Friday, May 11, 2007


Thank you for the kind e-mails. If, as many of you wrote, felt Wednesday's post was among the best I've done here ("except when writing about peace," added Megan) give credit to Isaiah's comic that I reposted.

"Iraqi Lawmakers Back Draft Bill for Withdrawal Timetable" (Democracy Now!)
A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have approved a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a freeze on current troop levels. The measure would require Iraqi leaders to seek parliamentary approval for any extension of foreign troops when the UN mandate expires this year. At least one-hundred thirty eight of Iraq's two-hundred-seventy-five member parliament have signed on.

C.I. covered the above in yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" but I don't blog on Thursdays so, on the chance that someone may have missed it, I wanted to be sure to note it here today. I also thought Cedric's "Bully Boy doesn't understand 'foreign forces'" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY SAYS FOREIGNERS OUT OF IRAQ!" (joint-post) covered the arrogance of the administration quite well:


They, Wally and Cedric, provide a humorist, often absurdist, take on the news. Just a little background, they started doing joint-posts because both were working on the 2006 elections in their spare time and Cedric was considering putting his site on hold. Wally offered that they could do joint-posts and they enjoyed that so much that they've kept it up. Sometimes they will break the humor if there's an issue that's important and they can't find a way to address it otherwise. For instance, when John Kerry's office was swearing that Kerry wouldn't back down or apologize for a speech he gave, Cedric and Wally showed strong support for Kerry and hit hard at those trashing the senator. Then Kerry demonstrated (once again) how fond he is of the buckle. That was really it for John Kerry. As C.I. called it the day Kerry buckled, the shot at 2008 presidential nominee was over. As a result of that buckle, there's not going to be any support from this community for Kerry. We won't rush to defend him because he refuses to stand. He destroyed himself. You only get so many chances and most weren't feeling that generous after the 2004 campaign. But he had a shot and proved yet again that he only knows how to buckle. His motto truly should be: "I stood up before I stood down."

"This Minute and Then the Next" (Laurie Hasbrook, CounterPunch):
Haifa signs her letter "Love and peace." In the only time she owns, possibly the last time she will write to her friends in the States, Haifa writes of the tyranny and injustice that typifies daily life in Iraq. And then, in closing she blesses us, with wishes of love and peace.
Just this minute and then the next, whenever we feel defeated, or bored, or tired of the struggle to end tyranny and injustice, let us remember Haifa. Remember her daily struggles, her fears for her children, her desperation. Remember that, in spite of all, she sends wishes of love and peace. And remember, "Right now is the only time we own!"
Let us work, let us battle, nonviolently, for just this minute and then the next to ease the anguish of our Iraqi brothers and sisters. Now, as yet another supplemental spending bill will soon be presented to the U.S. Congress, seeking $145 billion additional dollars for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our voices are more needed than ever. Obscenely expensive projects which the U.S. Congress will be asked to fund will procure weapons and weapon systems due to arrive in Iraq no sooner than 2009 and 2010. Please join our efforts to oppose any further spending for war. Not one more dollar, not one more life.
Please see our website,, to read "
Iraq and Afghanistan Supplemental Spending 2008: A comprehensive analysis of the 2008 Iraq war funding request" by jeff Leys.
A must read! Call or write to us at Voices (773-878-3815/ to get involved.

Well thank you, Hasbrook, you just took the idea I was hoping to use this weekend. I'm joking. (That was the idea I was thinking of, however.) I went with the end of the column because otherwise I would be quoting her and then quoting her quoting someone else and I know that can get confusing. But she's writing about her own daily life and then about the daily life of a friend in Iraq. It's a very powerful column.

Staying on the theme of Mother's Day, this is from CODEPINK:

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
As we walk the halls of Congress today with mothers whose children are serving in Iraq, we are taking Julia Ward Howe's original
Mother's Day Proclamation to heart and to the powers that be.
We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
We are in DC with celebrities, leaders of the feminist movement, military families, mother-daughter teams and other supporters from around the country for five days of powerful actions to urge Congress to stand up to Bush and bring our troops home by the holidays. It's not too late to join us! Get all the information
As mothers, as women, we especially want to reach out to Nancy Pelosi, who recently stated: "When people ask me what are the three most important issues today in Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. Their health, their education, their economic security, their families, their environment...and, of course, a world at peace in which they can thrive."
After her trip to Syria, Pelosi also said that as a mother, she wanted to "exhaust every remedy for peace". We want to remind her she can create a more peaceful future for all of our children by bringing our troops home. Send her our Mother's Day letter or craft your own
And if you haven't yet, please be sure to sign our
Women's Appeal to Congress for Mother's Day 2007.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil

At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
We are not just gathering in DC. Mothers and their families in Berea, KY, Casper, WY, Albany, NY, Ramstein, Germany, and over 50 other cities will converge in parks, on bridges, and other public places on Mother's Day to declare their opposition to the Iraq war. Women are holding house parties with neighbors and friends to show and discuss CODEPINK's new DVD, Women Say NO To War: Iraqi & American Women Speak Out.
Click here to find a Mother's Day action near you. For inspiration take a look at: Make It A Mother's Day for Peace, by our friends at Brave New Films.
Now is the time for us to arise. This Mother's Day, let's make Julia Ward Howe proud.
In the great and general interests of peace,

Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Lori, Medea, Melissa, Midge, Nancy, Patricia, Rae, Samantha, and Sonia
Spend your summer with CODEPINK! Join us for the US Social Forum in Atlanta and our weekly series of activist trainings in DC. Or come with CODEPINK and Global Exchange on a trip to Iran July 7-20.

I should probably take a moment to thank my own mother. Both of them. My own mother passed on an interest in the world around us and good bone structure. She died in accident (as did my father). So my second mother is also my second my father -- my brother who had to be both. The easiest thing in the world for him would have been to allow relatives to raise me. He was barely 18. When he faced objections, he put college on hold for a year to prove that he could do it and that he was serious about doing it. He went on to get several degrees and he went from being a usually supportive big brother to someone I've appreciated more and more with each year that passes.

I had an interesting e-mail from a reader that Sunny showed me at lunch today. I'll share her story but not her name. Her mother died in 1996. She was already an adult when her mother passed away but that, of course, doesn't make it any easier. She works in an office and has a cubicle neighbor who gets on nerves each April and each Mother's Day. This woman is over 20 years older (I'll call her "co-worker") than the woman who wrote and her mother died in 2000.
In April 2000, which means the entire month of April is co-worker going on, day after day, about how she's having so many problems because this is the month her mother died. (Co-worker's problems are year round and stem from the fact that the end of the work day means you drink until you pass out.) As if getting through that in April isn't hard enough, co-worker also launches into in the two week lead up to Mother's Day. Co-worker has worked with the woman for four years. Co-worker will end her (possibly drunken?) musings with, "You don't know how hard it is. Someday you'll lose your mother." For three years, week after week in April, the woman would inform/remind co-worker that, indeed, she did know what it was like to lose her mother because her mother had died as well. It didn't make a difference. This year, the woman gave up on it. The woman wrote, "On a good day, it's just irritating. On a bad day, I wish my supervisor would come over and tell ____ to stop wailing." Co-worker doesn't just talk on some days, she tears up, begins sobbing and then starts wailing. I couldn't work with that. Not year after year. Not knowing that every April and for two weeks leading up to Mother's Day, I was going to have to put up with that.

The woman who wrote asked what I thought of it? I think co-worker may have some comprehension issues, is drunk at work and/or never grasped that she wasn't the center of the universe. I think the woman needs to talk to the supervisor even if won't do any good (the woman feels it won't). In her cubicle, the woman is on the phone with clients all day and has to explain what's going on repeatedly each time this year when a client will ask about the loud noise in the background. The woman's hardly 'charming' the rest of the year. One day, she'll come in raving about Will & Grace that she saw in syndication, the next day, she'll act like she can't remember the title and start trashing gays and lesbians using words that do not belong in the work place. The cubiles have walls that are the height of a normal person. When the walls got put in, the co-worker saw them as an invitation to yell all remarks. She'll be in her cubicle talking to a person two cubicles over. Those are the 'good' months. Since March, co-worker's been watching The Unit and yet Wednesday she was talking about a show that she just started watching the week before -- The Unit.

I think co-worker has serious problems and I honestly do not believe she's only hitting the booze, as she brags in the office, the second she gets home in the evening. I also think that a 52-year-old, of either gender, that brags about getting drunk until they pass out each evening has issues that need to be addressed. The woman wrote that the last week of April, she thought co-worker might actually be fired. She'd worked herself up into such a frenzy that she could no longer speak and was just shrieking to the point that the supervisor (finally) came over, thought co-worker must be having a heart attack or stroke, and called 9-11. When the fire department arrived, co-worker cussed them out and cussed the supervisor out for calling them.

