Friday, March 23, 2007

MoveOn, Elizabeth Edwards

So the House of Representatives stabbed the peace movement in the back today. A surprise only to those who believe Congress does anything on their own. Pressure the's only thing that ever works on Congress. I love how some of the same 'reasoned' voices who hectored that this is 'the best that can be done' now want to hail this as a miracle. Maybe I missed something in the stories, but as I remember miracles, they weren't 'the best that can be done' -- they were actual miracles, hence the wonder with which, we're told, they were met with.

Instead Congress takes the usual path of least resistance with the usual crowd of cheerleaders praising them, and we're supposed to believe . . . I'm stopping. I had an idea and it's going to be saved for Sunday. C.I. and I have been tossing things back and forth over the phone about a piece for Third and I'm using it there. So let's WalkOn to

"MoveOn Moves In with Pelosi: The netroots group’s support proved crucial to passage of the Democrats’ Iraq spending plan. But antiwar activists say MoveOn has been co-opted by its access to power" (Farhad Manjoo, Salon):
MoveOn's longtime allies in the antiwar movement, however, look at the bill -- and MoveOn's support for it -- and see something very different. Groups who call for immediate withdrawal argue that MoveOn’s position is a betrayal of their cause, and that Pelosi’s bill merely continues the war while allowing Democrats to say they've done something to oppose it. Cindy Sheehan, the "peace mom" who favors immediate withdrawal, describes MoveOn as supporting "the slow-bleed strategy of the Democratic leadership." Gail Murphy, of the group CodePink, says, "MoveOn has taken a compromised position -- in fact I think they were involved behind the scenes in creating a compromised position." Other peace activists call MoveOn’s e-mail poll of its membership a sham. If MoveOn's millions of members knew the full details of the bill, they would surely oppose it.
MoveOn, which began with an e-mail petition opposing President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, has grown into one of the biggest and best-known netroots groups on the left. When Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress, it raised millions of dollars in soft money for insurgent liberal candidates and produced memorable commercials blasting President Bush. Now, however, with the Democrats running the House and Senate, MoveOn’s stance on the Pelosi bill has led critics to suggest complicity with the new congressional power structure. MoveOn has settled for something less than ideal. It's the classic problem the outsider faces after getting inside: Now that it's got an in with the speaker of the House, has MoveOn lost its soul?
It's true that Pariser, a 26-year-old who has worked for MoveOn since 2001, looks at the Iraq supplemental bill with a shrewdly pragmatic eye. Of all the Iraq plans discussed in Congress this week -- including one by liberal members calling for a quicker, complete withdrawal -- Pariser saw Pelosi's bill as the left's best chance. He saw it as the only one that could plausibly pass. And Pariser argues that its passage will help end the war. "Let's play this out," he says. "Congress passes a supplemental with a timeline attached and Bush is forced to veto it. That forces the Republicans to choose between an increasingly isolated president and the majority of the Congress and the majority of the American people." The bill is thus a starting point for future efforts. It builds legislative support, Pariser says, for an eventual congressional mandate to withdraw.
MoveOn has long been part of
Win Without War, a large collection of progressive antiwar groups; now it is virtually alone among the coalition’s membership in its support for the Pelosi plan. Sheehan says that some in the antiwar movement were so upset at MoveOn's position this week that they spent a couple of days drawing up full-page newspaper ads accusing the group of betraying its members. (In the end they decided to hold their fire, at least for now.)

Oh, little Eli, the brain child, wants to talk strategy. Well, as young as he is, he can pick up a gun and get his ass over to Iraq. If it doesn't matter, if pulling troops out doesn't matter (and it doesn't in Pelosi's bill -- there is no withdrawal, Bully Boy can opt out), then, having strategized, Eli's hands are empty these days so how about Mr. I'll Play God With Other's Lives gets his little ass over to Iraq? No, he won't do that. He's perfectly fine with Iraqis and Americans dying over there. As I said on Wednesday, this is actually the best thing in the world, MoveOn is not left, it's not liberal. We all know it now. We should have known it some time ago. But they've exposed themselves and it was ugly.

I have a lot of respect for Cindy Sheehan, but now is not the time to hold fire. Now is the time to expose, to nail the point home. Why? Because they're not going to suddenly become friends of the peace movement. They betrayed the peace movement. Everyone needs to grasp that. They did damage this time but the only reason they were able to was because people didn't grasp what the organization really was. Now is the time to get the message out so that they can't do damage again.

This is life and death and it needs to be called out. (Beyond the issue of the non-withdrawal, there are other reasons to oppose the Pelosi bill and C.I. goes over some of those in the snapshot.)

"Edwards Should Quit" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
I watched Elizabeth and John Edwards announce at their press conference Thursday that her cancer had reappeared, but that his campaign for President was going to go on.
I sure wished they'd made a different decision.
At some point, there are things more important than your job, or your ambition, and when a loved one comes down with Stage 4 breast cancer, why, I got to think that’s one of those points.
According to the New York Times, the American Cancer Society statistics show that someone with Stage 4 breast cancer has only about a one out of four chance to live more than five years. And the treatment is no picnic. And they've got little kids.
By dropping out, Edwards would have sent an important message to our work-obsessed society that he’s got his priorities straight.
Don't get me wrong. I like John Edwards. I admire his outspokenness on poverty, his frankness on race, his willingness to get on the right side of the Iraq War. And I've said for quite a while now that his political stock was undervalued.
And Elizabeth Edwards has always impressed me as a warm, tough, intelligent woman.

This was actually brought to me in a session today. I disagree 100% with Matthew Rothschild. I understand where he's coming from and I think his conclusions are made from a place of caring. But that's his idea, his idea as a husband. What he would do if he was John Edwards is how the piece was written.

What does Elizabeth Edwards want? She appears to want her husband to stay in the campaign.
She may want that because she thinks she can handle this and will have many strong years ahead of her. She may want that because she thinks her husband would make the best president. If it's the latter (and it could be a combination), she may be thinking, "What does the country need now? What can I do to make sure that my children will live in a world that is fair?"

I don't know Elizabeth Edwards. I don't know what's in her head. The clipping was passed on by a man who's going through something similar (only with the roles flipped, and it's corporate, not politics). He asked me to note that and asked me to note that as someone in similar shoes, he doesn't want his wife to "stop everything," he thinks the promotion guarantees their children a future, he thinks she's earned the promotion and he thinks what will happen to him will happen regardless of whether she resigns or not. I'll call him "X" to avoid using "he" throughout.

Elizabeth Edwards knows what the campaign trail is. She was on it in 2004 as the wife of the vice presidential nominee. If Elizabeth Edwards has made a decision, it needs to be respected. X spoke of how his wife is frequently looked at as some thoughtless, uncaring person but he has had to beg her to stay on in the position she just started.

The point is we do not know what is in someone's head. I do not know. Based on what the Edwards have chosen to share, this is a decision they made together and it needs to be respected. The point I was really asked to make today was, "What if I beat the odds and live for ten more years? You think I'm not going to look at my wife and feel like I robbed her of something she had earned?"

I wasn't even aware he knew of my blog. I don't publicize it at work. (The vets know about it. X learned about this from one of them. He's not a veteran.) But he read Matthew Rothschild's piece today and felt that a few points were being missed.

With no knowledge of what Elizabeth Edwards based her decision on, I don't believe it's fair to her to second guess the decision. She's a strong woman and if John Edwards had one big fault, to me, watching the 2004 campaign play out, it was not enough ambition. I do not believe (and this is just my feeling) that he'd be in the race without her being firm about it.

I do understand where Matthew Rothschild's coming from and don't think he's being hateful or judgemental. I think he's putting himself into the situation in terms of "If I was John Edwards . . ." I think that's a sincere effort on his part and he's writing with the best of intentions. However, I think it's important to remember that John Edwards is not the lead player in this story, Elizabeth Edwards is. She may have her own wants and desires and, unless we learn otherwise, those need to not just be respected, they need to be given the benefit of the doubt.

I don't blog about my sessions. In this instance, Rothschild's piece was handed to me by someone in a situation similar to Elizabeth Edwards and he asked that I blog about it. X feels, and I agree, that there's another side that's not being considered. So for those reasons, and at his request, I am blogging about this tonight and if I've used generalities here, it's to protect a patient.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Pelosi measure passes in the House, the deputy prime minister of Iraq is wounded in an assassination attempt, new developments in the US military's harassment of Joshua Key, and voices opposed to the Pelosi measure that small media wouldn't bring you.

