Friday, July 13, 2007

Hillary Clinton and John Edwards plot

It's vacation time for all of us and Mike and I decided to do a flashback to the early days when we pulled headlines from Democracy Now! and weighed in.

"Clinton, Edwards Plot Excluding Candidates From Debates" (Democracy Now!)
In campaign news, Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards have been caught discussing an apparent plan to exclude other Democratic candidates from future debates. On Thursday, Edwards and Clinton were speaking privately after an NAACP Presidential Forum in Detroit. Unaware their microphones were still on, Edwards is overheard saying: “We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group." Clinton agreed, responding: "We've got to cut the number...They're not serious." Clinton also indicated the two had discussed the plan before, telling Edwards "we've got to get back to it." In response, Ohio congressmember and Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich said: "No matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, [candidates] do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not. Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President."

Okay, I can actually help Hillary Clinton and John Edwards out here. They want to avoid 'trivializing debates' then the answer's really clear: Stop participating. Just let America see that you allegedly want to be president but aren't willing to debate your fellow Democrats. That should really help you sky rocket on the polls. Or maybe just crash and burn.

The League of Women Voters used to be in charge of the presidential debates. The two parties found a way to run them out and that's why we get these closed presidential debates that do not feature all the candidates, just the Democrat and the Republican. So leave it to Hill & Edwards (two lawyers, they should be a law firm) to figure out that it's time to rig the last chance people (in their own party) have a chance to air their views.

It really is telling and they no doubt can't stand that Mike Gravel points out the obvious: they both voted for the illegal war. Edwards has apologized for the vote but how sincere is it with this sort of behavior? Most importantly, what does this say about how either would conduct themselves as president? "I don't like what people are saying, make them go away!" Isn't one of our country's biggest problems currently that someone like that occupies the White House?

"Witnesses: U.S. Chopper Kills Iraqi Civilians, Journalist" (Democracy Now!):
In news from Iraq, at least sixteen people were killed Thursday in clashes between U.S. troops and Shiite militias in Baghdad. The dead included a photographer for the Reuters news agency and his driver. They apparently came under fire from a U.S. helicopter.
Unidentified witness: "The U.S. soldiers randomly fired on cars and children, even journalists were not safe. Over here was a Reuters crew."
Residents say the remaining dead were civilians, including at least two children. An Agence France Press journalist who interviewed witnesses on the scene said the helicopter appeared to indiscriminately fire on any gathering of people in the area.

We all missed Democracy Now! today. We were working on the immigration issue, doing vacation things and, in C.I. and Ava's case, speaking. So we got back here and are all getting ready to go back out. C.I. came up with the suggestion that Mike and I do our posts as we did in the early days. So we were looking at them all together, the headlines, and C.I. saw one and had to do another snapshot (or version of it) to include that.

On the above item, the US military refuses to admit what has happened. They insist it was a 'combat situation.' It wasn't and you've got two Reuters journalists dead, eyewitnesses, the photo of the car the reporters were in, and so much more. What happened was people gathered as the photos were being taken. Someone either decided that any gathering of Iraqis was a threat or, for 'fun,' decided that they'd 'take out' some Iraqis. The US military needs to get honest real quick about what happened.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, July 13, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is annouced dead in Iraq -- the 3rd in the last 48 hours, Matthew Rothschild addresses the theft of Iraqi oil law, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
The Progressive's Hidden History Of The United States (available in calander form) notes that on this day in 1863, "Draft riots began in New York City, leaving 1,000 dead over four days." Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to public refuse deployment to Iraq. Currently, he is waiting while the appeals process determines whether he will have to face a second court-martial and, if so, whether Judge Toilet (aka John Head) will be allowed to preside over it again. While this goes on, people continue to demonstrate their support for Watada. Last Friday, we noted a rally held in San Francisco in support of Watada. Ryan Baladad (Asian Week) informs, "Members from the various groups, including Aisan Pacific Islanders Resist and the Watada Support Committee, took turns speaking in support of the Japanese lieutenant. Supporters held signs that read, 'Refuse Illegal War,' 'Bush lied, People Died' and showed photos of Watada in uniform. Malcolm Yeung of the Asian Law Caucus called the Army's actions 'frankly reprehensible' and said the case 'chills free speech'." Baladad closes with this statement from Rev. Norman Fong (Chinatown Presbyterian Church), "There shouldn't be another trial; they messed up the first time. We're proud of Lt. Watada."

Meanwhile, who is Steve Yoczik?
The War Resisters Support Campaign explains, "Steve arrived in Toronto on November 25th, 2006. He trained in communications at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After a few months there, he began to realize that the decision he'd made to join the Army was a serious mistake and that trading 4 years of his life for the opportunity to have college paid for was not an agreeable enough trade. Also after seeing pictures of wounded or killed Iraqi civilians (and combatants) as well as stories from soldiers that had been to Iraq and Afghanistan, he knew without a doubt that he did not want to be involved in the war. Halfway through training, the 'job' he'd been signed on for was cancelled, and 'joblees' people in this particular war zone go on patrols and kick in doors, so Stephen prepared a last-ditch effort to come to Canada, as all other attempts to leave the Army 'legitimately' were exhausted. Since arriving in Toronto, Steve has adjusted fairly weel, and is being careful in the decisions he makes in life now, as his Army expereience has taught him that signatures hold a lot of power . . ."

Yoczik is part of a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one 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.

Yesterday, Bully Boy went on and on, desperately attempting to stretch the definition of progress in yet another attempt to fool the American people. How bad did the spin and lies get?
Kenneth R. Bazinet (New York Daily News) informs, "Even the White House was concerned Bush overstepped with his upbeat war talk, sending spokesman Tony Snow out to talk to the cable news outlets to clarify the President's remarks. 'The President isn't saying we're winning. He says we're in a fight. He says we cannot afford not to win,' Snow told Fox News." Tony Snow need not worry, reality will always Fact Check the Bully Boy upside his face. How are things with the Iraqi Parliament? Joshua Partlow and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports, "Iraqi politicians on Thursday struck a more pessimistic tone about Iraq than did the White House assessment, and said the deadlock between warring Sunni and Shiite factions makes major political progress unlikely in coming months." Well, as least those Iraqi troops are coming along nicely, right? Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) informs, "Despite stepped-up training, the readiness of the Iraqi military to operate independently of U.S. forces has decreased since President Bush's new strategy was launched in January, according to the White House progress report released yesterday." And try to find out the hard figures on this from the Pentagon, as DeYoung did, and be informed that's "classified information." Classified, apparently, on the grounds that Bully Boy is an incompetent.

And on the January 20th attack in Karbala that killed 1 US soldier immediately, wounded three and saw four kidnapped (all of whom would later turn up dead),
Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reveals the army's internal investigation has found:

•Iraqi police suddenly vanished from the government compound before the shooting started.•Attackers, evidently briefed on how U.S. forces would defend themselves, bottled up more than three dozen soldiers in a barracks and headquarters complex using a combination of smoke and fragment grenades and satchel charges to blow up Humvees.•Gunmen knew exactly where to find and abduct U.S. officers.•Iraqi vendors operating a PX and barbershop went home early.•A back gate was left unlocked and unguarded.Investigators recommended several changes to toughen defensive positions, including the installation of closed-circuit cameras to provide better early warnings, "duress devices" that can allow overrun outposts to signal headquarters, and requirements that any arriving convoy provide identification.

