Friday, September 14, 2007

Goodbye United for Peace & Justice?

Finally, on PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio: this week (Friday's on most PBS stations), the program expands to an hour for a special look at the Third Infantry's First Brigade which is on it's third deployment to Iraq. A preview is posted at YouTube. The earlier broadcast of interviewing the Third Infantry's First Brigade can be found here. And NOW is offering an online exclusive of interviews with members of the Third Infantry and their spouses.

That's from the snapshot (in full at the end) but I wanted to note the above at the top.


"Bush Sees 'Enduring' Occupation of Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
President Bush has vowed the U.S. will keep a large number of troops in Iraq well beyond his presidency. In a prime-time address last night, Bush said he foresees what he called "an enduring relationship" between Iraq and the United States. Bush made the call in announcing he would withdraw a limited number of troops by July of next year. But administration officials quietly announced part of the so-called troop "surge" contingent could remain and even more troops could be sent. That would mean a larger occupation next summer than just before the surge began earlier this year. President Bush also singled out progress in Anbar province where former Sunni insurgents have switched sides and are now fighting al-Qaida in Iraq.

Are you surprised? Are you surprised that the Democrats continue to pretend there's nothing they can do? Or that the press repeats the myth that Democrats can't do anything? The mainstream press and the Democratic Party's attitude from fall of 2002 through the start of the illegal war was that war was inevitable. Apparently, it's also inevitable that it drag on.

"How Stupid Does Bush Think We Are? Answer: Very" (Dave Lindorff, This Can't Be Happening):
Congressional Democrats should be saying the same thing to Bush: No more money for Iraq.
But they won't.
They just want a bigger drawdown of troops, so they can pretend they’re doing something about the ongoing disaster in Iraq.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid whines that the Democratic majority is so small it is nonexistent. With Sen. Joe Lieberman voting with the Republicans, he pleads, he really only has 49 votes, so what can he do? The answer of course, is that he can filibuster any funding bills, and kill them with just 41 votes.
The Republicans know how to filibuster.
Whatsamatter with the Democrats?

What is the matter with the Democrats? Do they think they own our votes? Do they think they are the only game in town? That because Katrina vanden Heuvel turns The Nation into Junior Miss Nation and giggles over her crush on Barack Obama we'll all go merrily along? We're not all that stupid and we're not all that useless. I'm not so shocked by the last few years that I'm shell shocked and will stand in the voting booth, spittle foaming at my mouth, reciting "Straight Party Democrat" in a trance.

I am a firm supporter of United for Peace & Justice and that's long established. However, someone needed to call them out and thank goodness C.I. and Rebecca did. I had just finished my last (day) session yesterday and Sunny was in a panic. C.I. was holding the snapshot until I called. I called and C.I. explained that students were still bringing up the nonsense in the report United for Peace & Justice elected to post. It is nonsense. I told C.I. I wouldn't be hurt in the least if it went up. I'm not either.

I am honestly embarrassed for United for Peace & Justice and embarrassed for myself because here, and in community newsletters, I have sung their praises. I had no idea that they would gladly post "Miss Peace Movement" Phyllis Bennis and "Howard Zinn Hater" Eric Leaver's insulting report that disappears dead Iraqis. So let me go on the record here, I will not give another cent to United for Peace & Justice unless they publicly apologize for that report they posted. I am for peace. I question how much "Miss Peace Movement" and "Howard Zinn Hater" are and I seriously question the judgement of United for Peace and Justice when they go along with disapearing the number of Iraqis who have died.

You can read C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and "'The president was conciliatory Thursday in the face of Iraqi failure' (Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers)" and "And the war drags on . . ." and "Iraq snapshot" and Rebecca's "phyllis bennis & eric lever ignore over 400,000 iraqi deaths" for more details. I will share my opinion of "Miss Peace Movement" (I believe Alexander Cockburn coined that 'title' for Bennis in one of his columns but I could be wrong). I think Phyllis Bennis is a coward. This is not the first time she's been caught undercounting the deaths. It is now a pattern with her. Either United for Peace & Justice was unaware of that (when they should have been aware) or they think it's okay to disappear dead Iraqis. Phyllis Bennis by continuing this pattern, even after it's been pointed out both publicly and privately, puts herself into the category of the Pinochet of the Peace Movement. She should be ashamed.

She should be called out, so should Leaver and so should United for Peace & Justice. Without a public apology for engaging in the disappearance of Iraqis and a promise that they won't do it again, it is "Goodbye United for Peace & Justice" from me.

"Calls Grow for Release of Imprisoned Journalist" (Democracy Now!):
A leading media protection group is renewing calls for the U.S. to release an al-Jazeera cameraman from Guantanamo Bay. Sami Al-Haj is now more than eight months into a hunger strike protesting his imprisonment without charge or trial. Doctors who’ve examined him say it appears he's given up his fight to live. Yesterday Democracy Now spoke to Joel Campagna, Middle East program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, about al-Haj's case.
Joel Campagna: "He is a journalist who worked for al Jazeera who was detained in the line of work for over five years now. He has yet to be charged with a crime. The implication of his arrest is that the U.S. military can effectively remove a journalist from the battlefield, hold them for years without end, without charge and not be compelled to charge them with a crime. And we've been calling on the U.S. military to either charge Sami Al-Haj with a crime and give him a fair trial or release him."

For five years they've held a journalist. They never should have been allowed to hold him to begin with. If, like me, you are a citizen of the United States, you need to accept that silence on this means you're going along with the government. This man's life has been destroyed. It's been destroyed by the actions of the US government which means Bennis better slice off a little piece of the Pinochet pie for Bully Boy. But we'll all have to grab a slice if we're not calling this out.

Could you take five years of torture. This isn't five years in what we think are our own jails or prisons. This is ifve years of hell where they use every tactic (many illegal) to destroy you. After five years, they haven't been able to turn his mind into mush. That's a testament to his strength. Sami al-Haj needs to be released immediately. He is far from the only one being tortured in Guantanamo or at any of the US' secret sites. [Note: Sami Al-Haj's name corrected thanks to Rachel, Kayla and Jonah for catching that and e-mailing me.]

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's news.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
September 14, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, a Blair crony sobs in public, the reviews are in for Ugly Bully and -- no surprise -- it isn't pretty, the "die-in" is tomorrow, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Gerry Condon (Courage to Resist) reports on the status of the many women and men who have elected to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada noting, "These abesentee GI's are upholding the Nuremberg Principles, which were adopted as U.S. law after World War II. By refusing to fight in illegal wars or to commit war crimes, they are exercising their rights and responsibilites as soldiers. So far, the war resisters' refugee claims have been rejected by the political appointees on Canada's refugee boards, who say that war resisters had legal avenues in the U.S. they could have pursued. They say that prosecution for being AWOL does not amount to 'persecution.' They are reluctant to call the U.S. war 'illegal'." Condon proposes that you let Stephen Harper and Diane Finley hear from you. Harper is prime minister (clicking on his name provides his e-mail, his fax is 613-941-6900) and Finley is the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration (work phone number between eight in the morning until seven in the evening is 613-954-1064). Also at Courage to Resist, Spc. Justin Cliburn announces he will not be fighting in the illegal war, "I am done with the military. I don't know how exactly I will leave the service just yet, but I know that I will. I entered the army in an honorable fashion and I will leave it that way, but leave it I will. I leave Friday for Washington DC to take part in the September 15th protests in DC with tens of thousands of other concerned Americans, including representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families, and the ANSWER Coalition. I am taking more and more responsibility within IVAW to end this war, take care of our veterans, and provide reparations for the Iraqi people and it feels right." Courage to Resist also offers the story of Derek Hess who entered the Army via a delayed entry program in 2005 and discovered in basic training that "we weren't training for any set mission in Iraq, just for survival." As he began to see the Iraq War as illegal and as a way to benefit Big Business, he applied for CO status in January of this year. No surprise, the US military do what they generally do: denied his application. With Hess informing the higher ups "that I would kill myself if I was sent to Iraq -- so there would be no way I could [be] used as a weapon of mass destruction for the US government," the military elected to give him a medical discharge ("honorable in character").

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

As Ugly Bully prepared to air last night in prime time,
Iraq Veterans Against the War were ready to respond. Both Geoff Millard and Adam Kokesh spoke out, Millard on CNN's Situation Room and Kokesh on Larry King Live (videos here at IVAW, CNN transcript for Millard's appearence here, CNN transcript for Kokesh's appearnce here). Millard spoke of what he would like to hear in Bully Boy's speech, "Well, I, of course, would like to hear him say that all U.S. forces, not just merely the ones that are being forced to leave because they don't have replacements at the end of the so-called surge, to be coming home. But that's not going to happen. As his political appointee, General Petraeus said when in front of the Congress, that he couldn't even say that this war was making us safer. It's not making us safer. It's hurting the military. It's hurting us here at home. It's not protecting America. . . . let's face it, he [Petraeus] was put into the position taht he's in as a political appointee of the Bush administration. He was put there as a political appointee to continue the occupation of Iraq. And that's really what we're talking about here too, is an occupation. Not a war like we saw in World War II . . . It's an occupation. Saddam has been out of power now for quite some time, and we're occupying a foreign country." Adam Kokesh spoke after the speech and noted, "Well he said a lot of things, but first let me just commend Bush for his service in the Air Guard and choosing to go AWOL instead of being part of the war crimes and setting an example for the growing number of soldiers who have the courage to resist the way that he did out of cowardice." In response to a question from Larry King, Kokesh replied, "Success would be giving the Iraqi people the right to self-determination and the resources that they need to create the rule of law and stability in their country. And the best thing we can do to do that is pay repatriations and remove the American troop presence that is impeding that progress. . . I feel I have a moral obligation with my voice as a veteran. We have a certain power in speaking out and a relevancy in this most pressing debate before America. And with that power comes a responsibility. And I don't think I could live with myself if I wasn't doing everything I could to bring our brothers and sisters home alive, safe as soon as possible."

