Friday, April 04, 2008

The self-deluded

Sometimes, when I mention music here, people will e-mail with their comments on whoever I've written about and to offer their own personal favorites. Sunny always prints those e-mails up and, if I have the time, I reply. Occassionally, someone will write to say that I must love David Rovics or Rovic. I don't care enough for the man to want to know his name. I'm just not impressed with him. A recent column of his attacking the 9-11 Truth Movement as crazies included a revealing bit. For the record, I have no opinion on that movement. I do not have the time to study it. I certainly do not call the people "crazy." Nor do I consider them misguided. To be for or against it, I would have to know about the proposals. What I do know is that a lot of lefties get really bothered when someone confronts them. Apparently someone confronted David Sears & Roebuck so he had to take that one person and extrapolate about an entire movement which is known as stereotyping or, if you prefer, profiling. In the midst of his 'reality-based' column, he gets off this hilarious passage:

You needn't ever have met Amy to know that she has risked her life, and very nearly lost her life, in her decades-long efforts to report the truth. You needn't know her producers personally to recognize that these are all earnest young progressives working long hours to create a daily news program they deeply believe in. The notion that all of her producers are somehow maintaining a code of silence in exchange for the privilege of having their names mentioned at the end of the broadcast, or in exchange for their nominally middle-class salaries, is preposterous.

Amy Goodman enriches herself with her program. Years ago, she nearly lost her life. It matters to her in terms of herself and not in terms of the people of East Timor. If you doubt that, consider that Bambi has one of the people responsible for the US funding and arming of the slaughter as his advisor. But Goody can't tell her audience that, can she? If she truly cared about East Timor, she would be calling Obama out. She doesn't.

Nor does she try "to report the truth." Someone interested in the truth does not allow Obama supporters to come on her show and not tell her audience in these supposed objective discussions, that the speakers are supporting Obama. It's very easy for Goody to portray Hillary as the Heart of Darkness when she repeatedly brings on Bambi supporters like Francie Fox Piven, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, the 'reporter' from Nevada, et al. and don't tell the audience that the opinions they are hearing are from Bambi supporters.

It's really easy to paint Hillary as evil when you shut out Paul Krugman, Joe Wilson and so many others that Amy used to rush to book.

It's really easy when you note every endorsement Barack Obama gets but play dumb on Hillary's. Take the issue of the Kennedys. One set endorsed Bambi, one set endorsed Hillary. Which did Goody tell you about? She told you about the pro-Bambi. In fact, had Delores Juerta (pitted against two Bambi supporters) not brought up the other endorsement on air, Goody's audience would never have known about it.

Of how about The Amazing Chris Dodd. I guess he's called that because he looks like a Human Q-Tip. In a film, William Hurt would portray Dodd. But I never found Dodd to be all that amazing myself. Certainly not up close. But so amazing did Goody find him that when he endorsed Obama she put it into the headlines. Not once, but twice. Apparently she didn't emphasize the non-important endorsement enough the first day so she had to lead it with it the second day. If you're late to the party, Ava and C.I. have been calling out Goody's nonsense since January. For starters, see "TV: Democracy Sometimes?."

Like Rebecca ("wake up, corrente readers!"), I'm appalled anytime I go to Corrente and someone leaves a comment that 'at least Amy Goodman plays it fair with the candidates. ' Apparently, they don't watch her lousy program. That's as laughable as the defense for Air America Radio's "Chachi." Goody supposedly got 'news' on Bambi this week. It was news last year but Goody was too busy stroking the Obama campaign to tell her audience then.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Turning to US politics, Kevin Zeese wonders "Is It Time for the Peace Movement to Start Protesting Senator Obama?" (Dissident Voice) because, frankly, he finds Bambi "has been sounding rather hawkish" lately. Lately? Zeese is apparently just waking up. He notes Bambi groupie Amy Goodman's 'earth-shattering' two minutes (she cornered Bambi) that didn't turn out so well. "First," Zeese huffs, "Obama acknowledged combat troops would be left behind as 'a strike force in the region'." First? Zeese, where have you been? Zeese goes on to quote Bambi saying that troops could be left in Kuwait. This is only news, Kevin Zeese, because the Pathetic Likes of Amy Goodman have schilled for Bambi for months. It's not news here. From the Nov. 2nd snapshot:

Writing up a report, Gordo and Zeleny are useless but, surprisingly, they do a strong job with some of their questions. The paper should have printed up the transcript. If they had, people might be wondering about the 'anti-war' candidate. He maintains Bill Richardson is incorrect on how quickly US troops could be withdrawan from Iraq. Obama states that it would take at least 16 months which makes one wonder how long, if elected, it would take him to move into the White House? If you can grab a strainer or wade through Obama's Chicken Sop For The Soul, you grasp quickly why he refused to pledge (in September's MSNBC 'debate') that, if elected president, he would have all US troops out of Iraq by 2013: He's not talking all troops home. He tries to fudge it, he tries to hide it but it's there in the transcript. He doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq -- he appears to want them outside of Iraq -- such as Kuwait.

There's nothing new in Goody's brief report. That could have all been reported in real time -- back in November -- but Liars and Fluffers for Bambi didn't want people knowing that (or a great deal more). One of the Fluffers was Tom Hayden who saw the byline of Michael Gordon and just knew it had to be true! He failed to read the transcript and, when he finally got around to doing so, he broke . . . just like a little girl. That would be the same Tom-Tom who endorsed Bambi in the lead-up to Super Duper Tuesday and then immediately came back with "WE HAVE TO HOLD BOTH THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE!" You do that by endorsing? Age has not brought Tom-Tom any dignity. Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes Tom-Tom, Stab, Bill Fletcher and Danny Glover and states they contributed the "most pitiful communication:"

The self-styled "progressives" attempt to upend history and fool everybody, including themselves. The four claim that current conditions can be compared to the 1930s, when "centrist leaders" were compelled by activists "to embrace visionary solutions." There's a huge problem with that reasoning, however. In the 1930s, there were already strong movements existent before Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 and 1936 runs for the presidency. It was the movements -- many of them communist-led -- that shaped the Roosevelt campaigns and the New Deal, that in fact changed history. Today's four wishful signers insist that "even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined." Really? Believe that hogwash when any of the loyal Lefties demand Obama discard his plans to add 92,000 addition soldiers and Marines to the total U.S. military ranks, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and bringing with it the certainty of more wars. Never happen. The signers have already claimed the political campaign is a movement. Would they expose themselves as poseurs and fakers by making futile demands on the campaign, which is, after all, supposed to be one with the "movement?" Would they risk being told to shut up? No, it's too late for Hayden, Fletcher, Ehrenreich, and Glover to strut around as if they have options; they pissed all that away in the initial glow of Obamamania, and from now on will have to accept their status as hangers on.

Hangers on, good for Glen Ford. So, no, I don't care for David Rovic/Rovics. I don't care for people who profile or stereotype a group based on individuals. I don't care for his music which I find sterile. There have been many wonderful troubadors and I'm sure many more to come. But they have passion in one form or another. David R is a very cold songwriter. I hear no humor, I hear no passion. I hear clinical, distant songs.

One more thing on his attack of the truth movement. He is offended that Goody's called a gatekeeper along with Norman Solomon and I forget the third person. (His writing is very forgettable.) Norman Solomon, who can offer very stunning critiques, set himself up for that and they have every reason to call him that. He is not Pacifica Radio. He is not any individual station. So it's really none of his business what premiums Pacifica offers listeners. If someone doesn't want a truth movement premium, they don't have to pick one. But Norman Solomon went to the trouble of letting Pacifica (free speech radio) know that they needed to stop offering truth movement items as premiums.

