Friday, July 27, 2007

Light post

"Fund the Wounded, Not the War" (Jess Hagopian, CounterPunch):
Kevin Lucey is the father of 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey, who committed suicide in his parents' Massachusetts basement less than a year after returning home from fighting during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kevin and his wife announced on Thursday, July 26 that they are suing the U.S. government for negligence, charging their son hanged himself after the government ignored his blatant signs of PTSD and depression--nightmares, daily vomiting, heavy drinking and violent verbal outbursts.
Sadly, the neglect of Jeffrey Lucey is not a rare tragedy, but a common outrage when America is at war.
In the first quarter of 2006 alone, the Department of Veterans Affairs "treated 20,638 Iraq veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, and they have a backlog of 400,000 cases," according to the California Nurses Association. "A returning soldier has to wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits, and an appeal can take up to three years."
Some of the ongoing abuse of returning veterans finally surfaced in American consciousness amid the Washington Post's revelations of the shoddy care and facilities at the Walter Reed VA Hospital. The maze of bureaucracy that kept veterans from the care they needed and Building 18's now infamous living conditions -moldy, cracked walls, and infestations of roaches and mice-provided the ambience for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq who were told they were heroes by the politicians.

I'm opening with that for several reasons. 1) This will be a light post. 2) It's stronger than anything I'm going to write. 3) C.I. requested through Mike that I note it. There were huge problems with the snapshot today. C.I. usually dictates those but do troubles various people were having online, C.I. ended up grabbing the laptop at the last minute and finishing it right befre it was time for them (C.I. and Kat) to catch the plane home. Mike said C.I. is thinking about -- after the long flight -- getting back on and updating the snapshot, but there's no reason for that. We all pick up the slack for each other (and today's snapshot isn't "slacking").

Jesse Hagopian is with Troops Home Now and is correct that the alleged 'support' is just a slogan and nothing that's followed up on. (In any war I've ever seen. Americans come home and have to fight for the promised benefits. That's actually a historical reality in this country. I'm not able to comment about elsewhere. But in this country, a lot of hot air gets tossed around but nothing ever gets done.)

Thank you to Sunny both for posting what I'd saved to draft on Wednesday and adding to it last night in "Elaine's post with a bit from me (Sunny)." She saw an e-mail today asking how she did links if she couldn't? She asked me to explain that. In the post, she explains that C.I. copies and pastes the Iraq snapshot into an e-mail and puts the link in the title so you just have to copy and paste it, the link's already there. But she linked to some sites, didn't she?

Yes, but she didn't create those links. Watch.

The Common Ills
Third Estate Sunday Review
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Mikey Likes It!
Cedric's Big Mix
Seth in the City
The Daily Jot
Trina's Kitchen

Those are links to all the community sites. Did I just go in and add links? No, I went to the links that are displayed on the right of this page, clicked on the left with my mouse, highlighted them, then right clicked and was given the copy option. I then came over to this screen and clicked with the right and selected copy. You can do that on all the sites except Kat's and C.I.'s. They have an older blogger/blogspot template. That's also why the titles of their entries are not listed while at the other sites, they are. Now she could have gone to Wally or Cedric's site and copy and pasted a link to an entry or post (from any site, they link to all entries and post) and grabbed it that way but she didn't remember that until this morning.

By doing that right now, I can copy their "Recommended" from their last joint-post:

"Iraq snapshot""Oh look, it's universal . . . for some men""Disciples of Christ say no to illegal war""Dear Drama Queen""The quiz""THIS JUST IN! TAKE THE QUIZ!"

Now if I take the time, I can space those out. Or I can just select one to copy and paste. "Dear Drama Queen" is the one she wanted. We try to keep our titles brief so that Wally and Cedric can go to our sites, grab the title from the side and not have to type in (or copy and paste the title) and then have to add in a link. As I've noted before, they grab the titles for C.I.'s entries from the mirror site. Kat can go on long or brief (in her title) because her titles do not display as links at her site.

I hope that explains it. Sunny read that e-mail to me today and asked, "Are they calling me a liar?" I hope not. But as she pointed out, what was the point of her mentioning she loved an entry by C.I. and that I'd put the link in tomorrow if she could have actually done it herself? There would be no point.

To back her up on something, she runs the office at work. That's what she's paid for. She does a brilliant job of that. She does it so well that she has plenty of down time. She can read during that, she can listen to music or watch something online (or bring in her own TV, the woman before her did that). She can talk on the phone, whatever she wants. She's got it down so well that she probably has at least four hours of time where she's mainly trying to keep from being bored each work day. She enjoys reading the e-mails here and does that on her own. I'm not paying her for it.

So if someone gets an e-mail from her (and most do), you should be happy that she wrote you because it's not part of her job description or an assigned task. When I finally started this site, after filling in for Rebecca, she wanted to read the e-mails the first day after it was up with a real post.

By the same token, if she makes the decision not to reply to you, that's her decision. If she doesn't think you need a reply then I will probably agree with her. So the man who's had a problem that he hasn't received a reply, she's not going to waste her own time by arguing with you about your opinion. I'm not going to waste my time either. If you're a community member, you may only get a one line reply because that's all she had to say or that's all she had time to say. (No members have ever complained about the responses they've received. I checked with her there and was prepared to gripe here tonight if any had.) But she's not required to read the e-mails and she's certainly not required to reply to every right-winger or centrist who has a beef.

I said this would be a light post. It has been. It's been a long week with catching up after two weeks off. Hope everyone has a wonderful, or at least restful, weekend.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, July 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Cindy Sheehan debates a moron, Operation Happy Talk continues.

Starting with war resisters. From
September 2nd through September 26th, Agustin Aguayo was absent without leave. Aguayo self-checked out when facing a second deployment to Iraq and while his case was moving through the civilian courts. Aguayo was denied CO status by a military that doesn't know their own regulations. John A. Rogowsky Jr. is another, among many others, who have been wrongly denied CO status. From "Selective Service System: Fast Facts:" "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status. In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).
Speaking with Don Bustany on
KPFK's Middle East in Focus Wednesday, Aguayo shared his story.and noted that when he arrived in Iraq in February of 2004, the medics were gathered for a speech that was in conflict in with the printed training material. They were told that they were medics and they were combat troops and that, "'You medics,' speaking to us, 'has to make it clear, has to make it clear in the minds of your infantry man that they must finish their job because if they don't then there will be more work for you'." As Aguayo looked around he saw acceptance and an eagerness to get back to the routine but "I could not accept that I was being told those things."
He also spoke of the eagerness to blame Iraqis for any problems as opposed to questioning the illegal war or the Bully Boy who sent them there. Aguayo began to realize, "I was a particiant, a supporter, of all the missions that took place." Today Aguayo is sharing his story publicly.
Mialka Bonadonna (LAist) reports he will be speaking tonight (Friday) in Los Angeles, 7:00 pm at 3303 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd floor.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, 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, Agustin 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
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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

From reality to Operation Happy Talk. The push-back is on and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has enlisted.
Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) writes of the press briefing Odierno gave yesterday where he issued the talking points that US military deaths were falling. Parker rightly notes that seven deaths were announced after the press briefing and the one of the deaths announced on Thursday dated back to Sunday. The US military was delaying announcing deaths. Reality is that in terms of what has been annouced, the deaths were 67 on Thursday and that July is not yet over but July 2007 is already the deadliest July for US service members since the start of the illegal war. July 2006: 43 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2005 and July 2004, 54 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2003, 48 US service members were killed in Iraq.

