Saturday, July 29, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Sat: John Nichols, Joan Vennochi; Sunday: Medea Benjamin, Mel Goodman, Micheal Weinstein

Kat here and just where the heck is Laura Flanders? On vacation? What? I'm joking. Laura is on vacation this weekend. But since this is my first post since I left on my own vacation and since I've read some of the e-mails asking where I was and what I thought I was doing taking a vacation, I thought I'd open that way.

Medea Benjamin is supposed to be on Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders. I mention that first off because she's a voice the community follows.

Now let's drop back to today, John Nichols (of The Nation) will be on and the Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi as well. I don't know a thing about Vennochi other than Mike's friend Tony loved a column she wrote on Hillary (which I did read and enjoy) and joked Mike was ignoring a "hometown" writer. So we'll get to hear why Tony enjoys her writing by listening on Saturday. (Others in the area probably already know.)

They'll also be addressing the topic of the Connecticut race (Lieberman and Lamont). And the guest host is Arnie Arnesen for Saturday and Sunday.

Along with Medea on Sunday, guests will include Michael Weinsteian who is "an Air Force Academy graduate on his campaign to stop Christian proselytizing at the Academy" along with Mel Goodman whose work you may know (I do) from CounterPunch (he's also " former CIA and State Department analysist")

What does Laura usually say? "All that and more on RadioNation with Laura Flanders" which airs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST online, on Air America Radio stations and on XM satellite radio.

Let me do some shout outs. First off, thank you to Betty for having me as a house guest yesterday, today and tomorrow, it's been a lot of fun. (Her kids are wonderful. They may be on best behavior as she insists, but they have been wonderful.) Thank you to C.I., Mike and Cedric for guest posting for me at Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and thanks to Wally for doing a joint post with Mike. Honestly though, you've spoiled people who come to my site. I never post that often! Seriously, thank you. I didn't ask, I know everyone's busy. They volunteered (or maybe got Wally drafted by Mike) and it was and is appreciated. Shout outs to Elaine (and Rebecca and C.I.) for "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" -- an inspiring read -- well done. Shout outs to Rebecca & Fly Boy on their marriage (remarriage). I am sorry I missed the spur of the moment ceremony. The photos (in the round-robin and the ones Betty took) say it was something special. (In many ways -- and I want to know who the planner was -- if that can be pulled off at the last minute, my hall closet that I've avoided for six months can be organized!) Thanks to Ty, Maggie and Sumner for agreeing to water my plants while I was in Ireland. (You did do that, right? You didn't forget? Maggie, if you did forget and read this, check before rushing over to water my plants. You'll over water them if Ty and Sumner remembered.) Thank you to Gina & Krista for running my reports in their round-robin on the peace victory in Ireland.

I'm relaxing still so I doubt I'll post at my site but, when I read C.I.'s entry, I figured I could come in and do a heads up for Laura's show. I will be participating tonight in the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

NYT: Two strong reports from Iraq

During a rally in the southern Shiite holy city of Najaf, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shiite bloc, said that the worsening security situation was caused by "carelessness" and "wrong policies."
[. . .]
Mr. Hakim, who leads the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has said that Iraqi forces should have more responsibility for the country's security. But his criticism on Friday were particularly actue because they came only three days after President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki announced an agreement to significantly strengthen the American military presence in the capital.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "Shiite Leader Criticizes Plan for Stronger U.S. Role in Iraq's Security." James Glanz has an article in the paper today and it will probably get more attention. Both are worthy of any attention (though these days, how many follow Iraq is open to debate) but we opened with Semple's because it could easily pass through the day without comment due to the topic it covers as opposed to Glanz' article. Glanz writes of bank robberies and that's much more exciting, much more visual. Semple's writing of a rally and doing so at a time when the nation's eyes are largely elsewhere. That's too bad for those wanting some reality in their news coverage (or, too often, "news" coverage). Semple's addressing the implications of the remarks (including the possibility of pressure on political rival al-Maliki), the state of the Iraqi police force (noting recent spin-heavy assessments coming privately from "American officials") and he addresses yesterday's press release -- something very few reports did (most just included without question) -- from the US military beginning with this paragraph:

The American military command, seemingly eager to demonstrate success in its fight against insurgents issued an unusually long statement on Friday describing what it called a "daylong battle" last Sunday in the town south of Baghdad. The statement said American and Iraqi forces killed 33 "terrorists" in the firefight.

In other wars, the paragraph above would be expected from correspondents. What we've seen instead (repeatedly) in coverage in the last three years has been reporters (and "reporters") reading the press releases and writing articles around them (often borrowing non-quotes from them and other details with attribution) as though the information derived from something, anything, other than a press release. (See "Reading Press Releases Live From the Green Zone.") In past wars, some people actually distinguished themselves as war correspondents. (Today we have Dahr Jamail, Aaron Glantz, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nancy A. Youssef and a few others -- if you're favorite wasn't listed, assumed they made the list. I would include the coverage coming from the Washington Post in the last few months.) Some of them, in the past, covered the battlefield exclusively. And war pornography didn't begin with Michael Gordon by any means.

Those types were generally laughed at. They swallowed anything and then printed it. They struck poses (as so many did today) and puffed out their chests, strutted, you name it. But the real journalists, whether they were recounting a battle for their paper or news service or showing their readers (audience) the toll of the war in other ways were about as likely to fall for (or repeat) the spin coming from the top of the military chain-of-command as the 'grunts' serving were. The real reporters were doing something heroic in journalism terms and we don't see that today. We see a lot of p.r. blowhards who make TV appearances, we don't see a lot of journalists. Journalists are supposed to be skeptics -- they're supposed to question.

But these days, a number seem to have signed up in a p.r. battle (like Dan Rather did and all the praise and glee of the Mark Cuban deal do not change the fact that he embarrassed himself gravely by 'signing' up on Letterman -- but his entire career has been a study in excess as opposed to journalism). Semple's story is what the Times should be going for, not the simplistic nonsense that's been applauded on rah-rah standards as opposed to journalistic ones. The phone's not stopped ringing this morning as friends (who are journalists) have called to discuss it. We've agreed, it's not the longest story, it's may not be on a topic that drives the day's news cycle (it's Saturday -- there is no day's news cycle) but it's one of the few moments that the paper should actually take pride in. A friend who's retired now but covered Korea and Vietnam (and covered it quite well) dubbed it the thing real "newsmen" would have saluted and "bought a round" for. ("Newsmen"? His term. Yes, women covered Vietnam and he quickly backed up to note that. But the point he was making was that, regardless of gender, a "newsman" was someone who stood like an adult. As opposed to a plethora of "Frank Burns-like suck ups" -- and Frank Burns is a character on M*A*S*H, not a relation of John F. Burns though these days anyone who might confuse the two could hardly be blamed.)

Who knows why reality came in so strongly in Semple's coverage today? Maybe an editor was bored or busy? Maybe the 120 degree heat got to Semple and he was ticked off? Whatever the reason, it read like it was written by an actual reporter as opposed to something by "suck ups and glory hogs." I'm happy ridicule, mock or slam (and do so freely). And until the phone calls started coming in, I was honestly wondering if my reaction was due to the fast or the fact that I am tired? When I checked the caller i.d. for the first few calls, I figured Glanz was going to be to sole the topic of the call (he's written a fine article, we're getting to it in a minute). That didn't end up being the case and Semple deserves credit for what runs today. (What runs next? Who knows?)