Let me repeat, I couldn't work with that. Co-worker has an adult daughter and is always telling the woman who wrote me that, "You remind me of my daughter." Even that doesn't translate into a "good" thing because co-worker and the daughter have a stormy relationship -- which usually means when they're not speaking, co-worker takes it out on the woman. As the woman was winding down her e-mail she (a) apologized for dumping that and (b) wrote that she didn't realize how awful it was day after day. There's no need to apologize. We all need to let it out from time to time.

But one thing that wasn't stated in the e-mail that I think might be bothering the woman who wrote is that co-worker seeks attention constantly and, in the process (as she gets it over and over), it may seem like the death of co-worker's mother is the most important thing in the world. I've talked about my parents death at this site more than I do in real life (at least more than I do in real life at this point). The reason for that is because e-mails will come in noting that a holiday is difficult. People assume I will understand (and I can relate). But I did a gief group for a few years in the 90s and one of the participants was in a similar situation to the woman who wrote. His co-worker wasn't as dramatic but it did become a situation where the supervisor was spending all this time with the co-worker over a death (that had happened many years prior) and making a point in office meetngs to bring up that the co-worker had lost her mother. He was a hotbed of rage over that and it took sometime before he got to the point where he coudl process what was going on inside him -- that this woman's mother was being elevated into office discussion while his own mother was never mentioned. (His own mother had passed away five months prior to his joining the grief group. His co-worker's mother had passed away a decade prior.) So I do think that may be at play here. The woman is attempting to be a responsible adult while her co-worker acts like an out of control child and, in the process, is rewarded and the co-worker's mother becomes topic A in the office.

If anything like that is going on for the woman who wrote (or anyone reading), I would say what I told the man which is, "Just because people take part in the drama doesn't mean they take it seriously. Look around and you may see that some of the actions are just an attempt to shut the woman up."

It's equally true that some people have (or had) complicated relationships with their mothers (and/or their fathers but we're staying on the topic of mothers). So it can be a difficult day and a difficult lead up to the day. If you think that applies to you, focus on two things: the peace aspect of the day and on probing your own feelings.

In no way am I implying that the woman who wrote has a problem that's just her own. Obviously, many of us go through it. Add in that the wailing is not something I could work with for basically six weeks of each year. I think her job is failing her (and others in her office) by refusing to address this problem. (It's really simple. You don't tell the woman she has to get counseling -- you can suggest it -- but you do tell the co-worker that it's upsetting and distrubing to others in the office as well as clients they are speaking with so it needs to stop. At the very least, the boss tells the co-worker to go to the women's room when she feels she's losing her composure.) But for the man in the grief group, once he was able to tie into the fact that his co-worker's late mother was being elevated to non-stop discussion (including "Poor ___, she loved her mother so much"), he was able to realize that he didn't want or need that.

But if I were the woman who wrote, I would take those complaints to the boss and explain that they needed to be addressed. If your a boss, I hope you read this and are appalled by what one office has to put up with. I hope further that you'll look to your own offices and see if one person's drama is destructive.

Those are my thoughts after a long week.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, Cheney lies again while the press plays silent, more US service members are announced dead in Iraq, and a campus activism takes place as the Bully Boy prepares to mumble through another canned speech.
Yesterday in Iraq, Cheney spun like crazy. As
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) pointed out, Dick Cheney quoted David H. Petraeus, top US commander in Iraq, repeatedly, "General Petraeus has underscored the fact that the enemy tactics are barbaric. . . . We can expect more violence as they try to destroy the hopes of the Iraqi people." As pep talks go, not a lot of reality. Last week, Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on a military study that found only 40% of US marines would be willing to "report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and the number of those in the army was 55 pecent. As Gregg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) observered: "At the Associated Press' annual meeting in New York on Tuesday, I sat in the audience observing Gen. Petraeus on a huge screen, via satellite from Baghdad, as he answered questions from two AP journalists. Asked about a U.S. Army Surgeon General study of over 1,300 troops in Iraq, released last week, which showed increasing mental stress -- and an alarming spillover into poor treatment of noncombatants -- Petraeus replied, 'When I received that survey I was very concerned by the results. It showed a willingness of a fair number to not report the wrongdoing of their buddies.' That's true enough, but then he asserted that the survey showed that only a 'small number' admitted they may have mistreated "detainees" -- a profoundly misleading statement. Actually, the study found that at least 10% of U.S. forces reported that they had personally, and without cause, mistreated civilians (not detainees) through physical violence or damage to personal property. So much for the claims by President Bush, military leaders and conservative pundits that 99.9% of U.S. troops always behave honorably. Of course, that kind of record has never been achieved by any country in any war." Along with that reality, we have the first hand stories being told.

It was about two a.m., but I could see very well because there were streetlights on our road and because the American illumination rounds that kept the sky lit up all night.

Suddenly, I looked over to my left and saw the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis in their bloodied white robes, lying a few feet from a bullet-ridden pickup truck to the side of the road. Because I sat on top left of the vehicle, and because the bodies were on the left-hand side of the road, I had them in clear view. I assumed that someone had used a massive amount of gunfire to behead them.

"Sh*t," I said.

A few second later, our slow-moving APC came to a stop. Among the three APCs in our convoy, I was the only soldier immediately ordered down to the ground. As I slid down into the APC and then out the hatch, Sergeant Jones told me to look for brass casings, which would be signs that Iraqi fighers with AK-47s had been shooting at American soldiers in the area.

I saw no sign of brass casings, but I did see an American soldier shouting at the top of his lungs while two other soldiers stood quietly next to him."We f**king lost it, we just f**king lost it," the soldier was shouting. He was in a state of complete distress, but the soldiers next to him were not reacting. The distressed soldier stood about twenty yeards from me, and another forty or so yards from the four decapitated bodies.

Two other soldiers were laughing and kicking the heads of the decapitated Iraqis. It was clearly a moment of amusement for them. This was their twisted game of soccer.

I froze at the sight of it, and for a moment could not believe my eyes. But I saw what I saw, and was so revolted and horrified that I defied Sergeant Jones's orders and climbed right back into the APC.

[. . .]

I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head but she would not stop screaming.
"What are you doing this for?" she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

"We have done nothing to you," she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.
"You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?"

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell facedown into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground. I pushed Hayes away."What are you doing, man?" I said to him. "You have a wife and two kids! Don't be hitting her like that."

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying those words, but he did not touch the woman again. I found this incident with Hayes particularly disturbing because during other times I had seen him in action in Iraq, Hayes had showed himself to be one of the most levelheaded and calm soldiers in my company. I had the sense that if he could lose it and hit a woman the way he had, any of us could lose it.

The above is from US war resister Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale -- the 'little' book that some expected to get a tiny flurry of attention the week of release and then quickly fade. Instead, it continues to get attention from across the political spectrum (and around the world), is stocked in bookstores across the country. ZNet runs the most recent review of it, by Derrick O'Keefe who found, "The Deserter's Tale is told in simple, compelling prose. Joshua Key's story may just be one perspective on the Iraq war, but in many ways the young war resister is also speaking on behalf of the voiceless thousands senselessly killed in this war. Relentlessly honest, and graphic, this book stands out as unique and significant amidst the shelves of books critiquing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. It will surely stand up long after this war is over as a condemnation both of the pretensions of empire, and of the grotesque inequality that scars life in the United States itself."

Key is not the only war resister to tell his story in book form. The just released
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia is Camilo Mejia's account, an account he is also sharing currently on a speaking tour with other war resisters. That includes, as Courage to Resist noted yesterday, Agustin Aguayo:

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo stepped off of a plane today at Sacramento International Airport after being imprisoned by the U.S. Army and held in Germany for nine months. Agustin was convicted of missing movement and desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and publicly speaking out against the war. Agustin's wife Helga and Courage to Resist supporters met him at the airport, give him a couple hours to relax from his 18-hour journey from Germany, and whisked him to his first speaking event in California’s capitol. From here, Agustin is beginning a multi-city tour covering much of Northern California. In the upcoming days, Agustin will be joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mej√≠a, Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, and Marine L/Cpl Robert Zabala.The upcoming dates for
the speaking out tour include:

Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.

Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Friday May 18 - Berkeley 7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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.