Starting with news of war resistance.
Yesterday, a family in Toronto who had taken in US war resister Joshua Key and his family when they came to Canada seeking asylum explained how they were visited by three police officers (in plainclothes) saying that they were searching for Joshua Key. This echoed an earlier attempt to harass US war resister Kyle Snyder; however, Key and his family now live elsewhere, so the 'police' were unable to detain him. Today, Leslie Ferenc (Toronto Star) reports that not only does the Toronto Police say it wasn't them, there's "no record of local officers being dispatched" to the home.
Omar El Akkad (Globe & Mail) adds another detail to the story: "The U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed it is looking to question an army deserter now living in Canada about explosive allegations he made in his autobiography." El Akkad quotes Chris Grey as the person confirming. So were the three 'police' officers actually Toronto police are were they the US military?

The incident echoes an earlier one.
Bill Kaufmann (Calgary Sun) reminds readers that it was February when police officers "barged into" Kyle Snyder's home "hauling him out in his underwear in cuffs without a warrant and valid legal reason. His crime that actually isn't one in this country: Refusing to rejoin his U.S. Army unit to maintain the futile occupation of Iraq.
. . . Snyder claims federal officials told him they'd been getting pressure from the U.S. military to do something about his two-year presence in B.C. Canada Border Service Agency won't comment, but if it's even remotely true, what does it say about over sovereignty?"
Immigration official, Joci Pen has confirmed Synder was arrested at the request of the US military.

The US military maintains that they only want to discuss Joshua Key's new book,
The Deserter's Tale, apparently they're not just the military, they're also an international book club. Maybe they grew interested when they read John Freeman's (Mineapolis Star Tribune) review? Or maybe it was the shout out from Newsweek that made them thing, "We need to read this book!" Or maybe it was the recommendation fo the John Birch Society? Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale has received good word from around the political spectrum.

Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.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.

In today's violence (reported) in Iraq, an attack on Salam al-Zobaie, the country's deputy prime minister, is getting the most attention. In what's being reported as an attempted assassination, Salam al-Zobaie's home was targeted with one bomb while the mosque he was in at the time was also targeted with a bomb.
Al Jazeera English TV reports that "many people are saying that this was an insider job" and correspondent Imad Shahib says that the mosque bombing was conducted by a man who blew himself up, "he's one of his guards." Robin Stringer and Heather Langan (Bloomberg News) note that the attack at th mosque took place "near the fortified Green Zone. AFP reports: "Zubayi, one of the most prominent Sunni Arab leaders in the Shiite-led government was rushed to a US military hospital in Baghdad with chest and face injuries after the bombers strcuk while he was performing Muslim prayers" and notes that at least six people are dead and at least 15 wounded. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports that Salam al-Zubaie was having surgery and also notes: "One aide said that the suicide bomber appeared to have been one of Mr al-Zubaie's own guards." Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that nine deaths are being reported by the police, up from six. Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) also reports the 9 deaths and that 14 are wounded and that the bomber at the mosque (the one some reports are saying was an aide to al-Zubaie) wore a belt filled with explosives.

This follows the attack (in the Green Zone) yesterday.
Allen Pizzey (CBS News) observes, "And on the subject of targest, a short while ago a rocket slammed into the 'Green Zone' or, as the Americans prefer to call it, the 'IZ' short for 'International Zone', a word game that allows them to pretend someone other than America runs the place. The rocket, fired from across the rive, slammed in about 50 yards from where U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki Moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were meeting the press. Pool pictures from the scene showed the U.N. chief ducking, a not unnatural or unwise move, and then looking somewhat puzzled."


Guardian of London reports that a Baghdad car bombing in the Sadr City neighborhood resulted in five deaths and 20 injured. Reuters reports one police officer dead and another wounded in a Yusufiya roadside bombing and three police officers wounded from a car bombing -- for some reason they use the term "suicide bomber" which seems to imply the bomber would be dead but, although using the term, they note: "The suicide bomber surivived the blast and was captured by police as he tried to run away."


Oh come on. What? You don't know the drill? There were no bullets exchanged on Friday! Seriously, Friday everyone cuts out early. McClatchy may file later today but everyone else pretty much ended the day several hours ago. (Around 7:00 pm in Baghdad, actually.)


Reuters reports: "The bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and her teenage daughter were found in Diwaniya, police said,"

Turning to politics, the Apologist, Tinker-Toy-Sell-Out-Boy, wants to tell everyone 'how it is.' How what is? How it is to be a Party Hack? Party Hack doesn't know how it is because Party Hack's not fought to end the war. Party Hack's fought to work for congressional candidates, party flacks' fought for his right to write really bad books, he just doesn't know a damn thing about the war. Thanks for sharing, Hack, now WalkOn,

CBS and AP report that Pelosi measure passed, 218 to 212. Yesterday, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor to offer "10 Consequences of A 'Yes' Vote:"

1) Keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term;
2) Provide money to fuel an attack on Iran;
3) Force the privatization of Iraqi oil;
4) Escalate the insurgency;
5) Increase the number of troops causalities in the middle of a civil war;
6) Increase the number of civilian causalities;
7) Create a demand for more troops;
8) Enforce cutbacks of the agenda of many in Congress because money that could be used for schools, healthcare, seniors and the environment would continue to be spent for war;
9) Forces the destabilization of the Middle East;
10) Erodes the public's confidence in Congress

CNN reports that before today's vote, Dennis Kucinich declared, "Four years ago we were told we had no alternative but to go to war. Now we're told we have no alternative but to continue war for another year ot two. The fact of the matter is we do have alternatives. . . . Congress has the power to stop funding the war. That's what we should do. That's what we should have done and that's what I'm going to continue to work toward. We have to get out of Iraq, period." notes US House Rep Mike McNulty's statement on why he voted against the Pelosi measure:

In the spring of 1970, during my first term as Twon Supervisor of Green Island, I testified against the War in Vietnam at a Congressional Field Hearing in Schenectady, New York. Several months after that testimony, my brother, HM3 William F. McNulty, a Navy Medic, was killed in Quang Nam Province. I have thought -- many times since then -- that if President Nixon had listened to the voices of reason back then, my brother Bill might still be alive. As a Member of Congress today, I believe that the Iraq War will eventually be recorded as one of the biggest blunders in the history of warfare. In October of 2002, I made a huge mistake in voting to give this President the authority to take military action in Iraq. I will not compound that error by voting to authorize this war's continuation. On the contrary, I will do all that is within my power to end this war, to bring our troops home, and to spare other families the pain that the McNulty family has endured every day since August 9th, 1970.

David Swanson ( compiled a list of the Democrats who voted against the Pelosi measure -- Kucinich, McNulty, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Mike Michaud, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey -- and provides background on each of the eight.
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes that Republican Ron Paul voted against the Pelosi measure because he has long opposed the illegal war, notes six Democrat War Hawks voted against it (John Barron, Dan Boren, Lincoln Davis, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson and Gene Taylor) because they love an illegal war and that US House Rep Paul Kanjorski missed the vote due to illness while Mel Watt missed the vote but says he would have voted for it if he'd been there.

As the
Des Monies Register reported, Brenda Hervey knows what's at stake -- her step-son Michael Hervey was injured while serving in Iraq, so, on Monday she was at the offices of her senator Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin asking that they refuse to continue to fund the illegal war. Hervey is a member of Military Families Speak out, so is Laurie Loving who shares some of the letter she wrote to her US House Rep Mike Thompson: "It is not ridiculous to expect the Democratic leadership to end this war by not giving it one more penny. No money, the war ends. There will be money to bring the troops home. . . The House leadership is trying to get members who oppose the war, you, to support the appropriations bill by claiming it has provisions to support our troops. In reality, the bill allows the president to indefinitely extend the withdrawal date of August 2008 if the troops are 'engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations with global reach; and/or if the troops are 'training members of the Iraqi Security Forces.' This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years." A toothless, non-enforceable date of August 2008? Why would that be? So when Bully Boy uses the override they provided him with, they can point to that for the November 2008 election? Would they then say/lie, "We tried"?
They didn't try. They treated it like it was all a game and the only thing that mattered was setting up their own finger pointing for the 2008 elections.

