Friday, September 07, 2007

Dems get ready to cave again

"Panel Recommends U.S. Reduce Its Troop Presence in Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
A panel of retired police and military officers are recommending the United States begin reducing its troop presence in Iraq because the massive military occupation is conveying an image that the U.S. plans to permanently stay in Iraq. The panel's head, Gen James Jones, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "The force footprint should be adjusted." But Jones also warned against an immediate pullout of troops.
Gen. Jones: "I think that the precipitous departure which results in a failed state in Iraq will have a significant boost in the numbers of extremists, Jihadists, however you want to call it, in the world, who believe they would have toppled the major power on earth and that all else is possible, and I think that not only it will make us less safe, it will make our friends and allies less safe, and the struggle will continue. It will simply be done in other areas."The panel also recommended the Iraqi police force be dissolved because it has been infiltrated by Shiite militias.
Former Washington DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey: "I have never in 38 years of policing experienced a situation where there is so much negativity around any particular police force. It was unbelievable, the amount of comments we got. Whether we were speaking to Iraqi Army, with Iraqi police service -- it didn't seem to matter -- with community members, there was almost a universal feeling that the national police were highly sectarian, were corrupt, had been accused of having death squads and the like."

After almost five years, I don't believe if US forces all managed to leave tomorrow it would qualify as an "immediate pullout." After five years, I would think that the issue of should the US withdraw would have long given way to how quickly can the US withdraw. But then, I don't serve in Congress which is why I still have a soul.

"Democrats Give Up Efforts to Set Troop Withdrawal Deadline" (Democracy Now!):
On Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership appears set to give up its efforts on setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill later this month that would call for withdrawal to begin this year but it would include no language on when the troop withdrawal had to be completed.

Should they be called "leaders"? The Democrats in charge don't provide any leadership and they don't accomplish anything. They allow the Bully Boy's illegal war to drag on. They make big promises. In fact, they're like a a loser that dumps the Supremes.

He makes promises he doesn't keep
Sometimes I don't see him all week.

That's from "Come See About Me," one of Diana Ross & the Supremes' 12 number one hits. (Used very effectively in the 80s on an episode of Moonlighting.)

In the sixties, that's how it was. The women tended to have a pity party about some fellow. It would take Carly Simon to offer up "You're So Vain" in the seventies. Alanis would offer "You Ought To Know" in the 90s (which Kelly Clarkson would rip off this decade, rip off really badly). I think Democrats are expecting the landscape to be filled with Supremes but times have changed.

We're not going to play doormats to the party. We're not going to applaud nonsense and not going to sigh and wait.

But they think they can walk all over us, they can betray us and we'll be just as spineless as they are. It's bad enough that think so lowly of themselves, but they don't need to project it out on the American people.

"How is Bush getting away with it?" (The Socialist Worker):
GEORGE BUSH'S free-falling popularity rating plummeted past the 30 percent mark this summer. The U.S. war on Iraq--the central political issue of the Bush years--is opposed by 75 percent of the population. Only one in five people think the U.S. is headed "in the right direction."
By rights, the Bush administration should be on life support and fading fast--its only hope for a political “victory” being to hang on through January 2009 without impeachment, or having many of its principals thrown in federal prison.
Instead, according to the headline of a New York Times story at the end of August, the "White House Is Gaining Confidence It Can Win Fight in Congress Over Iraq Policy."
Nearly a year after they won control of Congress from Republicans in the November elections, the Democrats not only haven’t stopped the war in Iraq--they haven't done a single thing to stop Bush from escalating it.

That's pretty straight forward, isn't it? (It gets better, by the way, in terms of calling out the nonsense from a certain 'independent' media outlet.) Why is that they can tell the truth and they can call out the 'rulers' but so much of our "independent" media can't?

Imagine how much better the country would be if everyone could speak to truth to power? Or, barring that, if those who refused to do so quit presenting themselves as "independent" media and instead noted they were partisan media?

Mike and I are both noting the same things tonight and sharing our thoughts. I type faster so I'll throw in something extra.

"Watergate, anti Vietnam war protests and US imperial failure" (Socialist Worker):
US defeat in Vietnam led to a government campaign against political opponents with disastrous consequences, writes Simon Basketter
A US President losing a war abroad and facing an anti-war movement at home, while talking up troop withdrawal, extends his imperial adventure -- leading ultimately to his downfall. That is what happened to Republican president Richard Nixon.
One night in 1972, six men were arrested burgling the Democratic Party campaign headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington DC.
The six men were employed by the Republican Party to find dirt on the Democrats. Watergate was part of a vast operation by Nixon designed not just to attack the Democrats but also to hold back the anti-war movement. The fallout from these arrests would eventually force Nixon to resign.
According to Robert Haldeman, the former chief of staff to Nixon, "Without the Vietnam war there would have been no Watergate."
By the end of the 1960s the Vietnam war had escalated to the point where there were half a million US troops in Vietnam.
The Tet Offensive in 1968 saw Vietnamese national liberation forces launch a coordinated military assault involving 70,000 troops on dozens of cities. In response the US unleashed a frightening wave of destruction. But Tet marked the beginning of the end of the US military intervention.
The heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people became linked with the burgeoning anti-war movement in the US itself, which importantly had penetrated the army. Key sections of the US ruling class began to realise that the political costs of keeping the war going were becoming unsustainable.
Such was the pressure that the right wing Republican Richard Nixon was elected president, in part because he implied that he had a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. "The greatest honour history can bestow is the title of peacemaker," he said in his inaugural speech as president in 1969.
To placate anti-war sentiment at home and among the military, Nixon announced the withdrawal of 25,000 troops in June 1969.
Despite this, marches and demonstrations involving more than two million people took place across the US.
In November, more than a million people marched against the war in Washington and San Francisco. The 1969 demonstrations probably stopped a concerted invasion of NorthVietnam by US troops.
The Nixon administration set itself the goal of bringing the American war in Vietnam to an end without it being seen as a defeat for US imperialism. To do this Nixon raised the destruction the US inflicted on Vietnam to new heights and spread the war into neighbouring countries.
Nixon described his strategy to Haldeman as follows: "I call it the madman theory. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached a point where I might do anything to stop the war."
The problem with this strategy is that you have to prove that you are mad.
The co-architect of the administration’s policies was Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger wrote in 1969 that the Tet Offensive marked the "watershed of the American effort. Henceforth, no matter how effective our actions, the prevalent [US] strategy could no longer achieve its objectives within a period or with force levels politically acceptable to the American people."
However Kissinger remarked, "I refuse to believe that a little fourth-rate power like North Vietnam does not have a breaking point." He gave the following instructions to his staff: "Come up with a plan for a savage, decisive blow against North Vietnam."
One part of the strategy was called "Vietnamisation" -- US ground forces would be slowly withdrawn and the ground war would be turned over to the South Vietnamese, backed by massive US air power and support.
The second part would be to spread the war and intensify the bombing.
The eastern fringe of Cambodia, along the South Vietnamese border, had become a refuge for Vietnamese soldiers, as the US bombing of the Vietnamese countryside made life increasingly unbearable. North Vietnamese soldiers were also forced deeper into Cambodia and southern Laos.
Secret bombing
The secret bombing of Cambodia ran from March 1969 until August 1973. Nixon set up an elaborate system of deception to hide the bombing from the public.
During the first 14 months of the campaign, the US conducted more than 3,630 B-52 raids, dropping over 110,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia.
When the bombing ended, the US had dropped a total of 257,465 tons of explosives on Cambodia. The country began a descent into hell that would culminate with the tragedy and horror of the Khmer Rouge regime.
The first media report of the bombing was a small article in the New York Times that very few noticed. But it sparked Nixon to take the first steps down the road to self-destruction. He set in motion what became a secret intelligence unit, answerable only to him, to plug "leaks" in the government.
Known as the "plumbers", they were to carry out a crime spree against the president's political enemies.
While the dirty war was starting in the US, in Vietnam the CIA implemented a new "pacification" programme called Operation Phoenix, the goal of which was to destroy the "infrastructure" of the Vietnamese opposition. Phoenix agents assassinated at least 20,000 people.
Between 1969 and 1972, as Nixon made war in the name of peace, an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese soldiers died in combat. There are no reliable statistics on civilian dead and wounded, though one estimate is 165,000 civilian casualties in South Vietnam alone for each year of Nixon’s presidency.
In March 1970 the US organised a coup in Cambodia. On 30 April 1970, Nixon appeared on television and announced that US forces were invading Cambodia, though he referred to the invasion as an "incursion" to "guarantee the continued success of our withdrawal and Vietnamisation programmes," by wiping out enemy "sanctuaries".
The US exploded in rage.
On 4 May 1970, National Guardsmen fired on and killed four students at Kent State University in Ohio and wounded nine others. The country was stunned, and student strikes and protests spread to more than 1,300 colleges and universities. Ten days later two black students were killed and 12 wounded by police at Jackson State College in Mississippi.
There were significant demonstrations in half the colleges in the US involving over four million college students and untold numbers of high and junior high school students.
There was also the first ever union organised anti-war march of 25,000 workers in New York. On one protest in Washington a Vietnam veteran threw his Purple Heart medal toward the White House and said, "I hope I get another one fighting these f*ckers."
A special commission appointed by Nixon to assess unrest on the campuses following the invasion of Cambodia argued that the country was "so polarised" that the division over the war was "as deep as any since the Civil War".
It declared that "nothing is more important than an end to the war" in Vietnam. The effects of the protests echoed through the following years.
A nervous Nixon appeared at a press conference in May and announced that the US would be out of a Cambodia by 30 June 1970.
The US was now losing a war before the eyes of the world. Nixon's next initiative was to invade another country, Laos.
Mainstream commentators began to use the term "quagmire" in reference to the war, describing it as a mistake and a disaster. Whole sections of the US ruling class began to jump ship.
In June 1971, the New York Times started publishing a secret government history of the war in Vietnam.
This intensified the paranoia of the White House, which stepped up the activities of the "plumbers" and launched an intense spying and dirty tricks operation against the anti-war movement.
The White House under Nixon was well suited to persecuting political enemies. "If you can't lie," Nixon once said, "you'll never get anywhere."
Egil Krogh, a White House officer, summed up the Nixon mindset: "Anyone who opposes us, we’ll destroy. As a matter of fact, anyone who doesn't support us, we’ll destroy."
The extent of the opposition to the war meant that the Watergate scandal became a constant crisis for Nixon. The cover-up of the break-in and the continuing exposé of more and more dirty tricks meant that one by Nixon’s allies fell away.
On 23 January 1973 the treaty ending the US war in Vietnam was signed in Paris. The last US combat troops were withdrawn in March that year.
The crisis over Vietnam meant there was a crisis of legitimacy for the ruling class. The mass protests against war deepened that crisis and created a context which meant that, facing impeachment for his cover-up of Watergate, Nixon resigned in August 1974.
The argument against the war in Vietnam had begun ten years before among small circles of left wing and peace activists. Over the years the movement gained huge support across the US, fragmenting the ruling class between a minority who wanted to avoid defeat and a majority who just wanted out.
Watergate was a product of this fragmentation -- and of Nixon’s isolation.
On 30 April 1975, $50 notes began to fly through the sky in Saigon. The US embassy was burning $5 million and countless secret documents before they fell into Vietnamese hands. A mad scramble took place as US helicopters picked up the last few officials from the roof of the US embassy.
It had taken too long but the Vietnamese people and the mobilisations of the anti-war movement had forced the US into a humiliating defeat – and brought down a president along the way.
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That's from the UK's Socialist Worker. The earlier excerpt was from the US Socialist Worker.
These days, when I think about the Vietnam era, what I find myself concluding is that it never ended in the US. You had squishy 'libs' who just wanted to put it behind for 'the good' of the country. You had a hugely uninformed middle and you had the right-wing determined to roll back every advance from that period and to rewrite what actually happened in Vietnam. They have continued their battle for decades and too many have stayed silent while this has happened.