Cheney made other laughable claims in Baghdad yesterday. Many in the press, including
Joshua Partlow (Washington Post), Alissa J. Rubin and basically anyone filing from Iraq, noted that Cheney declared, "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war. . . . The United States, also, has made a decision: As the prime target of a global war against terror, we will stay on the offensive. We will not sit back and wait to be hit again." If it sounds familiar, it's part of the scare lie that the US administration used to launch an illegal war. It's been disproven and discredited. Strangely, though major outlets found time to include the lie, there wasn't room to call it out. Now in the leadup to the illegal war this lie would be repeated over and over. It was a lie then but many in the mainstream ran with it (click here for one notable exception, McClatchy Newspapers -- then Knight-Ridder). After that and other lies were exposed -- after the US was involved in an illegal war -- some in the press would express shock that the discredited lie was believed by so many in the public. Why was that? Because despite mini-culpas there was no strong calling out of the lies and, even today, the lie can be jotted down and appear in print without a reporter feeling it is their duty (and it is their duty) to note that what Cheney uttered was a lie. One example, Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev's "Senate reports say Saddam rejected cooperating with terrorists" (McClatchy Newspapers) calling out the lie in September of last year:
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein rejected pleas for assistance from Osama bin Laden and tried to capture terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi when he was in Iraq, a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Friday found, casting further doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for invading Iraq.

President Bush and other administration officials repeatedly cited Saddam's alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorists before the March 2003 invasion as one reason to take military action against Iraq.
Yes and Cheney continues to do so without being called out on it, so don't blame the public when the press fails at its own job.

A failure of the British press currently is the slobbering going over about Mr Tony. As
Tariq Ali noted at CounterPunch, "Tony Blair's success was limited to winning three general elections in a row. A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. But though in many ways Blair's programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher's, the style of their departures is very different. Thatcher's overthrow by her fellow-Conservatives was a matter of high drama: an announcement outside the Louvre's glass pyramid during the Paris Congress brokering the end of the Cold War; tears; a crowded House of Commons. Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car-bombs and mass carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack. Thatcher's supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done. Even Blair's greatest sycophants in the British media: Martin Kettle and Michael White (The Guardian), Andrew Rawnsley (Observer), Philip Stephens (FT) confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits." Speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) today, Tariq Ali noted, "We had no real accounting of why he's leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he's leaving is, because he's hated. And the reason he's hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country [England] oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that's what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis. And you listen to Blair now and his successor, Brown, and they sound much worse than any Democrat in the Senate or the House, because they realize the war's unpopular. These guys carry on living in a tiny bubble, media bubble, which they construct. And I think the BBC's sycophancy, the way in which they portrayed him yesterday as if he was a sort of dead Princess Diana, doesn't do them proud. It was a low point in BBC journalism, with one of their political correspondents saying, 'Gosh, look at him. Isn't he a winner?' Well, he isn't a winner, which is why he's leaving. And a reluctant party is saying farewell to him, because they think they’ll lose the next election if he’s in charge. That's what's going on."

And what's going on Iraq today?


Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates (Reuters) report that Baghdad has seen truck bombing attacks on bridges today that have left at least 26 dead, at least 60 wounded and damanged bridges. Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Basra explosion that left one civilian wounded. Reuters reports a bridge outside Taiji was bombed "main highway connecting the capital [Baghdad] with cities in the north" and that four Iraqi soldiers were killed in the explosion, a Zaafaraniya bombing that left two dead and four wounded.

Jenan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Samara shooting death of "brigadier Amar Kareem Khlaf". Reuters reports a Kirkuk drive-by that left one person dead and the shooting death of Falluja's deputy mayor.

Reuters reports one corpses was discovered in Hawija.

Earlier today
Reuters reported the Baghdad death of a US soldier (two more wounded) from a Thursday roadside bombing, the Tikrit death of a US soldier (9 wounded) from a Thursday bombing, the Thursday death of a US soldier in Diwaniya from "small-arms fire" and the Thursday death of a US soldier in Baghdad also from "small-arms fire".

This as
AP reports that Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani , in a speech delivered at Cambridge, declared, "I think that in one or two years we will be able to recruit our forces, to prepare our forces and say goodbye to our friends." The total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is now 3386 -- that's 3386 'goodbyes' Talabani can say. Long after the four year mark has passed on the illegal war, everyone is supposed to buy that now (now!) it will only take one or two more years. And of course in one or two more years, no doubt, the message will still be "It'll just take a year or two more." How many deaths is it going to take? The next time someone -- in the US Congress, in the Iraqi Parliament, wherever -- wants to tell the world how much more X it will take for the illegal war to be 'won,' let's all ask them to drop the months or years and tell us how many more lives. How many more lives will this illegal war take? CBS and AP report: "The U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, said he doesn't have enough troops for the mission in Diyala, a province northeast of Baghdad that has seen a rise in violence blamed largely on militants who fled the Baghdad security operation. Mixon also said Iraqi government officials are not moving fast enough to provide the 'most powerful weapon' against insurgents -- a government that works and supplies services for the people." For such a government to exist, it would have to be one put foward by the Iraqi people and not yet another puppet government installed by the US. Meanwhile, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reports this on CBS: "In media news, CBS has dismissed an Iraq war veteran over his involvement in an ad campaign criticizing the war. General John Batiste appears in an ad from the group VoteVets dot org. Batiste has been working as a CBS News consultant." Amy Goodman and Greg Palast will be on Sunday's Book TV (C-Span) (7:00 pm EST).

The US House of Representatives passed a measure today. It funds the Iraq war but by piecemeal. The Senate now takes up the vote. It's called going through the motions. Instead, we'll turn to campus activism where Bully Boy's speech today at St. Vincent college (in Penn.) has led to a huge outcry.
James Gerstenzang (LA Times) reports that "Students vigorously debated the invitation at a town-hall meeting last month. A former St. Vincent College president wrote a scathing newspaper essay saying Bush had no place on the campus. About a quarter of the tenure-rank faculty wrote an open letter to Bush challenging the Iraq war as contrary to Roman Catholic doctrine. Several dozen people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night protesting the visit. And for several Sundays, nuns protested on the edge of the campus. The discord, polite and reasoned as it may be, is emblematic of passions across the country as the war moves further into its fifth year, with increasing military deployments and mounting death tolls among Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops." Jennifer Loven (AP) reports a crowd of at least 150 protesting and quotes philosophy major Ronny Menzie "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him. I think it's a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college." and Iraq war vet Jonas Merrill who made a 90 minute drive to protest the Bully Boy's appearance, "We're fighting for the guys still over there." This campus response isn't a brand new development for the administration. David Nitkin (Baltimore Sun) observes, "Graduation visits by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials are galvanizing opponents at campuses across the country, sparking intense debates and frustrating White House hopes. A similar outcry greeted Bush last month at a South Florida community college. Protesters flocked to the campus even though it was considered to be an accommodating environment, with a large Cuban-American population." And Ron Hutcheson (McClatchy Newspapers) reminds, "Other even more conservative campuses also have been touched by unrest over the war. Last month, a small group of students and faculty at Brigham Young University, the nation's premier Mormon school, objected to a commencement address by Vice President Dick Cheney."

iraq tariq ali agustin aguayo democracy now amy goodman the new york times alissa j. rubin the washington post joshua partlow

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ron Jacobs, Paual Rothenberg, feminism

C.I. has a limited amount of time to do the snapshots when they're done on speaking days and something that will be noted tomorrow (again) slipped through the cracks today so I said I'd note and Mike's noting it as well.

"Sitting In On Senator Kohl and the War-A Conversation With Antiwar Students" (Ron Jacobs, ZNet):
Ron:Tell me what happened. How did this protest turn into a sit in?
Josh Brielmaier: About 100 of us crammed into Kohl's office to make our demands. Somebody suggested staying the night and by show of hands around forty of us were willing to stay the night.
Chris Dols: The visit to Kohl's became an overnight office occupation when Kohl refused to meet our demand for an in-person meeting. Kohl has never met publicly with antiwar constituents in Madison since the war began. Further, he has supported and funded the war since the beginning.
Zach Heise: The original intention of the protest was for it to be a sit-in. We were informed that Wednesday afternoons were a time when a regular sit-in group was in Kohl's office, so we thought that we would bolster their group and show our support. We had hoped that we wouldn't need to do a sit-in, at least some of us - Campus Antiwar Network's (CAN) reasons for being there were clearly stated and taped within moments of our arrival: we wanted to meet with Kohl, or at the VERY least, arrange with him personally via phone for a time that he could meet with our group. We didn't want any secondhand heresy from aides or notes - we wanted to hear his voice on the phone to arrange a meeting with us, and then we would have, as far as I believe was our intention, left peacefully. That was our mission.
Todd Dennis: Like Zach said, The plan from the start was to go to Herb Kohl's office and make our demands and request a public meeting where we could get Herb Kohl's response to our demands for the troops to come home from Iraq. Following the run-around from his staff, as the folks from The Network have been getting since they have been conducting their sit-ins, we stayed in the office while waiting on when Kohl would come back to speak with his constituents in his home state. The staff told us they would give us a teleconference in the next couple days but wouldn't give us an exact time as they had to work out to find some open time the senator had. After "granting" the conference call, they said okay here you go, will you leave now. Of course since we wanted a public meeting in Wisconsin we said no. As previously understood by those of us who planned the event we staying in the Senators office waiting to hear he would come to Wisconsin for the public meeting. However, overnight upon the realization that we meant business we were given several demands and when they told us we couldn't make anymore demands and also made it clear that we would get neither the conference call nor the public meeting we took back the entire office from the 10 X 20 part we were corralled in overnight. Following our taking over fo the entire office, the police were called and we had to leave the building.
Ron:What were your personal and political reasons for participating?
Bernadette Watts: I don’t see any just reasoning behind this war. Everything in my body tells me that it’s a senseless war for the profit of a small group of individuals. Kohl, the wealthiest US senator, continues to support funding for the war while saying he is against it. I believe our senator should work for us, the people he supposedly represents, and when he messes up, I believe it’s our duty to make him accountable for his actions. I recently became involved with CAN and it has been a pleasure working with such an intelligent group of individuals, all of whom continue to inspire me to use my voice.
Todd: I have a couple reasons why I participated. One, as a veteran who was on active duty in the US Navy when the disinformation war to start the occupation of Iraq began, I have been opposed to the occupation from the start. While in the military, partly out of fear of retributions and partly because I was unaware of my GI rights to protest off-base and out of uniform, I didn't participate in the anti-war rallies and demonstrations prior to the start of the occupation. I did however contact all of my representatives stating my displeasure with the proposed Iraq war vote. Kohl like normal didn't respond to my emails. This was very disrespectful to me and my brothers and sisters whose lives he is personally responsible. Since I have become a peace and justice advocate with first, Veterans for Peace and now along with Iraq Veterans Against the War, I have been disappointed in the representatives of this countries response to the war and public sentiment to it. While I can do nothing about my earlier inaction, I can when any opportunity arises take action showing my displeasure with the continued occupation of Iraq where our military has virtually no mission but to stay alive.