James Glanz is on the front page with "Violence in Iraq Creating Chaos in Bank System." "There's nothing in Iraq to talk about!" Some would have you believe that. Some would argue that the coverage has taken a nose dive "Now That Everything's Been Said" (to note a Carole King & Toni Stern song and title of King's group, The City's, only album). That's not the case and it hasn't been the case. Glanz takes a serious look at the way the war is impacting the banking system. That includes insurers refusing to honor policies in some instances of bank robberies because they're citing the "acts of war" clauses. Glanz stitches together many incidents of the last three years including a May 2005 raid by US and Iraqi forces on "the home of Saad al-Bunnia, chairman of the Iraqi Bank Association and chariman of the bank that was robbed" where they discovered cash (approximate worth in US dollars, six million dollars) and concluded that it was being used to aid the 'insurgency.' The bank has stated he was asked to hold the money at his residence and that should have been the end of it but over a year later, the money has still not been returned. Glanz offers a look at the robberies (including Thursday's which he reports was a loss of the US equivalent of "nearly $800,000" -- unless someone offers a differing figure, we'll assume this is the last word on the amount which has also been reported as, US equivalent, $650,000 and 1.3 million) and the impact they're having with banks not keeping money on hand due to the threats and instead entrusting it to various individuals to hide: "Such problems have helped ignite an old-fashioned run on some banks, and several have had to turn depositors away, at least temporarily, telling them to come back another day for their money."

At a time when so many seem to think continued chaos and violence isn't worthy of coverage and fall back on the (false) excuse that everything's been addressed in three year's time, Glanz proves them wrong. That's just one of the many stories the press should be (and could be) covering.

For a development not covered in Semple's article (not a slam, only so much can be covered), Martha highlights Joshua Partlow and Saad Sartlow's "Iraqi Official Warns Against Coup Attempt: Shiite Cites Rumors, Promises a Fight" (Washington Post):

A Shiite Muslim political leader said Friday that rumors were circulating of an impending coup attempt against the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and warned that "we will not allow it."
Hadi al-Amiri, a member of parliament from Iraq's most powerful political party, said in a speech in the holy city of Najaf that "some tongues" were talking about toppling Maliki's Shiite-led government and replacing it with a "national salvation government, which we call a military coup government." He did not detail the allegation.

Peace news? Oh, you know now to count on that being covered. Remember that Alaska's 172nd Stryker Brigade was supposed to be completing it's tour of duty and returning home? You better believe they and their families and friends remember that. "172nd Stryker Brigade Tour of Duty in Iraq Extended; Family Members Speak Out Against the War" (press release so it's printed in full below):

To: National Desk
Contact: Ryan Fletcher, 202-641-0277; Nancy Lessin, 617-320-5301; both for Military Families Speak Out
WASHINGTON, July 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Members of the 172nd Stryker Brigade were returning home, and Jennifer Davis, a member of
Military Families Speak Out from Anchorage, Alaska, was preparing for her husband's homecoming. He had served almost one year in
Iraq. She just received a call she never expected. "My husband called to let me know in the best way that he knew how, that the Army was extending his deployment four more months, mere hours before he was to board a flight home," said Ms. Davis. "I am totally frustrated, disappointed and heartbroken. Just when I thought we were going to be able to resume a 'normal' life. Just when I thought the nightmare was over, it was extended... This war should never have started, and now I'm left wondering if it will ever end. My husband and all of the troops should be brought home now."
Kathy Knowles, a member of
Military Families Speak Out from Shorewood, Illinois was preparing to celebrate her son's 25th birthday next week with him after his deployment in Iraq with the 172nd Stryker Brigade - and she too received the call that he would not be coming home. "I am devastated - I was so excited that he was returning to our soil and we could celebrate the victory that he had survived the hell of this war," said Ms. Knowles. "The president and Congress have truly let us down - returning my son and so many others to combat in a war that should never have happened."
The 172nd Stryker Brigade is one of the units scheduled to return to the United States, but is instead being extended and kept in Iraq for several more months under orders from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Despite numerous promises of progress being made and milestones being accomplished, the war in Iraq is once again about "taking Baghdad." As the violence continues to escalate, fueled by the ongoing U.S. military occupation, the burden of the failures of this administration is again falling on the troops who have given so much and the families back home who love them.
Ms. Davis and Ms. Knowles are available for interview, to speak about the damage to families and to the troops that is being done by the war in Iraq and by the unscheduled extensions of service.
For further information, visit:

There's also news on the Troops Home Fast, Lucy notes this e-mail from CODEPINK:

We have exciting news to share with you today! After being rebuffed in our numerous attempts to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, including setting up "Camp Al-Maliki" across from the Iraqi Embassy and publishing an open letter to him in one of the largest Iraqi newspapers, we received an amazing invitation: Five members of the Iraqi Parliament who are working on a Reconciliation Plan to end the violence in their country contacted us. Moved by the commitment of the long-term fasters and dismayed by their prime minister’s refusal to meet with us, these parliamentarians asked us to join them in Amman, Jordan next week to discuss their Reconciliation Plan, on condition that we break our long-term fast with them!
We are thrilled. It will be such a breakthrough for the US peace movement to be working directly with Iraqi peacemakers, and what better way to break our fast than with members of the Iraqi government seeking an end to the violence. So next week, we’ll be on our way to Jordan. In addition to a group of long-term fasters, we are inviting Congresspeople, academics, and notable journalists to join us.
This marks a big turning point in the fast, yet we know that we have a long way to go towards bringing the 140,000 US servicemen and women home from Iraq. We strongly encourage our local fasters to continue to do weekly or ongoing fasts, and to make your fasts public by holding actions outside Congressional offices and calling the media.
Click here for info about getting involved in the fast locally. We plan to continue the Troops Home Fast campaign as energy builds towards the International Day of Peace, September 21, when Declaration of Peace events will begin around the country.
The news about the invitation to meet with the Iraqi Parliamentarians comes on the heels of an exhilarating week of actions at our DC fast: Faster and CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin spoke up during al-Maliki's address to Congress on Wednesday, saying loudly and repeatedly, "Iraqis want the troops to leave, bring them home now! Listen to the Iraqis!" Medea was cuffed, removed from the Capitol and arrested. Read about this action and see video clips and photos by clicking here.
Yesterday, Thursday, July 27, two hunger strikers, Gael Murphy and Eve Tetaz, interrupted the long overdue Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on John Bolton’s nomination as US Ambassador to the U.N. They wore t-shirts saying "No Bolton" and
urged Senators to reject Bolton as the worst possible choice for the job and for world peace. And today, when George Bush is visited by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, we’ll be there to greet them in true anti-war fashion.Diane Wilson and other long term fasters are outside the White House each day; see the photos, read the blogs, hear a song written and sung by long-term faster Jesse Dyen, and check out what our local groups are doing.
We thank you for your support of the fast, and for this historic opportunity to link with Iraqi leaders who have a plan to make peace a reality.

Hungry but hopeful,
Anedra, Allison, Dana, Erin, Farida, Gael, Jodie, Katie, Laura, Medea, Meredith, Nancy, Rae, Sam & Tiffany

The fast continues. Anyone can pick up a one-day fast. (Or pick up another one-day fast.)
I was going off the first (which is any day now) but I'm going to do it one more week. I'm not recommending a longterm fast for anyone. If you're doing that, you're doing it because you want to, not because anyone's urging it on you. I do think, for most people, a one-day fast is an option. If I go off the Monday after next, I'll pick up the one-day a week. The news above is news and a sign of progress. But Diane Wilson remains on her strike and has stated she's staying on it until the troops come home. She's on a very strict water-only regime.