That's part of the reason that the US ended up in the current illegal war. When Bill and Hillary Clinton decided to 'rehabiliate' Richard Nixon, that was disgusting. A Republican president couldn't have done that. It would have been called out. But "Democrat" Bill Clinton and his wife Hilalry could and did. Nixon never apologized for anything. He never apologized for violating the rights of US citizens. He never apologized for the lies of war. He never apologized for wiping his ass with the Constitution.

But the Clintons were fine with inviting him into the White House (which the people own, not whomever is the current occupant) and making nice with him. They were eager to take him from national disgrace to loveable, wacky uncle. That says a great deal about both of them.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 7, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, the British announce a death, Riverbend makes it to Syria, Adam Kokesh gets arrested with Tina Richards for the 'crime' of posting fliers, Ali al-Fadhily reports on a battle that the press has missed thus far, and more.

Starting with war resisters.
Daryl Shandro (Political Affairs) reports on how the influx of war resisters into Canada has created the need for new chapters to be created (they were -- Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton and London) and shares how war resister Steve Yoczik spoke informatively and amusingly about his own experience to a group in Sudbury: "Steve waged a concerted bid to be kicked out of the army. Over a period of months, he deliberately failed between 50 and 100 physical tests. When it became obvious that the officers would not file three consecutive failing reports so as to have his status reviewed, Steve started to fail to appear for the tests and was flippant, if not outright insubordinate, if these absences brought any reporach. Steve figures he was gone for a while before anyone realized that he was AWOL. He found out about the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada through a friend -- a model soldier and US patriot who disagreed so strongly with the war in Iraq that he fled to Canada rather than participate in it." Shandro notes Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey's appeals to Canada's Supreme Court and that the "continues to lobby for the political solution: these War Resisters must be given sanctuary under a separate immigration category, much like the US war resisters of the Vietnam era received under the Trudeau government. In Sudbuy we are now fielding a serious inquiry every week from War Resisters. These are people 'checking into' Toronot and then moving to their host city within hours or days. They are calling from Germany (military hosipital) and bases all over the continental U.S., and they are coming. In Toronto the serious inquiries are about three a week; arrivals, both anticipated and unanticipated, are becoming more and more frequent."

Ehren Watada is also resisting the Iraq War. In June 2006, he became the first known officer to publicly refuse to deploy the war (he cited the illegal nature of the war). In February of this year, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided over the court-martial of Watada. Watada had elected to go with a jury of his peers. Judge Toilet saw Watada's case was being made for him by the prosecution witness and attempted to flush justice by delcaring a mistrial -- over defense objection and over the initial objection of the prosecution -- Toilet had to coax the prosecution into seeing that what he was offering was a 'do over.' However, the Constitution does not allow for 'do overs' and, as National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn has noted, double-jeopardy had already attached. Currently, Watada is due to stand for another court-martial next month. The appeals process are ongoing. Judge Toilet has said there is no double-jeopary and that he can be impartial and should be allowed to sit on a second court-martial. Howls of laughter echo through the land at both assertions. Last month, we noted the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)'s statement regarding Watada. On Wednesday, Caroline Aoyagi-Strom (New American Media) noted the JACL's statement and the struggle it took to get that weak statement and notes Mas Hashimoto declaring, "Today we are at a crossroads. What kind of organization are we going to be? We need to take a stand, a firm and dedicated stand." while Alan Nishi declares, "We should take a more solid stance than we have in the past." The stand taken thus far is to note that Watada has civil rights and that he is "protected from double jeopardy" and, as Aoyagi-Strom notes, JALC is now supposed "to help educate other groups on the controversial issue."

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, 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. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

Last month,
NOW with David Brancaccio covered war resisters Agustin Aguayo and James Burmeister. Tonight (in most PBS markets, the program airs tonight) NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of sexual abuse in the military:

Roughly one in seven of America's active duty military soldiers is a woman, but a NOW investigation found that sexual assault and rape is widespread. One study of National Guard and Reserve forces found that almost one in four women had been assaulted or raped. Last year alone, almost 3,000 soldiers reported sexual assault and rape by other soldiers. On Friday, September 7 (check your local listings), in one of the only national television broadcasts of the issue, NOW features women who speak out for the first time about what happened. One woman recounts her ordeal of rape by her superior officer. Many more don't report the incidents for fear of how it will affect their careers. The shocking phenomenon has a label: military sexual trauma, or MST. NOW meets women courageously battling to overcome their MST, bringing light to an issue that's putting the army in shame. A NOW exclusive investigation. The NOW website at will offer the latest statistics on MST and insight into the challenges of reporting sexual abuse in the military

NOW with David Branccacio has a fact sheet regarding the percentages. Some that should immediately stand out include "60% of women have experienced military sexual trauma" and "23% of women have experienced military sexual assault." (27% of males have also "experienced military sexual trauma".) Also online, they interview (text) Kate Summers (Miles Foundation) about the issue and offer advice from Rev. Dorthy Mackey: "I encourage any survivor of sexual abuse in the military to immediately contact family or friends who love them. Tell them the complete sotry of the facts, have them record or get e-mails of the facts from the survivor. These friends and family who are not traumatized must be willing to act as guides/support and spokesperson for the survivor. Within the military system, the already traumatized survivor is lost. Once the covert or overt hostility begins, the survivor is multiply re-victimized." Rev. Mackey founded Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel, served nine years in the Air Force and, as she discussed with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) in July of 2004, was raped three times, "twice by military doctors during appointments. Rev. Mackey explained to Goodman, "So there's a lot more to this, and yet no one wants to invite those of us who know. And one of the moves on right now is to have the Pentagon itself establish a victim's advocacy office. I would hate to tell you, but from the Congressional Congress' own lips, the Women's Congressional Congress' own lips, they said, as we have been telling them, that rapists keep getting promoted into the senior ranks. Up into the Pentagon. And when you have the Pentagon itself, who has refused any recommendations in the last 16 years with 19 task forces of sexual misconduct, it's not being addressed. What's going to happen is the same that many of us who've lived through it have seen, and they will typically shut down these victims even more so. I mean, a nice term they really should do for this victim's advocacy office they're considering, call it the Pentagon's Lobotomy Shop, because that's what it will be for these victims."