These are some of the voices shut out by public radio and when I say "public radio," I'm, sadly, not talking NPR
which did give Medea Benjamin the mike. Free Speech Radio News? Well yesterday, the 'report' was an editorial about how tough it is to be in Congress (health care for life -- our hearts bleed for those poor Congress members). And, in the best of the Sunday Chat & Chew 'balance,' listeners got to hear one person speak for themselves -- a Congress member who supported the weak Pelosi measure. That passes for "Free Speech Radio News" to someone. (Someone really dense and unfamiliar with the history of Pacifica Radio.) Now when you shut out the voices of the people as well as Congress members opposed to the measure, there's no way you can tell your listeners (and The KPFA Evening News demonstrated that yesterday and all week) that the so-called "benchmarks" come with an out-option for the Bully Boy to excercise. (Kat wrote of this yesterday.) These voices were apparently judged unimportant and the issues not worth raising.

Rae (rae's CODEPINK road journal) writes of taking part in an action at Nancy Pelosi's DC office yesterday:

I am crying because the Democrats' support of another $100 billion for the war means that thousands more kids my age will be killed--kid soldiers and Iraqi kids. Pelosi's support of Bush's request for money for war is a death sentence for thousands of kids. After weeks of cute, colorful, passionate actions in the halls of Congress, from caroling with the choir to valentine delivery to dog bones for Blue Dogs to pink aprons and brooms cleaning House, today was an action of a different tenor. I felt like the floodgates had come down and the halls of Congress were gushing with a bloody river. Maybe it sounds dramatic. But it felt like we were drowning in tears, in pain, in the realization of something very, very wrong. And the tragic part was that the two secretaries in Pelosi's office sat there chuckling and picking up phones, and the press liaison came out and answered reporter's questions with a blank face. My heart was pounding so loudly that I wondered why it didn't just crack the walls of the marble building. Those walls felt more sturdy and guarded than usual. How have our Democratic leaders become so enchanted by the Republican language? Pelosi has helped them back into a corner where Bush will emerge victorious. And the tragic thing is that they will tout this as a victory if it passes tomorrow.
I visited Anna Eshoo's office after the action, and her press secretary tried to explain to me why Anna is going to vote for this supplemental. He gave me the analogy of a football game, where one must work strategically one play at a time to get the ball up the field to the goal. Here's why I think that's a bogus comparison: The compromise that Pelosi and the Dems are voting for is not one step towards peace; it is one step towards prolonging violence and destruction, and killing innocent lives for nothing. The press liaison listened patiently to my opinion, and then told me that we have the same goal, just different tactics. But I am quite certain now that we don't have the same goal. The Democrats want to win. I want to see the killing stop. I want to welcome our soldiers home with open arms and fully equipped medical services. I want to see justice done to the administration. The Democrats, well, they want to win--this vote, the election in '08, the power. If Pelosi would have just come out and said, "Look, I know that this bill (or ammendment like Lee's) may fail, but I am going to take this stand because I believe in the courage of my convictions, because I am more committed to the will of my constituents and the integrity of justice." But we'll never get to find out what Dems would have done if the supplemental had been straight with Bush's desires. And now it's a mess.

It is a mess. And who usually gets stuck cleaning up the messes?

Women of the one world
We oppose war
Women of the one world
Dancers, sweepers, bookkeepers
We take you to the movies
Take you to the movies
Women of the one world
One world
-- "Women of the One World," written and performed by Laura Nyro, Live at the Bottom Line

Let's note
Anna Quindlen (UPS via Herald News) conclusions from last month: "The people who brought America reports of WMDs when none existed, and the slogan 'Mission Accomplished' when it was not true nor likely to be, now say that American troops cannot leave. Not yet. Not soon. Not on a timetable. Judge the truth of that conclusion by the truth of their past statements. They say that talk of withdrawal shows a lack of support for the troops. There is no better way to support those who have fought valiantly in Iraq than to guarantee that not one more of them dies in the service of the political miscalculation of their leaders. Not one more soldier. Not one more grave. Not one more day. Bring them home tomorrow."

A number of women have been using their voices loudly and proudly (Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Medea, Robin Morgan, Dahlia S. Wasfi, Missy Comley Beattie, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Diane Wilson, Kim Gandy, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, . . .) but if all the women opposed to this war would use their voices and own their power, the war would be over. The GI resistance is very important and it was important during Vietnam but it's equally true that women were actively leading the cry for an end to the war as well. It's the group that's always 'forgotten' by history.

Back to the Pelosi-measure, the
Green Party noted, "If Democrats (inculding MoveOn) really oppose the war, they should demand a cutoff of war funding and the immediate return of all U.S. troops" and they note Cres Vellucci (press secretary of the Green Party of California and Veterans for Peace member) stating, "The Democrats' resolution is a piece of phony and meaningless antiwar posturing. By proposing a plan that effectively delays the withdrawal of U.S. troops until September 2008, Democrats are trying to set themselves up as the 'antiwar party' in the 2008 election, since it's obvious that President Bush intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq throughout 2008 and long after. If Democratic Party leaders really believe the Iraq War is a disaster -- as do the Green Party and most Americans -- they should support legislation compelling a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and reducing war funding to the amount it takes to bring our troops home safe and sound."

Steve Kretzmann (Oil for Change) points out, "Among the many problems with the Democrats War Supplemental is the not so small fact that it endorses passage of the Iraqi Oil Law. 'Democratic leadership is actively handing over Iraq's oil to U.S. companies as some sort of war bounty,' said Antonia Juhasz, analyst with Oil Change International.
Not so fast, say Dem Leaders and allies. Their 'clever plan' is that Bush's benchmarks will not be met in the next eight months, after which, the bill will require withdrawal. Its the best they can get right now, they say. Problem is, it'll be game over and mission accomplished for Big Oil in Iraq in that time. The
oil law is on a fast track for approval by the Iraqi Parliament within the next 2-3 months, and the Bush administration is leaning heavily on the Iraqi government for quick passage. October 1, which is the date that the Democrats set for the Benchmarks, is too late. The Iraqi oil law will be completed in 2-3 months."

As small media has largely hopped on board to sell the Pelosi measure (or at least not report on it), it's like a flashback to the 90s when big media sold NAFTA. Not everyone plays dumb.
Aaron Glantz (IPS) probes the pork aspect of the bill: "Among the so-called 'pork projects' listed by Citizens Against Government Waste: 283 million dollars for the Milk Income Loss Contract programme, 74 million dollars for peanut storage costs, 60.4 million dollars for salmon fisheries, 50 million dollars for abestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant, and 25 million dollars for spinach" and quotes CAGW president Tom Schatz pointing out, "None of this has anything to do with the war."

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) speaks to what could have been done (as opposed to the sop tossed out) and concludes: "I'm fed up with the gutless mini-politics of this Congress. Who gives a damn whether they've passed a minimum wage bill? It'll never get past Bush anyhow. Neither will anything else of consequence that this Congress passes. Unless they start challenging the Bush administration directly and forcefull, Congressional Democrats aren't going to do bupkis in two years and people are going to start wondering why they were voted in in the first place. People might even start to think seriously about letting the Democratic Party just wither away. Wouldn't make much of a difference without it, really, and we might even come up with something better. It wouldn't be too hard to do."

Meanwhile, Iran is not in the Pelosi measure. Reports of the Iran and British conflict abound.
AFP reports the 15 British soldiers captured in disputed waters as follows: "In southern Iraq, details of the incident in which the British sailors were detained by Iranian naval personnel remained sketchy." Not in the bulk of the Western media which, to read the reports, must be filed by eye witnesses, so sure of they of what happened. Uzi Mahnaimi (Times of London) earlier reported on the disappearances of "senior officers in its [Iran] Revolutionary Guard" noting: "One theory circulating in Israel is that a US taskforce known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG) is coordinating the campaign to take Revolutionary Guard commanders." The illegal war could expand at any moment and the Pelosi measure dropped Congressional approval for war with Iran.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lucinda Marshall, Matthew Rothschild

So MoveOn sold out everyone and is anyone surprised? (If you are, read C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and "Other Items" and Kat's "KPFA, I'm pissed!") I know I should be angry and upset but I'm really not because MoveOn is not an organization that's fought to end the illegal war. Not only has it refused to take up the fight, it's actively undercut the peace movement and done so repeatedly. So I look at this whole sorry episode as somewhat of a relief. Why? There's no pretending for MoveOn again. Those trying to stop the illegal war saw it, they know MoveOn stabbed the peace movement in the back. MoveOn will probably continue to excite BlueDog Democrats who haven't learned how misguided their party is. It will probably continue to be an embarrassing centrist organization. But no one could ever again mistake it for a leader against the war. It's exposed itself before but this was so blatant. So I see a victory in the loss. We've seen the enemy and it's MoveOn.

