Friday, August 24, 2007

Grace Paley and other items

"Feminist Author and Activist Grace Paley Dies" (Feminist Wire Daily):
The acclaimed writer, poet, feminist, and peace activist Grace Paley died on Wednesday in her home in Vermont at the age of 84 after a long struggle with breast cancer. As a writer, Paley is best known for her short stories examining the ordinary lives of women. Her Collected Stories, published in 1994, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and in 1993, she received the Rea Award, referred to as the Pulitzer Prize for short story writers, according to the Los Angeles Times. Paley also published several volumes of poems, and served as a poet laureate of Vermont and the first official New York State Writer. Paley’s most recent work is a collection of her and her husband Robert Nichols’ poems and short stories, published by the Feminist Press this year.

Grace Paley, Tillie Olson, Ellen Willis, Molly Ivins. A lot of strong women have passed away recently. C.I. covers the death in the snapshot today and C.I. "hates, hates, hates" covering deaths. (That may be a quote.) "Ellen Willis" was an obit C.I. did do. I knew her writing better than I knew her, I only knew her casually through C.I. But she was such a strong voice. It's depressing to lose a strong voice at any period but especially when it's a dark period, like today, when an illegal war is pushed and prolonged by the White House and the Congress does nothing to stop it.

Look at NOW, which doesn't bother to note the passing of Paley. NOW made itself useless in my book. C.I. and Ava will still support it; however, NOW is the group C.I.'s speaking of in the snapshot after quoting from Paley's "Why Peace is (More Than Ever) A Feminist Issue." NOW used to provide a button on their home page that had a dove and the slogan "Peace Is A Feminist Issue." As they geared up for their endorsement of War Hawk Hillary Clinton, they dropped the button from the main page. Now the illegal war didn't end, but it might as well have for NOW because all they gave a damn about was, "There's a female in the race!"

If anyone for NOW is allowed to speak at any national peace rally, I will be booing them. That's Kim Gandy, that's anyone. I think they've made themselves useless. I was a longtime NOW member. The Hillary Clinton endorsement was something I would've just rolled my eyes at and ignored. But that Iraq was reduced in order to push Hillary (who clearly supports continuing the illegal war) makes NOW completely useless to me.

As far as I'm concerned, they are now nothing but a group of giddy sorority sisters.
The illegal war continues and they can't do a damn thing to stop it. If they call out a Republican for supporting the war, they leave themselves open to charges of hypocrisy because they support Clinton who wants the illegal war to continue.

NOW betrayed its membership not by endorsing Hillary Clinton (actually NOWPac, not NOW endorsed Hillary), but by retreating on the illegal war.

So losing a strong voice against the war like Grace Paley does hurt. C.I. called mid-day and said something to the effect of, "I've got to write it up." I knew what C.I. was talking about, noting Paley's death (and her life). The reason? Who was noting it?

You had newspapers noting it. Where were our wonderful women's groups?

NOW apparently can't note Paley's death.

Just as soon as Katrina vanden Heuvel can figure out how to wrap the death in 'economics,' I'm sure she'll do a lovely post . . . co-authored with a man. When she and Katha Pollitt can figure out how to transform it into "Vote Democratic in 2008," they'll have magnificent posts.

A woman died. She was active in ending the current illegal war as well as Vietnam. She was active in the feminist movement. She was active in the No Nukes movement. She was an accomplished writer.

All of which would have made women of my generation say, "If women were in charge, her death would have been noted." But all these years later, a number of women are in charge. We get silence.

I know C.I. hates noting deaths ("hate, hate, hate"). So I especially appreciate the stepping up to the plate today. Didn't we see the same thing with Bully Boy's revisionist take on Vietnam? Where are our supposed leaders?

I'm really disgusted.

Sunny, by the way, asked me a question about an e-mail today. Someone wondered if my reference to all the ego stroking it took to get the "Young Lions" of my generation able to speak up and out was a reference to Juan Gonzalez who was a member of the Young Lords? No. Also, I believe he was the founder of that organization. I thought I should note that here in case anyone else had that question.

I was referring to men I knew back then and men my friends knew. I was referring to a group of men who were largely White. I don't know Juan Gonzalez and I've never met him. To the best of my recollection. My memory's not as good as C.I.'s and I can imagine C.I. saying, "Don't you remember in ___ at ___ we marched with/strategized with/had dinner with Juan and . . ." I wouldn't be at all surprised if C.I. knew Juan back then. C.I. was active all over the country. Sometimes, I would go along on the trips like C.I. does now. But I largely stayed on the East Coast. Which is where Juan was active primarily, I'm sure. So there's a chance our paths crossed at some point. If he was in SDS, I'm sure our paths did cross if only in a huge group convention or something.

But I was referring to White males and had honestly forgotten the Young Lords until Sunny told me about the e-mail. That is not intended as an insult to the Young Lords. That is a sign of memory which is not as bad as Rebecca's but that was some time ago. Rebecca's always had a bad memory and freely admits to it. I think I have a pretty good memory (even today) but on the scale, not really. In college, we would both marvel over C.I.'s ability to glance at a page and have it memorized or to hear a conversation and be able to reconstruct it.

I chose "Young Lions" because these were supposed to be, these White men, the leaders kissed by fate. The reality was, ask any woman from that time involved with any, they needed a lot of hand holding, a lot of praise (a LOT of praise) and for you to stop everything pretty much (which, sadly, I did in at least two relationships) just to get them 'stage ready.' Now I might be about to give a speech on the draft, for example, and the man might be about to give a speech on another topic. But he really would expect me to ignore reviewing my notes and listen to his worries and fears that he wasn't good enough.

The plus for that, and I'm not the only one who feels that way, is that I and other women ended up having to learn to go on cold. We didn't have time for a pep talk (even to ourselves) because we were usually so exhausted from the drama. So it was just something, when it was our turn to speak or whatever, that we just did.

Then what we did was cut off compliments because heaven forbid we get too many when a Young Lion had spoken as well.

Even with my memory, I know for a fact that I was never involved with Juan Gonzalez, so I wasn't lumping him into that category. I also have never heard his name come up in relation to this when, especially as the women's movement emerged, women would get together and share their horror stories.

Dropping back to a question last week (which Sunny replied to), Rebecca was politically active in college. She was, as she will point out, two years younger (she was advanced two grades in high school and we weren't allowed to mention that in college but damned if she won't shut up about it today -- that was me teasing her, before anyone wonders). C.I. was hugely political. I was active in the peace movement and the women's movement. Compared to the two of us, it might seem Rebecca wasn't. That wasn't the case. If you needed bodies for any action, she was there. If she had to speak, she would. But she absolutely had to speak of she wouldn't. She was very quiet and shy in college. Or freshman year. A lot of that, and she's noted this at her site, came from being younger (and not wanting anyone to know -- when we found out, she was about to cry and swore us to secrecy). So while you had 18-year-olds all ready to taste adulthood, you had her at sixteen.

She carved out her own issues and, before college was over, she was the strongest speaker I knew on the issue of Palestinians. She may have carved that out because it was an issue many didn't touch on. Some ran from it because if you think it's a 'hot button' today, it was even more so back then. Some were focused on other issues. But she would speak out on that issue and she did so strongly, passionately and wonderfully.

Some people made the mistake of thinking she was vapid. She had (and has) all that blonde hair and is of course beyond 'busty.' She's got a face like an angel. So with those attributes, some were going to make snap judgements even before the shyness was factored in. But she wasn't (and isn't) vapid. The fact that, at sixteen, she held her own daily with eighteen-year-olds (full of themselves, as we all were) goes to how strong she is.

Her other big issue, in college, was the environment.

Those were her two big issues that she really was a strong voice on. That's not to say that she didn't care about the illegal war then, she did and she actively worked to end it. But it is to note that she felt more comfortable with those issues. Probably due to the fact that she was able to carve out the space on them. Besides the people who were really trying to end the illegal war, you had a lot of people who'd heard enough 'rap sessions' to fake their way through in a class setting.