More recently,
Traci Hukill (The Progressive, January 2007) examined the issue and offered many important details such as: "Last year, the Pentagon received reports of 2,374 rapes or attempted rapes from all of its bases worldwide, about 40 percent more than the year before. But that's probably just a fraction of the real number. One reason the crime still goes unreported may lurk in the annual [Pentago] report: Last year, just seventy-nine servicemembers were court-martialed for sexual assault. Why bother reporting if nothing will happen to the perpetrator?"

The most famous example of sexual abuse and command rape during this illegal war is
Suzanne Swift. Swift attempted to work through military channels. Nothing was done. Finally, 'help' was offering her a class on how women could work not to 'invite' rape and abuse. Swift self-checked out when she returned from Iraq. She was taken from her mother's home in handcuffs. The military wanted the entire matter to go away. Even their white wash investigation verified some of the details of assault. Instead of doing the honorable thing and immediately discharge Swift (with full benefits and an honorable discharge), the US military elected to punish her. Sarah Rich, her mother, continues to fight for her daughter and other victims of sexual assault. The US Congress continues to pretend that nothing happened to Swift and that, if it did, it's not like they have oversight of the military.

Not content to be useless, a number are gearing up for DC actions this month.
Paul Schwartzman (Washington Post) reports that in Lafayette Square Thursday, the police staged a big rollout to disrupt a press conference and 'deal' with the very important 'crime' of sign posting. One police officer attempted to 'disarm' Tina Richards who held menacing glue (wheat paste). Schwartman reports, "A few feet away, Kristine Klein, 13, Richards's daughter, started crying. She said that another officer had grabbed her arm and pushed her. As Richards tried to call to her daughter from the cruiser, another officer closed the window." What a proud moment for DC police. They also nabbed Adam Kokesh and Ian Thompson. Don't you feel safer? The three were charged with "defacing public property." Descrating the Constitution is a-okay in DC which is why Bully Boy's still sitting pretty and not facing impeachment. But try to post a flier, and it's SWAT time. The Times of India quotes A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Brian Becker declaring, "The police suppressed the press conference. In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium. Then, mounted police charged the media present to disperse them." The Times of India notes, "The charge caused a peaceful crowd of some 20 journalists and four or five protestors to scatter in terror, an AFP correspondent at the event in Layfayette Square said." The press conference was intended to get the word out on the actions in DC beginning September 15th with a march and a die-in. A.N.S.W.E.R. has a press release with photos and note the police officer pulling Kokesh's left arm behind his back to save the capital from . . . a posted flier. A video is posted on YouTube. You'll hear chatter about "a national security threat" as DC police swarm in. You'll see a police officer jerk Tina Richards by her arm repeatedly, call for "backup" over his radio before grabbing the bucket of paste. Backup takes a while to arrive (with sirens). Then a real idiot on horseback comes galloping up screeching, "Back up, folks, back up, back up, back up, back up" over and over like the idiot he is. The entire point was to disrupt the statements that Tina Richards was making to the press at the time.

Richards and Kokesh do not represent a minority view in the US. Nor are they in the minority around the world. A new
BBC poll of 22 countries has found 39% say troops home right now and another "28% backed a gradual pull-out" while only 23% declared US troops should "stay until Iraq was safe".

And yet . . .
yesterday came the news from the US Pentagon that the number of US forces in Iraq had reached 168,000 and were expected to rise to 172,000 shortly. Before Democrats won control of both houses in the US Congress in the November 2006 elections and before the US Congress was sworn in (January 2007) the number of US troops in Iraq was approximately 144,000. Robin Wright and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) report that US General and White House spokesperson David Petraeus is reportedly showing "a willingness to consider a drawdown of one brigade of between 3,500 and 4,500 US troops from Iraq early next year" and that Fancy Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and her right hand, Steny Hoyer, are yet again throwing in the towel with Hoyer stating, "Clearly we don't have the numbers to override the president's vetoes, as has been clearly demonstrated, nor do we expect to for a long time." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) also notes the cowardice in Congress: "On Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership appears set to give up its efforts on setting a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill later this month that would call for withdrawal to begin this year but it would include no language on when the troop withdrawal had to be completed." Susan Cornwell (Reuters) reports US Senator Dick Durbin gave a speech today where he declared: "This Congress can't give President (George W.) Bush another blank check for Iraq. I can't support an open-ended appropriation which allows this president to continue this failed policy." While it's great that Durbin realizes Congress did give Bully Boy a "blank check," he'll need more than straight talk to combat his own party's rush to cave again.

Outside the spineless DC bubble,
Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) quotes Cathy Fish, mother of John Fish III, explaining, "Three weeks ago I was hugging a happy loving wonderful son. And now as you can see . . . I've got pictures." John Fish committed sucide after returning from Iraq.

It's Friday which means news of violence trickles out slowly. So we'll start out with
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reporting that Samarra has been the site of fighting between the US and Iraqis beginning August 26th when, an Iraqi explains, "there was fierce fighting between armed men and American forces in the Armooshiya district, and I saw Americans evacuate many of their soldiers by stretchers. As usual, Americans took revenge by bombing the district." Iman, an Iraqi woman, tells Fadhily that a US bombing "killed a woman with her seven children" and that the violence has been confirmed in a statement from the Muslim Scholars Association
while the associations Sheikh Taha tells al-Fadhily, "They think their crimes would stop Iraqis from demanding their rights for liberty and prosperity, but the results are always different from what the American leaders hope. They are only pushing more Iraqis to be armed against them, and you can see that the facts on the ground are the opposite of what they tell their people. Their soldiers are getting killed every day and they (U.S. military) are losing in Iraq."
In the small reported violence that will lead to many filing reports of "Yesterday in . . ." tomorrow . . .

Robert H. Reid (AP) reports in 'peaceful' Al Anbar Province, the 'model' Bully Boy touts, "two suspension bridges" were blown up and brought to five the number of bridges in Al Anbar Province blown up this year..


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dwood Salman ("member of the municipality council") was shot dead outside of his home in Suleiman Beck.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Nineveh province Thursday when an explosion occurred near their vehicle." And they announced: "Four Marines assigned to Multi National Force-West were killed Sept. 6 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC lists the total number for US service members who have died in the illegal war at 3760 and, for the month thus far, at 18. And four of the seven deaths were in Al Anbar Province, the 'model' province.

Today the
UK Ministry of Defence announced: "It is with deep sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of a British soldier from the Parachute Regiment in Iraq on Wednesday 5, September 2007. The soldier sustained fatal injuries in the early hours of Wednesday while conducting routine operations". The death bringsthe number of United Kingdom troops killed in Iraq to 169.

In other news, the Online Predator has turned his attention away from underage girls and is now attacking Katie Couric online. One might wonder why he hates all women were it not for the howls of laughter at his latest blunder -- which should make everyone wonder about his previous 'facts' on Iran. Let's quote Pig Predator: "CBS is owned by General Electric. GE is working hard to get favorable trading status with any number of foreign trading partners. The U.S. trade representative is working hard on GE's behalf." GE owns NBC. Facts are tough, eh, Online Predator? [FYI,
The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild -- who has not engaged in Bash the Bitch -- has posted the efforts CBS' Early Show took, while on location, to avoid allowing people against the illegal war to be on camera in the background.] So CBS Evening News went to Iraq and did any of the critics watch? Apparently not. Probably Piggy Pedophile tried to. He probably pulled the lever down on his GE toaster and got confused when no picture came on.

Katie Couric (CBS Evening News) interviewed Syrian president Bashar Assad who responded to the charges that the Syrian government was funding, training or whatever else the US military brass wants to offer as the current justification for the failure of the illegal war (it failed because it was illegal), "What do they do, those terrorists in Iraq? They kill civilians, they create chaos. What interest have Syria in having chaos in Iraq? Chaos is contagious. If we help the chaos in Iraq, this means we we work against our interest. So we do our best to control our borders, first of all for Syrians; second, for the Iraqis; third, for the region." This morning Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported that "Israeli Air Force jets purportedly entered Syrian airspace" and Syria fired back. So you might think some of the 'critics' would take a moment to check out yesterday's interview with the president of Syria. However, you would be wrong.

Couric interviewed Assad and Iraq was the topic. Assad explained that Syria pays "the price for the chaos in Iraq today," criticized the US administration for attempting to respond to political situations with military non-answers, and observed, "It's getting worse every day, nothing is better. Sometimes it gets better, but it's like a flash in the pan; it just disappears, it's transient. We're talking about the result, the chaos is worse, the killing is worse than before. . . ." Assad also declared his belief that US troops should leave Iraq pointing out that "after four years . . . every day is getting worse than before. So I cannot say that American forces will bring stability to Iraq."

It's cute the way another round of Bash the Bitch allows alleged 'media critics' to ignore the fact that one of the biggest complaints about network news is the decrease in international coverage but a whole crowd ignored an interview on Iraq with the president of one of Iraq's neighboring countries. Same way they didn't appear to notice the slack off in coverage from Iraq by Los Angeles Times and New York Times correspondents this week (most noticeable today).

