Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's all over now, Bambi blue

"Clinton aide quits over race row" (BBC News):
She told CBS's The Early Show she had been talking about Mr Obama being able to mount a "historic candidacy" that excited the country, rather than making a racial remark.
Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America, she said: "My comments have been taken so out of context and have been spun by the Obama campaign as racist."
'Slice and dice' politics
Mr Obama told the same ABC show that he did not consider being black had given him a huge advantage, but nor was it a disadvantage.
Mr Obama told the same ABC show that he did not consider being black had given him a huge advantage, but nor was it a disadvantage.
Barack Obama said Geraldine Ferraro's remarks were divisive
"I think that if anybody was looking for the quickest path to the presidency, they would not say 'I want to be an African-American man named Barack Obama'.
"I don't think that's in the handbook for running for president."
He said Ms Ferraro was participating "in the kind of slice and dice politics that's about race and gender... and that's what Americans are tired of".

As C.I. documents in the snapshot via FAIR's Peter Hart, yes, Barack Obama has benefitted in his press coverage as a result of being seen as "Black." It's too bad that Ferraro had to step down and while a part of me would love an immediate apology, I do know chess and grasp that the longer Obama waits to apologize, the worse it is for him with super delegates who are appalled that they are now being attacked.

That is all this is. An attack. I was running options with C.I. (who is calling super delegates and has been for about two weeks now) and our best guess comes down to two choices. 1) Bambi's campaign didn't grasp how offensive this would play out with super delegates and thought it would be a nice manufactured crisis to make them look good. 2) They wanted to send the message to super delegates that they would tar and feather them as racists if Bambi didn't get the nomination.

If it's the latter, they chose the wrong people to try to intimidate. If it's the first, the campaign is run by idiots. That's true with the latter as well. The attack on Ferraro plays well with Bambi groupies (who aren't very smart for all their over-education) but it doesn't play well with super delegates and it's not really playing well with the press in private. The fallout from this attack will not go away.

"High Flying Adore" Bambi's going to learn how easily he can be Evita-ed.

If you're not aware of how Bambi's benefitted from race this campaign, read the quotes in the snapshot. I marvel at the idiots online who act as if Ferraro was wrong or talking about voters. She was talking about the free ride he got and he got that beginning in 2006.

Free ride's over and, worse for the campaign that wanted to claim Bambi was above race, that's over now too.

No one should be "above" race, that and "post"-race and "transcending" race are insults. We are who we are and we should all be proud of our heritage. But Bambi was built around -- and the press created this as much as the campaign did -- that he was beyond it. The attack on Ferraro is the race attack he can't take back or downplay. With Bill Clinton, he could excuse it (and some super delegates did) by saying Bill was campaigning for Hillary. With Ferraro, he's gone after someone a little more distant. It is offensive.

Ferraro is correct that no woman of any race would have gotten those kid glove treatments. I read someone saying that it wasn't fair because a charasmatic young White man would have gotten the same treatment. No, he wouldn't.

A White man like Obama would be sexless and seen as neutered and be the butt of jokes. Sexuality isn't something Bambi predicts. He's strictly pre-teen and, as Cedric has pointed out, that's partly because American can't handle a sexual African-American male.

A White young man like Bambi would be seen as sexually neutered which would translate into weak. That's reality.

As Rebecca's pointed out, he's the Ken doll of politics. Which is why he inspires that early Beatle-mania. No one fainted for the Rolling Stones because their sexual response wasn't so suppressed that they had to black out. But for the pre-teen crowd (of all ages) Bambi is there boy. Not man because he has no Elvis. He has no sex appeal.

"MEMO: Keystone Test: Obama Losing Ground" (
To: Interested Parties
From: Clinton Campaign
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Re: Keystone Test: Obama Losing Ground
The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania so if Barack Obama can't win there, how will he win the general election?
After setbacks in Ohio and Texas, Barack Obama needs to demonstrate that he can win the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the last state with more than 15 electoral votes on the primary calendar and Barack Obama has lost six of the seven other largest states so far - every state except his home state of Illinois.
Pennsylvania is of particular importance, along with Ohio, Florida and Michigan, because it is dominated by the swing voters who are critical to a Democratic victory in November. No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948. And no candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972.
But the Obama campaign has just announced that it is turning its attention away from Pennsylvania.
This is not a strategy that can beat John McCain in November.
In the last two weeks, Barack Obama has lost ground among men, women, Democrats, independents and Republicans - all of which point to a candidacy past its prime.
For example, just a few weeks ago, Barack Obama won 68% of men in Virginia, 67% in Wisconsin and 62% in Maryland. He won 60% of Virginia women and 55% of Maryland women. He won 62% of independents in Maryland, 64% in Wisconsin and 69% in Virginia. Obama won 59% of Democrats in Maryland, 53% in Wisconsin and 62% in Virginia. And among Republicans, Obama won 72% in both Virginia and Wisconsin.
But now Obama's support has dropped among all these groups.
In Mississippi, he won only 25% of Republicans and barely half of independents. In Ohio, he won only 48% of men, 41% of women and 42% of Democrats. In Texas, he won only 49% of independents and 46% of Democrats. And in Rhode Island, Obama won just 33% of women and 37% of Democrats.
Why are so many voters turning away from Barack Obama in state after state?
In the last few weeks, questions have arisen about Obama's readiness to be president. In Virginia, 56% of Democratic primary voters said Obama was most qualified to be commander-in-chief. That number fell to 37% in Ohio, 35% in Rhode Island and 39% in Texas.
So the late deciders - those making up their minds in the last days before the election - have been shifting to Hillary Clinton. Among those who made their decision in the last three days, Obama won 55% in Virginia and 53% in Wisconsin, but only 43% in Mississippi, 40% in Ohio, 39% in Texas and 37% in Rhode Island.
If Barack Obama cannot reverse his downward spiral with a big win in Pennsylvania, he cannot possibly be competitive against John McCain in November.

If you've been friends with anyone for a long time, you know them. I'm talking about one friend here, the only one I know who cries for everyone but themselves. I had finished a session and Sunny said C.I. was on the phone. If I didn't know C.I., my first reaction to "Hello" would have been, "Are you okay?"

C.I. was taking a break from dictating the snapshot to pull it together. "I know I can do it," C.I. said, "I just needed to hear your voice." I wondered what was so upsetting and C.I. said, "I'll send it to you."