Now how do you suppose that got left out of Bully Boy's attempt to sell the continuation of the illegal war? In more reality the Bully Boy Never Told You,
Robert Burns (AP via Los Angeles Times) reports that yesterday's White House progress report "strongly implies that the administration believes its military strategy will take many more months to meet its goals." And really driving home the lack of progress in Iraq, Mike Drummond and Hussein Khalifa (McClatchy Newspapers) tell the story of Nawal Na'eem Karim whose 18-month-child has learned to cry "Talaq inanan! Talaq inana!" ("Bullets here! Bullets here!"). Needless to say, the mother tells the reporters she just wants the US to leave. Of course, Bully Boy would probably get that dopey grin on his face (as when a woman explained she had to work two jobs) and say, "That's wonderful."

Meanwhile, Congressional Dems try to put one over on the public -- again, and it's the same shell game. From Democracy Now! today:

House Iraq Pullout Bill Leaves Thousands of Troops BehindThe House has approved a measure that would begin withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within the next three months. The final vote was two hundred twenty-three to two-hundred and one, mostly along party lines. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers to vote "yes."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Let us pass this bill and those that will follow in the coming weeks and provide the new direction on Iraq that the American people demand and that is so urgently needed. I urge a 'yes' vote on the Skelton bill."Ohio Congressmember Dennis Kucinich was the lone anti-war Democrat to vote against the bill. The measure would remove most combat troops by April of next year but still leave tens of thousands soldiers behind.

As Amy Goodman noted above "leaves tens of thousands soldiers behind." And that's provided Bully Boy doesn't reclassify the ones that would be set to leave. Pushing the non-existant link between 9-11 and Iraq is a thread he picked up again yesterday. He could follow the Pelosi measure (if it passed) and reclassify "combat troops" as troops who will be fighting terrorists ("al Qaeda!") and none have to leave. He could also declare that the illegal war is over and that 160,000 US troops need to remain to maintain "police operations" which would mean no troops leave. It's the con game they pulled in March, credit Goodman with telling it straight and not sugar coating it.

US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice remakes Mariah Carey's "Love Takes Time" with new words resulting in "War Takes Time." (CBS & AP, text and video).

In a crimes and violence update,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) updates her bank robbery story from yesterday with the information that the bank is revising the figures for the stolen money to "282 million Iraqi diners, equal to about $225,000 and $366,00 American dollars." In some of today's violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a mortar attacks in Baquba claimed 2 lives and left fifteen wounded and a Baquba bombing that claimed 1 life. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Green Zone was "slammed" with mortars today, killing 2 Iraqi soldiers and that "U.S. civilian government employees have been required in the last few dyas to wear body armor and helmets because of the rising threat of rocket and mortar attacks. Reuters notes that 2 children died in Samawa from a roadside bombing, 1 Iraqi soldier died from a Baghdad roadside bombing and 1 police officer died from a Mosul roadside bombing.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five police officers were shot dead in Baghdad, 3 Iraqi civilians were shot dead by the US military (in what appears to be -- me speaking not Hammoudi -- indiscriminate firing) and "Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for New York Times newspaper near Al Saidiyah fuel station south of Baghdad around 9:00 am." John Holusha (New York Times) observes that Hassan joined the paper in 2003 (fall) and that he was the second Times' reporter for the paper to die in Iraq and notes: "Mr. Hassan was shot in the Saidiya district of south central Baghdad while driving to work under circumstances that remain unclear, Mr. [John F.] Burns said. He had called the bureau earlier and said his normal route to the office had been block by a security checkpoint." Executive editor Bill Keller states, "Khalid was part of a large, sometimes unsung, community of Iraqi news gatherers, translators and support staff, who take enormous risks every day to help us comprehend their country's struggle and torment. Without them, America's understanding of what is happening on the ground in Iraq would be much, much poorer. To The Times, Khalid was family, and his death is heartbreaking." Khalid Hassan's death brings to three the number of reporters killed in Baghdad in the last 48 hours. Yesterday, we noted the deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, two journalists with Reuters. Today, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that in addition to eyewitnesses quoted in the early reports yesterday, Ahmad Sahib, with AFP, arrived on the scene shortly afterwards and he states, "They had arrived, got out of the car and started taking pictures, and people gathered. It looked like the American helicopters were firing against any gathering in the area, because when I got out of my car and started taking pictures, people gathered and an American helicopter fired a few rounds, but they hit the houses nearby and we ran for cover."


Reuters reports 3 corpses discovered today in Sawayra. And Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) noted that 28 corpses were discovered in Baghdad Thursday.

Turning to the theft of Iraqi oil,
Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "Earlier this month, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki announced unanimous Cabinet approval of a draft hydrocarbon law. But on Wednesday, Kurdish politicians said they opposed the latest version of the law. The draft law hasn't been published." Steve Kretzmann (Oil for Change) observes, "We have heard conflicting reports, although it seems clear that the annexes are gone. There was an arabic version published two days ago in a Baghdad daily, however we've heard that there has been at least one change since then." AVAAZ.ORG has an online petition entitled "Support Iraqi Oil Sovereignty."

Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers), a journalist shares a surreal experience, "The Electricity Minister and the Oil Minister, both being questioned in the Parliament as to the electricity and fuel situation in the country. They were fighting the 'good' fight, back to back, with their sabers flashing. Fact after distorted face spilled forth from their tongues. The Oil Minister, high browed, blue blooded, married to a bluer blood still -- all leaning east, said he hadn't enough power and fuel to work the refineries -- butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. The Electricity Minister, a man of the masses; an excellent technician, worked his way up through the ranks, said he hadn't enough fuel to work the electricity power stations. Wasn't there something strange here -- was it a distortion in my dream?? A Catch 22 situation if ever there was one!!" Hussain al-Shahristani is the Oil Minister (since May of last year) and prior to that post he was the deputy speaker in the National Assembly. Last week, on KPFT's Progressive Forum (Thursdays, 7:00 pm Central), host Wally James discussed the theft of the Iraqi oil with Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive).

Matthew Rothschild: It's amazing that with all that's been going on Iraq with maybes 600,000 Iraqis killed, 3600 US soldiers killed and 2600 US soldiers wounded, that the one thing the Bush administration really cares about is privatizing Iraq's oil. You know, they told us, over and over again, before this war started those of us that were talking about this war being for oil, that we were conspiracy people, but look, low and behold, the first thing that the army did when it got to Iraq was protect the oil fields, the second thing it did was protect the Oil Ministry and now the last thing it's doing is making sure that before all hell breaks further loose that they're going to get something on the books in Iraq that allows Exxon-Mobile and other US corporations to go in there and get their share of the oil there and expatriate the profits from that oil at a much greater degree than oil companies can do in that part of the world. I mean this is a huge sell out of Iraq's sovereign resource and there are, there have been strikes already by Iraqi oil workers and al-Sadr right now is aligning with the Sunnis to oppose this so there's all sorts of domestic opposition over there but this is the one thing that the Bush administration wanted al-Maliki to rail through if he could, railroad it through, he'd be back in the good graces of the Bush administration, back in the good graces of Exxon-Mobile.

Wally James: Well from the beginning you had Bush saying, you know, this is not about oil, we're not trying to get control of the oil. And, you know, but under the surface you have this going on and at the same time the US media just isn't reporting on it. They talk about how this is going to be a good thing if this goes through, how it's going to make for sure that the oil is divided up evenly in Iraq.