I have no idea if I'm getting my point across here. But she was active and she was the most informed when it came to the environment and the Palestinians. If you asked me why on either, I couldn't tell you. I know I did wonder in college but I always felt that to ask out of curiousity might be seen, by her, as, "Why you?" Because there were a lot of people who judged her by her looks. She will tell you herself that C.I. and I stepped on egg shells around her. She was the one who could get her feelings hurt the easiest. Which probably was partly due to the fact that she was younger and partly due to the fact that she was judged by her looks.

With me in college, my big goal was never to let anyone (other than my closest friends, which included C.I. and Rebecca) see me cry. That was a really big deal to me because there was debate my first semester where a woman got flustered and began crying. I did not want that to be me. So people thought or assumed that I was the stone faced one when it came to personal criticism.

C.I.? No one (and this is still true) will ever be able to criticze C.I. more than C.I. already does. You could go up to C.I. and say the worst thing and you wouldn't be cut off. If you weren't someone who was openly hostile in the past, C.I. would say, "You may be right. Let me think about that." Which would follow with serious thought. (If you were someone who was hostile, you'd get a choice word or two in response but C.I. would still consider the comment or charge.) C.I. never took anything personally. If it was about C.I. If it was about a friend, it was a completely different story.

But with Rebecca, and she's blogged about this, she really would get hurt. You could tell her, "Oh ___ just woke up in a nasty mood and went all over campus until s/he found someone to tear into. It had nothing to do with you." She might nod but she'd still feel awful. So knowing that, I always made a point to avoid any question that she might read as, "Why you?" She got that a lot. Especially from the men she was involved with in college who all seemed taken aback when they realized that the considerable body came with a brain. She also, and this may have been the age difference (two years is a big deal at that age), was the most obvious with her feelings. Her eyes would well up immediately. In terms of politics, she had ideas for posters and banners like no one else. That's not a minor thing. She would always have the best, the strongest ideas there. She would also speak if it was required but only if it was required. She hated giving speeches back then and her palms would be sweating the whole time. You wouldn't know it to watch her give a speech but that was the case. She hated speaking so much she nearly failed a speech class that an English professor pretty much demanded she take.

She pulled it through for the final and she will tell you we (C.I., another friend and myself) pulled an all nighter with her to help her pull it off. She might tell you she was chilled out on valium her mother had given her because Rebecca's mother knew very well how nerve wracking public speaking could be for Rebecca.

One time, in college, we were discussing out experiences in terms of that. Rebecca, as I remember it, shared that she could do a cheer (she was a cheerleader in high school) because she was part of a group but the solo spot of public speaking was just unnerving. I actually enjoyed public speaking so I probably shared something along those lines. C.I.'s take was that the issue was more important. C.I. would get on the phone and beg for attendance, money, coverage, what have you. But try to get C.I. to answer a phone for personal calls. C.I. hated talking on the phone. Or hated answering it. But, for an issue, could get through anything.

I'll never forget Rebecca's comment at the end of that which was, "See Lanie, you're the normal one." "Normal" was the last thing anyone wanted to be back then. (But Rebecca didn't mean it as an insult.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, August 24, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military reports another death, a US helicopter attack leaves many Iraqis dead, war resistance gets covered on PBS, activist, author, feminist, peace advocate Grace Paley passed away Wednesday, and more.

Starting with war resistance. This week's
NOW with David Brancaccio (PBS, begins airing in most markets Friday nights) takes a look at war resistance:Choosing to go to war is both a government's decision and one made by individual enlistees. But changing your mind once you're in the army is a risky decision with serious consequences. On Friday, August 24 (checkyour local listings), we talk to two soldiers who went AWOL and eventually left the Army, but who took very different paths. NOW captures the moment when one man turns himself in, and when another applies for refugee status in Canada, becoming one of the 20,000 soldiers who have deserted the army since the War in Iraq began. Each describes what drove him to follow his conscience over his call to duty, and what penalties and criticism were endured as a result. "I see things differently having lived through the experience," former army medic Agustin Aguayo tells NOW. "When I returned from Iraq, after much reflection I knew deep within me I could never go back."The NOW website at will offer more insight into the case made by conscientious objectors, as well as more stories of desertion in the ranks.In addition to the broadcast, a preview of the show is posted at YouTube. And the show will be available in various forms (audio, video, text -- though maybe not in full) at the NOW with David Brancaccio site.

Camilo Mejia is the new chair of
Iraq Veterans Against the War. The decision of the new board members of IVAW were made last weekend. Tony Pecinovsky (People's Weekly World) reports on the Veterans for Peace conference and quotes Mejia explaining, "There is no greater argument against war than the experience of war itself. In the military you're not free to decide for yourself what is right and wrong. The fog of war is very real. Your main concern is staying alive" and explaining his decision to self-checkout, "I couldn't return knowing that we are committing war crimes. This war is criminal. But I'm no longer a prisoner of fear. I have hope that we can end this war." IVAW is gearing up for their big Truth in Recruting campaign. Adam Kokesh, who is co-chair of IVAW, is currently doing workshops (tonight at St. Bede's at the corner of St. Francis and San Mateo 7-9 pm PST). And Camilo Mejia tells his story in his own story of resistance in his new book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, 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.

Turning to the jibber-jabber. The NIE was released yesterday. It is a much kinder and less explicit version of Peter W. Galbraith's "
Iraq: The Way to Go" (The New York Review of Books, August 16, 2007). In the essay, Galbraith writes, "The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the President nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat." If that stance is still not clear, Alex Spillius (Telegraph of London) reports: "Frontline generals in Iraq spoke openly yesterday of the need to have a government that could function and guarantee security above all else, including democratic legitimacy. Brig Gen John Bednarek, who commands forces in Diyala province, told CNN that 'democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future'." As all the lies are dropped, the reality of the crimes being committed may be grasped. Maybe not.
Michael Ware and Thomas Evans (CNN) report that "officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security." Yesterday, White House flack Gordon Johndroe declared (in Crawford, TX) that "we know that there are significant challenges ahead, especially in the political area. I would say that the strategy laid out by the President on January 10th was a strategy that provided for security first, so that there would be space for political reconciliation. The surge did not get fully operational until mid-summer. It is not surprising -- it is frustrating, but it's not surprising that the political reconciliation is lagging behind the security improvements. I think that is the way the strategy was laid out." The 'improved' security is a lie. Repeating, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting earlier this month that the US military claims of 'progress' were based on numbers they would not release and that McClatchy Newspapers' figures do not track with the findings the US military has trumpeted: "U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim." But clearly the generals, the officials and the White House are all on the same page regarding the 'problems' with democracy -- pure chance, of course.

Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times) summarizes the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "Despite some military progress, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is unable to govern his country effecitvely and the political situation is likely to become even more precarious in the next six to 12 months, the nation's intelligence agencies concluded in a new assessment released Thursday. The document, an update of a National Intelligence Estimate delivered in January, represents the view of all 16 U.S. spy agencies."

'Democracy' on hold or out the window . . . what to do, what to do? Bring in a 'strong man' dictator?
Reuters reports that 3 "secularist ministers . . . will formally quit" the cabinet of Nour al-Maliki today and that three are from Iyad Allawi's party. Yesterday Democracy Now! noted Allawyi is working with "Republican lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers" in an effort to become the new prime minister of Iraq (Allawi was previously interim prime minister). CIA asset Allawi was still working with the CIA in 2003, as Jim Lobe (Foreign Policy in Focus) noted, in attempted "Iraqification" which was a popular thing in late 2003 as the White House and hand maidens of the press attempted to treat "Iraqification" as a process which would put Iraqis in control. The policy was at odds with much of the White House's aims and never got off the ground. Had it, it still wouldn't have allowed for Iraqi control. Allawi was interim Prime Minister following the start of the illegal war and, during that time, he made his 'mark' early on. Paul McGeough (Sydney Morning Herald via Common Dreams, July 2004) reported in July 2004: "Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings. They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security center, in the city's south-western suburbs."