So that's your warning before the next highlight. It will tear you apart.

MARCH 11, 2008

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify.

My son and I have a unique association with this committee as Dan was born in 1983 in Illinois and we have been residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1988. We both have served in the U.S. Navy.

I appreciate your time and interest in my experiences with the military and the VA and my views on what can be strengthened or improved. My immediate thoughts upon receiving the invitation are that there are many areas of care and support that are severely lacking. It is important to note that my needs for support are directly tied to Dan's needs. That is, take care of Dan's needs and most of my needs will be met. Dan's experiences are my experiences.

My son, ABE3 Daniel R. Verbeke, was injured on December 5, 2005 during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom while serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN-71. Dan sustained critical and life-altering injuries, which included a head/brain injury, collapsed lung, fractured vertebrae and fractured ribs. Dan has progressed with the healing of his physical wounds but suffers from severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He has steadily improved over the course of the past twenty-seven (27) months. He does not have functional use of his arms or his legs; he cannot eat, drink or speak though he has begun to vocalize basic words - ‘Hi', ‘Uh-Huh', ‘Yea' and most recently ‘No'. He is able to express emotions of anger, sadness and he will laugh. He attempts to use his left hand to help in brushing his teeth and shaving. He is able to communicate very reliably through eye movements and blinking. Oh, he has a great smile too!

Immediately after Dan's injury he was flown to Kuwait and then moved to Balaad in Iraq. It was in Balaad where a craniotomy was performed that resulted in saving his life. Days later he was flown to Landstuhl and then immediately moved to a private German Hospital, as there were no neurosurgeons at Landstuhl. He then was moved to Bethesda NNMC and subsequently to the Richmond VAMC polytrauma unit. While at the Richmond VA location I became unsettled with the type and level of care my son was receiving. I subsequently removed him from VA care to a private care facility that specializes in and has years of experience in Traumatic Brain Injury Rehab. We soon learned that this decision was the best decision I have ever made for my son.

My experiences with the military have been superb. Dan has received a tremendous amount of ongoing support from his shipmates. There have been numerous visits and interactions and in each case they have served to ‘perk him up'. He really enjoys being with them. There is a very real bond with them that will never go away. I would also like to point out that his ship's Captain, Captain Haley, has been a big supporter and I thank him. Immediately after Dan's injury Captain Haley authorized and dispatched a CACO who joined us in Germany and remained with us until after Dan had been medivac'd to Bethesda. Senior Chief LeTourneau was exemplary in her role supporting us. I would also like to mention that the ongoing assistance from Navy SafeHarbor has been invaluable. I have many words of praise for LCDR Ty Redmon and the team working with him. The military has acted and continues to act as part of our extended family.

My experiences with the treatment at the Richmond VAMC can be characterized as not good - not good at all. For the most part, the people who treated Dan were nice and caring people. What I learned immediately after leaving there, however, was they didn't know what they didn't know. That is, their skills, capabilities, resources, staffing, treatments, therapies and therapy techniques all fell extremely short of what we immediately experienced at the Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. The Richmond VAMC was not accomplished in coma emergence and severe TBI and did not have the cutting-edge experience with a case as severe as Dan's.

The VA therapists and physicians had little or no experience with patients of the condition of Dan. The level of therapy and the techniques cannot be compared to the therapy Dan received while at the Bryn Mawr Rehab. The Bryn Mawr Rehab therapists are much higher skilled; they focused on stimulation constantly while performing therapy. The techniques in each of the disciplines of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy are far more advanced. Although the Speech and Physical Therapists at Richmond tried, they just did not have the expertise and they were very lacking in the techniques and resources that Dan received immediately upon transfer to Bryn Mawr Rehab. The Richmond Occupational Therapist is another story. Recovery from a TBI is about therapy and stimulation. While this therapist treated Dan she very rarely spoke to him, I continually witnessed sessions that would last longer than 45 minutes where she would not say more than a few words to him. When I commented on this, the VA reaction was to shift Dan's therapy sessions to a time when I could not be present. They didn't fix the problem - they ignored it! I escalated the issue to the attending physician and but were no changes.

After we returned to Pennsylvania I learned that while at Richmond VAMC, Dan was mis-diagnosed on a medical condition that resulted in receiving medications that masked a very serious condition. He was ignored while in significant pain with the explanation that it was ‘tone'. He was unable to get blood work done over a weekend to properly treat him following a seizure and we were told they could not have the results analyzed over the weekend as people were ‘off''. Private care hospitals across this country perform these routine tests 24x7 and within minutes. He had an open wound that penetrated all the way to the bone on his right foot the entire time at Richmond (4-5mo) where the condition worsened and was only treated by a nurse. Immediately after being placed in private care, he was treated by a doctor specializing in wound care and under his treatment the wound closed in one month. Dan was in pain the entire time at Richmond.

The medical treatments and diversity of physicians treating Dan dramatically changed when we arrived at Bryn Mawr Rehab. At Richmond, Dan was treated by the resident physician and the attending. No specialists treated my son other than the neurosurgeon who performed his cranialplasty just before we left Richmond. Immediately after arriving at Bryn Mawr Rehab Dan was seen and treated by numerous specialists. It was a real eye opener and completely different level of care and aggressive effort invested in my son's accurate diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Very shortly after moving Dan to Bryn Mawr Rehab he was seen by a physician specializing in ‘tone management'. Tone is explained as the elasticity or tension of Dan's muscles. His TBI injury resulted in tone problems, that is, certain parts of his body muscles tightened up and would not move freely. It is a by-product of the great condition his body was in at the time of his injury. I clearly remember the physician's words when he first saw Dan. His words were ‘Who did this to him?' That physician is also a member of the Armed Forces and has served in Iraq. He was angry at how my son had been treated.

The Richmond VAMC personnel very quickly scaled down Dan's therapy and for some disciplines discontinued his therapy sessions. They stopped therapy at a time when therapy and stimulation were most important in helping him progress, despite my efforts to persuade them to continue these treatments.

Quite frankly, the VA personnel were much more concerned about training the family than treating my son. Just one of the far too many examples is the very first meeting that was held to update me that occurred about two weeks after Dan arrived at Richmond. The entire agenda was to discuss family participation and training. I was with Dan and helping the staff nine to twelve hours each day - seven days a week. During that meeting I challenged them and asked why weren't we talking about what they would do to help my son. I stressed that should be the priority. My conclusion was they didn't know what to do or how to really help Dan. They simply did not have the knowledge, experience, skills, and resources.