Mike and Jess are fasting each Friday until September 21st, Elaine, Sunny and Ava are doing Wednesdays and Wally's doing Mondays. Cedric's grabbed a day each week as well but I'm blanking on which day. Others doing a one-day a week fast include: Ruth, KeShawn, Molly, Liang, Charlie, Three Cool Old Guys, Portland, Eli, Brandon, Marcia, Erika and Zach. Keesha is fasting each Saturday and Sunday until September 21st. If you did a one-fast (or even attempted one) or more, Gina and Krista are planning a feature on that for next Friday's round-robin so community members should contact them. (And note, I said "others include" -- I'm tired. A full list will run in the round-robin Friday. In Polly's Brew tomorrow, I'm writing about that for my contribution and Polly's got a roundtable with members in England who are taking part. Goldie's also covering it in her column which I haven't read yet but Polly says is a must read so look for that in your inboxes tomorrow.) (And Kyle already pointed out that I forgot to do any heads up yesterday to the fact that Rebecca's wedding picture ran in yesterday's round-robin. My apologies. And that was far from the only thing I forgot to note online yesterday.)

Today in Iraq? Ryan Lenz (AP) opens his article with this paragraph:

A car packed with explosives blew up in a residential district of Kirkuk on Saturday, killing four people and injuring 13, police said. The U.S. command said three U.S. Marines died in action in western Iraq.

By the way, Semple notes that at least eight corpses were discovered yesterday and the US military announced that four marines died on Thursday (Anbar Provicne).

Yesterday two "Iraq snapshots" hit the site. One was from the day before (Ava saw it and deleted it). Members of several months or longer are aware that e-mailed posts hit the site whenever they want to. That may be an hour after they've been sent. (If they're not up within two hours, Ava, Jess, Shirley, Martha, Dallas, Eli or myself usually puts it up.) In the past, that wasn't a problem because the date was noted (via a highlight) in the entry. But when Ava told me about it happening yesterday, I realized the date wasn't being included. To avoid any confusion, I'll try to include the date at some point in the e-mailed snapshots. There are two floating out there. (Wally saw Thursday's snapshot hit yesterday and noted that he's got two posts floating around "somewhere" that didn't hit The Daily Jot this week. In the past, his have just gone missing. But if you see a 'repeat' at The Daily Jot, that's why.) (I think we have at least one from this week that didn't hit. Worth mentioning since one Thursday in the fall we had three e-mailed posts that all hit, days after the fact.)

And Billie just e-mailed to highlight Margaret Kimberley's "Groping Killer Speaks at NAACP" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

The NAACP made more headlines than usual at its recent annual convention because of one speaker. Who was that person?
1. He stole one and possibly two elections to become president of the USA
2. He was photographed sexually harassing the Chancellor of Germany
3. He sent a huge cache of weapons to a nation on the verge of invading another sovereign nation 4. All of the above
Number four is correct. George W. Bush spoke at the NAACP convention. Most presidents, including Nixon and Reagan, do that at least once during their term in office, but Bush had never seen fit to show up. This year's convention was the sixth held during the Bush presidency and the first invitation the White House accepted. Hopefully it will be the last.
It isn't really surprising that he would show up now. The Republicans are fighting to retain control of Congress this November. That is why they held their first ever Be Nice to Black People week before Bush made his splash.

[. . .]
Condi Rice had to be present of course. While the world demanded that Bush attempt to end the bloodshed brought to Lebanon and Gaza by Israel, his Secretary of State sat and gave him domestic political cover. She should have been on her way to Jerusalem, ordering the Israelis to stop their carnage. Instead they declared their intention to kill more people, telling the terrorized Lebanese to run fast, or risk being killed.

(Thank you to Billie because we're supposed to highlight Kimberley on Saturdays and I had forgotten this morning.)

The e-mail address for this site is (Ruth will go up today but I'm seeing Trina and her husband off to the airport.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue.  And, as Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) observe: "Bush's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in violence-racked Baghdad has forced commanders to extend the tours of 3,500 soldiers and appears to eliminate prospects for significant withdrawals of American forces this year."
And as the US administration prepares to extend the tours of duty of 3,5000 soldiers (who were due to leave Iraq), Hassan Abdul Zahra (AFP) reports that Abdel Azia Hakim (Shi'ite leader; head of Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) declared in a speech today that the security of Iraq should be left to Iraqis. Zahra also quotes Mahmud Mahdi al-Sumaidaie (iman and Sunni Muslim Scholars Association member) saying: "The US occupiers are responsible for what is going on with the violence and destruction -- they are the ones controlling the security file."  This as John Tully (Colonel, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade) informs reporters that in the Shi'ite section "south of Baghdad" attacks on US troops have incresed "by about 25 percent".
In another sign of how bad things are on the ground in Iraq, new "security" measures are being taken by individuals.  At the start of this month, Terry McCarthy (ABC -- America) reported on how fake identification sells for the US equivalent of ten and fifteen dollars and many Iraqis are puchasing them to reduce risk to their lives at checkpoints and noted: "Now many Iraqis carry two IDs in their pockets and will produce one or the other, depending on who is asking for it."   Now Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports a swap greater than IDs: "Fearing sectarian death squads, Iraqis are trading homes with trusted friends from the other sect, surrounding themselves with those who share their faith but creating segregated neighborhoods increasingly wary of one other."  Castaneda is reporting from Nasser Wa Salaam but notes the problem is not confined to that one location.
AFP reports  the bombing of a Shia shrine "to Imam Askar between the towns of Balad Ruz and Mandalay".  This as Reuters notes four are dead in Baghdad from a mortar attack on a Sunni mosque while a roadside bom wounded two police officers in Baquba.  AP notes that the Sunni mosque bombing in Baghdad has left nine wounded.  
And KUNA reports: "Iraqi police source added an improvised bomb exploded in one of the patrolling police vehicles on the main street of Kirkuk, while a similar attack targeted Multi-National Force (MNF) vehicle on the way to Kirkuk."
If the police source is correct, that's a new development -- bombs planted in cars of unsuspecting drivers. 
In Kirkuk, KUNA reports the shooting death of an Iraqi soldier.  In addition to that shooting, AFP also notes the Kirkuk shooting deaths ofa police officer "and a bystander"; two shot dead in Tikrit; and "a train station official" shot in Baiji. 
In addition, KUNA notes that "a security personnel from the Al-Qadisya area close to Kirkuk power statiion" was kidnapped.
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of Jake Kovco in Baghdad continues.  Australia's ABC reports that "a Lance Corporal" has informed the inquriy that Kovco was "reprimanded twice for misuing his pistol during his deployment in Iraq."  Whether or not the witness can affirm to two times should be in doubt because the second incident find the "Lance Corporal" saying he's 'aware' of it as opposed to knowing it or witnessing.  At any rate, the "Lance Corporal" has offered that Jake Kovco was reprimanded for "pointing his pistol at the torso of another soldier" which would probably be pertinent if Jake Kovco were accues of killing one of his roommates. As
"Lance Corporal" (or "Soldier Four") makes the news with his statements, Tracy Ong ( covers what everyone else seems to have missed:  "But other statements tendered yesterday were at odds with Soldier 4's recollection, many saying they had never seen Kovco playing 'quick draw' -- pulling a pistol out of its holster as quickly as possible -- or mishandling his weapons. One corporal from 3RAR said he had never had to 'pull Private Kovco up on his weapon handling'." 
On April 29th, Damien Murphy, Phillip Coorey, Ed O'Loughlin, Tom Allard and Cynthia Banaham (Sydney Morning Herald) reported: "Private Jacob Kovco grew up with guns. They were part of everyday life in his small home town of Briagolong in the Victorian high country. Come April each year, the four-wheel-drive vehicles from Melbourne would roar through the hamlet late on a Friday night on their way to bush camps in the nearby foothills for the start of the deer hunting season."
In peace news, Honolulu's KITV reports that a demonstration of support was held last night at Kalani High School for Ehren Watada -- the first commissioned military officer known to refuse deployment to Iraq. Showing their support for Watada (who faces an Article 32 hearing August 17th to determine whether or not a court martial is in order) were the Japanese American Citizen's League of Hawaii, the American Friends Service Committee "and others at the Nagasaki Peace Bell near City Hall" --
including: "Hawaii People's Fund, Code Pink Hawaii, Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait and Not in Our Name."  Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that "Watada has again offer to resign his commisson from the Army and is willing to accept any type of administrative punishment in place of court martial" including "a reprimand, fine and reduction in rank".  Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, tells Kakesako that this is the third time the offer has been made (it was refused twice prior).  Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada is due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
In The Fifth Book of Peace, Maxine Hong Kingston writes: "During war, mothers dream this dream: she -- mother -- is winged, and flies, swooping down upon the son, the brother, soldier, criminal in danger, and picks him up by the straps of his overalls or by his belt, or catches him up in her arms, and flies him high and away.  Unable to fly, she would go to the war in her son's place.  She would go ahead of him, walk point herself."
With news of the September events in DC, David Swanson (American Chronicle) reports that Camp Democracy sets up September 5th with many activities and, among many worthy goals, the intent to build "toward the International Day of Peace on September 21".  Swanson notes that Cindy Sheehan "will come to Camp Democracy following Camp Casey (Aug. 16 - Sept. 2 in Crawford Texas)". 
Sheehan is currently participating in CODEPINK's Troops Home Fast.  It is day 25 of the Troops Home Fast action with over 4,350 people fasting to the end the war all over the world.  The AP reports that Diane Wilson has thus far lost "20 pounds from her 170-pound frame" while taking part in the fast. Of fasting, Wilson states: "Ghandi always called it 'soul power' because it's got a real spiritual component to it."
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NYT: "Sergeant Tells of Plot to Kill Iraqi Detainees" (Robert F. Worth)