"Missing in Action" (Lucinda Marshall, CounterPunch):
On March 17 I joined the wonderful surge of patriotic Americans who braved horrendous weather to march from Constitution Gardens to the Pentagon in opposition to the Iraq war. One of the dominant themes of the day in signage, t-shirts and speeches was to "Bring the Troops Home Now." But honoring the lives of those in the military and bringing the troops home now is only part of what is necessary. By focusing on this mantra that was framed by the Neocon "Support the Troops" drumbeat, issues such as the violence against women that occur as a result of militarism become all but invisible at events such as the March on the Pentagon.
True, there were women on the podium, including Cindy Sheehan and Cynthia McKinney. But their speeches did not acknowledge the terrible toll that war has on women's lives. McKinney spoke of the torture of men. Yet as a recent report by the human rights organization Madre made clear, women have been tortured, raped, falsely imprisoned and assaulted with impunity since the beginning of the war by both Americans and Iraqis. Is their torture not every bit as much a violation of human rights as the torture of men? And what about the rapes and sexual assault within our own military ranks that were recently reported in both the New York Times and Salon, is this not torture too?
Yet the anti-war movement continues in complicit silence to ignore the human rights abuses against women that arise as a result of war. In September of 2002, when the invasion of Iraq began to look certain, members of the Feminist Peace Network (FPN) authored the "
Statement of Conscience: A Feminist Vision for Peace." The Statement was written partially in response to the original Not in Our Name (NION) statement, from which conspicuously, all mention of war's impact on women was missing.

You will never hear about attacks on women from MoveOn. They're too busy burying their noses into the skivies of the military in their jingoistic efforts. As to why others are so often silent, I think we're finally getting to the point where we can start to talk honestly. It's taken awhile and there have been many obstacles -- including the majority of the Air America lineup. But when you worship the military to avoid being called unpatriotic, you can't speak out for the victims of militarization. I honestly believe that's why Abeer didn't get the coverage she deserved. Independent media, for the most part, didn't want to touch her. You saw some strong women (Robin Morgan, the women of Off Our Backs) tackle the issue. You saw others reduce it to two or three lines -- frequently not even mentioning Abeer's name. That was especially disappointing coming from independent media because there were demonstrations, in this country, in support of Abeer who would have turned 15 last August. But no one wanted to talk about it. Some bloggers -- on the left or 'left' -- even felt the need to issue nasty threats when the story was just breaking about how they'd come after anyone who used "baby killer". Why would anyone call gang-rapists "baby killers"? I have no idea. I also have no idea why The Nation -- our supposed left leading mag -- avoided the topic (to this day) and why Katha Pollitt -- praised through the roof as a strong feminist voice -- didn't seem to think that a 14-year-old girl, who has been gang raped by US soldiers while her parents and her 5-year-old sister were killed and then she herself was killed, wasn't a topic a feminist should write about. Maybe it didn't fit in well with a top ten list? Maybe she had a book review to write? I just know that in my feminist world view, silence doesn't cut it.

"Bush's Regrets on the Prosecutor Scandal" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
Bush has a knack for understatement, and for hyperbole. It's telling things straight that he's got trouble with.
At his press conference Tuesday, if you can call an event where he calls on only three reporters a press conference, Bush had this to say about the controversy over the firing of the eight federal prosecutors: "I regret these resignations turned into such a public spectacle."
No kidding.
Of course, he regrets the spectacle. It's hurting his Presidency.
But he defends the decision to sack the prosecutors. He said the Justice Department and the White House "believed new leadership in these positions would better serve our country."
That's true only if better serving the Republican Party and deep-sixing further investigations into corrupt Republican officials is identical to better serving our country.

Rebecca has been covering the above in depth since last week. I think I said everything I had to say on the topic yesterday but I did enjoy Rothschild's piece so I wanted to highlight it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue; Kristin M. Hall covers the latest on "one of the worst atrocities in the Iraq war" and she and co-workers at AP are some of the few who can hold their heads high because most everyone took a pass; but the key thing about today is that it's the day after March 20th and we're seeing what
Rebecca long ago termed the "Baby cried the day the circus came to town" coverage: It settles, then it picks ups and leaves.

We'll open by noting something worthy.
Pacifica Radio deserves praise for a program, which originated at WBAI, noting the 4th anniversary with a two hour special program American War in Iraq: The Fraud, the Folly, the Failure featuring speeches, interviews and discussions. Daniel Ellsberg spoke of the opposition during the Vietnam era and the importance of the opposition. "They say it will take a lot more courage than we've seen," Ellsberg said, "to end this war." Bernard White hosted the two-hour program with David Occhiuto. Howard Zinn shared, "It's just about four years since the United States invaded and attacked Iraq with an enormous arsenel of weaponry . . . what was called 'shock and awe'. And so we've had four years to evaluate what we have accomplished. Have we brought democracy or freedom to Iraq in these four years? Have we brought peace or security to Iraq? I think it's quite clear -- we've brought the opposite. We've brought choas and death and misery to Iraq." He also noted the US Congress' comedy of ineptitude as they debate "timetables for withdrawal" when each day brings more of our soldiers will be dead, more amputees, more Iraqi children dead, more Iraqi families forced from their homes, more of those shameful scenes that we've seen of US soldiers breaking down the doors of an Iraq family. There's something absurd about a timetable for withdrawal given what we are doing. If someone broke into your home, smashed everything, terrorized your children, would you give them a timetable to leave? No. . . . They say, and this to me has always been ridiculous, if we withdrawal we will create chaos and violence. Well what do we have there now?"

We'll note a few more of the voices featured.

Elizabeth de la Vega: "I think it's critical that we address the legal and political terrain that led up to the war because it's never really been addressed. . . . What we know, based on public information, now is that various members of the Bush administration. including the president. set about -- at least starting openly in September 2002 -- to persuade Congress by doing this marketing campaign aimed at both Congress and the public. Which, of course, if they had been truthful (in stating their grounds for war and so forth), there would be no fraud but there is really overwhelming evidence that the administration was deceitful in almost every regard about whether that had in fact decided to go to war, what their reasons were in a more general sense, but also the details they offered in support of their arguments for example that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted nuclear weapons, and that he had chemical weapons and so forth. Virutally every area of the marketing campaign involved both general deceits and very specific deceits that were made over and over again.

Dahlia S. Wasfi: "In the spirit that all human lives carries equal, immeasurable worth, we need to stop our practice of seperate bodycounts. There are at least 4,000 American dead. The Pentagon's tally counts only those service men and women who die in the sands of Iraq. There are at least 4,000 American dead. But this was the death toll of Iraq after the first few hours of our campaigns to shock and awe them. I'm quite sure that a report estimating 655,000 Americans dead due to our bloody occupation would mandate an end to the slaughter. Why do we value Iraqi blood less? And with all do respect, it is a discriminatory practice to identify dead Americans as husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, and not do the same for Iraqis. They are all human beings. The difference is that the Americans followed illegal orders and are guilty of the Nuremberg crime against peace. Iraqis, 7,000 miles away, are guilty of being born Iraqi. The death toll we need to mark is the human toll, 659,000 and counting. The civilians at the other end of our weapons don't have a choice but American soldiers have choices. And we know the truth, our soldiers don't sacrifice for duty, honor, country, they sacrifice for Kellogg Brown and Root. Our soldiers, they don't fight for America, they fight for their lives and their buddies beside them because they are in a war zone. They're not defending our freedoms. They're laying the foundation for fourteen permanent military bases to defend the freedoms of Exxon Mobile and British Petroleum. They're not establishing democracy. They're establishing the basis for an economic occupation to continue after the military occupation has ended. I recently received this message from a friend in Baghdad who found my Congressional testimony on the internet. "Dear Dahlia, I have tried to write you back but I have been so busy with moving my mother and two brothers out of Baghdad. They are now living with my relatives in another city I am still in Baghdad as I can't leave my job. My father was kidnapped on December 16th of 2006 couple of blocks away from my family's house. He was taken by men who were using Glock pistols. The same pistols used by the new police force we are training" so don't talk to me about civil war "We have paid the ransom money but it has been over a month and there has been no word. As dangerous as it is I still have to go to the Baghdad morgue every week searching for the man who I owe him all my life. Just imagine the kind of mentality you have when you go there and expect to see your father on the widescreen they have displaying the bodies I am too afraid to go to the house where I was raised. The house has probably been taken by gang or militia the usual thing in Baghdad today. We are moving towards a dead end. There is no way out, no fire escape, no exit. We Iraqis are all registered on the very long list of death and nobody is exempted. Do not let your courageous voice stop." We must dare to speak out in support of the Iraqi people who resist and endure the horrific existance we brought upon them through our blood thirsty imperial crusade. We must dare to speak out in support of those American soldiers the real heroes who uphold their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, including those inside the Beltway. As Lt. Watada said, and you've heard it before, To stop an illegal and unjust war the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it. The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War is comprised of young men and women with a wisdom, courage and conviction of those well beyond their years. It is these veterans, like Vietnam veterans against the war before them who know the ground truth and they are demanding that Congress support the troops by cutting the funding. That is they are demanding that Congress support the troops by cutting the funding to mandate their immediate, unconditional withdrawal. I close with a quote from Frederick Douglas: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will." Everyone of us must keep demanding, keep fighting, keep speaking, keep struggling until justice is served.
No justice, no peace.