Whenever someone like David gets up on their high horse, I always call C.I. and ask, "Do you hear this?" C.I.'s been speaking against the illegal war since Feb. 2003 and been to every state doing that except Alaska. (C.I. hates the cold. Supposedly the reason is the length of time required to travel there, but C.I. hates the cold on a East Coast visit and the lack of sunshine. Which is why California is where C.I. lives.) If there are three to five people a year raising the issue, C.I.'s surprised. No one, and Ava agrees and she's been doing the road thing since 2007 with C.I., has ever screamed and yelled the way David describes. Maybe "crazy" brings out "crazy"? But Kat actually had the best response, pointing out, he's whining about the same thing people against the illegal war do to Cheney, et al when they're in public. He's all offended because someone yelled at him to get honest. So he's like Cheney rushing off to talk about the 'crazies' against the Iraq War. It's like when Medea Benjamin tried to act like her getting pied was the end of the world when it was just her getting hit with a pie and she hadn't been overly concerned when people like the hideous Ann Coulter were being hit with thrown pies.

"HUBdate: A Tribute To Dr. King" (Howard Wolfson,
Poverty Czar: Today in her speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of his assassination, Hillary announces a cabinet level position that will be solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it in America.
A Tribute To Dr. King: Earlier this week, Hillary released a video inviting supporters to submit testimonials about the impact of Dr. King's work on their lives.
View here.
On The Air: The Clinton campaign released the first 60-second television ad statewide in North Carolina inviting Tar Heel voters to submit questions. "I'm committed to hearing directly from voters across the Tar Heel State, so in this new ad, I'm asking North Carolinians to talk to me." Hillary will answer those questions in follow-up ads in the coming weeks.
Watch Here. Submit questions here.
Tonight Show: Hillary appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" despite, Hillary joked, being "pinned down by sniper fire at the Burbank airport." Watch here. Read more.
If You Read One Thing Today: The NYT writes "“Senator Barack Obama's support among Democrats nationally has softened over the last month…as voters have taken a slightly less positive view of him than they did after his burst of victories in February, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll." Read more.
By The Numbers: A new poll out from Research 2000 shows Hillary leading in the Hoosier State (49-46).
See the results here.
Endorsement Watch: Former Indiana Congressman John Brademas endorsed Hillary because she "has the intelligence, the integrity, and the experience to jump-start our struggling economy, create needed Hoosier jobs and put the country back on the right track."
Read more.
More Hoosiers For Hillary: Hillary received the endorsements of 21 additional mayors and four local Democratic Party leaders in Indiana. "These mayors and local leaders see up close every day the impact of our rough economy on families in their communities. They know it’s going to take someone who can deliver real solutions to put our economy back on track."
Read more.
West Virginia Announcements: The campaign announced its West Virginia State Director and Communications Director. New State Director, Talley Sargent: "West Virginians have patiently waited their turn to head to the ballot box -- and now they will have their opportunity to make their vote count." Read more.
Save the Date: Hillary agreed to an April 27th debate in Raleigh, NC hosted by CBS. Read more.
On Tap In Oregon: Hillary will hold a town hall in Hillsboro and will host a rally in Eugene.
In Case You Missed It: "A key adviser to Sen. Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office."
Read more.

I agree with Ruth ("PDA pretends they care about counting votes"), if any other candidate was proposing a Poverty Czar all the usual losers of Panhandle Media, including Amy Goodman, would be rushing to applaud Hillary. Because it's Hillary, they'll ignore it. She could take Kucinich's Department of Peace idea and propose that and they'd still find a reason to slam her.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 4, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi refugee crisis continues, al-Maliki's evaluations less than glowing, Barack Obama says one thing on Iraq in public and apparently another thing in private, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War veteran
Chad Hetman writes The Daily Targum to explain, "People should be asking if ROTC instructors are teaching cadets that it is their legal duty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to refuse and challenge unlawful orders. Since the illegal war began, only one soldier has had the sense and courage to do his duty, Lieutenant Ehren Watada. The military is supposed to be politically neutral, but not legally neutral and almost all troops never read or understand the Constitution that they blindly swear to 'Support and Defend Against ALL Enemies both Foreign And DOMESTIC'." Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006). In February 2007, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) halted the court-martial in order to give the prosecution a do-over and he halted the court-martial over defense objection. Double-jeopardy should prevent Watada from being prosecuted/persecuted again; however, the US military holds out hopes of convincing a judge that the Constitution -- though members of military swear to uphold it -- does not actually apply to the military.

Weeks before the court-martial took place,
Ave Diaz and Lance Holter (Haleakala Times) spoke with Watada who shared these expectations:

I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against. Certainly they want to set the example and I think it's very dangerous because the example or message they are trying to send is that when you join the military you do what you are told -- it doesn't matter what your beliefs are, you do what you are told and that is a very dangerous message to send because who wants to join the military if you are going to be forced to do (something) -- regardless of whatever you believe in your own conscience -- and I think that will lead to a mass exodus of soldiers leaving the military because of that and also it will prevent a lot of potential recruits from joining the military.

And that apparently remains the goal of the US military which refuses to discharge Watada (whose service contract ended December 2006) and holds out hopes of subverting the Constitution by court-martialing him again. Since his contract expired, Watada has reported for duty each day. He continues to do so.
Thank You Lt. Watada is calling for: "No New Court Martial! Dismiss All Charges! Release Lt. Watada with an Honorable Discharge!"

Some war resisters are attempting to be granted safe harbor in Canada. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. 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.
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, Logan Laituri, 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).

Next Tuesday, Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker begin their attempts to sell Congress -- and therefore the American people -- on the notion that "progress" exists and thrives in Iraq. In anticipation of the expected snow job, Congress has attempted to lay down some guidance this week. Most successful was
Wendesday's hearing by the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee where retired Gen William Odom explained the escalation ("surge") didn't work, was never going to work, explained the problems with paying off thugs who are 'loyal' for coin, and much more. Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee continued to explore Iraq and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Iraq that was supposed to outline the message but instead she got sidetracked (with her travels, her candidate of choice, etc.) -- US House Rep Rahm Emanuel managed to salvage the conference.

If the snow job is blinded by realities this time, credit will go to those like
Marilou Johanek (Toledo Blade) who've shown what a working press is:

SO MUCH for Iraq's "defining moment." That's what the "Decider" called last week's Iraqi offensive against Shiite militants in Basra. It was a defining moment all right, one that underscored how worthless Iraqi's army and "unity" government are five years into the war. Interesting how muted Washington has been about the whole affair lately. Initially, the Bush Administration scrambled to put a positive spin on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ill-advised and ill-prepared government crackdown in the country's second largest city. Only after Iraqi security forces got a "thumpin" -- to put it in George W. Bush's vernacular -- and the prime minister, who had vowed to remain in Basra for a "decisive and final battle" against the militias, backed down after Iran brokered a cease-fire, did the administration start to disown the debacle.

And include The Villager whose editorial, "
Dems must find their spine on Iraq," spelled it out clearly: "The so-called surge is not "working" and it has nothing to do with the heightened violence last week. Even with the reduced level of violence against Americans in the last few months, we were still losing about a soldier a day. Many more troops are being severely wounded with crippling physical and mental injuries. Iraqi civilians continue to be killed in far greater numbers. The surge's intent was to prompt the Iraqis into making political compromises in order to govern themselves. Even the Bush administration admits there has been little progress on that front. How will the Iraqis ever be able to police themselves if Bush and John McCain continue to suggest we are willing to stay indefinitely -- a century, if necessary?" The assault on Basra was a War Crime. It was also a moment that revealed to the entire world that the US installed puppet Nouri al-Maliki was incompentent and unsupported by the Iraqi people.

