Friday, November 17, 2006

Ty, Jess and Ava filling in for Elaine

Tonight, Elaine's out with Mike for a film and then they have their Iraq discussion group. What do you have? Ty, Jess and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review filling in. If you're surprised, we think Elaine may be as well. Although we think she assumes someone is guest posting for her. C.I. asked her for the password and she didn't even ask C.I. why; so she may be on to us.

We're currently trying to figure out who'll be working on Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas weekend and want to be sure that everyone gets a break that wants one. But we also know Mike and Elaine need some time together and away from computer screens. They have some exciting plans for tomorrow and we don't want either of them to have to log on tomorrow morning and do an entry. Jim's covering for Mike and the three of us are working on this post. Hopefully, that will mean when they wake up tomorrow and Trina and Rebecca (who are 'in the know' about what we're doing) tell them, they'll be relieved, happy and able to start their day without ever booting up a computer.

Jim said he was going to do a talking post partly because he knows the community enjoys them but also because he didn't want to "blow my wad" on a topic we are hoping to address in Sunday's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. We never know what will make the cut. Anything we work on can (and does) go into the print edition. But we try to pick the best for the online edition. "The best" is judged by many things including, but not limited to, writing. It can be the worst written thing in the world but if we feel it's important to say, we'll put it up online.

We write collectively (on everything except the TV reviews) and we enjoy that process for a number of reasons but we'll stop right there on that because that is a potential topic for this weekend. We've got a list of twenty things right now. In addition to that list, other ideas will come at the last minute based on what's going on and, of course, Dona's cry of "We need a short feature! Everything's long!"

Dona's smoking like a chimney throughout each edition. (Rebecca smokes as well but unless everyone's together, we're not around her smoke.) (That's not a complaint about Dona's smoking.) If she gets up to three packs during the writing session for the edition one of us (Ava) and C.I. will usually point that out in a "we need to wind down" kind of way.

None of us mind Dona's smoking but we do worry about her health (short term and long). She'll indulge us in that about every few months. "Mr. Let It All Hang Out" Jim will sometimes smoke one or two cigarettes if it's an extremely long session. Between candles and incense (Kat has the best incense), it's really not a problem (we usually have a window cracked as well). But when we look back on these editions years from now, we'll remember Dona with a cigarette in hand or mouth, brow furrowed, shaking her head, fretting over whether we've got anything worth sharing with anyone (she's fond of saying, "Even my grandmother wouldn't fake a smile after reading this!") (fond of yelling that). There's a myth that Jim's the editor-type. He may very well be but in our editions, Dona's usually more the editor and Jim's more of the publisher.

We say that because Jim will get lost in style. He'll want to offer suggestions on style. Dona, we can picture her in a newsroom barking out orders left and right. They're an interesting contrast because Jim can be laid back (and we think living in California has brought that trait to the surface for him) (and we don't see that as a bad thing) but Dona is very much Type A.

In the roundtable's, readers know, she's the one who usually calls "time" and brings it to a close. We think you can see Jim and Dona's personalities in those roundtables. Jim's always interested in the idea someone brings up that no one's expressed yet. He's interested and willing to explore it. Dona's watching the clock and thinking, "We have to finish this! Now!"

That's her outside of the roundtables as well. Jim's the same outside as well. We could see Jim, for instance, years from now editing an erudite monthly (say Harper's). We could see Dona running a daily paper. In fact, we could see her doing that during a newspaper strike.

We're not calling her a "scab" who wouldn't honor a walk out. But we could see her writing and editing a daily paper during a crisis. When the paper was put to bed, as dawn was breaking, we could see her lighting one more cigarette, cursing under her breath and stumbling home.

We mention that because people always have these ideas about Dona. There are readers who e-mail to say, "She's a real bitch." There are many more who e-mail to say how much they love her (we fall in the latter camp). She's just really amazing. And you have to be to go head to head with Jim. We love you, Jim, we really do, but you can be very stubborn.

Dona's talked about how, when she worked on her high school paper, she was pretty much the only woman there. We're not sure if she's shared this part at our site but there were many attempts to shove her into a "soft" slot because she was a woman. She wouldn't take that. Not then and not now. She learned how to be heard long ago and no one is going to push her around.

So we wanted to talk about that side but we also wanted to note something that comes up in the e-mails quite often. People who get a response from Dona are always shocked by how nice she is in those. That's her as well. When there's a job to be done, Dona gets it done. She's focused on that and she accomplishes it. But there's also another side that's very sweet and some readers may not get that due to the fact that they really just know her from what goes up at the site.

Jim's no slouch either. As we've noted, he is the most stubborn. And he's the most committed to 'big journalism' and their code. When that conflicts with Dona's desire to get the edition done, the rest of us just sit back and let them go at it. You don't want to get caught in that crossfire.

Sometimes, with the TV reviews, a quick read will be requested. The concern (of C.I. and Ava's) is, "Can you follow it?" If Jim looks over it, he'll zero in on one paragraph and say, "That's the review. Trash everything but that paragraph and expand on it." Dona will look at it and say, "Pargraph three lost me, paragraph seven needs an additional sentence." Dona's very aware of the deadlines. Jim's taking more of a "what do we have here" approach.

Having dished on Dona and Jim, we'll now each share a secret about ourselves.

Ava: People always think Jim and I hate each other. We don't. In fact, we have a child together. Okay, that's a lie. But we don't hate each other. There was a period when I really did not want to be around Jim, shortly after we started the site. Jim had no idea there was a problem. Which Dona said, "Typical Jim." But Dona said, "Stand up to him." I did. When I started doing that, I realized the problem was me. I can tell Jim, "Shut up." I can say, "No."
It's not the end of the world. Jim really doesn't care. I don't mean he doesn't care about your feelings. I do mean, he really is "Mr. Let It All Hang Out." As soon as I started expressing myself, Jim didn't bother me. I don't mean he changed, he's Jim. I mean that I changed. There was nothing buried inside. I wasn't nursing a grudge. We really do get along and laugh quite often. When there's a comment from me in "A Note To Our Readers," regardless of what it is, Jim's laughing with it, even if it's about him. A number of readers see those statements and think Jim and I must be on the verge of tearing each other apart. We're not. We really do get along. That's not because he changed, and I wouldn't want him too, I appreciate him as a friend now. It is because I changed. I am not an all nighter person and I do not enjoy the 13 plus hours spent or the sun coming up when, if we're lucky, we're finishing the edition. If I keep that inside, buried, I am angry all week. Now that I don't, we have no problems. And credit Elaine for that because she really did work on that with me. If I ever go into therapy, I want Elaine!

Jess: While Dona's some readers' idea of the "bad girl," they all tend to see Ava as sweetness and light which she is. But she's got a surprising side. Nobody knows how tomorrow ends let alone the future. However we are both agreed that we're longterm. She blew me away last week when she said, "You know, I don't think I ever want to get married." That's the sort of statement that some readers would expect from Dona.

Ava: Who, for the record, already has her baby names picked out for when she has kids.

Jess: That's true. And she can also tell you every detail of what her wedding will be like.

Ty: You weren't hurt by that, were you?

Jess: No. I didn't see it as a rejection.

Ava: It wasn't. I do see us a longterm and hope that's how it ends up. Jess is much more mystic than I am. When I say I see us as longterm, I mean it with no qualifiers. But I just don't see marriage as something I want. That's partly due to the fact that same-sex couples can't get married which I do find myself focusing on more and more as I think about what marriage really is. But I don't want that, at least not today, for myself. I'd rather us be lovers for fifty years than married.

Jess: You even told your father that.

Ava: He was more shocked than you. My mother and aunt calmed him down. Now his attitude is, "Well think of all the money I'll save." Meaning since he doesn't have to pay for a wedding.