White and Occhiuto had a discussion with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Michael Harmon, Demond Mullins and Jason LeMieux and here's a sample of some of the discussion:

Jason: In my experience, it's largely counter-productive. At best, it's completely worthless because in the process of doing the sweeps, you supposedly cordon off an area and the troops form just one long line, however big the area is that's going to be sweeped, and they go through and search every home. Now generally speaking in the process of cordoning off the area they give whoever is in there plenty of time to either hide whatever evidence they have of resistance activity or to get out, to just exiltrate out just put down your weapons, just walk away. In my three tours we hardly ever found anything, hardly ever found any weapons, and those that we did, when we did find them, would usually be much less than we were expecting in the area and at the same time when the troops are going through and they're searching, they're usually acting in a very oppresive manner to the civilians because I mean you're in a -- you're searching peoples' homes. You know? People don't understand that. When we talk about fighting the insurgency and fighting the enemy this is in people's homes, it's in their neighorhoods it's actually people who live there that we're fighting. So troops go through and they talk directly to women, sometimes they'll actually physically touch them and push them to get them all into a room and this is all just a horribly, horribly dishonest thing to do to these people. And all it's doing is fueling the insugency. It's just creating more anger and resistance for us and making people want to fight us more. So at best it's useless and at worst, it's completely counter-productive.

Demond Mullins: Your whole life you have your parents teaching you what is right and what is wrong. What is the right way to treat people and what is the wrong way to treat people and then you're put into a situation where you have to behave violently towards people, you have to be oppressive towards people. And it's totally a mob mentality, you know? You get into character. I completely . . . I can say there were times when I was in Iraq and I was in tough situations where I completely lost myself and who I was as a person and who my parents raised me to be. And those are the moments that I look back now on, those are the moments that in retrospect I am the most embarrassed about because it was as if I was a different person and it was as if it was a whole lifetime ago that I behaved in that manner. And to be honest with myself I can't forgive myself for the way that I behaved towards people
when I was in Iraq and that's partially the reason why I'm doing the work that I'm doing.

Michael Harmon: I signed up as a "health care specialist," as the Army calls it, which turns out to be a combat medic. So I didn't sign up to really rush people's homes, I signed up to help the injured and the sick. But Geneva Conventions says they're not allowed to use medical vehicles and medical personnel for those type of activities but that was out the window over there. I used my M113 which is, our medical vehicle, it's a slightly, lightly armored, maybe like a tank, like a PC, and we smashed down gates with it. When infranty couldn't kick it in, if there was locks behind the gate, one of those bolt locks. And I was used also, like Jason was saying, to sweep areas. And it was . . . It wasn't what I signed up . . . I saw the fear on people's faces. The Americans get upset when tele-marketers call them at dinner time. Imagine if we kicked in your door and cornored you off in a little corner and rummaged through your stuff. I mean, this is not -- we're violating the rights of people. George says 'Oh, yeah, we want to give them their freedom and democracy' but yet we're not showing them that. We're showing them Nazi-ism really, that's what it comes down to.

Veronica Jarret Mackey: For me my personal experiences, I was there when the war originally broke out and also I was there in 2005 but from my personal experience, especially the first time there, my mission was to transport fuel from one military installation to another installation that was the only thing we did. We didn't enforce anything, we didn't build anything. We were just picking up fuel from one military base to another base and that was my whole mission the whole time I was there. And is it worth it? No. Is it worth just taking up something to bring it to somewhere else? No. There was no growth, no anything. So that was my personal experience. . . . When I did my mission, I had this thought in my head, "Oh my goodness I might be going out today and not coming back. I might never see my family again, I might never see my husband again, I might never see my buddy that's riding in the truck with me." We were targeted. We were hit with IEDs, small arms fire, RPGs, name it, we were hit with it on our convoys, so of course anxiety, everything mixed up together, going out not, knowing if we were going to come back."

There were other guests, other conversations. If you missed the special, you can listen to it at the
WBAI archives -- Monday, 9:00 p.m., filed under "Home Fries" (the program it aired in place of) or you can listen to it at the Pacifica Radio main page.

On the special, Howard Zinn noted, "Soldiers like
Ehren Watada are refusing to fight in Iraq and when more and more do that, well, maybe the war will come to an end." Elaine Pasquini (WRMEA) notes that the speaking out and opposition to the war includes the war resisters and notes how Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder and others have taken the issue to the people.

Watada, Anderson and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Dean Walcott, Joshua Key,
Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.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.

In Iraq today, two events compete for attention. One is a desire for a dialogue.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi stated that talks needed to begin with all Iraqis including so-called 'insurgents' because they are "just part of the Iraqi communities." The other? First some of today's violence.


CNN reports that a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed a police officer and left three more wounded and another roadside bomb in Baghdad that killed two people and also injured three police officers. Reuters notes that a bombing aimed "at the headquaters of a Kurdish party" in Mosul left five dead and 40 wounded. CBS and AP note a mortar attack in Madain that claimed three lives and left ten wounded. AFP notes that the number dead from the mortar attack in al-Madain is 8 with 18 injured. Reuters notes that an attempt by Iraqi police to dispose of "a huge truck bomb near the Finance Ministry in Baghdad" resulted in 12 people being injured and "collapsed part of the main highway linking the north and south of the capital." Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that at least one person died in the Iraqi police's attempt to dispose of the truck bomb. AFP notes a bombing in Mosul that killed three people and one in Kirkuk that killed one person.


Reuters reports that "a former army brigadier and a friend" were shot dead in Falluja.


CBS and AP report the corpses of two police officer were discovered in Diwaniyah. Reuters notes three corpses discovered in Kut ("Shi'ite Mehdi Army militia members"). AFP reports: "On Wednesday, officials reported . . . another 33 corpses found shot and dumped in the capital."

Staying on the topic of violence,
Kristin M. Hall (AP) reports on the latest regarding "one of the worst atrocities in the Iraq war" -- and she can use that language, anyone at AP can because they actually covered the story -- then and now. Yes, we're talking Abeer -- gang raped by US soldiers while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered and then she was murdered as well. Paul Cortez and James P. Barker have already confessed in court (and been sentenced) to the part in the war crimes. Hall was reporting on Bryan Howard's trial which started today. He is thought to have been a "look out" who knew what was planned. After Howard, the next military trial will be Jesse Spielman's "scheduled for April 2." Steven D. Green, whom Cortez and Barker have portrayed as the ringleader, will be tried in a civilian court due to the fact that he had been discharged back when the story was still that 'insurgents' had attacked Abeer's home. In an update, Hall reports that Bryan Howard "pleaded guilty Wednesday to being an accessory to the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the slaying of her family" and "also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice by lying to his superior officers". We'll again note the words of Captain Alex Pickands in the August Article 32 hearing into the death of Abeer and her family: "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."