Never having been handed democracy, Iraqis now face the very likely prospect that the puppet (al-Maliki) will be replaced with a dictator/strong man. It's not about what the Iraqis want or desire on the US government's end, it's just more of the same. A point driven home by
the announcement that Abdel-Salam Aref has died in Jordan. In 2004, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "The US-installed regime in Iraq said last night it would pay a monthly pension to a former president overthrown more than 35 years ago in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein's Baath party to power. The Iraqi Governing Council says it will pay Abdel-Rahman Aref $1,000 a month and allocate $5,000 to cover his medical bills in Jordan. Aref rose to prominence in 1963 when he was appointed army chief of staff by his elder brother, then President Abdel-Salam Aref. He was overthrown in July of 1968 in a coup that was aided by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA also gave the Baath Party the names of some 5,000 Iraqi Communists who were then hunted down and killed or imprisoned. Following the coup, Baath party leader Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became president, with Saddam as his right hand man."

Peter W. Galbraith explains, there was no democracy following the start of the illegal war, not in what was imposed by the US (and the US shut out the UN). What exists is a system where the Shi'ites and Sunnis are two major groups (Sunnis the smaller of the two) and the system imposed has left one group shut out (elections would change that only to a small degree -- but they aren't happening) and the third most populous segment, the Kurds, are ready for their own country (Kurdistan). The system imposed on Iraq by the US was fatally flawed from the beginning so, it can be argued, ignorance wasn't the issue. Considering past history, a failed system that could be tossed aside quickly. Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes the the NIE's "best-case scenario" would be "Iraq's security will improve modestly over the next six to 12 months, but violence across the country will remain high. The U.S.-backed central government will grow more fragile and remain unable to govern. Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue their bitter feuding. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure. In Iraq, best-case scenarios have rarely, if ever, come to pass."

Andrew Stephen (New Statesman) wonders if the Bully Boy is imploding and notes, "The conundrum, of course, is that it was precisely that dark art which got Bush into the White House in the first place. The poisonous divisiveness that gradually festered around him as a result now allows the state department, to take just one example reported in the Washington Post, to think nothing of simply ignoring an order from the president. Yet I suspect that the extent to which the Bush administration has become so shambolic will not come home to many Americans until the country returns to work on 4 September. Bush is now a truly rudderless president, with no realistic agenda left for the next 513 or so days, other than to tread water and hope for the best."

Is Bully Boy imploding? His laughable attempting to rewrite history this week indicates something strange.
Robert Parry (Consortium News) evaluates the latest lunacy, "It is often said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But a much worse fate may await countries whose leaders distort and falsify history. Such countries are doomed to experience even bloodier miscalculations. That was the case with Germany after World War I when Adolf Hitler's Nazis built a political movement based in part on the myth that weak politicians in Berlin had stabbed brave German troops in the back when they were on the verge of victory. And it appears to be the case again today as President George W. Bush presents the history of the Vietnam War as a Rambo movie with the heroic narrative that if only the U.S. military had stuck it out, the war would have been won. Or, more likely, the black wall of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial would stretch most of the way to the U.S. Capitol." And Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times), who has gotten nothing but hisses in these snapshots, tackles the Bully Boy's nonsense, "Some might quibble with Bush's understanding of historical causation. Yes, many innocent civilians suffered in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam -- but it's more accurate to attribute their suffering to the prolongation of the war itself, rather than to the U.S. withdrawal as such. It's hard to be precise (as is the case in Iraq today, no one kept careful count of Vietnamese civilian casualties, and all sides in the conflict had an incentive to fudge the true figures), but somewhere between 1 million and 4 million civilians died as the war needlessly dragged on, many killed by U.S. weapons. Millions more were displaced. But those are details.
Bush went on to assert that 'another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam' was the rise of 'the enemy we face in today's struggle, those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens' on 9/11. Yup -- it's so obvious! The U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam caused the rise of Al Qaeda -- and, by extension, 'our withdrawal from Vietnam' ultimately turned Iraq into 'the central front' in 'the war on terror'." At a time when many left voices played dumb, stayed silent, Rosa Brooks addressed Bully Boy's nonsense, challenged it and put into perspective.
More willing to do that would go along way towards ending the illegal war.

The NIE is not the only report making the news. Another report, this time from an aid agency, also gives a grim picture.
James Glanz and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that the Bully Boy's escalation has led to an escalation in the amount of Iraqi refugees. Citing figures by the Iraqi Red Crescent, the reporters declare "the total number of internally displaced Iraqis has more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000, since the buildup [of troops -- the escalation] started in February."

Turning to some of today's violence,
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports a US helicopter attack on Iraqis in western Baghdad that resulted in the deaths of "at least 18" Iraqis, that the US is claiming the helicopter attack was prompted by an attack from 'insurgents' but eye witnesses note it's the same thing as usual -- due to the heat some people sleep on their roofs and that's what was going on during the "predawn" attack by the US -- and that between 2 and 4 women were killed in the attack. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The U.S. military said in a press release that after ground troops came under attack helicopters were brought and 18 'enemy combatants were killed'. The military later amended the release putting the death toll at only 8. The military said armed men on rooftops were spotted. A military spokesman said no civilians were killed."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier (two more injured).


Reuters reports "two construction workers" were shot dead in Diwaniya, a barber was shot dead in in Hawija and 1 police officer was shot dead in Numaniya. CBS and AP report, "Sixty suspected al Qaeda in Iraq fighters hit national police facilities in a coordinated attack in Samarra, sparking two hours of fighting that saw three people killed and more than a dozen insurgents captured, Iraqi police said Friday. One policeman, a woman and an 11-year-old girl were killed in the fighting in the city 60 miles north of Baghdad, and nine others were injured. There were no details on insurgent casualties, but police arrested 14 suspects, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse discovered in Hawija. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Diwaniya..

Today the
US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier died Aug. 24 as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion earlier in the day while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province. Four Soldiers were also wounded and transported to a Coalition medical facility for treatment." The current numbers at ICCC are 3725 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 67 for the month thus far. Reuters' count is also 3725 and they note "Britain 168 [and] Other nations 129".

Finally, author and activist Grace Paley died Wednesday. In Sisterhood is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium (ed.
Robin Morgan, 2003), Paley contributed "Why Peace is (More Than Ever) A Feminist Issue":

Today's wars are about oil. But alternate energies exist now -- solar, wind -- for every important energy-using activity in our lives. The only human work that cannot be done without oil is war.
So men lead us to war for enough oil to continue to go to war for oil.
I'm now sure that these men can't stop themselves anymore -- even those who say they want to. There are too many interesting weapons. Besides, theirs is a habit of centuries, eons. They will not break that habit themselves.
For ourselves, for our girl and boy children, women will have to organize as we have done before -- and also as we have never done before -- to break that habit for them, once and for all.