On many occasions there were comments about cost and what items cost. Dan's care and treatment should not have been compromised by cost. Yet, it certainly was. - time and time again. I learned that lesson very quickly when I experienced his treatment plan outside the VA system.

I am prepared to provide many more examples far too much like these.

Dan was treated at Bryn Mawr Rehab until December of 2006. He emerged from vegetative state and progressed to a minimally conscious state. He was inconsistently responding and a decision was made to move him to a skilled nursing facility while awaiting surgery to correct contractures of both ankles. While in the nursing facility he continued to receive therapy.

While at Bryn Mawr Rehab I was contacted by the local Philadelphia VA and met with them to discuss Dan's status and possible future plans.

In September of 2006, Dan's neurologist and rehabilitation doctor advised me that we should begin to consider if we wanted to move Dan home because he felt we would soon need to move Dan from Bryn Mawr Rehab either to home or to a skilled nursing facility. Therapists from Bryn Mawr Rehab evaluated our home and we began to make architectural plans for modifications based on their recommendations. A representative from the Philadelphia VA was involved and their recommendations were included in the plans.

At this time I raised my concerns of next steps and my deep concern of suggestions of moving Dan from the rehab to skilled nursing with Congressman Jim Gerlach's office. I subsequently met with another VA representative in November of 2006. During this meeting I explained my concerns and desires for my son. The VA representative listened and suggested he take me on a tour of the Coatesville VA Hospital Facility. I agreed and he proceeded to take me there and showed me a ward where Dan would be placed. It was a ‘locked' dementia ward. He was quite proud of the facility and mentioned that because of my son's injury he would have a private room - when one became available. The entire ward stunk of odor from patients who needed to be cleaned. He wanted to place Dan in a dementia ward, indicating an appalling lack of understanding of the needs of a TBI patient. Immediately upon leaving the Coatesville VA facility I vowed my son would never be placed in a VA center again.

Dan had surgery to correct his ankle contractures and returned to the Bryn Mawr Rehab for two weeks in early March of 2007. The short stay was to confirm the surgery would enable the therapists to begin standing him. Standing has been found to help a TBI patient in their recovery and it has helped Dan. Following that stay he was moved to the Manor Care facility. Manor Care is a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. The vast majority of the patients there are very aged people.

In March 2007, we decided to proceed with the home modifications and requested approval for a VA Housing Grant. The VA confirmed the strict requirements of the grant, which included that Dan's name be placed on the deed of the home. Because I declined, we subsequently had to settle for the very limited amount of $14,000. Construction began in May 2007 with the VA knowledge of our plans and intent.

My experiences with the Philadelphia VA are extensive and uniformly quite frustrating. Every interaction with them has been arduous and verging on combative at times. They continually demonstrate their inability to establish and execute plans. They have been completely unable to meet Dan's needs.

During the spring of 2007, I met with a representative of the Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment group to discuss what opportunities that group had to help my son. During that meeting and in later interactions, I was advised by the VA person that she could approve financial assistance and was confident she could get a higher amount approved by the Philadelphia VA. She then decided that she could get a greater amount approved if she filed for a grant to the Washington office. The recommendation was that we halt the construction on our home until the approval was obtained for the grant. I refused and suggested that she expedite the approval process. At the time I also asked her to just get the Philadelphia financial assistance approved. She decided instead to proceed with the grant request from Washington. I waited five months until we received the decision that the assistance had been denied. Clearly my decision to proceed with the home construction was the proper decision. If I had waited, we would have significantly delayed the preparations for our home. The end result is Dan received nothing! There was no assistance. My conclusion is she either did not know what she was doing or she should have followed my direction and gained the Philadelphia approval.

On October 15 of 2007 I had a conference call with the Philadelphia VA and advised them the modifications to our home were nearing completion and that I intended to move Dan home on November 20. I requested their assistance in funding Dan's required ongoing therapy and in providing the necessary supplies and medications. Keep in mind they had full knowledge of the intent and had been in the loop on the home modifications since the preceding year. This call was to advise them of the planned date. I very quickly learned they had no concept of how to establish even the most basic plan of action to transition Dan home. On multiple occasions following the call I asked for an executable plan - I'm still waiting. They could not tell me what actions they would take, when the plan would be complete or even who was responsible. November 20 came and went and I did not have the supplies or medications nor did I have a transition plan. It is inexplicable to believe they could not plan and execute. I have personally witnessed similar patients while at Bryn Mawr Rehab who were transitioned home in a matter of days yet the VA has not been able to accomplish this in many months.

After applying regular pressure on the VA, on February 21, 2008 I finally received the last of the initial supplies and medication items. It took more than four months to get these items. There were multiple instances of the wrong item or quantity being shipped, which required additional interactions with the VA. Why does it take four months to get items that are readily available?

During many conversations with them I requested a plan to re-fill Dan's medications and to obtain newly-prescribed medications. I still do not have an acceptable plan for newly-prescribed medications. The VA "solution" will take longer than 24 hours at best. It is completely unacceptable to wait that long. When I challenged them to deliver a more adequate plan their response was it was my fault because I had not identified a full service pharmacy for them to use. Their position consistently is that it is my fault. How can it be my fault that they cannot provide what my son needs? They can't plan or execute, they have known of our plans for more than a year. The only logical conclusion is that they just don't care.

After months I still have not received a transition plan for therapy and in-home assistance. They have received full evaluation reports on Dan's therapy needs and have received detailed orders from his physician about the type of care he needs and they continue to ignore them.