Ty: On weddings. Members of the community know this already. I've talked about it in roundtables at the gina & krista round-robin and considered writing about it at The Third Estate Sunday Review but didn't want it to be like "the announcement." I'm gay. My family knows, my friends know. One of the things Jim's father and C.I. both pointed out about sharing at the site was that the more you shared, the more that could follow you around. Jim's father is a reporter and knows I could end up stuck with "gay beat." They were both very supportive as I went back and forth about noting that in something at Third. When I ended up deciding I wanted to go into the entertainment filed, the first thing C.I. said, "Well now you don't have to worry." That really is true. No one cares. If I was trying to be an actor or something, they might. What I found interesting about Jim's dad and C.I. was that they were both saying, "If you're comfortable sharing it, share it." I had a professor, and this was one of the reasons I was so glad to leave New York, who told me that to admit it would mean I'd either have to work at a gay publication or cover 'gay topics' for a paper or TV news. Jim's dad talked about the work required to overcome that if I got stuck with people who would just see gay as bosses. But he was very clear that it could be overcome. My ex-professor, who I had a lot of respect for, didn't think there was any 'overcoming.' I'm not saying he's wrong, I feel he is, but maybe he's not? But I am saying that it was probably the last nail in the coffin for me and journalism. Just to hear someone whose opinion I respected so much say that I needed to stop sharing it with friends because the more people who knew, the more likely someone would learn later.

Jess: I never liked that guy.

Ty: Yeah, you called him right. Jess said I was his 'pet project.' Jess said his attitude was, "He's Black and he can write! Look how wonderful I am to applaud him." And he always was encouraging about my work and real supportive until he found out. Then I started getting stuff back marked "This is a little too gay." Or "That's really more suited for the bathhouses." Maybe it was, I've never been to a bathhouse. But I was doing my assignments the exact way I was doing before I mentioned my sexuality to him. I think the moment he knew, he started looking for "gay" in anything I wrote.

Ava: I was neutral to him, the professor. He seemed full of himself more often than not. But let me note that Jess has the best insticts about people. If Jess' radar starts warning him, I've learned to trust it.

Jess: Thank you. Let's deal with an e-mail question since Ty's noted his sexuality. Do we call it "coming out"?

Ty: Community members knew already but yeah, we can call it my coming out online in a public forum.

Jess: Congratulations on your coming out. When Mike and Elaine were first becoming a couple, C.I. knew. You can't put anything past C.I., if we're talking about radars, let's note that. But it almost came out in a roundtable Mike was doing. In a roundtable we did at our site, Ava talked about how she wondered if it was --

Ava: If what C.I. stopped Mike from talking about in that roundtable.

Jess: Right, if that was about her and I being a couple. In the roundtable at our site, she shared that when she found it wasn't, she tried to figure out who the couple was?

Ty: And she thought maybe it was Mike and Wally. And, did e-mails come in after that. Is Wally gay? Why would she think he'd be with Mike? Is Mike gay or bi?

Ava: It had nothing to do with that. I understand why some readers went there. Mike and Wally would make a sexy couple, my opinion. But, no, they've never given any indication that they were gay. But sometimes you don't know. I didn't know about Ty until he told me.

Ty: And I just figured Jess had told you because Jim, Jess and I were roomates.

Jess: It was in the vault. Everybody's personal details go in the vault.

Ava: But I wasn't insulting them. I don't think gay is an insult. I did check with them, after Ty told me about the e-mails that were coming in. They thought it was funny. They weren't offended. But since we're talking about sexuality, to clear it up, they're not involved. They've never been lovers. Wally's farily serious about a woman at his school and they've been involved for some time now. And of course Mike was with Nina and is now with Elaine. The reason I thought of them was that Wally had spent part of the summer with Mike. Who ever Mike was involved with was someone he'd spent the summer with. I didn't think it was Betty because she sees Mike as this big puppy dog. I couldn't believe that Kat would hook up with Mike and not tell me. So I thought, "Well Wally has been spending several weeks at Mike's . . ." I don't think being gay is a bad thing or an insult. I certainly wasn't trying to paint them as gay to those who do think it's a bad thing. Did that clear up the record?

Jess: Yeah.

Ty: I think so. We done?

Jess: Now, because Elaine loves CounterPunch, we have a highlight.

"A Down-to-Earth Disengagement Plan: George McGovern's Return to Capitol Hill" (Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch):
One of the excellent additions McGovern and Polk bring to the discussion is their effort to put the choices in perspective. They note we are spending $10 million per hour, $246 million per day in Iraq. Their program, which includes funds for a managed withdrawal, funds for rebuilding and funds for a stabilization force, would cost approximately $13.2 billion ­ compared to between $300 and $400 billion in costs for the occupation over two years. The U.S. would save 97% of the current cost of staying in Iraq. Of course, the human costs are also staggering. "Every day, every hour, increases all of these costs," noted Polk.
Gael Murphy of Code Pink raised the point that no one in Congress ever asks the question ­ is there a relationship between the growth of the insurgency and the presence of U.S. troops. In response Polk began by noting that people do not want to face reality. But people at the Army War College have said U.S. troops are the cause of the insurgency. And, George McGovern added that the most recently released National Intelligence Estimate indicated that Iraq had become a recruitment ground for terrorists because of the U.S. presence.
Aseel Albanna of Iraqi Voices for Peace expressed the concern of many Iraqis about the existing government ­ how it was corrupt and really did not represent Iraqis ­ as well as that many Iraqis "roll their eyes" when there is discussion of the U.N. sending a peace keeping force. In response Polk pointed out that in every guerilla war the government installed by the occupiers falls when the occupying army leaves. He pointed out how Bush says that the Iraqis picked this government through elections, but this was also true with the South Vietnamese government. They were voted into office by wide margins but after the U.S. left that government disappeared. Polk expects that when the U.S. leaves there will need to be a new government. The U.S. should not try to control the selection of a new government. Iraqis are intelligent people who are capable of governing themselves. The U.S. should stay out of the process. No doubt there will be jockeying for power but a consensus will develop.

We think that's a pretty important highlight. We think the last one is too. Since we're at Elaine's site, we're trying to follow her unofficial style manual.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 17, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Bully Boy's long journey to Vietnam is complete (you can refer to the various stops since Tuesday or you can take it back to his days in and out of the National Guard);
Ehren Watada's father Bob wraps up his current speaking tour Friday night; Tony Blair may have lost a supporter; war resister Kyle Snyder still needs support; and the US military has all sorts of announcements and numbers including 57,000 US troops to deploy to Iraq next year.

Starting with yesterday's kidnappings -- there were two.
Reuters cover this: "Passengers from up to six minibuses may have been abducted after being stopped at a fake security checkpoint in the capital, police and local residents said" from yesterday and, in addition, there was a kidnapping in southern Iraq.

C4 reported on the mass kidnapping in Baghdad one of the few that did.* Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) noted: "Much of the day's other violence was directed at Shiite Muslims. Gunmen erected fake checkpoints in a Sunni neighborhood and seized Shiite passengers off minibuses." Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) noted: "Six missing minibuses were mostly carrying Shiites when gunmen, some in uniform, pulled them over for bogus security checks, police sources said."

The dickering over this kidnapping among Iraqi's various members of government follows the pattern after Tuesday's mass kidnapping which
Kirk Semple (New York Times) observed was being seen (by Jalal Talabani, Iraqi president) as a potential "complete collapse of the government"). Queried by Jon Snow, of England's C4, as to whether "you think there are other ministers in the government who are complicit?" in the kidnappings, Iraq's minister of Higher Eductation, Abd Dhiab, stated he did believe that and, while refusing to answer whether he personally believed the police could be trusted, he noted that "the people" do not feel they can be.

Jon Snow: You seem to be describing a situation of anarchy here?

Abd Dhiab: Anarchy clearly, nobody can deny that.

Jon Snow: But, I mean, if you feel you have to resign then in a way we're beginning to see the disengration of the government?

Abd Dhiab (in a rambling answer) agreed.
Kirk Semple noted Mohammed Bashar al-Faidi (Muslim Scholars Associaton) declared on Al Jazeera TV, "I don't know how to describe it, but it represents the bankruptcy of the sectarian government following one scandal after the other." The willingness of officials go to public with their own stark observations about Iraq comes as Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Turkey. Louise Roug (LA Times) reports that al-Maliki believes the matters can wait until next week to be resolved in a meeting of his cabinet.

Bully Boy believes that the answer for a 'win' is, as
Simon Tisdall (Guardian of London) reports, "a last big push" that could result in increasing US troops in Iraq -- not withdrawing them. Tisdall also reveals that sources say "Bush family loyalist James Baker" and others on the supposed independent Iraq Study Group are now doing the bidding of the Pentagon and will include the following points as "victory strategy:"

1) Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq.

2) Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

3) Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others.

4) Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.

