for his cowardice? He wants to continue funding the illegal war. He also may want to use his 'historical' example not only to justify but to make sure it's out there and no one goes off the reservation on this issue. But, as Parry points out, Levin's example is ahistorical. It is not reality. That goes a long way to explaining why the illegal war drags on. Levin can't make a case for funding on his own, so he hides behind (a distorted example about) Abraham Lincoln.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 22, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, CounterSpin covers a report the mainstream media (domestic) has shown no interest in, Falluja is addressed (and on going), watch out for that tidal wave of Operation Happy Talk!, and more.

Starting with news of war resistance. Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale continues to garner good reviews. Anita Joshua (India's The Hindu) reviews the book and concludes, "For over a year, he lived in the U.S. in constant fear of being caught before he fled with his family to Canada in search of asylum. But, he makes no attempt to exaggerate his travails to sell his story, and it is this honesty that reflects through all the detail." Key served in Iraq and, while back in the US, made the decision to self-check out instead of returning to an illegal war. He, his wife Brandi Key and their children then lived underground in the US before crossing the border into Canada where he is attempting to win refugee status. From page 171 of his book (written with Lawrence Hill):

One morning in Ramadi, while I was sitting on top of my armored personnel carrier outside a little house controlled by men from another platoon in the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, I saw soldiers open the door and push a naked prisoner outside. The prisoner looked like he was about forty years old. One soldier kicked him as he stumbled out the door and into the light, and another soldier kicked him as he passed through the gate. The detainee was sent to stand in the middle of the street, and for an instant I wondered why he had been brought out like that. And then, in full view of passerby, the naked man defecated in the street. I turned my head guiltily, but not before I had witnessed his humiliation. He stood up and was kicked on his way back inside the building. I never saw him again, and I don't know what happened to him.
It would not be until much later, after I deserted the army, that I heard of Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, or about the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of Americans, or about human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Also noting Key is Kim Peterson (Dissident Voice) in his exploration of genocide which puts the illegal war into that context and quotes Key and Jimmy Massey. Massy is quoted stating, "As far as I'm concerned, the real war did not begin until they saw us murdering innocent civilians. I mean, they were witnessing their loved ones being murdered by US Marines. It's kind of hard to tell someone that they are being liberated when they just saw their child shot or lost thei husband or grandmother."

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Speaking out to end the war is a duty
Iraq Veterans Against the War takes very seriously. Monday IVAW's Adam Kokesh appeared on Mark Levine's Inside Scoop for the hour. We've noted the interview all week (and the link was left out of yesterday's snapshot when it first went up, my apologies) and we'll close out the week by noting it again:

Mark Levine: Tell me about combat stress?

Adam Kokesh: As you said, it's hard to get care. It's one of those things we're fighting for with Iraq Veterans Against the War, full funding of the Department of Veteran Affairs. But for me, when I came home, I didn't even allow myself to get into PTSD because I didn't want to think about my experiences in a way that would have that kind of emotional reaction.

Mark Levine: Denial. Just forget. Denial. [crosstalk]

Adam Kokesh: . . . and for me, when I came back, I had combat stress which is distinctly different because it's much more superficial and about habitual things. But the worst of it for me, was I had, I had a few anxiety attacks. You know, you just lose control of your brain for a few minutes and it's a little disturbing but it was something we were warned about. And for me, it was kind of a good thing. [cross talk] . . . No, no, no. You lose control of your brain and you just shut down. It's more of a --

Mark Levine: You just shut down.

Adam Kokesh: It's more of an internal thing than an external thing.

Mark Levine: So people don't even realize it's going on maybe.

Adam Kokesh: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes I would cry. Sometimes I would shake. But it was internal. But it's mainly because of being overwhelmed by the environment and being in such a beautiful enivornment as my college campus was. To go from Falluja one week to campus the next week. . . . That caused the anxiety for me. The other things were I would wake up early well before my alarm and feel this strange sense of urgency, like I had to be somewhere, and not be able to go back to sleep.

Adam Kokesh's service in Iraq was not ingored by the US military. It was 'rewarded' with a witch hunt and Liam Madden and Cloy Richards are also targeted. The US military feels harrassment is a form of a 'thank you'. That's the reality of the US administration and the US military brass when it comes to veterans.

And if how little the lives and wounds (on all sides) from the illegal war matter isn't coming through, check out Robert Gates and Peter Pace.
Josh White (Washington Post) reports Gates and Pace have launched a new wave of Operation Happy Talk -- the number of US service members who have died and are dying in Iraq is not an issue, that's the "wrong metric". That is the wrong thing to focus on, say Gates and Pace, as CBS and AP note that at least 16 US service members have been announced dead "over the past three days."
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the Operation Happy Talkers also said success "should be measured not by whether violence is reduced, but by whether Iraqis feel better about their nation's future." Gates and Pace, after splashing one another with waves of Operation Happy Talk, ran down to the beach to enter a wet t-shirt contest before expounding further on the notion of deluded levels of self-esteem being the true measure of success while living in a combat zone. No word on whether the rumors are true that both will dress up in silk nighties and have a pillow fight late tonight.

Realities on Iraq were addressed today on
CounterSpin where co-host Janine Jackson interviewed Celine Nahory, co-author of [PDF format warning] "Independent Report on Iraq" which examines the causes of violence in Iraq. A sample of the discussion.

Janine Jackson: Well, I want to draw you out on another issue in the report -- there are many of them, of course -- but you talked about attacks on cities and I think many people, of course, as we've mentioned may believe that the 'coalition' is in the position of mainly defending or protecting but I think they still could tell you that the US-led 'coalition' did fiercely attack the city of Falluja. I think most people remember that but that would be a very incomplete picture, wouldn't it?

Celine Nahory: Well, at the very moment the US is actually imposing another siege on Falluja. There were two in 2004 and there is one going on right now -- for about a month now. But Falluja is absolutely not the only city on which there have been assaults. Part of the "anti-insurgency operation" that the US is pursuing in Iraq. A dozen other cities have suffered: Najaf, Tal Afar, Samarra, al Qaim, Haditha, Ramadi, Baquba, many others. And this is not something that happened here and there. It's really ongoing operations. And usually those operations follow the same pattern where the city is sealed off, a very harsh curfew is imposed, residents are encouraged to leave resulting in massive displacement of people. After awhile they assume that those who stay inside are only 'insurgents' and they cut water, food, electricity, medical supplies and carry massive bombardments on urban households and this destructs a very large part of the city. Reports say that more than 75% of the city of Falluja lies in ruins today. And many of those occasions, the US military has taken over medical facitilies such as hospitals. In those cities, very often hospitals are the tallest building in those cities. So the US takes them over and puts snipers on top and you have once again control over the city or neighborhoods.