I could go on and on as I have numerous examples. Essentially my experience with the Philadelphia VA is:

Make statements and do not live up to what they say
Unresponsive - months to get transition plan in place
Unwilling and unable to provide skilled care recommended by doctor
Unable to fill supplies requests timely - takes many months
Unable to provide medications STAT - takes more than 24 hours - they have no capability to meet an immediate need once he is transferred home. Their solution requires out-of-pocket cost for Dan
Every decision that is made is based on cost impact - not what my son needs
They ignore primary care physician's orders
I have been informed by VA personnel that it is against the law for them to work past 4pm.
Unable to establish and execute a simple plan - they can never tell me what, when and who is going to take actions. No dates - no commitments. All they tell me is they are moving as quickly as they can.
They are already backing off any type of long-term therapy commitment - contrary to neurologist order
Unwilling to fund his therapy needs - pushing the responsibility to private insurance
Payment of his van to the dealer required my personal involvement and took three months after it had been previously approved by the VA
Owe Dan money for reimbursement - more than 90 days - no one follows up
No ownership. No one owns a problem to resolution
• Unprofessional - comments, can't plan, can't execute

It is clear to me that the focus should be what is best for Dan and what he needs. His needs for medications, supplies, therapy, etc. should be paramount in everyone's mind. Instead, the concern is where he can be shoehorned into the "system" and what an item or service, such as therapy, will cost and whether the VA or TriCare should fund the expense. It should be noted that since leaving the Richmond VAMC all of Dan's costs for care have been funded by TriCare with Dan paying the co-pays and cost shares. The VA has not participated in absorbing any of Dan's medical costs. That includes everything - surgeries, rehab, nursing, transportation, medications, disposable items, etc.
I'm dealing with VA personnel who have known for more than a year of our plans to move Dan home as recommended by his physician. They have had a very long time to assist with a plan for transition. Quite frankly, I regret getting them involved. They have turned a very simple transition into a complete debacle.

I have worked for a major corporation for many years and fully understand the requirement to have policies, processes and procedures that can be leveraged across organizations and businesses. But, there are always the ‘big deals' that come along that require exceptions and actions that are not the norm. That's why the procedures and policies are there - to handle the norm and recognize when exceptions are necessary. The exceptions require a program office approach with a person or persons who have the responsibility and authority to make the quick decisions and direct the organizations on what is to be done. It requires a delegation of authority and shifts in accountability. It results in the ‘big deals' moving quickly and smoothly. Dan and others like him are ‘big deals'. They are the exceptions. There are not many who have been injured like my son. The VA can't cope with his needs and there is certainly no coordination within the departments and organizations of the VA. Complicate that with the inclusion of the private care element and TriCare and the systems and processes just break down.

For more than a year Dan's condition has been such that his neurologist and primary care physician believe it best for him to be transitioned home. To accomplish this required extensive modifications to our home and a huge out-of-pocket family expense. When this decision was made (in very early 2007) I engaged with the Philadelphia VA for assistance and once again I have experienced the inability of the VA at essentially every turn to execute even the smallest task without painstaking involvement and rework. They are not in the least bit concerned about serving and meeting my son's needs. They have repeatedly demonstrated they are unwilling and unable to assist.

Dan wants to and should come home. Yet, the VA has demonstrated they are unable to assist. This is unacceptable.

The problems and experiences clearly point to major systemic issues that must be addressed. Dan is a ‘big deal', but he is not alone. These problems are not unique. They demonstrate major gaps and breakdowns in the level of care and complete failure to meet their unique needs. My son and others like him served their country proudly. The focus must be on what is best for Dan, the type of care he needs, deserves and earned in service to this country. Instead the military and VA have made and continue to make financial decisions. Those decisions are totally unacceptable if we care about the health and life of my son and others like him. They are ‘big deals'. They need a different level of care and attention; they need regular stimulation and appropriate therapies, delivered by people experienced with this type of injury.

The level of care is complex and needs immediate and dramatic change but the issues we face are not. I constantly reinforce with the VA to do something for me don't give me more to do. Yet, they fail to understand. Their idea of help was to send me the link to a brain injury website. Give my son and those like him the in-home care they need - timely medication availability, nursing, ongoing therapy, stimulation, respite assistance, training, compensation for caring for their injured loved ones and relieve the huge financial burdens. We should not have to fight for these. Yet we do. Remember, one of the VA's first responses was that Dan should be in a dementia ward. Their most recent plan insulted me with a statement that they expected family participation in his care. Just what do they think has been going on? They really don't understand and quite frankly their attitude is appalling.

My belief is that the best ways to help the family is to dramatically improve the care for the inured. Stop the scrimping on care cost. Provide ongoing assistance to the families in terms of helping them - do things for them.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences and my views on what can be strengthened or improved. I hope you understand that my only concern and priority is Dan and his care. I am not alone. Each of these serious injuries is unique and demand flexibility in care and cannot be served adequately with rigid processes and systems. The burden is placed entirely on the family because we do not trust the system to provide for our injured. Our experience has taught us that.

I'm asking for your assistance.

Thank you for allowing me to speak today.

Again, that should rip you apart. I understood why it had C.I. crying. I gave you a warning before I posted it. C.I.'s planning to post it at The Common Ills tonight or tomorrow morning depending upon how quickly they get done speaking tonight.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 12, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths while denying reports of others, veterans healthcare is sometimes a Congressional concern and sometimes not, Matty Rothschild finger-points but could he explain where his magazine's African-American columnists are?, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Kenneth Theisen (OpEdNews) writes, "We need to oppose the recruitment of men and women into the military. We need to support resisters within the military who have realized what they are doing and now choose to resist the role of the U.S. military. This includes people such as Lt. Ehren Watada who refused to deploy to Iraq. Watada stated, 'Never did I imagine my president would lie to go to war, condone torture, spy on Americans . . ." He was the first officer to refuse to go to Iraq and he was court-martialed. Another resister is Camilo Mejia. In 2004 Sergeant Mejia was sentenced to one year in prison when he was court-martialed for refusing to assist the military in Iraq. Mejia said, 'I am only a regular person that got tired of being afraid to follow his own conscience. For far too long I allowed others to direct my actions even when I knew that they were wrong . . .' [. . .] James Circello, who joined the Army after September 11 2001, and was sent to Iraq in March 2003 described his experience there: 'We were told that we were giving these people Democracy. Unfortunately what I saw would best be described as martial law, or what we called "The Old West". Soldiers joked that "anything goes", which was true and still is . . . I never forgot what I did while in Iraq and what I saw happening: other kids turning into animals. Some as young as 17, brutalizing, bullying and humiliating individuals sometimes old enough to be their grandparents, and sometimes young enough to be their children. And it wasn't just the men on the receiving end, suffering through illegal and tiresome searches of their homes and vehicles, simply for being brown skinned, but the same methods were applied to women and children as well. No one was innocenct.' James Circello reached a point where he could no longer be part of this killing machine."