David Jackson (USA Today) reports that Bully Boy declared in Hanoi that "he was unaware of a British newspaper report that he is considering an additional 30,000 troops in Iraq."
20,000 and, if Bully Boy's denying, chances are it's true. (Flashback to his performance of "My Guy" to Rumsfled right before the election and then, after the election, his rendention of "Hit the Road, Jack.") The
AP reports that Bully Boy has compared Iraq to Vietnam yet again and offered, "We'll succeed unless we quit." Not quite as catchy as "stay the course" but certainly many of lemmings will show up, possibly in face paint, at his domestic gatherings to change "We'll succeed unless we quit." Of course, the reality is you suceed unless you lose and, more reality, the illegal war is lost.

CNN reports it's whack-a-mole time again "as 2,2000 more Marines are being deployed to Iraq's volatile Anbar province". Interviewed by Joshua Scheer (Truthdig), US Congress Rep. Dennis Kucinich noted of al-Anbar that it's "a place which was already declared 'lost' for the purposes of military occupation. Why are we sacrificing our young men and women? Why are we keeping them in an impossible situation? Why are we stoking a civil war with our continued presence? We have to take a new direction in Iraq, and that direction is out."

This as
Al Jazeera reports Rabah al-Alwan of "the Union of Lawyers in al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq" is asserting that 211 families have been thrown out of their homes in Al-Anbar Province so that the US military can occupy them. Among the homes seized is al-Alwan's and he states: "Ten months ago, the US army seized my house and dozens of houses in the neighbourhood where I live. Residents were not allowed take any of their savings, jewellery, furniture or clothes. . . . They [US snipers] killed a lot of people, such as Ayad Mutar and Muhamad Ayad, for approaching their [own] houses to try to get some of their families' clothes and belongings." al-Alwan tells of promises to compensate families for their homes with money that never got handed over, of attacks on the homes now that the US military is lodged in them, and the continued occupation of the home have led former occupants to join the resistance.

Hearts and minds? Or are they supposed to take comfort in the empty words mouthed by the Bully Boy, as
noted by Mark Tran (Guardian of London), "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while."
A while? What is known is that the illegal war hits the four-year anniversary in March of 2007 -- four months from now.

What is known also includes the fact that yesterday's other kidnapping, in southern Iraq, resulted in the kidnapping of at least five people. The
BBC reports that the abducted were four Americans and one Austrian. Will Weissert (AP) reports that two of the abducted turned up: an Austrian who was dead and an American "gravely wounded" -- in addition, Weissert notes that "[n]ine Asian employees" were kidnapped and that they have been released. Xinhua reports that 14 people were kidnapped and that the area was under the control of Iraqis having been turned over to them by Italy in September. Kirk Semple (New York Times) identifies the site of the kidnapping as the Nassiriya. AP places the location as Safwan. Edward Wong (New York Times) reports that searches are ongoing to find the abducted but that there are denials of any of the kidnapped being released or found.

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes that four police officers were shot dead outside a bank in Baghdad, that two brothers are dead from a Baghdad attack, that a civilian was shot dead in Kirkuk and "his baby daughter" injured and, in Baquba "Lieutenant Colonel Sattar Jabar, chief of police media" was shot dead. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) reports "the British military said a British private security guard was wounded in a clash with Iraqi police. The police said two policemen and another Westerner were killed" and that Zubayr was where "police said colleagues stopped an unmarked car. Western in civilian clothes inside opened fire, killing two officers and wounding two women passers-by. Police returned fire, killing one of the Westerns and wounding another." The 'Westerners' may or may not be British or American.


Reuters notes two corpses were discovered near Falluja and and two near Numaniya. CNN reports that 25 corpses ("bullet-riddled") were discovered in Baghdad today.

Also today, the
US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was killed by small arms fire Thursday during combat operations in Diyala province." The total number of US troops who have died thus far this month to 45, and to 2865 since the start of the illegal war. This as Donna Miles announces on behalf of the Defense Department that 57,000 US troops will being deploy to Iraq (8,300 to Afghanistan). The 57,000 will be part of the rotation to keep the total number of US troops on the ground in Iraq at 144,000 -- the increased number that was put in place last summer for the now-cracked-up Baghdad crackdown.

In other signs of the dissention in the puppet government,
Hannah Allamn and Mohamed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the Shi'ite dominated Interior Ministry "issued an arrest warrant for one of the country's most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics, charging him with violating antiterrorism laws." The BBC notes the cleric, Harith al-Dhari, is the head of the Association of Muslim Scholars and that he is currently in Jordan. Ross Colvin (Reuters) notes that the reaction to the warrant (issued while both al-Dhari and al-Maliki were out of the country) has been intense with the largest Sunni political party (The Islamic Party) calling it a "mercy bullet" that would put the dying government down. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) notes that the Association of Muslim Scholars is requesting "Sunni politicians . . . quit Iraq's government" in response to the arrest warrant and notes that: "The move came as cracks emerged within Iraq's six-month-old unity government over the numbers of government employees taken in a mass kidnapping on Tuesday and whether some were tortured and killed." In addition to the above support, Al-Dhari also received support from Sunni clerics and, as Will Weissert (AP) reports, from one of Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, who stated that the warrant "is destructive to the national reconcilliation plan." And CNN updates to note that the Iraqi government has backed off ("clarified") the warrant which they now maintain was never to arrest al-Dhari but merely to "check security files linked" to him.

In other news,
Mike Corder (AP) reports that De Volkskrant, Dutch newspaper, has reported that "Dutch military interrogators abused dozens of Iraqi prisoners in 2003, dousing them with water to keep them awake and exposing them to high-pitched noises and strong lights" and conducted by "members of the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service in November 2003 in buildings of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad." Alexandra Hudson and Nicola Leske (Reuters) report that the report, which emerged Friday, has already resulted in announcement from the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp that he knew abuses were possible but an earlier investigation had not turned up anything -- now he's "announced an independent investigation into the earlier study by military police and his own conduct in the affair." As the BBC notes, the revelations come "days before the country's parliamentary elections."

Meanwhile, in England, the
Guardian of London reports that Margaret Hodge has created a stir in England. The MP Hodge is seen as an ally of Tony Blair so it came as a surprise to some when it was reported that she called the illegal war Tony Blair's "big mistake in foreign affairs" while speaking to the Islington Fabian Society where she also noted that she accepted pre-war claims because "he was our leader and I trusted him."

In peace news, Vietnam war resister
Gerry Condon has posted a letter at Soldiers Say No! on Kyle Snyder. To recap, Snyder, on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Since then Snyder has been underground, surfacing to speaking out against the war.

Condon is requesting more calls supporting to Snyder:

Thanks to all of you who have made calls to the Commanding General at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The phones have been ringing off the walls there. Now it is time to make the phones ring at Fort Leonard Wood. Say hello to Fort Leonard Woods's brand new commander, Major General William McCoy, Jr., recently returned from the U.S. occupation of Iraq (you can read his emotional address upon assuming his new command at
Here are the numbers to call at Fort Leonard Wood
Office of the Commanding General (that's how they answer) 573-596-0131
Public Affairs Office, tel. 573-563-4013 or 4105, fax: 573-563-4012, email:
We want to deliver one clear message:

Kyle Snyder is a US war resister and part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes people such as Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. That's just the ones who have gone public. (Over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.)

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.

Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, is wrapping up a speaking tour he and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) have been on to raise awareness on Ehren Watada. The tour winds down tonight, a full schedule can be found here, and this is the final date:

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition, to Atlanta,
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

iraqehren watadabob watada
kyle snyder
the new york timeskirk semple
the washington postsudarsan raghavan
gregg k. kakesako
joshua scheer
edward wong

[*Thank you to a friend at C4 for calling -- repeatedly -- to pass the C4 interview on.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iraq, the Who