Jackson observed that outside of AFP, she hasn't seen any press coverage of the report. The report is in PDF format and you can read it by sections:
Executive Summary [
Read] [French]Map of Major Coalition Attacks, Bases and Prisons [See map]Political Map of Iraq [See map]1. Introduction [Read]2. Destruction of Cultural Heritage [Read]3. Indiscriminate and Especially Injurious Weapons [Read]4. Unlawful Detention [Read]5. Abuse and Torture of Prisoners [Read]6. Attacks on Cities [Read]7. Killing Civilians, Murder and Atrocities [Read]8. Displacement and Mortality [Read]9. Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance [Read]10. Long-Term Bases and the New Embassy Compound [Read]11. Other Issues [Read]- Iraqi Public Opinion and the Occupation- Cost of the War and Occupation12. Conclusion and Recommendations [Read]

On the subject of Falluja, let's turn to a speech from last weekend's conference in Chicago,
given by Dahlia Wasfi and focus on the Falluja section of her talk, "Falluja -- God help us for what we have done to the people of Falluja. On March 31, 2004, four American civilians lost their lives in Falluja. They were civilians with military backgrounds, in the same that a paramilitary death squad in El Salvador responsible for the brutal rape, torture and murder of four American nuns was comprised of civilians. Though they had GPS systems from Blackwater, those systems were not working that day, and they became disoriented. But they should have known long before, when they were boarding a plane for Baghdad, that they were going the wrong way. Perhaps they only signed a contract with Blackwater to achieve financial security for their loved ones. But there is a word in the English language to describe an individual who sells his body, his principles and his soul for monetary reward. That's a congressman. In the same way that Nazi soldiers fell victim to their system during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, these hired killers from Blackwater got justice served to them on a silver platter. Then, revenge was carried out on a people who can truly be identified as civilians. In April 2004, U.S. Marines closed the bridge to the city and a hospital road -- a war crime. The U.S. military and its vehicles stood at the hospital entrance -- a war crime. And snipers were positioned on rooftops, targeting ambulances and the clinic doors. Between 600 and 800 civilians were killed in that siege, but that wasn't enough. In November 2004, the second major siege of Falluja began. The Nazzal Emergency Hospital, protected by the Geneva Conventions, was leveled to the ground, and Falluja General Hospital, was seized by the U.S. military. Doctors described being tied and beaten, despite being unarmed and having only medical instruments. Burhan Fasa'a, a cameraman with the Lebanese broadcasting company, reported that there were American snipers on top of the hospital, shooting everyone in sight. In addition, the U.S. military blocked the Iraqi Red Crescent from entering the city for seven days. The result was a death toll of between 6,000 and 8,000 civilians. This means that the Iraqi death toll in November 2004 alone surpassed the invaders' death toll for all of Operation Enduring Freedom thus far."

Many of those people driven from their homes can't go back. In chapter eight of [PDF format warning] "
Independent Report on Iraq," the issues involved in Iraq exploding refugee crisis are explored (over 4 million if you combine internally displaced and externally displaced). It is noted that, on the Iraqi death toll, "Washington insists that the lowest numbers are most accurate, while refusing to publish its own official statistics." As Nancy A. Youssef noted almost exactly one year ago, the US is keeping figures, the US military in Iraq is provided with those figures, and yet the American people are kept in the dark. The section concludes with the following:

Iraq faces a growing humanitarian emergency, with unprecedented death and displacement. As of April 2007, the United Nations estimated that up to 8 million people were vulnerable and in need of immediate assistance. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been forced to flee from their homes and hundreds of thousands more are casualties of the violence through death and injury. Education has broken down. Unemployment has reached about 60% and the annual inflation rate peaked at about 70% in July 2006. An estimated 54% of the Iraqi population lives on less than a dollar day, among capacity. Electricity is in short supply. Only 32% of Iraqis have access to clean drinking water. The Public Distribution System food ration has stopped functioning in certain areas of the country, leaving 4 million Iraqis acutely vulnerable due to food insecurity. Severe malnutrition doubled between 2003 and 2005. Iraq's humanitarian emergency has reached a crisis level that compares with some of the world's most urgent calamities.

And as the crisis grows even worse, some of the violence in Iraq today includes . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded four people, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded 2 police officers, US missiles launched from US helicopters that killed 17 Iraqis whom the US says were suspected 'gunmen' or suspected 'al Qaeda' or both depending upon the report but 17 are dead and they are dead on nothing more than, at best, suspicion, a Qara Taba roadside bombing that wounded three Iraqi soldiers, and an al Hawija roadside bombing that wounded one peson. Reuters reports that a Falluja bombing killed two civilians and left four wounded.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a person shot dead in a Bahgdad market today and a person shot dead in Dali Abbas village.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during combat operations in a southwestern section of the Iraqi capital June 21.

Finally, in political news, US Senator Hillary Clinton would like to be the Democratic nominee in 2008 for president.
Turkish Daily News reports that she announced Tuesday she was happy to keep US forces in Iraq to defend "close U.S. allies" Iraqi Kurds. Due to the pronounced and ongoing tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq, they would highlight that because it goes to their own security but . . . what's the excuse for that photo of Hillary? Seriously. Ouch.

In other political news,
Robin Wright (Washington Post) reports that the US House of Representatives -- in a 355 pro and 69 against vote -- decided to get James Baker to round up his friends in the James Baker Circle Jerk to listen to the September reports from the US administration and the US military about 'progress' in Iraq, decipher and figure out what to do. Translation, the US House would like to outsource their own jobs, duties and responsiblities to a center-right group which can provide cover. If the duties are too much for any US House Rep, I do believe they have all been informed of the resignation process and possibly some should considering putting that process in motion? James Baker and Lee Hamilton were not voted into Congress in 2006. The Democratic upset resulted from voters wanting change and believing Democrats could deliver. So far Americans join Diana Ross in singing, "And I'm still waiting . . . Ooooh-oooh-oh . . . Still waiting . . ."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

John Halle, Norman Finkelstein, Ruth Conniff, etc.

I am only going to focus on one topic tonight. I think it's important one. I have an excerpt and I disagree with the article. I'll share why but I hope you will read the article. I'm glad it wasn't written. It's an important topic and I think John Halle and CounterPunch deserve credit for it. (Note, Matthew Rothschild should be included in the title. He's reduced to "etc" because that's as far as I can go without causing a problem for Wally and Cedric who attempt to link to every community post. If I go longer, they'll have to copy or type the title and then add a link. By keeping it a certain link, they can just copy the link on the right side of this site. With the exception of C.I., we all try to keep our titles a certain length for that reason. C.I. doesn't have to because Wally and Cedric swipe the links from the titles at the mirror site for The Common Ills and, there, they have the link built in. So C.I. can exceed the limit without causing any problems for Wally or Cedric.)