So those were the realities spoken last night, now let's head to Crazy Town where a dazed and lethargic Bully Boy attempted to sell "Return On Success" as this decade's "Peace With Honor" (Tricky Dick's January 23, 1973 speech). Watching, Americans grasped Why The Caged Bird Wears An Ear Piece. But sadly, he didn't wear it last night electing instead to prove he was the best little reader in first grade. Bit . . . by . . . bit . . Peterah . . . Petraues! He knew that word and resumed reading bit . . . by . . . bit. No, he isn't the "Great Communicator." No, his reading level does not appear to be higher than elementary school. Maybe all those books the White House forever insists he is "reading" are Books on Tape? If you could follow along without falling asleep, this morning you might have
grasped what Robert Parry (Consortium News) did: "Let it be noted that the morning after George W. Bush announced an open-ended -- possibly permanent -- military occupation of Iraq the premier U.S. newspapers ran headlines about the President ordering 'troop cuts,' itself a troubling reminder of how the American people got into this mess. The New York Times' lead headline read: 'Bush Says Success Allows Gradual Troops Cuts.' The Washington Post went with: 'Bush Tells Nation He Will Begin to Roll Back "Surge".' . . . So, Americans bustling past newstands on their way to work would get the superficial impression that Bush was finally moving toward the Iraq exit door when he really was doing all he could to paint the country, and his presidential successor, into a corner." (Parry's brand new book Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush explores the media and Bully Boy and, though it should be filed under "incest" due to the nature of the relationship between the press and the Bully Boy, you can find it in the non-fiction section at bookstores and libraries and you can also order it online.) Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) added it up and found 12 references to al Qaeda and 13 to "success" but zero on "victory" and provided historical context as well, "He introduced a weak sister to 'peace with honor' that Nixon and Kissinger invoked in Vietnam. "The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is "return on success",' he said. And like Nixon and Kissinger, Bush started talking about enemy body counts. U.S. and Iraq forces, he said, 'have captured or killed an average of more than 1,500 enemy fighters per month since January.' Somehow the resort to body counts is not reassuring. Bush let on that the American military presence in Iraq will be long term. Permanent military bases, anyone?" Rothschild also observes that, though the administration maintained an illegal war with Iraq had nothing to do with oil, Bully Boy was talking about Iraqi oil last night as well. (Rothschild's just published book is You Have No Rights: Stories of America In An Age of Repression.) Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) analyzes the performance and notes a number of things but we'll zoom in here on this, "And in January, he asked Americans for 'more patience, sacrifice and resolve.' In Thursday's speech, he did the same."

Far from the lies of the Bully Buy is the distant isle of reality. Gold Star Families Speak Out Dante Zappala wasn't on TV last night. At Military Families Speak Out,
he shares what he would have discussed had he been on MSNBC's Hardball earlier this week to share his opinion of the 'progress' report: "I wanted to talk about the humanity of this war. My brother died in Iraq. He died looking for WMD. He died because this country capitulated to fear, because the people in power were hell bent on an ideology, because the principles of reason were tossed for negligent policy. The General says give us time. Where others see 12 months, or 18 months, I see bodies. I see 900, 1300 dead troops. I see tens of thousands injured, wives who will see their husbands again -- someday -- but never know them again. A million firsts will pass without wtiness. A baby's first steps, a first word, a first day of school. The consequences extend beyond this generation. The consequences are right there, in my nephew's eyes, who has the unmistakable gaze of his father."

Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) observed that talk of the 18 'benchmarks' were
"[l]argely gone" from last night's speech. Why was that? Because in the one report the White House fully controlled, even they could only disguise reality so far.
Jennifer Loven (AP) reports the White House report on 'benchmarks' was delivered to Congress today and found "that Iraqi leaders gained little new ground on key military and political goals, a discouraging assessment a day after President Bush said progress justifies keeping a large U.S. military presence there. The report underscored the difficulty of Bush's argument that continued American sacrifice was creating space for Iraqi leaders to make gains on tamping down the sectarian fighting that leaves Iraq persistently fractured and violent." BBC reveals that the report "says Iraq has performed satisfactory on nine out of 18 benchmarks -- one more than in a previous assessment in July. Among the failures, it cites militia control over security forces and not enacting laws on sharing oil revenues."

In other news out of England,
John Kampfner (New Stateman) profiles Tony Blair's ambassador to the United States, David Manning, who wants everyone to know, "You have to understand Blair the person before you get into this. A lot of what he was doing with Bush, he was doing with Clinton. Blair was very clear about the doctrine of liberal interventionism. This was not something . . . invented to justify close relations with George Bush." No, it wasn't, Blair was endorsing Bully Policies long before the Bully Boy was installed into the US White House. Manning whines that the US State Department was supposed to be in charge of reconstruction but it ended up being the Defense Department and by the time the looting in Baghdad began, "That was the moment I remember having real feelings of disquiet. Then we got very concerned when we heard the army was being disbanded and when we heard that de-Ba'athification was going ahead on the scale it was." Manning, like so many War Hawks, wants everyone to believe the illegal war was 'right' and that what resulted after the invasion began were just screw ups. A defense he might try at a War Crimes Tribunal but it probably won't go over very well there either. The destruction and tag sale on Iraq was part and parcel of the illegal war.e thought. As Naomi Klein notes in her forthcoming book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

If "nation creating" was going to happen in Iraq, what exactly was supposed to become of the nation that was already there? The unspoken assumption from the beginning was that much of it would have to disappear, to clear the ground for the grand experiment -- and idea that contained, at its core, the certainty of extraordinary colonialist violence.
[. . .]
The bombing badly injured Iraq, but it was the looting, unchecked by occupying troops, that did the most to erase the heart of the country that was.
[. . .]
Thanks mostly to the efforts of clerics who organized salvage missions in the midst of the looting, a portion of the artifacts has been recovered. But many Iraqis were, and still are, convinced that the memory lobotomy was intentional -- part of Washington's plans to excise the strong, rooted nation that was and replace it with their own model. "Baghdad is the mother of Arab culture," seventy-year-old Ahmed Abdullah told the Washington Post, "and they want to wipe out our culture."
As the war planners were quick to point out, the looting was done by Iraqis, not foreign troops. And it's true that Rumsfeld did not plan for Iraq to be sacked -- but he did not take measure to prevent it from happening either, or to stop it once it had begun. These were the failures that cannot be dismissed as mere oversights.
[. . .]
Some insight into why there was so little official interest in stopping the looting has since been provided by two men who played pivotal roles in the occupation -- Peter McPherson, the senior economic adviser to Paul Bremer, and John Agresto, director of higher education reconstruction for the occupation. McPherson said that when he saw Iraqis taking state property -- cars, buses, ministry equipment -- it didn't bother him. His job, as Iraq's top economic shock therapist, was to radically downsize the state and privatize its assets, which meant that the looters were really just giving him a jump-start. "I thought the privatization that occurs sort of naturally when somebody took over their state vehicle, or began to drive a truck that the state used to own, was just fine," he said. A veteran bureaucrat of the Reagan administration and a firm believer in Chicago School ecnomics, McPherson termed the pillage a form of public sector "shrinkage."
His colleague John Agresto also saw a silver lining as he watched the looting of Baghdad on TV. He envisioned his job -- "a never to be repeated adventure" -- as the remaking of Iraq's system of higher education from scratch. In that context, the stripping of the universities and the education ministry was, he explained, "the opportunity for a clean start," a chance to give Iraq's schools "the best modern equipment." If the mission was "nation creating," as so many clearly believed it to be, then everything that remained of the old country was only going to get in the way. Agresto was the former president of St. John's College in New Mexico, which specializes in a Great Books curriculum. He explained that although he knew nothing of Iraq, he had refrained from reading books about the country before making the trip so that he would arrive "with as open a mind as I could have." Like Iraq's colleges, Agresto would be a blank slate.

The Shock Doctrine is released in the United States this coming Tuesday (September 18th). The book will be launched this Monday (September 17th) in NYC at an event with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street. Event is free and open to the public and Klein and (I assume) Goodman will be signing their books (Goodman's latest bestseller is Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back written with her brother David Goodman and now out in softcover).