Syria is where Riverbend is now. The Iraqi blogger of Baghdad Burning recounts how she and her family waited and waited for the safest time to make their journey and
she writes:

The tears had stopped about an hour after we'd left Baghdad. Just seeing the dirty streets, the ruins of buildings and houses, the smoke-filled horizon all helped me realize how fortunate I was to have a chance for something safer.
By the time we were out of Baghdad, my heart was no longer aching as it had been while we were still leaving it. The cars around us on the border were making me nervous. I hated being in the middle of so many possibly explosive vehicles. A part of me wanted to study the faces of the people around me, mostly families, and the other part of me, the one that's been trained to stay out of trouble the last four years, told me to keep my eyes to myself- it was almost over.
It was finally our turn. I sat stiffly in the car and waited as money passed hands; our passports were looked over and finally stamped. We were ushered along and the driver smiled with satisfaction, "It's been an easy trip, Alhamdulillah," he said cheerfully.
As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn't want to seem like a baby. I didn't want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

Riverbend and her family join over 4 million Iraqi refugees (internal and external) whom the illegal war has 'liberated'.
Relief Web released a new study today on the refugee crisis
noting that their numbers increase "[a]s the security situation continues to deteriorate inside Iraq, human displacement escalates to levels unparalleled in the region" and that it threatens the entire region.
The report notes: "The exodus of Iraq's professionals has led to severe brain drain, hitting the health, education, and government sectors particularly hard. This will have serious implications for Iraq's ability to rebuild the country when the violence decreases. Internal displacement is resulting in ethnic and sectarian homogenization of the country, and displaced communities are increasingly vulnerable to violence, kidnappings, and control by militias. Displacement is both a consequence and a cause of sectarian polarization in the country. Jordan and Syria now face internal security threats related to the immense economic burden of hosting the Iraqi populations, new sectarian demographics, tension among host and refugee populations as well as across sectarian divides, the potential of increased regime opposition, and the possibility that refugees will be recruited into armed militias if humanitarian assistance isn't sufficient to meet their needs."

Unrelated note, Michael Ratner (
Center for Constitutional Rights, co-host of Law and Disorder) has a website entitled Just Left. Community member Jonah noted that we plug things in the snapshot from time to time and asked if that could be worked in.

iraqehren watada
now with david branccaciopbs
democracy nowamy goodman
adam kokeshiraq veterans against the war
the washington post

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Emotional porn

Today, C.I. called early and asked me if I remembered a cartoon from many, many years ago? I did. I didn't watch it. It wasn't my taste and I was too old for cartoons. I'm mentioning it because I think there's a very good chance Ava and C.I. may be reviewing it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. They may not. But it's out on DVD now and a friend passed it on to them.

I was reminded of it again when I read the snapshot tonight because C.I.'s noting The War Comes Home. I actually heard that. Sunny has a RCA digital recorder she uses to tape things on. She bought it thinking it would help with dictation. She'd just started so she didn't know I'm really not one to dictate. I handled the medical portion, she handles the office. She doesn't need instructions from me (or dictations). So from time to time, she puts it up to her computer speakers and records something and we'll listen to it during lunch. Which is how I ended up hearing the last hour of Wakeupcall Radio today. Deepa Fernandes is the host most days (although she said she was taking some time off to try to get well, I'll assume it was something like a summer cold but she's been promoting her new book and do many other things). It's a three hour show and an interesting blend.

I have nothing against Aaron Glantz. I don't know his work as well (or respect as much) as C.I. but that was an awful interview. When I read the snapshot, I called Rachel to see if we were on the same page and we were. Rachel pointed out that Deepa was really tossing things out there in the interview (I'd call them lifelines) but Glantz just wasn't in the mood for help.

Rachel said her e-mail to C.I. was "a raging, scattershot mess" and she was so glad C.I. used "erect a wall" because that's really what it felt like to her "but I couldn't put it into words." She's referring to when Glantz explains that only journalists who've been to Iraq and soldiers who were there can understand. He says it differently (it's the section C.I. left out, if it had been in the snapshot, the community would probably be in a huge uproar as opposed to a mini one).

I agreed with Rachel that was very offensive. She said she could never picture Amy Goodman going on Charlie Rose or Hardball and promoting Democracy Now! by drawing a line between herself an the viewing audience. She said to her Glantz was saying, "I'm having a party and this is who is invited. You aren't, but you can peer through the glass." (She compared it to the momemnt in Stella Dallas where the mother watches her daughter's wedding.)

I agree it was rude. I also think it was ridiculous. If Aaron Glantz really thinks it's the journalists and the service members, he might be surprised to know that many service members feel it's just them. Many don't think others can truly grasp it unless they were through it via service. When any of the vets in my Thursday group has a question about speaking (more and more of them are doing public speaking), I always point out that comment and suggest that if they're trying to reach people, they shouldn't be telling them that they can never understand it.
If that's how Glantz feels, he's allowed to say it but I don't think it's going to make a lot of people think, "Oh, I'm listening now!" Again, it's also true that "Mr. Manly" (which is how he came off to Sunny and me while we were listening) would be laughed out of one of my group sessions if he made that claim in a room full of vets.

When I read the snapshot, I picture C.I. on the phone trying to get through that section quickly and then remembering (or hearing on another phone) about Rachel's e-mail. I really enjoy it because you're starting off at one point and then, as C.I.'s thinking it through, you're ending up a little further along the way. Knowing the cartoon C.I. saw (on the draft, by the way), I could also see that being factored in to the commentary.

What I would add, Sunny and I checked out the website at the end of lunch, is that I don't think anyone's been waiting for that show. I honestly didn't find it so much cowardly as I found it offensive. Looking at it, I kept coming back to Susan Sontag's 70s essay "Fascinating Fascism" and especially the section on the sexualization of military uniforms.

There are no (civilian) peace groups cited on the links page. It's military glorification. That's the story that can't be told elsewhere? That's the story? I thought the stories that couldn't be told were about the peace movement, about war resistance and, most importantly, about Iraqis. The show plays out like a weaker version (and less intellectual) version of Dana Priest and Anne Hull's Washington Post reporting.

I think C.I. is 100% on the money with the point that it's "The war is bad for 'our boys'." This isn't about the war is illegal. It's the weakest, most white bread bit of nonsense you could imagine.

It's really embarrassing that it's coming from Pacifica and, more so, from the station Lewis Hill started all those years ago. Check out the links if you really want to get angry.

The closest to Pacifica's pacifist roots may be linking to Anti-War (and shouting out to it). That's a libertarian site and, somehow, I don't believe that was Hill's position. But it's all about the glorification of the Warrior King.

Now if you've listened to any Pacifica station, you're aware that since the Washington Post ran their series, the easiest thing to hear coverage of is "our boys". So the radio spots (it's not a program) are insulting since they're covering a topic that's already well covered (and repeatedly covered).

It's also insulting because of the fact that, unlike the paper's series, it's all about grab your heart strings. Is there a thinking adult behind this program? It doesn't play that way. For all his talk of context (there's none currently at the website), it's nothing but Queen For A Day. That was a game show many, many years ago where contestants competed to have the worst story so they could win -- the most heart tugging story was the winner.

As Joni Mitchell has sung, "I am a woman of heart and mind." I need both fed. I don't just need to have these morsels tossed out to my heart.

So I find the entire thing offensive. C.I.'s comparison of it to the post-WWII film The Best Years of Our Lives is dead on accurate.

That all these years after the illegal war began, the same radio network that cancelled their peace program in 2003 finally pulls together some spots on the illegal war and they can't even call it that. Instead it's a 'bad' war. It's 'bad' because it hurts 'our boys.'

This is nothing but emotional porn and I strongly suggest everyone read Susan Sontag's "Fascinating Fascism."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, August 5, 2007. Chaos and violence continue; Pacifica launches a project kind of sort of on the illegal war; Kokesh and Sheehan gear up for September 15th, the US military announces multiple deaths, Vanity Fair examines the robbery of the Iraqi people, NBC's Today demonstrates its real priorities, and more.

"I remember one time we were driving around the city setting up checkpoints and we heard a huge explosion," remembers war resister
Agustin Aguayo. "So we went to see what was happening and a vehicle of Iraqi police had been hit and my unit stayed back and I could see wounded people in the distance and we just stayed back. And I could see wounded people in the distance and we just stayed back and that seemed weird to me. A company commander was in charge of that convoy and I couldn't understand why we just stood there. So I couldn't understand why we couldn't just randomly." Aguayo went to Iraq as a medic and he's sharing the story with Aaron Glantz on The War Comes Home. The War Comes Home is a podcast that some Pacifica stations may carry as well. In addition to audio, as noted on the permalinks to the left, it also provides text. Jeff Key is another war resister Glantz speaks with. He served in Iraq and was released from the military after coming out as gay on CNN in March 2004. Glantz spoke of Key's stories on KPFK's Uprising yesterday and about The War Comes Home itself as he did on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio today. The War Comes Home is a project Glantz will be writing, producing and narrating. It will cover a variety of issues facing service members. Today he spoke with Deepa Fernandes (Wakupcall Radio) about the large number of homeless veterans including Iraq veteran Michael Hall and how the homeless from this illegal war are already different -- Glantz explained, "What really concerns homeless advocates is that after the vets came back from Vietnam, it was nine or ten years before you start to see homeless Vietnam veterans but now we're seeing that already with the Iraq War."