"Finkelstein and The Progressive" (John Halle, CounterPunch):
That's because of the minor but not insignificant role which Rothschild and Progressive columnist Ruth Conniff played in fueling the witch hunt.
A year ago, Finkelstein's name came up on a Madison talk show where Conniff was appearing as a guest. Conniff shocked many listeners by describing Finkelstein as "a Holocaust denier" and a "celebrity in a certain, a pretty ugly anti-semitic group in the country." Finkelstein protested demanding a retraction from Conniff’s editor, fearing that a respected publication’s denigration of his character could influence his upcoming tenure decision. Rothschild responded by reasserting the correctness of Conniff's charges, citing in support canards circulated by Finkelstein’s chief antagonist, Dershowitz.

First, let me say that I appreciate that the article ran at CounterPunch. I think independent media tries to be entirely too chummy. I enjoyed reading it and found some e-mails exchanged on the topic between Finkelstein and Matthew Rothschild.

My take? Matthew Rothschild should have covered Finkelstein being denied tenure. That's really all he should have done. (As far as I know, he hasn't done that.) The e-mail exchange? Finklestein made a HUGE error. Matthew Rothschild is responsible for what he says and writes. Ruth Conniff is responsible for what she says and writes.

We saw this play out last week in this community. Rebecca wrote something and was rightly offended that instead of being contacted about it, the person went to C.I. She was further offended that she was not contacted that day (though her e-mail address was passed on Monday), on Tuesday or on Wednesday by the time she posted. The person did contact her after she posted Wednesday. There is no problem between the two now. But that has happened repeatedly. People will be offended by something Rebecca writes (or, honestly, anyone in the community pretty much -- as far as I know, no one's ever complained about me to C.I., possibly, like AlterPunk, they feel comfortable addressing it with me?) and immediately go running to C.I.

That's not just unfair to C.I. (though it is unfair and puts C.I. in an awkward position), it's unfair to Rebecca. She is her own person. The idea that you're going to go running to C.I. when you have a problem with Rebecca is insulting to her.

Finkelstein was bothered by Ruth Conniff's comments. I don't blame him (and I'll get back to those in a moment). But he needed to take that up with Ruth Conniff and not with Matthew Rothschild.

Conniff says something and he goes to Rothschild? That invalidates Conniff as her own person (which she is). It also suggests a behavior that I do not support. Conniff's boss is Matthew Rothschild. So when we don't like something, on the left, we go to the boss instead of the person? Excuse me, but I do believe that's how Raymond Bonner got pulled from Central America in the 80s.

I don't want to minimize how disrespectful it is to women when that happens either. Is Conniff not able to speak for herself? She often ticks me off but she can and does speak for herself.

I've wondered about why he went to Rothschild and the easiest explanation is that Rothschild has a public e-mail. However, he could have e-mailed Rothschild asking for contact info on Ruth Conniff. Had he included a simple sentence that he objected to comments she made about him (he didn't need to go into them with Rothschild) on a radio program, I would assume Rothschild would provide him Conniff's address or reply "Write her care of this address and put 'For Ruth' in the subject line'."

Rothschild is responsible for not writing about the denial of tenure. He and he only. But he is not responsible for Ruth Conniff. She's paid to write a column. She was a guest on a radio program and made comments. The comments didn't even appear in the magazine. If I do not like the comments I hear at a rally and I recognize the speaker and know he works at McDonalds, do I have a right to go to his employer and complain? Obviously, I have that right. I would never do that because I don't believe it's very ethical.

Now we're up to Ruth Conniff (my "in a moment" promise). Look, I'm not going to defend her statements (which I disagree with -- including her correction which was still incorrect, in my opinion). But I will note that had people paid attention to her statements (or her writing) they would have found many other problems. This is the woman who went on radio and explained no one she knew was touched by the war. This is the woman who went on radio and said that people should vote for the Democrat Party (unless it's a really, really, really bad Dem, in which case they could vote Green!). I rarely have anything nice to say about Conniff which is why I was so surprised by her recent piece on Barack Obama. While it certainly could have been more hard hitting, it honestly surprised me. I think she needs to be pulled off the DC beat. I think she's got Beltway damage.

But in fairness to her, no one knows her side of it. (I would assume it's "I made a mistake and I corrected myself on air. If you disagree with my correction, my reasoning is . . ." Or she might not even offer "My reasoning is . . .") Some may feel Conniff should have explained herself and I could see that point if it weren't for one thing: Finkelstein never asked her.

I'm sorry, you don't do that. If you have a problem with something I've written, you write me. You don't go running to C.I. It's insulting. (Maybe Finklestein meant to be insulting.)

As for why Rothschild hasn't written of Finkelstein's being denied tenure, honestly, I know from C.I. that there are times when someone goes running about whomever in the community and C.I. gets tired of it. Rothschild may feel that he's not going to expend time on someone who has involved him in a personal matter that has nothing to do with him. I'm not saying that's why and certainly people can find his e-mail address at The Progressive if they wish to ask him themselves. That is the way to do it if you're going to ask -- ask him about his actions or his non-actions, not about someone else's actions.

With Rebecca, it was disowning that she does her work. Running to C.I. is treating her very rudely. It's the same thing (intended or not) when someone drags Matthew Rothschild into an issue of what Ruth Conniff said outside the magazine. Even if it's printed in the magazine, that doesn't necessarily represent Matthew Rothschild as editor. If it's a pattern, it may. It may mean he agrees, or he feels the writing is so incredible that it's justified on those merits, or he takes the attitude of Conniff can write whatever she wants in her space, or, if he's strongly and repeatedly offended, it might mean he's unable to execute a vision for the magazine. It could also be other reasons. But Ruth Conniff is a grown up and so is Finklestein. There was no reason to involve Matthew Rothschild in the matter.

To repeat, I'm glad CounterPunch printed Halle's article and I enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading more by him and hope he doesn't shy away from sharing his thoughts on independent media. There's entirely too much 'cuddliness' in independent media. I can read his article, enjoy his writing, grasp what he's getting across and still disagree. I can do all of that and be glad he shared anyway (which I am). I really enjoyed reading the article. But these are my thoughts (and my thoughts only).