Darla e-mailed about Ruth Conniff's latest. Sunny showed me the e-mail and the column this afternoon. Like I said before, she can write some wonderful columns and she can write some real stink bombs. This was the latter and it was so "gated community" I'd link to it if I were in need of a laugh. But I'm not. For the record, Mother's Day was started for peace. It had nothing to do with housework. The connection to child raising was that we do not raise children to kill other children. That message never made it into the gated community, apparently, and Ruth wants everyone to know that it's okay to be a stay at home mom or dad if you do it part-time, apparently. Seriously, what does she want anyone to know? Who knows and who cares? A day created for peace becomes a day for her to write about her friends.
Iraq never crossed her mind.

When she's got something worth saying (and she sometimes does), I will note it. When the gates in her mind are closing, I'm not linking. Here's something instead.


That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bully Mama" which ran Sunday and, unlike Ruth Conniff's column, it's intended to make you laugh.

Julia Ward Howe, in 1870, wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation:

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...

Do you see anything in there about housework? No. I doubt Ruth Conniff is aware of the poem. You know what might make for a good Mother's Day column? I'm not going to tell you. I'm going to take that idea over to The Third Estate Sunday Review which will publish on Mother's Day.

There is real feminism out there. Ruth Conniff apparently needs someone to validate her as a mother. That's a choice. There's nothing to indicate it was a feminist choice. Any woman can be a mother. That alone doesn't make you a feminist. Two strong feminists who always give me hope are Ava and C.I. I put them on my list of feminist heroes along with Gloria Steinem, Flo Kennedy, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston and many others. Ava and C.I. are my friends so it might seem strange to put friends on a list of heroes. But they have put feminism in the forefront. They aren't the only ones. But read Jim's "Jim filling in for Rebecca (and Betty)" about their contributions for over two years now. Better yet, read the e-mails Ty does each week. It's real easy to say, "Oh, they just cover TV." They have had such a huge impact by covering TV from a feminist view point. They raise serious issues at a time when a lot of voices don't. I'm not talking about our established voices. I'm talking about the ones who think push up bras equates with libertation. The Raunch culture. Ava and C.I. have done more to show what feminist is than all of the Mud Flap Gals combined. (Read "Parody: Mud Flap Gals and "How we got to this point.") They raise issues that would otherwise just sail by. (Ava and C.I.'s most recent commentary is "TV: Mid-wifing the rebirth of the yuppy.") Ty can tell you that it's become a regular thing, a regular e-mail, written in different words, but always saying, "Thank you for pointing that out" or "I'm getting it now." If I can just talk a little about that . . .

C.I. visited me the Sunday evening that the first edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review went up. The story's been told many times but Jim attended a function on campus about the war and heard C.I. speak. Jim knew C.I. had to be "C.I." Afterwards, he waited to talk to C.I. and said, "You're C.I., right!" C.I. wasn't prepared for that (believe me, C.I. can do a poker face). So the cat was out of the bag and Jim said they wanted to start a site, him and his friends, and would C.I. help them with the first edition? C.I. did and has every week since. That first Sunday, after, C.I. said to expect big things from the site. C.I. didn't know this was a weekly thing -- for them yes, but C.I. didn't know any other involvement was needed. They asked C.I. to participate via the phone the next week. And then the next. Jim had been the one who said TV had to be covered. He knew students watched. Even if it was just background, he knew they watched by looking at the people around him. Ava and C.I.'s points and comments were what stood out, so Jim quickly turned the feature over to them and it just became a craze. I really don't think there's any other word for it.

So for over two years now, Ava and C.I. have addressed issues in those TV reviews. At a time, it should be noted, when professional TV critics wouldn't go near the issues of how women were portrayed or whether they were even present. The nation was at war and when that happens, macho is the natural reflex. Since most were ignoring feminism long before 2001, they only upped the macho b.s. afterwards. In that climate, along came Ava and C.I. and they carved out a space at the site, they carved out a space among readers. One of the biggest surprise me for me is how teenage daughters of friends repeatedly will bring them up in coversations. Most of the time, I'll play dumb. With a few, I'll fess up that, yes, I know them, not just of them. But they are having an impact. I think that's true even with the people who write angry e-mails. I was talking to Ty about that because a number of people will write lengthy e-mails defending a show that Ava and C.I. have noted features no persons of color or sidelines women or what have you. Ty believes (I agree) that in coming up with their responses, those e-mailers are forced to address the issues Ava and C.I. raise. Even if, as some do, they dismiss those issue, they're forced to acknowledge them.

We live in a sexist world. This week, a 'biggie' slammed women and slammed feminists (Ava and C.I. intend to address it this Sunday). I'm biting my tongue because I've already heard from Ava some of what the two of them have brainstormed. But the reality is that a 'biggie' on the 'left' can slam women and slam feminism and think that's okay. It's not. Ty got 83 e-mails about that (asking that Ava and C.I. would address it) and that really speaks to the strength of their voices because people know they will address it.

I'm also seeing more and more women saying, "I'm not taking this crap." I think we're on the verge of another huge wave of feminism. I think Ava and C.I. are a part of that wave. The next highlight is by someone I've never heard of before. I wish I had known of her before today. She is a very strong writer. I think, across the country, feminists are getting sick of frivilous little 'girls' hiding behind the term 'feminist' to justify behaviors that are not feminism. That's at the heart of the piece which I wish I could run in full but, if you enjoy it, please use the link to read in full (if you haven't already, a number of you are really visiting CounterPunch these days, making a point to do so).