Last week, Odierno enlisted in the push-back in a vareity of ways at a press briefing with reporters at the US Pentagon via video-link. In terms of downgrading expectations for the September report to the US Congress by the military, he declared that the report that was needed would come in November and clarified, "
What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here." Yesterday, Odierno stressed "trends" as well but forgot to include 7 deaths he should have known about in his remarks.

In addition, at the same press briefing, he attempted to yet again sell the non-proven link between resistance fighters in Iraq and the Iranian government. When pressed by reporters for evidence, Odierno's confident remarks of such a link were replaced with his statements that, "
We don't see any evidence -- significant evidence". And a third way he enlisted was in calling into question the right of an open debate in a free society when he took to suggesting that discussions in the media and in the US Congress about US forces withdrawing from Iraq, was 'emboldening' al Qaeda. Again, when pressed, Odierno had to back off from his original remarks and admit he had "no specific intelligence" on any such emboldening.

Operation Happy Talk is not confined to the US military brass and the US administration.
Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports that the UK Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup (I did not make that name up) has declared, "We are very close to being able to hand over Basra in my judgement. Just when we will reach that point is at the moment uncertain but I am fairly confident it'll be in the second half of the year." Basra is one base, the Basra Palace (and it's also the last of four provinces the British military currently controls -- the other three were already turned over) Grice interprets Jock Stirrup's remarks to mean control of Basra could be handed off before the year's end; however, it could come much sooner. After all, British troops, the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars, proved they could hustle when they pulled out of the Maysan province with less than 24 hours notice after their base their repeatedly was attacked back in August. As Haidar Hani (AP) reported then that following the British hitting the road in 'stripped down mode': "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". Iraqi authorites noted then that the British had only given them 24 hours notice that the departure was coming. As with that base, the Basra Palace has been under rocket and mortar attacks repeatedly. In addition, IRIN reports that approximately "150 doctors in Basra, Iraq's second largest city about 600km south of Baghdad, began a three-day strike on 23 July, demanding the government protect them and their families." This was to call attention to the lack of security and this comes as over "618 medical employees" have been killed since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to realities that US administration prefers we don't know.
Noam N. Levey and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) report that the White House "has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on." This is an agreed upon 'benchmark' by the US administration and Congress -- and one even Iraqis could agree to even though they were consulted when it was time to draw on benchmarks. When you can't meet the benchmark, this administration stops reporting it.
This approach is an affront to democracy and one of many the current administration has repeatedly shown not only to people in the US but to people around the world. Today,
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) hosted a debate on the issue of impeachment. All sides were represented, with Cindy Sheehan representing the pro-impeachment and Dan Gerstein representing the lunatic fringe. Gerstein is a Democratic Party Hack and not even a good one. His full credentials were not listed on the program and that's probably due to the fact that if he'd had to sit through even a partial litany of his many losses, he would have walked off on air.

Gerstein doesn't want impeachment. He doesn't think anything that's been done rises to the level of impeachment. He thinks the way to 'fix' is to vote Democrats into power in 2008 (he might want to check out his consulting p.r. faxes because I'm seeing something about him being in favor of Democrats "all things being equal"). To impeach the Bully Boy and/or Cheney would be a distraction that would harm the Democrats chances to regain the White House in 2008.

Gerstein's been more wrong than right when gazing into his crystal ball and that may say it all but for those who've forgotten his nasty snit-fits when his boy Joe Lieberman lost the primary to Ned Lamont, try google-ing.

The reality, as Cindy Sheehan pointed out, is that impeachment hasn't been a problem in terms of the White House. Gerstein is wrong, Sheehan is right. Gerstein tried to use the 1998 Congressional election (not a White House election) as an example. After the 2002 Congressional election demonstrated that no patterns were holding, no tea leafs could be read, Gerstein might try sticking to reality and leaving his fantasy land where he knows the outcome. (If he truly did, he might be a player and not a Lieberman lackey.)

From the broadcast:

CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, also in Article II, yeah, Clause 4, it says for treason and bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. I believe that -- and there's, you know, legal proof out there that when he commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, he committed treason, because Scooter Libby was convicted of obstructing justice in the cover-up of the Bush administration outing Valerie Plame. And I believe that the American people will be behind this. The Democrats aren't trying to end the war. They just gave George Bush $120 billion more to wage it. And he has said the troops aren't coming home while he's president. So I think we need to look at it as human-based and not political. John Conyers told me in a meeting previously to the one we had on Monday that winning the presidency in '08 was more important to him than ending the war in Iraq. When are our leaders going to -- I guarantee there's 150,000 mothers in this country, who it's more important to them to end the war in Iraq and get their children home safely than who's president in '08. And I think, historically, when this impeachment has been tried, like I said before, the party who tried it, even though it hasn't been successful, has -- it has galvanized the base of that party to say, "Wow, our leaders are courageous. Our leaders have integrity. Our leaders are leading us from a moral base, not from political expediency."

It was hilarious to see the Sterile Gerstein LIE and we'll use the word even though he will take offense but that is reality. A liar, for instance, is someone who attacks Cindy Sheehan as an attention hog (or whatever the term he used) only a short time ago but pretends to have the upmost respect for her during the debate today. The Peace Mom cleaned his clock.
In today's violence,
CNN reports that 17 Iraqis -- count includes 2 women -- were killed by the US military and the Iraqi military today in Karbala with hospital officials reporting at least twenty-five wounded ("including women and children") had been brought to the hospital. To no one's surprise the US military is claiming "Not true!" The US military asserts, in the same press release -- keep that in mind, that "No Iraqi civilians were present in the area while the strike was performed" -- the strike involved "aeiral fires" -- and that this was "a raid in a neighborhood in Karbala." One of those, no doubt, ghost town neighborhoods in Karbala? By their own admission, the raid took place in a neighborhood. The raid took place during the sleeping hours. The raid involved air strikes as well as shooting on the ground. And there is the matter of the bodies of the dead and the wounded.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man was killed in a Baghdad bombing when the car he was driving was stopped by assailants who put "explosives into his car" and then attempted to use the man and his car in an attack on a police check point (two police officers were wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that left four wounded, two people wounded when "U.S. troops bombed Al Husseiniya district" in Baghdad, an Al Muqdadiyah roadside bombing claimed 1 life with five others wounded, a Kirkuk rocket attack that claimed 2 lives, and a Karbala roadside bombing targeting Brig. Gen. Raed Shakir Hamed that left 3 of his bodyguards killed while he survived. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 woman and left a child and an adult wounded, that a Samarra roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 7 police officers so . . .Shootings?