Okay, so I am going to talk music tonight, but first let's note Iraq. Don't want to be a baby gas bag wasting everyone's time with talk of Trent Lott. (See Cedric's "A baby gas bag explains how (humor)" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BABY GAS BAG IGNORES IRAQ!") Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"New Challenges for the Anti-War Movement: Iraq After November 7" (Walden Bello, CounterPunch):
Iraq is the test case. As many have pointed out, the Democrats have no unified strategy on Iraq. The situation in Iraq has deteriorated to the point where only bad choices are available.
The current Bush strategy is to shore up the Shiite-dominated government militarily, and that isn't working. Bringing in more troops temporarily to stabilize the situation, then leaving-a plan originally endorsed by John Kerry-won't work since the civil war has progressed to the point where even a million troops won't make a difference. Partitioning Iraq into three entities-the Sunni center, the Shiite South, and the Kurdish North-will simply be a prelude to even greater conflict tying down more U.S. troops. Withdrawing to the bases or to the desert to avoid casualties will simply raise the question: why keep troops there at all?
Getting Iran, Turkey, and Syria to come in to create a diplomatic solution-one that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton may propose-is not going to work because no foreign-imposed settlement can counteract the deadly domestic dynamics of a sectarian conflict that has passed the point of no return.
Bush, of course, remains the boss when it comes to Iraq policy. It is not likely that this stubborn man has ceased to believe in victory, which he restated as his goal at the same press conference where he announced Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. The more Machiavellian Republican strategists like Karl Rove will probably want to enmesh the Democrats in a protracted bipartisan exit strategy that will cost more Iraqi and American lives so that by the time the 2008 presidential elections come around, the mess in Iraq will be bipartisan as well.
As of now, the Democrats have the moral weight of the country behind them. They have an opportunity not only to eliminate a foreign policy millstone but to open the road to a new relationship between America and the world if they take the least worst route out of Iraq-that espoused by Rep. John Murtha, who, perhaps among the key Democrats, knows the military realities on the ground: immediate withdrawal. With all their inchoate feelings about wasted American lives, "our responsibility to Iraqis," or being seen as "cutting and running," many of those who voted for the Democrats may have some difficulty accepting the reality that immediate withdrawal is the least worst of all the options. But that is the function of leaders: to articulate the bitter truth when the times demand it.
It is not likely that most Democratic politicians will embrace immediate withdrawal of their own accord. Without more sustained pressure, the likely course they will take is to come with a plan that will compromise with Bush, which means another unworkable patchwork of a plan.

That really is what it boils down to. Do the Democrats have the spine to end the war or not? This is the test and they will be remembered for how they handle this. There's a lot in the snapshot -- I'm very impressed with Dennis Kucinich -- and it does matter. If they refuse to address Iraq or if they want to provide cover for the illegal war to continue, they are revealing themselves to be useless. "Modify the course" appears to be the new official slogan. It's not better than "Stay the course." The US needs to get out of Iraq.

The snapshot includes details of KPFA's The Morning Show which I did not hear this morning and usually do not hear. No offense to the show, I'm doing sessions. I do get cancellations from time to time during the afternoons but never in the mornings. However, Sunny frequently listens online at her desk and she wanted two things noted. First, she really enjoyed Natalie Goldring as a guest. (I've promised to attempt to listen to this segment, Sunny says it's the first segment of the show.) Second, Goldring made a comparison of Iraq to a relationship and Sunny said, "You've got to link to C.I.'s thing again!" That entry is actually on my blogroll and is listed as "Should This Marriage Be Saved? (C.I.)." I love that entry to this day. I especially love that for all the hula-hoopers with their talk of "frame," they didn't come up with a concrete example that Iraq could be put into. C.I. did. The Common Ills hadn't taken off at that point. But it was getting there. C.I. was spending a great deal of time on e-mails (reading the ones coming in and responding) and, of course, going here, there and everywhere to speak out against the war. I had asked a few days prior to this entry whether or not it was worth all the time it was taking. (I was one of the people telling C.I. to start a website throughout 2004.) I enjoyed the site before the marriage analogy went up; however, I did wonder about all the time spent on entries and e-mails -- especially with everything else C.I. was attempting to do.

When "Should This Marriage Be Saved? (C.I.)" went up, I was reminded of the difference the site could make. Those could come every day (or at least every week) if C.I. wasn't having to chase down the Times daily. (But members want that.) Jim will tell you that C.I. avoids these type of entries quite often thinking it might be something that could be a topic for a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review. When Rebecca went on vacation the first summer after starting her site, I got a very clear picture of what it's like to blog. I would start the day with these hopes, thinking I really had something wonderful to write about, then I'd be dealing with links and technical issues and usually have lost all my enthusiasm for anything by the point I was mid-way through a post that night. Early on, I realized I was just tossing out copy and maybe something in it, a small point or a highlight, might be of worth. That's really all you can hope for. Blogging then and blogging now at my own site really makes me appreciate what C.I. does. Both the wonderful entries as well as the day to day ones. I don't have that kind of time. I can't imagine how C.I. does (even resorting to dictating for many entries.) There's a column for the gina & krista round-robin each week, a column for Polly's Brew each week, all those entries at The Common Ills, filling in for Kat on Fridays while she's in Ireland, working with The Third Estate Sunday Review each weekend (and Ava and C.I. do the TV commentaries by themselves) and beyond all of that is a life far removed from computer screens.

This morning, C.I. had to get ready to go out of town to speak. There were still three entries and I think "'Arrest of Iraqi Police Officials Ordered After Kidnapping' (John F. Burns and Michael Luo)" ends with some very powerful commentary. I wanted to pick up on that. C.I.'s talking about the refusal to cover Iraq as anything beyond 'officials' be it generals (past or present) or jaw boning about the Iraq Study Group. The failure to put the sort of scope Howard Zinn brings to history into the coverage of the war. We're getting one side only from most of our independent media, the side of the officials -- voices more than represented already in the mainstream coverage. We're still not hearing of the peace movement, we're still not hearing of war resisters. One of the earliest community sites (I believe the third one) was Folding Star's A Winding Road. If you missed it, FS dealt with the Senate and with books. When FS decided the site wasn't worth the aggrevation or the time, FS deleted the site. I doubt C.I. would ever do that with The Common Ills. So it could be out there for years to come. If you ask me, it will be of much more value than many sites for magazines. When the next Howard Zinn is attempting to trace the voices against the war, he can turn up one cover story on Cindy Sheehan at The Nation and, really, what else?

If he wants to know where Bob Watada's speaking tours took him, he can go to The Common Ills. Or she can. The next Howard Zinn could be a woman. If s/he is looking for a wide range of sources for the death of Abeer, s/he can go to The Common Ills. I don't think The Progressive or The Nation will be of any help to historians. I think they've wasted three years that the country was at war with nonsense for the most part. Names that never make it into those magazines, supposedly covering the world from a left perspective, are known and noted.

The desire to hide behind the generals to cover Iraq is, frankly, disgusting. I think the point C.I. makes this morning, about the coverage coming from publications that appear to have absorbed the revisionist's history of Iraq is accurate.

Now the music. A friend asked if I was going to "ever write about the Who"? I am a Who fan. So I started asking myself what really spoke to me from them today? I think my choice may disappoint but it's what I'm going with: "You Better, You Bet."

This 1981 single was the Who in all their glory. It's raucus, it's Pete Townsend at his story telling best. "I call you on the telephone, my voice too rough from cigarettes . . ." The chorus is wonderful, the backing voices ("You better love me . . . All the time now . . .") are wonderful.

"Won't Get Fooled Again" was, at one point, my favorite Who song. It's been ruined for me. Possibly forever. CSI uses it as a theme song for three shows. Over and over. I can turn on the TV and hear it. It feels like it's been taken from me and turned into some sort of ear candy for people who never appreciated the group. Had it just been used on one show, okay. But it's now the CSI song, it's no longer the Who song.

I still enjoy "Pictures of Lily" and other songs. "I Can See For Miles" still makes me smile. But I went with "You Better, You Bet" because in 1981, the Who didn't seem that great or that powerful. They seemed to be on their last legs. Then they managed to cough up this five-minutes-plus of rock and roll perfection.

This was and is an amazing recording. All the more so because of the tragic death of Keith Moon. Moon was the drummer for the band until he died in 1978. "You Better, You Bet" suggested that the group could make it without Moon, that there was direction and promise in the future. That wouldn't turn out to be the case. Pete Townsend would occassionally have an interesting song idea in the future, on a solo album, but the spark was never there for me again. I would hope I'd hear something living. But it was more reflective and, even when on an actual album (Fear City) for example, it lacked the spark. Townsend became a "writer" and his songs became slightly more lively than anything you could hear on Sweet Baby James.