With just three examples, Theisen finds the common bond: courage. Each war resister has a unique story but what they share is the courage to say no more, no mas, enough. Some resistance includes self-checking out and moving to Canada. You can help US war resisters in that country -- help online as well. They were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara 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, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
IVAW has a DC action this month:In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth. Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers. In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & AfghanistanMarch 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it." The hearings will be broadcast throughout at the Iraq Veterans Against the War home page an on KPFA March 14th and 16th with Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz hosting and the KPFA live stream will also be available at Glantz' War Comes Home.

Staying on the topic of veterans,
Barbara Barrett (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on the Senate Committe on Veterans Affairs hearing yesterday and the reaction to Jackie McMichael's testimony quoting Senator Patty Murray declaring, "It's so overwhelming to listen to you. This is a reminder that we're still not where we need to be" and Senator Richard Burr declaring, "My assessment is the VA doesn't see the human face behind the patients they're treating." Jackie McMichael's opening statements can be found here and she discusses how her husband Michael was Lt. Michael McMichael, National Guard from 2003 to the start of 2005: "He walked off the plane. He smiled. He was a little skinny, but otherwise healthy looking. He looked happy. After the euphoria of Mike being home began to wear off, the changes in him were noticeable and dramatic." She discussed her husband's difficulty sleeping through the night, his requiring a cane to walk due to injuries from a bombing in Iraq, his migraines, hallucinations, poor memory and "hand and body tremors." He has PTSD and is unable to manage money and has difficulty with employment. From her opening statements:

None of these events happened to Mike alone. They happened to me, to my 6 year old son, my 4 year old son, Mike's mom and to my parents and my brothers. We were left to watch as Mike self destructed not knowing what to do to help him or ourselves. We had no clue what was wrong with him and he was, at time, completely uninterested in finding out himself. He said over and over again, "I know guys who lost limbs and they are OK."
[. . .]
There is a great need for "Whole Family" Education and resources. Educating the Vets on the importance of a Collaborative Rehabilitaion is critical. I believe many Vets see their transition as their issue alone. Mike was very resistant to me talking to his Doctors or telling me anything about what he was working on. This is understandable as I am very aware of HIPAA regulations and confidentiality. But I was losing my husband and I was seeing things I knew they could not have been aware of. I called his doctors and told them "You don't have to say anything about Mike, just listen to me. This is what I am seeing at home." All I wanted was to know what to look for, what to expect, what to do, how to help. [. . .]
I would have benefitted from earlier awareness of resources for both active duty and citizen soldier families. (Being the wife of a National Guard officer, I was not immersed in the military culture and at times was, again, lost). The Raleigh Vet Center's "8 Habits of Highly Effective Marriages" and couples counseling resources are examples of invaluable offerings we have gladly taken advantage of, but I want more. Education on PTSD, TBI, legal issues, coping skills, transitioning the family back to a 2 or single parent household, setting boundaries, relationship counseling, personal counseling and navigating the benefits labyrinth (on top of all the emotional and psychological concerns we have to deal with, the financial impact is a crushing blow. I can not express this enough). These are just a few topics with sustainable benefits to the Vet and the family. I'd like to see this information advertised. It may already exist, but how do families find out about them? Often the Vet must initiate first contact.
I'd like to see doors open to families even though their Vet may not be ready to cope emotionally with their injuries yet. This may require a re-education of our medical community on how to do this effectively without jeopardizing the regulations they must follow while still meeting the needs of the Veteran. I'd like to see the VA leverage the relationship and love we have for our wounded warriors to help us all heal and teach us how to be a family again.

Robert Verbeke spoke about his son Daniel Verbeke who was wounded December 5, 2005 in the Iraq War and how he did not receive the treatment he needed and all the struggles for the basics including after-care as well as modifications needed for the family home due to Daniel's condition:

My experiences with the treatment at the Richmond VAMC can be characterized as not good - not good at all. For the most part, the people who treated Dan were nice and caring people. What I learned immediately after leaving there, however, was they didn't know what they didn't know. That is, their skills, capabilities, resources, staffing, treatments, therapies and therapy techniques all fell extremely short of what we immediately experienced at the Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. The Richmond VAMC was not accomplished in coma emergence and severe TBI and did not have the cutting-edge experience with a case as severe as Dan's.
The VA therapists and physicians had little or no experience with patients of the condition of Dan. The level of therapy and the techniques cannot be compared to the therapy Dan received while at the Bryn Mawr Rehab. The Bryn Mawr Rehab therapists are much higher skilled; they focused on stimulation constantly while performing therapy. The techniques in each of the disciplines of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy are far more advanced. Although the Speech and Physical Therapists at Richmond tried, they just did not have the expertise and they were very lacking in the techniques and resources that Dan received immediately upon transfer to Bryn Mawr Rehab. The Richmond Occupational Therapist is another story. Recovery from a TBI is about therapy and stimulation. While this therapist treated Dan she very rarely spoke to him, I continually witnessed sessions that would last longer than 45 minutes where she would not say more than a few words to him. When I commented on this, the VA reaction was to shift Dan's therapy sessions to a time when I could not be present. They didn't fix the problem -- they ignored it! I escalated the issue to the attending physician and but were no changes.
After we returned to Pennsylvania I learned that while at Richmond VAMC, Dan was mis-diagnosed on a medical condition that resulted in receiving medications that masked a very serious condition. He was ignored while in significant pain with the explanation that it was 'tone'. He was unable to get blood work done over a weekend to properly treat him following a seizure and we were told they could not have the results analyzed over the weekend as people were "off'". Private care hospitals across this country perform these routine tests 24x7 and within minutes. He had an open wound that penetrated all the way to the bone on his right foot the entire time at Richmond (4-5mo) where the condition worsened and was only treated by a nurse. Immediately after being placed in private care, he was treated by a doctor specializing in wound care and under his treatment the wound closed in one month. Dan was in pain the entire time at Richmond.

There was a report on the Sunday evening news (most likely CBS but it may have been local news and not national) about rah-rah, look what private healthcare can do for veterans! It was a load of crap. Robert Verbeke details the problems he had with the system getting care for his son. There are many wounded who do not have someone to advocate for them the way Daniel Verbeke did. That's why the answer isn't 'out-source the care!' The answer is training and workshops and futher training for those staffing the VA hospitals. Otherwise, you'll have some like Daniel Verbeke who will benefit because there is someone fighting for them but you'll have others left alone (the way the VA's 'answer' was to put Daniel in a psych ward where he'd be locked away -- that was the 'assisted-living' care they were going to provide him for the rest of his life).