There is a great deal going on in and around Iraq including a wife of a missing US soldier whom the government is threatening with deportation. Her husband has missing since May 12th and a video was released that supposedly depicted his death. The fact that her husband is in the military and in Iraq should have been enough for the nonsense of deportation to stop. The fact that he is assumed captured makes what the government is attempting even sadder and pathetic. Also pay attention to the Diane Rhem Show section. The military doctor (I listened) says a counseling number is provided at the website. As C.I. points out, lots of luck finding it. If it exists. If.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a US service member in Iraq announces his resistance, the US threatens to deport the wife of a US service member, the British military announces the death of a service member, Amy Goodman wonders since when did Iraq become a banned topic in high schools, and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh who was selected for the Wings of Justice Award today -- BuzzFlash's weekly honor which concludes: "The Marine Corps treated Kokesh unfairly for expressing his viewpoints, a freedom he put his life on the line for in Fallujah. That is what Bush says we are fighting for there, doesn't he? Adam Kokesh, to us, you served honoroably and bravely. You truly merit this week's BuzzFlash Wings of Justice award."

Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh appeared Monday on Mark Levine's Inside Scoop discussing many topics for the hour.

Adam Kokesh: To call it a protest isn't exactly accurate. This was a demonstration conducted by Iraq Veterans Against the War called Operation First Casulty and it's called that because it has long been said that the first casulty of war is truth and the purpose of the demonstration was to bring a small part of the truth of the occupation home to the American people who have largely forgotten that there is a military force representing our people imposing martial law in another country on the other side of the world. And we did that by conducting a mock combat patrol through the streets of DC and we had civilian actors who were playing effected peoples -- they weren't playing Iraqis, they weren't pretending to speak Arabic or anything like that -- but as average Americans being subjected to the same thing that Iraqis are subjected to every day.

Mark Levine: So you were showing Americans what the Iraqi civilians have to go through?

Adam Kokesh: Well, yes, but not just that. But also giving them a taste of what it's like to come around a street corner and see a squad of armed men in uniform in a patrol. And these actors that we had were integrated into wherever they were standing in the city, we had them in lines full of tourists, we had them in parks and so on -- and we would randomly accost them, search them, zip cuff them and put sandbags over their heads.

And as Kokesh and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War attempt to bring the war home via street theater and truth telling, a US service member takes resistance to Iraq.
Iraq Veterans Against the War posts the following:

Yesterday, June 19, 26 year old SPC Eli Israel put himself at great personal risk by making the courageous decision to refuse futher participation in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Eli told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war. Eli believes that the U.S. government used the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a pretense to invade Iraq and that "we are now violating the people of this country (Iraq) in ways that we would never accept on our own soil." Eli is stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad with JBV Bravo Company, 1-149 Infantry of the Kentucky Army National Guard. This soldier's decision to refuse orders put him at great risk, especially because he's in Iraq, isolated from legal assistance and other support. The following is a message that Eli sent yesterday to a friend back home:
"I have told them that I will no longer play a 'combat role' in this confllict or 'protect corporate representatives,' and they have taken this as 'violating a direct order.' I may bein jail or worse in the next 24 hours. Please rally whoever you can, call whoever you can, bring as much attention to this as you can. I have no doubt that the military will bury me and hide the whole situation if they can. I'm in big trouble. I'm in the middle of Iraq, surrounded by people who are not on my side. Please help me. Please contact whoever you can, and tell them who I am, so I don't 'disappear'."
Eli is taking an incredible risk by refusing orders in Iraq and will most likely be court martialed. Please help him by contacting his Senator and requesting that he take any steps necessary to support and protect this soldier and ensure that the Army respects his rights and does not illegally retaliate against him.
Senator Mitch McConnell:
Washington Office
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2541
Fax: (202) 224-2499

The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

And resistance is going on everywhere -- around the world. Turning to England, where the mother of a British soldier serving in Iraq has issued a public message to Gordon Brown (Tony Blair is expected to step down next Wednesday -- June 27th -- and Gordon Brown would then become prime minister of the UK).
Lily Walker states (via Great Britain's Socialist Worker), "My message to Gordon Brown is that we must get the troops home now. My son is a serving soldier just back from Iraq. I am not a pacisfist, but I am against what is happening in Iraq -- the illegality and the lies. None of the troops enlisted to fight for a lie. I won't sit back and be quiet about what is happening in Iraq. I live in Tameside, just outside Manchester, and I have been calling on people to come to the demonstration on Sunday 24 June. Together we can make a difference. Tony Blair has let people down. It remains to be seen what Gordon Brown will do." Lily Walker is a member of Military Families Against the War and the demonstration this coming Sunday is "Gordon Brown's coronation as Tony Blair's successor" in Manchester (starting at noon at St. Peters Square, more information by clicking here).

Turning to the United States, June 13th,
Amy Goodman (writing at Truthdig) reported on Voices in Conflit -- the Wilton High School production kicked off school property because the principal didn't want a play about Iraq; not only that, didn't want discussions about Iraq in any class; and quoted student Jimmy Presson stating, "We are not allowed to talk about the war while discussing current events." Today, Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with Presson, student Courtney Stack, Bonnie Dickinson (director of Voices in Conflict) and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Charlie Anderson about the experience and the NYC off-broadway performances of their play. Goodman questioned Presson about the ban on Iraq in his high school:

AMY GOODMAN: Jimmy, how often do you get to talk about war at school?

JIMMY PRESSON: We very rarely to never talk about the war through the curriculum. In classes in which we discuss current events, we are required to not bring in current events that relate to the war.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, what do you mean? What about social studies or history?

JIMMY PRESSON: In history classes, the current events that we bring in are -- we've been instructed to have the articles be unrelated to the war.

AMY GOODMAN: You're not allowed to talk about war in your history class?

JIMMY PRESSON: We're not allowed to talk about the war.


JIMMY PRESSON: Because it's too controversial, I guess. Because they don't want kids arguing in class.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there any class that you can talk about it?

JIMMY PRESSON: We can talk about it a little bit in Middle Eastern studies, a little bit, but it's not even that much in that class.

BONNIE DICKINSON: That class is not offered.

JIMMY PRESSON: Every year. It's only offered every other year.

AMY GOODMAN: So this past year, it wasn't offered?

JIMMY PRESSON: It was not offered this past year.

AMY GOODMAN: So the only class to discuss this was in drama?


A war is ongoing, it passed the four year mark in March and a high school thinks it's a topic to be banned? Let's all pretend it's not going on and it won't be? Is that the 'plan'? It's certainly not education. Presson portrays Charlie Anderson in the play and Anderson gave the play and Presson high marks. Some attempted to silence the students -- they did not succeed.