Deepa Fernandes: Aaron, you've been busy because when one looks at this website, there are so many stories gathered. What links them all?

Aaron Glantz: Well what links them all is that each and every one of these stories on is about the impact going over to Iraq and really serving in this dreadful occupation has on the human soldier. . . . With each personal story, we have a fact that goes with them. And the one that just kind of sticks with me is on the story of Specialist Patrick Resta we have this fact that Walter Reed Medical Center did a study and found that 95 percent of soldiers deployed to Iraq had seen dead bodies, 95 percent had been shot at, 89 percent had been ambushed or attacked and 69 percent had seen an injured woman or child and felt they could not provide assistance. I mean, these are not things that you just walk away from when you come back to the United States. They're things that you know haunt you for the rest of your life even if you're lucky enough to have come home and not had a serious physical injury inflicted on you.

Speaking with Thenmozhi Soundararajan on yesterday's Uprising (Sonali Kolhatkar is on maternity leave), Aaron Glantz explained
The War Comes Home, "What we want to do is we want to put the stories of the people who have seen the Iraq War first-hand and come back to this country, put their real life stories up on the internet and so that people can pass them around and share them." Of course, stories are online at Iraq Veterans Against the War and War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist among other places. And certainly, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) could (and time permitting surely would) assemble a special folder of their extensive and ongoing coverage of the illegal war which includes many service members sharing their stories and many Iraqis sharing their stories as well as many peace activists sharing. In the hard push for the site (as Rachel, Micah and Jonah noted of today's WBAI interview) Glantz is actually turning people off as he erects a barrier between the listeners on one side and himself and service members (he says "soldiers") on the other (translated as "Only we get it, man").

The reality is that this is really a pathetic project. I don't mean in terms of Glantz, I do mean in terms of Pacifica Radio. The illegal war hits the five year mark in March and this is all Pacifica has to show for it? (
Democracy Now! is an independent program carried on Pacifica, it is not a Pacifica program.) It's not even a program, it's "spots" or "carts" that stations can insert or not for a few minutes. All this time later and no program addressing the Iraq War.

In terms of the project itself, it has its own problems. For starters, it currently has 10 profiles/stories up at the website. Look closely for any female veterans -- but look in vain. It's equally true that when Pacifica Radio elects to finally offer 'spots,' they go with the easiest thing out there: the treatment of the returning. That's the example Glantz gives in both interviews and it's what's represented at the website. It's a bit sad to hear him say these stories are beginning to get attention . . . seven months after
Dana Priest and Anne Hull (Washington Post) launched their much discussed series. If the comeback is, "Oh, I meant independent media," it's equally true that Mother Jones has been an early leader on the stories of the wounded with one of the strongest photo essays. It's difficult to promote but the promotion would go down easier if Glantz appeared aware of what was already out there. Of course the story that needs to be covered -- the one that's actually not being told -- is the hunting down of war resisters in this country and outside of it.

So the indifference expressed in e-mails yesterday (after the KPFK interview) and today (after the WBAI interview) isn't surprising. And let's face it, you're dealing with a community who, unlike KPFA, didn't drop the Iraq War last summer and, unlike KPFA, doesn't get mixed up on Falluja and assume, wrongly, that November 2004 was something to be excited about. This feels like sop tossed out to listeners. Glantz is involved (and steering) so hopefully it will be something worth following. Those who've already checked it out and expressed their dismay might give it a month or two and then try again. But there's no question that the promotion has been a big mistake starting with the wall Glantz elected to erect between listeners (listeners one would assume the spots will need) on one side and himself and "soldiers" on the other. It's equally true that those who have waited and waited in vain for KPFA to create the program they owed listeners (one covering the Iraq War and only the Iraq War) are going to be more than disappointed with the easy scope (as it's being promoted by Glantz) of this project.

We already linked to it (on the permalinks) before Glantz was promoting it. If it has anything worth noting, we'll note it in a snapshot. One thing that needs to be noted is that it does feature audio and transcript. Possibly it will feature coverage of war resisters but, as Zach points out, search in vain, even in the Aguayo story, for that term. Zach: "I was going to say 'So timid it's NPR and PBS-like' but the reality is
NOW with David Brancaccio profiled war resisters Agustin Aguayo and James Burmeister last month."

The War Comes Home really is timid. It's the sort of coverage to reach what, when I was a teenager, we would have seen as the blue-hair set who went to the matinees of The Odd Couple once a week to see something 'shocking'. Yes, that was a long time ago. Which makes The War Comes Home all the sadder especially when it's 'borrowing' a title that means so much more (even in this illegal war). It's non-thinking coverage that reduces it all to, "Look what they've done to our boys!" Empahsis on "our" and "boys." Rachel called it "an embarrassment to free speech radio" and I was wondering about that but now that I'm dictating this and thinking about it, she's 100% right. "War bad because of what it do to our boys." That's the "simplistic" message Glantz is putting out in the promotion and in the spots currently. (KPFA's very lucky Pauline Kael doesn't have a modern-day equivalent today.) If they can get those robo-fighters out of the planning stages, imagine how many more people can be killed around the world and, judging by projects like The War Comes Home, there will not be anything to object to because none of "our boys" are being injured or killed.

It's a candle-light, silent vigil by the likes of which really calls into question whom Pacifica thinks their listening audience is? This is the sort of thing that would have fit in nicely back in the days of Baby Cries A Lot's radio show when he would start blubbering about his (adult) kids (who are not in the military) and how the US has to, has to, has to stay in Iraq. It's "anti-war" on that terrain. In the real world it's "The Stateside Minute!" covering stories that most of already well know. (As do listeners of Pacifica Radio.) It's about as 'political' as William Wyler's The Best Years Of Our Lives and let's not kid that that's going to end the illegal war. Maybe it will improve as it goes along. Maybe it will speak with Eli Israel (the first known service member to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq while stationed there)? Maybe it will explore command rape or some other topics the mainstream isn't already covering? And, let's be honest, women are the one being shut out of the discussion. Yes, Laura Flanders rightly noted that in terms of being invited to comment, but I'm talking about what I'm hearing from female veterans. They feel there was a 'flurry' of interest following the disgraceful treatment of Suzanne Swift and that interest then moved on. Certainly, the fact that The War Comes Home can post ten profile stories and not a one of them be about a woman backs their feelings up.

Though nothing at The War Comes Home yet indicates it, 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, 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, Jeff Key, 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. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

Staying on the issue of veterans,
Adam Kokesh (Sgt. Kogkesh Goes to Washington) notes that A.N.S.W.E.R. will be holding a "September 15th march from the White House to the Capital to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq. . . . followed by a week of direct action, will mark a turning point for the entire anti-war movement and possibly for the course of American Democracy. The theme of this 'protest' is 'Protesting is not enough. Come for the rally, stay for a week of direct action.' The day after the march will be a training day, followed by National Truth In Recuriting Day, Congressional Challenge Day, a day of Pentagon outreach, Veterans' Lobbying Day, and the Iraq Moratorium. There will be anumber of direct actions to participate in for those who are willing to work to bring our government back in line with the will of the people." Also noting those actions is Cindy Sheehan (writing at Common Dreams): "Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who are leading the September 15th march, are calling for a "die-in" to end the march and begin the rally. The vets, unlike the chicken-hawk neocons, have actually served in war, particularly the one that Mr. [Willie] Kristol imagines is such a success. IVAW is asking activists to represent a killed service-member and at an appropriate time lie down. Taps will be played and also a simulated 21-gun salute. It sounds respectful to me, being the mom of one of the soldiers, and I will proudly, yet sorrowfully, be lying down for my son that day." John Nichols has a written a piece on Sheehan's campaign -- she's running for the US Congress from California's eighth district -- and when it shows up somewhere other than The Nation, we'll link to it. What we will do is note CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin (at Common Dreams) explaining some realities regarding US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's reaction to protests and hunger strikes: "It is a tactic that was successful with Senator Dianne Feinstein. After six days of having campers outside her home, Feinstein came out to have a cordial half-hour discussion with the fasters and promised a longer meeting. Not Pelosi. During the two-week campout and hunger strike, Pelosi's only interaction with the activists was her hostility toward them. Arriving home late one evening, hunger striker Toby Blome asked 'Why won't you meet with us?' 'I'll never meet with you,' the Speaker screamed. 'Get away fro my house.' When Blome asked her about the homes of all the Iraqis whose privacy we invade, Pelosi snapped and called her 'a nut'." For more on Pelosi, see "Getting to know . . . Pelosi" (The Third Estate Sunday Review).