He made ultimatums and then had to back down because he lacks the support to carry those out. This week he showed up attempting to save face after Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a stand-down (via talks between members of Iraq's parliament and Iran) brought the peace al-Maliki can never provide. He also begged for resistance fighters to return at least 50 government vehicles they had seized during the fighting -- but he calls it a 'win.' And he and his White House handlers learn nothing from the experience.
AFP reports that Thursday he was boasting of more assaults on al-Sadr's followers and repeating his talk of "outlaws" and how he doesn't make deals with him. Having yet again talked big, he got sleep and -- maybe he had scary nightmares -- showed up today with a different tune. Reuters reported this morning that he was now saying turn in weapons and everyone can get along! He'll even "grant amnesty from prosectuion"! Retuers observed, "The statement appeared to soften Maliki's position from Thursday, when at a news conference he threatened a crackdown on Sadr's strongholds in Baghdad." Meanwhile Matt Schofield (Kansas City Star) wonders, "So, we're almost five years from the day Baghdad fell, and it's time to ask: Who is in control of Iraq?"
Turning to the topic of Iraqi refugees. Tuesday the
UNHCR's Jennifer Pagonis broke down the latest figures on the internally displaced noting that "it is estimated that over 2.77 million people are currently displaced inside the country. Of these, 1.2 million were displaced before 2006 and more than 1.5 million were displaced in 2006 and 2007." Of these, "over 1 million cannot access regular income. Around 300,000 individuals have no access to clean water and are in need of legal aid to enable them to access other basic services." On external refugees, Trudy Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer) observes, "More than two million Iraqi refugees are struggling to survive outside Iraq, the bulk of them in neighboring Jordan and Syria. . . . Jordan and Syria can't afford to keep them, but they can't go home and are running out of money. Yet the desperate plight of Iraq's refugees isn't one the president wants to highlight -- because it underlines how tenuous the situation remains in Iraq." That's putting it mildly. Relief Web notes this from the Christian Reformed Church in North America, "Early last year the U.S. government agreed to resettle 7,000 refugees by February 2008, giving preference to those at greatest risk of violence. Today, only 2,000 Iraq refugees have entered the United States, with nearly 12,000 more awaiting approval." That should read: "still waiting approval." Dropping back to the Feb. 21st snapshot:

The total number of Iraqi refugees accepted by the US in 2007 was 1,608. In the
February 5th snapshot, the US State Department's laughable press confrence was noted. It featured Homeland Security's Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Iraqi Refugee Issues Lori Scialabba, The State Dept's Deputy Assistant for Consular Affairs Tony Edson, and the Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues Ambassador James Folely with a lot of excuses. CNN Elise Labott and Bloomberg News' Janice Zacharia had questions (and numbers) the State Department wasn't expecting which led to such claims by Foley as the State Dept had never said it would have 7,000 settled by the 2007 fiscal year. Finally, he offered "I came on board in September" (the end of the 2007 fiscal year) and that apparently means that he can't be updated on what's come before.

The crisis is not 'new,' it's not something unexpected. It remains something the US refuses to address.
Simone Campbell (The Mountain Mail) notes, "Traveling throughout Lebanon and Syria recently with several religious sisters and staff members from Catholic Relief Services, I witnessed lives of desperation and quiet stories of hope. Our visits with Iraqi families, Christian and Muslim, humanize numbing statistics staggering in scope." She notes are:

Among them is Dovid, a gentle Christian man so traumatized by torture at the hands of a militia in Iraq that his body constantly shakes. He struggled to hold steady for a picture we took with his wife and 10 children who live crowded into one room in a poor Beirut neighborhood. There is Leila, a Shiite Muslim who had a successful career in nuclear medicine in Iraq until she and her father were threatened because they worked with a U.S. company on hospital construction. Her father sent her to safety in Lebanon; a few months later, he was executed as he walked home from his job. She is haunted by rumors her father's enemies are searching for her.

Sheryl Kornman (Tuscon Citizen) speaks with the US State Dept's Barbara Day who attempts to stamp a happy face on things like refugees "remain near their countries in refugee camps or in cities hoping to one day return to their homes." The State Dept wants them to return. It looks better for the administration if that happens. But the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent have noted that it is not safe for them to return. Homeland Security's Barbara Strack also spins for Kornman explaining that those who have "provided any money or goods to terrorists" may get exemptions -- since the US is defining a family who pays the ransom for a family member kidnapped as having "provided any money or goods to terrorists." In the current issue of Harper's Magazine (April 2008), Deborah Campbell debunks that nonsense and other policies and attitudes preventing the Iraqi refugees from getting assistance in "Exodus: Where will Iraq go next?" (pp. 50 -56; link may only work for subscribers to the magazine). Campbell describes the crisis:The result of this societal collapse has been the largest exodus in the Middle East since the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948. One fifth of the population have fled their homes. In addition to the 2.5 million people known to be displaced within Iraq, a further 2.5 million have left the country. Several hundred thousand have made it to Egypt, the Gulf States, Iran, Turkey or Yemen, and Jordan hosts another half million. But it is Syria that has taken on the largest burden.

She shares the stories of many Iraqi refugees in Syria such as Aisha who provides English clases for free to other Iraqis each weekend and left Iraq after being kidnapped and the ransom being $50,000 and leave Iraq immediately There's Saif who was an intelligence officer but was among the many to lose their jobs when Paul Bremer (with White House approval) disbanded the Iraqi military. A rocket attack on his home left his wife paralyzed and his days in Syria are mainly spent "feeding and bathing his wife". A daughter was killed in the attack. Another daughter badly burned with no money for reconstructive surgey and a son was kidnapped "and tortured with electric cables to the head -- now he babbled incoherently and was violent unless drugged." In Lebanaon, she meets Iraqi refugees win jail such as the man trying to get his family "to Europe on passports he had pruchased" and was now told he would only be released if he agreed to go back to Baghdad. These are among the many stories she shares and she also charts the routes of Iraq. She notes falsehoods of
The Myth of the Great Return (including that the bussed and bought featured one family that was kidnapped immediately upon arriving in Baghdad) and explains that "the plight of former U.S. employees, particularly translators, remains the sum total of the discussion of the crisis within American media and political circles. The result is that, although more than 30,000 Iraqis were resettled in the United States after the 1991 Gulf War, only 3,775 Iraqis were granted entry between the beginning of the 2003 invasion and the end of January 2008."

As the US government ignores the crisis they created, criticism also goes to the United Kingdom.
Jamie Doward (The Observer) reports that 50 Iraqi refugees were forcibly taken back to Iraq, to a 'safe' area (Irbil): "The British government claims the region is safe, but human rights campaigners warn it is becoming increasingly dangerous. It has emerged that one failed asylum seeker, Solyman Rashid, who was returned from Britain after his appeal was rejected, was killed by a car bomb in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, last September." Speaking in Amman, Jordan today, John Holmes, United Nation's Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, explained the crisis for all Iraqis and, of internally displaced ones, that that "have little or no access to proper health care, food assistance, sanitation and other services" which is why the UN has issued a call for $265 million in donations and currently is $60 million short of that figure.