Reuters notes the Samarra police decided to open fire and 3 innocent civilians were killed (open fire after the bombing). Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Saidiyah and Adeeb Abdul Salam were shot dead in a Baghdad home invasion, a person shot dead in Buhruz and attorney Hussam Al Nahi was shot dead in Basra. Reuters notes an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Kirkuk.Corpses?Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad, two corpses delivered to Al Muqdadiyah hospital, 1 corpse discovered in Baquba. KUNA reports the corpses of five women were discovered in Mosul today and that the women had been kidnapped yesterday while returning from work.

Today, the
US military 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, Thursday." The death brings ICCC's current total to 3646 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 67 killed for the month thus far.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Elaine's post with a bit from me (Sunny)

Let me explain that I'm in a bad mood tonight. I'm in a bad mood because I was talking to Kat to avoid bothering C.I. (they're on the road speaking to students and other groups about the illegal war) and was all set to hear the gossip on the trade offs with big media that got C.I. to call Katrina vanden Heuvel out on journalistic grounds.

Kat's a little on edge and I ask why? C.I.'s gotten another e-mail from the big Whiner. The big Whiner who doesn't like war resisters and trashes IVAW and is now rounding up friends to write and join him in whining.

I asked Kat how C.I. was handling the latest nonsense and, typical, C.I.'s response was to a self-inventory and figure out if the person had a point. I love that about C.I., I always have. All my life I have seen that wonderful ability to listen to criticism and explore whether or not it's apt. But here's the thing, there's not time for that now.

C.I.'s on the road speaking, C.I.'s doing everything possible to end the illegal war. So this crap, and it is crap, of a Whiner who slimes war resisters and IVAW trying to round up friends to vouch for him is crap.

I told Mike about it and he hit the roof too. Who defends war resistes? Who keeps them front and center? That would be C.I. Does any broadcast show do that? No. No radio or TV show does that. Does any website do that which produces enough new content that people are checking it out for any reason other than reference? No, it's just C.I.

So if some little centrist, who wants to slam war resisters and IVAW, can't take the fact that C.I. defends them, that one site, one resource exists to keep their stories and their bravery front and center is just one site to much for the Whiner, he needs to consider professional help. (No, I'm not offering to take him on as a patient.)

Now at one point the Whiner was whining and Ava ripped him a new one leading him to write that he is not writing The Common Ills anymore and that they better not write him again. That should have been the end of it. But despite his claim he continues to write The Common Ills and is now rounding up his friends to write on his behalf.

C.I. doesn't need this crap. Kat was telling me about the e-mail (she has the password because she does reviews at The Common Ills and that's where her e-mail goes). Some woman is writing C.I. (and trying to couch herself as belonging to an organization) to lecture that the Whining centrist and C.I. are on the same page.

No, they are not. If you're using that organization to attack the only person who stands up for war resisters day after day, then that organization will be pulled from my site and from every other community site. It takes a lot of nerve for a woman to write C.I. to whine that a Whiner was held accountable for attacking war resisters and IVAW. It takes even more gall to state in the e-mail that the Whiner and C.I. are on the same page.

No, they are not. A Whiner who trashes war resisters and ridicules IVAW is not on C.I.'s page. They are not on my page either.

So let me put them and others straight, this community has and will always support war resisters. You attack them, you are not on the same page.

After the most recent whine, C.I. wrote back a very nice e-mail (it was run by me) where C.I. asked, "Have you changed your mind about war resisters and IVAW? If not, we have nothing to say to each other and you should stick to your original plan to stop writing me." Somehow that very direct, kind e-mail was read as "get all your friends to write and tell me how unfair I was to you."

Let's explain it one more time, if you do not support war resisters and IVAW, you are not on the same page as we are. C.I. and I supported war resisters during Vietnam, that was one of the big things we worked on back then, and we support them in this illegal war.

If you call them or IVAW "cowards," you are not on the same page.

I think I'm going to ask C.I. to let me write the 'friend' of Whiner back. I'm really sick of this nonsense. My friend has given everything to try to end the illegal war. Not even the dreaded c stopped C.I. in 2005. I'll be damned if C.I.'s going to get mind f**ked by some Whiner and his little friends.

I am going to post the snapshot and stop. The reason for that is I just deleted three paragraphs on the organization. (I know what organization it was from Kat.) I can't type much more without naming that organization. I will note, you don't want to lose my support or at least not my money. If that allegedly left organization no longer supports war resisters, they need to make that clear at their website. I don't play on this issue.


Sunny here with you for a bit tonight. Elaine wrote the above on Wednesday night. It's been so long since I guest blogged here that I've forgotten how to do links but C.I.'s of The Common Ills
and Kat's of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and Mike is of Mikey Likes It!. I will be posting the snapshot and that won't be a problem because C.I. e-mails it to everyone doing a site and the title is included (with a link already done) in the text of the e-mail so I just have to copy and paste.

If it's okay, I'll just weigh in briefly on a few things.

Yes, I'm married now. I did have a great honeymoon and I've tried to reply to everyone e-mailing Elaine about it. No, I'm not planning to stop working. I love my job! Besides, I don't think we could make it on just one salary. Three people asked if we'd planned to have kids yet and the answer is, I just got married! Maybe later on but I would like to have a year or two of marriage under my belt before we start planning a family.

A guy e-mailed Tuesday and e-mailed again today this time very angry. He wanted to know why I hadn't responded to him? (Or maybe he wanted to know why Elaine hadn't?) I do the e-mails because I have fun doing that. Elaine's made it clear that's not a job duty and it isn't. It's something I do during the day when I'm bored.

I'm not doing a website. I do respond to regular readers of Elaine's. With visitors, I may or may not respond. With the guy in question, he sounded like a prick on Tuesday. That's why he didn't get a response Tuesday and why he didn't get one today. If someone writes an interesting e-mail, I may respond whether I know them or not. But I do try to respond to all of Elaine's regular readers.