As Pelosi prolongs the illegal war, the violence continues . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 1 life and left 24 injured "in Baladiyat neighborhood," while one in Bayaa neighborhood resulted in two people being injured, a Kirkuk bombing resulted in seven police officers being injured. CNN reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed "at least 11" lives with twenty more injured citing an official with the Interior Ministry while also noting a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of an Iraqi police officer and left twenty-eight injured. CBS and AP report that the Baghdad roadside bombing death toll is 13 with twenty-five wounded. According to Reuters, the confusion results from what government officials and police are stating.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "Three Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and two others wounded when an explosively-formed penetrator detonated on their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." And they announced: " A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and two others wounded during combat operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 4." And they announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near their vehicle while conducting operations in Salah ad Din Province, Wednesday." And they announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and another wounded during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 5."

The announcements bring the total number of announced deaths of US service members in Iraq to 10 according to
ICCC's totals with 3752 US service members killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003.

Now let's slice off some of that so-called progress. First up,
CBS and AP report: "Officials in Sulaimaniyah announced that they had indefinitely postponed the start of the school year for primary and secondary schools in an effort to prevent the further spread of cholera in the northern province. Since the disease broke out in mid-August nine people have died and some 70 others have been confirmed with cholera. Another 4,000 are suffering from symptoms like severe diarrhea and vomiting." Meanwhile, David Sanger (New York Times) notes that the White House, "not Congress, . .. first proposed the benchmarks for Iraq that are now producing failing grades, a provenance that rasies questions about why the administration is declaring now that the government's performance is not the best measure of change." Failing grades? We're back to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which Renee Schoof and Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) note finds the escalation "of additional U.S. troops in Iraq has failed to curtail violence Citing data from the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies, the Government Accountability Office found that daily attacks against civilians in Iraq have remained "about the same" since February, when the United States began sending nearly 30,000 additional troops to improve security in Iraq.The GAO also found that the number of Iraqis fleeing violence in their neighborhoods is increasing, with as many as 100,000 Iraqis a month leaving their homes in search of safety.The GAO's conclusions contradict repeated assertions by the White House and the Pentagon in advance of the coming congressional debate on whether to stay the course in Iraq or to begin some withdrawal of U.S. troops." And this is the 'softened' GAO report. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observes, "The original GAO report painted an even harsher picture of Iraq but the findings were partially rewritten under pressure from the White House." Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor) offers, "On 11 benchmarks, Iraq has failed, according to the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress." Grier runs to Professional War Hawk Mikey O'Hanlon who does his usual spin and Grier himself wonders why Congress would 'seize' on a . . . Congressional report? As opposed to seizing on a report produced by the Chamber of Commerce? The Palm Beach Post declares, "It's evident that the talking points haven't changed much since President Bush's first secret trip to Iraq during Thanksgiving in 2003. . . . Like the president's latest trip, the ad push is calculated to win Mr. Bush's failed policies just enough support to prevent Congress from forcing a troop withdrawal, and comes just before Gen. David Petraeus delivers a key assessment of the war in Iraq. That report will come during the week that marks the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a date that Congress set and the White House will be happy to exploit." And Mark Silva (Baltimore Sun) quotes US Senator John Kerry declaring, "September has been much talked about, much waited and now it's here." The 'benchmarks' are mandated by Congress but they came from the White House. When Congress was earlier considering a drawdown of troops (popularly mischaracterized as a withdrawal) and/or cutting off funding for the illegal war, the White House was the one that screamed, "Wait until September! It wouldn't be fair to David [Petreaus]! We have to be fair to David! We have to wait for David!" September has arrived.

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) cuts to the chase, "The Iraq War has been lost. The British are acknowledging this fact by pulling out their troops from Basra, Iraq's second largest city, handing over the city to the control of Shia militias. For all intents and purposes, the 'Coalition of the Willing' is now dead. America is now going it alone." Lindorff also remarks upon Bully Boy's layover in Iraq Monday, "He acknowledge defeat too, by flying into Iraq stealthily in the dead of night this week, landing at a remote desert outpost in western Iraq, instead of going to Baghdad, and meeting with American military officials, instead of with the Iraqi government. (So much for Iraq's being a 'sovereign nation'! Can you imagine a head of state of some foreign government, together with his war secretary and his secretary of state, flying in unannounced to some remote American state, and not even meeting with American government officials?) Clearly the US military could not guarantee the president's safety in Baghdad and the Green Zone, so he had to go to a remote outpost where he was safe behind razor wire, mines and an obscene arsenal of soldiers, tanks and gunships." Also remarking on the layover 'meeting' are members of Iraq's Parliament. Raheem Salman and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) explain that not only were "none of the bills seen as crucial to driving national reconciliation" discussed on Tuesday but "At least one other legislator said he was insulted that Bush had bypassed the capital Monday and limited his visit to a U.S. air base in Anbar province" and quote Abdul Kareen Enizi declaring, "I want to mention my reservation and abhorrence as the meeting was held in an American base in a country having sovereignty."

Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (Vanity Fair) report on $9 billion that "has gone missing, unnaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed" within the Green Zone. Money was to be made and Custer Battles brought a "gunnysack" for their pickup of $2 million from Paul Beremer (followed by another $2 million) despite the fact that Custer Battles would bill the US "government $400,000 for electricty that cost $74,000. It had billed $432,000 for a food order that cost $33,000. It had charged the C.P.A. for leased equipment that was stolen, and had submitted forged invoices for reimbursement -- all the while moving millions of dollars into offshore bank accounts. In one instance, the company claimed ownership of forklifts used to trasnport the C.P.A.'s cash (among other things) around the Baghdad airport. But up until the war the forklifts had been the property of Iraqi Airways." Bit by bit, war profitteer by war profiteer, the $9 billion vanished: "The simple truth about the missing money is the same one that applies to so much else about the American occupation of Iraq. The U.S. government never did care about accounting for those Iraqi billions and it doesn't care now. It cares only about enuring that an accounting does not occur." (Click here for a Vanity Fair interview with the reporters.)

And finally, on a day that began with announcements of the deaths of US service members in Iraq and while newspapers and most news or news-based or approximate shows were covering the GAO report, NBC's Today decided to go another way. It was Larry Craig, missing millionaires and a host of other things (including Andrea Mitchell's 'commentary' that Hillary Clinton is less liked than Bill Clinton -- like them, love them, hate them, be indifferent, at this point they are a package deal but if Mitchell couldn't get her swipes in at Hillary, what would she be left to do?), it just couldn't cover Iraq.
The GAO report wasn't as important as Meredith playing 'cute' on the Larry Craig scandal and Matt really needed to speak with Richard Branson because viewers around the US wouldn't be able to start their days without knowing what a present millionaire thought of a missing one. And of course news reader Natalie felt the thing to start the headlines with was Barbie's Dream House. Whether or not you count on Today for news, you should be aware some Americans do and most grasp the the first hour is 'hard news' (such as it ever is on Today). The GAO report didn't make Natalie's "headlines" and the deaths of US service member had to wait in line behind Barbie and other items.

adam kokesh
iraq veterans against the war
cindy sheehan
codepinkmedea benjamin
democracy nowamy goodman
the washington post
dana priestanne hull
aaron glantz
the new york timesdavid e. sangermcclatchy newspapersrenee schoof
the baltimore sunthe los angeles timesthe palm beach post

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

2 years-plus of Isaiah, Jeff Cohen


Above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Runaway Bully" and it his latest comic. I'm doing the small size because when I do medium, it throws off the entire site. Hopefully, you caught it Sunday. Sunny and I were attempting to figure out how long Isaiah's been doing comics for The Common Ills?

We ended up checking with C.I. today and the first comic was May 2, 2005. Which means the two year mark passed for Isaiah a few months back and I didn't even note it.

I love his comics and have many framed around my house. If he does a movie parody, he tends to put in an envelope and mail it to me. When I get it, it's framed immediately. I believe Irma La Dunce was the first one he mailed me. Sunny and I were talking about all of our favorites over, we now realized, two-plus years. Sunny reminded me of when a blogger from outside the US tried to score on C.I. by insulting Isaiah. I always found that and the blogger's desparate e-mail (which Ava replied to) when he was pulled from The Common Ills hysterical. He thought he could play it two ways, kissing C.I.'s ass in e-mails and posting little jabs. C.I. didn't go to that site and didn't care what the jerk had to say. But when he went after Isaiah, that was a different story.

Now there are probably some other sites that do their own cartoons but I'm sure there aren't many. Isaiah wanted to do a contribution for The Common Ills and he came up with drawing a comic. It gave the site a visual look and all the members (including Sunny and myself) enjoy them.

You've got Kat doing music reviews. Ruth doing reports. Isaiah doing comics. C.I. doing everything else. I enjoy all of it but I really do love Isaiah's comics because they are unique and a way to really drive home the difference between The Common Ills and other sites. For instance, the blogger (who I believe stopped posting) who slammed Isaiah's comics (slammed and slimed) posted comics from the papers. He thought he could 'critique' Isaiah's contributions and yet he had nothing at his own site that rivaled Isaiah. Certainly nothing original.