Turning to Iraq,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) judges yesterday's assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha as "a serious blow to President Bush and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who have both portrayed the US success in Anbar, once the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US forces, as a sign that victory was attainable across Iraq." Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reports that Al Anbar Province is "under a state of emergency" -- that would be the 'model province' according to the White House -- and that "messages were being posted on international jihadist websites exulting at the end of 'the traitor and aposate'." But don't worry, hate is thriving from all sides. CBS and AP report that the sheik was buried today and those gathered "vowed revenge". Bully Boy hears that, grins and sighs, "Progress."

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


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Beiji car bombing that claimed 10 lives ("including 4 policemen") and left fifteen wounded. CBS and AP report that a US helicopter staged an assault on a mosque yesterday in Karmah and the press release brags of three 'fresh kills' that they're pretty sure were 'insurgents'.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Col. Hussein Alwan ("officer of the protection force in Salaheddin province health dept") was shot dead in Kirkuk today and that Hadla Ali Hassan is the name of the mother who was shot dead yesterday in Kirkuk (her daughter was injured). Reuters notes that 3 people were shot dead today in Suwayra and that, in Hilla, an attack on the home "of a senior army officer" resulted in 1 guard being shot dead and another injured.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports six corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpses of a judge and police officer were discovered in Balad.

Today the
US military announced: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province Friday, when an explosion occured near their vehicle."

Dave Lindorff (This Can't Be Happening!) notes the "accident" on Monday that claimed seven lives including two who were among seven active duty service members who wrote the New York Times op-ed noting the illegal war was lost and he notes, "The mother of one of the dead soldiers is demanding a full and open investigation into their bizarre deaths. Congress must join in that demand." As if to head off such a demand, the US military releases their statement today (my, what a quick investigation that was!) which is that the vehicle had an accident with no other car or person, just on it's way back to base and drove off a highway overpass, most natural thing in the world, apparently. They also state that along with the seven US service members who died, two Iraqi prisoners died as well. No word as to their alleged crimes.

Meanwhile, United for Peace & Justice picked a bad time to endorse an undercount. In their 'report' written by Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver, the numbers of Iraqis who have lost their lives in the illegal war range as low as (insert Iraqi Body Count figure) and as high as (insert the lower of two figures in the Lancet study last year -- a study that noted it was tracking deaths through July 2006 -- over a year ago) "over 600,000 plus." Well fate, like attempting to disappear dead Iraqis, can be ugly and today it slaps the authors and United for Peace & Justice (if not for correct body counts) in the face as
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Britain's ORB "has conducted several surveys in Iraq, followed statements this week from the U.S. military defending itself against accusations it was trying to play down Iraqi deaths to make its strategy appear successful. The military has said civilian deaths from sectarian violence have fallen more than 55% since President Bush sent an additional 28,500 troops to Iraq this year, but it does not provide specific numbers. According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million. [. . .] Based on Iraq's estimated number of households -- 4,050,597 -- it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains that, "The British agency Opinion Research Business surveyed more than fourteen hundred Iraqi adults." Alan Maass (US Socialist Worker) isn't one to play dumb or useless and his review of the realities in Iraq gets straight to the point noting in large, bold type, "More than 1 million Iraqis killed." He refutes the claims of progress with specific data throughout his report but that's all we have time to note.

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 15th (see
ANSWER for more information) mass protests will be taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains, "The peace coalition ANSWER says more than one-thousand people will lie down to represent the Iraqis and Americans killed since the US invasion. ANSWER is predicting a turnout of more than ten thousand for a march through Washington." This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc.

Mark Rudd and Doug Viehmeyer (Common Dreams) explain the basics of a moratorium (and it's history):

The original Vietnam Moratorium, October 15, 1969, was a decentralized anti-war demonstration in which literally millions showed their opposition to the war around the world in a vast variety of ways. There were many school walkouts and closures; local demonstrations involving thousands around the country (a quarter of a million in D.C.; 100,000 in Boston); workplace sickouts; vigils, sit-ins at draft boards and induction centers. President Nixon pretended not to notice, but there's good evidence that the outpouring of opposition to the war prevented the war planners from using nukes against the Vietnamese (see Tom Wells, The War Within). A month later, the second moratorium day brought hundreds of thousands to Washington, complete with an angry siege of the Justice Dept. that reminded Attorney General John Mitchell, watching from inside, of the storming of the Czar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, back in 1917. Nixon himself, prior to the action, commented during a press conference: Google "Vietnam Moratorium" to check out what went on.
Why now? The anti-war movement, for a variety of reasons, has hit a plateau since the war began in 2003, despite the majority sentiment in the country against the war. No strategies have emerged to grow the movement. The thinking behind the Iraq Moratorium is that the moment is right for nationally coordinated local anti-war actions which will allow people to express their anti-war sentiments wherever they are and in a variety of ways. At the same time the Moratorium gives local groups a focus. For example, a campus anti-war organization can decide to do whatever's appropriate for their school--a teach-in, a walk-out, a vigil, a film showing, a sit-in at a recruitment center. It's all good!
The growth of the anti-war movement has to be seen as our current goal, not just a means. Every action, every demonstration should be judged by one single criterion: does it bring more people? We think that the biggest stumbling block up to now has been the too widespread belief that neither individual nor collective actions have no effect. The moratorium, allowing for a variety of tactics with one single focus, coordinated nationally and possibly internationally, has a chance of bringing antiwar expression into mainstream society. Sept. 21 will be the first moratorium day, followed by succeeding moratoriums (moratoria?) each third Friday of every month. If enough people and groups catch on, the movement grows.

That article is written by two generations of
SDS, Rudd from the original and Viehmeyer from today. SDS is growing on campuses across the country and an organization to watch. (In the good way, but you can be sure the FBI is watching it as well.)

Finally, on PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio: this week (Friday's on most PBS stations), the program expands to an hour for a special look at the Third Infantry's First Brigade which is on it's third deployment to Iraq. A preview is posted at YouTube. The earlier broadcast of interviewing the Third Infantry's First Brigade can be found here. And NOW is offering an online exclusive of interviews with members of the Third Infantry and their spouses.

patrick cockburn

now with david branccaciopbs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Obama the War Hawk speaks like an idiot

At the DNC convention in Boston in 2004, I thought I was appalled by Barack Obama's war speech and what appeared to be more lip gloss than many women wore in the late 70s. He's had another publicly embarrassing moment though most will probably look the other way -- as The Nation always does with Barack.

Speaking today, he tried to sell himself off as a number of things. I haven't seen any photos so I have no idea if he was again wearing lip gloss, but he declared:

George Bush is afraid of this future. That is why all he can do is drag up the past. After all the flawed justifications for his failed policy, he now invokes Vietnam as a reason to stay in Iraq. Let's put aside the strange reasoning--that all would have been well if we had just stayed the course in Vietnam. Let's put it aside and leave it where it belongs--in the past.
Now is not the time to reargue the Vietnam War--we did that in the 2004 election, and it wasn't pretty. I come from a new generation of Americans. I don't want to fight the battles of the 1960s. I want to reclaim the future for America, because we have too many threats to face and too many opportunities to seize. Just think about what we can accomplish together when we end this war.

First off, Bully Boy drags people into the future -- a future war with Iran and Obama does as well in the speech. Second of all, for those of us who aren't historically ignorant, we realize that 'leaving Vietnam where it belongs' attitudes allowed today's current illegal war. Barack Obama is a War Hawk. He is an idiot.

I've had it with him and I've had it with the squishy centrist The Nation and there non-stop applause for the man who calls for war with Iran every chance he gets but somehow Katrina vanden Heuvel (or, as I referred to her when she was a child, "Piss Panties") and her crew at The Nation bend over backwards to regularly ignore it.

Barack Obama is historically ignorant and a coward. We do not run from history and someone who tosses around empty rhetoric on the importance of education should stop to wonder if they should be lecturing America to ignore the past?

Barack Obama's entire life has been lived with cultural and political amnesia. If you think Bully Boy is scary, imagine someone like Obama in the Oval Office.

The liar apparently also hopes we embrace his state of amnesia. He says today that the 2004 election was arguing Vietnam "and it wasn't pretty". Pretty is obviously important to a grown man who feels the need to apply lip gloss. But does he remember anything else from that 2004 night? He claimed he wrote his speech himself. Here are his references to Vietnam in that speech:

*From his heroic service to Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country.

*And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

Is anyone surprised that a War Hawk was fine and dandy with going to the well on Vietnam when it had to do with John Kerry fighting there but said not one damn word about John Kerry's actions to end that illegal war?

He's a fop. A foolish little dandy, spouting Chicken Sop for the Soul bromides, who is trying to fool the people and damned if The Nation isn't happy to assist him with that.

I think my feelings on Hillary Clinton are very clear (I don't like her). Forced at gun point to choose between the two, I'd pull the lever for Hillary.

Barack Obama is a War Hawk and tries to conceal it. Fortunately, "Piss Panties" makes sure her magazine helps conceal it. He wasn't for ending the illegal war when he was campaigning for the Senate. He wasn't for it when he was in the Senate. He's not for it today when he gives a speech that, if examined closely, endorses a US presence in Iraq (military presence -- don't get fooled by his talk of 'diplomacy') for years and years to come.