On the topic of war resisters and especially the nonsense and crap that got pulled with C.I., I'll weigh in and note that if you're not supporting war resisters, then you aren't supporting an end to the illegal war. I loved the reply C.I. did last night. I'll ask Elaine to link to it when she blogs next because I really do not remember how to do links. I can't believe I've forgotten. But I guess it's like a bicycle, you have to start riding and slowly your feet and hands remember what to do. But if you aren't for war resisters, you're not on my page. You're not on this community's page. And you really aren't trying to end the illegal war.

I love hearing the stories about war resisters. I think each one has several books worth being written. I like hearing how they decided to take a stand and about the stand. To me, those are the real profiles in courage.

If you already C.I.'s reply on that, I hope you were laughing. I was laughing so hard. To get the real C.I. experience, you need to read it out loud and you need to zoom from the start of each sentence to the period. When I read it this morning at work, I called Elaine over and we read it while having our coffee trying to put it in the C.I. delivery. It's not only strong and accurate, it's also very funny. I guess that's really all I have to add. Next time I blog, I'll try to have a little more to say.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Thursday, July 26, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, jock boys in the press treat a soccer match (not even a title win) as bigger news than 50 dead, the White House is all a titter over Bully Boy's upcoming meeting with Gordon Brown, the US military announces multiple deaths in Iraq (announces seven deaths, not the five many press outlets are reporting), the refugee crisis continues, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
The San Francisco Chapter of Veterans for Peace (Chapter 69) and Asian Pacific Islanders Resist have penned an op-ed (San Francisco Bay Guardian) noting that responsibilities don't fly out the window during an illegal war. In this section, they address the kanagroo courts that those who speak out face in the alleged name of military 'justice': "Many soldiers of conscience who dared to speak openly about the immorality and illegality of the war have been court-martialed and imprisoned. Their cases, dating back to 2004, raise serious doubts about the capacity of our soldiers to receive justice in our military courts. Five months prior to the Abu Ghraib scandal, a soft-spoken Army soldier named Camilo Mejía was visibly upset by the atrocities he observed during his tour of duty in Iraq. Repulsed by the slaughter of civilians and the needless deaths of American GIs -- all reported in his riveting combat memoir, Road from Ar Ramadi (New Press, 2007) -- Mejía gathered his courage and made formal complaints to his superiors. Commanders refused to listen and questioned his patriotism. Eventually Mejía was sentenced to a year in prison for speaking out, for telling the truth. His trial, like subsequent trials of war resisters, was a travesty of justice. The judge, Col. Gary Smith, ruled that evidence of the illegality of the war was inadmissible in court, that international law is irrelevant, and that a soldier's only duty is to follow orders, regardless of their legality. In essence, Mejía spent months in prison for upholding the rule of law in wartime. Had commanders listened to Mejía, had judges respected due process and the rule of law, the Abu Ghraib scandal that humiliated our troops might never have occurred."

Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Mejia's story of becmoing the first Iraq veteran to publicly become a war resisters (Stephen Funk is the first known war resisters in this illegal war and his resistance began when he refused to take part in an illegal war). Along with detailing the court-martial, Mejia also explains how, as that was about to get underweigh, the US military suddenly needed him to refile his CO application. Why? Well he'd outlined abuses and the military had ignored them so refiling it would make it appear that he was just then, as the court-martial approached, for the first time, noting the abuses he'd witnessed. Another point in the Mejia case that is often overlooked is that the US military was in violation of their own rules. Non-US citizen Mejia's eight-year contract was coming to an end. From Iraq, he and superiors made a call during which Mejia learned that his mother had contacted their senator (US Senator Bill Nelson) who had already made an issue of this -- as a noncitizen, Mejia could not be extended. That was the rule and Mejia was informed of that on the phone, when he repeated that and handed the phone to his superior, the superior "lost" the call. The same military that refused to grant Mejia CO status was also in violation of their own rules and this was all before Mejia self-checked out. That's why mainstream (or alternative) media dubbing Mejia a "deserter" without ever exploring those facts is more than a little simplistic.

Mejia's book came out in May and is one of two books published by war resisters this year.
Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale is the other one and, in it, Key outlines his own experiences in Iraq and how he came to the decision to self-check out. Joshua and Brandi Key and their children went underground and then moved to Canada. The Deserter's Tale has repeatedly won positive reviews since its release including an unwritten 'rave' from the US military which so enjoyed it, they sent two members to Canada to pose as Canadian police officers and badger Winnie Ng as to Key's whereabouts. Though far less fanatical, Phil Shannon (Autralia's Green Left Weekly) recently reviewed the book and found it to be
"told with unadorned but compelling simplicity, follows the life-altering path of a US citizen who turned from super-patriot to war-resister."

Currently, war resister
Agustin Aguayo is on a speaking tour telling his story and The Acorn reports that Aguayo will speak this Thursday from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Grant Brimhall, Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 E. James Rd., that the event is "free and open to the public" and more information is available by calling (805) 375-9939. War resister Pablo Paredes will also be at the event.

This comes as
Terry Lee Goodrich (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports on yesterday's meeting of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly during which they passed a resolution "opposing the war in Iraq as contrary to Jesus' teachings" and
supporting war resisters who refuse to serve in the illegal war based upon church teachings.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, 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, Agustin 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
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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Meanwhile, the White House has to deal with not one but two reports in September. On September 15th, General David Petraeus will present his report detailing the 'progress' resulting from Bully Boy's escalation of US troops in Iraq (approximately 160,000 are now on the ground).
Robin Wright (Washington Post) reveals the General Accounting Office will also be presenting a report on September 1st: "The GAO's international affairs team has had far more experience in Iraq than the study group led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) or any of the other independent panels that have weighed in on Iraq. Indeed, the study group consulted the GAO team in preparing its report. Over the past four years, the GAO has issued 91 reports on Iraq, on topics including the mismanagement of Iraq's oil industry and problems in its new army.The GAO team is back in Iraq this week doing research to make its own assessment of the 18 benchmarks covered by the administration's reports." The 'benchmarks' were pushed by the White House and Congress mandated them. These are the same 'benchmarks' that the White House and the US military now attempts to play down as part of the push-back on the September deadline.

They aren't pushing back against the US Congress which still has no real desire to end the illegal war, instead they are pushing back against public opinion domestically which repeatedly finds approximately 70% of Americans are opposed to Bully Boy's illegal war of choice with 61% now wanting any futher funding of the illegal war to come with a timeline for withdrawal.