UPI reports a movement in Germany's religious communities to lobby "for sancturay in the country for Iraqi Christians" and asking for "long-term asylum for 25,000 to 30,000 Christians". In the United States, David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reports, attorney Robert Dekelaita is attempting to do the same thing:

Over the last decade, DeKelaita has obtained asylum for hundreds of Iraqi Christians threatened with deportation. He travels the U.S. to counsel distraught, uprooted men and women who have fled religious persecution in Iraq.But each new grant of asylum leaves DeKelaita feeling conflicted; his efforts inadvertently contribute to the slow dissolution of the once-vibrant Christian community in Iraq."My heart is really wedded to the idea that they should be safe and secure in their own homeland in Iraq," DeKelaita, 45, said inside his law office in Skokie, Ill., near Chicago. "What I'm doing is temporary. That's how I justify it to myself -- that they will one day all go back home safely to their homeland."Repressed under Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christian population has been decimated since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Muslim extremists have murdered priests and burned churches and Christian-owned shops and homes. Priests in Iraq estimate that fewer than 500,000 Christians remain, about a third of the number as before 2003.

Turning to some of the violence that's created the refugee crisis . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports mortar attacks on the Green Zone, a Diyala Province bombing at a funeral that claimed 16 lives and left 29 wounded. CBS and AP report: "The attacker detonated an explosive vest in the midst of the mourners attending the funeral for a Sunni policeman who had been shot dead on Thursday night, said and officer who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak." Reuters reports a Mussayab roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers (two more wounded). Reuters also notes a US helicopter attack in Basra that had multiple "casualties" according to eyewitnesses.


Reuters reports a member of the "Awakening" Council was shot dead outside Samarra.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Kevin Naff (Washington Blade) reports on keeping someone in the closet even in death. Major Alan Rogers died in Iraq on Januray 27th and was buried March 14th.

But the mainstream media accounts of his death omitted any reference to his sexual orientation. These were not benign omissions. The Washington Post, in particular, worked overtime to excise any mention of Rogers' sexual orientation. It did not even report his work for AVER. Several of Rogers' gay friends told the Blade that they were interviewed by a Post reporter at the funeral, but their memories were not included in
the paper's coverage.

As offensive, possibly more, is the report
Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition) which offered such gems such as this "Rogers had no wife or child to take away the flag that draped his coffin, so soldiers folded the flag and gave it to his cousin." Rogers had no wife? Why was that? NPR worked overtime to avoid telling the truth and was selective in what they aired. Not only did the media attempt to deny who Rogers was, Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports someone at the Pentagon recently attempted to remove references to Rogers' sexuality from the Wikipeida entry on him.

On the topic of veterans,
US Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announces the creation of Veterans for Hillary Leadership Committee which has "21 distinguished veterans from the Keystone State" and "will spearhead the campaign's efforts to reach out to Pennsylvania's veterans and inform them about Hillary's record of fighting for the men and women who have worn our nation's uniform. Congressmen John Murtha and Joe Sestak will co-chair the committee." Serving on the committee:

Larry Babitts, Boiling Springs, US Army
Ron Byrd, Tobyhanna, US Army**
Russell Canevari, Jessup, US Army
Ed Cemic, Sr., Johnstown, US Army
Kathy Cullinane, Scranton, USAF
Hal Donahue, Scranton, USAF
Thomas Dougherty, Dunmore, US Army
General Mike Dunn, Davidsville, US Army
Glen Embree, Mt. Pleasant Township, Navy
Greg Erosenko, Monroeville, US Army
Wy Gowell, Clark Summit, USAF
John Hugya, Hollsopple, USMC
Christin Joltes, Johnstown, USAF
Jim Kull, Uniondale, US Army
Joe Long, Bethlehem, USAF
William McCool, Levittown, Navy
Mike Miskell, Scranton, Navy
Phyllis Reinhardt, Scranton, US Army
General Gerald Sajer, East Berlin, US Army
Joseph Tully, Scranton, Navy
Jeffrey Voice, Philadelphia, US Army
**"Ron" is my guess. The first half of the name is left off the list. If that guess is incorrect on my part, my apologies and we'll correct it if it's pointed out.

At ZNet, Phyllis Bennis attempts to interject a little honesty into the discussions of Barack Obama: He Pees Peace and Rainbows. Naturally, Tom-Tom Hayden is having none of it. Bennis notes that Obama does not need to "'clarify' his own position on counter-insurgency or troop withdrawal, but to CHANGE his position." Those are fighting words to Bambi Groupies, Phyllis. And Tom-Tom shows up singing "Songs to Aging Children come, Aging children, I am one." Trying aging fool -- and for the record, Tom-Tom, I didn't need to poll behind your back to make that call. Tom-Tom's humping Bambi like his found another cash cow, chattering on about the 2002 anti-war speech (that no one heard in real time and could be 'expanded' today -- the same way recordings of it were 'recreated'), "his 16 month combat troop withdrawal plan, his refusal to support Bush on Iran's Revolutionary Guard" blah, blah, blah. Reality check. Bambi didn't refuse to support Bully Boy on that measure. He didn't show up for the vote. Patricia J. Williams has tried that LIE as well. Let's stick to the real world, Tom-Tom. In addition, as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) observed at the end of March, Obama's anti-Iran talk now "sounds like current White House policy."

The 16-month is the most hilarious. Showing the same dedication to denial that got him kicked out of the commune in California, Tom-Tom wants to pretend Samantha Power never happened.
Power told the BBC -- while still Bambi's chief foreign policy advisor -- that the 16-month pledge . . . really wasn't a pledge. If Barack made it into the White House, he'd decide what to do about Iraq then. Of all days to look like a sap, Tom-Tom picked the wrong-wrong one. Eli Lake (New York Sun) reports:

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a cofidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.
The paper, obtained by
The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000--80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center's Web site as a policy brief.

No fool like an old fool, Tom-Tom.
Sarah Sewall is the 'brain' behind the US counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. She advises which campaign? Barack Obama's. At some point the PATHETIC are going to have to stop lying -- they are a danger to themselves and others. As Doug Henwood (ZNet) observes -- no fan of either Hillary or Barack, "And despite the grand claims of enthusiasts, he doesn't really have a movement behind him -- he's got a fan club. How does a fan club hold a candidate accountable?" As Tom-Tom demonstrates repeatedly, they don't.

mcclatchy newspapers

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Read, super delegates, more

"First Read" (Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro, MSNBC):
All the Wright moves? Yesterday, Clinton delegate hunter Harold Ickes admitted to All The Hair Is In His Crack that he was bringing up the Rev. Wright story in his conversations with Democratic superdelegates. While that news is certain to displease Obama supporters, it would be naive for anyone to think the Clinton camp WASN'T going to push this story to influence undecided superdelegates -- just like it would be naïve to think the Obama camp isn't whispering to them about the possible baggage Bill Clinton would bring to a general election. The risk for Ickes and the Clinton campaign is that Dem superdelegates aren’t your typical swing voters -- they're more liberal and progressive than your average Democrat -- and playing the Wright card with them could backfire. Then again, with Clinton trailing Obama and with superdelegates incrementally moving in Obama's direction, the Clinton camp has to play this card, right? And let's not be naïve ourselves: It's possible the superdelegates themselves are bringing this up. They are junkies and they are probably curious about the polling.