"U.S. Accused of Killing Innocents in Sadr City" (Democracy Now!):
The Congressional hearings on Iraq came as U.S. forces faced more allegations of killing innocent civilians in Baghdad. Residents of Sadr City say two civilians were killed and six others injured in a U.S. raid.
Local resident Umm Hussein: "What is our guilt? Neither al- Maliki nor Talabani can stop the U.S. forces. So, what is the government for?"

Strangely, Obama had no Chicken Sop for the Soul to hand out to Iraqis. Possibly he felt they had suffered enough and didn't need his useless bromides. He did make time to call on them to meet 'benchmarks' -- Iraqis in and out of government. As if the average Iraqi can even get into the Green Zone? He also did mention Iraqi refugees -- he spoke of how those working with the US needed entry to the US. But he refused to talk about Iraqis as people. This from the man who claims to want to help? The reality can be found in his constant mentions of the importance of the region. There is no 'hope' for Iraqis, there is just a desire to control the region.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 12, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another big robbery takes place in Iraq, Bully Boy spends today being pampered for tomorrow's big event, Obama tries to put one over on voters, and more.

Starting with war resistance, Eli Israel is the first US service member to publicly refuse to take part in the illegal war while stationed in Iraq.
Brian Lenzo and Kyle Brown (US Socialist Worker) speak with Israel, war resister Camilo Mejia and Phil Aliff. Here, Eli Israel is discussing what he realized while in Iraq:

Militarily, you can't fight "terrorism" by browbeating "terrorists." You can't terrify terrorists into not attacking you.And let's throw out the word "terrorists." You can't browbeat people into not attacking you. Believe it or not, most people want to live in peace. Believe it or not, most Palestinians and Israelis want to live in peace. I've changed my perspective on the world in so many ways because of what's going on in Iraq. To think that they would continue this situation forever without us doing the things we're doing is ridiculous. We're creating people to attack us tomorrow. The doors that are getting kicked in, the people who are being harassed, the children who are crying, the women who are seeing their houses torn apart in front of them, the men who are being shot while defending their own families, the neighbors who are being interrogated with Tasers to turn in their neighbors--all of those people are going to hate us for what we're doing. When are we going to accept responsibility?

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) reports that Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray are among the dead from Monday's Baghdad "vehicle accident". The two, along with five other active duty service members, wrote a New York Times column entitled "Iraq As We See It."
Dropping back to the
August 20th snapshot:

On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece written by seven active duty service members entitled "Iraq As We See It" (
click here for Common Dreams, click here for International Herald Tribune -- available in full at both without registration) which noted "Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricty, telephone services and sanitation. 'Lucky' Iraqis live in communities barricaded with concrete walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal. In an environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. . . . In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are -- an army of occupation -- and force our withdrawal." The piece is signed by US Army specialist Buddhika Jayamaha, Sgt. Wesley D. Smith, Sgt. Jeremy Roebuck, Sgt. Omar Mora, Sgt. Edward Sandmeier, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, Staff Sgt. and Jeremy A. Murphy.

Mitchell notes, "One of the other five authors of the Times piece, Staff Sergeant Jeremy Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head while the article was being written. He was expected to survive after being flown to a military hospital in the United States."

As a warm up act, Davey & the Petraeuses didn't do much to excite the crowds, not even the duet (performed with Ryan Crocker) of "Stay" ("a little bit longer . . .") did much to whet appetites for the main attraction. The reviews were hostile to brutal. The
San Jose Mercury News editorialized that Davey couldn't "conceal that the surge has failed" and "Bush has no strategy beyond his faith in Petraeus and the knowledge that, in 14 months, Iraq will become another president's burden." Newsday's James P. Pinkerton felt Davy's act was old and moldy and explained how it had been pulled from mothballs out of the Vietnam era. Stan Goff (CounterPunch) found the offstage chorus lacking and also wasn't impressed with Davey's costume: "The articulate, level-voiced General, though he only went to combat when Bush invaded Iraq, has more fruit salad on his chest than any veteran of three previous wars."
Arun Gupta (Democracy Now!) pointed out that Davey had never lived up to the earlier hype including a 2004 Newsweek cover which boasted of his abilities to train the Iraq police and military and that when he trained Shia militias (such as the Special Police Commandos) he "issued the usual denials: 'Oh, we're not giving them any weapons. This is an Iraqi initiative.' And so, now he's saying the same thing with the Sunni militias."

So Thursday night, Ugly Bully airs on ABC following
Ugly Betty as Bully Boy takes to primetime to deliver his equivalent of Tricky Dick's "Peace With Honor" speech. Though Bully Boy's speech is expected to be as out of touch and laced with lies as Nixon's January 23, 1973 speech, his speech writers are still hard at work in attempting to top the howlers Nixon lobbed such as "The important thing was not to talk about peace". A 'wisdom' Bully Boy has internalized.

In the October issue of
Vanity Fair, former New York Times reporter Todd S. Purdum offers the establishment view on the Bully Boy that's still worlds away from what he could have offered at the New York Timid. From "Inside Bush's Bunker" (page 334, article runs from 332 to 335 and 390-395):

Now, with not quite a year and a half left before Bush leaves office, we have already arrived at the beleaguered endgame of his presidency. From deep inside the fortified precints of the White House, the president projects a preternatural calm. He gives orders to nonexistent armies, which his remaining lieutenants gamely transmit: "Reform immigration!" "Overhaul the tax codes!" "Privatize Social Security!" Outside the bunker, in the country that his administration now refers to as "the homeland," there is chaos and confusion. The Democrats bridged the Ptomac after winning the elections last fall, and the Blue Army has now overrun most of political Washington. Its flag flies above the Capitol. More and more of the president's subordinates have been captured and interrogated, most notabley the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. Others, such as Matthew Dowd, the president's former chief campaign strategist, have managed to make good their escape -- Dowd by parachuting onto the front page of the enemy New York Times with a detailed denuciation of Bush's policies. Indepenent powers that would sue for peace -- the Baker-Hamilton Commission, for example -- have been banished. Some loyalists, including presidential counselor Dan Bartlett, have simply fled to the safety of the private sector. For one reason or another, most of the commander in chief's senior advisers are now gone, replaced by callow upstarts and last-chance opportunists. The two most powerful advisers have been the president's second-in-command and his propaganda minister -- his vice president and his political strategist -- who had been at his side from the beginning and have remained close and trusted, despite the catastrophes they helped to engineer. Dick Cheney will haunt the bunker till the end, but the political strategist, Karl Rove, has quietly slipped away. The leader himself -- with his lady and his loyal dog -- soldiers on, in an atmosphere of disconnection and illusion. Lurid tabloid tales may hint at binge drinking and marital estrangement, although visitors report uniformly, and much to their surprise, that the president seems optimistic, unbowed, chipper, his gaze bright and steadfast. The tide is about to turn! We will prevail! But it is a hermetic and solidarity existence.

Also in the current issue of Vanity Fair is
Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (Vanity Fair) report on the theft of millions in Iraq (article noted in the September 5th snapshot). The Pulitzer Prize winning correspondents discussed their article with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today. Excerpt (remember, audio, video and transcript at DN!):

AMY GOODMAN: It was kept in a vault in the Green Zone?

DONALD BARLETT: Yes, in the beginning. But then it was moved about the country in different ways. But what is striking about this is that here you have $12 billion and actually many more billions later coming through that process, but no auditing arm established to track the money. And that is just amazing.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, the irony of the Coalition Provisional Authority initials, CPA, that there was no accounting.


JAMES STEELE: No certified public accountant on duty.

DONALD BARLETT: No. And this is an interesting organization in itself, because when we traced it back, it is literally a rogue agency within this country. There is no formal document establishing it. Congress has funded it with taxpayer dollars at that time, but it was never created within the legal process of Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, explain this, Jim, because this is quite astounding. When it comes to accountability then -- where has the money gone -- and even lawsuits, the question is: who ran the Coalition Provisional Authority?

JAMES STEELE: The Coalition Provisional Authority, which created this illusion that this was this multinational force, was basically run by the Pentagon. It was a creation of the Pentagon. Most of the contracts were awarded with the approval of the Pentagon. This was totally their entity. And it became an absolutely perfect sieve for this cash, because it only existed for fourteen months, and then we turned Iraq over to the Iraqis. And during that period, because it was not a US government agency, because it was not really an entity of the UN, because it was a rogue operation, as Don has mentioned, nobody was responsible for really what happened to that money. And, in fact, some of the litigation that has come up in this country, the traditional whistleblower things, it's basically failed so far, because you're not dealing with malfeasance within a normal US government agency.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain with the lawsuit, using that as an example.

JAMES STEELE: The reason -- courts have ruled that because this is not an entity of the United States government, normal whistleblowers, people who observe wrongdoing within an agency, see theft and so forth, cannot appeal to the courts, because nobody has authorized this thing. I mean, it's a classic Catch-22 situation. I mean, you've created this thing that isn't legitimate, therefore you can't sue it. But in the meantime, it's become this wonderful repository for this incredible amount of cash.