Norman Solomon observes (at Common Dreams), "Despite all the talk about how members of Congress have been turning against the war, few are clearly advocating a genuine end to U.S. military intervention in Iraq" and that the media joins in prolonging the illegal war, "Media outlets will keep telling us that the U.S. government is developing serious plans to 'leave' Iraq. But we would be foolish to believe those tall tales. The antiwar movement has an enormous amount of grassroots work to do -- changing the political terrain of the United States from the bottom up -- before the calculus of political opportunism in Washington determines that it would be more expedient to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq than to keep it going under one guise or another." Solomon details the efforts by PBS' NewsHour and Time magazine to mitigate public outrage, " The game involves dangling illusionary references to 'withdrawal' in front of the public" while no real withdrawal is being proposed and Solomon cites IPS' Phylis Bennis on yesterday's House amendment regarding permanent bases in Iraq, "The bill states an important principle opposing the 'establishment' of new bases in Iraq and 'not to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.' But it is limited in several ways. It prohibits only those bases which are acknowledged to be for the purpose of permanently stationing U.S. troops in Iraq; therefore any base constructed for temporarily stationing troops, or rotating troops, or anything less than an officially permanent deployment, would still be accepted. Further, the bill says nothing about the need to decommission the existing U.S. bases already built in Iraq; it only prohibits 'establishing' military installations, implying only new ones would be prohibited."

Meanwhile the press corps are in a frenzy over
a gaggle where White House flack Tony Snow confirmed that, grab the tissues, Bully Boy will host new UK prime minister Gordon Brown at Camp David. A two day meeting -- Sunday and Monday! And "they'll have a dinner" after Brown arrives Sunday. They'll take meeting "the following day." Of course, it's really not news since it's been in the British papers for days but let's all pretend and pretend that Tony Snow wasn't short on specifics, "This will be their first meeting" . . . well "at least here in the States" . . . "since Mr. Brown has become Prime Minister." Snow was probably closer to reality when he noted that the two would cover "sort of the predictable topics".

In other "feel good" news,
Richard A. Oppel Jr and Qais Mizher (New York Times) gush excitedly over a soccer game (one that is apparently so important, the paper front pages an AFP photo by Ali Yussef of boys and men running around in a frenzy) including two paragraphs on the fact that at least 50 Iraqis DIED while offering 17 paragraphs about the games and 'reactions' which the reporters didn't actually observe. But why should at least 50 dead interfere with selling 'good news' and letting alleged reporters grab their moment to play "Boys will be boys"?

Left out of their mouth breathing coverage are any women and why bother there? Why bother intruding on a jock moment with some actual reality? As
IRIN has noted, women activists in Iraq are under attack and receiving no support from the US and WFO's Haifaa Nour explains, "I know my life is under threat and I might be killed at any time especially for refusing to wear a veil or other traditional clothes, but if I do so, I will just be abetting the extremists." But the jock boys are too busy tearing off their shirts, beating their sunken chests and pounding away on the keyboards to note any of that reality. The jock boys also miss out on what some see as a telling bit of information. Angeel Hussein (Telegraph of London) observes, "American attempts to co-opt Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad have suffered a set back after Sunni and Shia Muslim militants in a key district of the city forged an alliance against United States forces. . . . the al-Girtani tribe reached across Iraq's sectarian divide, in what is believed to be the first partnership of its kind. 'We fought the Shia because of pressure from al-Qa'eda,' said Turki al-Girtani, the tribe leader. 'Now after they were beaten we have to refocus on the real enemy, which is the US army'." Rah, rah, boys of the New York Times, rah, rah!

BBC reports on the conference in Jordan to explore the Iraqi refugee crisis (4 million refugees when internally and externally displaced are counted) and notes the UN estimates 50,000 Iraqi refugees are being created each month. The CBC notes that Jordan has an estimated 750,000 Iraqi refugees and that they are asking for help. Voices in the Wilderness Kathy Kelly (CounterPunch) observes, "The U.S. could direct the amount of money spent on just six hours of the war in Iraq and fully meet the UNHCR request to assist millions of people who have barely survived this U.S. 'war of choice'." In other news of money spent or not spent, James Glanz (New York Times) continues to report on the contract waste in Iraq, noting today, "One of the largest American contractors working in Iraq, Bechtel National, met its original objectives on fewer than half of the projects it received as part of a $1.8 billion reconstruction contract, while most of the rest were canceled, reduced in scope or never completed as designed, federal investigators have found in a report released yesterday." [Glanz' article appears on A6 within the paper and has no 'cheery' photo illustrating the paper's front page.]

Despite the rah-rah over a sports match, violence continued in Iraq today including in the land of the 'crackdown' Baghdad.
CBS and AP report on a Baghdad car bombing that claimed the lives of at least 21 (at least sixty wounded) and left smoke billowing "into the sky after the thunderous explosion" while "nine cars burned" as well as a three story building. Paul Tait (Reuters) reports the death toll has climbed to at least 25 with at least 115 wounded and that the death toll is expected to climb while describing the scene, "Bodies lay strewn around the street after the blast, which smashed three buildings into piles of masonry and concrete. It was at least the fourth to hit the predominantly Shi'ite district of Karrada this week."

In other violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 4 lives in the south, one in the west that claimed 6 lives (including an Iraqi soldier), a Hilla bombing that claimed 7 lives (five of which were police officer), Reuters notes mortar attacks in Mosul that claimed 1 life and left seven wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 police officers were killed in Tikrit "while chasing gunmen" and the Karrada shooting death of Abdul Satar Abdul Jabar who had been "a general manager in the ministry of housing and rebuilding." Reuters notes three police officers shot dead in Yarubiya.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes two corpses discovered in Latifiya ("blindfolded, handcuffed and riddled with bullets").

Today the
US military announced: "One MNC-I Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during clearing operations in Baghdad July 24." That death took place two days ago and was announced today. And they announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died July 22 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province." That death took place four days ago and was announced today. And they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small arms fire engagement in a southern section of the Iraqi capital July 25." That death took place one day ago. And they announced: "Three Marines and one Sailor assigned to Multi National Force-West died July 24 while conducting combat operations in Diyala Province." Those deaths took place two days ago and were announced today. Before someone wants to harp on "time differences" all announcements are coming out of Baghdad. Also note that this is seven deaths and not, as so many in the press are reporting, five deaths. It's easy to be confused with the MNF's new pattern of delaying death announcements -- but the press isn't commenting on that either. The totals currently at ICCC are 3645 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started with 66 for the month thus far.

Svea Herbst-Bayliss (Reuters) reports that the parents of Jeffrey Lucey have filed a federal lawsuit against the US government over the suicide of their son "in his parents' Massachusetts basement less than a year after returning home from fighting during the invasion of Iraq in 2003" with the father, Kevin Lucey, maintaining, "The government is guilty of not taking care of the troops after they come home."