Peace is a feminist issue, still and always, even if one women's group chose to walk away from that reality in order to justify an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. As
Juan Gonzales (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Since the 1960s, Paley was very active in the antiwar, feminist, and anti-nuclear movements. She helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center in 1961. Eight years later she went on a peace mission to Hanoi. In 1974, she attended the World Peace Conference in Moscow. In 1980, she helped organize the Women's Pentagon Action. And in 1985, Paley visited Nicaragua and El Salvador, after having campaigned against the US government's policies towards those countries. She was also one of the 'White House Eleven,' who were arrested in 1978 for unfurling an anti-nuclear banner on the White House lawn." Feminist Wire Daily writes that "Paley was known as much for her political activism on behalf of peace and women's rights as her literary accomplishments. Paley was jailed several times for her opposition to the Vietnam War, and traveled to Hanoi on a peace mission to negotiate for the release of American prisoners in 1969. She helped found the Women's Pentagon Action and the Greenwich Village Peace Center. . . . Most recently, she actively opposed the war in Iraq." When Paley went to NYC for the "Women on War" event in April 2003, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) interviewed her and the program aired some of that interview today:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you were recently named the poet laureate of Vermont. It's very interesting. You're named by the governor, who is a Republican governor. Can you talk about how you relate to him in your meeting with him?
GRACE PALEY: Well, first of all, he really -- he didn't -- well, he had to sign the paper, but I was chosen by a group of other poets, a couple of whom had been laureates, like Galway Kinnell and Ellen Voigt, and a couple of other people who had to make a choice. I don't even think I was the best one, but that's beside the point. Still, there -- you know, there's time for others. And then I had to meet with him. He wanted to meet with me and talk to me, but before he really signed on. And I -- he knew a lot about me, and I said, well, I wasn't going to change very much, you know? I'd probably be the same person I was, no matter what. And we talked awhile about this fact. And he really -- and then he signed it. That's all.
AMY GOODMAN: Governor James Douglas?
GRACE PALEY: Yes. He's a Republican. He has a very mild manner, and I don't know whether that's the part of the Republicans of Vermont or what, but he's a Republican. I mean, there's no question about it.
AMY GOODMAN: But in terms of your poetry, more significantly, here he is naming you poet laureate, whether he chose you or not --
AMY GOODMAN: -- he is for the war, and you're opposed.
GRACE PALEY: Yeah, right. Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And you have been using your poetry a lot in the last few months to express that view.
GRACE PALEY: Well, I would do that, no matter what. I mean, this is what I'm about, and this is how I live my life. It's -- I don't even -- I wouldn't understand how to do otherwise.

Interviewed by Phyllis Exkhaus and Judith Mahoney Pasternak (War Resister League) at the start of this century, Paley reflected on what the peace movement accomplished: "Well, I think it did two things. It acted as an education in resistance and nonviolence. And probably the education in nonviolent direct action couldn't have been learned without a war. It had to take a war for people to learn that things could be defied and resisted. I think that was an important legacy of the peace movement."

Elaine Woo (Los Angeles Times) reports on Paley's work on the issue of draft resistance and notes "she also was an inveterate street-corner leafleteer and protest marcher who supported or helped found the Greenwich Village Peace Center, the War Resisters League, Women's Pentagon Action and the Feminist Press." The Feminist Press published Here And Somewhere Else (Two By Two) in March of this year which paired Paley's work with Robert Nichols (her second and surviving husband).

In the December 1998 issue of
The Progressive, Anne-Marie Cusac noted a passage by Paely that stood out: "One of the things that art is about, for me, is justice. Now, that isn't a matter of opinion, really. That isn't to say, 'I'm going to show these people right or wrong' or whatever. But what art is about -- and this is what justice is about, although you'll have your own interpretations -- is the illumination of what isn't known, the lighting up of what is under a rock, of what has been hidden."

In 2002, she was among those signing "
Not In Our Name: A Statement Of Conscience Against War And Repression." Meredith Tax remembers Paley at Women's WORLD: "Grace and I became close during the PEN Congress of 1986, during which we organized a meeting to protest the inadequate number of women speakers, which took over the ballroom of the Essex House Hotel and led to the formation of a Women's Committee in PEN American Center. Grace and I were co chairs of that committee until she moved to Vermont, and she became founding Chair of Women's World in 1994. Grace was the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. This is unusual in a writer, especially one of her quality, because writers tend to husband their inner resources for their work, but Grace had so many inner resources that she could afford to be generous. She gave unstining love to her family and friends, took speaking engagements at any whistlestop, often without pay, organized antiwar and antinuclear and women's demonstrations, worked endlessly against nuclear armaments, did draft counseling, protested on behalf of the environment, free expression, and a just peace betwen Israel and Palestine."

In addition,
Matthew Rothschild interviewed Paley for Progressive Radio and Neda Ulaby (NPR) provides an audio overview of Paley's life and work. In terms of writing, "My Father Addresses Me On The Facts Of Old Age" (June 17, 2002) is available online at The New Yorker.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Matthew Rothschild, John Nicholds, Katha Pollitt

In the snapshot today, C.I. makes the point (rightly) that the soft 'left' running from calling Bully Boy out on his revisions of Vietnam are the reason we're in the mess we are. They were silent in real time as well, as Vietnam was rewritten for popular consumption.

Matt Rothschild hit hard on the topic today and he's being slammed by a lot of people who don't seem to grasp what's what.

Bully Boy is not making a historical analogy to Vietnam, Bully Boy is rewriting history. He can compare Iraq to Vietnam (and has before, such as when he commented on Thomas Friedman's column), what he can't do is rewrite history.

The rewrite is all over the place in his statements. Bully Boy lied when he said withdrawal from Vietnam led to a host of problems because, as with Cambodia, most of those problems resulted from US intervention/war.

Had the US not decided to prop up a segment that never represented the people (South Vietnam then, Prisoner of the Green Zone al-Maliki today), whatever was going to happen would have happened. Instead the US went into Vietnam (long before Tonkin) and began arming one side in a conflict they had no business in.

After the US pulled out, any violence that came was worse than what would have happened had the US stayed out. Had the US stayed out, the US would not have murdered so many Vietnamese. Had the US stayed out, the propped up South Vietnam would have had to surrender much sooner.

Cambodia? The US decided to arm South Vietnamese to go and fight there with US support. It was a disaster for the South Vietnamese who fled leaving behind the US equipment. But it did enough damage to create the instability that led to the blood bath.

With Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam, what the right-wingers posting in reply to Matthew Rothschild don't grasp is that one set of people aren't better? They really don't care about any set but they toss out the ones after withdrawal to use as examples. The bloody and illegal war killed millions, created the instability in the region (as planned) and the longer the US stayed, the more pressure was created in the sense of a powder keg that would blow.

It's the same thing today with Iraq.

I laughed out loud when I read C.I.'s comment in the snapshot about M*A*S*H. As someone who does work with high schoolers (I do a volunteer group with at risk female high schoolers), I agree John Nichols wasted his time and everyone else with his piece on Korea. "Vietnam" registers somewhat with young people. It's "way back" before they were born, but it does register. Korea?

But there's John Nichols offering up a defense on an issue that young people today, for the most part, aren't going to give a damn about. By zooming in on Korea, he also sends (unintentionally perhaps) the message that the comments about Vietnam must be correct.

He is wasting everyone's time.

The house is on fire and instead of grabbing a pail of water, Nichols stops to give a historical overview of the Great Chicago Fire. That's what the Korea post is and if he didn't take the argument there because it was easier, he's hopelessly out of touch with the young people of today.

While visiting, I saw that Katha Pollitt had some more thoughts on Cindy Sheehan's run. She felt maybe there was a tiny bit of worth in the run. Not much. Just a tiny bit.

"If Cindy Sheehan wants to make an anti-war gesture, running against Nancy Pelosi is one way to do it, so good luck to her," Pollitt oh-so generously writes. That's the Sisterhood of Pollitt. What a huge embarrassment she's become. At best, she offered clever word play. A lot of flash, no substance was her hallmark.

Now she can't even manage flash.

But who does Katha Pollitt think she is writing a "Dear Cindy" post telling another woman not to run? Equally important, why does Pollitt believe Sheehan thinks she can't win?

Is Pollitt counseling Sheehan over the phone because I'm not aware of it. Or maybe she's become a pyschic?

I would assume if Sheehan's running she thinks there's some chance she might win.

So the real question here is why and how does Pollitt think feminism is telling a woman she can't do something she thinks she can or that the thing to do is tell women not to dream?

That's not how I learned feminism. I learned that a woman could go for anything she wanted. I learned that you might not support another woman's journey but, if you were a feminist, you didn't throw roadblocks in her way.