That's actually old news. It's news that Ickes spoke of it but Ava and C.I. have spoken of it in terms of their lobbying of super delegates and spoken of it online. As someone now lobbying super delegates on behalf of Hillary, let me be clear, the Wright issue is the first thing brought up and it is brought up by s.d.s not by me. I knew it was a big issue to many Democrats, real ones, not the closeted Communists, but I was honestly surprised the first few lobbying efforts when it was the most noted thing. Now I'm not surprised when it's brought up. I expect it will be and it always has been thus far. By the way, I'm not a part of the Clinton campaign and I'm lobbying on her behalf only to those s.d.s I already know. I seriously doubt C.I. or Ava has coordinated their efforts with Ickes but C.I.'s known Ickes forever so I'm not surprised that they would both be discussing the issue, especially when it is ALWAYS brought up by s.d.s. (Super delegates appeared as such for the first time in this community in a dictated snapshot and the person C.I. was dictating it to broke it into two words. For consitency, I will as well.)

I gave the website mentioned in the excerpt a different name and removed the link. The name is actually via Dona (I think) and we had a short feature planned on that. But I won't promote that nonsense site. It's nothing but non-stop Hillary hatred and, in fact, 'fired' a pro-Hillary writer, one of the few they had who was actually published offline. The ego-maniac who runs it is balding, hence the name his site was given.

Super delegates are bringing up Wright and they are doing so because he is toxic. He is toxic right now and he is even more toxic in a general election against a Republican opponent. Those in the know doubt Obama can win the general election as a result of Wright and are very curious to see what else emerges next? It's because he is a question mark, a cypher. He is not ready to be president and lacks seasoning as well as examination.

What else do super delegates talk about?

The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York. By now I knew I wanted our marriage to last if it could because I loved Bill and I realized how much I cherished the years we had spent together. I knew I could not have parented Chelsea alone as well as we had together. I had no doubt that I could construct a satisfying life by myself and make a good living, but I hoped Bill and I could grow old together. We were both committed to rebuilding our marriage with the tools of our faith, love and shared past. With my mind clearer about where I wanted to go with Bill, I felt freer to take the first steps toward a race for the Senate.

That was raised by one I lobbyied today. He mentioned that passage and I had to go buy the book. It's Hillary Clinton's Living History and it's from page 506. He repeatedly talked about why he was leaning towards Hillary, her strength and determination. "She doesn't take the easy road. She's willing to work at everything." He then referred to Hillary and Bill Clinton's marriage and how the easy thing would have been to divorce post-White House. Then he quoted that section. (He may have gone further in quoting than the above, I wasn't taking notes.) He said he re-read Hillary's book and Barack's books and only one came off like they were grounded: Hillary. He compared Barack to "the guy with all the teeth on TV" (Tony Robbins) and said there was no substance there, just a lot of hot air.

So what do super delegates talk about? There's one issue one raised. Another issue is Katrina Hatred. Ava and C.I. had told me to expect that. Katrina van Heuvel is not a 'respected' figure among super delegates. The fact that her magazine (often termed "that lousy magazine") has all gotten on board with Bambi has raised concerns as well. They're worried that Katrina fancies herself a "king maker" and she's a joke. (I knew that years ago.) Her father was consider inept in his limited government dealings and she's considered even more so. Sometimes who is in your corner can hurt you and "the princess" (as she's often referred to) is not a solid for Bambi. She's a little too pie-in-the-sky. (Actually, she's not. That's just the impression she gives off. Reality is she can be very cold blooded and far less inspirational than she self-presents.)

No one wants the vanity queen's self-image inflating futher ("Could you imagine?" I was asked today) so she's a negative for Bambi. Mainly due to the fact that people have long memories and she's tied to her father's crackpot schemes. (It's also true that Rebecca's mother-in-law has blackballed Katty-van-van for the last two years and the seeds have been sewn.)

By contrast, my own late parents are thought well of. Today's lobbying effort was with a man who also went to school with my brother and I followed up tonight with a call to him telling him this super delegate was ready to move over to Hillary's side and I thought a call from him would cinch the deal. He'll be calling tomorrow. I told him to stress the Peter Principal in relation to Katty-van-van's family since it seems to be the general feeling (that everyone's taken a ride off the grandfather and not really worked for anything).

"HUBdate: Swing State Lead" (Howard Wolfson,
Swing State Lead: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary leading in key swing states. In Florida, she leads McCain 44-42 while Obama trails McCain by 9 points. In Ohio, Hillary leads McCain 48-39 while Obama is only ahead of McCain by 1. Read more.
Strong on the Economy: Today, Hillary wraps up her "Solutions for the Pennsylvania Economy" tour with a 21st Century Jobs Summit in Pittsburgh, PA focused on Hillary's "insourcing" agenda that provides $7 billion in tax incentives and investments for firms creating jobs in America. Preview the Summit here.
Recapping Yesterday: Hillary announced her plan to create 3 million jobs by investing in infrastructure at the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia, PA. Read excerpts of the speech.
Recalling Rocky: Yesterday Hillary "recall[ed] a famous scene on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art [and] said to end her presidential campaign now would be as if 'Rocky Balboa had gotten halfway up those art museum steps and said, 'Well, I guess that's about far enough.'" Read more.
Too Much Democracy?: On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart pokes fun at calls for Hillary to quit: "Too much democracy... killing Democratic Party... must make it stop." Watch here.
Run, Hillary, Run: A North Carolina columnist writes "With the race so close, Clinton would be a fool to hand Sen. Barack Obama a nomination he has yet to legitimately earn." Read more.
A Record to Run On: In the Senate, Hillary has sponsored or co-sponsored 54 bills that became law. Read more.
By the Primary Numbers: A new
SurveyUSA poll shows Hillary leading in Indiana by nine points (52-43).
Roots: Hillary tells supporters in Wilkes-Barre, PA: "My family has deep roots here...and we don't quit. From the coal mines to the lace mills, we have worked our hearts out, and I will work my heart out for you."
Read more.
April Fool's: Yesterday, Hillary surprised reporters, challenging Sen. Obama to a bowl-off..."It is time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all the pins to be counted...When this game is over, the American people will know that when that phone rings at 3 a.m., they'll have a president ready to bowl on day one."
Read more.
Just Words: On the campaign trail, Senator Obama has spoken as though he were opposed to the Bush Administration’s energy policy, but in 2005 he voted for the administration’s Energy Bill, written in secret by Cheney and the energy lobby. Read more.

One thing that didn't make it into the snapshot today (that C.I. passed on) was that Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, attempted to meet with the three front runners for president. He met with Hillary and John McCain, but Barack was too busy campaigning. I believe that's called "snub." When someone travels this far and is a world leader and an American ally, I believe you make the time. With John McCain, Rudd never raised (nor did McCain) the issue of Iraq.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Senator Joe Biden gets pro-active, Jacob Bruce Kovco's death remains a mystery, and more.

Starting with war resisters. "Watada is the only officer in the U.S. armed forces who has taken seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution."
Justin Hughes (Golden Gate [X]Press) quotes whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg explaining that to a large turnout Sunday at San Francisco's Unitarian Universalist Church: "He praised Lt. Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 because of moral opposition to the war. Watada was the first commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq." Watada, whose service should have ended in December 2006, remains in limbo as the US military attempts to mount an argument which would explain why the Constitution has no meaning and the double-jeopardy clause should be set aside. Without overriding the Constitution, the US military cannot retry Watada. In February 2007, Judge Toilet (aka John Head) overruled defense objections and declared a mistrial (due to the fact that the prosecution was losing) with the hopes of handing the military a do-over. The Constitution forbids that and forbids it just for that reason. November 8, 2007, Judge Benjamin Settle issued an injunction and Watada's case remains on hold.

Since refusing to deploy in June of 2006, Watada has continued to report for duty. Despite the fact that his service should have ended in December 2006, he continues reporting. This issue should have been settled some time ago and should not be forgotten in election year hype. Watada took a brave and public stand. It was so brave and so public that no officer has yet to follow him, all this time later. Which is why Ellsberg notes that of all the officers in the military, only Watada grasped what the Constitution meant and required.