Turning to Iraq today where,
MADRE notes, "Figures from Iraqi hospitals, morgues, and police logs show that civilian killings are double what they were this time last year. Women from MADRE's Iraqi sister organization, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), have taken on the gruesome task of visiting morgues to try to assess the number of women killed in gender-based attacks. They report that the killings of women have skyrocketed under US occupation and that the 'surge' has done nothing to diminish the trend." And where Andrew North (BBC) notes female medical student Kulsoom hasn't left her Baghdad home "in two months" due to the violence having already "missed half her classes last year because of bombs, shootings and other threats" and Kulsoom says, "Nothing has really changed." Today a large protest took place in Baghdad. AFP reports: "Hundreds of Shiites and Sunnis marched on Wednesday in protest at the building by US troops of a tall concrete wall separating their northwest Baghdad neighbourhoods, an AFP photographer said. The protesters complained that the wall would promote sectarianism and demanded its removal. Residents said that US forces last week began building the two-kilometre (1.25 mile) wall along the border of the mainly Shiite al-Shuala and adjoining Sunni-majority al-Ghazaliyah neighbourhoods without consulting them." BBC notes the banners read "No to the dividing wall" and The wall is US terrorism."


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing claimed 2 lives and left five wounded, a Kirkuk bombing aimed at "the head's of the local council convoy of Al Haweeja province injured three of his bodyguards" Reuters notes a Rasheed mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 person and left a child injured, a Hawija roadside bombing that left three injured, and an Iskandariya mortar attack that claimed that left four people wounded.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi police major Khalid Jabur was shot dead in front of his home in Tirkit. AP reports, "Gunmen ambushed an Iraqi police checkpoint south of Mosul early Wednesday, killing six policemen and wounding four, police said." CBS and AP report, "Gunmen opened fire on a car in Diyala's al Salam area, killing two and wounding two others, while an hour later in another area, assailants shot into a crowd in central Muqdadiyah killing two and wounding two, police said".


Reuters notes two Baghdad robberies -- in one the robbers made off with $240,000 after stopping a minibus of bank employees and in the other the robbers wore "camouflage uniforms" when they stopped bank employees "in two vehicles" and made off with $550,000.


Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 9 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Wahaweel and two in Muwailha.

Turning to political news, Bully Boy doesn't believe in science but he's now on record as a believer in some form of evolution. Monday, while flying to Australia,
AFP reports Bully Boy gave his complete backing to the puppet government of Nouri al-Maliki and praised al-Maliki's "evolving" abilities. Possibly, on the heels of Oprah's endorsement (of Barack Obama), Bully Boy just wanted to get in one of his own? It hasn't gone over well. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports of "dismay" in Iraq with Iraqi politicians questioning why stronger statements about the lack of progress were made by both Davey Petraeus and Ryan Crocker when they were in Iraq (The answer? Greater proximity to the White House results in tighter scripts) and Fadel quotes Mhmoud Othman ("independent Kurdish legislator") declaring, "We don't see any reconciliation," while a Shi'ite parliamentarian declares, "There are many things that the U.S. has done wrong in Iraq, and one or two years later they say, 'That was a mistake.' This is another wrong."

In US political news, Senator Barack Obama continued to his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination today.
He began it this morning on NBC's Today show where, after calling out the Bully Boy for not heeding the will of the American people (they want US troops out of Iraq), he then declared that, were he to be elected president, he would reduce the number of troops there, keeping an unspecified number stationed in Iraq for 'security.' Obama saw no inconsistency between his remarks and no doubt the press that loves him will continue refusing to call him out. Reuters, citing excerpts of a released speech, notes that Obama's afternoon strategy was to insit "that we have to begin to end this war now." Again this is the usual shell game Congressional Dems have attempted to trick the American public with. He's calling for 'combat' troops. Troops would still remain for 'security' and 'training'. It's as much as con game as Bully Boy's intended announcement tomorrow that he will 'draw down' the number of troops . . . to pre-escalation numbers (as he knew would happen before the escalation started). John McCormick (Tribune via Baltimore Sun) observes of Obama's attempts at delivering a fiery speech, "That rhetoric is similar to the position New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio have expressed for months. While Obama's speech added some new detail, it did not offer any dramatically new insights about his position on the war." Excerpts also have Obama issuing his "I was against the illegal war before it started" line while refusing to note that he was also against withdrawal in 2004 while campaigning for the Senate and that he was against withdrawal in the Senate judging by his voting record until this past summer.

Turning to peace news, William Blum becomes the latest in a long line of 'end the war' writers to attempt to Arlen Specter it.
Writing at Counterpunch, Blum has discovered the "magic bullet" and it is "American soldiers" -- that will end the illegal war! That's what ended another illegal war (Vietnam) and it will do so again today! There is something really sad about how quickly history vanishes but there's something even sadder about the constant need to disown power and instead rush off in search of a hero. (There's also something sad about using the term "soldiers" when everyone should know by now that different branches do not like being referred to as "soldiers.") What ended that earlier illegal war? Fear. Fear from the top. "The country is split," the media jaw boned. It wasn't split. The people wanted US troops out of Vietnam by an overwhelming majority. The split wasn't between the people and their alleged represenatives as well as those who stood to continue profiting from that illegal war. Troops who resistered played a key part as did other elements of society. (For resistance within the military, see the brilliant documentary Sir! No Sir!) That's where the "split" was. The comfort level of the elites was "split" out of fear that the country could fall apart if the illegal war was continued. You had protests, you had walk outs, you had civil disobedience . . . It was no longer as comfortable for them as it had been. That's what forced the end of the illegal war. And you had those things in civil society and within the military. Blum is on strong ground writing about the importance of IVAW, he's on weak ground when he tells people that's 'the answer'. Blum should know that's not reality. He left the State Dept. over Vietnam -- an action others took part in and that also sent a message. Whether it's a need to find a hero (hero worship currently seems to be plauging a number of males who took part in ending an earlier illegal war) or a desire to hype that's driving Blum, I have no idea. But there is no single-solution answer, no "magic bullet," that will end this illegal war (even impeaching the Bully Boy -- which I support -- would not end the illegal war, there are too many members of Congress interested in continuing it). And there was no single-solution that forced the government to pull US forces out of Vietnam. It was a broad based movement that required all levels of actions from all sections of society. Writing "Only those fighting the war can end it" is the height of ignorance. As hype, when the "support" 'answer' fails, a lot of young people (already leery of all the hype that's been forced down their throat by the 'anti-war' movement) are going to be even more pissed off (not at the government, at 'leaders'). As hero worship? Grow up. What is Blum, 70 now? Whatever he is, he's old enough to not still be dreaming of the Lone Ranger riding in to save the day. Instead of pointing people to turn to others for the answers, the peace movement needs to get honest about the fact that the answer to ending the illegal war is in everyone of us. It's in our taking action, it's in our taking to the streets, it's in our using our own voices. The answer is in each of us, in every element of society.

Now today, a number of women are stationed in Iraq and required to 'fight.' But let's be really honest about this masculinist b.s. these men keep pushing. It says the "men" in Iraq will save the day and all we have to do is make like Natalie Wood cheering on the drag race, like good little women waiting for the illegal war to end. As
Elaine's noted, our biggest mistake (some -- not all -- women's biggest mistake) during Vietnam appears to have been the vast amounts of time we spent getting male 'leaders' ready to speak, chasing away the fears, stroking the ego. We should have all pushed you out on stage while you were a jumble of nerves or near tears so you could have faced some reality. Maybe then you wouldn't come back all these years later promoting lies that are offensive and sexist. And then getting shocked when you're called them out on it. If you say, as one did, that it was "the draft" that motivated (college) student action during Vietnam because "we" all had to go through that invasive physical, you're being a sexist pig. "We" didn't all go through a physical. And, as Rebecca noted, don't talk invasive until you've had an exam where your feet are in stirrups. Let me join Elaine in asking what has happened to the Young Lions of those days? (Not a reference to the Young Lords.) Can any of them make a statement that doesn't rely on the inverse of the John Wayne (or is it The Deer Hunter?) movie damage they all appear to be suffering from -- apparently caught during the midst of a middle age panic? Really, boys (term used intentionally), you're embarrassing yourselves. As for Blum, someone in charge of the Washington Free Press all that time ago should be able to check their old clippings if their memory is currently failing them.

While the former Young Lions seem to be emerging from some Robert Bly workshop,
Ron Jacobs (Dissident Voice) offers a serious look about what's required to end this illegal war and others in a dialogue with Ashley Smith. They both note the importance of IVAW but they don't make the mistake of instructing, "Just support them! They are the answer!" Ashley Smith lays it out speaking of Vietnam, "We ended it through dynamic interaction between a truly mass domestic anti-war movement, a rebellion among the US troops and Veterans documented in David Cortright's brilliant book Soldiers in Revolt, and the national liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people. That's exactly what we must build today. We must build a grassroots and sustained anti-war movement expressed through demonstrations, sit-ins, teach-ins and many other tactics to turn majority anti-war sentiment into the social power to shut down campuses, paralyze cities in mass protests, and even organize strikes at workplaces against the war."

In other peace news, September 15th (see
ANSWER for more information) mass protests will be taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc.