Matthew Rothschild: It is almost impossible, you're absolutely right here, Wally, and I think it's a really good point absolutely impossible to read the mainstream media and figure out what's going on with this Iraq oil behind the scenes. It's not about, or simply not just about, the equal sharing of the oil revenues. It's largely about the privatization of the oil industry in Iraq and allowing US and other foreign oil companies in to grab the oil. That's what's going on but you might get that in about paragraph eleven or paragraph fifteen and it won't explain really the benefits that are going to acrue to Exxon-Mobile and the other giants. And it certainly won't tell you that the Iraq oil workers were striking for a week in Basra over this. I mean, this has been one of the worst bits of coverage by the mainstream media in Iraq since what? The cover up or the funneling of propaganda about Weapons of Mass Destruction Prior to the war courtesy of Judith Miller and the New York Times.

Wally James asked Rothschild about the idea that Congressional Democrats might be refusing to impeach because they want Bully Boy around for the 2008 elections (as an issue to run against) and wondered if that was at least part of the reason Congress does nothing to end the illegal war, "they need him around in '08 to beat up" and the Iraq war? Rothschild responded: "Well this is kind of pragmatic politics at its worst, it seems to me. Because I think the same thing happened with the Iraq war vote. They want the Iraq war to go on so they can go against Bush and the Iraq war in 2008. But look at how callous that is. They want a hundred more US soldiers to die every month and 500, 600 to be wounded and what, you know, a couple of thousand Iraqis to die every month just because it's politically expedient and it might help them win the White House? I mean, come on, talk about immorality if that's what they're doing that's disgraceful on the war issue." Next addressed was the issue of impeachment which Rothschild's supported, publicly in his writing, since at least early 2006 and we'll use that as an opportunity to note that
Bill Moyers Journal (begins airing on PBS in most markets today -- check local listings and you can also read, listen or watch online) will explore the topic of impeachment and, among the guests is John Nichols.
Back to Rothschild, he has a new book out entitled
You Have No Rights: Stories of America In An Age of Repression (The New Press, list price $16.99) and he's doing stops across the country to promote the book:

Matthew Rothschild reading and signing YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS
Seattle, WA: 7/16 at 7:00PM San Francisco, CA: 7/17 at 7:30PM Berkeley, CA: 7/18 at 7:00PM Portland, OR: 7/19 at 7:30PMMadison, WI: 7/26 at 7:00PM San Luis Obispo, CA: 8/14 at 7:00PM Santa Barbara, CA:8/15 at 7:00PM Los Angeles, CA: 8/16 at 7:00PM Baraboo, WI: 9/8 all day

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rupert Cornwell, Edward Epstein, Olga Bonfiglio

Watching the Bully Boy today, I realized I'd only seen one other person so determined to believe a destructive fantasy, Richard Nixon. Bully Boy is twice as dangerous as Richard Nixon because back then we had Democrats who weren't afraid to call him out. Forget about impeachment for a moment, the Democrats back then had a spine and weren't so enthralled with corporate monies and selling out the people. They also knew a bit or two about the Constitution.

"Bush finds no way out of Iraq as approval ratings plunge" (Rupert Cornwell, Independent of London):
On the ground in Iraq, George Bush's war may long ago have sunk into an unwinnable morass. But the second week of July 2007 is set to go down as the moment when he started to lose control of Iraq policy-making at home as well.
The beleaguered, hugely unpopular President made yet another defence of his troop "surge" yesterday. At a public appearance in Ohio, he insisted that troop levels in Iraq "will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington DC". He conceded: "I fully understand that this is a difficult war. It's hard on the American people. But I will once again explain the consequences of failure to the American people."
As he spoke, Congress was preparing to vote on a host of mainly Democratic amendments on a $650bn (£320bn) Pentagon funding bill. All of them would to some degree curtail Mr Bush's authority. Now, as Republican defections multiply, for the first time some of them may succeed.
[. . .]
The administration contends that the report is a mere snapshot of the situation before the just completed US troop increase has had time to show results. For critics, however, the bleak findings merely confirm that US soldiers are trapped where they do not belong, in the middle of a civil war in all but name.

Every time I hear Tony Snow on TV call the report on Iraq a "snapshot," I have to grin. I liked how The Nation writer on Democracy Now! today called her report a "snapshot" and then quickly corrected herself. The Iraq snapshot? Gee, doesn't it all sound so familiar. (No one coins a phrase like you know who.) I suppose I should say something clever like "The one who controls the language controls the debate." By the way, no offense to that writer on the program today, but The Nation should never have had her co-write the story. C.I. will be addressing that tonight. It was a big mistake and has nothing to do with her writing abilities. But it was a huge mistake. Huge.

Of course, her co-writer is Chris Hedges. He really needs to stick to issue of the occupied territories and ignore Iraq because he's a whisker away from being the left's Judith Miller. I have not forgotten, nor has anyone in this community, that he pushed the lie that Iraq was connected to 9-11. Did so in print at the New York Times, did so on PBS. The Mother Jones article gave him a pass but others aren't so kind.

In more you must be kidding news . . .

"House Democrats try Iraq withrawl legislation again" (Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle):
House Democrats took another whack today at forcing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but like their previous efforts, this one has almost no chance of becoming law.
Only four Republicans joined 219 Democrats in the 223-201 vote to pass legislation calling for the withdrawal of most of the 160,000 troops in Iraq to begin within 120 days of enactment. The legislation requires that the only troops to remain by April 2008 would be those needed to chase down elements of the terrorist group al Qaeda, defend the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and train Iraqi forces.
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., is similar to a Senate proposal by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I. Both proposals face a tough fight to gain the necessary 60 votes in the Senate, but the White House said Thursday that if either ever reached his desk, President Bush would veto it.

The "only troops" to remain are the ones defending the fortress that is known as the US Embassy? That is a joke. Add in the ones who would stay "to chase down elements of the terrorist group al Qaeda" because, in case you missed it, the White House blames everything that happens in Iraq on al Qaeda. That legislation is a joke and it's not going to end the illegal war. But watch and see how many will call this nonsense out because it won't be many. This is not an exit strategy, this is non-stop continuation of the illegal war and shame on anyone who accepts it as anything other than trickery. If you buy into that hoax, you deserve what you get.

"Peace Pilgrims" (Olga Bonfiglio, Common Dreams):
It was truly inspiring to hear that Ashley Casale, 19, and Michael Israel, 18, decided to walk 3,000 miles across the country for peace. They began their journey on May 21 in San Francisco and plan to end up in Washington, D.C. on September 11. Such a commitment to the cause of peace is unusual and admirable!
The two teenagers have been discouraged, however, by the negative reception they have received by some people and by the lack of participation by those who support the peace movement.
Actually, their reaction seems to be universal for peace activists across the country who put much time and energy into standing for peace only to be ignored by the media and dismissed by the now-miniscule number of Bush-supporters. What is even more baffling is that they are thanked and congratulated by the 70 percent of those who want the United States to end the war in Iraq-but who do nothing about it.
Perhaps we need to look at our peace activism in a different way.
On January 1, 1953, a 44-year-old woman began a journey that would amount to her walking 25,000 miles over the next 28 years of her life.
Her first walk began in Pasadena, California, at the head of the Rose Bowl Parade so that she would be seen. She then set out to deliver two petitions to President Eisenhower: one to end the Korean War and one to establish a Department of Peace. The third petition she delivered to the United Nations: a request to disarm the world and redirect the funds for arms to funds for human need. She went by the name of Peace Pilgrim.
Peace Pilgrim was distressed over the world at that time so she prayed and contemplated what she could do about it. The nuclear age had begun, the Korean War was on, and Senator Joe McCarthy was out hunting communists.
The five-foot-two woman wore a blue tunic, the color of peace, with white letters that read "Peace Pilgrim." She carried no money, made no plans, and sometimes slept in haystacks, drain pipes, or barns. Sometimes she didn't eat.