Joshua Key is a US war resister. He, Brandi Key and their children moved to Canada when Key returned from Iraq and realized he could not continue to take part in the illegal war. He was among the earliest to publicly draw the comparison between foreign forces in Iraq and what would happen if foreign forces occupied the US? Would US citizens resist? He tells his story in
The Deserter's Tale (written by Key and Lawrence Hill). He is also telling his story, the Canadian Press reports, to Canada's Federal Court today as he attempts to win on appeal after his claim for refugee status was denied last November by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board ("board" in name only -- one person rules) following their denial of his claim because he wasn't a War Criminal (truly, the board's decision states he would have been admitted if he'd committed war crimes) leading his attorney Jeffry House to declare that decision "patently preposterous."

In April of last year,
Tracy Bowden (Australia's ABC) reported on Keys and other US war resisters in Canada. "I'm not a baby killer," Key told Bowden. "I am not a civilian killer. You know of course I'm a solider and I'm here to kill enemy combatants but I was never seeing that. All I was seeing was civilians getting hurt, getting killed, traumatised and still no justification for it." In August of last year, Tony Jones (Lateline) interviewed Key. Click here for the YouTube video.

TONY JONES: Now you were in some of the worst fighting in Fallujah and you claim to have seen at least 14 civilians killed. Can you tell us about the circumstances?JOSHUA KEY: From one of the incidents, we were at a mayor cell, which is sort of where you would -- like where the mayor of the city stayed. I was in the back part; I saw the after-effect of it. Of course the ground was -- outrageous amount of gunfire. Of course we were getting ready ourselves. It came over the radio that, you know, that something in the front was happening. I guess the overall circumstances of it were, the end result was 12 Iraqi civilians were killed. The reason why is because somebody had gotten trigger-happy and that was one of my first instances with death there, of course, was that. I mean, it was apparent very very - the first day we got into Iraq that if you felt threatened you shoot, you ask questions later. Our actions were completely unsupervised and we did, as we will. Just -- as well with the 12 Iraqis there was no reason for them to be dead. Somebody got trigger-happy, there's death.TONY JONES: When civilians were killed, what happened? Did your officers make reports? Did they try and investigate what had happened?JOSHUA KEY: I myself never got questioned in the course of my ranking I had no idea what my commanding officers were doing, if anything was wrote or not. I know in many of the circumstances I witnessed myself in Iraq I asked later on if any mission statements had been written. Has anything been written about what happened last night and I was told on many occasions that it was none of my concern and none of my business.TONY JONES: One of the most horrific incidents you record was in the night during a raid in Ramadi and you describe the circumstances with one of your sergeants actually saying, "Tonight is retaliation time in Ramadi." Tell us about that incident?JOSHUA KEY: Well, we had many -- for that incidence, for the retaliation, prior to that there had been a commander in the third Army Recovery Regiment which was the regiment I was with that had gotten injured. I don't know exactly, I don't even know if he was a fatality. That was said after that fact. In Ramadi the second time there was so many incidents, of course. You're on a QRF mission, which is like you're the quick reaction force for the military. It's like you're a swat team. For that 24-hour period you're in control. If anything happens within that city then you're sent out to, as they say, calm down the uprising. The night we got the call we were on it, we were going to our designated spot. We took a sharp right turn by the banks of the Euphrates River. On the left side I saw bodies that were decapitated. My truck stopped. I was asked to see if there were - of course I was the lowest ranking and I was told to get out to see if I could find evidence of a fire fight, which means, you know, shell casings. When I got out of the back of my truck I heard one American soldier screaming that we had lost it. I mean, I looked to the other side and I seen American soldiers kicking the head around like a soccer ball. I got back inside of my APC, which is an armoured personnel carrier, said I wouldn't have no involvement. Of course the next day I asked if anything had been filed for that, because to me that was completely unacceptable. That's when my - I said that's when my will started to change, of course.TONY JONES: I have to get you to go back over that because of the way you just described it. Are you saying you saw American soldiers kicking around the decapitated head of a dead Iraqi?JOSHUA KEY: Yes, that was -- of course I live with that nightmare every day. That's something I have a lot of problems with, of course. But to me that was completely -- there's no justification and no reason why that should have happened like that. There's nothing - there's no reason; it only takes one shot to kill a person, even if it was for that standpoint. But there's no reason whatsoever to decapitate a human person by means of gunfire.

You can make your voice heard. 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.
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, Logan Laituri, 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).

Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki had his strings pulled by the White House leading to the disaster that was the assault on Basra. Fallout is not limited to the wounded and the dead.
Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the "paltry results have silenced talk at the Pentagon of further U.S. troop withdrawal any time soon" and quote an unnamed "senior U.S. military official in Washington" declaring, "There is no empirical evidence that the Iraqi forces can stand up." Kevin Sullivan (Washington Post) reports a similar effect in England where Minister of Defence Des Browne has nixed the announced withdrawals and stated, "It is prudent that we pause any further reductions while the current situation is unfolding." The assault was a failure on every level. It failed in terms of military strategy. It demonstrated (yet again) how weak the Iraqi military was and how weak Iraqi soldiers ties were to the military (since so many of them defected sides during the fighting). It revealed the intense and widespread loathing for al-Maliki among Iraqis. It revealed that Iran is a power broker in the area and, indeed, a peace broker in the conflict. It inflated Moqtada al-Sadr's standing throughout Iraq. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) observes, "It also left the United States once more painted as the villain by the Sadrists although the offensive is widely thought to have been the brainchild of Maliki and his inner circle of advisors. The Sadrists made clear that this latest chapter would be used against U.S. forces in Iraq" going on to quote an Iraqi who explaines, "America is looking for a man who would take over from the occupation forces to target the Iraqi people, and now Maliki has achieved this ambition. Maliki has somehow started to execute the American project and the Iraqi people considers Maliki a tool in the hands of the Americans." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) probes the survivors of the continued US violence in Baghdad interviewing the survivors of US snipers -- snipers the US repeatedly denies the existance of -- such as Karrar Ali Hussein (sixteen-years-old and 'guilty' of playing soccer) and Ammar Ensayer ("guilty" of going to the marketplace). Fadel also speaks with the victims of the US air strikes such as Jabar Abdul Ridha who lost wife Kareema Hafout and daughter Nisrene Jabar when the US military elected to bomb their home as Kareema was hanging laundry. In complete denial, Maj Gen Kevin J. Bergner (US military flack) declared in Baghdad today praised the assault and maintained it demonstrated al-Maliki's "legitimate authority" and claimed "there are already indications that many citizens are working in support of their government."

Why would anyone say something so absurd? For the same reason the assault was launched, to prepare the rollout for US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus' testimonies to Congress this month. The assault was a disaster in that regard as well. It was supposed to give a p.r. boost, another wave of Operation Happy Talk that the two men could ride to justify the lack of progress and their cries for more illegal war.

In September, Congress acted like idiots. They allowed the White House roll out to take place with nothing to counter it. This week, US Senator Joe Biden uses his position as chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to do the sort of work Congress should have been doing last September. "Iraq After The Surge" was the title of two of today's hearings with the first being military prospects and the second being political prospects. It was a time for Senators on the committee (and anyone following the hearing) to get a grasp on some realities before the p.r. blitz begins.