These days, Isaiah does comics for several newsletters and it's frequently difficult for him to come up with something new for The Common Ills on Sunday. He took a month off last year and wanted to avoid that this year even though he's doing four times the output. When Sunny and I were comparing favorites at lunch today, she said, "You need to write about this." Then we found it had been two years so I really needed to. So let me say, late but better than never, thank you to Isaiah for two years-plus of wonderful comics.

In 2007, the Hello! program that was previously used to post illustrations ended it's agreement with Blogger and Flickr was the new choice. I prefer Hello! and can post any of those older comics without worrying that it's going to toss the site off balance for five to six days. I'm noting "The World Today Just Nuts 'Got War?'" for a reason.

Jeff Cohen's "Hillary Rolls On: Are Netroots a Paper Tiger?" (Common Dreams) makes some interesting points and some that are just inane. It would be a lot easier for me to get beyond his column did he not attempt to create a difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They are two of a kind. When he told C.I. and I, in 2004, that he did not support withdrawing troops, that was the real Obama. Cohen's writes like a young teenage girl in love with Obama, blinded by love. There is no difference between Barack and Hillary. Either would damage the country. Pretending (or not knowing) that's the case doesn't help anyone.

When all these men go to town on Hillary but give Obama a pass, it just reminds me how many men will take racism seriously while pooh-pahhing sexism. Either people like Cohen don't know Obama or they're suffering from that 'liberal guilt' that plagued the middle-aged set in the sixties. Cohen goes on about Hillary's big money donors. She has them. She is in the bag. No question. However, Barack has them as well. The myth of his "small donors" should have died when the New York Times exposed that he was counting people who buy bumper stickers or buttons as "small donors."

If Cohen's aware of that, he gives no indication of it. He goes to town on Hillary and stays mum on Barack.

Which is why I'm reminded of the middle-aged crowd from the sixties (Cohen is actually probably my age) who were plagued with 'liberal guilt.' I have no respect for women who want to play dumb regarding Hillary's record and I have no respect for anyone who wants to play dumb regarding Barack. He is a War Hawk. That's why he voted for all war funding without batting an eye until this summer. He loves to brag that he was against the illegal war before it started but he loves to forget to add that he was also against withdrawal before he was elected to the Senate. He also has the War Hawk Samantha Power as his advisor so let's all stop pretending he's the little candidate of the people who can.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 4, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy takes a layover in Iraq, a lot of the press goes giddy, some in the peace movement play dumb, and more.

Starting with war resisters, but with a twist. As noted yesterday in "
The Nation ignores war resisters even as it publishes the child of one," Rebecca's "the nation magazine ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," Cedric's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," The Third Estate Sunday Review's "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one," Trina's "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," Betty's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," Elaine's "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," Mike's "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one" and Wally's "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one" (Ruth worked on the report as well) political theorist and writer Naomi Klein is the child of war resisters. Her father could not serve in an illegal war and the family went to Canada. The story isn't that uncommon in Canada (then or now) but it is worth noting at a time when some 'helpful' scolds want to insist that war resisters going to Canada today are 'destroying' their lives. Many made that claim during Vietnam, well before and well after Pierre Trudeau's 1969 decision that Canada would welcome war resisters. Klein, an internationally known author, activist and filmaker, is hardly toiling away in obscurity. Her life was not destroyed by her parents' decision. In fact, her latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, comes out in the United States later this month. This is her follow up to her best selling No Logo (Fences and Windows was a collection of her previously published columns). Joshua and Brandi Key have four children (Adam, Anna, Philip and Zackary), Jeremy Hinzman and Nga Nguyen have a son (Liam), Patrick and Jill Hart have a son (Rian), Kimberly and Mario Rivera have two children and those are just some of the war resisters in Canada with children. They don't need lectures from 'well meaning' and 'helpful' types telling them it's "DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! I TELL YOU DOOM!" Reality is Naomi Klein's life was not harmed or short changed because her parents went to Canada to avoid an illegal war. It's bad enough when the BBC's War Hawk and John McCain lovin' Kathy Kay (subbing on NPR) tries that tactic with Joshua Key, it's even worse when this 'cautionary' note comes from those who are supposed to be supporting war resistance within the military.

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, 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. The G.I. Rights Hotline link has been included in the snapshots forever now, but please note that this is a new website. The new website is still being upgarded (but working) and with the new website comes a new phone number (877) 4474487 which is "GI RGHTS" the name but missing the second "I". To make sure everyone's aware that there is a new number and a new (toll free) number, we'll included this notice in the snapshot all week. Again, The G.I. Rights Hotline is a new and improved (and new and improving) website that will begin replacing the old site.

Last Friday, Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Crus testified in the trial of Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich. While
Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) lead with the news: "A Marine squad leader executed five Iraqi men after a roadside bomb blast killed a Marine and then told squad members to falsely claim that the men were shot while running away" Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) decided that news was so unimportant that it could be casually tossed out in the eight paragraph of his 'report' and then forgotten. Reality v. fluff? You saw the mainstream press at war with itself throughout the three day weekend.

For instance, on Sunday
James Glanz (New York Times) informed that the Iraqi death toll had falled in Baghdad. Though the Times has spent a ton of money in Iraq (villas aren't cheap -- NYT stockholders click here) they apparently do not have a single person who can take down the deaths that actually do end up reported each day. So instead of being able to speak to the paper's own figures, Glanz had to cite AP and Reuters figures. Someone should have told him about McClatchy Newspapers. On Monday, Renee Schoof (McClatchy Newspapers) would utilize those figures to note, "Statistics that McClatchy Newspapers collected in Baghdad don't show any drop in violence. Civilians deaths in the capital were about the same in July as in December, before the American troops increase began. U.S. officials in Baghdad declined to provide data to back up their claims of lower violence." Why should they when the New York Times will rush forward to stand up for the spin?

Well if the US military (and the Times -- "and" provided they are separate entities) admit that the death toll rose outside of Baghdad and McClatchy Newspapers figures show that the death toll in the capital was essentialy "the same in July as in December" where, exactly, is the 'progress'?

Those with a least a modicum of short-term memory may remember the was July was sold. For instance,
Stephen Farrell (New York Times) was trumpeting that US deaths had falled to 74. ICCC lists July's total as 79 and -- 74 or 79 -- 83 is greater and, in fact, the total number of US service members announced killed in the month of August (thus far announced). Surely, it's a huge coincidence that the same paper that trumped the 'lower' death toll for the US as proof of 'success' in July 'forgets' to note the rising death toll in August?

In fairness to the paper, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno wasn't selling this point in August
as he had done in July but, in fairness to news consumers, why the paper felt the responsibility to back up baseless claims by the US military to begin with is a question worth asking.

Also worth asking is what about the Iraqis resources in their daily lives? Are they any better off? Or are we all supposed to forget that July ended with Oxfam issuing a reported that found: "
Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from 'absolute poverty'. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent now."? Apparently, we are. And apparently we are being strongly encouraged to forget last week's reports of cholera outbreak in northern Iraq. Now the outbreak goes on but is it really the job of the New York Times to report reality or to prop up an illegal war? AP reports today that Jordan has "banned entry of food supplies from Iraq" as a result of the cholera outbreak in Iraq and notes that a United Nations "Development Program team recently returned from Iraq . . . [and they] blamed the inadequate water supply system and deteriorated infrastructure for the outbreak and warned the disease could spread to other cities in the northern Sulamaniyah province." On the Sulaymaniyah province, Relief Web notes, "Since 23 August 2007, a three to four fold increase of acute watery diarrhea cases were bing reported from one of the teaching hospitals of Sulaymaniyah province in Northern Iraq. Laboratory test performed on stool specimens confirmed Vibrio cholerae serogroup 01 Inaba as the causative pathogen for these reported acute watery diarrhea cases. So far between 23 August and 02 September 2007, the cumulative number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea reported from four out of the eleven districts of Sulaymaniyah province stands at 2,930 including 9 deaths with an overall case fatality rate of 2.30%." Jordan is the only country taking measures to prevent the outbreak spreading to their borders (Jordan has noted they are not closing their borders or stopping Iraqi refugees from entering). NTV MSNB reports that Turkey is so concerned that everyone "entering Turkey from its Habur border gate in southeastern township of Silopi would be scanned for cholera." Sara Flounders (Workers World) notes that 70% of Iraqis lack "access to safe drinking water and 80 percent lacks effective sanitation" and states, "The anti-war movement here must focus attention on the reports that expose the all-pervasive violence of the U.S. occupation. Otherwise the corporate media are able to put their 'spin' on who is responsible for the violence in Iraq today. Consistently they blame the Iraqi people for the unfolding horror and not the U.S. occupation army. The corporate media are currently giving extensive daily coverage to the drumbeat coming from U.S. politicians, Republican and Democrats alike, who wring their hands and describe the chaos and violence that would follow a U.S. troop withdrawal. This constantly repeated theme is woven together with coverage of seemingly senseless and sectarian attacks on civilians by 'terrorist forces.' U.S. troops are described in every news article as trying to end the 'sectarian violence' and desperately seeking to bring security and order. The media's constant focus on seeminly random violence and mayhem, allegedly committed by contending Iraqi militias, is meant to mask the total violence of occupation. It also distorts who the resistance is and what are the primary acts that resistance forces are engaged in. . . . The [centrist think tank Brookings Institute] report contains a chart showing that the vast majority of the resistance attacks are on U.S. forces and Iraqi security forces, not on civilians. According to this chart, 80 to 85 percent of the attacks target the occupation and its collaborators."