"It's really simple,"
Dr. Dahlia Wasfi says, "You bring the troops home, they stop dying there." Wasfi speaks with James Harris and Robert Scheer (Truthdig -- transcript and audio at the link) and addresses the Salvadorian model utilized in Iraq to create divisions and a number of other topics including nothing that "first and foremost, there's no security now. People used to stay out to the late hours, having a social life, meeting at the tea cafes, coffee cafes. From the days of the invasion, 'Everybody inside by 6 o'clock!' Because it was out responsibility, American forces' responsibility, to establish law and order, and we faield miserably. In addition, the infrastructure continues to deteriorate. The services, as has been documented by the U.S. Government Accounting Office, even in 2004, the services had already deteriorated to be worse than under Saddam Hussein. So you have a population whose government, the puppet government in the Green Zone, is not providing security, is not providing electricity, is not providing potable water. What are they doing? They're working on oil laws that will privatize Iraq's oil and give up ownership to foreign companies. Unless you have a government in place that will serve the people, it will not last. If you need a military force to maintain a government in power, what does that tell you?"

Meanwhile, the US Congress is gearing up for it's summer break which will begin August 6th.
Jeff Lays (CounterPunch) notes that is also the kick off of the Occupation Project, "a reinvigorated campaign of sustained noviolent civil disobedience/civil resistance to end Iraq war funding" and but before that takes place, there is an ongoing action lasting "[t]hrough the end of July, Grassroots America for Us is organizing the Swarm on Congress, intensive and extensive lobbying on Capitol Hill." Kevin Zeese (writing at Grassroots for America) notes, "The 'SWARM' will build on the successful efforts of activists in DC and around the country who have been occupying offices, protesting in the Halls of Congress and sending a consistent message. It will build on the Occupation Project, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and the Declaration of Peace as well as the works of Code Pink and our Maryland peace coalition. Already, key anti-war groups are supporting this effort including United For Peace and Justice and Voters For Peace, among others."

As pressure is brought to bear on Congress, US Senator and Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday is getting attention.
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) observes that after winning over some of the crowd mid-speech "then she got into trouble by returning to the topic of the Iraq war. First, she tried to align herself with the crowd. 'We need to end the war in Iraq and finally bring our troops home,' she said. 'I voted against the supplemental.' She also said that the United States has no reason to be a part of the sectarian war there. But she blamed the Iraqis for the mess. 'The American military has succeeded,' she said. 'It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions.' This brought the boo birds out in force, with the Code Pink contingent holding up signs saying 'Lead Us Out of Iraq Now!'" David Swanson (AfterDowning Street) also reports "loud booing" and concludes with this: "Clinton never mentioned the point Ted Koppel reported last week and Bill Richardson raised here yesterday that she intends to have the occupation of Iraq still going at the end of her second term, should she be elected."
Susan J. Douglas (In These Times) explores the contradiction in Clinton's campaign and whom the core voters would be expected to be.

In Iraq, the death toll from yesterday's truck bombing in Baghdad continues to rise. 78 was the count
yesterday. AP, Reuters, CNN and Al Jazeera report that the death toll has now climbed to 87 and CNN notes the tally for wounded stands at 214. Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) quotes Abu Muhammed ("one of the custodians of the bombed mosque") stating, "The Americans know everything, they can do everything, they can repair the space shuttle without touching it, why do they let these things happen here in Iraq? We think the Americans want these things to happen in Iraq, to keep things like this."

Meanwhile, the offensive in the Diyala province continues. The New York Times' imploded star,
War Pornographer Michael Gordon, is allowed to soil the front page with his War-On drippings this morning in an alleged "military analysis" which fails to offer any analysis but does provide much rah-rah-rah Operation Happy Talk. Gordo fails to note what Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) can: "The offensive has seen the revival of a tactic rarely used since the Vietnam war: air assaults by troops dropped into fighting zones by helicopter." Gordo gets all giddy over the detention of Iraqis noting that "the goal is to capture or kill" alleged 'insurgents' (an elastic term which can include any Iraqi opposed to the illegal military occupation of Iraq) and so much blood rushes to Gordo's nether regions he fails to wonder how many people are already imprisoned in Iraq? 20,000 is the figure for Iraqis currently imprisoned (not counting imprisoned at secret sites off the books) with 8,000 of those having been held for more than one year (via Socialist Worker compiling figures from UNHCR, UN, World Vision, Brookings Institution and Global Poverty Forum to present "Iraq in figures"). Gordo's also so busy with both hands digging in his pants (apparently in search of something very small) that he gets Falluja wrong (only women and boys thought to be under 12 years old were allowed to leave when that city was under attack), that he minimizes the death of a US service member when a Bradley is attacked ("What made the loss of the Bradley particularly worrisome is that the exposion occurred in a heavily trafficked area" -- actually, the family and friends of the dead service member would probably argue that the death itself was "particularly worrisome" and much more) and tries to slap some life into his libido with this, "American forces have already fired more than 20 satellite-guided rockets intwo western Baquba. . . . Warplanes have also dropped satellite-guided bombs on suspected roadside bombs and a wapons cache, which produced spectacular secondary expolsions after it was struck." And presumably an unspectacular one in the front of Gordo's pants which would explain why 20 satellite-guided rockets and multiple bombs being dropped in a civilian area does nothing to prevent from Gordo from getting off on the blood bath.

Gordo also fails to point out what
Phil Ittner (CBS News) does, house to house searches are going on in Baquba -- read Gordo in vain for any mention of that. CBS and AP also report gun battles in the city.

In Iraq today . . .


The mosque bombings go on.
CBS and AP report: "In a renewed blow to stability Wednesday, suspected Shiite militans blew up three Sunni mosques south of Baghdad, causing heavy damage but no casualties. The bombings were apparently revenge strikes for a suicide truck bombing a day before that badly damaged an important Shiite mosque in the heart of the capital." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that killed 1 person (3 wounded) and a Baghdad mortar attack that injured 3 people. Reuters reports a Ramadi car bombing that claimed the lives of 5 police officers (12 more injured) and a Baquba mortar attack that claimed the lives of 2 children and 3 women (8 people were injured).


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ali Kadhim Jwad Allaw was shot dead in Baghdad -- he had been "the general director of the Iraq American contracts company" and 7 police officers were shot dead in Khalis. Reuters notes that "a police major" was shot dead in Aziziya.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 29 coprses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses ("a young woman and a man") were discovered in Kut.

Today, the
UK's Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of a soldier from the 4th Battalion The Rifles in Basra City today, Wednesday 20 June 2007." This death brings to 152 the total number of UK soldiers killed while serving in the illegal war.

Late yesterday, the US military announced the deaths of three more US soldiers.
They announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and three were wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad Monday." And they announced: " One Task Force Lightning Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala Province June 19." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital June 18." These three deaths bring the ICCC count to 3531 US troops have died in the illegal war since it began with 54 of those deaths being in the month of June.