That's what Katha Pollitt's doing. She's like any pundit in the MSM going on Meet the Press offering tired, conventional and, yes, sexist 'wisdom.'

Of course, another issue is why Pollitt presents herself as an expert on the Bay Area since she doesn't live there (and is not well liked there among most feminists after her months of nonsense or, for that matter, her 2006 attack on CODEPINK)?

The really big question is why Katha Pollitt is so obsessed with Cindy Sheehan?

I thought marriage was supposed to have made Pollitt happier but, instead, it's just made her brain all mushy.

She knows nothing about the Bay Area and she knows nothing about Pelosi's record. I would guess that I spend more time in the Bay Area each year than does Katha Pollitt and I also have many good friends (including C.I., Kat, Ava, Dona, Jess, Ty and Jim) living there.

Katha Pollitt is aware that Pelosi might be a 'strong' Congress member for the Mid-West; however, she's far to the right of the district she currently represents?

Katha Pollitt's latest 'solution' is that people should go after Blue Dogs in other races because they do not represent the Democratic Party? What about when a Congress member refuses to represent her district? Pelosi is not represneting her district on any number of issues (reproductive rights, gay and lesbian issues, the illegal war, impeachment . . .). So if a Congress member is to the right of the district, is Pollitt arguing -- while arguing "Go after the Blue Dogs!" -- that a district has no valid complaint?

It all comes down to the fact that she is not about feminism and she's not about democracy. She is about being a Democratic Cheerleader so she and The Nation are a perfect fit.

Here's the thing though, I've seen this game before and so has The Nation. They hype readers and when the readers wake up (because squishy leaders they applauded get into office and gain more power), the circulation drops off quickly. If the Dems are swept into office in 2008 without The Nation holding their feet to the fire and the Dems do nothing (like they are doing nothing right now), the fallout effects the magazine as well.

So that's the good news. If they exist for no reason except to be a Democratic Party organ (and under the 'leadership' of Katrina vanden Heuvel, that's all they can exist as) then the good news is The Nation may finally go under.

The Nation may finally collapse in a few years. They'll have no more squishy, used to be Republicans to support them and bail them out. That group is dying off (mainly because they are so old). They'll have to then live or die by the subscribers and with print taking a hit and with them serving the Democratic Party and not readers, The Nation may be spending this time in constructing their own coffin.

Possibly not, but we can all hope and long for the day when the Party Hacks either has to go directly onto the DNC payroll or attempt to learn new skills that they can market.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 22, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, over 80 Iraqis are reported today, the US military announces deaths as well including those dead from a helicopter crash, Bully Boy demonstrates -- even before Karl Rove departs on Aug. 31st. -- that he doesn't need a brain and wouldn't use it if he had one, while Nouri al-Maliki hears voices and sees enemies and conspiracies all around him . . .

Starting with war resistance. Camilo Mejia does a reading from his book
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia at Different Drummer tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 pm. Friday he has events in Syracuse (click here and check out the sidebar). Today, Deepa Fernades interviewed him on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio.

Deepa Fernades: Can you just talk us through that . . . Those moments of deciding? Of realizing "Okay, I really don't have any other option but the military?" What was going through your mind? Did you actually think, "This is crazy. And what am I signing up for"?

Camilo Mejia: Not really because -- Well, first of all, I would disagree now days that there are no options. I think there are some options. I think we need to fight for more options. But young people really don't need to join the military to get themselves, you know, out of poverty and to get themselves educated. But that was my mentality, certainly that was my mentality when I joined the military.

An important point and one that
Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which Mejia was just elected to the board (as chair), will be making with a new campaign: September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. It's also a point driven home in Army of None, a new book by Aimee Allison and David Solnit -- from Seven Stories press, available at book stores, online, and via Courage to Resist where you can support both the book and a strong organization. In their book, Allison and Solnit offer an easy to comprehend and inspiring look at counter-recruiting including hands on details. Mejia was mentioning how important it is for students to know there are other opportunities besides the military and the authors Allison and Solnit stress that in their book, the need to provide more "information on job-training programs, college financial aid, and youth service projects." There are other opportunities -- however, the US government doesn't spend millions and billions of dollars a year promoting that. The authors also note the opt-out portion of No Child Left Behind and since fall semesters are starting -- parents have exactly six weeks after the fall semester starts to put in writing that the US military is not to be provided with information about their children. This must be done at the start of each school year.

On A12 of today's New York Times,
Sarah Arbuzzese reports on the huge drop in the number of African-Americans enlisting in the US military noting "the share of blacks among active-duty recruits declined to 13 percent in 2006 from 20 percent in 2001" and that the Army has seen the most dramatic decline (from 23% of the 2006 Army population to 13%), then the Marines (from 12% to 8%) and then the Navy and Air Forces. African-Americans have been opposed to the illegal war from the start in large numbers and Abruzzese notes that the most recent polling showed 83% of Afican-Americans say "the United States should have stayed out of Iraq." So counter-recruiting efforts are important and do have effects. Many veterans assist and lead those efforts and IVAW, again, will be launching a campaign next month.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, 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.

Turning to Iraq, having already made clear (via the Sunni shut out of the alleged 'alliance') that the White House defined 'benchmarks' two and sixteen were out the window, Nouri al-Maliki made it even more clear that the Sunnis are not welcome in 'liberated' Iraq.
KUNA reports that a list has been issued "of wanted people" which includes the names of those "currently involved in financing attacks against the MNF" according to the Interior Ministry's Abdel-Karim Khalaf who has the title "Lieutenant General". The Interior Ministry has long been accused of being run by thugs who are set upon driving Sunnis out but apparently they now have the means and capabilities to track down those "financing attacks" or, at least, to pretend they do in order to continue targeting Sunnis.

On the heels of US Senators Carl Levin and John Warner's announcement that the Iraqi prime minister's "last chance" had arrived, Bully Boy attempted a show stopping performance today by dusting off his Dark Lady lp, popped it on the turntable and sang along with Cher about just being "a Dixie girl who prays/ Some day she'll be a Delta queen/ Find a good man . . . " Possibly that was his way of entertaining the VFW? Speaking of the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, Bully Boy pronounced him "a good guy, a good man". But it wasn't all spangles and head tosses, Bully Boy also wanted to give a history lesson and, suffice to say, he's no Howard Zinn. Mangling every known fact to humanity, Bully Boy came off like a college student dependent upon the "gentleman's C" which, for the record, was how he got through college. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, Bully Boy's declaring withdrawal from Iraq will cause the violence that followed when the US withdrew from Vietnam -- violence in Camobia and Laos as well as Vietnam. On the issue of Cambodia, in a speech in June, John Pilger addressed Cambodia, "I've made a number of documentaries about Cambodia. The first was Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia. It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot. What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed -- CIA files alone leave no doubt of that. . . . The [US] troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years. And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in the preceding years. And that's what's happening in Iraq." There's Bully Boy's actual historical comparison -- the one he won't make. To read Pilger's speech click here for Dissident Voice, click here for Democracy Now! which offers it in audio, video and text. As Saul Landau (CounterPunch) has noted of the US and Cambodia, "Between March 1969 and May 1970, Kissinger ordered some 3,600 B 52 raids on Cambodia. Kissinger later lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying he had selected only 'unpopulated' areas of Cambodia for bombing. Somehow, between 600,000 to 800,000 civilians died in these 'unpopulated' areas. This carnage occurred before Pol Pot won power. . . . Kissinger's undeclared war against Cambodia also included overthrowing the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. A pro U.S. military coup produced an ineffective regime and subsequently led to the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge." "Bush is rewriting history -- never his best subject," notes Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) who also notes, "he's counting the victims of the Khmer Rouge, who came to power only after the U.S. ruined Cambodia. And he's not counting the three million people the U.S. killed in Southeast Asia during the war. Just as he's not counting the 70,000 to 700,000 civilian Iraqis his war has killed, or the one in ten who have been forced to leave their homes."