The Who's back, or at least Townsend and Roger Daltry. I'm not all that interested in the new album. At some point, I will no doubt get it and do the first listen struggle -- where I hope the next track, or the one after, will sport the spirit that was the Who. I'll tell myself that this might be the album that offers something. But, most likely, it won't. The cough, the last gasp, that was "You Better, You Bet" never came again.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
November 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; there are some indications that there may be justice for
Abeer and her family; testifying before Congress, John Abizaid appeared to think he was at an Atlanta Brave (check the hand gestures) and blathered on repeatedly making it clear there was no plan for Iraq; Ehren Watada's father Bob begins winding up his speaking tour; and real discussions on Iraq take place (outside of Congress).
"It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." Today, an honest discussion on Iraq took place but it wasn't in the US Senate. On Democracy Now!,
Amy Goodman hosted a discussion with former US senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich and someone scraped off the bottom of the right-wing non-thought tank AEI. The AEI-er appeared to be attempting some sort of homage to the character of Audrey with his constant whining. (Clea Lewis intended to be humorous when she played Audrey on Ellen.) He whined "Let me have my turn" repeatedly and also referred to Goodman as "Miss moderator" proving that Iraq wasn't the only thing he failed to grasp, he'd also missed the last forty years (try "Ms. moderator"). Meanwhile Kucinich challenged the AEI-er with, "It's time to tell the truth! The American people want the truth. The American people want the truth. Tell the truth if you're capable of it." The AEI-er, Joshua Muravchik, wasn't up to the truth and tossed around the usual (pre-9-11?) nonsense of 'blame America first' and 'blood is on your hand' but has no answers. Goodman asked if he was "proposing staying in Iraq and bombing Iran?" to which he replied "Yes and yes."
McGovern reminded, "Well they were saying the same thing they're saying about Iraq. We were told all during those long years when I and others were trying to terminate our military involvement in Vietnam -- an intervention that the chief architects now say was a dreadful mistake -- and they said that if we pulled out, maybe it was a mistake, to go in, but if we pulled out there would be a slaughter of people in Vietnam of indescribable dimensions, that Ho Chi Minh and his people would just slaughter everybody in the country that disagreed with him. We also were told that the countries next door would start toppling into communism if we left Vietnam. None of that happened. There was no great bloodbath inside Vietnam and the Vietnamese became our friends almost immediately after we took our army out of their country. They assisted us in trying to locate missing American soldiers. They were ready for diplomatic relations. We have no problem with Vietnam today and as a matter of fact none of the countries next door toppled into communism so those were the scare tactics that were used to keep us in Vietnam for about twenty years. The president has said recently that maybe we have to stay [in Iraq] until the year 2010 and that's another four years during which time we'll probably kill several thousand more American troops and the terror now going on inside Iraq that began when we invaded the country will only get worse. No country in the long term wants a foreign army lodged in their country."
Goodman asked: "How did, how did it ultimately end up that the troops were pulled out of Vietnam?" McGovern replied, "Well, you know, we were finally forced out. You remember the pictures of the American ambassador being air lifted off the, off the roof of the embassy there and Vietnamese trying to cling to the helicopters that took him out? I don't want to see that happen in Iraq. I don't want to see us just kicked out. I want to see an orderly withdrawal that would begin next month in December and be completed by June and we can do that. Let me cite one poll that was conducted recently in Iraq. It was conducted by our newspaper USA Today, CNN -- the television network -- in cooperation with the Gallup polling organization, America's oldest polling. And they asked the people of Iraq 'Do you regard the Americans as liberators or as occupiers of your country?' 81% of the people said they didn't see us any longer as liberators, they see us as occupiers of the country and they made it very clear they want us out."
Kucinich spoke the words many shy from: Congress voting to cut off funding of the illegal war in Iraq. "I believe that we're going to be able to get a consensus among progressives to cut off funds . . . I think support is growing in the direction of getting out of Iraq and I think that we'll see a cut off of the funds, we'll use the money in the pipeline to have the orderly withdrawal that Senator McGovern so wisely spoke of. People want a new direction. They know that we have to involve the world community and they know that the direction has to be out of Iraq. I mean, we're losing soldiers at an increasing clip , we're seeing the civil violence increase, the Iraqi people want us out, the American people by and large want us out of Iraq. We need to take a new direction."
The KPFA Evening News Monday, Mitch Jeserich interviewed US House Rep. Lynn Woolsey who stated she would consider cutting off Congressional funds but no one wanted to make that their first choice. She also felt their support was for this option in Congress.
(The interview may have been for Pacifica's
Informed Dissent which Jeserich hosts or for WBAI's Wakeup Call where Jeserich is the news editor.)
The realities of Iraq were also explored . . . in Congress? No, on
KPFA's The Morning Show today. Philip Maldari spoke with Carl Conetta (Project on Defense Alternatives) and Natalie Goldring (Security Studies Program and Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown). They discussed the possibility that the US Congress would be inactive on the Iraq war and Goldring pointed out that this would lead to spreading the blame and allowing the GOP presidential candidate in 2008 to point to the Democratic controlled Congress as part of the problem with regards to the illegal war. Concetta noted it would "tar the Democrats as co-signers" to the war. Goldring noted that it wasn't clear how the administration or the United States "would bring stability to Iraq" and Concetta noted that the spin made "withdrawal . . . always on the horizon, two years in the future" that never seems to arrive. (Or 12 months, a favorite with the US military and tossed around by John Abizaid today -- we'll get to that shortly.)
What does arrive, daily in Iraq, is continued chaos and violence.
CNN reports that eight people are dead and 32 wounded in Baghdad from a car bomb apparently targeting a gas station. CNN updated the figures to twelve dead and 33 wounded while also noting an attack on a Baghdad funeral that claimed the lives of three and left 12 injured.
CNN reports a council member and his bodyguard were shot dead in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two construction workers were shot dead and three wounded while they traveled in a car. Xinua reports that journalist Fadiyah Muhammad al-Taie and her driver were killed in Mosul while she was on her way to work.
CNN notes the discovery of 55 corpses ("bullet-riddled") in Baghdad. Reuters notes that four corpses were discovered in Mosul and one in Samarra.
US military announced today: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." That announcement was followed by this one: "Two Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 11:30 p.m. Nov. 14 when their vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in northwest Baghdad while conducting combat operations."
In legal news,
Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was mudered and raped in Mahmoudiyah on March 12, 2006. Also killed in the attack were her parents, Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her five-year-old sister. Abeer was fourteen-years-old. Five Americans are accused of being the ones who committed the crimes. Last week, Steven D. Green entered a plea of 'not guilty' in a federal court in Kenutcky. Green had been discharged from the US military before the revelations of the crimes was revealed. Due to the fact that Green is no longer in the military, he is being charged in civilian courts. The other four charged with rape, murder and arson are Paul Cortez, Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard and James P. Barker. Today, AP reports that James P. Barker has enter a plea of guilty. Writing for the New York Times about the then expected plea, Paul von Zielbauer continued the paper's long tradition of rendering AbeerQassim Hamza al-Janabi invisible by providing twelve paragraphs of text that never once managed to give Abeer's name. By contrast, the Guardian of London features a photo of Abeer and manages to name her. The Guardian notes that Cortez "has deferred entering a plea" and that "Spielman will not enter a plea until December." The Guardian notes the following based upon Barker's written statement: ". . . Green dragged the father, mother and younger sister into a bedroom, while Abeer was left in the living room. . . . Barker said Cortez appeared to rape the girl [Abeer], and he followed. He said he heard gunshots and Mr. Green came out of the bedroom, saying he had killed the family, before raping the girl and shooting her with an AK-47."
At the Article 32 hearing for the four still serving in Iraq (plus Anthony W. Yribe, charged with dereliction of duty for not reporting the incident),
AFP reported the testimony of an Iraqi doctor who discovered Abeer deceased and "naked with her legs spread". Al Jazeera added that Abeer was also "burned from the waist up, with a single bullet wound beneath her left eye." During that military inquiry in August, US military investigator Benjamin Bierce testified that "Barker said that he held the girl's hands while Sergeant Paul Cortez raped her or tried to rape her. Barker then switched positions with Cortez and attempted to rape the girl" -- Bierce also testified that prior to the rape and murders, those accused spent their time consuming booze and hitting golf balls only to, after the murder and rape, grill chicken wings. Bierce's statements were basedupon what James Barker had already told him. The fact that Barker had already confessed to the crimes may be what prompted today's guilty plea. Howard? As Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported, Bierce testified that Howard was the designated lookout. Zoroya's report also notes Justin Watt who came forward with what he was hearing in June about the crimes that took place in March. [Watt was not present, was not involved. He has however received death threats for coming forward.]
At the August hearing,
Captain Alex Pickand closed his argument for prosecution noting: "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Decked out like Janet Jackson on the cover of Rhythm Nation, John Abizaid, the general, blathered in Congress today. Quote: "Blah blah blah blah blah [karate chop with hand] blah blah blah."
CBS and AP report that Johnny says no timetables because they don't give him 'flexibility' and that he stated he "remains optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq." The yearly physicaly doesn't include some sort of mental evaluation? How bad was it? So bad that John McCain had to declare: "I'm of course disappointed that basically you're advocating the status quo here today, which I think the American people in the last election said that is not an acceptable condition." What may have prompted the battle of the Johns was that Abizaid didn't advocate for more US troops on the ground in Iraq -- something McCain favors. Andrew Gray and Kristin Roberts (Reuters) report Abizaid declared, "I believe more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, taking more responsibility for their future." [The gut wrenching sobs you hear are Michael R. Gordon crying for all the war pornographers.] Abizaid also saw 'progress' since August. Apparently, no one handed him a copy of today's newspaper with the front page stories of the mass kidnappings yesterday in Baghdad? To recap, Abizaid said, "Blah blah blah no withdrawal of US troops blah blah blah no timetables blah blah blah I need to be flexible blah blah blah watch me touch my nose blah blah blah."
AP notes US Senator Carl Levin's remarks: "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves. The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months."
Jason Szep (Reuters) interviews Ann Clwyd, British MP, who proves you don't have to be a general or American to spin -- Clwyd is against an "early withdrawal" she informed Wellesley College -- because certainly there's nothing more important for a British MP than to address US college audiences in the midst of a war. While MP Clwyd is quite sure of herself, Terri Judd and Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) report that Ted Elliott, father of British soldier Sharron Elliott who died Sunday in Basra. Ted Elliott wonders, "Why did she have to die for such a silly cause?"
He won't find the answers from Clwyd, Abizaid or the Bully Boy.
On yesterday's mass kidnappings,
John F. Burns and Michael Luo (New York Times) reported in today's paper that the number of people kidnapped was still not clear and that remains true. CBS and AP report that currently 70 people kidnapped have been released. Strange when you consider that both the 'informed' puppet Nouri al-Maliki and the US military put the number much lower when attempting to downplay the reality of what took place --- al-Maliki went with 50, the US military with 55. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) provides the details of Tuesday's mass kidnapping: kidnappers came in the front door, told the receptionist they were police (and were dresed accordingly), divided the males and females, left with victims and "blood smeared on the gray floor . . . dirt outlines of boot prints on a door" and also quotes the brother of one of those abducted who wonders, "Where can we go? The police kidnapped him?" It's doubtful comfort will come from AFP's report that puppet al-Maliki has "demanded Wednesday the arrest of all those who were behind the kidnapping operation of 100 government employees on Tuesday." That's how bad the situation is. al-Maliki has to "demand" that kidnappers be arrested.
CNN reports that Abed Dhiyab al-Ajili, Iraq's Minister of Higher Education, has turned in his resignation and states he will follow through on it if nothing is done because "I have to protect my people." CNN estimates that 40 people remain missing and 70 who were kidnapped have been freed. That would result in at least 110 people having been kidnapped on Tuesday. At least. Possibly the puppet and the US military flacks should spend more time addressing reality and far less time spinning?
Spending his time getting the word out on his son
Ehren Watada, Bob Watada continues his speaking tour. Cordell Whitlock (St. Louis' KSDK) noted what was at stake: "Lt. Watada will go to trial early next year in military court. A panel of officers will serve as jury. If convicted, Watada could spend six years in prison and be dismissed from the army."
Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Last week, the military announced that they had decided to proceed with a court-martial against Watada. Bob Watada and his wife Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) are finishing a tour, a full schedule can be found here, this Friday to raise awareness on Ehren's stand:

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo,
DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com, 757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, , Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,, Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

In addition,
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports this event on Sunday:

The Honolulu chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League will hold a symposium surrounding the actions of Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is the first military officer to face a court martial for refusing to fight in Iraq. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the University of Hawaii's architecture auditorium. The featured speaker will be Watada's father, Bob; Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz.

amy goodmandemocracy now

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Myth of the Iraq Study Group

Sunny said at work today, "When Tuesday's feeling like a Monday, you know it's going to be a rough week." I knew just what she meant. Sunny's been reading the e-mails, which is not part of her job but she enjoys doing it, (it's also not part of her job to print them up for me, thank you, Sunny). There were some wondering about how things were going for her and her signifcant other? She asked me to note that they have moved in together and everything's quote: "Wonderful." She said that before he sent her flowers today, so let me note that in case he reads this and thinks that's why she made a point to note it. He sent lilies and I thought that was really original. I'm not a big fan of flowers, I prefer a plant. Mainly because mine tend to die. Not all, but many of them do die. I always tell myself that I'll get some more but I never remember to. I switched to liking plants after one man sent me roses. I think roses are generic and had only enjoyed them due to the card. Then one day I met a woman who worked at the florist. She was a sister of a friend and we were doing a group movie, just women. After the movie, we went out to eat and when I found out where she worked, I said, "Oh, my boyfriend sends me flowers from your shop." She asked me his name and didn't recognize him. Then she asked me to describe him and I pulled out a picture. She knew him. He comes in, places an order and always says, "Write something nice" for the card. He wasn't even writing those nice things. The card was the only thing I was enjoying and he wasn't even writing that.

Lilies are Sunny's favorite flowers but I also think it's much smarter to send something less generic than roses. And if a card has touched you, ladies, and it's not like anything the man you're seeing (or woman) usually would write, you might want to pause before giving him (or her) credit for writing it. After I learned that the man I was seeing wasn't writing the card, I was really upset and when I spoke to friends who were women, they were as well. But when I spoke to male friends, I would hear, "Oh, I do that too. I tell them to just write something for me." So there's a life lesson for tonight. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and also please read Betty's"Grab bag (Betty)" from last night, she covers pretty much everything andit was a pleasure to read.

"Democrats, Born to Compromise" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, in line to become chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was more explicit. "We have to tell the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that we're going to begin to have a phased withdrawal in four to six months," he threatened-as if Iraqis invited the U.S. to invade and occupy their country in 2003 and are now taking advantage of Americans' waning goodwill.
So far, Democrats have gone no further than deferring to the recommendations of the (Republican) James Baker-led Iraq Study Group-which is rumored to embrace a strategy for significantly lowering down U.S. troops at an unspecified date.
Overall, the watchword of the victorious Democrats remains "bipartisanship." Despite the venom of their own campaign ads, they seek compromise with the Republican Party.
This is not surprising, since a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be on par with the humiliation U.S. imperialism suffered after its defeat in Vietnam. And both Democrats and Republicans are, after all, pro-war, imperialist parties.
The electorate has spoken. But it is worth noting that the Watergate scandal, while ending Nixon's presidency, did not lead to a seismic shift leftward in the political climate. On the contrary, U.S. politics moved decisively rightward in the following years, as the mass social movements of the 1960s and early 1970s pinned their hopes on the Democratic Party to spearhead social change. As it turned out, the Democrats responded to corporate pressures to tack rightward, leading eventually to our present predicament.
We should not repeat the mistakes of that past generation of leftists. The Democrats, like the Republicans, must respond to mass voter discontent. But their shared goal is a return to politics-as-usual.
The Democrats will not deliver an end to the Iraq war without substantial pressure from below. And that requires large-scale, grass-roots struggle. This should be a wakeup call to everyone who wants an end to the Iraq war, a raise in the minimum wage, a step forward for immigrants' rights-and an end to politics-as-usual in Washington. The door for social change is opening, but we must take action to achieve it.

I really enjoyed Smith's article. I'm sick of the election coverage and the beltway bits of "Oh, ___'s going to be the chair! ___'s going to be the House leader!" But if you're going to write about the election, give me something more than cheerleading and drooling. I think Smith makes a lot of valid points and I think a lot of people are fooling themselves (and encouraged to do so) if they are anticipating a big change. I don't think one's coming. That's not surprising because change doesn't come from Congress, it comes from the people.

I was also glad to read her remarks about the Iraq Study Group. I find a story on it in my paper and I just skip it. I've had it with all the valentines to this silly group that won't do a thing.