Finally, on PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio: this week (Friday's on most PBS stations), the program expands to an hour for a special look at the Third Infantry's First Brigade which is on it's third deployment to Iraq. A preview is posted at YouTube. The earlier broadcast of interviewing the Third Infantry's First Brigade can be found here. And NOW is offering an online exclusive of interviews with members of the Third Infantry and their spouses.

now with david branccaciopbs

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Green Party, Scott Horton, Assed Baig

Green Party Vows to Run for President 2008: Sets Convention in Chicago
"In a land that's known as freedom how can such a thing be fairwon't you please come to Chicago for the help that we can bring."
"Chicago" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The Green Party of the United States (GP-US) has sent an unambiguous message that the Green Party will run a presidential candidate in 2008. The GP-US National Committee overwhelmingly passed a "We Will Run Resolution."
The resolution assures that the Green Party will conduct a contested presidential nomination process, that will culminate in the nomination of a Green Party 2008 presidential ticket at a July 10-13 convention in Chicago, Illinois.
As news reports in Illinois have alluded to, there is symbolism in holding the Green Party’s presidential convention in Chicago. Chicago was the site of the 1968 Democratic presidential convention, where the Democrats inside nominated a pro-war candidate, while the anti-Vietnam war movement was left to protest outside. The protests led to the trial of several progressive leaders of the anti-war movement, who came to be known as the "Chicago 8".
Ian Wilder, GP-US Presidential Campaign Support Committee member, stated, "Now, the tables are turned in an interesting way. The Green Party is America's peace party. So, in 2008, in Chicago, the peace movement will be inside the convention hall, nominating an anti-war, Green Party Presidential candidate. Democrats who are for peace may want to join with the Green Party, rather than be subjected to the kind of treatment they received at the hands of their own party in 1968 in Chicago; or in 2004, when the Democratic leaders corralled the anti-war Democratic activists into a barbed wire "Free-Speech Zone" near the Fleet Center in Boston."
In preparation for the 2008 presidential race, the Green Party had already announced its goal of securing 51 ballot lines in every state and the District of Columbia. The Green Party currently has ballot access in 19 states, with aggressive petition drives going on in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Montana and North Carolina. There are currently 46 state parties affiliated with the Green Party of the United States.
Some of the candidates who are announced or being drafted for the Green Party nomination include: Jared Ball, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Jesse Johnson, Elaine Brown, Kent Mesplay, Joe Schriner, Kat Swift, and Rebecca Rotzler. Ahmad Ali Mitchel-el, a Green Party candidate for local office in Suffolk County, stated, "The Green Party's commitment to a strong, presidential campaign will help to promote Green Party politics and strengthen the party."
Background:Green Party of Suffolk:

Multi-partisan, presidential web-site, hosted by green activists:

Green Party of the United States:
Background on the Free Speech Zone at the 2004 Democratic Presidential Convention:
News coverage from Illinois:
More news coverage listed at:
Text of "We Will Run" Resolution:
The Green Party: America's Peace Party

The news in the press release above was noted in C.I.'s snapshot last Thursday. I don't post on Thursday (I have an evening group session) so I'll note the press release in full. That was one of the many things on my list. Also on my list was noting Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts:


David Betrayus just goes on and on. He's like a really bad TV mini-series. Lies: The Next Generation. (Starring the political spawn of Ronald Reagan?) That comparison will probably sail over most people's heads because they really don't air TV mini-serieses the way they used to. Something like Roots, The Winds of War, etc. would air night after night by one of the networks (I believe both of the two I named aired on ABC) for a full week. That used to be a very big deal. These days a two-parter is considered lengthy.

Betrayus is nothing but a sock puppet, as Isaiah's comic points out, moving his lips to the White House script. It's the same nonsense we hear over and over from the Bully Boy but his ratings have plunged so low that the public would never put up with this fawning coverage. So they found a beard to spout the words and it's non-stop nonsense.

Kat's "Judy Collins -- Shameless" went up last night. She wondered (I was in a session, she spoke to Sunny) if I thought it was fair? I think it's more than fair. Judy Collins certainly has repeatedly self-presented as a person of 'peace' and, as with Carole King, she suddenly clammed up when the world needed her. I find that disgusting in whomever does it. I have many Judy Collins' CDs (about six, probably) and, in the days of vinyl, I did buy her albums as well. In the 80s, Jackson Browne updated "Cocaine" (from Running on Empty) in concerts (or at least in the one I saw) and sang, "But I never would have been a user, even for a day" _____ CIA. I forget the second half. Making a profit for? But the point was if he'd realized that the CIA was involved in flooding drugs into this country, he wouldn't have been a part of it. I feel the same way about people like Judy Collins. I never would have bought any albums had I known that when the chips were down, Judy would sport a yellow streak. It is embarrassing to see a grown woman make her so useless.

"'Betraying Our Troops:' Six Questions for Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman" (Scott Horton, Harper's magazine):
3. The book is closely related to your Follow the Money project, which investigates inconsistencies between what the Pentagon spends, and what military forces in Iraq actually receive. In Iraq, were the DOD's usual accountability rules for cash followed? What in your mind accounts for so much money going missing?
Accountability of contractors in Iraq has been a major problem leading to huge cost overruns. The Army has not had proper levels of acquisition personnel to ensure accountability and has pretty much relied on contractors to do the right thing. Information we have obtained over the last several years and the results of many governmental investigations such as those carried out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) have exposed an almost complete lack of oversight and accountability, putting the DOD at extreme risk. Poor oversight and internal controls have also led to a lack of accountability with regards to considerable amounts of money.

Where the money goes? It's big business. It's an illegal war created for big business. The number of dead doesn't matter. Congress will continue supporting this illegal war as long as possible because a lot of money is being made. What's less than 4,000 US troops dead? That's just 4,000 people. You know there's no concern about Iraqi life. It can rise to four million before Congress will get too concerned because there's big money to be made and if Congress couldn't serve big money, who would they serve?

"Stop the War student activists meet before the new term" (Assed Baig, Great Britain's Socialist Worker):
The student Stop the War conference last weekend saw over 100 students from more than 25 universities attend the meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
The opening session heard speeches from Gemma Tumelty, the president of the National Union of Students (NUS), Stop the War convenor Lindsey German and Stop the War president Tony Benn.
The students were surprised by Gemma Tumelty's speech, as she began by issuing an apology for the NUS’s position over Israel's illegal war against Lebanon last year.
The NUS was one of the few organisations which had not asked for an immediate ceasefire, with the vice president education Wes Streeting saying that at least Israel dropped leaflets before it dropped bombs.
However, things have changed since then. NUS has affiliated to the Stop the War Coalition and is beginning to take positive steps to encourage student activists around the country to attend Stop the War's demonstration outside parliament on 8 October.
The theme of the conference was that the movement was correct before the war began in stating that it was based on lies, a fact that most people have since realised.
The recent decision to withdraw British troops from Basra to a base outside the city was evidence that the war is being lost and that the Iraqi people are not happy with the occupation.
Students agreed to campaign around Stop the War with the knowledge that the NUS is now fully backing them.
The conference also demanded that the military should keep away from freshers fairs. Activists will try and ensure that their unions and universities do not invite the military onto campus.
Students left feeling motivated to continue building on the successes of Stop the War.
We will make sure that no government can go to war again without knowing our movement will expose their lies and block their actions.
Assed Baig is Student Respect's candidate for NUS black students' officer
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Across the Atlantic, they are getting active. Of course, there is action in this country as well. But is there enough? The UK has less than 6,000 soldiers in Iraq. The US has about 170,000 troops in Iraq. That's nearly three times as many. Are we seeing three times as much action?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 11, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Petraeus continues to spin, the Democratic debate at the start of the week apparently requires the press to use White-Anglos to 'explain' what happened and why, and more.

Starting with war resisters,
John Catalinotto (Workers World) takes a look at war resistance and observes, "Recruiting is way down among African Americans and contested throughout Puerto Rico. The military is drawing from an ever narrower base--small-town USA and immigrants desperate for a quicker road to legal status. Army, Marine and National Guard troops are sent for multiple and longer tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, organizers of the GI anti-war movement gathered in St. Louis from Aug. 15 to 19 for conventions of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). During the IVAW convention, IVAW elected a new board, and this board in turn selected by consensus one of the first war resisters, former Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, as its new chair-elect." Catalinotto then leads a dialogue with Different Drummer's Paul Foley, Appeal for Redress' Jonathan Hutto, and IVAW's Mejia, Margaret Stevens, Liam Madden and Phil Aliff. Stevens, who became the new treasurer for IVAW, points out, "It has political significance that Mejia is popular in the organization and respected as a war resister. It says a lot about what people think is the right way to challenge the problem. Camilo said three years ago: 'I won't participate. It is a bad military and I won't help participate.' It is a very courageous stand. He earned his stripes." Camilo Mejia tells the story of his stand and how he came to the decision in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia published last May.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Turning to violence in Iraq,
Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) examines the violence being conducted by the rival Shia sects which "have spread across southern Iraq and Baghdad" and observes, "Many Iraqis are outraged at the government's inability to contain the crisis. They also say the government is making misleading statements." Meanwhile Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) points out a key factor missing in the 'Petraeus' 'report': "The truest indicator of the level of violence in Iraq is the number of people fleeing their homes because they are terrified that they will be murdered. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees the number of refugees has risen from 50,000 to 60,000 a month and none are returning. Iraqi society is breaking down. It is no longer possible to get medical treatment for many ailments because 75 per cent of doctors, pharmacists have left their jobs in the hospitals, clinics and universities. The majority of these have fled abroad to join the 2.2 million Iraqis outside the country." Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed Rick Rowley and broadcast his documentary on the realities of the 'model' province, Al Anbar:

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about General Petraeus's report, we're joined by filmmaker and journalist Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films. He has just returned from Iraq, where he closely tracked the situation in Anbar province. In a few minutes we'll broadcast a report that Rick shot in Anbar province, but first your comments on the testimony of Ambassador Crocker, Rick, and General Petraeus.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, when General Petraeus says that they're merely applauding these tribes from the sidelines, he's lying. I mean, while we were embedded with the Americans, we saw American military commanders hand wads of cash to tribal militias. And when he says that they are facilitating their integration into the country's security forces, what he means is they're pressuring Iraq's government to incorporate these militias wholesale into the police forces. In fact, that's one of the promises that these tribes are given, that after working with the Americans for a few months, they'll become Iraqi police, be armed by the Iraqi state and be put on regular payroll. So it's completely disingenuous, what he's saying.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain who these militias are in Anbar province that the US troops are working with.
RICK ROWLEY: Well, it's been widely reported that these are former insurgents who were fighting Americans in the past. And that, you know, is troubling for American soldiers. But the far more troubling issue for Iraq is that many of these groups are war criminals who are responsible for sectarian cleansing in the region.
We spent a month and a half in the country, and we crisscrossed Iraq. I was traveling with David Enders and met with the production support of Hiba Dawood, and we found entire communities of refugees who had been displaced by exactly the same tribes that the US had been working with in other parts of the country.
So, you know, it's one thing for Americans to call this a reconciliation process and say that, you know, we're fine with working with people who used to be fighting with us, but it's an entirely different thing for them to be funding groups who are already responsible for sectarian cleansing and are arming themselves for a sectarian civil war.

Remember, DN! offers audio, video and transcripts, watch, listen or read
the exclusive report. In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left seven people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left five more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack in Diyala that left 2 police officers shot dead, twelve police officers wounded, and 10 assailants dead. Reuters notes six police officers dead from a checkpoint appointment outside Qaiyara, an Iraqi "security officer" was shot dead in Riyadh while "an Iraqi army officer" was shot dead in Kirkuk. And, dropping back to yesterday, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports, "Also Monday, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed three civilians during a raid in Sadr City, police and residents said. Bleichwehl, the military spokesman, said the raid targeted a suspected Shiite extremist who eluded capture. He said there were no reports of civilian or military casualties. But residents showed AP Television News the coffins of the people they said were killed in the raid - a woman and her two daughters. A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, confirmed they were killed in the firefight."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a student was kidnapped in the "village of Taxa (south Kirkuk)."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a corpse was discovered in Abbasi.

Meanwhile, in DC, the circus goes on as Gen. David Petraeus maintains he wrote his own report -- and apparently dyed his own hair -- while repeating every bit of spin the Bully Boy's handlers could dream up.
Cindy Sheehan observes of the US Congress' refusal to end the illegal war (observes at Common Dreams):

How do I know that Congress is playing politics with human hearts? All one has to do is observe the lack of action on the part of the red and blue pigs to come to this sad but inevitable conclusion. Apparently, MAJORITY Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has spent more time over his summer recess trying to convince red pigs to go against George's war plan than he spent trying to coalesce his blue caucus into something that would not resemble the red pigs so closely that the blur becomes purple. He and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) have already decided that they do not have enough votes to end the occupation just as they decided that impeachment was "off the table" even before they were elected! So they will happily hand over to George more of your tax money and China's money to continue the killing fields in Iraq. Why are they so miserly with democracy, but generous with our treasury and with our dear human treasure? I got two very overt answers to this question one day in Congress this past spring when I was on the Hill. In one of my meetings with Congressman Conyers, he told me that it was more important to put a Democrat back in the White House in '08 than it was to "end the war." After I recovered from my shock, I knew it was confirmed that partisan politics is exactly what is killing our children and the innocent civilians in Iraq. My next stop was in a Congresswoman's office who has always been 100% correct about the war. She is a lovely woman with a lovely heart and does not in anyway qualify (and there are a few dozen others who do not) as a blue pig. She had tears in her eyes when she told me: "Cindy, when I go to Speaker's meetings and we talk about the war, all the talk is about politics and not one of them mentions the heartbreak that will occur if we don't pull our troops out, now." People are dying for two diverse but equally deadly political agendas. The red pigs want to keep the war going because they feed out of the trough of carnage and the blue pigs want to keep it going for votes! Either way is reprehensible.

Just Foreign Policy's Robert Naiman notes (at Common Dreams) of the Democrats' purchasing of the illegal war before their summer break, "It's true that under current Senate rules, on a free-standing bill, 60 votes would be needed on an Iraq bill to overcome a filibuster threat. (Why we tolerate that only 51 Senate votes are needed to confirm nominees to the Supreme Court who oppose fundamental civil rights protections for all Americans, but 60 Senate votes are needed to pass free-standing legislation to end the Iraq war, is a question that deserves a great deal of further scrutiny.) But as we saw on the fight over the supplemental, only 51 votes are needed to attach withdrawal language to legislation that continues to fund the war. With less than 60 votes, the Senate attached a timetable for withdrawal. The President, as expected, vetoed the legislation. Then the Senate backed down. There was no legal or constitutional reason for the Senate to back down. It was a political decision. As a legal matter, the outcome of a confrontation where the Senate and the President agree to fund something, but don't agree on the legislative language to go along with the funding, is undetermined. It's just a question of who blinks first. The Senate could have agreed to continue funding on a temporary basis while the confrontation continued -- that's what the House did -- but 51 Senators didn't have the stomach for that either." He goes on to explain that with Tim Johnson back in the Senate and Republican Senators indicating (such as Chuck Hagel again today) a break with the White House over Iraq, leadership could round up 51 votes. It's also true, as Ruth reminded us over the weekend, Mike Gravel laid out another way to get legislation through when he was a guest for the August 8, 2007 broadcast of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show:

Real simple. You see, they do a cloture vote. Oh one cloture vote, two, can't do it. Stop. Or an override veto. Can't do it? Stop. That's ridiculous. The rules permit to have a vote on cloture every single day, seven days a week, and all the way through this August recess which they're all taking -- and then when the bill comes back vetoed they can repeat it every single day and, I promise you, Diane, that in twenty, forty days we will have a law on the books to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Now time is fleeting. This could have been done by Labor Day and all, I mean all the troops, would come home by Christmas.

Grasping what Congressional 'leadership' refuses to,
Gwen Van Veldhuizen lays out very clearly in her letter to The Modesto Bee: "The time has come for our healthy young Americans to be pulled out of Iraq. They are in harm's way. They are in the middle of a civil war. A recent documentary has shown that if Iraqis run away from American troops, our troops are instructed to shoot. My niece, who is in the Army, confirms this. [. . . ] The troops who have changed their hearts and minds about their mission in Iraq have goen absent without leave. They have seen fathers killed while their children cry. Soldiers don't go AWOL on a whim. A lot of serious consequences follow such a decision. Amid all this turmoil, I hear that President Bush's daughter is getting married . . . how sweet."

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that at yesterday's Petraeus scripted performance, along with Cindy Sheehan, CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin was among those arrested. CODEPINK's blog offers more details. This week's actions lead up to September 15th (see ANSWER for more information) and the mass protest taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc.

In DC, more of the same today from Petraeus. On Petraeus,
Nancy A. Youssef and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) note many things left out of yesterday's scripted, oral report including, "While Petraeus stressed that civilian casualties were down over the last five weeks, he drew no connection between that statement and a chart he displayed that showed that the number of attacks rose during at least one of those weeks."

Today on
KPFK's Uprising Norman Solomon explained how the press presented the avenues for Congress as much more limited than they are and how they reduce Iraq to whether or not the escalation is working while repeatedly avoiding the issue of the legality of the Iraq War. On the press he noted they avoid certain topics (such as the legality of the Iraq War) because "the news media can't tell us what to think but they can tell us what to think about." The distraction process that so many practice to maxium effect. Later today, you could see the perfect example of it as various outlets are running with the supposed news that the escalation number, Bully Boy's indicating!, can drop this summer! A) Short of a draft (or mass enlistment), the escalation cannot go past April 2008 (we've covered that and covered that). B) This isn't a "withdrawal," it's merely dropping down to pre-escalation levels.
Solomon spoke of the air war ongoing in Iraq with little effort being made by outlets to report on it and the continued under-representation of Iraqis in their own stories.