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed Iraqi Nesreen (last name withheld) and Brooklyn teacher Bruce Wallace about their project to dispell "the other" and bridge the physical distance between Iraqi and US students. From the broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: Nesreen, let's begin with you. Talk about the situation in Baghdad, what it's like for you to teach, for your kids to go to school.
NESREEN: Well, everything is difficult in Baghdad. Me, as a teacher, when I go to school, it is hard to get to my school, simply because the American troops are there in the streets, and they sometimes close all the streets or sometimes they are stuck or stop in the streets to -- you know, it's a kind of delay there will be for going to school, and looking for landmines or trying to attack some people, some Iraqi people, looking for insurgents.
And on my way to school, I saw many, many bad things, such as dead bodies or sometimes the random shooting all of a sudden started. And when I go to a school, sometimes I find students and sometimes very few students and sometimes no students.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In terms of the -- the images that we see here, obviously, in the United States, when they are presented, are of constant bombings that occur on an almost daily basis. On a day-to-day level for your students, what is life like? Does that violence -- is it there constantly or is it once in a while?
NESREEN: Constantly. Yeah, because, you know, the situation is very, very difficult right there in the school. Some of my students stopped coming to school, because their parents were threatened or family is threatened, some of them afraid to come to school because of the bad situation in the streets or afraid of kidnapping, things like that.
[. . .]
AMY GOODMAN: How about your kids in the Brooklyn school? We asked Nesreen about her girls. What about the effect of this email exchange with your kids? How old are they?
BRUCE WALLACE: They're high school students in Brooklyn, so they are between twelve and eighteen years old. For them, it was partly an awakening of knowledge, and for myself also. I have a few college degrees. I went up to the Master's level. I knew nothing about Iraq. I had to look for it on the map. I knew nothing about the culture, nothing about the people. For me, it was an awakening, and for my students also. I remember one email that said, "Oh, you hear Jay-Z in Baghdad?" We just had no idea of who these people were, and little by little learned to understand them as people very much like ourselves. And that was a very powerful thing for the students.

No front page photo on the New York Times of that.

Finally, in political news,
CBS and AP report, "Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi's office said the moderate Sunni leader had met with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Wednesday to discuss his political bloc's objections to the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The meeting occurred on the same day al-Hashemi's Iraqi Accordance Front suspended membership in the government, a bid that appeared timed to deepen disenchantment in Washington with the Shiite prime minister's faltering leadership." Things get worse for the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki but, by all means, let's all focus on a soccer game.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tina Richards telling it like it really is

This is a short post tonight. C.I.'s getting 'amusing' e-mails and called a phone conference. I believe they will be addressed at The Common Ills tonight. (They should be. I heard about them from Kat and actually wrote a post that I'll probably ask Sunny to post tomorrow night. It's lengthy. But since C.I. is addressing it tonight, I'll let C.I. grab it first.)

"What Harry Reid Doesn't Know About His Own Bill" (Tina Richards, CounterPunch):
Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi and all of the other Democratic leadership; we plead you to push forward legislation that will bring "all" our sons and daughters home from this occupation. We cannot support an amendment that provides for leaving stranded an "unknown" amount of our troops. Until that time, the peace movement will continue to speak out against these cruel promises of withdrawing our troops. We will also continue to struggle against and other such groups that blindly fall in line with the Democratic Party and their anti-escalation, not-anti-war, agenda.
You Tube Video, Tina & Grassroots America Interviews Harry Reid on the War and impeachment

It takes real courage to call out WalkOn. Most don't. Or they give an interview after where they embarrass themselves by saying is anti-war, they just disagree with their stratgey. is not now or ever about ending the illegal war and at least one media critic made a complete fool out of himself as he rushed to tear apart his own writing and present himself as a friend of

Tina Richards isn't trying to set herself up for a post-war punditry career. She's attempting to end the illegal war. That's why her voice is authentic. She won't be bullied or intimidated. Like Cindy Sheehan, she is elected Democrats worst nightmare, someone who calls them out.

By the way, to clarify something, John Stauber or his partner (I forget his name, Sheldon something) are not the media critics I refer to. Both of them have taken a strong stand to call out. If all of the left would do as they have, or as Tina Richards has, would not repeatedly be presented in the mainstream press as "anti-war" and "left." They aren't left, they are not anti-war.

Lying is killing the troops just as surely as funding the illegal war is. Lying and pretending that some aren't prolonging the war by cheering on empty actions by the Democratic leadership is killing the troops.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, July 25, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Ann Wright explains what John Conyers can't grasp (or pretends not to grasp), Katrina vanden Heuvel thinks being editor & publisher means playing favorites, Baraba Lee proves there are some leaders in Congress, Tina Richards proves there are truth tellers, BBC tells about back in the day when the Bush family tried to overthrow FDR, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Today on
KPFK's Uprising, Sonali Kohatkar interviewed Agustin Aguayo and Helga Aguayo. Aguayo self-checked out the US military at the start of September on the eve of his second deployment to Iraq (and while his CO requests were being ignored to such a point that they were now fighting in the civilian courts) and turned himself before the end of the month. Earlier this year, in Germany, Aguayo was court-martialed. He is now speaking out about his experiences.

Agustin explained to Kohatkar that the time since being released from military prison and returning to the United States have been an adjustment becuase "for so long I was part of a system where everything was laid out." Helga spoke of what it was like for her when the persecution of her husband was taking place, "It's been very difficult. . . . It's been very stressful. My health has detirated a little but I'm getting stronger." Helga and Agusin are the parents of twin daughters (12-year-olds). Agustin declared that he speaks now to get the word out and "something of great importance to me is reaching out to the youth". Agustin noted the recruitment efforts targeting young people today and hopes that by speaking he can count that "and share with them the other side of the story, the side advertisements and recruiters won't ever tell them."

In addition to the false promises recruiters to make to all children (generally the children of low income families), Kohatkar noted that there is also the promise of citizenship offered to those who will fight in the US military although they are not citizens. Kohatkar noted that 32,000 immigrants had been naturalized as a result of serving in the US miltiary.

Reflecting on his awakening (it was a religious awakening and Agustin has spoken of it in those terms), Agustin stated, "I came to see myself as what I truly am. A person that is peaceful. . . . The missions I was participating in were not naturally peaceful ones so I regret some of them."

Helga spoke to the issues of what can be done from the outside. She termed the period during which the military was persecuting her husband "sheer terror for us" and spoke of living in fear that the military would physically harm if she spoke out or retaliate against him. What she discovered was, "The louder I spoke, the more support I got. The louder I spoke, the more media attention it got him. So I had to get over my fear."

Where things stand now is that Agustin is "still part of the military" and "basically I have a legal right to appeal my court-martial". Kohtkar asked what was the worst that could happen right now? Noting the current "political environment," Agustin pointed out that "recently Marines and soldiers with the inactive-ready reserves have been prosecuted for speaking out." That would include
Adam Kokesh (Cloy Richards and Liam Madden have also been among those harassed). Agustin also noted how many were leaving the military often "in a quiet way without making any statements, including to their family." Helga credited IVAW and others with "The moral support, the guidance" they offered and noted, "I do believe that we can stop this war. You know the politicians have failed us and now it's up to us. . . . Maybe I'm being too optimistic but I think that eventually we can stop this war."