There will always be those who take big, brave stands and they can inspire others to take similar stands, smaller stands or to shoot for something higher. I understand the writer's frustration but I think the more attention the two teenagers receive, the more it will spark things in others.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, July 12, 2007. Chaos and violence, the American military kills two workers for Reuters in Iraq, Bully Boy lies again to sell the war (again), the US military announces another death in Iraq, the Showboat Express Derails!, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Mark and Louise Zwick (Houston Catholic Worker via Spero News) report on the beatification of Franz Jagerstatter (October 27, 2007) by the Catholic Church. Jagerstatter became a war resister when drafted into the Nazi army who "believed that he could not be a soldier in an unjust war sponsored by a government determined on imperialist expansionsim and slaughter of innocents, presenting itself as a substitute for religion which saw and treated his Church as the enemy." The Zwicks tie Jagerstatter's stance then to those resisting today and note the case of Camilo Mejia in detail and conclude, "Martha's concern as she had heard about this soldier's conscientious objection was that her young son not be put in such a situation. She knew that at present there is no military draft, but that poor Hispanic youth in the United States are recruited early into ROTC Army training with the promise of assistance later with college tuition. Martha vowed to never allow her son to participate in ROTC. This may not be easy to achieve. High schools in lower-income neighborhood which serve Mexican Americans and immigrant youth are saturated with the ROTC presence. The local public school for 6th to 8th graders has ROTC as one of the electives. When one student who stayed at Casa Juan Digo transferred in during the middle of the year, the student was placed in ROTC simply because the classes of all other electives were filled. The irony is that the children of the undocumented, despised by many simply for being undocumented, are being sent to fight U.S. wars in foreign lands." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today of Mejia, "He was the first US soldier court-martialed for desertion, was ultimately sentenced to a year in jail." In May, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (The New Press) was released allowing him to tell his story of what he observed in Iraq and how it changed him. To the issue the Zwick's raise, Mejia was not a US citizen. In fact, the military was supposed to release him because he had completed his eight-year contract and Senator Ben Nelson had caused noise on this issue (thanks to the concerns Camilo's mother raised with him). The military's response was ridiculous ("We're not discharging fat people, are we?") and desperate (shoving off papers for citizenship -- which Camilo was not interested in). While on leave in the US, Mejia attempted to figure out how to get the US military to comply with their own regulations. First, he was told he would have to return to Iraq in order to be discharged, then he was told no discharge was happening regardless and finally he was ordered to board the plane back to Iraq. Instead, Mejia went underground, refusing to continue fighting in an illegal war. At the start of the illegal war, Stephen Funk refused to go to Iraq -- a very important and brave stand. Mejia is the first known member of the military to serve in Iraq and refuse to return. Again, he tells his story in Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia (list price $24.99) including his court-martial and what he felt and thought upon being sentenced.

The first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq is
Ehren Watada. Speaking with E. Ethelbert Miller (Foreign Policy in Focus), David Mura (poet, playwright, critic, performance artist and soon to be novelist -- Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire) notes the No-No Boys of WWII (Japanese-American males who bravely refused to serve while their relatives and peers were interned for the 'crime' of race) and states, "I feel that the current case of Lat. Ehren K. Watada, who refused to go to Iraq because he believes it is an illegal and unjust war, ought to be seen against the backdrop of this history. His position as a soldier and his actions of civil protest, reflect the legacy both of the 442nd and of the No-No Boys."

And in Iraq, a US service member has publicly refused to continue fighting in the illegal war.
Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) notes, "Army Spc. Eleonai 'Eli' Israel was stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad when he told his commanding officers June 19 that he would no longer participate in the illegal and unjust war on Iraq. 'We are now violating the people of this country in ways that we would never accept on our own soil,' said Eli."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one 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.

So today
Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) did what they usually do but tried to credit The Nation for finally doing something four years and four months after the illegal war started. Good manners must have prevented Gonzalez and Goodman from pointing out the obvious -- they've been doing -- for years -- what the overly praised article half-assed does today. The lengthy, weak ass article by The Nation will be addressed this evening ("And the war drags on . . ."). Today, it allowed the centrist (Democratic Party cheerleader and sometime video spokesperson) to get on Democracy Now! and the utter more than fifty lines more (check the transcript) than Garett Reppenhagen who actually is worth listening to. Reppenhagen: "So the contrast is very real, and the division, once you're there and you're being told to give these people democracy and they're shooting at you and trying to kill you, it creates a lot of tension, and the American soldiers begin to hate the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people hate the American soldiers. And the bottom line is, we're not seen as peacekeepers. US forces in Iraq are no longer seen as peacekeepers by the Iraqi people and most of the Muslim world. We're seen as occupiers and invaders, and that undermines our ability to keep the peace there, it undermines our ability to do our jobs, and it undermines our national security here at home. So right now it's a very complex situation, and the animosity is growing. And there's no cure other than removing ourselves from Iraq." From the broadcast:

SGT. DUSTIN FLATT: Yes. The innocent deaths happened at different times, different places and different occasions. Convoys were commonplace. The only incident I have firsthand knowledge of was a convoy that was actually not our convoy. It was a convoy had just driven by us. And an Iraqi vehicle with a mother, three daughters and an older teenage son who was driving the car were following a convoy too close. It got too close, and they shot into the car. It was a warning shot, and it ended up killing the mother. And they actually pulled the car over, or the son pulled the car over right next to us, and we just happened to be near a hospital in Mosul at the time. And the mother was obviously dead, and the children were just crying and asking if they could actually get into the hospital.
AMY GOODMAN: So the mother was dead. The three little girls, what happened?
SGT. DUSTIN FLATT: Right. The three little girls, we just -- we took them and just -- the last time I saw them they were on the side of the road just crying. They had no idea what had just happened. And it was funny -- it was with another unit -- it was a unit actually that we were attached to in Mosul, and on the back of their last Humvee in the convoy, they had a sign that read, "Stay back 100 meters." And after that, we took our interpreter, our Iraqi interpreter, up to the sign to see how far away he could read it, and he had to be within about thirty or forty feet before he could read it.

[. . .]