"Feminism Then and Now" (Paula Rothenberg, CounterPunch):
It was the summer of 2002 and I was traveling through a medium-sized town in Hungary when I looked up and saw a young woman coming toward me. Fifteen or sixteen years old, she wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed her to be a "Dirty Girl."
Six months later, in Philadelphia, I found myself speaking at a women's studies conference to an audience which included several young women wearing shirts with "C*nt" or "Bitch" written on their chest in an angry scrawl. Shortly after, I found myself in Panama watching a rotund 7 year old prance around in a hot pink tank top that shouted "Bling,.Bling." When I checked the web upon returning home, I discovered that "Dirty Girl" had been updated to "Stupid Dirty Girl" while another T shirt insisted "As long as I can be on top."
Are the young women wearing such T-shirts liberated women who have taken control of their own bodies and now reap the benefits of the women's movement or are they simply dupes? These experiences, and countless others like them, raise a broader question for me. They make me ask how the insights and goals of the Women's Movement have been transformed and translated as they have been integrated into popular culture and daily life?
The Women's Liberation Movement that began in the 60s was originally a radical movement seeking deep and fundamental change. It identified the ways in which male and other forms of privilege had been woven into every social, political, economic institution and cultural practice in our society and went on to challenge white supremacy, heterosexist privilege, class divisions as well as the images of gender that had been normalized and in this way rendered invisible The Women's Liberation Movement I remember argued for the need for a radical transformation of all our institutions. It urged women to rethink every aspect of our lives, always asking us to reflect on whose interests were served by the ways in which society was organized and by the values we had been taught to embrace.
Central to this project was the distinction between sex and gender. In order to challenge the conservative view that women's social role was determined by her nature, many feminists argued that while one is born either a man or a woman and that is a function of biology (and yes, many of us mistakenly thought that there were only two possibilities at that time), gender roles were determined by society. Women began to notice that how we were taught to define ourselves, what it meant to be a real woman, served the interests of men and capitalism. This made us suspicious of what we had been taught were our "natural" tendencies or inclinations and made us wonder about our so-called "free" choice.
A very important article of the period, a true classic, was entitled "Homogenizing the American Woman: The Power of an Unconscious Ideology" written by Sandra Bem and Daryll Bem. The authors pointed out that even if discrimination were to end tomorrow, nothing very drastic would change, because discrimination is only part of the problem. "Discrimination frustrates choices already made. Something more pernicious perverts the motivation to choose. That something is an unconscious ideology about the nature of the female sex...."... In other words, many of us began to realize that we had been socialized to want things that would replicate and reinforce the status quo.
The Women's Liberation Movement of the Second Wave rejected prevailing standards of beauty, the Barbie doll image, (being thin and blonde), that were virtually unattainable by anyone who wasn't white and by most of us who were white as well. The critique took the form of recognizing and challenging the ways prevailing standards of beauty and rules of dress and decorum both reflected and reinforced the existing race, class and gender hierarchy in society. Women of the Second Wave were tired of being turned into sex objects by the fashion industry and so they threw out their high heels (which were understood to be on a continuum with Chinese foot binding practices -- a way of circumscribing women's movement and keeping them dependent), took off their girdles and their bras, stopped trying to be a size 2, and focused on healthy eating healthy for them and the planet.
If we look at popular culture today what do we see? Well, Barbie is back with a vengeance. Little girls start dieting in fourth grade and never stop. This used to be more of a problem among white girls but it has spread to all ethnic groups. And dieting isn't the half of it, anorexia and bulimia are occurring in alarming proportions.

By the way, I've edited it to make it "C*nt." None of the rest of us were asked to have a work-safe site (C.I. has one) but (a) I don't like the word and (b) "damn" is really the strongest thing I've used here so I have one by default. I really enjoyed Paula Rothenberg's article and look foward to reading more from her. I am serious about the feeling that another huge wave is emerging.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May 9, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Cheney visits the Green Zone and receives his usual welcome, Democratic leadership caves again, and cries go out for people to get active.

Starting with war resistance. Last week Camilo Meija's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, tonight, he begins a speaking tour with Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala. Announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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.

Turning to politics, US and Iraq. Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints Radio, Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" summed up developments as follows:

The US backed Shia led puppet regime in Baghdad faced further setbacks today after the absentee parliament's biggest Sunni block threatened to collapse Nouri al-Maliki's Shia supremacist leadership by removing 44 Sunni legislatures from the current governing coalition. Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, of the fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, has given Maliki a one week deadline until May 15th to amend Iraq's US designed Constitution of Military Occupation to restore authentic national sovereignty and territorial integrity otherwise Hashimi threatened quoted "I will tell my constituency frankly that I made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that National Accord." Hashimi added that he was frustrated by Sunni exclusion from government under the de-Baathification commission headed by CIA and Pentagon asset Ahmed Chalabi. Hashimi concluded his demands with the hope that "I would like to see the identity of my country, in fact, restored back." He also refused an invitation to meet in Washington with President George W. Bush until those issues were addressed.
A collapse of the Maliki regime would scuttle bi-partisan hopes in Washington that Iraq's puppet parliament would ratify the US written petroleum law that would eradicate national sovereignty over oil resources and clear the way for lucrative extraction contracts for American and other multi-national oil conglomerates. A fig leaf ratification of the oil law is a mutual goal of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who call the potential give away and segmentation of Iraq into secular regions to be an essential so-called benchmark for further military funding for the US occupation.
And on that front there are alarming revelations from Ohio Representative
Dennis Kucinich who reveled over the weekend that Congressional Democrats have sold out any hopes for reform in Iraq with a secret agreement with the White House over the so-called funding bill for the Iraq war. In a remarkably revelatory speech to the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, Kucinich said that the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have made the following secret concessions. One, that House debate would not challenge the multi-national friendly Iraqi oil law that President Bush and vice president Cheney and the Democrats are desperate to have enacted so that Iraqi resources would be privatized. Number two, that bush could invade Iran without the approval of Congress because the Democrats have removed a clause that would require him to get approval from Congress. And of course that any and all timetables would be removed from subsequent enactments of the bill.

[. . .]

Dennis Bernstein: Robert Knight, stay with us. Thank you for the excellent report. And obviously we have been watching closely in particular the willingness of the Democrats to play ball so that the war and the significant aspects, the real reasons, the oil war can go forward. Would you just in a nutshell again recap the Kucinich highlights of the revelations of the sell out?

Robert Knight: Well this oil law is something that was a promise made by Cheney and Bush at the beginning of the war -- saying that the invasion would be funded by resources, the increased oil extraction and of course the profits to be made by the American companies. They have changed the language of the so-called PSA -- Production Sharing Agreements -- so that now the Iraqi national oil council would no longer have sovereignty over its own resources. There is a division in the bill that the Democrats are propagandistically propping up that is to say that this would share revenues among the different provinces.
But what it does it sets it up not to the province per se but to the regional coalition which is part of the United States and Israeli backed plan to divide Iraq into competing sectarian fragments -- the Kurds, the Shias in the south and of course the Sunnis in the more impoverished oil regions, the western part of Iraq. So the oil law would not only be something for profit but also something for segregation in Iraq.

Oil and Congress. Starting with oil. Dickey Cheney ("President of Vice" as
Wally and Cedric have dubbed him) high tailed it to the Green Zone and you know it wasn't to rally the troops. BBC reports that Nouri al-Maliki was gushing and that "US officials said Mr Cheney wanted faster progress on the fair division of oil revenues" -- well of course he does, look at his portfolio. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reports Vice was greeted with the usual warm response he's learned to expect the world over: over a thousand protesters holding sings such as the one that read: "Kick out the leaders of evil." Cheney must be so proud.

On the issue of the US Congressional measure,
Edward Epstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that the 'plan' would fund illegal operations only through September 30th, that the toothless, non-binding withdrawal talk has been dropped and that "Democratic leaders expect to debate the plan for troop withdrawals again as part of bills now moving through committees that would authorize and spend the money for 2008 Pentagon operations, including the war." Last week, the Bully Boy vetoed the Congressional bill that did not enforce withdrawal. That measure was non-binding and full of loopholes that would allow Bully Boy to keep every US service member in Iraq there through the end of his term. One example, classify them all "military police" and say it was now a police operation would mean he wouldn't have to follow any of the Congressional suggestions -- suggestions because they were non-binding. The Democratic leadership refused to stand up then and now they just roll around on their backs. Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Democratic leaders, who are still finishing the plan, will no longer tie war funding to a pullout of almost all U.S. combat forces, which the president has said he will never accept." Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) observed that the talk of Congress funding the illegal war in scheduled stages was being attacked by the White House (via Tony Snow) and some Republican members of Congress such as Adam H. Putman. In a sure sign of how weak Democratic leadership is, not only have they sold out the mandate handed to them by the the American people in November 2006, they can't even fight for the nonsense they're trying to push forward. Every time Tony Snow shoots off his mouth, a Congressional Democrat should hold a press conference to ask, "Is the White House attempting to micro-manage the people's Congress?" Another sign? Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno announced yesterday that the escalation that members of Congress are saying they must wait until September to evaluate (when Petraeus gives his report) will also be evaluated "at the beginning of next year for sure." The failure that is the escalation will be evaluated at various intervals by the US military. If the military can do that, Democrats should be able to make the case for their own right to base their power of the purse on regular evaluations.

But when you don't have the guts to call for the withdrawal the people support, when you don't have the strength to excercise your Constitutionally mandate power of the purse, when you spend the bulk of your time trying to fool the public with non-binding, symbolic measures, maybe you don't have the time or the guts to offer anything else?

United for Peace & Justice issues a call:

Veto the War! Take Action Today!
President Bush vetoed the $124 billion Iraq war funding bill, because it included a timid troop withdrawal plan.
Unfortunately, the Democrats in Congress now seem to think that they must compromise with the arrogant, incompetent administration that led us into war, rather than stand up for us, our troops and the Iraqis.
If we do not create a national outcry right now, Congress will capitulate and simply give Bush the money he wants to continue the war.
Let's make some noise!
Organize an emergency veto action!
Click here for ideas.
Write letters to the editors of your local news outlets.
Call into local radio talk shows.
(Click here for talking points.)
Call the offices of your members of Congress.
Show Congress what kind of funding bill YOU want them to pass! Download and deliver
"The People's Emergency Funding Bill," by fax or in person, to your representative's and senators' local and Washington DC offices. (Click here to find their office addresses and fax numbers.)
the Green Party of the US has also "criticized the retreat of Democratic Congress members and party leaders after President Bush last week vetoed legislation that included a timetable for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq" with statements from various party members including the co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX), Aimee Smith: "Democratic front groups like have abandoned the antiwar movement. We don't need an 'Americans Against Escalation in Iraq' coalition, we need an independent political movement demanding removal of US troops as quickly as possible and reunciation of aggressive military power. Democratic leaders, including presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are rejecting these demands and are willing to see US forces remain in Iraq until late 2008, and even longer to serve US financial interest there and the strategic demands of Israel and its supporters in the US. The goal of Democrats isn't to end the war, it's to seek party unity in order to win the White House. There's little doubt that most antiwar Democratic groups wil line up behind their party's prowar nominee in 2008."

Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) observes the "bankruptcy of the Democratic Party leaderhip's position on impeachment was revealed in stark terms yesterday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would sue the president in court if he resorted to a signing statement to kill the next version of Congress's Iraq funding bill" and concludes: "As long as she continues to refuse to allow impeachment of President Bush, she cannot hope to stop the war, restore habeas corpus, undo the Military Commissions Act, stop illegal spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, or win passage of any significant legislation to deal with global warming. She cannot really do anything, because Bush will simply issue signing statements and use his claim of 'unitary executive authority' to invalidate any legislation passed by Congress."

In Iraq (puppet) governmental news,
War Pornographer Michael Gordon (New York Times) attempts to get a money shot out of the Iraqi Exile Visits DC. Like a large number of exiles, Mowafak al-Rubaie serves in the puppet government. In 2003, after the illegal war began, al-Rubaie returned to Iraq (after two decades in exile) in just enough time for the US government to appoint him to the Iraqi Governing Council then, in 2004, they appointed him to the Coalition Provisional Authority and today's he's Nouri al-Maliki's national security adviser. A government of exiles ruling over an Iraqi people that wonders just where the hell these exiles get off dashing back into the country post-invasion and attempting to rule? al-Rubaie danced through the halls of Congress in the metaphorical equivalent of a g-string, attempting to get Congress to shove dollar bills down his crotch. Though he shook his money maker, not all rushed to request a lap dance. US Senator Carl Levin didn't take to al-Rubaie's notion that democracy for Iraq was a 'generational' thing. Levin: "I told him that is too long." The exiles, so very popular with the White House, share the same paternalistic, patronizing attitude of the White House: Iraqis are just too stupid for self-rule. One might ask why those who feel that way would want to rule in the first place but al-Rubaie's lined his pockets quite well since the start of the illegal war.

All that pocket lining has to be paid by someone.
Dexter J. Kamilewicz (Military Families Speak Out) notes the human costs, the economic costs, the civil rights costs and the "costs of deliberate neglect" concluding: "The enormous costs of the lack of leadership in dealing with the war in Iraq are measurable, and those costs hit home in ways we cannot ignore no matter how depressing the subject. The longer we wait to confront those who let these costs mount [Congress], the more responsible we are for those costs. It is up to us, you and me, to demand an end to it." One way to demand an end to it is to take action. Cindy Sheehan (Camp Casey Peace Institute) is calling for mothers "to stand up and put our bodies on the line for peace and humanity. . . . I am calling on Mothers of the world to join us in Washington DC for a '10,000 Mother of a March' on the day after Mother's Day, Monday, May 14, 2007. Marches on weekends are not effective, we need to shut the city of DC down! We will surround Congress and demand an end to this evil occupation and refuse to leave until the Congressiona leadership agrees with us, or throws us in jail! Meet at Lafayette Park at noon. We will rally then march to Congress." More information can be found here and via CODEPINK:

Mother's Day: Women Say NO to War!Join us in DC to walk the halls of Congress with some of the most influential moms of our day! Plan your own local Mother's Day peace picnic, post your event here, or host a peace movie night. More...NEW! View the Mothers Day for Peace Video

That's next Monday.
Gordon (Iraq Veterans Against the War) notes the March of the People which will begin June 21st with a "gathering at Millennium Park, Chicago to begin an 800-mile march to Washington, DC. They will demand an immediate peace in Iraq and the impeachment of those leaders who oppose it".

Those are only some of the activites that will be taking place. Want to prolong the illegal war? Be a Dolittle Dem like the leadership in Congress. Want to end it? Get active.
Rebecca S. Bender (The Eureka Reporter) reports on a speech Ann Wright gave Monday where she declared, "It is important that we hit the streets. There are a lot of reasons why we have to keep working to end the war in Iraq. . . . We're not putting up with endless war. We elected you to end this war now."

Still the war drags on . . .


Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bomb "near the students dormiotry of Mustansiriya university" that wounded three police officers. Reuters reports an Arbil bombing that killed 14 and wounded 87 and a Shirqat bombing that left two people dead. Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) notes that the Arbil (also spelled Irbil) bombing's death toll rose to 19 and notes a Musayyib mortar attack that left two dead as well as a Haswa mortar attack that killed two people. AFP reports, "In Baghdad, a rocket exploded near the US embassy in the fortified Green Zone during Cheney's visit, an Iraqi defence official said. Smoke could be seen rising near the US compound shortly after the blast". CBS and AP note Cheney flack Anne McBride's statement, "His meeting was not disturbed and he was not moved." AFP has Cheney's full quote: "I spent today here basically in our embassy and military headquarters."


Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad shooting attack on workers of the "Adhamiya concrete wall" which left one dead and two more wounded and a Baghdad shooting where "a directoarte manager at the housing and reconstruction ministry" was shot dead. Reuters notes the shooting deaths of "two men from the ancient Yazidi faith" in Mosul. CBS and AP note that a Kirkuk drive-by resulted in the deaths of four Iraqi journalists who "worked for the independent Raad media comapny, which publishes several weekly newspapers and monthly magazines that are generally pro-government and deal with politics, education and arts."


Hussin Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in the Diyala province. Reuters reports five corpses were discovered in Falluja.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Slaughter, Corporate Crime Reporter

The school was said to have been hit when the aircraft returned fire.
The officer said police had spoken to eyewitnesses and that six children had been killed and six injured but the figures have not been independently confirmed.
A spokesman for the US forces in Iraq, Lt-Col Chris Garver, said the US tried to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, which was why it was taking the reports seriously and conducting an investigation.
There has been an escalation of violence in Diyala in recent weeks.

The above is from the BBC's "US attack 'kills Iraqi children'." C.I. passed that on to Mike and we both decided to open with it. The attack on the school is in the snapshot via McClatchy News which had it before anyone else. Civilians are not targets. The claim that you were fired on first (we've heard the claim before and it's been a falsehood -- such as when the Palestinian Hotel was attacked) does not offer an excuse. You are not allowed to fire on a school. I'm sure this will be cleaned up by someone at the New York Times tomorrow. I'm sure it will be, "Oh, the pressure, oh, the blah blah blah." You don't fire on schools. Children are dead. Civilians are not justifiable targets according to the Geneva Conventions. This was a war crime. I'm sure we'll see the usual "left" rush in on their various sites, just as they did last summer when news of 14-year-old Abeer being gang raped and murdered leaked out, to say, "Don't you say anything bad, don't you say anything!" I'm equally sure that many will go along. Some because they can't handle the truth, some because they're too scared to speak out and some because they just don't give a damn. It's Iraqis, after all, so who cares?

Six children are dead. Their "mistake" was attending school. It's a war crime. "Left" bullies online can intimidate a lot of people into silence. That won't change the fact that this was a war crime. It also won't change the fact that six children are dead. Some are wounded (and some of the wounded may not pull through). This is a war crime. More will happen as long as the US forces are on the ground in Iraq because there is no 'win' and as the frustrations mount (on all sides) there will be explosions and there will be more war crimes. The US troops need to come home. Lying about war crimes, staying silent on them, compounds the crime because it cheapens us as people. When we tolerate it by silence or with lies, we cheapen and lower ourselves.

"Democrats Escalate Attack on Single Payer" (Corporate Crime Reporter, CounterPunch):
The Corporate Democratic Party is into snuff politics.
The target this month--single payer, Medicare for all.
The motive--protect the corporate health insurance industry.
Democratic snuff politics was on display yesterday on Capitol Hill.
Senator Ron Wyden was on the Hill surrounded by his corporate supporters--Steve Burd, CEO, Safeway Inc., Art Collins, CEO of Medtronic, Inc, H. Edward Hanaway, CEO, CIGNA, Steve Sanger, CEO, General Mills, and Ronald Williams, CEO, Aetna, Inc.
Wyden has introduced legislation that is similar to that introduced by Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
All claim to create universal health care.
None can, do or will.
What's the common denominator between Wyden-care, and Romney-care and Schwarzenegger-care?
Individual mandates.
The individual must get insured or the individual is violating the law.
As opposed to single payer.
Which says to the health insurance companies--get out.
We will take care of our people.
If you sell basic health insurance, you are violating the law.
Everyone is in one insurance pool.
Nobody is out.
All are covered.