Aguayo is telling his story publicly and
The Acorn reports that Aguayo will speak this Thursday from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Grant Brimhall, Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 E. James Rd., that the event is "free and open to the public" and more information is available by calling (805) 375-9939. War resister Pablo Paredes will also be at the event.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, 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, Agustin 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
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. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Now let's turn to periodical news and the biggest laugh (cited by friends at two networks and three daily papers),
the Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel. Itwas embarrassing enough that (once again) she was pushing a group on her blog (Editor's Cut) whose board both she and her father serve on (without DISLCOSING THAT while lavishing praise on the centrist group). But she's not a journalist. She's not a trained jouranlist and she continues to run The Nation as if it is the Palm Beach Social Pictoral and not an alleged independent weekly.

Today she demonstrates that not only may the posts editor and publisher beyond her grasp but so may be basic comprehension. In the Democratic 'debate' this week, US Senator Barack Obama was asked a question and offered a response. It demonstrated his lack of experience
but Katrina vanden Heuvel drums up the case against Hillary Clinton and pushes the DLC Barack Obama by altering reality. "In Monday's debate," she writes, "and with the benefit of having time to think through her response, Hillary Clinton posed as the foreign policy sophisticate to Barack Obama the bold leader who did not hesitate to say that he would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela." No that is not what happened.

Transcript of the 'debate' (New York Times) shows Obama was asked if he would "meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?" The first year. Would he meet in the first year. Obama responded, "I would." Blah blah blah followed.

David Corn gets it right. And it is a mistake. (Tim Russert slipped in "insurgent Obama" on NBC's Today this morning.) There is nothing wrong with diplomatic meetings, they should be encouraged. But Katrina vanden Heuvel fudges reality to make it appear that's the issue when it isn't. Obama agreed to meetings his first year in office. You don't do that. You don't show your hand in that way and you certainly don't announce first year meetings when you're not even in office. This has nothing to do with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez or any other leader, it has nothing to do with other countries. It has everything to do with the way diplomacy is conducted. You can indicate you're willing to consider it, you don't say, "Yes, I will have those meetings." In terms of the way diplomacy is conducted and in terms of the way Obama's mistake will continue to play out, David Corn is correct.

Corn writes for The Nation. Katrina vanden Heuvel holds the magazine's posts of editor and publisher. Disagreeing with a writer for the magazine -- someone serving under -- publicly might or might not be 'bad form' but the fact that she then holds up another writer at the magazine is causing huge laughs: "My colleague Ari Berman posted his smart and sharp counter to David's argument . . ." As the editor and the publisher, vanden Heuvel should give the appearance of detatchment with regards to those working beneath her. Instead, she picks a favorite. Again, she's not trained in journalism. But she sure did provide a lot of laughter today.

Berman also shades reality by changing the issue at stake (the first year vanishes from Berman's critique as it did from Katrina vanden Heuvel's). Now let's get to the real reality here. (Friends pushed for this to be noted but that alone wouldn't have gotten it included in the snapshot.) The tongue baths of Obama from The Nation are appalling.
As Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford have explained, Barack Obama was DLC in 2004. He only ran from it when it threatened to become harmful. Katrina vanden Heuvel and Ari Berman are gushing over Obama. They are far, far from reality. Barack Obama repeatedly stated in 2004 that the US could not withdraw from Iraq. He repeatedly (publicly and privately) went on record being opposed to a withdrawal. Why is it that an alleged left magazine has elected not to explore that and instead play cheerleader for him? (While giving non-stop hisses to Hillary Clinton.)

The Nation's not trying to end the illegal war. A strong but ultimately meaningless editorial every two years is not trying to end the illegal war.
An article that boasts of "dozens" of photos of abuse to Iraqis being turned over to the magazine that fails to feature any of those photographs isn't trying to end the illegal war or even to be a distant relation of journalism. But the magazine wants to pretend (and really needs) it cares about the illegal war. If it cares about the illegal war, it's past time for the magazine to get honest about Barack Obama. It's beyond time for them to quit repeating the mainstream narrative of how Barack was right about the illegal war before it started unlike Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd without noting that repeatedly in 2004, Barack Obama argued that the US must not withdraw, must 'win' the illegal war, etc. The one who wants credit for being right that the illegal war was wrong also needs to take his blame for saying that an illegal war should continue to drag on. Pretending otherwise isn't helping anyone.

Pretending that Congressional leaders are attempting to end the illegal war isn't helping anyone either.
Tina Richards (via Democracy Rising) notes the obvious that's treated as if it must be kept unspoken -- the Levin-Reed Amendment will not "bring our troops home" or "end the war": "I had an opportunity to ask [Senate Majority] Leader [Harry] Reid about how many troops will be abandoned in Iraq. He bluntly stated, 'we haven't spoken to the military yet, at this stage we don't know.' We don't know? They have pushed and prodded for this Amendment and they don't know? If Members of Congress do not have any idea how large of a future force this amendment calls for, then how can we as military families possibly support it? Senator Reid has admitted that this proposed 'pull-out plan' does nothing yet leave the decision up to the military leadership, who take their direction from President Bush. It must be made clear to the public that the Levin-Reed Amendment does not call for a specific withdrawal from Iraq nor does it seek to revamp the American mission in the region."

Funding the war is Killing The Troops. The message of Tina Richards' Grassroots America and Iraq Veterans Against the War. It's basic, it's easy to communicate. Want to bring the troops home safely? Stop funding the illegal war. Want to stop the US military air war on Iraq? Stop funding the illegal war.

Want to stop the illegal war? Stop farming yourself as the Pep Squad for Democratic Leadership in Congress which refuses to end the illegal war but prefers 'symbolic' action and shell games.

Appearing on
KPFK 's Radio Active yesterday, Cindy Sheehan explained to host Michael Slate why she was running for the Congressional seat currently held by Nancy Pelosi (who also holds the title of House Majority Leader). Sheehan explained that, in light of US House Rep John Conyers' public promises (that the MSM has ignored) in recent days, she was hopeful going into the meeting on Monday with Conyers. The meeting didn't go well. Sheehan explained that Conyers said they didn't have the votes "he doesn't want to look foolish . . . Fox News would have a field day with that." Conyers proposed that the answer was in voting for Democrats in 2008. Sheehan explained that this is an example of how "the two-party system that really gets nothing done. Congress has made themselves invalid and irrelevant . . . I think it's about time that they do their job." And if they won't, then it is up to the voters, Sheehan explained, noting that the most recent legislation has shown "more earmarks for defense spending than the Republicans did."