The mission that led to the killings started at dawn on May 9, when soldiers with the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division landed in a remote area near a former chemical plant not far from Samarra, according to legal documents and lawyers for the accused soldiers. It was the site of a suspected insurgent training camp and was considered extremely dangerous.
Just before leaving, the soldiers had been given an order to "kill all military-age men" at the site by a colonel and a captain, said Paul Bergrin and Michael Waddington, the lawyers who are disputing Sergeant Lemus's account. Military officials in Baghdad have declined to comment on whether such an order, which would have been a violation of the law of war, might have been given.
The colonel, Michael Steele, is the brigade commander. He led the 1993 mission in Somalia made famous by the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."
The two lawyers say Colonel Steele has indicated that he will not testify at the Article 32 hearing -- the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing -- or answer any questions about the case. Calls and e-mail messages to a civilian lawyer said to be representing Colonel Steele were not returned.
It is very rare for any commanding officer to refuse to testify at any stage of a court-martial proceeding, said Gary D. Solis, a former military judge and prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University.
During the raid, the soldiers discovered three Iraqi men hiding in a house, who were using women and children to shield themselves, Sergeant Lemus said in his statement. The soldiers separated out the men, blindfolded them and bound their hands with plastic "zip ties," restraints that are not as strong as the plastic flex cuffs often used in Iraq.
Then, Sergeant Lemus told investigators, his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, was told by another sergeant over the radio, "The detainees should have been killed."

The above is from Robert F. Worth's "Sergeant Tells of Plot to Kill Iraqi Detainees" in this morning's New York Times. Utilizing the sworn statement by Lemuel Lemus, Worth attempts to make sense of the events that, twice prior, were the subects of investigations that concluded there was no wrong doing in the May 9th incident that led to the deaths of three Iraqis.

The four soldiers charged currently are:

Raymond L. Girouard: premeditaed murder
William B. Hunsaker: premeditated murder
Corey R. Clagett: premeditated murder
Juston R. Graber: premeditated murder

In addition, Worth notes all four have been "charged with threatening to kill Pfc. Bradley L. Mason, one of the men in the squad."

Also in this morning's Times, Paul von Zielbaurer writes yet another lengthy riff on the Saddam Hussein trial. Possibly that's his beat but as day after day goes by when the violence in Iraq has to get squeezed into von Zielbaurer's Court-TV reporting, it's past time for the paper to to address the issue. Is the paper attempting to turn the tragedies into part of some law and order report? (Quick, phone Dick Wolf!) Is it attempting to imply associations between the trial and the chaos? Who knows?

But time and again the actual events in Iraq fail to get their own story while von Zielbaurer ticks off the day's developments. Today he includes the armed robbery that took place yesterday. He informs readers that the robbers stole "drove away with 1 billion Iraqi dinars" or "the equivalent of $650,000 from a bank's armored car." Reuters reported this event yesterday:
"Gunmen wearing military uniforms and using military vehicles attacked a cash-in-transit vehicle and stole two Iraqi billion dinars, worth around 1.3 million dollars, police sources said. "
Which is the correct figure?

At least four paragraphs are spent by von Zielbaurer on the robbery with at least ten on the court trial. That doesn't leave a great deal of time to toss out more than the wire reports on some of the violence in Baghdad yesterday.

At the very end of his article, he finally quotes someone present for the explosions:

Jassim Muhammad, who owns a carpentry shop across the street, blamed the Americans for the lack of security.
"What we have been through is by their hands, because of the bad security situation," he said, guarding his overturned Kia pickup from the young scavengers who ripped wires, gears and other parts out of the Chevrolet for resale.

Though I'm sure there's value in Muhammad's statements, the fact remains that the 'coverage' of the explosions is pretty sorry and attempts to note the horror not really making it into the article. This isn't a one day thing -- this stems from the fact that von Zielbaurer is assigned to cover the court case and is also attempting to (or being stuck with) covering everything else that day in the same article.

The horrors of yesterday are in no way properly conveyed. This isn't a one day problem, it's become a repeated problem. The paper needs to address it.

Contrast that superficial report of the violence with, Martha's highlight, Joshua Partlow and Naseer Nouri's "Blasts Hit Upscale Baghdad: Rockets, Car Bombs Kill at Least 25 in Mostly Shiite Area" (Washington Post):

Flames burst from Karrada's storefronts, windows shattered throughout the commercial streets, and police and firefighters cordoned off the area and searched for survivors. Residents said that as many as seven rockets and five car bombs struck the neighborhood. News services, citing Iraqi police officials, reported that mortars, rockets and one car bomb hit the neighborhood.
"I was in my car, with the windows up, the air conditioner and the radio on, and I heard an explosion," said resident Joni Salim, 22, a cut over his right eye and blood dripping onto his striped shirt. "I felt the ground shaking, then the sky started raining bricks and metal particles and stones."
The fusillade broke Salim's windshield and rear window. He said he bent over and put his head between his knees.
"I thought, 'That's it, I'm going to die.' "
Others did die: a woman who was crossing the street to the dentist, a mentally retarded man who was well known in the neighborhood, a calligrapher apparently buried under his collapsed office. Ibn al-Nafees Hospital in Baghdad took in 20 corpses and 65 wounded people, said hospital administrator Khadhum Attiyah. Additional casualties were sent to other hospitals. The Associated Press reported that 31 people were killed and 153 were wounded.
"This is not a life," cried Ghassan Nadeem, 35, a professor at Baghdad University. He sat outside the hospital morgue, crying and beating his car in despair over the death of his wife -- the woman who was walking to the dentist and the mother of his two young children.
Hajia Madiah Hussein was also at the hospital morgue, searching for her brother, known as Abu Rana. When she recognized him lying supine on the floor of the refrigerated room, she fell on his body.
"Close the door on us. I want to die with him," she said.
When a morgue employee tried to pull her out of the room, she resisted, yelling toward her dead brother: "Who will bear the burden?"