"Don't Look for Much From the 'Bipartisan' Iraq Study Group" (Ray McGovern, Common Dreams):
President George W. Bush conferred yesterday with members of the James Baker-led Iraq Study Group came against a background of chaos in Baghdad, a quisling government demonstrably incapable of stemming the violence, and an Iraqi resistance emboldened by the vote of no confidence given to the president's Iraq policy. As expected, yesterday’s meeting was primarily photo-op.
The important question is: Can the Iran Study Group be expected to come up with constructive suggestions for alternative policy on Iraq. The answer is no.
The Iraq Study Group project was forced on a reluctant president by members of Congress last March, with Rep. Frank Wolf (R, VA) pushing the initiative. I had a brief conversation with Wolf in front of the House Rayburn office building in March. He had been to Iraq and echoed the party line that "We cannot withdraw our troops quickly"-- but it seemed to me, without whole-hearted conviction. I had the impression that, even then, he sensed that neither could we stay.
Wolf moved mountains to set the study group in motion as a way of providing cover for the president if/when it became clear even to Bush that the approach authored by the Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal was not only amateurish but politically nonviable. The president may be smart enough to recognize that that time has now come and use the cover that the study group could provide; and, then again, he may not. He has shown a stubborn propensity to turn a deaf ear to sensible suggestions on Iraq in the past; the question is who will have his other ear. It is highly unlikely to be the study group.
Yesterday's White House photo-op reminded me of the one orchestrated in early January with a dozen former secretaries of state and defense, who were given all of ten minutes (that would be 50 seconds a piece) to "advise" the president on Iraq. It was not just serendipitous but quite telling that the president's other main visitor was Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, because, if past is precedent, Bush is likely to be give as much weight to Olmert’s views as to those of the Iraq Study Group.

I don't trust James Baker and I question the wisdom of anyone who does. Naomi Klein had a powerful two-parter on Baker during the 2004 election. I'd like to know what, if any, investments he currently has or directs in Iraq? There may not be any but he is the text-book definition of "conflict of interest." Lee Hamilton? After his part in the white-washing of Iran-Contra, I don't know how anyone could take him seriously. I certainly don't. He's slightly to the left of Joe Lieberman, only slightly. He's there to give lie to the claim of 'bipartisan' and that lie is necessary because when the group has no substanative recommendations, the impression will be, "See, even Democrats and Republicans working together can't come up with anything. We have to stay."

On the subject of Iran-Contra, I'm in favor of impeachment. I think Bully Boy's father should have been held accountable for his crimes. If his crimes had been made public, it's doubtful his son would be where he is today. On a very basic level, we need impeachment. We also need it because if we don't send a message that it is unacceptable for a leader to break laws, then we're telling every future Oval Office occupant that he or she can disregard the Constitution, the Courts and the Congress. More and more, I think our system doesn't work. Not just in the manner of people falling through the cracks, but the system itself isn't working. Impeachment could restore some faith in the system. If it doesn't happen, there is no accountability and there is no reason for anyone in the Oval Office to ever follow the laws.

Sunny flagged an e-mail by Carol who wondered what the worst part of being such a big fan of music was for me? When I don't have time to listen. I'm trying to get this post done and up so I've rushed from the phone to the computer. All I've had in my head all day was Melanie's "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)." All day, I've heard that in my head and thought, "When I get home, I'm going to listen to Melanie." But there wasn't time to grab it and put it in the stereo. If I wasn't posting, I probably wouldn't be listening to it either, so I can't blame it just on posting. Today was a long day and if I wasn't posting, I'd probably be sitting on the couch staring into space while I told myself, "You should put on some music." That's the worst part, not having enough time or enough energy to listen. Carol also wondered if I played a musical instrument? C.I. attempted to teach me piano in college but I really couldn't get that. (It's also true that you probably shouldn't learn from someone who is amazing. I'd heard C.I. play many times before the lessons and what I was producing and what C.I. could -- there was too much of a gulf.) I did learn, from C.I., how to play a few songs on the guitar. With that, it was just teaching me five of my favorite songs. One at a time. Since it was that, I could stay focused. I play it poorly, but people can recognize the five songs. If tomorrow goes even a little bit easier, I intend to write some about music tomorrow.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 14, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, another mass kidnapping rocks Baghdad, Ramadi's under attack, Donald Rumsfled learns it's not a lot of fun to be seen as a war criminal (Kissinger makes it look so much easier!), and press estimates say "
at least 82 people" have died from violence in Iraq today.
Starting with
KPFA's Flashpoints on Monday, Nora Barrows Friedman interviewed activist, journalist, author and vet Mike Ferner.

Nora Barrows Friedman: Mike, as a veteran, what can you say about the growing momentum of combat of soldiers who are starting to organize and are refusing to serve, refusing to go to Iraq and fight Bush's illegal war?

Mike Ferner: "I think it's one of the best developments we've seen happen. I hope it increases exponentially. And I hope hundreds and hundreds of soldiers will take a look at their comrades who are doing this and say: 'That's something I should seriously think about.' I hope that we get large numbers of these soldiers just plain refusing to be deployed. If they're thinking about doing it, they need to call the
G.I. Rights Hotline [(800) 394-9544; outside the US, (510) 465-1472 -- additional numbers are at the site], the need to seriously considering doing it prior to being deployed because once you're there [Iraq] it's far more difficult. But I would love to see whole companies and battalions of people just sit down and refuse to board that plane to be taken back to Iraq. I got out of the Navy as a Const. Objector during the Vietnam war and at some point you just have to look into your heart and ask can i continue to do this and can I live with myself given the culpability that I'm going to have given that I'm following the orders of a government engaged in an illegal war."

War resisters? Has independent media bothered to note, forget cover, that
Ehren Watada will be court-martialed? No. D.D. Delaney (Port Folio Weekly) reports that Watada is facing up to "eight-and-a-half years in prison for the charges the Army has brought" against him. Meanwhile another war resister, Mark Wilkerson, who awaits word on what the military intends to do with his case, notes e.e. cummings' "I Sing of Olaf Glad and Big" -- a poem about a man "whose warmest heart recoiled at war; a conscientiour object-or". Wilkerson served one tour in Iraq and then applied for conscientious objector status only to see that denied. Following the denial, Wilkerson self-checked out for a year-and-a-half before announcing August 31st that he was turning himself in. As Wilkerson told Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints August 31st, when his c.o. status was denied, he at first prepared a rebuttal but was told it would be shelved until he returned from his second deployment to Iraq. In an echo of Mike Lerner's comments yesterday, Wilkerson told Bernstein August 31st, "I completely stand by my decision. For me this was a time in my life when I decided I had to make a stand regardless of whether [it meant] prison or death".
many avert their eyes, the war drags on. Today in Baghdad, another mass kidnapping -- the sheer number of those kidnapped may generate some interest. Most press estimates agree to at least 100 and many go with 150. (Christopher Bodeen of AP goes with 130 based upon a later statement by the Health Education Ministry.) CBS and AP note: "CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports . . . that about 80 men in some kind of Iraqi police uniforms surrounded the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education building in broad daylight and then fanned out inside the building, according to witnesses. The abductors then led the men and women captives out of the building to waiting pickup trucks and left the area, all before the real Iraqi police showed up." Pedistrians outside were encourage to clear the streets, inside the four story building, women and men were separated with the women locked in a room and only the men apparently kidnapped by people claiming to be with the Iraq Public Integrity Commission (which does not exist). What appears to be blood was noted on the floor of an entryway, phone receivers were ripped from phones, ashtrays knocked over. CNN reports that a witness "saw the gunmen check identity cards, pick out Sunni employees, including a man 'who was just delivering tea'." Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that the kidnappers used "around 40 new camouflaged pick-up vehicles" and "[a]round 80 gunmen dressed as police commandos" were involved. Whether or not they were part of the Iraqi police force has not been established.
AFP reports that "five police commanders" have been arrested and quotes Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf stating that they "should be held responsible." Reuters quotes a civil servant who witnessed the mass abductions stating that, while this was going on, "I saw two police patrols watching, doing nothing." Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports that "the commander of the police brigade in charge of the area and three other officers" were also "taken into custody." Reuters also quotes the minister of Higher Education, Abd Dhiab, who states: "As far as we know, this area is full of police and Defence Ministry checkpoints and we know police vehicles followed the kidnappers to a specific area and after that we don't know what happened." The New York Times notes that: "After the kidnappings, the minister of higher education, Abdel Salam Thiab, a Sunni, rushed to Parliament, where he interrupted a national televised session to denounce the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, for rebuffing repeated requests for improved security." CNN rounds that out: "Al-Ajili said he had sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last week, asking for better protection for universities and education buildings. The defense and interiour ministers had rejected earlier requests for 800 university guards, he said."
Reuters notes the targeting of educators since the beginning of the illegal war as well as this: "Just this month, Jasim al-Thahabi, the dean of Baghdad's University's Administration and Economics, was killed with his wife and son in a drive-by shooting." That was November 2nd and AP estimated he was at least the 155th educator killed since the start of the illegal war.
Al Jazeera reports that Ramadi was attacked yesterday by US forces who "destroyed several houses in an attack on al-Dhubat district" and quotes Dr. Abdullah Salih, of a hospital in Ramadi stating that 35 corpses had been brought in. Though military flacks played dumb when asked for a quote by news services, they later issued their own statement that 11 'insurgent' were killed in Ramadi where alleged 'insurgents' allegedly intended to plant alleged explosive devices and later they observed more alleged 'insurgents' allegedly planting more alleged explosive devices but "Coalition Forces have conducted no air strikes in the vicinity of these events today."
Al Jazeera notes a car bombing in west Baghdad which took three lives and wounded seven people. Reuters notes a mortar attack that left six injured and four dead in al-Zuhur, a bus station bombing in Baghdad that wounded ten and left two dead, a car bombing in central Baghdad which killed 10 and injured 25, and a car bombing in Tikrit that left ten wounded. Christopher Bodeen (AP) reports a car bomb in "along a highway linking downtown Baghdad with the Shiite slum of Sadr City" left 21 killed and 25 injured and threw Mohammed Ali "from his motor cycle" as he was attempting to drive home after work -- Ali states: "I could see people on fire. We tried to rescue some women from a minibus, but they died in our arms."
Al Jazeera notes an ambush near the Iranian border that left seven people in a mini-bus dead and two others wounded while two police officers were shot dead in Diyala.
Reuters reports ten corpses were discovered in Baquba ("bound, blindfolded . . . gunshot wounds").
In addition,
the British military has released the names of the four soldiers who died Sunday in Basra while on boat patrol: Jason Hylton (father of two, 33 y.o.), Ben Nowak (27 y.o.), Lee Hopkins (35 y.o.) and Sharron Elliott (34 y.o.). Reuters notes that Elliott is "the second British female servicewoman to die in action."
Returning to Nora Barrows Friedman's interview with Mike Ferner on
KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday (this is the segment Rebecca was noting last night), the two of them spoke of Abu Sifa, which is near Balad, and what was taking place there as it was under the supervision of the US army's Fourth Infantry Division. Shortly before Ferner arrived (about six weeks), 80 males, of various ages, had been rounded up and taken away. Following that . . .