This as
Martin Fletcher (Times of London) journeys to Fort Hood (Texas) to report on conditions there and is told by Major Ben Phillips that between "15 to 30 per cent of soldiers are returning from Iraq with psychological problems -- mostly posttraumatic stress disorder and a condition known as traumatic brain injury, a bruising of the brain caused by explosions. He says that a soldier's vulnerability to psychological disorders increases with each deployment, and he was now seeing soldiers who had served in Iraq four or five times. . . . Asked whether soldiers were returning to Iraq before they were fully recovered, he equivocates. 'Our goal is to ensure everybody is ready to go back.' As the Smith Middle School, on Fort Hood's Tank Destroyer Boulevard, 70 per cent of the 500 pupils have a parent serving in Iraq and five had one killed."

Yesterday on NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with Anne Hull and Dana Priest of the Washington Post about their reporting on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Hull: When we started our reporting last fall, many of the soldiers we dealt with had physical wounds but many also had signs of post-traumatic-stress -- if not disorder then heavy symptoms of post-traumatic-stress -- and it just became the next natural step to explore. A lot of these soldiers weren't getting psychological help they needed. Our original reporting focused at Walter Reed and, even there, at the country's top hospital, we noticed they weren't getting enough help.

Hull noted that the official figures currently are 18% for marines and 20% for soldiers and 25% army and Priest commented that in the last five years the army has diagnosed 27,000 service members with PTSD the VA has "treated 45,000 people from Iraq and Afghanistan largely who believe they have PTSD."
Priest and Hull's reporting (and Bob Woodruff's for ABC and others as well) has resulted in the departures of the follow: Major Generarl George W. Weightman, Lt. General Kevin C. Kiley and Francis J. Harvey who had been the Secretary of the Army. In other Iraq and Washington Post news, Ben Hoyle (Times of London) notes Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City -- an inside look at the Green Zone -- has been awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize. Michael, who had just returned from serving in Afghanistan weeks ago, called in to Rehm's show and spoke of needing help but most of all needing someone to talk to. 1-800-984-8523 is the toll free number the US military has set up in the wake of the Walter Reed scandals and it is a toll free number that is supposed to be staffed from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday. The military expert, Col. E. Cameron Ritchie, brought on the show failed to give that number out. She did speak of a toll free number where counseling could be provided and referred people to the Army Behavioral Health website which is a mess, a waste of time and refers you to crappy things you can print out such as "Two-page Tri-fold Brochure"s. If there is a counseling number for service members, let's be really damn clear here, the US military needs to have it displayed on the front page of the website. Otherwise it's a bunch of b.s. created to sound like the military's addressed the situation when, in reality, they have done nothing. It should also be noted, Ritchie appeared on Rehm's show yesterday and this 'wonderful' website was last updated? March 29, 2007. Ritchie needs to quit kidding that this website's offering anything other than sop and needs to get off her ass and get someone post to the counseling number at the top of the main page or else she needs to quit thinking she's fooling anyone.

And no one's being fooled that the US military 'cares' when the wife of a service member is threatened with expulsion from the United States. Since May 12th, following an attack, Byron W. Fouty and Alex R. Jimenez were missing assumed captured. They remain classified as missing.
Dominican Today reports that Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of Alex Jimenez, is being threatened with deportation back to the Dominican Republic and "Hiraldo's green card processing was stopped by an immigration judge when her husband went missing, and the government has so far refused to grant a so-called hardship waiver that would allow her to stay in the country." Her attorney, Matthew Kolken, tells the AP: "I can't imagine a bigger injustice than that, to be deporting someone's wife who is fighting and possibly dying for our country." To repeat, the woman's husband is missing in Iraq and now, on top of that, the US government thinks "helpful" is informing that her citizenship might not go through and they may be returning her to the Dominican Republic. CBS and AP feature a photo of the couple and notes that US Senator John Kerry "has asked federal immigration officials not to deport Hiraldo" writing Michel Chertoff (head of 'Homeland Security'): "Under no condition should our country ever deport the spouse of a soldier who is currently serving in uniform abroad. I feel even more strongly in this case, given the terrible uncertainty surrounding Army Specialist Alex Jimenez."

Returning to the topic of PTSD,
Robin Wright (Washington Post) reports that Steven Kashkett (American Foreign Service Association) testified to Congress Tuesday that appoximately "40 percent of State Department diplomats who have served in danger zones suffer some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder". Following that testimony, it's now been made public that US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker sent a memo to Condi Rice (US Secretary of State) where Crocker notes, "In essence, the issue is whether we are a Department and a service at war. If we are, we need to organize and prioritize in a way that reflects this, something we have not done thus far." Richard Beeston (Times of London) terms the memo "blunt" and feels it will "cause consternation" for those wanting "America to reduce, not expand, its presence in Iraq." Crocker's arguing for the diplomatic service to be intensified and out beyond the Green Zone.

amy goodmandemocracy now

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good-bye Ed; Ralph Nader, Cindy Sheehan

I had a dentist appointment today and my dentist is on vacation so I was referred for this appointment. In the waiting room was a TV, which I could have done without, but what was on the TV really depressed me.

Ed. That's always been a solid name. I've always liked it. They are "Edward" if they're more formal, they are Eddie if they're younger and "Ed" is always the do all fall back. It's a name that I doubt was ever one of the ten most popular but it's popular year in and year out and I'm sure it was in the top one or two hundred for last century.

Watching TV in the waiting room, I realized it was time to say good-bye to Ed.

Ed is most likely over and many parents will probably start running from it.


A commercial for some medication to help men with erections is billing that problem as "E.D." for "erectile dysfunction." I picture a few months from now, parents running from the name "Ed" out of fear that they'll be cursing their sons with a future fait by using the name.

I've always liked what I considered "solid" names for boys probably due to some (possibly mistaken) belief that they will grow up to be "solid" as well. So names like Ed, Brad, Mike, Eric, etc. have always been personal favorites for me.

If you're reading this and are pregnant, you should probably think twice before considering Ed. Sadly.