One article conveys the horror and the tragedy and, if anyone's is confused, it's not the running in the New York Times this morning. (And yes, von Zeilbaurer goes with only one bomb being responsible for all the deaths despite the press reports from yesterday otherwise. From yesterday's snapshot:

On the issue of witnesses feeling they heard more than one bomb, Borzou Daraghi (Los Angeles Times) notes: "Police said four of the five blasts were caused by rockets or mortars. But officials have often attributed such explosions to indirect fire, hoping to stave off blame for allowing drivers to maneuver explosives-packed vehicles past checkpoints that dot the city." (The fatality toll is raised to "at least 32" beginning with Daraghi's report.)

Stronger reporting can be found in the Times this morning via James Glanz' "Series of Woes Mar Iraq Project Hailed as Model:"

The United States is dropping Bechtel, the American construction giant, from a project to build a high-tech children's hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Basra after the project fell nearly a year behind schedule and exceeded its expected cost by as much as 150 percent.
Called the Basra Children's Hospital, the project has been consistently championed by the first lady, Laura Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and was designed to house sophisticated equipment for treating childhood cancer.
Now it becomes the latest in a series of American taxpayer-financed health projects in Iraq to face overruns, delays and cancellations. Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers canceled more than $300 million in contracts held by Parsons, another American contractor, to build and refurbish hospitals and clinics across Iraq.
American and Iraqi government officials described the move to drop Bechtel in interviews on Thursday, and Ammar al-Saffar, a deputy health minister in Baghdad, allowed a reporter to take notes on briefing papers on the subject he said he had recently been given by the State Department.

Which leads into a highlight on Iraq, Marci notes John P. Murtha's "Strengthen By Re-Deployment" (Common Dreams):

Today I would have liked to have stood before you to proclaim that due to this Administration's persistent efforts to maintain a strong United States military presence in Iraq, Iraq has finally turned the corner, progress is being made and that the overall situation is looking up.
This is not the case. Progress has not been made in key areas: unemployment is 60% nation wide and 90% in Al Anbar Province; oil production and electricity are below pre-war levels. Potable water remains in short supply, the streets are lined with trash, and the security situation on the ground has worsened.
The Army's 4th Division is currently on its second deployment in Iraq. With several months still remaining in their deployment, they have already lost nearly as many soldiers as they did during their first deployment in 2004. (76 have died thus far; 81 died during 2004).
Our military is now considered occupiers by most Iraqis.
Iraq is now in a civil war and our military is caught in the middle.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

"From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" (Elaine, Like Maria Said Paz)

Elaine's latest (in full), "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman:"

It's been an interesting week e-mail wise as various visitors rushed to spew (mainly for my comments regarding the continued armed aggression by the Israeli government). I even heard from two "names." They aren't names in my book. But surely they are names in their own mind. One's written several times with profanity filled e-mails -- apparently he knows just what wins a gal over. Another has only written once. Which will I address tonight?

Wed, 26 Jul 2006 17:45:44 EDT
whoever wrote
about Eric Alterman and Susan Sontag, is, to be blunt, full of
[s**t -- C.I. note, Alterman uses the word.].
I defended Susan up and down. I personally got the Economist to retract and apologize for their obituary in which they said she had said we got what we deserve.
Do you check anything at all you write?
I was friends with her, for god's sake.
Shame on you
Eric Alterman

What a sweet talker. We'll assume the e-mail is genuine because who, in their right mind, would pretend to be Eric Alterman?

After I was done wiping the spit off my face (lisping can be cured, Alterman), I did what I didn't want to do -- bothered friends. C.I.'s busy enough, we're all exhausted from Mexico, it's Thursday night and that means "And the war drags on," and C.I.'s been fasting since July 4th. Rebecca's on her honeymoon and the last thing she needs is me butting in. But going through the "sweet" e-mails (did AIPAC put out an alert on me) from the "tough" talking boys, although I avoided calling, I did, as I have so many times over the years, need my two best friends.

C.I. heard about it from Mike and the next thing I knew, I was walking in the front door to a ringing phone. I thank both C.I. and Rebecca for making the time.

That's friendship. That's real friendship. Eric Alterman, sadly, apparently, never had any friends. If he talks like he writes, the reason for that might be rather obvious. (Though, it is also true people might not have wanted to be near him due to the spray factor when he speaks.)

Eric Alterman, full of spit and wanting to spew.

Does Eric Alterman check anything before he writes?

That's our question for tonight.

Here's what I wrote Monday in "Sent By Earth (Alice Walker) and thoughts on the media 'coverage':"

Susan Sontag was strung in the market of public ideas by many. (I will never respect or read Eric Alterman because he joined in the Sontag bashing. Sontag's points were on the money. Alterman demonstrated he was a coward and that he would burn anyone to make sure he was "okay." He's a sell out and a creep, in my opinion, for many reasons, but the Sontag trashing is the most extreme example. When the left could defend their own, many chose to go along with the right and that -- not any election -- caused the silencing of dissent and the refusal to question the Bully Boy for so long. More than what happened on Politically Incorrect or the Dixie Chicks later, that trashing demonstrated that the bullies were out in full force and that they included the left.)

Eric Alterman e-mails:

I defended Susan up and down.

He then goes on to toot his own horn. But did he defend "Susan up and down"?

Maybe he doesn't have a good memory? Maybe his writing bores him as much as it does so many others? Regardless, in his own book, What Liberal Media (one he might consider checking facts for), he writes this sentence (page 201):

While Susan Sontag wrote a short essay in the New Yorker that many people, including myself, found objectionable for its insensitivity to the victims of the attack, she never said she opposed the war.

He found her essay "objectionable." Lord Alterman hath spoken. Hath.

Now he can lisp all the curse words he wants to at me but that doesn't change the fact that the essay that led to the Dixie Chicking of Sontag was, in fact and in print, deemed "objectionable" by Little Lord Alterman.

What a friend doth one have in Lord Alterman.

Again, if his writing reflects how he is, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that's he's struggled with the concept of friendship.

Susan Sontag wrote three paragraphs (strong ones) for The New Yorker. You can read it by clicking here.

He feels Sontag's essay was "objectionable." He's willing to participate in the feeding/dog pile because, where there is hot air, there is Eric Alterman. I found nothing objectionable in the essay. Had I written it and been attacked for it, I would consider it a real blow for a so-called 'friend' to have 'defended me up and down' by deeming it "objectionable" in print. (With friends like Alterman, who needs a lynch mob?)

Possibly he saw it as a "shout out"? Goodness knows, he doesn't mention many women in his book. He lets the false charges that Ann Coulter made against Gloria Steinem stand. Possibly he felt Coulter made these false charges "fairly"? Or maybe it's simply the case, as so much of his writing appears to demonstrate, that Lord Alterman isn't overly fond of women's accomplishments?

For those coming in late (possibly even Alterman -- he may forget a great deal or, possibly, he just pretends to), Sontag was trashed for writing those three paragraphs. The right wing attacked relentlessly. Thank goodness, I'm sure, that Sontag 'friend' Eric Alterman was there to weigh in that the essay was "objectionable."

It's a funny sort of friendship. Possibly Dionne, Elton, Gladys and Stevie can record "That's What Backstabbers Are For" in his honor?

While we wait to see if that happens, before the pampered priss writes another word (smut or psudeo-academic), he should issue a retraction for page 161 of his hideous book. That's where, writing of Al Gore, he notes:

They mocked him, fairly, I suppose, for taking advice from the high-priced feminist writer/consultant Naomi Wolf about his earth-tone wardrobe.