Instead of addressing those realities,
David S. Cloud and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) today report on Bully Boy's layover in Iraq yesterday which they state "lasted eight hours." While the steno pool at the Times gets giddy that Bully Boy stated the obvious (some level of US troops may be withdrawn at some point), Martin Fletcher (Times of London) breaks down the reality: in the face of the Congressionally mandated report this month on the White House established 'benchmarks' by which to judge Iraq's 'progress,' Bully Boy needed "to show that the 'surge' is working, which is why he chose to land not in Baghdad, but in the remote air base of al-Asad in Anbar province. . . . Mr Bush's visit was also significant for where he did not go -- namely Baghdad. . . .Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, instead flew to meet Mr Bush in Anbar province". Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes the visit was six-hours and "a publicity stunt aimed at presenting an image of progress in the US military occupation and generating favorable coverage in the servile US commercial media." Ouch, cry Cloud and Myers! Martin also points out that Bully Boy "traveled in complete secrecy to a huge US base, 17 miles in circumference, manned by 10,000 troops, located in relative isolation from Iraqi population centers, near the point where the Euphrates River crosses the Syria-Iraq border. Al Asad is one of the four huge bases -- more like transplanted American cities -- which the Pentagon has built as garrison points for the indefinite stationing of American troops and warplanes. These four bases would play a critical role in any future US war in the region, particularly against Iran or Syria." Here's what had the Times steno pad so excited, Bully Boy declared, "But I want to tell you this about the decis-- about the decision, about my decision -- about troop levels -- those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground, not a nervous reaction by Wallic -- Washington politicians to poll results in the media. In other words, when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure." (Audio and video here at Democracy Now!) Thank goodness, he's not going to listen to Wallic, but who is Wallic? His imaginary friend? Ken Fireman and Nicholas Jordan (Bloomberg News) provide the context of Bully Boy's 'draw-down' talk: "Bush, for all his 'stay-the-course'' rhetoric, is constrained by a troop-rotation schedule that requires pulling out some forces early next year -- as well as the need to outline an exit strategy for Republicans eyeing the 2008 elections." It's equally true that on August 17th when Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno spoke with reporters and made it very clear that he'd always been told the escalation would end in April stating "what I'm talking about is drawing down to the pre-surge levels," "The surge we know, as it is today, goes through April of '08," etc. (For those who missed it, during the slaughter in Karbala last week, the US military stood down. That came out during Lt. Gen. James Dubik's press briefing August 29th in reply to a question by Samarra TV.) As if Bully Boy distortions and the Times running with them wasn't enough trouble, Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports the puppet of the occupation has new delusions and felt the need to claim yesterday "that his government was making progress". 'Progress?' Reuters observed, "Iraqi lawmakers reconvened on Tuesday after a month-long summer recess, under mounting pressure to get legislation passed that Washington believes will help heal deep sectarian rifts in the country. . . . Parliament has not yet passed any of the benchmark laws, including measures that would equitably share oil revenues, ease restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party holding public office, and set a date for provincial elections. . . . Parliament reconvened with 164 members and adjourned after about 90 minutes after lawmakers asked for time to read 10 bills that had been presented for their consideration, member of parliament Hussein al-Falluji told Reuters.The 10 bills did not include any of the benchmark laws."

AP reports that the Governmental Accountability Office's report has been passed to them (final draft) and it finds that the puppet government "has not met 11 of its 18 political and security goals" and that the report is "slightly more upbeat than initally planned." Last week, Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on the draft version which found "Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress . . . The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker." That was last Thursday. By Friday, DeYoung (Washington Post) was reporting of the allegedly independent report that, "The Pentagon has disputed parts of a progress report on Iraq drafted by the Government Accountability Office, and asked that some of the assessment's failing grades on key political and security benchmarks be changed before the final report is made public next week, a Defense spokesman said yesterday." So much for an 'independent' report.

In news of other leaks,
Edmund L. Andrews (New York Times) reports that the former "top Iraq envoy" was not flying solo. Paul Bremer has provided the paper with correspondence which "shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to 'dissolve Saddam's military and intelligence structures'". Andrews writes, "In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush's comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House." In one reply, Bully Boy lays it on thick writing, "Your leadership is apparent. You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence."

And we know how that worked out . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that wounded seven people, a Baghdad bombing ("near Zayuna Communications Centre") that claimed 1 life (five wounded), an Iraqi soldier killed by a bombing in Ishaqui (four more wounded), and a Tikreet bombing that claimed the lives of 3 people ("Chief of Police of al-Siniyah" and two of his bodyguards). Reuters notes a Baiji roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers and "an Iraqi army major", a Kirkuk roadside bombing that left two Iraqi soldiers injured and a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life (five wounded).


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer shot dead in Tikreet (three more wounded) and Fadhel Mohammed al-Dulaimi shot dead in Hawija while attempting to drive home. Reuters notes a member of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan was shot dead today in Mosul (and that one was shot dead yesterday in Mosul)


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the corpse of a woman was discovered in Kirkuk "(20-25 years of age, and had been shot several times")

Staying on reality, today
KPFK's Uprising aired the latest radio commentary of Rahul Mahajan (not yet posted at his site Empire Notes) where he took on the piece of illegal war trash that is No End In Sight. "Over the weekend, I had the dubious pleasure of watching No End in Sight, a documentary about the war on iraq made by Charles Ferguson, a political scientist, former consultant for the Brookings Institute and internet millionaire. Although the film has been garnering excellent reviews, it has a must feel to it. Ferguson prides himself on the fact that this film is neither a Republican nor a Democratic one. The upshot is that it's a film about a reasonable foreign policy establishment, a reasonable invasion, and a bunch of reasonable people being sabotaged and undercut by a small handful of jackasses -- Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Bremer and the only onscreen villain -- a Washington bureaucrat named Walter Slocombe who first developed the military demobilization plan. There is no examination of the sense of the larger project, of an establishment that mostly supported the war, or even of what the real motives of the invasion might have been. George Packer and Samantha Power as outside critics are not the people to do this job . . . What the film really brings home is that the story of this war is already written and heavily promoted and, unlike the case of Vietnam, it's a script for restoring the status quo ante. It's a story told by members of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York Times journalists, Congresspeople, retired generals and mildly dissident members of the military-intelligence establishment -- a group not exactly noted for ever getting anything right. So far, the antiwar movement has not made any headway in telling its own story -- insofar as it even has one." Or as we put it last month at The Third Estate Sunday Review, "No End In Sight when the peace movement gets behind crap." And sadly, some are. Some are plugging this hideous film that avoids the issue of the illegal war to 'teach' a better illegal war, one with better planning. How stupid is the alleged peace movement? Including one 'name' who included the public e-mail address for this site to pass on, "I agrfee [sic] completely with ____. it is VERY powerful....with administration and high army officials 'playing themselves,' so to speak." No, it's not a film for the peace movement to support (and why I was placed on this forward along with a hundred others, I have no idea). To return to Naomi Klein, her "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) outlined (in 2004) that the chaos in Iraq wasn't an accident, it was planned by the US administration. Now either you support Klein's reporting (and Greg Palast's and Antonia Juhasz . . . ) or you support this 'filmmaker' (first time) with the Council for/of Foreign Relations and Brookings Institute to his 'credits,' this filmmaker who stated that the problem with "the war" (he doesn't call it illegal" was that there were not enough "boots on the ground" -- sell that 'surge,' Charlie, sell it! And, sadly, he'll get a lot of help from that from people -- from 'names' -- that should know better -- that should damn well know better. His fictional film (passed as a documentary) sells illegal wars by accepting them (and Charlie was for the illegal war and still is) as evidenced by public statements such as "if this had been done competently, it could have turned out much, much differently." (Those are his words when he appeared on Uprising July 31, 2007.)

In other news of get serious quick, Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas a rally was a failure. It was a failure for multiple reasons including poor planning, location choice, time (you don't do a march or rally in the mid-day Texas heat), and just about every thing else that could have been done wrong. Click
here for our report at The Third Estate Sunday Review. And here for our report on the trip to Dallas: "The party was a big success. People talked about Iraq, had some great food (and drinks -- Jim's become an expert at mixing drinks), told jokes, shared, caught up, great tunes, you name it. Did it end the illegal war? No. Neither did the crappy event in Fort Worth. But at least our spur of the moment party had attendance. Comments by members (and my own) can be found here. It was a 'leadership' failure where 'leadership' sent a message people picked up on: You aren't wanted. And so they rightly stayed away. There's a big lesson there.