The news of another guilty plea comes at a time when
Lucinda Marshall (CounterPunch) rightly notes that "issues such as the violence against women that occur as a result of militarism become all but invisble at events such as the March on the Pentagon." Marshall recommends that everyone read "Statement of Conscience: A Feminist Vision for Peace" by the Feminist Peace Network.

With all the press al-Sadr has received recently, one big topic may be why al-Maliki -- supposedly standing up to al-Sadr (yeah, right) -- did him a solid?
CNN notes Moqtada al-Sadr's "top aide" -- Ahmed Shibani -- was released from jail after two years behind bars on the orders of Nouri al-Maliki. Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports, "Shibani's release is likely to boost the standing of Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist who relies on Sadr for political support, with the Sadrist movement which holds a quarter of the parliamentary seats in the ruling Shi'ite Alliance."

Turning to Australia, John Howard, who, try as he may, never managed to nudge ahead of Tony Blair, still remains a Bully Boy poodle.
Patrick Walters (The Australian) reports that Howard, desperate to be re-elected, bellowed and blustered with statements about "The staes are extraordinarily high" and "I believe strongly that to signal our departure now would be against Australia's national interest." He's referring to Iraq. It's in Australia's national interest to be in Iraq? Well that must mean that they have 100,000 troops there. No? 50,000? No? 25,000? No? About 1,400. If it was truly important to the security of Australia, shouldn't that figure be higher? Well, he's trying hard to hold on to his office as prime minister and behind in the polls. Rod McGuirk (AP) reports that Howard "conceded Wednesday that keeping Australian troops in Iraq could cost him re-election" As Australia's ABC notes, Kevin Rudd and the Labor party support a withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq. And AP notes that a recent poll found that 68% found Howard "arrogant" (29% found Rudd "arrogant").

Turning to the US, House Rep and 2008 presidential hopeful
Dennis Kucinich has stated, "This week, we have the power to cut off the funding for the war and bring our troops home. If we continue to fund the war, our troops will continue to remain in harm's way. . . . How much more time are we going to give this misguided quagmire of a war? More than 3,200 of our brave men and women have perished in a needless, selfless war that does not have an end in sight. I have a real plan in place, HR 1234, that actually has the power to bring the troops home while transitioning to an international security and peacekeeping force. The people of the United States are way ahead of Congress in wanting to get out of Iraq. We need to listen to the mandate given to us by the American people on November 7, and act now to use the money that is in the pipeline to bring the troops home." The office of US House Rep Lynn Woolsey notes, "While the Congress debates a $120 billion supplemental that would continue the occupation of Iraq through 2008, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA) today laid out her plan for a 6-month withdrawal from Iraq before the House Foreign Affairs Committee." That's HR 508 which provides for a six-month withdrawal, cancels Bully Boy's War Powers Act (that he's used to abuse the Constitution and the world ever since), say "NO" to US bases in Iraq, "return all oil licenses back to the Iraqi people . . . and establish a commission to investigate the run-up to the war."

As the Pelosi measure attracts a lot of people and organizations who never accomplished anything (there's a personal "ouch" in there for someone),
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes that Gallup has polled and -- guess what -- Congress's numbers are falling -- approval numbers -- "and the pollster speculates that the Democrats failure to 'do anything substantive' on Iraq is the likely reason why." WalkOn has supported the measure and Democracy Rising features Howard Zinn's reply: "I'm disappointed in MoveOn. We are not politicians, we are citizens. Let the politicians advocate half-way measures if they choose, but only after they have felt the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is winnable in a shameful timorous Congress." And David Lindorff (This Can't Be Happening)notes: "If Democrats wanted to end the war, they could do so immediately by refusing to pass a supplemental funding measure to support it, but they don't want to do this. It's not that they fear being called unpatriotic -- hell, with 70 percent of the public wanting the war to end immediately, nobody would fault Congress for pulling the plug. . . . But ending the war would leave the Democrats without their best issue going into the 2008 national election: Bush's war. So instead of ending the war, they vote to oppose it, but then continue to fund it."

And finally,
Tom Hayden takes a look back to yesterday to find meaning for today. Writing at The Huffington Post, Hayden notes: "Yes, history repeats and these days, increasingly so. For those fighting over Iraq funding today, I believe history offers useful lessons in the role of patient political organizing."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sharon Smith, Ruth Conniff

I'm still waiting for the bounce-back to kick in from last week in terms of energy levels. Sunny printed up all the e-mails of thanks re: John Lennon and Yoko Ono that resulted from yesterday's post. I say "thank you" right back. I'm glad so many of you agreed strongly enough to write in. That's not, "They agree with me!" The agreement comes in on how hideous it was for The Nation to distort John & Yoko's classic song for the rag's own agenda. The agreement comes from the power and meaning of the song and the fact that so many of us love that song and hold it very dear. Alex wrote that he wasn't "sure if Britney Spears sampling the song and giving it her usual bad performance would have upset me more." I hear you, Alex. Susan noted that it wasn't that they quoted a song or that they wrote of a song, it was that they deliberately distorted it so they owe an apology. I would agree with that. What they did was dishonest and shameful. It was pulling a Hillary Clinton!

"Hillary's Cojones" (Sharon Smith, CounterPunch):
And Clinton has made clear she has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq if elected president. In an interview published by the New York Times on March 15, she was explicit on this issue-sounding remarkably like, well, George Bush. A complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could turn it into "a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda," she said, adding, "It is right in the heart of the oil region. It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel's interests."
Clinton would downsize the U.S. troop presence, pulling them out of urban combat to minimize U.S. casualties while preserving enough troops "for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to
respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis."
As the Times reported, "Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence - even if it descended into ethnic cleansing." Indeed, Clinton responded coldly to the prospect of such a mass sectarian bloodletting: "This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."
Clinton's candid Times interview seems to place her well to the right of other Congressional Democrats, currently absorbed in an apparently principled fight to pass antiwar legislation through the House and Senate. On March 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, "The administration's answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated defiantly that Bush "must change course, and it's time for the Senate to demand he do it."
But behind the scenes, Democratic Party Congressional leaders were maneuvering frantically to avoid conflict with the Bush administration's war aims. On March 13, Democrats announced plans to remove a requirement that Bush gain Congressional approval before taking military action against Iran in its military spending bill. Democrats, not Republicans, stymied the Iran proposal during a meeting held behind closed doors, objecting to possible opposition from Israel. As Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley explained, "It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran."
The spending bill to be debated in the House this week includes nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-more than Bush requested. Its antiwar provisions require most U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by August 31, 2008. But the President "may waive" these requirements for reasons of "national security," according to the now toothless legislation.
In concrete terms, three months after establishing a majority in Congress, the Democrats have little to show for themselves.

There is a great deal before the excerpt starts. I really wanted to start at the top but I do know there are efforts to distort the current legislation in the House and pass it off as something that will end the war. So when I got to that section of Smith's article, I felt that had to be included.

If you missed some of those efforts, C.I. covers one in the snapshot (posted in full at the bottom of this post) and John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton's "Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" is linked to but I'll toss in that link to it from CounterPunch where it also runs.

"Bush to Gonzales: 'You're doing a heck of a job'" (Ruth Conniff, The Progressive): One thing Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on: There's no sense dragging out the hearings on Gonzales's role in the Administration's politically motivated firings of prosecutors. The Democrats want Gonzales's head, and the Republicans are inclined to give it to them, very soon, just to get this whole embarrassing episode over with.
Even White House Press Secretary Tony Snow sounded tepid in his support for the besieged A.G. during his regular briefing with reporters Monday. And, according to
McClatchy Newspapers, Gonzales's former Republican supporters are making lists of possible replacement Attorneys General, including, ironically, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, who saw the nation through the Hurricane Katrina disaster (for details, see the September 4, 2005 CNN story: "Chertoff: Katrina scenario did not exist"). Besides asserting, falsely, that no one could have anticipated the effects of Katrina, Chertoff assured New Orleans residents that the government would "move heaven and earth" to help them.
Oh, well. So much for disaster management. On to leading the Justice Department.