That is incorrect.

It was incorrect when he wrote it. It's incorrect now. It was incorrect in hardcover, it's incorrect in softcover and, no doubt, incorrect in the many landfills the book has found a home in.

If he's unclear of how wrong/false that statement is, he can do a search on "earth tones" or "Naomi Wolf" at The Daily Howler. Bob Somerby, who corrects everyone who repeats that lie, elected to play duck and cover when Alterman repeated it. But it's wrong. Alterman is wrong. Alterman, who wants to lecture me about 'friendship,' has a lie in print. Not a typo. Not a matter of opinion. A lie.

Now Bob Somerby's not the only one who has pointed out that Wolf was not advising Gore on his "wardrobe" ; however, Lord Alterman repeatedly cites The Daily Howler in his own howlingly hideous book. (The three paragraphs preceding the falsehood about Wolf each mention Somerby -- presumably, Alterman is familiar with Bob Somerby's work.) Was it just too good a sexist jab for Alterman to resist including? The way, years ago, some tried to ridicule and devalue Gloria Steinem by falsely 'reporting' that she helped George McGovern with his fashion choices?

Alterman, whom I have never -- thankfully -- met, thinks his above e-mail is the approriate way to initiate contact with a stranger. Again, he may not have had many friends growing up. Or now. Most people don't care for a weak, little, arrogant fop who spits out smut or gets his facts wrong.

He recently, and laughably, wrote "We Are The New York Times!" "We"? Maybe the position of the paper was better reflected by Gerald Boyd's dismissal and derision of Alterman's effete whine for the West Side liberals?

I avoid Alterman's writing. Glad to know he reads me -- maybe he'll learn something. Here's one hint to aid him: To have a friend, you have to be a friend.

Will he issue a correction to the falsehood that's stood in print for three years? Will he publicly apologize to Naomi Wolf?

Probably not. Instead he'll just continue to waste his time with silly little e-mails that make him appear the Junior Priss of the "Left"? What we can count on is that he will continue to provide hoots and laughter. My guess is he's probably been doing that all of his life.

In the end, Alterman's upset and isn't that what really matters?

Possibly his professional writing is so poor because he's too busy selecting profanties for his e-mails? (For a supposed writer, he appears to have a very small word pool to dip into.)

Unlike C.I., I don't have a policy on e-mails. If someone wants to say something, they can do so publicly.

The Cindy Brady of the faux left learned a swear word and wanted to share it with me. I found it so hilarious I had to share it with my readers.

Rebecca's covered him many times but the one I enjoyed the most was "eric alterman is disgusting - who will save women from him?" and I'd also recommend The Third Estate Sunday Review's ""When Poodles Snarl." Lord Alterman's big on slamming people for disclosures (not for failure to disclose but, as others have pointed out, for disclosing) so let me note that I helped with the writing of the latter piece.

Alterman's writing? The headline of his recent "We Are The New York Times!" says it all. In his mind, he's identifying up. Or possibly it's just a sign of that sad trait -- curse of the unpopular? -- which Alexander Cockburn has written of: Alterman loves to suck up.

Regardless, he has once again provided hours of laughter. Thank goodness, he's so willing to play the fool -- again and again -- because the world can use more laughter.

Thank you to C.I. and Rebecca who helped with this entry in every way possible. Somewhere around the 50th e-mail today (really, did AIPAC put out an alert on me?), I lost my sense of humor. Rebecca was there tonight to point out how nice it is that two professional writers (or "writers") read me. Especially since I don't read them. (I stopped reading Alterman long ago.) As C.I.'s said before, "It's always nice to be read."

But, considering the way Lord Alterman embarrassed himself on air with Janeane Garofalo, a frightening thought formed in my mind: Did he consider his e-mail a form of courtship?

If that is in any way possible, let me explain to him that the high school homecoming queen doesn't generally date the eighth grader -- the dirty fingernailed, acne-ridden, chin-challenged, potty mouthed, whining weakling -- with stains on his clothes and a bad odor about him. For similar reasons, I find Lord Alterman repulsive as a man, laughable as a thinker, and pretty much disgusting on every level.

I really have no time for little boys trying to even their personal scores (though it was amusing to watch him and Joe Klein hiss at one another). I also have no use for his published writing which tends to skim the topics FAIR and Media Matters covered weeks prior in far greater depth.

But, in the end, the main reason I have no time for him is that I have a life.

That may not be the case for Eric Alterman.

And the war drags on . . .

Never mind the internecine Democratic politics of Connecticut and the role that ethnic, labor and local sentiments will play in deciding the primary contest between centrist Senator Joe Lieberman and liberal challenger Ned Lamont. Never mind that the contest has made Connecticut the front line in an increasingly bitter brawl involving and the liberal blogosphere on one side and the Democratic Leadership Council and a substantial contingent of the party's Washington elite on the other. Never mind that both sides spend inordinate amounts of time debating whether George W. Bush thanked Lieberman for the senator's unwavering support of the Iraq War with a slobbering kiss or merely a peck on the cheek when the two embraced at a State of the Union address.
When the votes are counted on August 8, the whole of the Connecticut primary, and much of the national debate over the direction of the Democratic Party, will be boiled down to a one-line pronouncement. It will either be "Antiwar challenger trounces Lieberman" or "Lieberman prevails over war foes." The reduction of this complex contest to a headline may not be entirely fair, or entirely accurate. Yet it will be understandable, because to the surprise of just about everyone, the man Democrats nominated for Vice President in 2000 is in a fight for his political life with a previously unknown candidate who decided a few months ago to surf the wave of anger stirred by Lieberman's emergence as the loudest Democratic defender of the occupation of Iraq.

Molly noted the above from John Nichols' "A Fight for the Party's Soul" (The Nation). Nichols is writing of some of the stakes in the Lamont-Lieberman race. Is it a referendum on the war? Possibly in one state. But the primary is also about incumbency. Unlike House districts, obviously, Senate districts aren't redrawn. So what happens when you lose a healthy portion of your state's support? You're in a race for your life. I really enjoyed Nichols' column but I know members (who will be voting in the primary and will be voting Lamont) were ready for a change before there was a challenger. I know they appreciate Lamont's stance in contrast to Lieberman but there are a wide range of issues that have led to the disenchatment with Lieberman.

(Brady has a thing on that in Sunday's Polly's Brew -- he's interviewed every registered Democrat on six blocks, including his own block in that count -- and there are some very interesting comments being made in that. There is one, only one, who support Lieberman and he's given his chance to speak as well so be sure to read that. It's been a very long week and I may forget to give another heads up.)

Lieberman's served the Bully Boy well and he's not the only one. Lloyd noted Matthew Rothschild's "Maliki Parrots Bush, Gives Scant Hope of U.S. Withdrawal" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Two other lines from his speech stood out. First was the astonishing statement that the new government is helping to "consolidate the role of women in public life as equals to men." Iraq right now actually is a "living hell" for women, according to Houzahn Mahmoud of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq. As Ruth Rosen recently noted, "The invasion and occupation of Iraq has had the effect of humiliating, endangering, and repressing Iraqi women in ways that have not been widely publicized in the mainstream media: As detainees in prisons run by Americans, they have been sexually abused and raped; as civilians, they have been kidnapped, raped, and then sometimes sold for prostitution; and as women -- and, in particular, as among the more liberated women in the Arab world -- they have increasingly disappeared from public life, many becoming shut-ins in their own homes."
Last, but perhaps most telling of all, Maliki gave a one-word timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq: "eventually."
That just doesn't cut it, not after 2,554 deaths of U.S. soldiers and the wounding of more than 18,000. Here is the passage, in its depressing entirety: "The completion of Iraq's forces forms the necessary basis for the withdrawal of multinational forces, but only then, only when Iraq's forces are fully capable will the job of the multinational forces be complete. Our Iraqi forces have accomplished much, and have gained a great deal of field experience to eventually enable them to triumph over the terrorists and to take over the security portfolio and extend peace through the country."
"Eventually" is much too long a time to wait.