"Hillary's Stock and Trade" (Ralph Nader, CounterPunch):
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has not challenged the many GAO documented boondoggle military contracts. One gigantic weapon system ­ the F-22 aircraft ­ has been privately denounced by people in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who believe this aircraft is clearly unnecessary and saturated with cost over-runs.
Whether the causes are wasteful, corrupt military contracts or generally the corporate crime wave from Enron to Wall Street, Senator Clinton has not been there in the Congress to advance comprehensive corporate crime legislation and larger enforcement resources.
Nor has she taken on the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare-subsidies, giveaways, handouts and bailouts for big business-that consume the contributions of millions of small taxpayers.
Even in New York City, have you heard Senator Clinton object to taxpayer-funded corporate sports stadiums, while health clinics, schools, libraries and public works decay for lack of public investment? Tax dollars for entertainment are ok by her.
Some of her paucity of candor is not going unnoticed, however. In explaining why she voted for George Bush's Iraq War resolution in 2002, she said she believed that it called for an attempted diplomatic solution. There were no words in that resolution to support that belief. She is a lawyer. She also knows that an amendment by Senator Carl Levin, a fellow Democrat, demanded just such a prior diplomatic effort. She voted against the Levin proposal.
Still, Hillary, with Bill right there, is the frontrunner for the Democratic Party's nomination. The money from commercial interests, which the Clintons have favored and coddled for years, is pouring into her campaign coffers.

Hillary. First off, be sure to read Ava and C.I.'s "Lakshimi shows up late and lost (Ava and C.I.)" because it's wonderful, it's funny and it is so rare they team up and do something during the week. They wrote that on scraps of papers between three speaking engagements. Assuming C.I. would be on the phone with Wally and Cedric (check out their joint entry "THIS JUST IN! MIKE BLOOMBERG'S A WHAT!" and "Mike Bloomberg's coming out"), I called Ava's cell to pass on how much I enjoyed it and she gave me the breakdown. What they would have loved would have been to be able to sit in front of the computer tossing ideas at each other and then write. Instead, they scribbled one liners on pieces of paper, exchanged them and punched up each other's one liners and then, after the third speech, dictated the post flipping through their one liners. Ava said there were about five other points they really wanted to make but they arrived at the next campus so "that was all the time we had." I think it's wonderful.

Ralph Nader is noting that Hillary is now on board with employees against a South Korea trade . . . just as soon as big business decided they were against it. The Empowering Hillary Clinton, stepping up to the plate, just as soon as corporate America gives her a wink and a nod.

"Turn, Turn, Turn" (Cindy Sheehan, Common Dreams):
I fell in love at Camp Casey and had my heart broken again there. I found true friends and learned how to distinguish between true friends and people who only pretend to be your friends until your usefulness to them is over. I smiled more than I frowned; I laughed more than I cried; I danced badly and sang out of tune; I received more love than animosity and I think
thousands of us were given renewed hope and energy because Camp Casey existed.
I will always be grateful for this experience that did have an intense and positive effect on the world but I am also content I have chosen a new direction and can rest easily in the fact that we did do good. It’s time for someone else and something else to manifest itself in Crawford and time for some of us to ride into the beautiful Texas sunsets that I definitely will miss.
I think when one is heading in the wrong direction, it is always prudent to change direction--even if you have to pull over and ask the way to go, and very imprudent to stay a ridiculous and mistaken course.
I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love, support, and financial support that has come my way since my resignation from the peace movement. My medical bills will be paid off and because of Bree’s generosity, I have a financial cushion to help me on to the next phase: helping humans who have been hurt by US corporate imperialism. I want to also thank everyone who has helped me along the way so far and encourage people to stay their courses if they think they are being productive and supported.
The millennia old season of war is getting tiresome and while never good, is growing in evilness as the people who run the wars become more corrupt, callous and as far removed from their conflicts as they can possibly get.
There is a season for peace--I hope for all of our sakes we reach it soon.
Cindy would like to invite everyone to her 50th Birthday Party and Camp Casey final celebration the weekend of July 6 to 8 at Camp Casey in Crawford, Tx.
RSVP to or

I think Cindy Sheehan got out just in time. She had nothing to left to give and had been leeched on by many (I'm not speaking of those really working for peace). She made the 'mistake' of pointing out that Democrats were not attempting to end the illegal war and learned that there's only room for Dem Cheerleaders as the public face. I hope she finds satisfaction with her new mission. I also hope she realizes that many of us did not know she had announced she was out of the Democratic Party. I had no idea. That was Memorial Day weekend. If news comes out on the weekend, I rarely hear about it until Sunday night because I'm so busy. With that Sunday night before a national holiday, I had an extra day off. So, for me, the process was learning Cindy Sheehan was out of the peace movement and then learning that she had earlier said she was out of the Democratic Party. If that had been on a normal weekend, I think she would have seen a lot more support because, as polling demonstrates, not everyone against the illegal war is high on the Democratic Party these days. But if it had been on a normal weekend, she wouldn't have made the decision she did and I firmly believe that was the right decision for her.

You can only give so much. She had given all she had some time ago but continued to push herself and had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She honored her son Casey and then some. To continue down the path she was on would have left her with nothing, she would have been empty inside.

(Yes, I am thinking of my concerns about a friend, C.I., who really needs to consider scaling back as well.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, June 19, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a Baghdad bombing results in mass deaths, Iraqi orphans, some Democratic candidates for president meet up and Iraq is one topic so why does a website's editorial [BuzzFlash] hit hard then all of them combined?

Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adam Kokesh appeared yesterday on Mark Levine's Inside Scoop discussing many topics for the hour. He explained how he wanted to do reconstruction and looked forward to that before he went to Iraq. After he had been there awhile:

I realized though that there was a futility in it. That what we were doing on our small scale may be good for the Iraqis we were dealing with, you know, may be good that there's another clinic there, another school, these are great things that Iraq needs. But in the scale of things, in the greater scale of things we're imposing martial law on a country and for every insurgent we kill today we piss of so many people in the process the next day we have two to kill. And what the country really needs is rule of law. And in order to have military civil affairs. . . in Iraq, we're imposing military law on the country and you can't create a standard rule of law that we take for granted in America with law enforcement, courts and precedent and a stable legal system with a foreign military there imposing martial law. . . .
There was a lot of resentment about that [US remaining]. It was like "Okay you got rid of Saddam, thanks, we'll take it from here." And everything that we tried to step in and do for them was really resented.

It's an hour long interview, available for online streaming. On the topic of aspirations and realities,
Christina Hamlett (American Chronicle) reviews Plays and Playwrights 2007 and notes that "this anthonlogy is Brendon Bates' Corps Value in which a father's sense of duty to country is challenged when the Marine son he is so proud of for kicking ass in Iraq suddenly announces that he feels the war is unjust and is, therefore, turning AWOL. . . . Plays and Playwrights 2007 is a trade paperback of 492 pages". Michael Criscuolo (NYTE) discusses the play with Brendon Bates who notes that the question he's raising "is our objective(s) in Iraq worth all this suffering?"