I'm not sure if I disagree with Conniff (I'm not sure where she's standing in this op-ed) but I do disagree with the notion that Gonzales get tossed and we 'move on.' This needs to be probed by Congress, this needs to have public hearings. I'm tired of things being slipped under the rug and I'm tired of information not coming out. What's gone on in this scandal is the same thing that the administration has done with every other scandal -- they've declared that the laws do not apply to them (in this case, the big law they're ignoring, besides the laws against conspiracy, is by passing the Senate confirmation process). In this scandal, we see all the workings of every other scandal, the willingness to ignore the law, the desire to ignore the other branches of the government, the willingness to lie to the American people.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
March 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, protests continued, the state and meaning of the illegal war continues to be debated and Iraqis speak in their own voices, on their own terms.

Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari spoke with Tom Hayden and Frances Fox Piven about Iraq (Hayden has a book on Ending the Iraq War due out in June and professor Piven authored The War At Home.). Frances Fox Piven noted that it was time to "begin withdrawal immediately and we also should push for an interim authority in the area made up of other national representatives that's either nations in the area or UN authority that tries to surpress violence while we are withdrawing. We should withdraw as fast as we can. The Democrats are as timid as they are not because they don't have the support of the American people for withdrawal but because they have their eye on the 2008 election and they want to avoid any circumstancing which they can be attacked, including attacked for 'exposing the troops' or . . . adding to the 'losing' of the war, or whatever, politicans are always going to be cautious, especially in a two-party system where there is no alternative to the left of the Democratic Party so they can position themselves very moderately and still hope to gain electorally." Hayden noted that Bully Boy "wants to put the issue to the test in the 2008 presidential election as well. He wants to push it on. It's not unusual for presidents, leaders of the state, the establishment, to want to avoid losing at all costs and escalation is always the answer to losing, you just pass it along so you can say that you finished your term without losing any honor blah, blah, blah." Maldari brought up 1968 and Nixon's secret plan for getting out of Vietnam (apparently the secret plan was the threat of his own impeachment).

Piven: Certainly one of the factors leading to the pull out from South Vietnam was the military themselves who were in --

Hayden: In revolt.

Piven: . . . the GI anti-war movement was escalating, really, beginning in 1970, the prospect of losing control of the military, the prospect of this kind of international disaster certainly had a lot to do with the ultimate pull out from Vietnam. It also had a lot to do with the reluctance of the American military to go to war on that scale again. Instead we had a lot of small wars.

Hayden spoke of the importance of setting a deadline and planning for an orderly departure.
and observed, "No one in the media has ever called for the withdrawal of American troops or setting the deadline for withdrawal." Which is a good time to drop back to the start of the month when John R. MacArthur (
writing for the Providence Journal) noted that withdrawal of US troops also means planning who gets withdrawn -- as in Vietnam, there are many who've aided US troops and who among them will be allowed (most have already been promised that they will be) to leave with the US military. The issue of the financial costs for the illegal war was addressed and how the losses were more complex than some might realize.

Piven: I think that the official figures bring the costs of the wars in Afgahnistan and Iraq up to around 400 billion at this point and yes they are cutting Medicaid and Medicare. And they stopped building low-cost housing. There's a very long list of domestic needs that are going unmet. I think it's a little more complicated than that. All that's true but at the same time I think it's also true that their motives for going into war in the first place had a lot to do with the way war and war time enthusiasm would allow them, at least for a time, to manipulate the American public. They depicted a great menace overseas. They evoked all kind of foreign dragons that nobody could asses in terms of their own experience or their own perceptions, And they created a lot of war like enthusiasm in the United States. And then they used that enthusiasm not only to get themselves elected -- their majority increased in 2002, to get re-elected in 2004 -- but they also used that kind of enthusiasm, and the domination of all branches of government that it gave them, to slash taxes on the very rich and to do that again and again and again. And Tom DeLay said 'nothing is more important in a time of war than cutting taxes'. And they used the war time enthusiasm to push through subsidies for the pharmaceutical companies, for the energy corporations. So . . . the domestic costs to the war are truly profound. They go beyond the simple arithmetic of 'we could have spent the money that went for Iraq on what our children need'. That's true but the war also corrupted democracy to an extent that one can choke on and also allowed them to engage in this very predatory behavior in domestic politics.

Hayden noted the polling of Iraqis and how they want troops out. (A point made in the segment, was also that it's up to the people to educate one another on what withdrawal means as opposed to what it's sometimes portrayed as. He
wrote about this last week at The Huffington Post.) As time ran out, one of the most important points was made. Hayden stated, "The Baghdad government is a sectarian police state that's based on militias and death squads and that's the issue for funding should funding tax dollars go continually to that regime? That was a big issue in '73. It's a big issue today."

And that is who is being supported and the support needs to be questioned. Earlier this month,
Joseph Forrest (Socialist Appeal) interviewed US war resister Darrell Anderson and asked Anderson if he thought the Democrats would be ending the war anytime soon? "No, no," Darrell Anderson replied. "If anything the Democrats will go into Iran or have a draft of something. I have no belief in Hillary Clinton or any of them, because they're all politicians. They're not going to stop the war." Anderson, who self-checked out after serving in Iraq and receiving the Purple Heart, returned from Canada last year to turn himself in and he discussed with Forrest how that went, "I went to turn myself in at Fort Knox and I found the Generals at Fort Knox, and they had the choice to either Court Marshall me or not, and I told them that they're going to have to put my uniform on me and pin my medals to my chest, put me on Court Martial, and that my whole defense is going to be talking about all the war crimes we committed, all the friends I've seen beating prisoners to death, all the times we killed innocent civilians. They told me I was going to go to jail for one to five years, and when I got to the base they started to break, saying, 'Come in quietly and we'll let you go.' I told them no. I was gonna keep talking, and I got to the base and three days later I was sent away with discharge papers, because the soldiers on the base were really reacting to me being there. They were like, 'What the hell is going on? This guy against the war and he has a purple heart.' So they released me. I guess they felt the longer I was at the base, the more trouble I was going to cause, the more soldiers would have gotten on my side, and they felt it was better for the military to get rid of me basically."

Also speaking out was US war resister Dean Walcott who is attempting to be granted refugee status in Canada.
Melanie Patten (The Canadian Press) reports on his participation at the rally in Hallifax where he was received by a "cheering crowd" and declared that, "I'm not a politician I don't know the ins and outs of political theory but I do know that there's got be a better way for a nation to be free whether than us putting a gun in their face and demanding it of them."

Anderson and Walcott are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.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.

Protests have been going on since Friday to demonstrate opposition to the illegal war. Yesterday,
Karen Miller (Free Speech Radio News) reported on Saturday's march on the Pentagon and noted this from a speech given by Cindy Sheehan: "We're only part of the world. We're only 5% of the population and we use up to 40% of the resources. It's gotta stop. We have to share with our brothers and sisters around the world. We have to start saying, 'We have enough, do you want to have enough too?' We have to stop demonizing other people to allow our leaders to send our young people off to kill them, to send our young people off -- like my son Casey -- to die for nothing, to die for the war machine." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted Monday's protests at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday where 44 protesters were arrested and quoted Margio Farr stating, "If people sit down and they refuse to move and they create a dent in the effectivity of the market today, hopefully that will send a message to government officials that this war needs to end and that corporations have to stop profiting off of people's lives."

In the Bay Area yesterday,
many actions took place. Flashpoints Nora Barrows- Friedman spoke with Antonia Juhasz who was at the San Ramon Chevron headquarters and explained, "I have been locked into two barrels since about seven o'clock this morning. We have been blockading the entrance to Cheveron's world headquaters. We've got about a 150 people and we successfully and significantly not only disrupted their business day but definately gave every employee at Cheveron a conversation piece for the day with a full protest against not only their involvement in the war but their advancement of climate chaos and a very successful action. . . . We had a funeral for the last cube of ice that just finished. We also had a tug of war between the Bush administration and Chevron oil executives and the people . . . and we're just now finishing that up. . . . We're here to talk in particular about Chevron's role in trying to steal Iraq's oil through the war and the passage of a new Iraqi oil law . . "

Brian Edwards-Tiekert reported from the protests for yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News.
("It felt like a carnival at the gates to Chevron's world headquarters") and spoke with
Antonia Juhasz who explained the proposed Iraqi oil legislation, "The law changes Iraq from an oil system closed to US oil companies into an oil system in which . . . American oil companies including Chevron could own and control at least two-thirds of Iraq's oil for a generation or more."