On al-Maliki, to clear up questions Shirley and Martha noted were coming in at the public account (al-Maliki's been addressed at length in the gina & krista round-robin and Polly's Brew) . . . I try to avoid speaking in terms of "us" or "them" when referring to governments. I don't confuse a government with a people. al-Malike spoke in a manner where it suggested he was in Iraq. He wasn't. He left the country out of fear for his own life. That may or may not have been a wise decision, but it's an option he pulls off the table when it comes to American troops.

Can he criticize the administration? He can. He can criticize past administrations. However, you don't usually do that in the US Congress when you're asking for money. That's generally considered bad form. Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, et al are not my heroes. But I think his criticism of their decision was bad form when attempting to ask for money and, in fact, lives

(He can be rude if he wants and as rude as he wants. I didn't call for his head on a stick, I noted he was rude -- Wally made the point that the Dixie Chicks were threatened by some for far less -- which is a valid point.)

I think it was rude and I have no problem noting that it was rude. He was making a life for himself in Syria or Iran at that point. So for him to come back post-invasion and try to present himself as part of the suffering was laughable.

Wally referred to the "father-son psycho-drama" (Bully Boy and his father) and it's certainly interesting how much Bully Boy enjoys trashing his father. (His physical father.) That certianly adds another dimensions to his statements.

Reuters noted this:

"Let us not allow what happened in 1991 to repeat itself, because if it does history will not be merciful to any one of us," he said. He was referring to the Gulf War, when then-President George H.W. Bush was viewed as supportive of insurgents against Saddam Hussein, but did not lend military assistance.

He was also referring to the decision not to go into Baghdad. Again, no fan of Colin Powell or Brent Scowcroft here, but it's curious that his judgement (today anyway) is that troops should have gone into Baghdad, the capitol of a country he fled for his own safety.

It's always okay for someone else to die, apparently. It's okay for people to be bullet-fodder and cannon-fodder (and roadside bomb fodder and . . .), as long as it's other people.

He went to Congress, slammed a policy decision (one made by the Bully Boy's father) while asking for money, and said it was okay for others to continue dying. But, when it was his own butt on the line, he got out of the country and stayed out (for over two decades) until others tackled what he was too cowardly to tackle.

He's a War Hawk and, like a good many of them, he's never going to put his own butt on the line but it's okay for Iraqis, Americans, British, Australian, etc. to die. That's fine with him. And it's fine that the dying continues. I don't know how to explain it any clearer (for visitors). He sits safely in the Green Zone today, after returning when others did the work he apparently supported . . . from a safe distance. It's supposedly work he believes in. I don't think you spend over two decades in exile and let others do the work if you support it.

As for the issue of the money, I never said Lebanon didn't deserve aid. (Shirley notes in her summary that one visitor wrote, "I can't believe you're saying Lebanon can't have aid.") It does deserve aid, it needs aid. It needs the international community to step in on that and it needs the international community to speak loudly against the aggression that it's facing.

My point is, if you've got your hand asking for money, you don't turn around and start passing it around. $35 million may not seem like that much but there are many programs in the United States that would benefit from that money. To me, it's like someone asking you to loan them rent money and then it turns out that they didn't need it and spent it on something else. It doesn't matter to me what they spent it on. They said they needed it and they blew it. In Iraq right now, there are children (and adults) suffering from malnutrition. Electricity is not a 24-7 thing. Potable water is not a given. If there's $35 million extra just lying around, it needs to be spent on the people of Iraq. That's what the Congress voted on. If the government has a 'surplus' they don't need to return it to the US but they do need to spend it on improving the lives of the Iraqi people. That is the reason Congress has funded the money to begin with. If al-Maliki wants to play Diamond Jim Brady, he needs to stop asking other nations for money.

But the reality is the government doesn't have $35 million extra. To make up that $35 million, it's the people of Iraq who will again have to suffer. So before he offers his next lecture on 'tragedies,' he might try providing for the people he supposedly represents.

I think Arianna Huffington's question in "Maliki's Testy Visit: Is This What Our Troops Are Dying For?," The Huffington Post) was a good one and have no idea why others aren't asking it as well:

What more, Maliki wants to "maintain strong ties to Iran," has sided with Hezbollah in the current hostilities with Israel, and has pledged $35 million in aid to Lebanon (where is that money coming from?).

Good question and to quickly go off topic, West strongly recommends an interview Matthew Rothschild does on this week's Progressive Radio (Elizabeth DiNovella is the guest for Rothschild's interview and for those wanting a report on the election in Mexico from someone who was on the ground there, I think you'll enjoy it. I did.)

Back on topic. Jim Mannion (AFP) is reporting that 3,500 US troops set to leave Iraq shortly just got extended on their tours of duty which brings an end to hopes that Alaskans serving in the 172 Stryker Brigade would be going home. Or Robert F. Worth (New York Times) explaining the statements of Lemuel Lemus that US troops killed three Iraqi detainees May 9th. (We'll go over that tomorrow. Heath noted it in an e-mail but also noted, rightly, that there may not be a great deal of coverage on Iraq tomorrow.) This is the incident where the four accused are also accused of threatening another soldier (not Lemus) if he came forward with what allegedly happened. Since the snapshot earlier today, Reuters has reported the discovery of a corpse near Kirkuk ("bullet wounds . . . signs of torture") and two deaths -- near Kut, a translator was murdered and in Kut a drive-by shooting resulted in another death. There's a great deal going on -- every day.

And with or without coverage, the war drags on.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2558. Right now? 2570. al-Maliki flew to England and the US and the dying didn't stop. The press coverage dipped, but the dying didn't stop. The dying continues. The malnutrition continues. The chaos and the violence continue in Iraq.

Margot's highlight take a big picture look at the Middle East, noting the connections in armed aggression. From Sharon Smith's "Lebanon and the Future of the Antiwar Movment" (CounterPunch):

Israel's indiscriminate-yet thoroughly systematic-slaughter of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians should be a moment of truth for the U.S. left. The fact that "about 55 percent of all casualties at the Beirut Government University Hospital are children of 15 years or less," according to journalist Dahr Jamail, should dispel any myth that Israel's latest incursions are acts of "self defense" as Israel's many apologists claim.
The Bush administration's rush shipment last weekend of precision bombs to aid Israel's onslaught should be a wake-up call for those on the U.S. left who purport to follow antiwar principles yet until now have failed to take a clear stand against Israeli manifestations of the U.S.' so-called war on terror.
To do so requires acknowledging that the U.S.' wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were meant as mere stepping stones in a strategic plan aimed at establishing U.S.-and Israeli-dominance over the entire Middle East. With the U.S. occupation of Iraq rapidly spinning out of control and descending into bloody civil war, Israel is providing an alternate route toward achieving those shared goals-for U.S. domination over the Middle East ensures Israel's domination as well.
Look no further than the mainstream media to verify this revelation. As the Washington Post argued on July 16, "For the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say."
Realizing this goal requires crushing Arab organizations fighting for self-determination in Gaza and Lebanon.