Trina's been hitting on the issue of healthcare and, if you've been following her posts, the above comes as no surprise. But we're all supposed to be thrilled with what John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are offering. (Obama? He'll 'cure' you with a smile and a turned phrase.) Dennis Kucinich's the only one to present anything that can be called "universal healthcare." The corporate press wants to confuse the issue. They did so in the 90s as well. But people know what they want and it's universal health care.

The article above goes on to note that the American Progressive is not for universal health care, that they co-sponsored a conference with another supposed "left" organization, The Campaign for America's Future, and they pushed for keeping the insurance company rolling in the wealth. If either of those names sound familiar, you may be a Nation reader. Under Katrina vanden Heuvel, there is little difference between The Nation and American Progressive (please note, this is not The Progressive which, with the exception of Ruth Conniff, isn't in hock to the Democratic Party), or The Nation and Washington Monthly or The Nation and The New Republic. She took a magazine at it's height, at it's most influential, a left magazine and has offered centrists (males) and weak proposals when the magazine was in a place to lead. That's why The Nation is joke today. I firmly believe Katrina vanden Heuvel should be a given a time frame and if she can't improve within a designated time, she needs to go. I would shed no tears if I heard she was fired tomorrow. She has sold out the magazine and its left position to become a Democratic Party girl (and I use "girl" intentionally). She has betrayed the mission of the magazine and she has run it into the ground.

But in terms of health care for Americans, it's very easy. FDR created Medicare. You simply expand Medicare to cover every American. Cut out the insurance companies. You don't need to create a new agency. You don't need to creat a new "plan." You just take Medicare and expand it so that it covers all. It's not difficult. Medicare has been slashed. Put us all in the same pool and it will be that much harder to slash it. Cut out the insurance companies and the rates will stop skyrocketing. There is no need for Hillary Clinton to spend two years (again) supposedly coming up with a plan. (Some plan, it was the one Big Business wanted before she started 'studying' the issue. If you wonder why she refused to turn over the notes from those meetings, that is why. She had a lot to hide.)

FDR believed that everyone had a right to health care and this was one issue the New Deal didn't get to. But this is not some impossible mission or anything that requires Hillary to meet behind closed doors. Congress just passes an act that changes Medicare's coverage so that it now applies to all. Immediately, you have universal healthcare and every one is covered.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, May 8, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, including a reported attack by US forces on a primary school that left children dead, Save the Children issues a report decrying the death toll for children in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times calls for troop withdrawal, and more.

Starting with war resister news.
Leslie Ferenc (Toronto Star) reports that US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are appealing the decision of Canada's Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada: "The deadline to file for a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is June 30. Unless they're successful, Hinzman and Hughey will be forced to return to the U.S. where they will be court-martialled and could face up to two years in jail for desertion." Up to two years? Ference is incorrect. (Ask Agustin Aguayo.) As in many countries, Canada's Supreme Court is the court of last appeals and only hears approximately 80 appeals each year (during its three sessions). 9 judges sit on the Court (which was created in 1875) with one designated in charge -- in the current Court that is Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Of the nine Justices, four are women which is three more than the US Supreme Court has. Hinzman and Hughey have been seeking refugee status from the Canadian government. The Federal Court of Appeal, in their ruling last week, decided that neither did enough to pursue c.o. status. Or that's the excuse the Court of Appeal gave for turning down the requests for refugee status.

In other war resister news, last week Camilo Meija's
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, this week, he joins with Agustin Aguayo Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Aguayo wants to take part in that but may not be released in time. If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Where's Augie?" All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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 media news, on Sunday,
the Los Angeles Times called for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq joining -- a small number of daily newspapers around the United States have already done so but the Los Angeles Times has the largest circulation of any paper to make the call thus far. Entitled "Bring them home" the editorial concludes: "Having invested so much in Iraq, Americans are likely to find disengagement almost as painful as war. But the longer we delay planning for the inveitable, the worse the outcome is likely to be. The time has come to leave." Editor & Publisher calls it "the strongest stand yet" of "major papers" and notes other papers that have also called for withdrawal: the Roanoke Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Baltimore Sun, and the Portland Press Herald. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called for withdrawal on September 15th of last year in ""Editorial: The Iraq mess / Harsh reality underscores the need to leave" which concluded: "A serious president would, instead, step up to the plate and take steps to get America out of Iraq." (Truthout has reposted the LA Times' editorial here.)

The LA Times call comes as the number of US troops in Iraq increase and as some pin their hopes that Congress is running out of patience. On the first, China's
Xinhua reports that the Bryan Whitman, US Pentagon spokesperson, has announced that "10 more combat brigades with 35,000 troops" will be deployed to Iraq this year. On the latter, Jonathan Weisman and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) report that, for the US Congress, September will now be the day of reckoning -- or so say Congress members such as US Senator Gordon Smith who declares, "Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September. I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me." Is it? Let's hope so; however, we've heard this song and dance before. For example, Paul Reynolds (BBC) reported last October on US Senator John Warner's bluster: "In two or three months if this thing hasn't come to fruition and if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function, I think it's a responsibility of our government internally to determine is there a change of course we should take. I wouldn't take off the table any option at this time." Again, those statements were made in October.

Cullen Couch (UVA Lawyer) interviews Warner for the Spring 2007 issue and Warner said that the illegal war "permeates everything on Capitol Hill today. It's all-consuming. I've seen World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and have served 29 years in the Armed Services Committee. Iraq is clearly the most complicated I have ever seen. And unfortunately, there's a very strong division n the Senate about what to do." Of Congress and the executive branch Warner states, "We're co-equal. I think checks and balances moves a little bit with the different presidencies and the different issues. But Congress
still has that power of the purse. And that's an awesome power." But will Congress use it? And having boasted in October that no option is off the table, what has been Warner's excuse for not already calling for Congress to stop funding the illegal war?

In other media news,
Juston Jones (New York Times) observed yesterday that the big O has made a national endorsement. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has endorsed US Senator Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary. Jones either wrongly or kindly refers to this as "Winfrey's entry to the political waters" which, sadly for the big O, isn't true. The big O's first foray into "political waters" on the national level (on state level, she threw her weight behind the Governator) was in selling the illegal war. She should own it because it belongs to her. From the debut of Bill Moyers Journal which devoted two hours to the selling of the illegal war:

BILL MOYERS: Even Oprah got in on the act, featuring in October 2002 NEW YORK TIMES reporter Judith Miller.
JUDITH MILLER: (OPRAH 10/9/02) The US intelligence community believes that
Saddam Hussein has deadly stocks of anthrax, of botulinium toxin, which is one of the most virulent poisons known to man.
BILL MOYERS: Liberal hawk Kenneth Pollak.
KENNETH POLLAK: And what we know for a fact from a number of defectors who've come out of Iraq over the years is that Saddam Hussein is absolutely determined to acquire nuclear weapons and is building them as fast as he can.
BILL MOYERS: And the right hand man to Ahmed Chalabi.
OPRAH: And so do the Iraqi people want the American people to liberate them?
QUANBAR: Absolutely. In 1991 the Iraqi people were ...
WOMAN: I hope it doesn't offend you ...
BILL MOYERS: When one guest dared to express doubt Oprah would have none of it
WOMAN: I just don't know what to believe with the media and..
OPRAH: Oh, we're not trying to propaganda --show you propaganda. .... We're just showing you what is.
WOMAN: I understand that, I understand that.
OPRAH: OK, but Ok. You have a right to your opinion.

And with that the Big O was done with the woman (very Big Babs Bush). What Oprah aired was propaganda. Oprah sold the illegal war. Maybe she couldn't understand the really bad lyrics to her 90s show theme (many couldn't) and thought what was being sung was "War on, war on, I believe I'll war on, See what the end will be, I believe I'll war on . . ." Moyers could have also shown when the Big O invited Bill O'Reilly on. As
Fedwa Wazwaz (St. Paul Pioneer Press via Common Dreams) observed in 2002, "TV personality Oprah Winfrey used her program to market the war. Winfrey ran video clips in a sound-bite manner by 'experts' as a 'moral' obligation to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.

To recap, Oprah has endorsed Obama. Her only previous national political endorsement was when she endorsed the illegal war by allowing her show to become a platform for propaganda. "We're just showing you what it is," said the Big O. Only it wasn't what it is or what it was -- it was propaganda, it was lies, it was embarrassing and it was shameful. Ironically, while chit-chatting with Bully Boy on her program in 2000, the issue of Iraq and bombing was raised by an audience member and brushed aside. (See "
George W. Heckled on Oprah," Democracy Now!, September 20, 2000.) In 2003, Leah C. Wells (Waging Peace) described what happened: "Halfway through the show, impatient for the canned question period from the audience, Mr. [Danny] Mueller stood up and asked Bush, 'Mr. Bush, would you continue the Democrats' policy of boming and sanctions that kill 5,000 children a month in Iraq?" The show immediately cut to commercial. Mr. [Andrew] Mandell then stood and asked what the children of Iraq could expect. Bush started directly at him. Both Muller and Mandell were escorted out of the audience for their acts of conscience. More than two years later, the children of Iraq know what to expect."