Daniel Verbeke wasn't off on some pleasure cruise of choice. He was sent into an illegal war by the US government and there are many other men and women who have been sent to Iraq by the government and any injuries are injuries the US government needs to provide care for, the government more than owes the returning that.

Today the US House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee met. Kind-of, sort-of. Many members didn't show for this hearing allegedly on "the Future of the Miliary Healthcare System." The subcommittee broke repeatedly for votes and the whole thing can be seen as an embarrassment and an insult.

Chief among them, the only medical doctor present as a witness, S. Ward Casscells (Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs) who is too damn old and too damn out of touch for his post as he demonstrated repeatedly but most famously when being asked about the future for veterans who are "medical retirees" by House Rep Niki Tsongas and replying with a condescending don't-worry-about-it response that included referring to those wounded for life as "lost sheep." It was a lousy speech attempting to pass for an aswer and Tsongas then moved on to researcher Ron Goetzel who proved that shame was all around by insisting that his interests really aren't about the military's wounded (including, apparently, the veteran Tsongas spoke of who required a cane to walk), what really, really interest him is the health damange in the military done by smoking, drinking, excessive eating, "the silent burden on the military that's not as apparent as someone who's injured in battle." If you didn't find both men's remarks insulting, you weren't paying attention.

Rep Nancy Boyda zoomed in on pharmacies and wondered why the US military was pushing online prescriptions? Boyda referred to the rural areas in her home state (Kansas) and the best answer she was given was that it was cheaper to have a big warehouse where medicines are pulled down and shipped off. The question she never asked but should have was what about the pharmicists interaction with the veteran? In a rural area especially there may not be a VA hospital and the pharmicist (who is trained) is one face-to-face resource. When that's removed and all that's left is ONE MORE toll free phone number, who's really being helped? It's an area Boyda should have gone to but didn't. In fairness to her, time was brief. But not so brief that Rep Walter Jones couldn't gas bag and waste everyone's time. For example, there may be a point to this: "When you have to borrow money from governments to keep your doors open it won't last long." No, it may not. But what does the US borrowing money from other governments have to do with veterans' care?

Jones went on to kvetch about US monies (aid) being sent to Switzerland in 2005. "Why are we sending money to a country with a surplus when we have a deficit?" he wanted to know. And it might be a question worth pursuing but is the subcommittee on military care really the place for his remarks? Then he tried to shift the blame for the problem stating, "But we're in the minority" meaning Republicans in the House and "can't do anything about it, maybe my colleagues can." Walter Jones, Republicans were in control of the House of Represenatives in 2005 and in 2006. The November 2006 elections meant that in January 2007 the 110th Congress would have a Democratically controlled House. Aid sent to Switzerland in 2005 -- if a problem -- was clearly a Republican problem because that was the party in control. Having never addressed the topic, Jones wrapped up by declaring, "Thanks for letting me preach for about five minutes." No one commented but, then, the only response to that is, "That was only five minutes? It felt sooooo much longer."

It was time for yet another break and this may have been when chair Susan Davis asked the witnesses to wait again and promised that, after they bot back, if there was a need to break again, they'd wouldn't ask them to stick around. But, please do stick around -- Davis stated -- and if you need help with a phone call or something, ask the staffers.

Carol Shea-Porter had the strongest section when the committee resumed. She wanted to know "how much of our costs are we shiftin on to other tax payers" when veterans have to leave the veterans health care system and/or the state. She explained about a veteran from her home state, New Hampshire, who had to travel out of state for treatment which meant finding childcare, meant her husband needing to travel with her, "everything involved is too much to ask, I think, for someone who has cancer." Which brings us back to the point about solutions. The veterans system needs to be upgraded. The answer isn't outsourcing, it's not counting on individual veterans to have a support system (family or friends) who will fight for treatement. The system is out of date and all doctors, nurses and therapists working in it need further training. Not because they're not smart or not trained but because there are 'state of the art' injuries among the wounded returning and advances going on in private medical care need to be part of the training and knowledge base within the veterans healthcare system. The system is being allowed to rot and it was never up-to-date to begin with. If it's not taken care of now, it most likely will not be for some time to come.

The House Appropriations Committee's "Hearing on Dept. of State FY 2009 Budget Request" heard from US Secretary of State Condi Rice today and it's worth noting for two reasons: 1) House Rep Barbara Lee and 2)
CODEPINK. March 6th, when the Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte testifed before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, Lee pressed Negroponte on the issue of presidential signing statements (and the issue of permanent military bases in Iraq). Today she used her very brief time again explore presidential powers, asking Rice if she agreed with Satterfield that 2001 and 2002 Congressional votes (war on 'terror' and the Iraq vote) were to be seen as "an open-ended agreement" by the White House. Rice replied, "The president believes that he has the authority" to . . .? Pretty much everything if you carried Rice's 'logic' out. No one should bother but it needs to be noted that she's replaced her catch-phrase of "No one could have guessed" with a new one "Didn't hold it in my head. I'm sorry." After the hearing, Rice spoke with Lee and Rep Frank Wolf, among others, while CODEPINK chanted, "War Criminal!" and "Take her to the Hauge!" While they sang: "Lies, lies, lies, lies, It's all a bundle of lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies . . ." While they shouted, "Blood is on your hands, Condi! The blood is on your hands!" While they asked, "How do you sleep at night?" The shouted question actually got a big smile from Condi. Maybe she was thinking, "Okay, this one I know! Let me answer it, let me answer it!" As she began leaving, the shouts were "Don't fund war!" and "The blood is on her hands!"