The KPFA Evening News yesterday noted actions by the Declaration of Peace at Senator Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco that then became a street action with at least 57 people being arrested as well as actions at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco offices by CODEPINK and others including Sean O'Neill:

O'Neill (president of the Berkeley chapter
Iraq Veterans Against the War): "I speak for the men in my platoon who do not have the opportunity to because they were killed in this pointless military adventure that we call 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' There's the courage of those like Ehren Watada who stand on a principled, moral ground and with decency say that they will not participate in this mockery of the military and American values. But there are others who, like myself were not quite the same moral fabric, were not as strong as they are, and we went knowing that this was wrong, knowing that this was completely ineffective. We are trying to provide our experiences to you the public so that you know you are right because you are. This war is a travesty."

David Montgomery (Washington Post) reports on DC actions by Iraq Veterans Against the War where thirteen members dressed in "desert camo" as they marched "from Union Station to Arlingotn National Cementary" and "carried imaginary assault rifles, barked commands, roughly 'detained' suspected hostiles with flex cuffs and hoods -- and generally shocked frightened and delighted tourists and office workers." Operation First Casualty was the name of the action and it "aims to bring the story of the war to the American people."
Garrett Reppenhagen: "
We are calling Monday's action Operation First Casualty because we believe that truth was the first casualty of this war. Our aim is to show the American public the truth of the US occupation in Iraq. It is time for the American people to know the truth so they will act to bring the troops home now."

As these and other actions take place (remember Darrell Anderson's quote), the leadership in the US House of Representatives promotes a weak measure. As Robert Knight noted in his Knight Report on
KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, the Democratic leadership "angling to extend the Republican launched war until the eve of the 2008 presidential election while running out the clock with do nothing resolutions in the House and Senate that impose no budgetary restraints or mandatory withdrawals."

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (Center for Media and Democracy) walk everyone through how MoveOn's recent 'polling' (of 'members'), how the 'poll' severly limited options and how the organization's leaders refuse to support US House Reps Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters' bill (HR 508). Rampton and Stauber write: "Politically, the Lee amendment cannot pass; fewer than 100 members of Congress are expected to vote for it. However, the same thing is true of weaker legislation that MoveOn is currently supporting, in league with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha and David Obey. The Pelosi bill merely establishes 'benchmarks' of progress in Iraq, so that all Bush has to do is certify that he is making progress on those goals to keep funding flowing for the war. Instead of withdrawing troops this year, the Pelosi bill talks about beginning to withdraw them in March 2008. Even so, it faces united Republican opposition and is not expected to pass the U.S. Senate, even if it is approved by the House of Representatives. And even if it does pass, Bash has already said he will veto it. So why was the Democratic Party leadership so determined to prevent the Lee amendment from even coming to the floor -- and why has avoided even mentioning the Lee proposal to its members?" Another question is why MoveOn is called a "liberal" organization? The organization began 'reformist' (at best), or "appeasement" (at worst and that's the label many in the Clinton White House tagged it with). The story of MoveOn is told in it's beginnings. It was an organization that came about when there was talk of impeaching then US president Bill Clinton. There were impeachment petitions gathering signatures. The people never supported impeachment and a truly liberal organization might have started a petition entitled "Nobody's Damn Business! Back The Hell Off!" Instead, MoveOn took what the Republicans were pushing for (which had a minority of public support) and said, "Censure! Don't Impeach! And Move On!" If there was a time to fight, that was it. Instead of fighting, MoveOn appeased Republican leadership and provided cover for impeachment by allowing right-wingers to claim that even 'liberals' supported some action by pointing to MoveOn's call for censure. If you found the impeachment circus ridiculous, and many Americans did, remember that the efforts were aided by some 'liberal' groups. It's worth remembering that as we find another situation where the American people (the majority) want real action on Iraq, want a timeline, want troops home. Again, MoveOn is appeasing elected leaders and MovingOn away from their supposed membership.

Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace are among the groups who have come out against the measure backed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And this is a good place to note Robert Parry's (Consortium News) observation, "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney may deserve the most blame for the Iraq war, but a core reality shouldn't be missed: the four-year-old conflict resulted from a systemic failure in Washingtonn -- from the White House, to congressional Republicans and Democrats, to an insular national news media, to Inside-the-Beltway think tanks."

Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) raises another issue for the peace movment to consider, debate and discuss: whether a new umbrella organization is needed "that would emcompass the two current supposedly umbrella antiwar organizations: UFPJ and ANSWER"? It's a conversation worth having whatever your position. (The community's position is reflected in this roundtable for The Third Estate Sunday Review. United for Peace and Justice, A.N.S.W.E.R.have done wonderful work and deserve praise. New groups emerging are not a threat, they further the message and promote even more action. As for a larger umbrellas group, it's something to consider and hopefully Jacobs will return to that topic in the future.)

Providing Iraqis the chance to speak for themselves,
Hilba Dawood (Free Speech Radio News) got the views of two Iraqis yesterday. A 44-year-old "businessman" in Baghdad offered that: "Americans have turned Iraq into a guinnea pig. They have tried everything in hand until they have turned Iraq into chaos. They created this chaos waiting to see who was the strongest to be in power. This is not going to work without a good plan." A 35-year-old teacher in Karbala shared, "No one is optimistic. Our people are scared. Though the bombs are a bit less frequent now. The people of Iraq are tired of the situation -- which was a lot better during Saddam's times. No one wants him back but we need security. We don't want the Americans to stay. No single side in Iraq wants them to stay."

Meanwhile the
BBC reports that Iraqi police chief Abdul Hussein Al Saffe ("head of policing in Dhi Qhar province") has stated "that many of his officers were disloyal. They could not be sacked because they had political protection" and "Brigadier General Ghalib al Jaza'aere, said he had been forced to hire 300-4000 officers who were completely illiterate." This comes as Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) reports on events in Duluiyah yesterday ("45 miles north of Baghdad") where people with machine guns surrounded the police station and were told "Repent or die" -- at which point they quit the police force on the spot after which the police station was blown up.


CBS and AP note 5 deaths and 18 wounded in a car bombing at a bus station in Baghdad,
Reuters notes a mortar attack in southern Baghdad that claimed at least 7 lives and left 20 injured. The BBC notes that the wounded included "women and children." CNN reports, "second car bomb ripped through a commercial district in the capital's Karrada neighborhood, killing two people and wounding at least seven others. Karrada is a predominatly Shiite area in central Baghdad." Reuters notes a bombing "near a mosque" that took one life and left three wounded, while a bombing near a police station left five dead and 17 wounded.


Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead just outside of Kirkuk and that 39 people were killed (suspected of . . . something) by "[p]olice and tribal fighters" in Amiriya.


Reuters notes that a corpse was discovered in Kirkuk, one corpse was discovered in Falluja,

Today the
US military announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers died when an improvised explosive device struck the unit's vehicle during a combat security patrol in a souther section of the Iraqi capital, wounding another."

This as
Atef Hassan (Reuters) reports, "British troops in Iraq's southern Basra oil port pulled out of their heavily attacked base in the heart of the city on Tuesday, the first to be handed to Iraqi forces who are slowly taking control of security." Today, PTI reports that a new poll of British sentiment found that only 29% of respondents felt the illegal war was "justified" and that "nearly 60 per cent" felt it wasn't.

Yesterday, at
Inside Iraq, Laith blogged: "Now and while I'm writing these words, the American troops are attacking a part of my neighborhood west Baghdad. At the same time, I got a call from my nephew that some insurgents are attacking her neighborhood south west Baghdad. I'm sure the American army knows about the insurgents but I'm sure they ignore them or let me say they allow them to do everything they want. . . . A question just jumped in my mind, Shouldn't the American go to the place where the insurgents are attacking the civilians? Shouldn't they do their duty as they say to protect Iraqis and fight terror? It looks that the American government and Mr. President Bush don't care about anything except for his own capital friends' interest. The strategy the US army follows in Iraq is not more than another lie to cheat us both Iraqis and Americans and we all, Iraqis and Americans pay the price. . . . I just hope that someone reads these words and tell the poor Americans that your soldiers are not fighting Al Qaida or the terrorists in Iraq as the military commanders claim. They are here to do their role of killing the innocents and to complete the play the politicians started since the American administration decided to get [rid] of its crazy fool agent Saddam Hussein."

Heads up -- Tomorrow on
Democracy Now!, Jeremy Scahill and Naomi Klein are scheduled guests. (Scahill was on today's show as well.)