David Jackson and Matt Kelley (USA Today) cite Vietnam historian Stanley Karnow saying the "historical analogies . . . don't track" because "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other. . . . Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?" "We" would not, of course, include Bully Boy who joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam and couldn't even complete his duties there. (Note, in the 90s, Bully Boy would make comments indicating he was against the US involvement in Vietnam. That may have been the closest he ever came to making sense.) Joe Allen (ISR) noted Stanley Karnow referring to the invasion of Laos as Tricky Dick and Crooked Hank (Kissinger)'s "drastic new initiative" to distract from losing to the North Vietnamese with Allen noting: "In February 1971, 150,000 South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos in an operation called Lam Son 719. The U.S. Air Force flew 8,000 ariel sorties in support of the invasion. They advanced about a dozen miles into Laos without much opposition, then they were hit with a major counteroffensive by five divisions of the North Vietnamese Army. It immediately became a major rout, with the South Vietnamese Army fleeing back to South Vietnam . . . The Laos debacle proved that even with U.S. air and logistical support, the South Vietnamese Army was a useless fighting force. There was a rapid disintegration of the U.S. position in Vietnam during the remaining two years of the war." (That's from part three of Joe Allen's Vietnam series, click here for part one and here for part two.) Matthew Davis (BBC) analyzes the false comparison and quotes "Iraq analyst at King's College, London" James Denselow: "This smacks of spin, a last throw of the dice designed to pre-empt the anti-war lobby and justify the US's continued presence. This is an issue of how America goes to war, and how it gets out of it. It is rare for a leader in a democracy to take a country into war, and to take the country out." Click here for Thom Shanker's laughable 'Bully Boy is right and look Council on Foreign Relations and a host of War Hawks say so!" And no link to The Nation because John Nichols is apparently representing the entire magazine and most of the timid left who refuse to call out the Vietnam nonsense (Nichols zooms in Korea. Way to go, we'll all go home and watch M*A*S*H!). This is how the Vietnam revisionary history took hold to begin with, people smart enough to know it needed calling out refusing to do so. (In fairness, Nichols is apparently the only working at the magazine today.) Check instead the piece by Ron Fullwoood (OpEdNews). Or The UnCapitalist Journal which notes, "Incapable of admitting utter catastrophe in waging a 21st Century war of aggression that has left the U.S. armed forces debilitated and incapable of effectively fighting even a single theater war against a real enemy, and unable to face up to the wreck visited upon the fiscal house of the nation by irresponsible tax cuts for the rich coupled with unending, uncontrolled costs of vaporous war against a stateless band of criminal maniacs, the President of the United States of America is about to go all the way back and blame Richard Milhouse Nixon for this miserable failure of a Presidency."

Though the puppet has made no known comment on Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia,
Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports he's spitting mad over talk that he needs to go declaring, "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people." Setting the issue of the election aside, al-Maliki wasn't elected by the people and should have been tossed out in May of 2006 by the Iraq Constitution since he failed to meet the deadline to put together his cabinet (after missing it, for those who've forgotten, al-Maliki tossed out the Constitutional deadline and created his own deadline -- which he also missed). Paul Tait and Mohammad Zargham (Reuters) report that al-Maliki declared of US criticism (the reporters note it wasn't "clear if he was referring to Bush or [US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker"), "These statements do not concern us a lot. We will find many around the world who will support us in our endeavour." Really? Because the puppet was whining (when the US Congress was speaking of withdrawal at the end of spring) that the US forces couldn't leave (though poll after poll demonstrates the Iraqi people want them to). The puppet who never met a conspiracy he couldn't latch on to also began seeing a plot caused by the trip he's currently on, "Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere." "Our"? It's his trip. Is the "we" also al-Maliki speaking of himself in the plural form? While al-Maliki gives a performance to rival Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that members of Iraq's Parliament "lack the votes to replace him" (maybe not) and that the White House fears no one else "could do a better job". So Iraq's stuck with al-Maliki the way the Democratically controlled US Congress tries to stick the American people with Bully Boy? Further calling Reid's reporting skills into question, he cites War Hawk Kenny Pollack -- who's been so 'right' about everything from the start (that was sarcasm). Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London via ICH) observes of al-Maliki's outburst, "In one sense, the crisis only confirms what has been clear for months. Whoever sits in the Green Zone in nominal charge of Iraq's government has little power or authority beyond its walls. Bush's political project for Iraq looks more fragile than ever."

Fragile? In some of today's violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing claimed 1 life (five wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two, a truck bombing in the Salahuddin Province that killed 12 (twenty-five wounded), a car bombing in Tikrit that claimed 1 life (police officer, three more wounded), a Kirkuk car bombing that wounded one police officer and a roadside bombing near Flaifel left four members wounded. Reuters reports 6 killed (thrity-five wounded) in a motorcycle bombing in Muqdadiya, 20 dead (fifty wounded) in a tanker bombing in Baiji. The Baiji truck bombing death toll rose to 45 dead (eighty wounded), CBS and AP report. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) notes the death toll has climbed to 51 and that it "leveled" Baiji's "main police station" as well as causing "neighboring buildings" to collapse while noting the toll contains "such high casualties because most residents do their shopping in late morning and the station was located on a main commerical street."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Ahmed Hassan was shot dead in Al Riath.


Reuters reports, "Armed men stabbed a female professor to death in the Shi'ite city of Kufa".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Counting corpses that is 88 deaths and that's not all of the deaths today.

US military announced: "Fourteen Task Force Lightning Soldiers died when the aircraft they were riding went down in northern Iraq Wednesday. Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were on a night operation when one of the aircraft crashed. That helicopter had been carrying four crewmembers and 10 passengers. Initial indications are that the aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction." Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes at least 63 helicopters have crashed (my term) in the illegal war with at least 36 being "struck by enemy fire". CBS and AP note that the deadliest helicopter crash in the illegal war took place on January 26, 2005 "when a CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. troops." Like that helicopter crash, this one too "is under investigation." The January 26th helicopter crashed outside Ar Rutbah.

The US military wasn't done --
they announced: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and three others were wounded during combat operations in an area west of the Iraqi capital Aug. 22." Today's deaths brought the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war to 3722 with 64 of those from the month of August thus far (ICCC).

And finally, in media news, Jeff Zeleny and the New York Times have smeared the peace movement with a big-old-fat lie. Yesterday,
Senator Barack Obama (and 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful) delivered a speech to the VFW where he declared, "The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground. When men and women who die in service to this country are laid to rest, there must be no protests near the funerals. Its' wrong and it needs to stop." Obama was referring to the 'vangical fringe that is the gay hating Fred Phelps crowd. The extreme right wing set. As Cedric's "New York Times lies again!" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! NEW YORK TIMES LIES ABOUT PEACE MOVEMENT!" noted yesterday, somehow New York Times' Jeff Zeleny heard that and decided Obama was talking about the peace movement: "He also said it was wrong for anti-war activists to protest at military funerals, declaring: 'It needs to stop'." The print version of the story ran in this morning's paper on A11 and does not contain the error/lie; however, the story is still up online at the paper's website and has not been corrected. How many times is the Times going to smear the peace movement during this illegal war?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sunsara Taylor, Cat Radio Cafe

Please make a point to read Cedric's "New York Times lies again!" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! NEW YORK TIMES LIES ABOUT PEACE MOVEMENT!" to see how, zet again, the New York Times is trashing the peace movement. It's happened so often that no one can argue it's an accident.