STAFF SGT. TIMOTHY JOHN WESTPHAL: The terror that I saw on the patriarch's face, like I said, that really was the turning point for me. I imagined in my mind what he must have been thinking, understanding that he had lived under Saddam's brutal regime for many years, worried about -- you know, hearing stories about Iraqis being carried away in the middle of the night by the Iraqi secret service and so forth, to see all those lights, all those soldiers with guns, all the uniform things that we wear, as far as the helmet, the night vision goggles, very intimidating, very terrifying for the man. He screamed a very guttural cry that I can still hear it every day. You know, it was just the most awful, horrible sound I've ever heard in my life. He was so terrified and so afraid for his family. And I thought of my family at that time, and I thought to myself, boy, if I was the patriarch of a family, if soldiers came from another country, came in and did this to my family, I would be an insurgent, too.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you say that that was a turning point for you. In what way?
STAFF SGT. TIMOTHY JOHN WESTPHAL: It was a turning point for me in the sense that -- you know, prior to going into Iraq, both Dustin and myself, we talked about this many times in the days leading up to the war. We came into Iraq after the initial invasion, so we had a chance to see a little bit of the buildup to the war, as well as the actual invasion piece. And several of us, including Dustin and myself, were very much opposed to the Iraq war. However, we chose to go, number one, out of a sense of loyalty to each other and our unit; second, because we were hoping as leaders, as combat leaders, leaders of soldiers, we would be able to influence those young men to make good decisions and not do things like kill indiscriminately or let their emotions get into their decision-making abilities. So that's why we chose to go. And again, because this is our profession, we were very proud of what we were doing, even though we opposed the mission itself, are proud to serve with our brothers and to be a part of something like that.
However, that night -- and that was about halfway through my yearlong tour -- that night I really admitted to myself -- and it was a very hard thing to do, but I admitted to myself that America is not the good guy in this thing. And, you know, if you factor in that you have these young men who most of them are high-school-educated -- some have a bit of college, some do have college degrees -- but the education level, for the most part, is high school graduates only.

Reppenhagen is the chair of the board of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, Dustin Flatt and Timothy John Westphal are also with IVAW. (The other guest? He's with Mommy's Pantyhose.)

Listen, watch or read today's Democracy Now! segment (nearly 50 minutes are devoted to the topic). Skip the nonsense of The Nation (it will be addressed tonight).

Staying on IVAW,
Adam Kokesh's site carries the message that Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.'s kangaroo hearing has been delayed from this month to August with Yearwood noting, "It has been incredible to hear that so many of you have made plans to come support me as I challenge the Air Force's attempt to discredit me and our work for peace. My request for a delay has been granted so I may better prepare my case and raise funds for my legal defense. We will publish the new date as soon as it is determined and along with our plans for action." The kangaroo hearing is supposed to address the laughable allegation that Rev. Yearwood's actions have been "clearly inconsistent with the interest of national security" when, in fact, his work since being discharged (discharged from service, he's currently in the IRR which needs no discharge) has been on ending the illegal war including Make Hip Hop Not War.

War, war and more war, endless war, is all the Bully Boy understands which is why the White House released [PDF warning] "
Initial Benchmark Assessment Report" today. And though it won't rival the latest Harry Potter, it certainly belongs on the fiction list. David S. Cloud and John F. Burns (New York Times) explained this morning that the report would "qualify some verdicts by saying that even when the political performance of the Iraqi government has been unsatisfactory, it is too early to make final judgements" and that this qualification "will enable it [the White House] to present a more optimistic assessment than if it had provided the pass-fail judgement sought by Congress." Which may be a nice way of noting that, unlike Bully Boy's No Child Left Behind, there is no standardized testing, no standardized grading and no deadlines. The system that's good enough for his attack on America's public schools is not to be utilized when addressing his illegal war of choice.

CBS and AP report that the Bully Boy declared today, "I believe we can succed in Iraq and I know we must." We? But it's probably an improvement on his verbal equivalent of painting a bulls eye on the back of every US service member a few years back with the taunt of "Bring it on." William Douglas (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the fudged/qualified report reveals "only eight of 18 benchmarks" can be stretched enough to indicate even some progress. Douglas also notes that Bully Boy sees the Initial Assessment as an ink blot which can be interpreted in any way depending upon where you're coming from -- proof positive that we've got a Stoner in the White House? 2008 presidential candidate and Senator Joe Biden peels off the best one liner of the day, "This progress report is like the guy's who's falling from a 100-story building and says halfway down that everything's fine." Karen DeYoung and Peter Baker (Washington Post) update their article in this morning's paper on the report and note that the White House sees "some positive movement in eight of the 18 congressional benchmarks" while, at the same time, dispatching Stephen Hadly (US National security advisor) and Condi Rice (US Secretary of State and Anger) to Congress to role play House Minority Whip for both houses apparently. CNN's Ed Henry (text and video) observes, "The president is pleading for more patience. He's not really oferring a new prescription to deal with the violence on the ground in Iraq. Instead he's urging lawmakers to give him until September to see if the current troop increase will work -- but a growing number of his fellow Republicans are telling him time is running out and they want a course change sooner than September." Which is a nice way of putting. Patience was when he asked for it (over and over, every year of the illegal war). The report he's pushing is more half-truths and outright lies which, if you think back to how the illegal war was sold, isn't at all surprising. Bully Boy has come full circle: Lied to get his war, must lie to keep it. And what's with this "Congressional benchmarks"? Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) rightly notes: "The Bush administration's decision to set benchmarks . . . When they began publicizing the benchmarks a year ago, addministration officials . . . President Bush turned to benchmarks amid intensifying criticism from Congress and plummeting public support. Benchmarks offered a way to counter congressional demands for timetables and to dampen the midterm election rage that ultimately cost his party control of Congress." The administration, stealing from the James Baker Circle Jerk, grabbed the imposed (upon Iraqis) benchmarks and ran with them. They own them now.

As if the region hasn't suffered enough,
Nico Hines (Times of London) reports that Rice and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will visit it next month and notes several laughable statements by the Bully Boy. "I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. The idea of telling our military how to conduct operations, for example, or how to deal with troop strength, I don't think it makes sense today, nor do I think it's a good precedent for the future." Well, he is uneducated. But the Congress is not attempting to run the illegal war (though with Bully Boy's lack of leadership, someone might need to step in) it is demonstrating the civilian control. The war is over and someone needs to be adult enough to pull the plug. (That may or may not be Congress at this point.) He then went on to insist that troops should not leave just "because pollsters say it'll be good politics" -- this from the man who conducted the roll out (in August! 2002) for the war to make electoral hay in the 2002 mid-terms.

In the real world,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that 429 Iraqis have been "killed or wounded . . . at checkpoints or near patrols and convoys during the past year" and that warning shots accound for "more than" one death per day. Also in the real world, over 3600 US service members have died in Iraq. CBS and AP note that the illegal war "is costing the United States an estimated $10 billion a month." With Jonathan S. Landay, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the conclusions "of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies" in a new report (Global Security Assessment, delivered by the National Intelligence Council to Congress) which found, among other things, that "Even if the bloodletting can be contained, Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders will be 'hard pressed' to reach lasting political reconciliation". Amazingly, while ignoring every thing else that can be spun, the White House refuses to take credit for the big bank robbery Wednesday night. Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported on the heist that made off with "$282 million from the Dar Es Salaam bank" which was kept not in the Iraq currency but "in American dollars . . . It was unclear why the bank had that much money on hand in dollars, or how the robbers managed to move such a large amount without being detected." Surely there's some way that can be spun into a success? Bully Boy could declare it not just the biggest heist in Iraq, but among the biggest in the world and, noting Donald the Rumsfled's "Freedom is untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things" (a White House motto?), could declare the heist as a sure sign of progress.

Nancy A. Youssef also looks at the 18 benchmarks to offer an independent analysis and it's not pretty -- benchmark 16 is among the ones that can't be stretched to show even some desire for progress ("Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected") leading Youssef to conclude: "The Iraqi government has done nothing on this benchmark."

In some of today's violence in Iraq . . .