The children of Iraq?
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "Iraq's infant mortality rate has soared by 150 percent since 1990 according to a new report by the charity Save the Children. One in eight Iraqi children now die of disease or violence before the age of five. In 2005 alone, 122,000 Iraqi children died before reaching their fifth birthday. Save the Children said Iraq's child-survival ranking is now the lowest in the world." Andrew Buncombe (Independent of London) quotes Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, stating "We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral."; and Voice of the Wilderness' Kathy Kelly stating, "The punishment of children through the economic and military war against Iraq has been the greatest scandal." Along with disease and violence, Iraqis face the issue of malnutrition. In March Cartias Internationalis reported that "[o]ver 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today," that one third of Iraqi children now suffer from malnutrition, and quoted President of Caritas Middle East North Africa Claudette Habesch stating, "Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparble to sub-Saharan Africa. The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worser rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi."

Save the Children's (PDF format) "State of the World's Mothers" notes: "Safe water is essential to good health. Families need an adequate supply for drinking as well as cooking and washing." That as IRIN reports on the state of Iraq's Tigris river "since the US-led invasion in 2003, this amazing watercourse has turned into a graveyard of bodies. In addition, the water level is decreasing as pollution increases, say environmentalists. Pollution in the river is caused by oil derivatives and industrial waste as well as Iraqi and US military waste, they say. The river was one of the main sources of water, food, transport and recreation for the local population but after four years of war and pollution, it has been transformed into a stagnant sewer, according to environmentalists." In 2004, Dahr Jamail reported for The New Standard on the pollution of the Tigris, "With reconstruction of a highly inadequate water treatment and distribution system at a near standstill throughout much of Central Iraq, some residents of Baghdad are left with little choice but to drink highly polluted water from the Tigris River. Aside from a newly formed Iraqi non-governmental organization that is focusing on the cleanup of one section of the river, not much is being done to improve Baghdad resisdents' acces to potable water, and US contractors appear unable or unwilling to help." Bechtel had the contracts for both the water and the electricity, as Public Citizen noted before reminding: "The question of water in Iraq, a desert country with temperatures sometimes reaching to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), is buffeted by highly-charged hyrdo-geopolitics, the integral part that water plays in the oil industry, and the generally low quality of existing resources. . . . The issue of water is also very important to American and corporate-Halliburton efforts to develop the oil industry. It takes one barrel of water to produce one barrel of Iraqi oil."

On the issue of oil,
Michael Schwartz ( via Common Dreams) notes the historical power grab for Iraqi oil and takes a look at the scheme to privatize Iraq's oil to line the pockets of Big Oil at the expense of the Iraqis: "The draft petrochemical law, if enacted and implemented, could ensure that Iraq would remain in a state of neoliberal poverty in perpetuity, even if order did return to the country. The petrochemical law is hardly assured of successful passage, and -- even if passed -- is in no way assured successful implementation. Resistance to it, spread as it is throughout Iraqi society, has already shown itself to be a formidable oppontent to the dwindling power of the American occupation." The resistance is widespread, including labor and members of Parliament, and, as Schwartz notes, the Iraqis very clearly see the illegal occupation as having to do with their oil. Which is why attacks takes place on the pipelines such as the one reported by the Turkish Daily News where four were arrested on Tuesday after they had planted "a load of explisves . . . under an oil pipeline in northern Iraq that carries crude oil to Turkey".

Can the will of the Iraqi people be overridden? With a puppet government, anything is possible.
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via Common Dreams) reminds of the new wall in Baghdad, "One casualty of the new plan is the authority of the Iraqi government. The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, announced in Egypt that the construction of a wall around the Sunni district of al-Adhamiyah would stop, but without effect. An Iraqi army spokesman simply said that the Prime Minister had been misled. The Iraqi Defence Ministry is largely under American control -- one senior Iraqi army official who obeyed a direct order from Mr al-Maliki late last year found himself jailed by US forces." al-Maliki, as nominal prime minister, is supposed to be the commander of the Iraqi military. The wall has revealed to the world that he is a mere puppet and even those who are supposed to take orders from him do not. Zaid al-Ali (OpenDemocracy) examines the puppet government and notes: "Iraqis were outraged when they heard that a wall was being built in their capital to separate one people from another. Demonstrations broke out everywhere -- with both Sunnis and Shi'a joining in -- to protest the plan. Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, whose influence over the US military is just about nil, laughably 'ordered' that construction be halted. It is uncertain if al-Maliki was being genuine or not, but in any event, the Americans have continued to proceed apace, and have even claimed that the Iraqi government continues to support its plans. Iraqi politicans who reject sectarianism know where this is leading and fear the worst. 'Al-Adhimiya today, Sadr city tomorrow. We are being cantonised,' they say." Today, while surveying the wall, Reuters reports, Col. Billy Don Farris "was shot by a sniper . . . evacuated from the area and is in stable condition."

In other violence in Iraq . . .


Garrett Therolf and Saad Fakhrildeen (Los Angeles Times) report: "A suicide car bomber attacked a croweded market in this holy Shiite city [Kufa] today, killing at least 16 people, injuring more than 70 and further stoking rising tensions between rival Shiite militias."
Reuters notes an Iskandariya mortar attack that killed 2 and left 10 others wounded.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that killed 1 person at a leather factory and left 3 more wounded, a Jalwla bombing attack on a police station that left 2 police officers dead and 20 more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Around 10:30 am, an American helicopter opened fire on a primary school at Al-Nida (9 km north west of Mendli) killing 7 pupils and injuring 3 other pupils with huge damage to the school building. Eyewitnesses confirmed this report while the American side said that they opened fire on the building after being fired from it." To repeat, seven primary school children dead, three more wounded, when a US helicopter fired on an elementary school in the Diyala Province. Kadhim also notes Major Ibrahim A. Al-Nabi was shot dead on his way to work in Baghdad, and two police officers injured by gun fire in Salahuddin.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

In activism news,
returning to the roundtable where Ron Jacobs (Z-Net) speaks with student activists who occupied US Senator Herbert Kohl's office in Madison last month, we'll note the views of two more featured in the roundtable. Zach Heise explains, "I originally joined the antiwar effort due to what I view as a horrendous economic waste. Besides being illegal and founded on what have been proven to be Western expanision reasons as opposed to 'democracy' this war is costing over $3000 dollars every second -- every second, that much money is spent on this war. There's a great site, that allows you to see how much your exact area has estimated spending on the war. Well, Wisconsin's spending on the war could have purchased 12,000 full-ride scholarships to UW-Madison. Simply ridiculous. Maybe if this was a just and well-reasoned war, that could be justified. But as it is now, I find it simply appalling." Josh Brielmaier observes, "I think if we're serious about bringing an end to this war then its obvious traditional protest alone is going to be insufficient. It serves a purpose, but puts no real pressure on our elected representatives to do their job. As a newcomer to the antiwar movement I felt inspired by the energy and momentum of my comrades and the general sense that we were doing something differnt. We're no longer politely asking those in power to put an end to the war in Iraq; we're demanding it." Two of the voices of students. Students aren't apathetic. They are out there working to end the war, working on immigrant rights, et al. They just don't get covered by most in big or small media.

Finally, we'll close with
this exchange from today's Democracy Now!:

MICHAEL PARENTI: The war has destroyed Iraq, and the war has already created a bloodbath. Bush said we can't leave because there will be a bloodbath. The bloodbath is now. It's going on now. I heard the same thing for ten years about Vietnam. "We can't leave. There's going to be a bloodbath." Well, in fact, when we left Vietnam, the bombings stopped, the Agent Orange spraying stopped, the napalming and killing people stopped, the Phoenix CIA assassination program stopped, the bloodletting stopped. And I think the same thing would happen in Iraq. That's my assessment.
AMY GOODMAN: What ended the Vietnam War?
MICHAEL PARENTI: US withdrawal and -- you mean, why they withdrew? It just became so untenable and unpopular in the US. It seemed endless. There seemed no out. And I think that's the same thing that's happening here. You've seen within the last six or seven months in Congress, it's amazing, and in the country, where before they were hesitant to say, "Oh, I'm not sure we want to get out." They're all now saying it, and they realize most of the American public wants to get out. Bush no longer uses the term "stay the course." They discovered that "stay the course," the American public was rejecting it, because it had kind of an endless quality. There was no exit to it, you know, this "stay the course." So they've dropped it. They never use it anymore. They know they, themselves, are in a dead end here.