Just as Arianna Huffington was left to ask an obvious question alone (where did the $35 million come from) Mike thinks David Corn may be left to ask a question alone, "Why Is the US in Iraq?" (The Nation):

Bush, all too obviously, has no good ideas how to navigate these shoals--which may not be navigable. After saying that more troops would be deployed to Baghdad, Bush was asked by an Iraqi reporter what could be done to improve the security situation in Baghdad. "There needs to be more forces inside Baghdad who are willing to hold people to account," he replied. "In other words if you find somebody who's kidnapping and murdering, the murderer ought to be held to account. And it ought to be clear in society that that kind of behavior is not tolerated....We ought to be saying that, if you murder, you're responsible for your actions. And I think the Iraqi people appreciate that type of attitude."
In other words, just say no to killing. That's not much of a plan. And there's not much of a role for US troops in such a plan.
Bush has led the United States into a rough thicket in Iraq. It has taken him months--perhaps years--to acknowledge the troubles there. And his inadequate description--it's "terrible"--is far more upbeat than the depictions shared by reporters and others who have come back from Iraq in recent weeks bearing depressing and ugly tales of a society falling apart.
Iraq is a mess. Bush bears much of the responsibility for that. He invaded the country supposedly to defend the United States from a threat that didn't exist. He did not ensure that there were proper plans for the post-invasion challenges. He did nothing as his national security aides bungled one key strategic post-invasion decision after another. Now he has to contend with a violent sectarian conflict that his elective war unleashed. He has, to a limited degree, acknowledged the problem. He hasn't yet admitted there may be little he can do about it.

It's an obvious question (that's not an insult to Corn). But the most obvious questions are sometimes treated like the elephant in the room. (Not like "the pink elephant in the room." Sounds like someone's struggling in their understanding of therapy and/or recovery when they make a statement like that.) And on that blind item, we turn to to the subject an out and proud War Hawk who is just saying "Give Death a Chance." Ned highlights Joseph Grosso's "Hillary's White House Ticket" (CounterPunch):

A pro-Israel rally in New York on July 17th allowed Clinton to strut her hawkishness for the camera (and continue to ignore the thousands of Palestinians rotting in Israeli jails and the fact that just about all the dead bodies in Lebanon belong to civilians). She told an excited crowd that she supported Israel with "whatever steps are necessary" to "defend" herself and that "we will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones" (she voiced a similar sentiment in May 2005 in a speech at an AIPAC conference when she lauded Israel not only as an ally, but also "a beacon of what democracy can and should mean"). While at the very least most of the international community talks of a cease fire and restraint, Clinton flexes her resolve from the safety of New York.
Clinton was joined at the rally by other New York politicians including State Attorney General hopefuls Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green- the latter referred to the captured three Israeli soldiers by saying "They are our soldiers also, they are our sons also". Of course they were joined by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel who chimed in with "Israel defends herself, and we must say to Israel 'Go on defending yourself'".
However of the above only Hillary Clinton later the same day attended a fundraiser in her honor hosted by none other than Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch hasn't been the only big time player to donate to Clinton's senatorial campaign. Itemized donations recently made public show that many brilliant socialites including Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez, Bette Midler, and Marla Maples among such others have contributed thousands of dollars. With this bizarre combination of conservative and Hollywood money is it any wonder Clinton has New York's Senate seat wrapped up? For all the recent debate over the "Israeli lobby", it seems Hillary for one wants to assure that all the bases are covered.

Why is the US still in Iraq? Another question we're not supposed to ask is how did we get there? Instead we're supposed to believe the myth of "we were all wrong" which, though equally false, is apparently less laugh inducing than Condi's "No one could have guessed" claims. Refusing to stay silent on that, Brandy's highlight, John Freeman's "Dog won't hunt: Two new books detail how, when it comes to the Bush administration, the media has no bark, no bite" (Boulder Weekly):

Although the American people did not know it, the entire Washington press corps understood that President Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq from the moment he took office. In fact, in a pre-election interview with the Houston Chronicle, Bush admitted he wanted "to be known as a war president."
So it was odd that coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other newspapers during the lead-up to the Iraq war portrayed the president as an agonized leader who was being goaded into battle with a brutal dictator who "intends not only to develop weapons of mass destruction," as David Remnick wrote in 2003, "but also to use them."
The story of how the Bush administration cooked up this marketing canard has been told and retold, but a complete picture of how the mainstream media ate it up has finally hit bookshelves. In Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, journalist Eric Boehlert details the media context in which it happened, while veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas puts the nature of this rollover in light of history in her new book, Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How it has Failed the Public.
Thomas has been working in Washington since the 1940s, when reporters had to run to pay phones to file, so she is no naif when it comes to government spin. A finer term for this art, she says is "managed news," the earliest (and most brutal) example of which was the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which made it illegal to print anything critical of the president or Congress.

Why is the US still there? How did the US get tricked in the first place? Add a third question to that: What can we do to stop the war?

We can be active. We can use our voices. We can speak out and demand that the troops come home. Lynda notes Cindy Sheehan's "Camp Casey III: The Struggle Continues" (Common Dreams):

Camp Casey is moving!
The Camp Casey Peace Movement, and the peace movement in general, will be eternally grateful to the Mattlage Family for allowing us to use their land near George's Crawford, TX ranch. They were extremely generous and courageous in allowing us to use their property when we were bursting at the seams at Camp Casey I this past August and we were also being threatened by shot gun blasts and drunken drivers plowing through our memorial. We also are grateful for being allowed to use the site for our other two subsequent Camp Caseys at Thanksgiving and at Easter especially since the Mc Clennan County Supervisors passed the ordinances suppressing our 1st Amendment rights to camp at Camp Casey I. We owe the Mattlage Family a debt of gratitude that I don't know if we will ever be able to repay! I know that their comfort, as well as ours, will be when our troops come home from the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq.
However, we have now grown out of Camp Casey II and we needed to move on to bigger property. During Camp Casey Easter, we housed a few hundred people that the site could barely contain. With our commitment to being in Crawford every time that George goes on vacation (even though he seems to be skipping out on us a lot lately) we decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George's resignation or impeachment---which we all hope is soon for the sake of the world.
Our new property is in town and literally right around the corner from the Peace House. It is a beautiful, wooded 5 acres of land that will be ideal for our expanding peace population and for hosting our growing family. We are looking forward to being good neighbors in Crawford whenever we are there and we are looking forward to having good neighbors, also.
I think the people of Crawford are beginning to understand that we come in peace and love and that we just have an issue with just one resident: George Bush. Even though we don't agree politically with many of our neighbors we hope to enjoy a cordial relationship with everyone.

Cindy Sheehan's using her voice. We can all use our own voices. We're the only thing that will stop the war. Tour's are being extended, there's no end to the war in sight if the decision is left up to them. Ann Wright said up the ante, we should all aspire to that. One way (only one way, there are many) is by taking part in CODEPINK's TROOPS HOME FAST! because you'll be amazed at how much that brings the war to the forefront of the discussions you take part in.

This is phoned in tonight. I'm on the phone with Elaine and Rebecca as we address the inane Eric Alterman. Elaine's getting ready to post and I'm putting this up now so I can hear a read through before it goes up. I've been all over the place in this entry but I firmly believe you stand by and with your friends. So while I apologize for the scattershot nature of this entry, in the same circumstances, I'd do it just the same. In a world where the Bully Boy preaches hate and fear, friends are even more important.

We won't have a better world until we take steps to make a better world in our own lives.

The e-mail address for this site is (The Eric Altermans need not bother writing. I get a summary of the visitor/public account. I've always made it a policy in my offline life not to read fan mail. Once we had the the private accounts for members as well as the public account, I largely avoided the public account. Thanks to Ava, Jess, Martha and Shirley who work the public account like crazy.)