Reuters reports that Namir Noor-Eldeen (22-year-old photographer) and Saeed Chmagh (40-year-old driver and camera assistant) were killed "in what police saidw as American military action and witnesses described as a helicopter attack" -- the victis of what is euphemistically dubbed "random American bombardment" in Baghdad. Reporters Without Borders notes that over "60 media workers" were killed in Iraq during 2006 alone. Reuters notes Karim Shindakh stating that, while Noor-Eldeen was taking photographs, "The aircraft began striking randomly and people were wounded. A Kia (minivan) arrived to take them away. They hit the Kia and killed . . . the two journalists" and that 6 "Reuters employees [have been] killed in Iraq" since the start of the illegal war. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes that the 2 died along with 17 others and that of the 19 dead the US optimisticallly states nine were most likely gunmen/militants/resistance, etc. Accepting that inflated (and non-verifable) claim means that 10 innocent Iraqis died. Also dying today, Reuters reports, were 7 Iraqis attending a wedding when a bomber "detonated a suicide vest" in Tal Afar outside the party wounding four. Reuters also notes that five Iraqis were killed in Diwaniya from a US air strike, a Mosul car bombing that wounded 2 police officers, a Mosul car bombing that claimed 2 lives (10 more people wounded) and a police officer injured in Falluja by a bicycle bomb. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 dead from missiles launched by US helicopters in Samara.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a police officer shot dead in Baghdad
AFP reports a family four was shot dead in Karbala (with two more wounded).


Today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed in an attack east of Baghdad." The announcement brought the ICCC total to 32 US service members killed in Iraq this month and 3611 since the start of the illegal war. APF's count is 3612 dead since the start of the illegal war. Reuters' count is 3611 since the start of the illegal war.

In England,
Fran Yeoman (Times of London) reports that Andrew Walker (Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coronor) has ruled that the March 2003 death of British soldier Stephen Allbutt was a "completely avoidable tragedy" and instead pointed to person in charge at the time Walker was shot by British troops noting, "The center of this tragedy represents a serious failing and it will fall to others to question the fitness of this officer to hold command". That would be Lt. Col. Lindsay MacDuff whose resignation Debbie Allbutt (wife of the deceased) has called for.

Finally, in US campaign news, "
VOTE INSANE! VOTE JOHN MCCAIN!" -- his mind, like his campaign, had come undone. Yesterday, Senator Crazy had a hissy fit in the Senate cloakroom (someone must have run off with his Dora the Explorer rain slicker) and began screaming about Iraq, Vietnam and Cambodia -- sounding even crazier than many feared. Cedric and Wally provided humorous takes yesterday, Mike noted it, and Elaine, noting Cambodia, lays it out on why McCain's unfit for office. The John McCain Showboat Express Doesn't Stop Here Anymore.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

John McCain explains why he's unfit to hold office


"VOTE INSANE! VOTE JOHN MCCAIN!" Senator Crazy just got nuttier. A humorous take on it can be found in the joint-post today, Cedric's "The Certifiable Senator Crazy" and Wally's
"THIS JUST IN! IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE SENATE?" and after you're done laughing with them about the Insane John McCain, think about what happened.

Or you can just hop on board The John McCain Showboat Express.


That was Isaiah's illustration that we grabbed the face shot of McCain for (with Isaiah's permission). Just to be sure he gets credit for the art. (I'm a huge, huge fan of Isaiah's comics.)

So John McCain, Senator Crazy, had a meltdown in the cloakroom of the Senate today and began screaming about the "liberal left" and blaming them for Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. Excuse me, but Tricky Dick Nixon invaded Cambodia (which McCain made clear that he still approves of) and did so without Congressional approval.

Now the Vietnam issue should be disturbing. But I want to focus on Cambodia for a second. Senator Crazy supports (today) Tricky Dick invading Cambodia.

For those too young to remember, Tricky Dick did that without Congressional approval. He began plotting it over the objections of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State (War Criminal Henry Kissinger was on all board with the invasion, he was not then Secretary of State, William Rogers was the Secretary of State, Melvin Laird was the Secretary of Defense). Senator Crazy is not fit to serve in the United States Senate.

But he should be kissing his political career goodbye. Congress' reaction wasn't pretty to this. They managed to vote down objections in the House, but the Senate passed it and, later, it would be folded into an amendment.

But we currently have a leader who launched an illegal war with lies. Senator Crazy is making very clear that not only is he unbalanced, he's also all for secret wars (Rogers had testified to Congress, days before Nixon announced Cambodia was being invaded, that the administration had no intention of such a move). John McCain is not fit to be president and that should be very clear to anyone who lived through that time period.

He lost two of his top advisors yesterday and the in-house he promoted is bilking him for over $100,000 on web services (the in-house had pushed his own company for the website). The man is crazy and he's disgusting. If McCain stays in the race and, by some miracle, is voted into the White House, no American can claim they had no clue that a Crazy who just wants war and doesn't feel bound by laws or by Congress is occupying the White House.

If you're not worried about someone like John McCain getting into the White House, you haven't been paying attention the last six years.

"Presidential Scholars Tell the President 'No' on Torture" (Amy Goodman, Common Dreams):
President Bush got a lesson from a group of recent high school graduates. They were Presidential Scholars, a program designed "to recognize and provide leadership development experiences for some of America's most outstanding graduating high-school seniors."
The 141 Presidential Scholars were being honored at the White House. One of them, Mari Oye, from Wellesley, Mass., describes what happened: "The president walked in and gave us a short speech saying that as we went on into our careers, it was important to treat others as we would like to be treated. And he told us that we would have to make choices we would be able to live with for the rest of our lives. And so, I said to the president, 'Several of us made a choice, and we would like you to have this,' and handed him the letter." It was a letter Mari had handwritten. It read:
"As members of the Presidential Scholars class of 2007, we have been told that we represent the best and brightest of our nation. Therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions. We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants."
The letter was signed by close to 50 of the students, more than a third of the Presidential Scholars.
Mari described Bush's reaction to the letter: "He read down the letter. He got to the part about torture. He looked up, and he said, 'America doesn’t torture people.' And I said, 'If you look specifically at what we said, we said, we ask you to cease illegal renditions. Please remove your signing statement to the McCain anti-torture bill.'
"At that point, he just said, 'America doesn't torture people' again."
In fact, after Bush signed the bill that outlawed the torture of detainees last year, he quietly issued a "signing statement" reserving the right to bypass the law, as he has more than 1,100 times, issuing more signing statements than all other U.S. presidents combined.

With the Bully Boy, the signs were there. Some might not have guessed just how far he would go, but it was obvious he wasn't qualified and that his sense of right and wrong was seriously off. John McCain is cut from the same cloth. America can't take four more years of criminality.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, July 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a brother 'chops' his sister's head off in Iraq, the US Congress continues to do nothing, Bully-flop is in the air, a hostage is released, the US military announces another death bringing July's death toll for US troops to 31 thus far, and more.