Turning to political races. On Sunday, the Democrats running for their party's 2008 presidential nomination were supposed to hold another one of those 'discussions' that's supposed to pass for a 'debate.' Joe Biden decided to bail on the Miami event which was intend to target/court Latino voters in the United States. The discussion was hailed as a historic first.
Madeline Baro Diaz (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) noted it was "the first Spanish-language presidential debate". Jennifer Parker (ABC News) explained the process: "Questions will be asked and answered in English, and then tranlsated into spanish for the network's TV radio andd online platforms." Parker also felt the need to quote Slimey Rosenberg who -- for the record -- is not Latino. In fact, the press coverage of this event -- before and after -- demonstrates yet again the limitations of the news media as they repeatedly went to White men (in this case White Anglo) men to apparently explain the 'exotic' out of some fear that news consumers in the US (which is a varied mix of demographics) would be lost without a White man to 'translate' what was happening.
billed as the first of it's kind broadcast in the Spanish language.
Krissah Williams (Washington Post) actually put Latinos front and center by making the angle of her coverage the reactions of one family (Oliva Diaz, parents Alejandra and Gilberto Diaz, and two of Oliva's sisters) to the televised discussion. Williams also observes "New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is the only Latino in the race -- and he loudly protested Sunday that he was not allowed to answer questions in Spanish". As he should. It takes a great deal of nerve to allegedly promote diversity and be the education party (which the Dems are) while at the same time refusing to allow someone to demonstrate the benefits of being bi or multi-lingual. US Senator Chris Dodd should have joined Richardson in protesting since he's also fluent in Spanish. Michael Bender and John Lantigua (Palm Beach Post) report Richardson responding after he was asked a question, "Puedo contestar en espanol?", being informed "no" and Richardson declaring, "I'm disappointed today that 43 million Latinos in this country, for them not to hear one of their own speak Spanish". Here's the longer response by Richardson:

You know, language is important, but you know, Latinos are always asked these questions. Latinos care about civil rights and immigration, but we care about all issues. We care about health care, about the war in Iraq. We're mainstream. And I do want to say at this point that I was under the impression that in this debate Spanish was going to be permitted because I've always supported Univision all my career, but I'm disappointed today that 43 million Latinos in this country, for them not to hear one of their own speak Spanish is unfortunate. In other words, Univision has promoted English only in this debate.

Meanwhile, Dodd not only refused to protest publicly but then wanted to get credit for offering statements such as this (to should Spanish be the US' second national language), "Certainly promoting greater understanding in language in this country -- it's, I think, a source of some collective embarrassment that we Americans don't speak enough languages, that we always think the rest of the world has to understand English." That's all undercut by his refusal to stand with Richardson.

The nonsense of building a fence on the border between the US and Mexico was raised (Dodd, US Senator Barack Obama and US Senator Hillary Clinton support the fence) and Obama, apparently still lashing out at his own father, replied, "We can't have hundreds of thousands of people coming into this country without knowing who they are." Richardson (rightly) noted, "This is a terrible symbol of America."
Williams (Washington Post) noted that when Clinton continued to support a physical wall between Mexico and the US (and apparently, Canada as well "I do favor much more border patrolling and much more technology on both of our borderds"), Olivia Diaz' response was, "A wall won't solve the problem." The discussion was moderated by Univision Network's news anchors Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos and carried on Univision TV, online at, and over the airwaves on RadioCadena Univision. After Obama served up his usual Chicken Sop for the Soul, the next to speak was Clinton and Mike Gravel, going after her, became the first candidate to mention Iraq declaring to loud applause, "But I do want to take my time to give my condolences to the Soriano family. Armando Soriano was recently killed in Iraq, and his father is about to be deported. I think there's something basically wrong with that situation."

Citing the Pew Hispanic Center finding "that two of three Hispanics believe that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq," US House Rep Dennis Kucinich was asked about withdrawal from Iraq.

Dennis Kucinich: Our troops need to be brought home now, and I have submitted a plan to do just that. Remember, I'm the only one on this stage who actually voted against the war and who voted a hundred percent of the time against funding the war and who presented a plan four years ago to get out of Iraq. We need to -- here's the plan. Number one, we have to end the occupation, bring the troops home, bring the contractors home. We have to have a simultaneous plan where we reach out to the nations, like Syria and Iran, to form a multinational international peacekeeping force that moves in as our troops leave so there's no vacuum. And also, we have to have a program of reconstruction and rehabilitation and reconciliation, and we have to stop trying to steal Iraq's oil. This is the way that we can take steps towards trying to achieve peace -- bring those troops home now, and I'm the only one up here who four years ago shoed the judgment that was necessary, that people expect of a first executive, in not going to war based on lies.

Kucinich's statements received cheers and applause. Sadly for Obama, he had to go after and stuck to his tired (and only partially true) song of being against the illegal war before it started. He leaves out the part where, after he started, he was all for the war and opposed to withdrawal. Oprah's latest product didn't get nearly the response Kucinich did indicating both that the bloom may be coming off the rose and the fact that Obama's real "support" has always been in the press corps. Best moment for Univision? Telling Obama, "Your time is up." In other forums, he gets his hands held while he struggles to walk on his own like a big boy. Former US Senator (and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate) John Edwards was asked about withdrawal and the Petraues snow job (which is now ongoing in DC).

John Edwards: I'm absolutely in favor of America leaving Iraq. What I'm concerned about, about the Petraues report, is that it will be basically a sales job by the White House, that it'll be a PR document because that's what we've continually gotten from this administration, throughout the course of the war. And it will be focused on this benchmark or that benchmark than whether some minor progress has been made on one particular benchmark. The underlying question that has existed the entire time that we've been in Iraq is, have the Sunni and Shi'a moved toward some sort of serious political compromise? Because without that compromise, there cannot be peace or stability in Iraq. It cannot happen. And I think we know the answer to that right now. The answer to that question is there has been no political progress. In fact, the Iraqi parliament went on vacation for three or four weeks while American men and women were putting their lives on the line in Iraq. Here's what I believe. I believe no political progress means no funding without a timetable for withdrawal. And if the president vetoes a bill that has a timetable for withdrawal, the Congress should send him another bill with a timetable for withdrawal and continue to do it until he's forced to start withdrawing troops.

Obviously, the US Congress went on vacation during the same time and there should be several other "obviously"s members can add. We're going to note the rest of the responses in full. Obama? Why bother? It's not just the dishonesty, it's the fact that he says the same thing over and over "I was against it before it started". Five years ago. You have your gold star. The truth is you were against it before it started but you were on board after it began. Go peddle your nonsense somewhere else and, hopefully, at some point other candidates on the stage will stop hinting about this (it's been hinted at in three debates) and someone will make the point straight out. If that ends up being Clinton, it will probably be the knock out blow to Obama's campaign.

Hillary Clinton: I was against the surge when it was first proposed. And I believe that nothing which General Petraues or Ambassador Crocker or anyone else coming before the Congress will say next week will in any way underline the basic problem: There is no military solution. That has been said for years now. And that is why I believe we should start bringing our troops home. That however does not in any way suggest that our young men and women in uniform have not performed magnificently and heroically, because they have. They were asked to do what they do best, which is to try to provide some amount of stability or security to give the Iraqi government the time and space to do what the Iraqis must do. Unfortunately despite the heroism of our American forces, the Iraqi government has not reached any kind of political reconciliation. Therefore we need to quit refereeing their civil war and bring our troops home as soon as possible.

Bill Richardson declared, "What I would do with the troops is I would bring them all home -- every one of them. And you know, there's a fundamental difference that I raised in the last debate with Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards. Under their plans, under their website, they leave either 25 or 50 or 75 troops behind. I'd bring them all home within a period of time of six to eight months, because our troops have become targets. You can't bring reconciliation to Iraq, or an all-Muslim peacekeeping force or a partition, without getting all our troops out. Our kids are becoming targets. They are dying -- the last three months, the highest total. Iraqis are dying. And I -- there is a basic difference between all of us here that I mentioned, involving, what do we do about leaving troops behind? Some say they want to leave combat troops behind. They don't want to leave them [moderator interrupts]. I'd like an answer, because this is a fundamental issue about the conduct of Amerian foreign policy in Iraq."

This is a topic Richardson has been pointing out. On Saturday,
the Washington Post published a column by Bill Richardson which began, "Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have suggested that there is little difference among us on Iraq. This is not true: I am the only leading Democratic candidate committed to getting all our troops out and doing so quickly. In the most recent debate, I asked the other candidates how many troops they would leave in Iraq and for what purposes. I got no answers. The American people need answers. If we elect a president who thinks that troops should stay in Iraq for years, they will stay for years -- a tragic mistake." Richardson also has a petition noting stating his "position on ending the war is clear. From the beginning of the campaign he has been calling for complete withdrawal of ALL troops. No excuses. No delays. No troops left behind. In the most recent debate, he asked the other major candidates a clear question: how many troops would you leave behind and for how long? We have yet to hear an answer." The petition calls for other candidates to explain what their plans or 'plans' will do. For example, Clinton's plan is a far cry from the words she offered in the debate.
And that was the portion focusing on Iraq.
AP reports the discussion outranked "earlier presidential debates held this year on ABC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC" and brought in 4.6 million viewers -- that's the TV audience only -- the radio audience and the web audience aren't included in that count. Rebecca and Kat will be addressing other portions of the debate tonight at their sites. One other thing to note here is this from the Palm Beach Post's editorial today, "Who were those six people in Miami Sunday night? Oh, right. Democrats, campaigning in the state that their party threatens to write off."