It's a question many ask and it's prompted action. That includes those like Kokesh who serve and come back to speak out. It also includes those resisting while still serving (depite the decision of the 'hearing,' Kokesh's service ended the second he was moved to IRR).
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, 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, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Baghdad today, a truck bombing has resulted in mass deaths. It is already the deadliest bombing since April 18th when 191 Iraqis were killed.
Richard Beeston (Times of London) sets the scene: "One of Baghdad's busiest commercial districts shuddered with the impact of the afternoon explosion, which went off in a parking lot near the Kholani mosque, one of Baghdad's best known landmarks. A huge pall of black smoke obscured the area. When it cleared the distinctive turquoise dome of the shrine appeared undamaged bu the explosion wreaked havoc in the crowded streets below." BBC observes that the usual Baghdad checkpoints along with mid-day traffic led to traffic jams in the time before the bomb exploded. Julian E. Barnes and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) note that a house and some shops were destroyed and at least twenty cars were "ablaze" from the bombing. CBS and AP report that shooting followed the explosion and quote eye witnesses Karim Abdullah stating, "I stopped in shock as I saw the smoke and people on the ground. I saw two or three men in flames as they were getting out of their car." AFP reports that, in the aftermath of the bombing, there was a rush to pull people out of burning cars and from underneath the rubble and "[g]roups of women wailed, while others chanted that the explosion was the work of those who blew up a Shiite shrine in the northern city of Samarra last Wednesday." Al Jazeera notes the death toll to be 78 with 130 injured. Beeston (Times of London) puts the injured at 200 and observes, "The move was a particular blow to the US military, which had earlier launched a massive military offensive outside Baghdad aimed at disrupting al-Qaeda from carrying out precisely the sort of attack that took place in the capital." Reuters puts the wounded at 224 (78 for the dead).

CNN provides the following back story: "The mosque damaged in Tuesday's attack houses the tomb of Mohammed al-Khalani, who was the second deputy and messenger of the Mehdi, the 12th imam from the early days of Islam who is revered by Shiites. The Mehdi is said to have disappeared during the funeral of his father in the 9th century. Sunnis believe Allah withdrew the Mehdi from the eyes of the people and they are waiting for him to reappear as their leader." And Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) notes, "The mosque's imam, Sheikh Saleh al-Haidari, said civilian worshippers had been targeted in the blast as they left afternoon prayers."

Meanwhile, the Diyala province also saw large scale violence today.
John Ward Anderson and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report that 10,000 US service members flooed the capital (Baquba) of the province utilizing "helicopters and Bradley Fighting Vehicles". Julian E. Barnes and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) note that the 'push' meant closed shops and families hiding in their homes while "some Baqubah residents claimed that indirect or aerial attacks that began in advance of the infantry's movement into the city killed some civilians." Though suspected people are killed and their figures trumpeted, as Jim Muir (BBC) points out, "There was no official acknowledgement of civilian casualties."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad explosion that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldier (4 more wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 2 people (19 wounded), and, yesterday, a Basra mortar attack that claimed 3 lives (1 police officer injured). Reuters notes a Tal Afar bombing that claimed the lives of a child and woman and 2 deaths in Iskandariya (1 wounded) from a roadside bombing.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Iraqi police officer Alaa Abdullah Hamdan was shot dead "west of Baghdad today" and, last night, 5 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead outside of Hibhib (16 more wounded). Reuters notes a female college student dead in Mosul. Reuters also reports 35 dead in Nassiriya from two days of fighting "between gunmen loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi police linked to a rival Shi'ite faction".


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 21corpses discovered in Baghdad. Minus today's figure, CNN states that the total number of corpses stands at 359 since the start of this month.

Yesterday a Baghdad orphanage made news. The orphanage was supposed to be serving children with special needs but instead has abused the children.
Interviewed by CBS News Lara Logan, Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson explained that, in looking over a wall in central Baghdad, US soldiers saw "multiple bodies laying on the floor of the facility. They thought they were all dead, so they threw a basketball (to) try and get some attention, and actually one of the kids lifted up their head, tilted it over and just looked and then went back down. And they said, 'oh, they're alive' and so they went into the building." BBC reports that there were 24 boys "starved and neglected . . . some near death . . . left naked".

In England,
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports on the inquest into the May 2006 helicopter crash noting, "Private Drummond said that just before the helicopter was hit, the Lynx 'lifted as though it was trying to move out of the way. It sort of jerked'. Corporal Stuart Redmond, another witness, said that he too had seen the helicopter jerk to one side. Lance Corporal Dale Birkin told the coroner that he saw flares being fired before the aircraft burst into flames, indicating that the pilot was trying at the last moment to draw the approaching missile away from the helicopter." Again, the helicopter was shot down in May of 2006.

In the United States, many Democrats hoping to win their party's nomination for president in 2008 gathered.
John Whitesides (Reuters) reports that Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Joe Biden did not attend, however, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich "roused the crowd" (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) while US Senator Barack Obama continues his strange desire to make the case that his 2002 opposition to the illegal war in Iraq was all about fearing that it would last too long. That's a novel twist and not at all what he was saying in 2004 when, while Jack Ryan was in the race, he was stating that he was opposed to it because it was illegal and unnecessary. Well, let the record show that Obama continues to say this year that he was always just worried the war would drag on and on. Addressing reality, Nedra Pickler (AP) quotes Bill Richardson stating, "With all due respect to my outstanding Democratic colleagues -- Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden -- they all voted for timeline legislation that had loopholes. Those loopholes allow this president, or any president to leave and undetermined number of troops in Iraq indefinitely. And this is the same legislation that former Senator Edwards says we should back and back to the president over and over again until he signs it." Pickler quotes John Edwards who also offered a bit more than Chicken Sop for the Soul and stated of Congress' inaction, "No more we'll-get-around-to-it-next time. No more taking half a loaf. No more tomorrow. For the men and women who are leaving this country to serve in Iraq, there is no tomorrow."

On a similar note,
BuzzFlash editorializes on the nature of Democrats and leadership noting:

Polls out this week show that the Democratic Congress is down so low in the dumps that they are basically in the pig slough with Bush. The Dems in power can't seem to understand that their role is to lead the American people, not to become immobilized by the fictional alternative universe manufactured in Rove's laboratory of perfidy.
What happens in such a situation is that the Dem leadership regularly leaves our nation's wounded heroes (on the homefront) on the political battlefield as the Dems in Congress retreat in fear from the right wing volleys. That means people like Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Richard Clarke, the top retired Pentagon generals critical of the war, ex-intelligence officers,
Iraq Veterans Against the War, and so many, many others are left high and dry to fend for themselves.
And the Congressional Dems have pretty much given up on bringing our heroes in Iraq home so that they don't continue to get killed for lies, vanity, egotism and profiteering.
It is, indeed, a serious sign of weakness when you leave your wounded heroes behind. That sort of behavior doesn't go over well with the American public -- and it shouldn't.