"Back to School During Wartime" (Sunsara Taylor, CounterPunch):
College should be a time and a place to learn about the worldto go from the galactic to the microscopic, to learn of different cultures and art forms, to get into philosophy and history and questions of meaning and of truthto explore things that have been kept from you, to plunge into the exciting process of discoveryto meet people from different parts of the world and different perspectivesto stretch social and political boundaries and to get into different scenes.
It's supposed to be a time to stay up all night talking, making music, reading poetryto be part of resisting and rebelling against everything that is wrongto make a statement about who you want to be and what kind of world you want to live into look at the world as it really is, and to begin to forge your role in relation to it.
But you are doing this at a time when all this is being reined in, when powerful forces are trying to shut it downprecisely because discovering how the past has shaped the present, coming to grips with how your life will shape the future, and seeing how all of this is bound up with and will influence the lives of billions around the world has higher stakes now than probably ever before.

It is back to school time. Remember if you're a high school student or the parent of one that you have to fill out an opt out form within 6 weeks of the fall semester starting in order to stay off the military recruiter call list. If you did it last year, that's no good, you have to do it again, at the start of each school year.

Sunsara Taylor is with World Can't Wait. If you're ready to "Drive Out the Bush Regime" but have never heard of her organization, please check it out. (She sits on the advisory board.)

Democracy Now! today . . . C.I. highlighted what was worth highlighting. A) Someone calling for the illegal war to drag on (as the guest has done before -- the guest C.I. didn't note) isn't someone who will be noted at The Common Ills. He briefly was and C.I. got all these phone calls from friends saying, "Look, I know he's at a left site but he's not left." B) We don't need to lie. C) The CIA estimate before the illegal war began was 26 million plus Iraqis in Iraq. Over a million are dead. Over four million are refugees. (Over 2.1 million are external -- out of the country -- refugees.) That's easily a fifth of the population. Which would be over 20%. That's the point C.I. was making Sunday night. Sunny and I were groaning when we listened to that guy.

The Iraqi refugee crisis is very real. Over four million Iraqis are displaced externally and internally. On Sunday, C.I. nicely noted the problem with a BBC figure. Today, the guest who will not be named was upping the UN figure by a million. Excuse me, was that Sammy Power and Eric Reeves the guest was channeling? You don't do that. Certainly the guest hadn't done a head count. Is it more than 2.1 million externally displaced? I'm sure it is. But don't throw out figures you can't back up. If it gets refuted, we all look silly.

Oh, I just remembered that Sunny told me the big question in the e-mails has been (we've both been catching up after last week's office air conditioning mishaps) has been about Donald Rumsfled. That's not a typo. Why hasn't the snapshot included the news about Rumsfled on any day last week or this?

Why would it?

C.I. noted that Rumsfled turned in his resignation well before the election. That's why he was called "Donald Rumsfled" in the snapshots. Reuters got proof of it (and good for them) last week but there are tons of things to include in the snapshot and C.I.'s also not going to say, "As I noted when no one else would . . ."

Now, back to radio, Cat Radio Cafe Monday. I enjoyed Will Durst but I didn't take notes. He was very funny. He also talked about how he was supposed to performing when Hurrican Dean hit but his wife (I assume he was joking) threatened the club owner or manager with spooning out his eyes if he didn't get her husband out of there before the hurricane hit. The last guest was a musician and I wish I could remember his name.

What I can do is note the middle guest. Her grandmother and grandfather wrote some of the Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift books. Janet Coleman's guest was Leslie Garis, the author of The House of Happy Endings, about her family including grandparents. They did not make money from the books. They were contract workers. But her grandfather, Howard Roger Garis, also created the Uncle Wiggley Ears character and wrote the books. He got paid fairly for those because he created them while at a Newark paper as part of a series of columns. Then they were turned into books and comic books. There were a lot of skeletons in that family closet. Leslie Garis talked about how she had to wait until she was at a point where she was ready to write the book. It was a lively discussion that even included Barbara Harris as a topic at one point. Harris was an amazing stage actress who walked away from that. (Actually, not said on air, she walked off the stage in the midst of performance. This was when she was briefly involved with a certain actor who shall remain nameless -- but he wasn't a stage actor, nor was he in the production. I know this story very well but am not sure it's public so we'll leave it at that.) (As long as I'm disclosing, I had a brief, two day, maybe three, fling with the same man much later. But I didn't hear the story from him. That's not his style.) She made many films and was consistently amazing in all of them but my two favorite performances were probably her amazing character in Nashville and playing the mother in Freaky Friday (original, not the Jamie Lee Curtis remake, Jodie Foster played Harris' daughter). The whole show was strong, but I really did enjoy Coleman's discussion with Garis.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, August 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Camilo Mejia chairs a board, the puppet of the occupation isn't feeling the love, Matthew Rothschild explains the need for impeachment, and more.
Starting with war resisters. Camilo Mejia served in Iraq, served in Iraq well after his contract ran out and, as a non-US citizen, the military couldn't extend his contract but they chose to pretend like they could. They also denied him CO status. He tells his story
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia in which was released in May. One story not in the book, because it just happened, is that he's just been elected the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War board of directors.
Aaron Glantz (One World) reports that IVAW held their elections during the St. Louis Veterans for Peace conference and elected Mejia with Garrett Reppenhagen explaining that IVAW "decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do." Glantz reports on IVAW's big success in Fort Drum where the local chapter is up and running and now claims 20 members and, of course, has the first GI coffeehouse in the nation (for this illegal war) with Different Drummer as well as that September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting.
Mejia will be at
Different Drummer this Thursday for a reading (starts at 6:30 pm) from Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and the GI Coffee House is located in Watertown, NY (12 Paddock Arcade, 1 Public Square, 13601).
Mejia tells Glanz, "There's a sort of revolution taking place in the streets. It's not being reported by the mainstream media, but we in the antiwar movement know what's going on. There is a rebellion going on in the ranks of the military that is not being reported."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, 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.
John Stauber (CounterPunch) notes: "IVAW was founded in 2004 and today it is a rapidly growing grassroots, independent anti-war group with members active in 43 states and deployed on bases in Iraq. These rank and file soldiers are not partisans; they are Americans who have seen first hand the greatest political betrayal of our lifetime, the US attack on Iraq and the long occupation. Iraq Veterans Against the War are not the concoction of a liberal think tank or PR firm; they have very little funding; they are not avoiding criticism of Democrats; and they are not playing political games trying to bank-shot Democratic candidates into the White House and Congress in 2008. They are in open non-violent revolt against US foreign policy, criticizing politicians of all stripes who would exploit the war for political gain." If only the media -- big and small -- could do the same.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted the Project for Excellence in Journalism "study shows corporate news coverage of the Iraq war has dropped sharply in the last four months. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Iraq war accounted for just fifteen percent of news coverage, down from twenty-two percent earlier this year. Network evening news coverage of the war went from forty-percent to nineteen percent. The Democratic and Republican presidential campaign emerged as the most-covered issue over the same period."

The report, entitled "
Campaign For President Takes Center Stage In Coverage," notes that during "the period from April through June of 2007 was that press coverage of the war in Iraq declined markedly. Together the three major storylines of the war -- the policy debate, events on the ground, and the impact on the U.S. homefront -- filled 15% of the total newshole in the quarter, a drop of roughly a third from the first three months of the year, when it filled 22%." And the report zooms in one period: "Attention to the Iraq war fell across all five media sectors in the second quarter. The bulk of the decline occurred after May 24, when Congress approved funding without including troop withdrawal timetables, a move widely viewed as a White House victory." So when the Democrats in Congress caved, the media followed the lead?