Mike Ferner: The army came again late one night with the Bradley fighting vehicle and just emptied the few remaining residents in this one particular house and just blew the hell out of it. And did that again a few days later. So when I was visiting the . . . interviewing some of the army troops it was from that very same batallion. and luckily I was able to have interviewed the iraqis so i had times and dates and names and all the details. And I asked Lt. Col Nathan Sassaman, who was the battalion commander, "What's the deal? How come you guys came and rounded up everybody in this village and you're only looking for one person?" And he said, "Yeah, we got him." And I said, "Yeah, I know. You took eighty-some --" He said, "Well it wasn't 80, it was 76." And I said, "Well, okay, whatever the number was." He said, "Well we found weapons buried in the surrounding fields there and these were all suspected terrorists." Including a couple of very elderly men that had to be helped into the truck and young teenagers and so forth. And I said, "Well then how come you came back a few days later and blew up this one house?" He said, "Well we had been getting mortar fire from that area and we wanted to send them a message." And I said, "Well what about -- came back a few days later and did the same thing?" He said, "Well they continued mortaring our base." Well this is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention. It's called Collective punishment and because you're getting mortar fire from one area, most of the time you don't know exactly where it's coming from, and uh to go into a village and just blow up a couple of houses to try to teach them a lesson is a war crimes. The American soldiers that were there told these folks, "We'll make this place look like the moon and you'll never be able to grow anything here again." If that isn't terrorism, I don't know what is. It was not even tried to be denied by the US Army officers that were repsonsible for it. So you start multiply this, over and over again and around the country. And it should be no surprise to anybody that we're not welcome there and that there's a violent armed resistance to our presence that's going to continue until we leave.

Fener's new book is entitled
Inside the Red Zone and he'll be at Spritzers, 734 Central Ave., Alameda, CA on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
Before moving on to another topic, let's note that Nathan Sassaman expressed shock at another event (
assault on Iraqis through the use of the Tigris River leading to one death). It would be so bad that the New York Times' Dexy Filkins, who spent a great deal of time with Sassaman (apparently in sleep quarters -- Dexy: "He never took his boots off" -- embedded much?) would later write of him in "The Fall of the Warrior King" (New York Times). Dexy went far back with Sassaman as Ira Chernus noted. In the 'Warrior King' piece, as Ty noted, Dexy's question of "Where is the line?" could apply to his own 'reporting' which addresses Sassaman ordering the destruction of homes and Dexy terming those sort of actions 'non-lethal force.'
In Germany, the
Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Republican Attorneys' Association, et al. have filed their criminal complaint against Donald Rumsfeld and others because "[f]rom Donald Rumsfeld, go down, the political and military leaders in charge of ordering, allowing and implementing abusive interrogations techniques in the context of the 'War on Terror' since September 11, 2001 must be investigated and held accountable." That includes then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, George Tenet, Ricardo Sanchez, David S. Addington and William James Haynes Jr. CCR notes, "The complaint is being filed under the Code of Crimes against International Law (CCIL), enacted by Germany in compliance with the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal court in 2002, which Germany ratified. It enables the German Federal Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes constituting a violation of the CCIL, irrespective of the location of the defendant or plantiff, the place where the crime was carried out." CCR has set up a page at their website which focuses on this criminal complaint. AFP reports: "A key witness for the bid to put Rumsfeld and others on trial in Germany is the former commander of US prisons in Iraq, Brig. General Janis Karpinski, who alleges she was made a scapegoat for the Abu Ghraib scandal." Michael Ratner (president of the Center for Constitutional Rights) tells Germany's Der Spiegel, "These crimes are not the work of a few bad apples. They were planned and executed at the highest levels of the US government." Der Spiegel notes, "It's been a bad few days for former United States secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld."
In other legal news,
CBS and AP report that the Pendleton Eight now has four agreeing to plea bargain with Jerry E. Shumate Jr. becoming the latest to cop a deal in the April death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad in Hamdania. Schumate's attorney, Steve Immel, tells The Seattle Times that Shumate has admitted to the crime of kidnapping an Iraqi but that he thought it was an 'insurgent' until Awad was dead. The other three who have entered into plea bargains are Melson J. Bacos, John Jodka III and Tyler A. Jackson.
Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren but that tour is winding down. It ends on the 17th (Joan noted Sunday that there's an event in Honolulu on Sunday). and then they'll be in Hawaii preparing for the court-martial. In addition, Ehren's mother Carolyn Ho has also been speaking out. The US military announced Thursday that they were planning to court-martial Ehren Watada. Those interested in catching the speaking tour, a full schedule can be found here, will need to grab the final dates which include:

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814, vfpch61@riseup.netiraq

Nov. 15, Norfolk, VA, Location: Norfolk/Virginia Beach, 40th Street Stage, 809 W 40th St (corner 40th St and Colley Ave -- across from Felini's), Sponsors: Veterans For Peace National In Affiliation with the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Local members of VFP, Military Families Speak Out, and the Active Duty Military Project, Contacts: Tom Palumbo, DissentingSoldier@Yahoo.Com
757-470-9797, Ann Williams, 703-867-2174

Nov 16, Noon, Asheville, NC, Location: TBA -- Media Conference, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 2PM, Asheville, NC, Location: Mars Hill College -- Class Presentation
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,

Nov 16, 7PM, Asheville, NC, Location: University of North Carolina -- Public Presentation, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717, ,
Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Ahmad Daniels, War Resister Vietnam Era (appears in "Sir, No Sir!"), Mark Gibney Human Rights, International & Constitutional Law, Law, Ethics and Public Policy

Nov 17, 11:00AM, Asheville, NC, Location: Warren Wilson College, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Contact: Tim Pluta, 828-645-1717,
Lyle Peterson, 828-206-0245, Professor Paul Magnarella (Peace Studies, Warren Wilson College)

Nov 17, 7PM, Atlanta, GA, Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church, Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapter 125, The Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, Atlanta WAND, Contact: Debra Clark, 770-855-6163,

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