"Last year I rejcted the claim that it [the 'surge'] was a new strategy. Rather, I said, it is a new tactic used to achieve the same old strategic aim, political stability. And I foresaw no serious prospects for success. I see no reason to change my judgment now," declared Lt. General William E. Odom (Retired). He was one of four witnesses testifying on the first panel. Joining him were retired Generals Barry McCaffrey (General) and Robert H. Scales, Jr. (Major General) as well as War Hawk Michele Flournoy who doesn't serve in the military, just wants to send it everywhere. Odom was the one to listen to of the four as he felt no need to sweeten up his findings. One example was when he addressed the "Awakening" Councils -- turncoat thugs now supporting the US because the US is paying them:

Let me emphasize that our new Sunni friends insist on being paid for their loyalty. I have heard, for example, a rough estimate that the cost in one area of about 100 square kilometers is $250,000 per day. And periodically they threaten to defect unless their fees are increased. You might want to find out the total costs for these deals forecasted for the next several years, because they are not small and they do not promise to end. Remember, we do not own these people. We merely rent them. And they can break their lease at any moment.

If Congress is going to take advantage of the opportunites the hearings Biden held provided, they will be requesting that information right now. They will not, instead, merely wait to ask Petraeus and Crocker when they appear. If they do that, the two men will beg off with, "I don't have that information before me." So put in the requests now. Let the White House know you want the dollar amounts.

Odom was thinking of the coming testimonies and urged the committee, "When the administration's witnesses appear before you, you should make them clarify how long the army and marines can sustain this band-aid strategy."

Odom rejected the nonsense of "bottom up" building of a nation-state and noted that, historically, it has no known antaecedents. It's a shame he wasn't also on the second panel because this administration talking point was favored by two panelist.

"This idea of fight terrorism" bothers Joe Biden because if the US left, any al Qaeda that is present would leave as well and "I find it not plausible that if we left al Qaeda will gain a foothold." Odom agreed with the point (and had noted it himself in his opening remarks.)

More importantly, Biden felt, "We don't talk much about the downsides of staying. The downsides of staying are overwhelming . . . but we have fallen into the jargon that if we leave . . . that these terrible things would happen. Is the opposite true that if we leave . . . we're likely to damage the ability of al Qaeda" to remain in Iraq? General McCaffrey agreed with that assessment noting that "it's hard to imagine that we went to Iraq to fight al Qaeda" in the first place of that the US needs to remain in Iraq for that reason.

Biden reminded everyone of "the state purpose" by the White House for the so-called "surge" which "was to get to the point where there was a change in the space on the ground . . . in order to give the administration an opportunity to come up with a political solution" and for the "warring factions" to come together. Odom rejected the notion floated by some which was the need for "trainers" to be left behind. He rightly noted that not only is that not a withdrawal, it's an invitation for further violence. Biden agreed noting that you cannot "transition into a training emphasis" while withdrawing troops "without leaving trainers exposed."

Odom addressed the elephant in the room: the violence that likely follows a withdrawal. "We don't have the physical choice to prevent chaos when we leave," he declared. "It's going to happen . . . no matter what we do. . . . We have the blame because we went in [to Iraq] . . . We do have the choice not to send more US troops. That's the moral choice we're facing." He also noted how trainers were "besides the point" when Iraq is plauged with conflict and divided loyalties.

General Scales fancy the country a circus performer, one that can walk a tightrope: "The key is a delicate balance between pulling out American pwoer and withdrawing." He went on to compare it a "balance beam or a teeter-totter."

Odom dismissed that idea and noted that this was a critical moment and that there had been a series of them throughout the Iraq War. "The first engagement was when we went in, we won that," he explained. That was the last time he judged a 'win' had taken place and "we have been on the defense ever since."

US Senator Richard Lugar cited Gen. Richard A. Cody's "stark assessment" when testifying to the Senate yesterday that he had "never seen our lack of strateig depth be where it is today."
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that Cody is set to be replaced with Lt Gen Raymond Odierno whose confirmation hearing is set for tomorrow. Odierno is a big Happy Talker and also fond of repeating charges against Iran without any backing.
the forces depleted to the point that they are today. Luger referenced a "
Spike in Attacks" chart in the Washington Post and noted, "It points out that a surge . . . buys time." He then reviewed various figures to demonstrate that US service members are repeatedly targeted and that the 'low' is still not low (see chart).

Noting those who were serving in the US military in Iraq, Senator John Kerry offered, "What we're here to do is find out whether we have a strategy worthy of" them, he sounded like a very distant cousin to the young man who once asked the United States Senate, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?" He felt that the Iraqi governmet was "corrupt to the core and dysfunctional to the corps" but wanted "conditional engagement" which would mean Iraqis do X and the US do Z. But what's the point of any "engagement" with a government "corrupt to the core"? Kerry was better in the second panel but in the first panel, he was all over the map. "This is intolerable, folks, absolutely intolerable," he declared in a functioning moment. Odom agreed that the dynamic needed to change but stated (rightly) "the only thing that will change the dynamics is withdrawal."

"The president," Odom noted, "and I even hear it on this committee -- you're not going to get out [of Iraq] leaving order. . . Every year we've stayed, the price has gotten higher. . . . You don't have any other choices" except to get out. This led Biden to offer, "Excuse my cynicism, I expect that's why they're leaving it for the next administration."

Senator Chuck Hagel noted that listening to the testimony of all (on the first panel) telgraphed one point: "we have no good options." He heard a lot of questions but, "the real question is: 'How do we get out of this mess?' That is the only question."

While Odom was offering truths and realities (including that the people the US is currently training are the ones who will most likely lose a civil war in Iraq after the US withdraws), Flournoy was insisting that the "keep[ing] that surge funding going is absolutely critical." Flournoy had nothing to offer. She's a centrist stalling, trying to prevent withdrawal. Even when the senators were addressing that option (some gingerly). Senator Robert Menendez pointed out that what seemed very likely is that the US would remain in Iraq to support some "two-star general" -- an Iraqi 'strong man' installed to bring 'order' and "maybe he'll be liked and maybe he won't be" but was that the really the purpose of all the suffering and dying? Menendez pointed out the problems for Iraqi children, the lack of access to potable water and wondered, "How much more money is it going to take before we do this right?"

Noting the strain put on the US military (never a concern for Flournoy), US Senator Jim Webb again addressed deployments noting that "as long as you've been deployed, you should have that much time at home."

The second panel consisted of Yahia Said (Revenue Watch Institute), Stephen Biddle (Council on Foreign Relations) and Nir Rosen (NYU). The latter broke from stay-keep-the-war-going talking points and engaged the interest of Biden leading to a dialogue between the two about the realities. While Rosen was noting the violence was inevitable, Biddle insisted that it could be "low enough so it wouldn't be on the front page of newspapers." And that tells you just about everything you ever need to know about the Council of/for/from Foreign Relations. Senator Kerry was much more focused during this panel and quickly noted of Biddle, "So you're in the 100-year-war school." Biddle denied it but kept insisting on the "bottom up approach" which Odom had noted in the first panel just doesn't happen. Kerry noted that any "stability is only going to be maintained while we are there" and wondered how long the US could afford spending "ten to twelve million dollars a month" to pursue temporary stability? Yahia Said didn't make his testimony go over any easier by suggesting that the hope was an emerging 'strong man' causing Kerry (in his strongest moment) to ask, "Is that what our troops are dying for?"