The report doesn't cover independent or public broadcast media (and focuses on TV) but to focus on that period (April through June), a few broadcasts deserve noting.
Bill Moyers Journal (PBS) utilized the May 25th hour to examine Maxine Hong-Kingston and veterans efforts to explore war and peace (click here to watch/listen, here to read) and on May 11th, Moyers spent the third segment with Marilyn D. Young, editor with Lloyd C. Gardner of Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (audio/video and transcript) with Young addressing the lies that the illegal war was built upon. May 28th, Free Speech Radio News presented a a special Memorial Day look at the some of the costs of the war in US anchored by Aaron Glantz where he spoke with veterans and their families (and drew on the knowledge and experience he has as a result of devoting so much time to covering all aspects of the illegal war). June 11th WBAI's Law and Disorder (Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner, Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian -- though I don't believe Boghosian was part of that discussion) explored the topic of resistance within the US military with Tod Ensign. Democracy Now! featured many segments during that period but we'll note three: June 6th Goodman discussed the efforts to steal/privatize Iraqi oil, the 'benchmarks' and the Democratically controlled Congress with Antonia Juhasz; the May 14 discussion with Yanar Mohammed about the realities of life for women in the 'liberated' Iraq; and the June 12 interview of Iraq Veterans Against the War Adam Kokesh discussing how the US military had targeted him for speaking out against the illegal war.

A few of the print media stories during this time worth noting would include Bay Fang's "
The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue)and certainly CounterPunch and Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) have seriously and repeatedly covered the illegal war during this period. And The Nation? They spent the first six months of this year offering more feature articles on the election than on the illegal war. They also were first out of the gate with the non-stop horse race gas bagging on the 2008 elections. In fact, their first article on the 2008 election appeard online November 3rd ("The Off-Year Primary" -- ran in the November 20th print edition) -- four days before the 2006 elections had taken place. Do we want to talk about the American Idol column that got disappeared? No? Didn't think so. (Though officially 'disappeared,' you can seeMike's "The Third Estate Sunday Review " and then Elaine's "Monday" and then Rebecca's "cynthia mckinney" -- each excerpted a section of the column after it had been 'disappeared' but before it was also gone from Google cache.)

At Truthdig (audio and transcript) James Harris and Josh Scheer speak with Matthew Rothschild about his new book You Have No Rights and Harris brings up the executive order the Bully Boy issued last month noting "it said, basically, that if you protest or threaten what he calls 'stabilization efforts in Iraq,' your property can be seized and you can be detained. Were you are aware of that?" Rothschild: "I have the order in my hand. I was just writing something on the computer to update our website with something on that. Yeah. If you are -- in the mind of the secretary of the Treasury -- posing a significant risk of committing an act of violence -- you don't have to have committed an act of violence. If he thinks you are at risk of committing an act of violence in order to protest the policies of the Iraqi government or the Bush administration's policies to promote what it calls 'economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq,' then the secretary of the Treasury can put a freeze on all your assets. This is unbelievable. What Bush is trying to achieve her, by executive order, are things that he can't achieve legislatively. Someone's got to put a stop to this. Congress has got to put a stop to it because he is seizing all sorts of authoritarian powers right now by executive decree."

Harris: But Matthew, let's be real for a second. Here we are, year four of this war. Given what you've seen so far from Congress, can they really make a change in this war? Can they really change the mind of George Bush?
Rothschild: They're going to have to step up to the plate sometime, or we can kiss our Constitution goodbye, because Bush is trampling all over it. Cheney's trampling all over it. What we need to happen, in my mind, is impeachment proceedings of the House Judiciary Committee against Bush and against Cheney, to make them know that they are going to be held accountable or at least there's going to be a process to try to hold them accountable, that they can't get away scot-free with all this stuff, and to tell the next president or the one after that that they can't get away with this stuff.

They will keep getting away with it as long as the media refuses to inform the public. Perfect example . . .
On August 17th when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke with reporters via a video-link, he did not simply state that there would be likely be a decrease in the number of US troops in Iraq next year (as many MSM outlets reported). He sold this as a testing 'strategy': "By conducting a deliberate reduction of our forces is what's necessary in the future whenever we determine to do that. By conducting a deliberate reduction, phased with the increase in the capabilities of Iraqi security forces, I think it significantly reduces the risk of us then losing the areas that we've been able to secure so far. That's why a deliberate plan over time I think will be most successful. " He then went on to avoid "specifics on numbers, because I think I need to leave that to General Petraues" but made clear that the escalation will most likely be ending next year. His 'strategy' is to use that as a 'test'. Which would mean the numbers could just as easily go right back up. Was he spinning? Most likely. But that is what he stated in the press briefing, that it was a means of testing (and also gave the impression that he'd always understood that the escalation would end in April of 2008).

And of course he pushed the myth (still no evidence provided, just charges) that Iran is doing this, that and everything but helping the sun rise each morning. So the news,
reported by KUNA today, that a Syrian, not an Iranian, was arrested in Mosul must have led to some sobbing at Centcom.
As the British prepare to withdraw from southern Iraq, the
BBC interviewed Mike Colbourne ("UK's chief police adviser") who stated of the Basra police, "The corruption that we are talking about does range from financial corruption through to serious offences such as murder, kidnap. There are a number of Iraqi police service officers who are clearly aligned to militias. I think it is fair to say that there is sectarian violence that is being committed by both police officers and other Iraqi security forces officers. That is just the truth of the situation as it is at the moment."

Staying on the topic of departures,
AFP reports that US Senators Carl Levin and John Warner have released a joint statment calling for Nouri al-Maliki's government to be given one last chance: "We believe that the recent high-level meetings among Iraqi political leaders could be the last chance for this government to solve the Iraqi political crisis. And should it fail, we believe, the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Iraqi people need to judge the government of Iraq's record and determine what actions should be taken - consistent with the Iraqi constitution - to form a true unity government to meet those responsibilities." Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) quotes Levin declaring, "I hope the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government." Megan Greenwell (Washington Post) notes that prior to leaving for Syria, al-Maliki had another 'alliance' meeting but the Iraqi Parliament doesn't return from their vacation until September 4th (the same day the US Congress returns from their vacation) and, "That timeline leaves a narrow window for the politicians to solve major issues before the Sept. 15 report.

The report . . .
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has termed Iraq's 'progress' with regards to national reconciliation "extremely disappointing" (a more truthful term would be "non-existent") and that he repeated the lie about civilian deaths being down (apparently the Los Angeles Times doesn't read McClatchy Newspapers because that comment goes unchecked). Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus are supposed to report to the US Congress Sept. 15th on the 'progress' in Iraq (in what many assume will be words written for them by the White House). AP notes Crocker's stated "Washington's blueprint for reconciliation was insufficient to win back control of the country" but then he attempted to explain "Congressional benchmarks do not tell the whole story". First, they are White House 'benchmarks' -- pushed by the White House, adopted by Congress. Second, "insufficient to win back control of the country" pretty much says it all.

In some of today's violence . . .

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad explosion that "targeted a US convoy" claimed the lives of 2 Iraqis and left four wounded. Reuters notes that the number wounded rose to fourteen and that a bomber in vest killed themselves and left eight people wounded in Falluja
Reuters notes 7 family members were shot dead in a Latifiya home invasion ("included three women and a baby girl").
Reuters notes 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.

Though the bombings in northern Iraq were only last week (last Tuesday in fact), many in the media have lost interest.
Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the confirmed death toll now stands at 354 with "80 more are known to be missing" and the wounded toll is 600 while "[t]he pungent smell of the dead hangs low in this village, and not even the colorful headdresses the men have wrapped across their faces can keep it out."

The violence has created refugees -- externally and internally -- and today
Jen Utz (Democracy Now!) filed a report from Damascus on refugees in Syria where she spoke with one Iraqi family and noted that "Iraqi refugees are forbidden from working in Syria, and the family's savings are running out. Plus, they tell me that life in exile is emotionally criplling, and they have no hope they'll go home anytime soon" while Omar explains to her the problem: "What's happening in Iraq is because of your president. He's the main reason. Most of the Iraqis have been forced to leave their homes and their families. They have had family members kidnapped or killed. There is no house in Iraq that doesn't have a problem like this. There must be a solution for the Iraqi people. Why don't they find a solution?"

Okay, we're doing a transition here -- external refugees are immigrants. Labor reporter David Bacon regularly covers the stories that usually don't get covered which includes
immigration and he also addresses child labor such as children from the ages of 11-years-old to 17-years-old working the banana groves in the Philippines.