Today more so than usual. But first,
Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports 9 women and 1 child were buried today in Najaf although, according to the US military, they must not be dead because the US military claims "no one died" from the US military attack on a bus -- Rasheed reports "Ghaida Mustafa Jassim, 4, was wrapped in a white piece of cloth and put in the same casket as her grandmother Amerca Sadoun, 65."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded five people, a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded three people, a Diyala Province mortar attack that wounded four people and an Abu Saida bombing that wounded two people. Reuters notes roadside bombings outside Samarra claimed the lives of 3 truck drivers.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Bazaiz Buhrz claimed the life of 1 "ten year girl . . . [who] was in a farm with her aunt when a bullet killed her" and a police officer shot dead in Salahuddin Province "by a guard of Baiji mayor based on tribal revenge." Reuters notes 2 people shot dead in Basra.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 1 in an orchard outside Baquba, 1 corpse discovered "between Kanan - Balad Ruz" and 2 corpses (husband and wife) brought to the Baquba morgue

Today the
US military announced: "A U.S. Soldier was killed from injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device during a combat patrol near Ad Diwaniyah March 11. Additionally, two U.S. Soldiers were wounded in the explosion and transported to a Coalition forces medical facility for further evaluation and treatment." And they announced: "Three U.S. Soldiers were killed during an indirect fire attack southwest of Nasiriyah March 12. Two U.S. Soldiers were also wounded in this attack, along with one civilian." 3987 is the current number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war -- 13 away from the 4,000 mark.

Turning to US politics. "He makes pundits feel good about America -- particularly their own overwhelmingly white slice of elite America -- and his politics are moderate enough to avoid the type of crude caricature that other candidates might receive,"
explained Peter Hart (Extra!) of the press love for US Senator Barack Obama exactly one year ago. We'll come back to that article but continue with the topic. Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman (New York Times) report on Geraldine Ferraro's remarks to The Daily Breeze, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Let's go back to Peter Hart's article where Hart cites many examples including:

*An October 27, 2006 Washington Post column by conservative Charles Krauthammer that states, "Like many Americans, I long to see an African-American ascend to the presidency. It would be an event of profound significance, a great milestone . . ."

* Conservative Roger Simon appearing on Meet The Press February 11, 2007 and declaring, "If America actually nominates him and then votes for him for president and elects him, this will be a sign that we are a good and decent country that has healed its racial wounds."

* A January 18, 2007 editorial in the Washington Post: "The excitement about Mr. Obama speaks in part to Americans' desire to believe, whether true or not, that this country has come to a point when it can rise above its ugly history of racism; and in part to the desire to believe that, if it could just overcome the divisions that foul modern politics, the nation could get unstuck on many fronts."

* February 20, 2006 article in Time magazine: "Unlike Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, Obama is part of a new generation of black leaders who insist on being seen as more than representatives of their race."

*Chris Matthews delcaring January 21, 2007 of "a black candidate . . . I can't think of a better one [than Obama]. No history of Jim Crow, no history of anger, no history of slavery. All the bad stuff in our history ain't there with this guy."

* Hart notes that Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford commented on the mania on
FAIR's CounterSpin in November of 2006, "He has given white people a kind of satisfaction -- that race no longer matters in America, and all the sins of the past can be washed away through the act of loving this man."

Ferraro's comments: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Ferraro is commenting on the same thing Hart commented on (Hart's article is entitled "Obamamania"). The mania and the craze allowed for the build up we live with today. The press was writing their glossy profiles, as Hart notes, and not dealing with issues. That has continued to this day. The media got on board because he made them feel good about themselves. (Read Hart's article.) He did that because, as
Kat noted last night, he promised 'post'-racial America -- his being elected would mean no more racial discrimination in America! Or, at least, that it could be ignored by ones who have spent the last decades ignoring it. And of course there are those on the White left like Dave Lindorff who wants to insist that Barack should be supported because he is, quote, "a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs". It's hard to imagine that Dave Lindorff would make a similar argument in favor of Robert Downey Jr. should Downey seek the presidency.

Ferraro's statement was noting the obvious and she wasn't the first to note it. Seelye and Bosman quote Ferraro on the psuedo-outrage the Obama campaign is trying to create, "Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist. I will not be discriminated against because I'm white. If they think they're going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don't know me." The Obama campaign has repeatedly played the race card and, no, it will not work on Ferraro. As
Kat noted last night, the Bambi campaign was screaming for Gerry's head. It's not working out that way and for the reasons that Kat outlined. The Bambi campaign has already painted Bill Clinton (a super delegate) as racist and last night they thought they'd do the same with Ferraro. But Bambi needs the super delegates (as does Hillary Clinton) and there's been a slow growing disgust over what the campaign did to Bill Clinton. Last week Melissa Harris-Lacewell (who is part of the campaign though she rarely discloses that fact) went on The Charlie Rose Show to declare that there would be a Black-out on election day in November if Obama was not given the nomination. That didn't play well either.

The Bambi campaign's been very good about manufacturing outrage and, certainly, their astro-turf campaigns were once successful. (It is now five members of Congress whose staff have confirmed the 'spontaneous' outpouring of pressure did not originate from the member's district or the senator's state.) But they've gone to the well a little too often on the race card and it's not going to help them with super delegates -- in fact, the attempt to call Ferarro one has backfired on the campaign.

Hacks like Amy Goodman can dig around to 1984 for Ferraro today but, while we're mentioning
Peter Hart's article, let's note this (and remember this ran in the 2007 March/April issue of Extra!): "A rare critical profile of Obama by Harper's Magazine's Ken Silverstein (11/06) noted his ties to various corporate -affiliated fundraisers, his opposition to calls for a withdrawal timetable from Iraq and his support for Joe Lieberman over Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont. Such assessments of Obama's record are rare, with even left-leaning commentators seemingly willing to dismiss any aspects of Obama's record that conflict with his progressive reputation." They were rare when Hart wrote, they remain rare today. But let's note Silverstein's November 2006 article, "After Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha called for withdrawal from Iraq last fall, Obama rejected such a move in a speech before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, saying the United States needed 'to manage our exit in a responsible way -- with the hope of leaving a stable foundation for the future.' . . . Obama continues to reject any specific timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, even as public opposition to the war grows and as the military rationale for staying becomes less and less apparent." Now Goody-Hack Amy could have connected Silverstein's article with Samantha Power's revelation last week that Barack Obama's combat "troops withdrawn in 16 months of taking office" pledge wasn't really a pledge, a promise or anything binding. But Goody skipped out on that, now didn't she? Smut Merchant Matthew Rothschild could have written about that non-pledge but why bother when he can jerk off while expressing his hatred of Hillary yet again. Keep reaching in there, Matty, you're bound to find that tiny stump sooner or later.

Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon and Margaret Kimberly have addressed race seriously throughout the campaign. Matthew Rothschild? Not at all. In fact, you could easily call Matthew Rothschild a RACIST based on his actions. As CEO and editor of The Progressive, Rothschild is in charge of the magazine. Who does he chose to share that real estate with? An African-American can stop by with an article every now and then (not to often) but the regular columnists? Where's the African-American with a regular column? No where to be found. Molly Ivins (a regular columnist for the magazine) passed away in January 2007. Rothschil announces in this month's issue of The Progressive that he's just added not one but two new columnists. And who does he share the 'neighborhood' with? Two White men (Dave Zirin and Jim Hightower). Matty really wants Bambi in the White House, he just doesn't want to share his own real estate with African-Americans. The magazine has no African-American columnist. Matty adds two this month and they're both White (and male). He probably is bothered that Ferraro dared to mention race -- it makes it that much harder for people like himself to pretend how 'good' and 'wonderful' and 'noble' they are by occassionally printing an African-American freelance writer while REFUSING to put an African-American writer on staff. Maybe Matty frets that to do so would lower the property value of The Progressive?

If he gave a damn, he could have long ago added African-American voices but he's never done that and he's just added two new columnists -- both White males. In the voting booth, he may touch the button for Obama but that's about all he'll ever do apparently. Obama wipes away a lot of guilt for White 'liberals' as well as for White conservatives. I believe that's one of the points Ferraro was getting at. No wonder Matty Rothschild had a meltdown online. Again, he has the power to do more than vote, he has the power to hire or fire and maybe it's past time someone examine The Progressive's hiring practices under Rothschild? Since Zirin covers sports and since Andrea Lewis was already doing that for the magazine's syndicated efforts, maybe when he blogs again he can explain why Lewis -- who has put in her time and then some as a 'guest' -- wasn't invited into the club? (Andrea Lewis is African-American for any who don't know.)

Yesterday in Harrisburg, Hillary Clinton noted how many of the pretty words turned up to be empty, vacant promises and, specifically, the Iraq non-pledge by Obama: "Senator Obama promises to withdraw from Iraq within 16 months. But his top foreign policy adviser said he's not really going to rely on that plan. I guess that plan is just words, too." Though Matthew Rothschild and his ilk ignore the revelation about Barack's non-plan, not everyone's playing along. Last night, Mike noted Derrick Z. Jackson, Sasha Issenberg and Jack Kelly had written of the non-binding pledge that Samantha Power said doesn't exist if Obama makes it into the White House. As Jackson (Boston Globe) explained it, "In a BBC interview last week, Power, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard University global affairs professor, said Obama's plan to remove combat troops from Iraq in his first 16 months was a 'best-case scenario.' She said Obama 'can't make a commitment, in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008, about what circumstances are going to be like in January of 2009 . . . He will of course, not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US senator. He will rely upon a plan, an operational plan that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn't have daily access now'."

Turning to another "I" country (because Irish and Irish-American community members are e-mailing on this topic), Ireland.
Hillary Clinton will participate in the Irish American Presidential Forum and has stated, "I'm excited to participate in this important forum. I have worked on issues important to the Irish-American community for many years and look forward to discussing my plans as President. I want to thank John Dearie and the other organizers of this event for the invitation and enoucrage Senator Obama and Senator McCain to accept it as well. By doing so, voters will have an opportunity to examine our records and compare our plans to continue moving the peace process in Northern Ireland forward." Yesterday, the Hillary Clinton campaign noted:

And now today, Senator Obama is at it again, sending a false attack memo from his campaign making claims that are contradicted by the facts. Still reeling from its losses in Ohio and Texas, the Obama campaign has come out swinging, taking aim at Senator Clinton's considerable foreign policy experience with false claims and baseless attacks. After last week's defeats, the Obama campaign faced a choice: try to convince voters that Senator Obama is ready to take the 3am phone call in a positive way or try to tear down Senator Clinton's accomplishments. Considering that his foreign policy advisor, Susan Rice, cited Senator Obama's "legislation on ethics reform" when asked this morning about his foreign policy experience, it is clear that the Obama campaign is unable to make a positive case for its candidate's experience. They have chosen to attack and today's memo continues the pattern of statements contradicted by the facts. Given the credibility gap his campaign has developed over the last few weeks, these latest attacks today should not be believed. There is a reason that thirty former Generals and Admirals have endorsed Senator Clinton -- they know she is prepared to lead this nation as Commander in Chief with strength and experience on day one. Here are the facts about Hillary's experience.Northern Ireland: The Obama campaign claims George Mitchell, the person in charge of the investigation, supports their view that Hillary's claims about Northern Ireland are exaggerated.
John Hume, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on Northern Ireland: ["]I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland... Anyone criticizing her foreign policy involvement should look at her very active and positive approach to Northern Ireland and speak with the people of Northern Ireland who have the highest regard for her and are very grateful for her very active support for our peace process.["] George Mitchell, who is cited in the Obama memo as an authoritative source, told Katie Couric last night that Hillary played "a helpful and supportive role" in Northern Ireland that ended up making "a difference in the process." He described what Hillary has said about her role as "accurate." More on Hillary's work in Northern Ireland HERE.

Or you can read "veteran Irish journalist"
Nuala O'Faolain (Women's Media Center): "What Hillary did to transform matters was turn up. She turned up. She turned up with hope and energy to a city which, when I moved there in 1998, was leaving one murdered Catholic a week just on my street, merely to keep the level of intimidation going. A city where women were almost all tribally opposed to each other. A city where there were very few meetings and if they were women's meetings they were jeered at or ignored. She came at least four times with President Clinton -- and twice on her own. It may sound small to people now that what she came for was a woman's conference on one occasion and a lecture on another, that she knew people's names and histories and took note of them -- and was no doubt sometimes lied to and misled and laughed at by women as well as men (outsiders often strike skeptical locals as simpleminded). But she kept turning up anyway. It was not small what she did. Not small at all. When the old guys obediently trot out their criticisms of what she did in Belfast, ask yourself: Who else did what she did? Who else gave what she did? Who else gave at all?"

Tomorrow (Thursday), March 13th, John R. MacArthur (Harper's publisher) will be taking part in an event at the Melville House (145 Plymouth St., Brooklyn, NY -- "Mass transit: take the F train to York Street) with Andre Schiffrin (A Political Education) and Michael Massing (Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq). MacArther wrote Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda In the Gulf War.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers

the new york times