Starting with war resistance. "The army takes the position, of course, I mean they wouldn't say this directly, but they need to make an example of somebody like Lt. Watada because if Lt. Watada was able to walk away from this it would send, for the army's perspective, a very bad signal to the other soldiers," Kenneth Kagan explained to Margaret Prescod on
KPFK's Sojourner Truth Tuesday. Kagan and James Lobsenz are Ehren Watada's civilian attorneys. Ehren Watada? The first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006) who was in the midst of a court-martial (February 2006) when Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial over the objections of defense (and over the realities of the law). Speaking with Prescod about Judge Toilet's ruling last Friday (Judge Toilet would not recuse himself and said there was no double-jeopardy at play), Kagan explained that the Court of Appeals decided June 29th to allow Head to rule before they did. Kagan called Judge Toilet's ruling "a necessary step" to allow the case to be reviewed by a higher court. Army Court of Criminal Appeals would be the next court on the chain with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (which covers all branches of the military "and those judges are civilians. They have 15 year terms and they are not part of the military"). Kagan stated,
"I think that the law is solidly on our side it is just that this is a highly politicized and very closely watched case" and that he was optimistic about their case. Margret Prescod asked about the timeline and Kagan revealed that there is a good chance, due to the appeals process, that should a court-martial go through, it could be as late as next year before it starts.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, 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-one 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.

So every now and then the lie makes it into print that the US military doesn't care a thing about self-checkouts. This despite the fact that they (from the base in Kentucky) were the ones calling the police and instructing them of where Kyle Snyder was supposed to speak next on his West Coast speaking tour in 2006. This despite the fact that they instructed Canadian police to arrest Snyder in February 2007. This despite that two were sent into Canada and posed as Canadian police when showing up on the doorstep of Winnie Ng . . .
And round and round the lies wrap around the spire but no one's ever supposed to notice. Notice.

Lance Herring may or may not be a war resister. He apparently self-checked out and staged a mountain disappearance last year.
KMGH Denver reports that his parents' home was searched yesterday. Why? On "a tip from the military that Hering might be at his parents' home". Vanessa Miller (Boulder Daily Camera) reports that the police searched the home for over an hour ("acting on a tip from the military") and notes that his friend Powers has stated "Hering staged his disappearance because his life was in danger because of something he knew about his fellow Marines. Hering is a lance corporal in the Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment based in California -- the same unit that had eight soldiers charged with conspiracy, kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, Iraq." Lance Hering's family has created several sites -- here and here -- the latter's top post by his father states: "Lance, where ever your might be, we are on your side. We wish we couldl make contant and send what you may need."

So the lie that the US military isn't interested? Well if your name was Michael Shepard, Sarah Jenkins and Bill Lee and you served on the Yakima Herald-Republic and wrote today's editorial "
Military has more pressing business than tracing deserters" then you would be a DUMB ASS. That's DUMB ASS Michael Shepard, DUMB ASS Sarah Jenkins and DUMB ASS Bill Lee. No wonder The Seattle Times Company alternately talks of selling off the loser paper or of doing a clean sweep of the paper. Michael Shepard, Sarah Jenkins and Bill Lee are DUMB ASSES in other ways as well but we just went over this topic yesterday. All the points noted apply to Shepard, Jenkins and Lee.

And on the topic of dumbnes, moving from village idiots to global ones, Bully Boy underwhelmed in Cleveland, Ohio yeterday as he spoke on the topic of the illegal war doing his usual song and dance.
Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that Bully Boy says the escalation "is only beginning" and reminds everyone that, in December 2006, Bully Boy bragged to the press that the issue of withdrawal is "not going to face this government. . . . We've mad that part clear. It'll face future governments." Jeff Zeleny and Sheryl Gay Stoblerg (New York Times) note that Bully Boy is saying that there must be patience (his mantra whenever he screws up) until the September report to Congress. Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) notes Bully Boy spoke to "a friendly audience" and quotes Bully saying, "I believe that it's in the nation's interests to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations. And I believe Congress ought to wait for General Petraus to come back and give us an assessment of the strategy that he's putting in place before they make any decisions." AFP notes that the Bully-flop took place "days before an interim assessment is due on the operation to surge 30,000 more troops into Iraq, amid reports that the Iraqi government has met none of its required political and military targets."
These 'targets' or 'benchmarks' are the imposed ones set by the US that have nothing to do with improving the lives of Iraqi but do include things such as the theft of Iraqi oil via a hydrocarbon law. On that proposed legislation,
CBS and AP note, "Kurdish leaders on Wednesday spoke out against a key oil law, raising further doubts over efforts to pass one of the political benchmarks sought by the U.S. at a time when the Bush administration is trying to fend off critics of its Iraq policy." As Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) observes, "The benchmarks the Iraqi government is meant to achieve in exchange for US support were never realistic and have more to do with American than Iraqi politics."

Howard La Franchi (Christian Science Monitor) reveals that the White House was "caught off guard" and "scrambling" to get control of an issue that they apparently didn't know they had lost. Attempting to gain control included, as Susan Milligan and Michael Krandish (Boston Globe) report, involved sending Dick Cheney to Congress in an attempt to charm members of Congress. At risk, as Anna Mulrine (US News and World Report) noted yesterday, was the $649 billion for the Defense Authorization Bill which would continue to fund the illegal and expensive war. Anne Flaherty (AP) noted today that private conversations between Bully Boy and Republican members of Congress were on the need to 'change course' (which is not the same "End the war"). Therefore, it was no surprise the way the vote for the Webb Amendment went today. Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) explains, "Democrats fell four short of the 60-vote super-majority demanded by Republican leaders for an amendment to the defense authorization bill now being debated in the Senate." It should be noted Republicans aren't the only ones posing. The much touted Webb amendment would only pull US 'combat troops' out of Iraq -- those doing training, police work or fighting terrorism would remain. If it seems familiar, yes this was the nonsense of the Pelosi-Reid measures.

From one scandal to another.
Robert Kubey (FAIR's Extra!, May/June 2007, pp. 14-15) reports on the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (passed October 16, 2007) which gave the Bully Boy amazing powers and shredded the Constitution, "giving Bush -- and all future U.S. presidents -- new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit -- for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any 'other condition' that might arise." With guest Frank Morales, Bonnie Faulkner explored this issue today on her program Guns and Butter -- how it could be used, when it could be implemented and those KRB/Halliburton emergency pens we're all supposed to forget about (we've covered that already, as have Robert Parry, Margaret Kimberley, Bonnie Faulkner and others). [Note the archived broadcast of Guns and Butter usually goes up at the show's website on Thursdays.] Kubey notes that the law is opposed by the Adjutants General Association, the National Governors Association, the National Guard Association and others. The Extra! link is text the Guns and Butter is audio.

In other scandal news,
Richard Lardner and Anne Flaherty (AP) report that a review conducted by the inspector general for the Pentagon has fond that the DoD put many US troops at risk especially via a contract awarded to Simula Aerospace and Defense Group which did not qualify as a "responsible prospective contractor" so it was no surprise that they were unable to deliver "the kits, which were needed to make Humvees, less vulnerable to roadside bombs." In other scandals and violence, Debra McNutt (CounterPunch) reports, "Within the Green Zone, a few brothels have been opened (disguised as a women's shelter, hairdresser, or Chinese restaurant) but are usually closed by authorities after reports about their existence reach the media. The U.S. military claims that it officially forbids its troops to be involved in prostitution. But prviate contractors brag on sex websites that they have sometimes been able to find Iraqi or foreign women in Baghda or around U.S. military bases. These highly paid security contractors have much more disposable income, and are not held accountable to anyone but their companies. One contractor employee living in the Green Zone reported in February 2007 that 'it took me 4 months to get my connections. We have a PSD [Personal Security Detail] contact who brings us these Iraqi cuties.' Western contractors' e-mails also suggest that some Chinese, Filipina, Iranian and Eastern Europe women may also be prostituted to Americans and other Westerners within Iraq."