Today on
KPFK Uprising featured a Global Voices for Justice interview with John Conyers that was taped over the weekend. Conyers described the situtation as "really bad. We've never been in this situation before, with someone like that in the White House." But, Conyers wanted the public to understand, "You don't have to be in office to get impeached. You can get impeached for something you did in office."

Conyers is off his rocker or insane. The US Congress has never impeached a non-sitting president. In a two-party system, such a move would provide both parties pause. It is insane to think (or suggest, as Conyers did) that the impeachment of the Bully Boy can take place after 2008, after he leaves office. Right now, with him occupying the White House, it is like moving mountains to get the Congressional leaders just to acknowledge the option of impeachment exists. We're supposed to believe that will change after Bully Boy leaves office?

Conyers also declared that Congress has "a job . . . We're supposed to be creating legislation for the country." If he really believes that lie, then in 2009, won't Congress still have "a job to do"? Won't they still need to create legislation?

But Conyers wanted to lie and declare that impeachment "means there's no more legislation. . . . That's it."

On Radio Active yesterday, retired diplomat and retired Col. Ann Wright addressed Conyer's nonsense noting that there were plenty of people in DC who could be added to Congressional staffs: "You can do more than 2 or 3 things at once that there are plenty of young men and young women in this town that could be hired onto committees to do a multiple number of things. And should not we the people of the United States have a little bit of accountabiliy for this administration when we know what's being going on? And when we elected a Congress, changed the Congress around so that the Democrats are in charge specifically to get some accountability -- and now those same Democrats are backing off from it."

Jimmy Breslin addressed the topic of impeachment this week (Newsday via Common Dreams):

The other day, Bush said he couldn't understand why in the world would some people say that millions of Americans have no health insurance. "Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room," he said.

Said this with the smirk, the insolent smug, contemptuous way he speaks to citizens.

People, particularly these politicians, these frightened beggars in suits, seem petrified about impeachment. It could wreck the country.

Ridiculous. I've been around this business twice and we're all still here and no politician was even injured. Richard Nixon lied during a war and helped get some 58,500 Americans killed and many escaped by hanging onto helicopter skids. Nixon left peacefully. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said on television that the Senate impeachment trial of Nixon would be televised and there would be no immunity. That meant Nixon would have to face the country under oath and if he lied he would go to prison. He knew he was finished as he heard this. Mansfield said no more. He got up and left. Barbara Walters, on the "Today" show, said, "He doesn't say very much, does he?"

The second time the subject was Bill Clinton for illegal holding in the hallway.

This time, we have dead bodies involved. Consider what is accomplished by the simple power of the word impeachment. If you read these broken-down news writers or terrified politicians claiming that an impeachment would leave the nation in pieces, don't give a moment to them.

It opens with the appointing of an investigator to report to the House on evidence that calls for impeachment. He could bring witnesses forward. That would be all you'd need. Here in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon came John Dean. His history shows how far down the honesty and honor of this country has gone. Dean was the White House counsel. Richard Nixon, at his worst, never told him not to appear or to remain silent in front of the Congress. Dean went on and did his best to fill prisons. After that came Alexander Butterfield, a nobody. All he had to say was that the White House had a taping system that caught all the conversations in the White House. Any of them not on tape were erased by a participant.

The same is desperately needed now. Curious, following the words, an investigator -- the mind here sees George Mitchell and Warren Rudman, and you name me better -- can slap a hand on the slitherers and sneaks who have kept us in war for five years and who use failing generals to beg for more time and more lives of our young. A final word in September? Two years more, the generals and Bush people say.

Say impeachment and you'll get your troops home.

David Swanson's AfterDowningStreet goes historical and steers to people to a BBC special entitled "The Whitehouse Coup" which "uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomas investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy."

In the US currently, US House Rep Barbara Lee put forward proposed legislation in the House today "
to prevent permanent military bases in Iraq and bar U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources." H.R. 2929 passed on a 399 to 24 vote. It would need to pass the Senate as well before it can be law. Said Lee, "We must soundly reject the vision of an open ended occupation as bad policy that undermines the safety of our troops and recognize it for what it is: another recruiting poster for terrorists."

In Iraq,
CBS and AP report more political trouble for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki with the "largest Sunni Arab bloc" in Parliament has put its membership on hold and should they resign "al-Maliki's Cabinet would limp along with about a third of its seats vacant and without its billing as a 'national unity' government."

National unity? Today in Iraq . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 53 dead from bombings in Baghdad alone -- 20 from a car bombing at a check point, 30 from a car bombing targeting people celebrating a soccer victory, 3 from a car bomb in northern Baghdad .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 farmers were shot dead in Kirkuk. Reuters reports seven people making a pilgrimage to Baghdad were wounded in Kerbala.


>Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Mustafa Qaid Mizhir Al Asi was kidnapped in Kirkuk, while 4 were kidnapped in Sadiyah -- the heads of the 4 were later found -- no signs of the rest of the bodies.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 18 corpses were discovered in the capital. Reuters reports 5 corpses discovered in Iskandairya.

Today, the
US military announced: "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died of a non-battle related cause July 24."

In DC today, a nonsense committe made up of 9 members (including Donna Shalala and Bob Dole) announced recommendations. This was to address veterans' care. As the Washington Post's Dana Priest expected,
speaking on NPR's Morning Edition today, there were no specifics on Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the recommendations were instead about systematic changes. The Final Report can be read [PDF format warning] here. and [PDF format warning] here for the findings. Your thoughts mayrun along the lines of "What planet have they been living on?" Proving they are 'hip' and 'with it' they want to create a "My eBenefits" page and it would allow medical information to be shared. Were they in comas when the Veterans Dept. repeatedly lost computers and put the privacy of veterans medical information at risk? The panel takes issue (rightly) with the VA for it's refusal to address the PTSD issues of returning service members; however, it then proposes that the VA get increased responsibility in determining the disability pay system. Does no one see the conflict? On the one hand, the VA hasn't been recognizing the very serious PTSD issues but on the other they would now be in charge of dispensing the benefit monies. As AP noted earlier this week, the VA is being sued by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan "on behalf of hundreds of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on several fronts -- from providing prompt disability benefits, to adding staff to reduce wait times for medical care to boosting services for post-traumatic stress disorder."

Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) reports on upcoming actions to follow the Bully Boy and share his Maine vacation with him: "a broad coalition of antiwar groups are holding a protest and covergence over the August 24-26 weekend. Like the encampment spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan outside of Crawford, Texas last summer, this protest aims to bring the antiwar message to the man who claims the war as his won." Among those present for the August 25th events will be Agustin Aguayo, David Rovics, the Indigo Girls and Dennis Kucinich.


agustin aguayo

jimmy breslin

mcclatchy newspapers