Senator Lisa Murkowski asked the panel to "define a stabilizaed Iraq" and Biddle declared that it would be "an end to large scale violence." "And we do that through the bottom up approaching you are endorsing?" Murkowksi asked. Yes, Biddle asserted. Said felt that approach "has almost" -- almost -- "reached its limits." Nir Rosen noted the opinions of the Iraqi people and stated, "I think they should withdraw as soon as possible." Senator Russ Feingold wnated to know about the opinions on timetables. Not much happened until Senator Barbara Boxer was allowed her allotted time.

Barbara Boxer: Did you just say that Maliki uses the Iraqi security forces as his militia? Did you say that?

Biddle: Yes.

Barbara Boxer: If that's true and Maliki uses his military as a force to bring about peace -- that's scandalous and that we would have paid $20 million to train [it] and someone that we consider an expert says it's a militia, that's shocking.

She then attempted to question Rosen who attempted to add details. Details weren't needed and ate into the time needed for Boxer to make the case she was making. "I come out with a picture of Iraq today," she explained, "as a bloody lawless place, run by militias, a place that has undergone ethnic cleansing and the Shias won that . . . and also that the US presence there is only putting off the day when the Iraqis will find the way."

This was a yes or a no. Nir Rosen didn't need to offer stories. (But he did.) He's very lucky Boxer didn't tell him to hold his thoughts (she did tell Biddle that). She noted, "I'm surprised because that's not what General Petraeus tells us. He tells us he's proud" of how the training is coming and "that's not what Condi Rice tells us . . . I'm surprised."

Had Nir Rosen known when to shut his trap, Boxer might have a soundbyte for the evening news. Boxer wanted Biddle to explain his remarks and explain how the US could still be a peacekeeping force in Iraq while they were engaging warlords in Iraq which boils down to taking sides. ("You cannot count" on them, Boxer pointed out of the warlords on the US dime.) She rejected as offensive Biddle's suggestion that that sitting down with warlords was an answer. "There is no good solution to this nightmare," she pointed out, "so why not just figure out a way to tell the Iraqis, 'We've spilled the blood, now it's your turn.'"

Biddle was unusually snarky even for him and made a cutting remark implying that only those willing to keep US troops in Iraq for years actually cared about the outcome in Iraq leading Boxer to call him out loudly and to state, "And for you to suggest that I don't care about the outcome is a total, total slap to those of us who were against the war." Biddle made a mealy-mouthed statement about how that wasn't what he meant leading Boxer to snap, "I'll take that as an apology."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that US airplanes "bombed some targets in Sadr city," 3 Baghdad roadside bombings that claimed 3 lives wounded twenty, 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that wounded four people, A Diyala Province bombing killed 1 woman and left a man wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing claimed 3 lives and left eight people wounded and a Mosul car bombing claimed the life of 1 woman and left four police officers wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two women were shot dead in Baghdad today and their driver wounded, an Iraqi soldier and an Iraqi police officer were shot dead in Salahuddin, 2 people were shot dead in Kirkuk, an armed clash in Al Anbar among police officers and the US paid "Awakening" council resulted in five people wounded and, in Basra, a shooting targeted "the spokesman of the MOD" who survived but a Hurra TV correspondent was wounded. Reuters notes 2 police officers and 1 civilian were shot dead in al-Baaj


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Turning to Australia, in April 2006, Jake Kovco became the first Australian service member to die in Iraq (April 26, 2006). How he died was not clear even after a laughable "inquiry" that lasted for much of 2006's summer. A coronial inquest issued a ruling yesterday.
Australia's ABC reports that the Australian Defence Association are stating that the ruling "strengthens the case for reforms to the military justice system." And the findings themselves? The inquest found that Jake Kovco died from self-inflected wounds. The verdict is a joke and we'll get to that in a moment. During the coronial inquest, Amy Coopes (Herald Sun) reported that William Green, then stationed in Iraq, testified that in the military inquest, he was approached in Iraq by Warrant Officer Tim Cuming with a warning about his scheduled videolink testimony (he didn't end up testifying). This latest inquest did not address or explain the issue of DNA: "Forensic testing of the grip and slide of the pistol showed DNA in dominant amounts from Pte Kovco's barracks rommate and duty partner Pte Steve Carr." The Mercury notes, "Judy Kovco was the driving force behind the establishment of the coronial inquiry, accusing the military of a cover-up over her son's death." Jacob Kovco also left behind two young children as well as widow who wants her privacy, as she so frequently tells the press. Malcolm Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) asks Judy Kovco if she believes the proceedings were stage-managed and she responds, "That is exactly what they did. They cut 100 witnesses out." Judy notes Rod Cross from Sydney University's Department of Physics who "had written a report at the request of the police and concluded that Private Kovco had not been acting irresponsibly." Judy Kovco tells Brown, "What they seem to have forgotten, it is my son. I know better than anyone he would not do that. What they have tried to do is to make him out to be a lunatic, and he was not anything like that. It is a bit hard to swallow. It is more than a bit hard." And no wonder. Judy Kovco was promised a real hearing and that's now what took place. Dan Box (The Australian) notes that "the inquest did reveal a series of flaws in the military investigation into Kovco's death. These included the loss of potential evidence and the use of a crude 'cut-and-paste' technique that meant pages of witnesses statements were almost identical." For what's beein presented as the final word and something so obvious, it's amazing that the jury would have so much trouble deliberating. Had the needed witnesses been called, there might have been a different finding and exactly what John Agius' whine that the original finding must be backed up to prevent 'pain' to the living (primarily the soldier whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun) had to do with anything is a puzzler. But in the same way that truth was not the concern in the 2006 inquest, it doesn't appear to have been the focus in this inquest either.

US Rep
Shelley Berkley (noted in yesterday's snapshot) announces that southern Nevada will finally be getting their first full-service VA medical center. And Senator Hillary Clinton issued the following statement on World Autism Awareness Day:

I am pleased to join the United Nations in recognizing the inaugural World Autism Awareness Day. Today offers us the opportunity to reaffirm a commitment to addressing the need for increased treatment, services, and research into autism spectrum disorders.
In the United States and other countries, we have seen a rise in the number of individuals diagnosed with autism. Throughout my time in public service, I have met with families who have shared their experiences in dealing with autism, and trying to seek the best possible care for their loved ones with the disorder. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 150 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. In order to respond to these increases, we need to have a commensurate investment in services and programs for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. I also believe that we should increase our efforts to research autism, so that we better understand the causes and the best treatments for this condition.
In November, I announced a comprehensive plan to address autism. My plan provides nearly $1 billion over five years for autism research, surveillance, awareness, and early identification. I will create an Autism Task Force charged with investigating evidence-based treatments, interventions, and services. We need to know what works and start investing in those efforts. I will also expand access to post-diagnosis care so that once children have been identified as autistic, they receive appropriate evidence-based treatment immediately. No child should experience a delay in receiving services that can improve his or her quality of life. But too often today, children are forced to wait for months for care. I'll also provide funding to school districts and universities to train teachers and other health and social services professionals in how to work most effectively with autistic children, since the number of children with autism in our public schools has skyrocketed in recent years. I'll make sure every young person has a transition plan before they leave high school. I will also ensure that both children and adults with autism have access to the services they need -- including housing, transportation, employment - to live rich and full lives. In all, I will commit $500 million annually to provide services to improve the quality of life for all people living with autism.
This plan builds on my work in the Senate to help individuals and families impacted by autism. Last year, I introduced the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act, which would increase the availability of effective treatment, services and interventions for both children and adults living with autism. I was also a cosponsor of the Combating Autism Act, and have worked to secure funding for the research programs authorized by that act.
I hope that today's commemoration will once again allow us to highlight the needs of children, adults, and families impacted by autism, and I look forward to working to continue to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorders.

mcclatchy newspapers