And among today's violence . . .


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Karradah car bombing that damaged a military vehicle. Reuters notes a home bombing in Garma where the residents were locked inside the house and "at least 11 people" are dead. Molly Hennesy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) notes the Karada bombing left two wounded and 1 dead.


Reuters notes that, in Samarra, the mayor was shot dead.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a beheading in Salaheddin where Fakhri Badri Nida "chopped" the head of his sister off (the sister's name is not given)


Reuters notes 30 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died from a non-battle related cause July 11." This brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq war since it began to 3610 -- with 31 for the month thus far.

Meanwhile, Hannelore Krause has been freed (Tuesday). The 61-year-old German woman has been held hostage since February 6th. Her five month ordeal has not ended.
Claudia Rach and Andreas Cremer (Bloomberg News) report that her son, twenty-year-old Sian Krause, remains a hostage and notes that 3 "other Germans are known to have been kidnapped in Iraq in the past 21 months. Susanne Osthoff, an archeologist married to an Iraqi, was abducted for three weeks before being freed in December 2005. Rene Braeulich and Thomas Nitzschke were kidnapped early last year, a day after arriving in Iraq to carry out contract work. They were released after 99 days." BBC speculates that Hannelore Krause is "married to an Iraqi doctor" and their son Siam, "who holds dual German and Iraqi citizenship, is reported to have worked at the Iraqi foreign ministry." AFP dispenses with speculative terms and declares that the woman is married to an Iraqi doctor and her son was working at the Foreign Ministry in Iraq. DPA states that she was held (and her son still is) by a group entitled Arrows of Righteousness and that Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, states the focus will not be on freeing Siam Krause. Russia's Pravada notes that Hannelore Krause was held for 155 days and that she delivered, to Al-Arabiya TV, a request for Germany to leave Afghanistan (Germany has no troops in Iraq). China's Xinhua explains Hannelore Krause was released Tuesday and is currently "at the German Embassy in Baghdad" citing Foreign Minister Steinmeier.

And in media news,
Matthew Felling (CBS' Public Eye) weighs in on the editorial coverage of the illegal war noting, "What began with a drip with the Los Angeles Times two months ago is developing into a trickle. And while the New York Times editorial from this past weekend may or may not wind up being a seminal moment in the domestic debate over Iraq, the more noteworthy objections come from some smaller outlets, like last week's Olympian editorial (from Olympia, Washington) and this past Sunday's Tuscaloosa News." Anthony DiMaggio (CounterPunch) also weighs in on the issue of the editorials and points out, "Despite the increasing calls for withdrawal, detractors and supporters of the war in the mainstream press still agree on the veracity of the Bush administration's objectives in Iraq. The New York Times speaks with romanticism and contradiction about the goal of making 'progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq' and 'stop[ping] the chaos from spreading," while concurrently striking deals with Iraqi Kurds to keep U.S. military bases in northeastern Iraq indefinitely. . . . The assumption common to all of these editorials is that the US is somehow working as an honest broker in Iraq, trying to prevent civil war, rather than incite it. The reality is quite the opposite. The United States is the primary force responsible for the destabilization of Iraq; it disbanded the Iraqi army, dismantled the government, and set the stage for the power vacuum that resulted in the political and military battle between various Iraqi militias who are still vying for power to this day."

In US election news,
John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) has issued a call for Ralph Nader to launch a presidential campaign and to do so now. Walsh notes the momentum Nader built in the 2000 election: "In 2000 when Nader's influence was felt, Gore clearly won the popular vote, both nationwide and in Florida. Unfortunately Gore's lack of backbone and the Dems' failure to use a filibuster to prevent the packing of the Supreme Court with right wing theocrats resulted in the theft of Gore's victory. Then in 2004, when the Democrats and their lapdogs like Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation managed to marginalize the antiwar Nader while endorsing the prowar Kerry, Bush actually won the popular vote!" On Monday's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman spoke with Ralph Nader on a number of topics. We'll close with covering elections, dirty-dealings and healthcare:

AMY GOODMAN: The Independent unannounced: Ralph Nader.
RALPH NADER: Too early to say. It's too early to say. If I was going to run -- and I have not decided at all -- the biggest problem is getting on the ballot. The Democrats filed twenty-one phony suits against us. We won most of them, but it was very draining. In Pennsylvania, they got a Democratic judge, using a Republican law firm, Reed Smith, to assess me and Peter Camejo $81,000 in transcription costs and handwriting expert fees for defending our right to be on the ballot, which they got us off through all kinds of shenanigans. First people in American legal history who had to pay court costs for defending their right to be on the ballot. So ballot access obstructions is the political bigotry of American politics. It's very hard to get liberals who love civil rights and civil liberties and who are Democrats to be at all excited about the systemic obstruction of fifty state laws at one level or another that can be used by either Democrat or Republicans against third-party candidates.
And historically, Amy, that's where all the great ideas came from. In the nineteenth century it was the anti-slavery party, the women's suffrage party, the farmer party, all the things we read about briefly in our history books that pushed these social justice movements before one or both of the two parties picked up on them. So they're -- you know what I like to say? What would happen to nature if it prohibited seeds from sprouting? What would happen if big business could totally extinguish small business? That's what the big two-party elected dictatorship is doing to a whole array of local, state and national candidates who would like to give the American people more voices and choices.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you think mass movements should organize themselves and hold politicians accountable, make them more accountable to citizen, civilian, non-citizen movements than corporations?
RALPH NADER: Well, let's start with the easy things, like half of democracy is showing up. So why don't workers who have lost their jobs or their pensions to industries that have gone to communist China with US Department of Commerce subsidy and encouragement, why don't they mass and rally? I mean, who's keeping them from rallying and massing? American Idol? Is that what's doing it? I mean, let's stop making excuses for ourselves. Let's take the farmers, the dwindling number of farmers. They have great important causes that mesh with environmental causes at times, and the whole issue of genetic engineering and the dispossession of the small family farm by the big suppliers corporations and the big buying corporations. Why don't they come to Washington, the way they did twenty years ago with their tractors? Show up!
Why, for example, can't a coalition of existing groups -- the Urban Coalition, the NAACP, the trade unions, the consumer, the environmental groups, the neighborhood groups -- in each city sponsor auditorium sessions for the major candidates or whatever candidates they want to invite that are going through New York or Boston or Houston or Denver or Los Angeles or St. Louis or Miami? They couldn't turn them down. And they could say, "We want you to be here at the auditorium to respond to our agenda. We're the ones who are going to say no. We're the ones who are going to say yes."
AMY GOODMAN: I want to end with healthcare, I think one of the critical issues of the day that is so rarely explained. If there was a healthcare system in this country that you designed, what would it look like?
RALPH NADER: Well, it would look like full Medicare for everybody, whereby the government is the payer. The government now pays over 50% of the healthcare bill. Huge amount of waste in fraud inflicted by these corporations on Medicare and Medicaid, for example, drug companies getting all kinds of corporate subsidies. So the government is already over 50% -- federal, state and local government. So it's full government -- it's called a single payer, which means it can almost eliminate $200 billion of computerized billing fraud and abuse, which has been documented by the General Accounting Office and by the leading expert on this, who should be on your program, Malcolm Sparrow, a lecturer at Harvard University. And when I said, "$200 billion, Mr. Sparrow? Every year?" he said, "That's the lowest estimate." That's just computerized billing fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry.