Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kat's Korner: David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Masscre

It can happen in a moment
Sometimes it does
When what could be is
What shouldn't be was
There are times when you've got to stand steady

There are other times when you've got to be ready

Kat: So opens David Rovics' latest CD. The song is "Crashing Down." The album?

Well the title is Halliburton Boardroom Massacre but the album itself is the answer to a question and a question in and of itself.

The answer is "Here." The question answered is, "Where are the artists today commenting on the world around them?" Plays are weighing in left and right and have been for several years now. Music's lagged behind. The bravery that the success of Green Day's American Idiot should have prompted seemed to take two years to emerge. When it did this year, it was with strong albums such as Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun, Neil Young's Living With War, Ani DiFranco's Reprieve, Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire!, and a select few others. Add David Rovics' Halliburton Boardroom Masscre to the select list of art that addresses the world today ("just nuts," to steal from Isaiah).

The front of my CD displays a sticker which reads: "United For Peace and Justice will receive a donation when you purchase this CD. End all wars! Support" The back cover shows Rovics apparently getting someone in the sight of his guitar and written on his guitar is "THIS MACHINE KILLS CEOs." The song titles include "How far is it from here to Nuremberg," "Paul Wolfowitz" and more.

So my fear is that people will see it and think, "Oh, I'm not in the mood for something that heavy."

See, that's the question the album asks: Who is going to popularize these songs?

It's really easy for people to cite this song or that song by Bob Dylan and forget how easily Dylan might have been overlooked if Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary and others hadn't popularized the songs. For the diehards who think Dylan crawled on water before he learned to walk, there are a lot of amazing songwriters that you probably know, probably listen to, and wonder why more people don't grasp their geniuses?

Usually, the reason is most people haven't heard them.

Dylan's songs that we know, as a society, best tend to be the ones recorded by others. Some of us may know Dylan's version, some of us may know a cover version, some of us may know his version and a cover version or two.

But when you make a list of all the artists that have recorded Dylan over the years, or just during the years when he was making a cultural impact, you're left with a long, long list that, besides Baez and P, P & M, also includes the Byrds, Cher (Cher fans of the sixties heard a lot of Dylan on her solo albums -- she even beat the Byrds on the charts when they both covered Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do"), and so many more.

If you don't think that matters, think again. Nina Simone covering Dylan (and she did) brings in an audience who might know the song already, or not, but they are going to be humming and singing it after they hear her version. Same with the Byrds, Cher, Baez, Fairport Convention, the Hollies, Jose Feliciano, the Box Tops, Odetta, Richie Havens, Rick Nelson, Them, Johnny Winter, the Band, Judy Collins, Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin & Big Brother and the Holding Company, Waylon Jennings, Nancy Sinatra, Young Rascals, Barry McGuire, Sam Cooke, Bobby Bare, Elvis Presley, Melanie, Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder . . . That's not a complete list but all of the artists recorded Dylan before 1970.

Listening to "Song for Cindy Sheehan," I could imagine how Joan Baez would cover it. "Waiting for the Fall" made me imagine the shadings Etta James could bring to it. Bruce Springsteen could put his own stamp on "When Johnny came marching home."

None of that is to sugget that David Rovics can't sing. He can. His voice has a tone that's very appealing. But he's written an amazing collection of songs and the reality (as opposed to the myth) is that the songwriters (solo or teams) that we know are generally popularized. Laura Nyro, whose music I love and listen to, never hit the top forty. The Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night and Barbra Streisand road the charts with her songs. Ashford & Simpson have written amazing songs but even people who've never heard them perform their own songs know a version by Diana Ross or Marvin Gaye.

With Halliburton Boardroom Masscre, Rovics has created an amazing album. But I wonder how many will hear it? People who seek out music will know it and appreciate it. They'll feel they've found something wonderful (they have) and share it with friends. But I don't know that it will find the audience it warrants because this is an album that should be a main review in Rolling Stone, should make best of lists for the end of the year.

When a relative got sick and I had to go Ireland, I was working on a review of this and Ani DiFranco's Reprieve. While I was in Ireland, I figured when I got back, there would be an excitement about both albums. That hasn't been the case. Ani fans I know have flipped out over her work. But it's still the case of a friend passing it on to get the word out. With David Rovics, I've been even more bothered because when friends ask for suggestions and I mention Halliburton Boardroom Massacre, their usual response is, "What?"

Is that a group's name?

What it's had me realizing (late in the game) is that the artists we know through other artists covering their songs, the good ones, not the schmaltzy ones, generally have had a big label behind them. Dylan and Nyro had Columbia, Ashford & Simpson had Motown. The labels worked those catalogues. For every Joan Baez and Judy Collins who heard a Dylan song and felt they had to cover it, there were others who had to be strong armed.

Even the most vapid chart maker today should be able to appreciate "Life is beautiful" (the album closer). It could easily be amped up into your standard chest/breast beater that the divas of both gender trot out when they want to prove they're so much more than the beats their producers supply them with.

But the reality is that's probably not going to happen.

Maybe it doesn't have to? At his website, David Rovics provides free downloads. (You can also purchase his CDs there and Halliburton Boardroom Masscre is also available at United for Peace and Justice's website.) You get a bonus DVD of videos with the collection. (Which will be reviewed in the near future at The Third Estate Sunday Review.) So if you're reading this and thinking, "Kat, they don't have this CD at my local store and I'm not about to fork over my hard earned cash on just your say so" -- well you don't have to.

The internet's already demonstrated it can turn the same cheesy music from unknowns into songs we all get stuck hearing. Maybe the test of the free flow of information we hear so much about will be whether or not it can build a following for an artist who really deserves one?

One more time, you can hear his songs at David Rovics. Don't take my word for it, trust your own ears. The answer to the question raised by Halliburton Boardroom Masscre ("Who is going to popularize these songs?") is you.

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Last weekend was the weekend to raise awareness on war resisters called by Courage to Resist. When Rebecca wrote about how Goldie and others were making T-shirts with illustrations of war resisters on them to wear over the weekend, my granddaughter Tracey printed up some from The Third Estate Sunday Review, came to me and asked if I had any idea how to make a T-shirt transfer? My only question was, "Do we want to tie-dye them as well?"

Treva and I used to make our own T-shirts for demonstrations and, after awhile, friends would ask us to make some for them as well and joked of starting our own T-shirt business which we never did and only regretted not doing in the mid-to-late seventies when every where we turned it seemed like somebody had John Travolta or one of Charlie's Angels on their chests.

So Tracey and I ended up making a very large batch of T-shirts. We used Fruit of the Loom because, back in college, Treva and I found they worked best. They were a little thicker and tended to absorb, and keep, the colors better.

Saturday was our day of action which was a big get together in my backyard of her friends from school, my grandson's Jayson's friends from school, the members of my Friday Iraq study group, various family members and a large number of neighbors. My sons handled the grill and we planned a cookout because my group has been discussing how the awareness is just not there. One of our oldest and wisest members shot down the idea of a march because he did not feel it would lead to much but confusion. Like the country, he sees that our neighborhood has shifted against the war and felt that a social setting would be the best way to raise awareness. So we made up stickers for everyone in the group and for Tracey and Jayson which said, "Ask me about ___" and each of us had an assigned task of knowing our area. Some covered known war resisters so a sticker might read: "Ask me about Ehren Watada." Some of us covered topics such as "stop loss." We all wore the T-shirts as well and I made a mistake in estimating how popular those would be.

Tracey and I had estimated that we'd have a little over a hundred people show up plus our family. We figured, especially after the first batches of T-shirts turned out so well, that probably ten percent would be interested in a T-shirt. To be on the safe side, we made thirty extras and stuck to extra-large for size because these days the "in" thing is loose and baggy. Those went very fast and we should have made more.

But it was a very productive get togther. All of us with stickers had agreed to move around the backyard from group to group so that people could ask questions about the topic or person our sticker said "Ask me about __." For those who were new to the topic of today's war resistance within the military, the main comment was that they had no idea there were so many public war resisters.

I strongly support marches and rallies and believe we will need many of them to end the war. When the idea of a march, a spontaneous, non-permitted one, through our neighborhood was brought up, I was all for that. But I do believe this was the better suggestion, as does everyone in my study group. Ehren Watada was clearly the war resister who most people knew if they knew of anyone. Hearing the stories of Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, Camilo Mejia and others was an eye opener for many. Kyle Snyder seemed to be the one people were most fascinated by because he was touring and speaking out despite the warrant for his arrest. This was before we had learned that he had to call in to an event last Saturday after the police showed up the day prior looking for him.

If we had a war resister as our "Ask me about ___" topic, we would open with the basic story because we didn't want people to feel they were getting a lecture. Then we'd answer any questions and, after the whys and how of their public stands, the questions would usually be of a personal nature. Were they married, did have they children, how old were they, how old were they when they signed up, and things of that sort.

Those questions really brought home the interest in the issue. Yesterday, I'm told ten additional neighbors showed up for our discussion group. We meet during the morning and if only one had shown up, I would have considered last weekend's activities a success.

My original intention was to 'report' on this Tuesday or Wendesday but then C.I. called Tuesday to pass on that Rebecca was pregnant and see if I would be willing to fill in at her site, or be a backup if someone else could not fill in, if Rebecca needed it?

Of course I would.

I put the report on hold because when Treva and I did our road trip earlier this year, Rebecca filled in at the last minute when the woman who was going to watch my grandson Elijah during the day was unable to. Rebecca was also there for me at the first of November when I had a nasty cold. So for the three weeks she is in right now which are a critical period due to her history, I am going to be focusing on her. Elijah and I are going out each Monday through Friday for that period. Flyboy, Rebecca's husband, has offered to hire someone to come and clean but Rebecca hated that when they had it before and said she is too tired to go room to room "hiding." So I am helping out and showing Flyboy some basics on cooking and cleaning -- just attempting to help in any way I can.

I know from e-mails that have come in since Rebecca mentioned this at her site that a lot of community members are concerned. For those who keep wondering if Rebecca is putting on a brave face or if she really believes this will be a successful pregnancy, she really does believe this will be the one. I do as well. I was prepared to put on my own brave face the first day I was driving over. This was after I had pestered my sons and my one daughter-in-law, who is also a doctor, with questions.

Rebecca is taking it very slow and, as she put it last night, "house-bound." She is further along now then she has been in any of the past pregnancies and her doctor told her that, by itself, was a strong indication that this would be different than the past pregnancies. Right now, the goal is to get through these three weeks rested and she is doing that. She has written about being tired and I believe that is mainly because she is used to going all day so to be "house-bound" has left her more than a little bored. That, along with the natural changes your body goes through, accounts for her feeling tired.

Elaine called this morning to say she had believed me about how Rebecca was doing but seeing it yesterday, Elaine and Mike are staying with Rebecca and Flyboy this weekend, reassured her. So I want to just stress that I can understand why members would worry, I do agree with Rebecca that worry is not going to help anyone.

For the report, I will still be focusing on Iraq. If I do not have a program to note, I will focus on a topic or, possibly, an article in a newspaper or magazine. Wednesday, I caught the last half of Bay Native Circle on KPFA. I did not have time to grab a pen and paper so I am not sure of the man's name but his nephew, Marine Corporal Brett Lundstrom, died in Iraq January 7, 2006. The uncle spoke of how the war was wrong and how, when he picks up his peace pipe, he prays that the administration will be put out of power. He sees Donald Rumsfeld, the soon to be former Secretary of Defense, departing as a first step and is praying that more will as well.

He has another nephew, Eddie, who is currently in Oklahoma having returned from Iraq. Eddie has PTSD and yet will be redeployed to Iraq shortly. The uncle spoke of how the military does not care about and probably prefers anger and rage. Eddie and the now deceased Brett were "my sister's only two sons." Last January, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, there was a day in Brett's honor and this year it will fall on January 14th.

The uncle is asking other Native Americans to tell their children not to sign up with the military. He spoke of how Native Americans are still being harrassed by the federal government and specifically cited the fact that the 'solution' to the uranium issue is to attempt to store it on reservations. I would agree this is in keeping with the long pattern of abuse, harrassment and genocide of Native Americans.

Brett's uncle worries about his nephew Eddie and mourns the loss of his nephew Brett. He read a poem someone had written about Brett. He suffers, his sister, Doyla Carol Underbaggage Lundstrom, suffers and, across America, many other families are suffering and grieving.

To sell the war, Bully Boy frightened the American people with lies. Now fear and lies are used to continue it. 2007 may not be the year we end the war but it can be the year we try even harder.

The military's trying harder to continue the war. That includes the decision to court-martial
Ehren Watada in Feburary. As part of that effort, they are attempting to legally compel journalists Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify for the prosecution. Monday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, 7:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. Central and 10:00 a.m. EST, Mr. Jamail and Ms. Olson will be among the guests addressing this development.


NYT: Gordo's panting, paper plays dumb

Military planners and White House budget analysts have been asked to provide President Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 or more. The request indicates that the option of a major "surge" in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review, senior administration officials said Friday.
[. . .]
Officials said that the options being considered included the deployment of upwards of 50,000 additional troops, but that the political, training and recruiting obstacles to an increase larger than 20,000 to 30,000 troops would be prohibitive.
At present, only about 17,000 American soldiers are actively involved in the effort to secure Baghdad, so even the low end of the proposals being considered by military and budget officials could more than double the size of that force.

The above is from Michael R. Gordon and David E. Sanger's "Options Sought for Surge in U.S. Troops to Stabilize Iraq" in this morning's New York Times and you can practically see the stains at the crotch of Gordo's pants. 'Political obstacles'? That would be the will of the people which is supposed to be the dominating force in a democracy (with built in controls to deal with 'mob hysteria') but it's an aside in the world of Gordo where officials are all that matters (he suffers from both war lust and 'official hysteria'). The people speak . . . and the administration and the New York Times ignore them.

The second article on Iraq can (and will be) dismissed just by noting the title, "In Farewell, Rumsfeld Warns Weakness is 'Provocative.'" What ever gets it up for the sadist apparently. (Thereby explaining Abu Ghraib.)

And guess what? That's it. Now there are many other stories to cover. The Financial Times of London matters to cover both Rumsfled's exit (Demetri Sevastopulo) and the conference being held today in Baghdad (Steve Negus). Like Gordo and Rumsfled, the paper of record can't get it up unless it's war porn.

They also can't cover the important development. Is Alan Cowell snoozing in public again?
What will his excuse be for ignoring the development the same way he did the Downing Street Memos (a tiny aside in one report)? Dumb, ugly and useless as Pru once hailed him. The excuse with the Downing Street Memo silence, for many, was that they were waiting for the AP to pick the story up.

As noted yesterday:

Well AP has covered it.

What are we talking about? Colin Brown and Andy McSmith's (Independent of London) report on the statements that Carne Ross made to the 2004 Butler Inquiry (unsealed by parliament) that, prior to the illegal war, Iraq was known to be a nonthreat for war:

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.
In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."
Mr Ross revealed it was a commonly held view among British officials dealing with Iraq that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been "effectively contained".
He also reveals that British officials warned US diplomats that bringing down the Iraqi dictator would lead to the chaos the world has since witnessed. "I remember on several occasions the UK team stating this view in terms during our discussions with the US (who agreed)," he said.
"At the same time, we would frequently argue when the US raised the subject, that 'regime change' was inadvisable, primarily on the grounds that Iraq would collapse into chaos."

Turning to the the topic of women (which will be a lengthy bit after this excerpt), Martha notes Nancy Trejos' "Women Lose Ground in the New Iraq: Once They Were Encouraged to Study and Work; Now Life Is 'Just Like Being in Jail'" (Washington Post):

Browsing the shelves of a cosmetics store in the Karrada shopping district, Zahra Khalid felt giddy at the sight of Alberto shampoo and Miss Rose eye shadow, blusher and powder.
Before leaving her house, she had covered her body in a billowing black abaya and wrapped a black head scarf around her thick brown hair. She had asked her brother to drive. She had done all the things that a woman living in Baghdad is supposed to do these days to avoid drawing attention to herself.

It was the first time she had left home in two months.
"For a woman, it's just like being in jail," she said. "I can't go anywhere."

And that's one of the many realities for Iraqi women but it didn't start with a February bombing and anyone's who followed the issue can you tell that.

Now usually we note a program. I enjoy the hosts, I generally enjoy the guests. This week? I love Tariq Ali, Gore Vidal and Walter Mosely. I like Chris Hedges. I don't like He Who Shall Not Be Named.

The Mark Foley of the anti-war set (don't call him "left," don't call him part of the "peace movement," he's neither). Why the left continues to prop up the man CNN reported was arrested NOT ONCE BUT TWICE for attempting to arrange sexual meet ups with WHAT HE THOUGHT WERE 14-YEAR-OLD GIRLS is beyond me. He refuses to address the issue of his arrests and hides behind the "recrods are sealed" which doesn't mean he can't talk about it and doesn't mean he can't unseal those records. The gutter he drags himself out of each day stinks up everyone who gives him a platform and all the psudeo shock over Mark Foley's e-mails to 16 and 16-plus year-old males flies out the window when this creep walks in the room. We're supposed to hail him as 'pure' and 'honest' because he was busted in NOT ONE BUT TWO FBI stings so somehow that means the fact that he was trolling for fourteen-year-old girls who reportedly would then accompany him to a motel room and watch him whack off doesn't matter.

If what CNN and others reported was wrong, he could clear it up by speaking about it. He doesn't and he won't. He can't hide behind "this is a personal issue" because it's not -- grown men seeking out fourteen-year-old girls for sex is against the law. There is no "personal" to hide behind there is only creepy, disgusting and criminal.

I love Flanders but I won't be listening today. I do NOT SUPPORT the EXPLOITATION and ABUSE of women and I do not SUPPORT sexual relationships with children. The creep is repeatedly granted a platform. How low in the gutter are people willing to go?

I want to end the war too. But I'm not willing to get in bed with sexual predators to do that.

Others can have at it but they'll do so without my support.

And the damage he does long term to any movement is something no one wants to consider just like most turned away and pretended not to notice when he attempted to trash Cindy Sheehan earlier this year. He doesn't like Cindy Sheehan. Big surprise, he probably doesn't like most mothers across America because most mothers would not tell their fourteen-year-old children, "Oh, he's against the war, go to the motel with him, he's just jerking off."

But that's what the independent media says when they repeatedly give him a platform.

If he's innocenct, he should have opened the records a long time ago. "Personal matter" applies to issues such as not wanting to discuss a divorce, to not wanting to discuss a family member's sucide, etc. Public arrests are not personal matters.

And just because someone's busted (TWICE) in an FBI sting doesn't mean we accept the "I don't want to talk about it" non-explanation as an explanation.

In the public record, he has allowed it to stand that he was TWICE arrested for seeking out what he thought were fourteen-year-old girls to go to a motel room and watch him, A GROWN MAN, jerk off. He sought them out online.

As the public record reads, he thought they were 14-year-old girls but they were really some mean, nasty FBI agents. Poor baby.

If the public record is wrong, he needs to clarify it (and that means unsealing court documents). Until he does, he disgraces everyone who books him as a guest or gives him a forum.

I don't take sexual abuse lightly, I don't take child abuse lightly. What he was busted TWICE for attempting was, according to the public record (and he still refuses to address it), is the sexual abuse of a minor. I certainly won't support it but I also won't look the other way on it.

The whole thing is too disgusting and there are too many women and too many children who are the victims of sexual abuse for me to act like, "Oh, he's just coming on to talk about Iran."

Pray, pray, that no child listens to him at one of those forums, pray she's not fourteen and pray she doesn't give him her e-mail address, her i.m. address or her phone number. And if there's a third time, if there's a third arrest and maybe this time it's not an adult posing as a child to catch a sexual predator, maybe it's an actual child, everyone giving him a forum, everyone allowing a criminal to cloak himself in respectability is responsible.

Media Matters and FAIR rightly send out alerts when known racists are booked by the networks. It's past time that some on the left took a look at their own actions and while they avoid doing that, they better pray that He Who Shall Not Be Named doesn't get busted again. If he does, they're all culpable. They won't be held accountable in a court of law but they've given him a platform, they've allowed him to attempt to escape the public shame that should stick to him.

I have no patience for it. I know many other feminists don't address it because they feel the seat at the left table is always conditional (feel that way for good reason) but I really don't care. The public record says he was twice arrested for attempting to have sexual encounters with what he thought were 14-year-old girls. If the record is wrong, he could correct it in an instant by unsealing his court records. He refuses to do that. For the left, that should be the end of the story with him; however, he continues to be given a forum.

Considering that he's announced we'd be at war with Iran in the summer of 2005, in the . . . and it still hasn't come to pass, you'd think people would get tired of his excuses on that. They don't and there appears to be no fallout for booking a sexual predator.

He's an abuser. Any who still had doubts only had to watch the zeal with which he went after Cindy Sheehan. Again, I'm sure all mothers threaten him. They're the barrier between him and his lust.

If you're for adult males having sexual encounters with fourteen-year-old girls, continue giving him a forum. But as a feminist, I won't stay silent and act like that's okay. I won't bite my tongue on it or try to see the "other side."

Silence equals death and I won't enable his future victizimizations. I don't care if there's something embarrassing in the court records on another subject. When you're accused of being a sexual predator you either respond to that or you accept that the public record now reflects that's what you are. He's had approximately four years to respond and hasn't. Others can look the other way if they want, but I won't.

It's honestly surprising that for all the timidity by certain self-appointed gate keepers of the left, he continues to be offered a platform but then there's always been a double standard and it hasn't gone away.

When rape was still (wrongly) seen as something women "asked for," it took feminists speaking up and speaking out to underscore that it wasn't sex, it was violence. The same thing with spousal abuse which went from your lot in life to abuse. If others want to stay silent and enable the man the public record states TWICE sought out 14-year-old girls online for sex and was TWICE arrested for it (not in the distant past, in 2002), they can make their own peace with themselves but I won't play that game here or in my own life.

Is it okay for adult males to plan sexual encounters with fourteen-year-old girls? Running his articles, making him guests on shows says that it is. If the choices are to remain silent or risk being called some sort of a sexual prude, I'll go with the latter. It's wrong and people should stop providing him with a forum and with a pass. Quick, someone tell Ike Turner that if he'll speak out against the war, his battering of Tina Turner will be forgotten and overlooked!

I would like to believe that anyone, regardless of their crimes, could be rehabiliated. I don't mistake media gloss for rehabiliation.

On the topic of things to listen to, Rachel notes that WBAI offers the following next week (tomorrow and Monday):

Sunday, December 17, 11am-noon
Actor/author/raconteur/Green gubernatorial candidate Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, December 18, 2-3pm
Editors Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro on "Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment"; Avid Williams of the National Opera Association on the premier of H. Leslie Adams' "The Blake Suite" at the Schomberg; and feminist artist Linda Stein on her filmic run-in with "Borat." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

And the following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Korner;
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mikey Likes It!;
Like Maria Said Paz
The Daily Jot:
and Trina's
Trina's Kitchen

It's Saturday, we'll go out with an excerpt from Margaret Kimberley's "Jimmy Carter and Israel’s Apartheid" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

"I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa." -- Desmond Tutu
"It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously." -- Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi fancies herself to be a mind reader. She claims to know the thoughts of every Jewish person on earth. She simultaneously claims to know the thoughts of every Democrat in the country. The new Speaker of the House has more gifts than anyone could possibly have imagined.

Her declaration of clairvoyant ability came about because of a troublesome book that cannot be ignored. The book is troublesome because it reveals the extent of the human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians. The book can't be ignored because the author is a former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. His latest work, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, is making life hard for Pelosi, other politicians and the national media.
Carter's book tells just a little of the truth about the occupation of Palestine. The response to this truth that is freely discussed in every nation on earth -- every nation except this one -- has been ugly and savage. Carter has been called an anti-Semite, a "Jew hater." Those are the rote responses to any criticism of Israel, but rote responses are a bit problematic when the target is a former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Kat has a review going up shortly and Ruth's latest goes up this morning as well. The e-mail address for this site is

the washington post
nancy trejos

David Rovic's Halliburton Boardroom Massacre for Kat's review. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 15, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's been attacked repeatedly by the US military, the US military announces that three troops have died, the US media attempts to ignore the big Iraq story of the day, Kyle Snyder continues speaking out and Donald the Rumsfled leaves an appointed office but he does not complete a 'tour of duty.' 
Starting in England, with the big story.  Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) report that Carne Ross ("Britain's key negotiator at the UN") statement in the Butler inquiry (2004) that's only now been revealed and it exposes the lies behind the 'case' for war in England.  AFP reports that Ross declared "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."  Ross also declared that: "It was the commonly-held view among the officials dealing with Iraq that any threat had been effectively contained" (Al Jazeera).
Though Carne Ross' statements have been kept secret (swept under the 'national security' rug), Last month, he did speak to the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee and note that the intel offered to the public was "manipulated."  As Brown and McSmith note, the Commons Select Committee is the body that's brought the information public while an unidentified member of the Foreign Affairs committee states: "There was blood on the carpet over this.  I think it's pretty clear the Foreign Office used the Official Secrets Act to suppress this evidence, by hanging it like a Sword of Damacles ovre Mr Ross, but we have called their bluff."  The Irish Times declares: "British Prime Minister Tony Blair's case for attacking Iraq has been dealt a new blow with the release of once-secret evidence from a former British diplomat who dismissed the threat of weapons of mass destruction."
As the mainstream media in the US bends over backwards to note Ross' statements, many may be reminded of the Downsing Street Memos and how they were greeted with silence and then derision.  AP was the excuse many hid behind with DSM -- claiming they would have run a story if AP had covered it -- if only a wire story . . .  Well AP has covered it.
Turning to peace news, Alex Zdan (Trenton Times) notes Tuesday speech Carolyn Ho, mother of  Ehren Watada, gave to the Nassau Presbyterian Church where she described how her son became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq ("In studying all the literature, he was stunned by what he saw") which included refusing to accept a "desk job" in Iraq.  On last RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Carolyn Ho explained that the refusal was for himself as well as those serving under him, "He felt the best thing he could do for his men was to remain behind and speak truth."  She is asking for everyone to contact their members of Congress and put pressure on Congress to carry out their oversight role.  Monday, Carolyn Ho appeared on Democracy Now! and discussed her own progress when meeting with members of Congress. Outside of Maxine Waters, not much.  So those who haven't contacted their Congress members should considering doing so.
Ehren Watada, as Aaron Glantz (IPS) reported, is also the subject of subpoenaes -- the US military is attempting to compell three journalists to testify in court: Sarah Olson, Dahr Jamail, and Gregg Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin).  Jason Leopold (Truthout) notes that Olson is "one of few reporters covering the anti-war movement and the voices of dissent" and that she has not decided yet how to respond to the subpoena -- Sarah Olson:  "Once you involve a reporter in prosecution, you turn that reporter into the investigative arm of the government."
Another US war resister continues speaking out: Kyle Snyder  Washington's Bellingham Herald notes an appearence at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.  Last weekend, at a speaking appearance, police showed up.  Snyder continues speaking out.
Watada and Snyder are part of a movement of resistance within the military that includes
Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
As Aileen Alfandary noted on KPFA. this morning ( The Morning Show), two car bombs went off outside US bases in Ramadi.
Qais al-Bashir (AP) reports that Muhsin al-Kanan, a cleric who was tight with British forces, was shot dead in Basra and that a civilian was shot dead in Kut.  Reuters reports that "a member of the Iraqi intelligence agency" was shot dead in Diwaniya as was an oil company guard.
Reuters cites hospital sources in Mosul having received 13 bodies today.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Red Crescent states it's the target of US forces.  Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters) reports that that the IRC states there has been "a spate of attacks on its offices over the last three years" and in the most recently, according the the IRC's vice president (Jamal Al Karbouli), about a week ago, "US forces had occupied and nearly destroyed its Falluja office, held staff for hours, and burned two cars clearly marked with its neutral symbol."  CBS and AP report: "'We have flags, we have everything, we have (the) logo, so they (U.S. forces) know everything, but unfortunately they come again and attack us many times,' Al-Karbouli said. He complained that U.S. forces broke doors and windows at the Red Crescent headquarters "and they didn't find anything, and they left.'"
Today, the US military announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5
and one Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Thursday from wounds
sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."  The US military also announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team,
1st Cavalry Division, died Tuesday as a result of enemy fire while conducting operations
in Ninewa Province.  Two other Soldiers were wounded and transported to a Coalition Forces’ medical treatment facility."
Tomorrow is the first of two 'big meets' for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki.  KUNA reports that he "will convene another National Reconciliation Conference for political leaders from across Iraq."  While he gears up for his conference, Jawad al-Bolani is in Syria apparently not overly concerned with the opinions of US Secretary of State Condi RiceKUNA reports the Interior Minister of Iraq is there "to discuss security issues as the first Iraqi official to visit Damascus since diplomatic relations were resumed between the two neighboring countries."  This comes at a time when Tareg al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's vice-presidents, is in the US and criticizing Bully Boy's 'plan'  Al Jazeera quotes him saying: "Imagine one day waking up and finding out that your nation's leaders had completely dismantled all police and military.  As a result, there is no one policeman, or state, or federal law enforcement agent, or even one national guard or any soldier to protect you from criminal elements, or terrorists.  It will be total chaos.  Then imagine that instead of calling back the army and security forces, the authorities in this imaginary scenario decided to form a new army and police from racist militias, some mercenaries and organized crime gangs. . . . This is exactly what has happened in Iraq."
In a lengthy talk/performance with the Washington Post editorial board, Condi Rice attempted to buff her image a bit but mainly demonstrated (yet again) that even her fabled 'expertise' in Russia/the Soviet Union is inflated.  The take away should be Rice's declaration, "I find Prime Minister Maliki a strong man."  A statement so laughable it begs for a remix and one that will come back to haunt her.
In other things that should haunt, Donald the Rumsfled began a three-day farewell while most Americans wonder, "I thought he'd left already."  Today it was time to 'salute' him and watch for the media that makes (at best) an idiot of itself or (at worst) spits on democracy by referring to the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense's 'tour of duty.'  The Rumsfled was a civilian.  Civilians are in charge of the military in the US.  He did not complete a 'tour of duty' but fools and those with no respect for democracy will repeat the nonsense.  Roger Runningen and Brendan Murray (Bloomberg News) note this remark by the Bully Boy: "He spoke straight.  It was easy to understand him."  File it away from the future War Crimes Tribunal should Bully Boy attempt to say he was confused what was being discussed.

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SAN FRANCISCO, California, Dec 14 (IPS) - The U.S. military subpoenaed an independent journalist Thursday, demanding she testify as a witness for the prosecution of First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to be court-marshaled for refusing to serve in Iraq.
"This morning at 8:45 someone came to my house and delivered a subpoena," Sarah Olson, an Oakland, California-based journalist, told IPS. "It's absolutely outrageous. It's a journalist's job to report the news. It is not a journalist's job to testify against their own sources."
Olson interviewed Watada in late May 2006, a few weeks before he formally refused to deploy to Iraq. In the interview, the first lieutenant explained his decision.
"I started asking, why are we dying?" he said. "Why are we losing limbs? For what? I listened to the president and his deputies say we were fighting for democracy; we were fighting for a better Iraq. I just started to think about those things. Are those things the real reasons why we are there, the real reasons we were dying? But I felt there was nothing to be done, and this administration was just continually violating the law to serve their purpose, and there was nothing to stop them."
As a result of his public comments, Watada was charged not only for refusing to deploy, but also for "contempt toward officials" and "conduct unbecoming of an officer".
His court-marshal is scheduled to take place in February at Fort Lewis, Washington. The military has also approached at least two other reporters, independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who reports for Inter Press Service, and a reporter with the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

The above is from Aaron Glantz' "Reporter Summoned to Testify Against War Resister" (IPS). For those in need of a scorecard, you see no summons for independent media print division. They must be so proud. (LeftTurn printed the Sarah Olson interview with Ehren Watada. They are the only ones who ran a print article on Ehren Watada.)

Regarding the last entry, that's your teaser for what's coming up Sunday.

Two car bombs have gone off in Ramadi, Aileen Alfandary noted in a news break, before the first broadcast of Democracy Now!, today on KPFA. On that note, we'll note Amy Goodman's "Ask Kissinger about Pinochet's regime" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer):

As the world marked International Human Rights Day, one of the century's most notorious dictators, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, died under house arrest in Chile at the age of 91. His 17-year reign left a deep scar on Chilean society. Yet Pinochet's legacy includes an ironic upside: His regime and the U.S. support for it galvanized the modern-day international human rights movement.
On Sept. 11, 2001, as the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, on our daily broadcast of "Democracy Now!," we were looking at the connection between terrorism and Sept. 11, 1973. It was on that day that the democratically elected government of Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a violent coup, and the forces of Pinochet rose to power. The coup was supported by the U.S. government. Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and U.S. secretary of state, summed up the policy this way:
"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
As Pinochet seized power, first among the dead was the president himself, Allende. Then there were the thousands rounded up. Among them was Victor Jara, the legendary Chilean folk singer. Jara was beaten, tortured, then executed. His body was dumped on a Santiago street and found by his wife in the morgue.
Charles Horman was a U.S. journalist working in Chile. He, too, disappeared in those days following the coup. His body was found buried in a cement wall. His story was immortalized in the Academy Award-winning Constantin Costa-Gavras film "Missing." His widow, Joyce Horman, sued not only Pinochet for the death of her husband but also Kissinger and others at the U.S. State Department.
Pinochet's reign of terrorism extended beyond Chile's borders. On Sept. 21, 1976, the former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and his American colleague, Ronni Moffit, died in a car bombing, not in Chile, but on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the broadcast Goodman notes, also check out this one with Peter Kornbluh.

And we'll close by noting James Glanz' "Bitter Detour for Expatriate Back in Iraq" (New York Times):

Of all the Iraqi expatriates who returned to rule, rebuild and profit from their country after the invasion, none have fallen as far as Aiham Alsammarae, who was once the minister of electricity but now spends his days consumed with bitterness in a Baghdad jail as his lawyers fight multiple charges of corruption against him.
Mr. Alsammarae, an American citizen who lived in the Chicago area and built a thriving engineering firm there, is the only cabinet-level Iraqi official to be convicted and jailed for misusing money during his time in office. Four months ago, hearing that he was being accused of corruption, he walked into a Baghdad courthouse to find out if there were charges against him and was astonished to find himself placed under arrest pending trial. He has been in jail ever since.
During an interview in that jail on Thursday, Mr. Alsammarae still had the swept-back, perfectly arranged hair and obsessively polished shoes of his days in power, but he wore a shapeless zippered jacket over a beige shirt and pants rather than one of his elegant suits. Possibly in deference to his former rank, his "cell" was a converted office with a computer, a refrigerator, a potted plant, a thin mattress and other amenities -- far better than what is provided to other prisoners in the jail.
But Mr. Alsammarae is bitter because, he said, the United States has left him in his hour of need to the vagaries of an Iraqi court system that in many ways is still the opaque and frightening apparatus it was before the invasion. "When somebody is giving his life to service as an American here, he should be dealt with in a different way," he said, complaining of what he called a lack of action by the American Embassy. "If they did anything for me, I am not aware of it."

Realities? The realities include that another American is facing the death penalty (for 'evidence' not presented in an open court -- presented by American 'officials'), the realities should include that a citizen of any nation is not a minister in the government of another, and the reason he's behind bars when others aren't may include the reality that Alsammarae was in talks with the resistance in the summer of 2005 and that, more than anything else, is probably why he's behind bars today. [ADDED: Some confusion over the last remark in e-mails. Talks with the resistance -- largely Sunni -- do not fly in the government of the current puppet. Nor do any overtures to Sunnis fit into Nouri al-Maliki's government.]

Micah notes:

Amy Goodman on "Washington Journal" [this morning]:
*Amy Goodman and David Goodman will be guests on "Washington Journal" withhost Brian Lamb on C-SPAN tomorrow (Friday, December 15) from 9:00-10:00a.m. EST. It is a call-in show.

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NYT: John McCain flaps his War Hawk wings again

They stood shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, palms shielding flickering candles. They were silent as the Rev. Bob Moore read out the names: "Dennis W. Zillinski, Freehold ...Carl Jerome Ware Jr., Glassboro ..."
A bell ring followed the reading of each name of the 50 New Jersey residents who have been killed serving in Iraq.
As a Christmas tree in Palmer Square gleamed a few hundred yards behind the protesters, a man talking on a cell phone flashed a thumbs-up; a white-bearded man walked by, mumbling about "safety." But most people deftly threaded their way between Moore and the line of people without a word or a glance.
Moore and the 25 members of the Coalition for Peace Action who joined him were demanding an end to the bloodshed and an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, but their protest was hardly enough competition for a holiday sale or a cup of eggnog in a warm tavern.
Moore was undaunted. "When a mistake has been made, we need to repent of it," he said. "We've lost enough. The Iraqis have lost enough."

The above, noted by Erika, is from Alex Zdan's "Give peace a chance, pacifists urge: Princeton coalition calls for end to Iraq war" (Trenton Times). Give peace a chance? Not likely for the War Hawks. Attempting to grab the wheel from the Bully Boy and hit the gas pedal to ensure not just that the country go over the cliff but that it does so quickly, John McCain. From John F. Burns' "Military Considers Sending as Many as 35,000 More U.S. Troops to Iraq, McCain Says" in this morning's New York Times:

Senator John McCain said Thursday that American military commanders were discussing the possibility of adding as many as 10 more combat brigades -- a maximum of about 35,000 troops -- to "bring the situation under control" while Iraq's divided political leaders seek solutions to the worsening bloodshed here.
After talks in Baghdad with Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and other top American generals, Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, said a substantial United States troop increase was one of the strategy changes the generals were considering as they reviewed what he called "a steadily deteriorating situation."
He said meetings with Iraqi government leaders showed that they, too, "have certainly not ruled out the option of more troops."
"Five to 10 additional brigades is what is being discussed," Mr. McCain said, outlining an increase that could bring overall American troop strength to the highest levels since the invasion in March 2003. While American combat brigades vary, Pentagon officials say they average about 3,500 soldiers. At present, there are 15 combat brigades in Iraq, amounting to about 50,000 of the total American force of about 140,000.
"The American people are disappointed and frustrated with the Iraq war, but they want us to succeed if there is any way to do that," Mr. McCain told a news conference. Unlike some American military commanders who have said any troop increase should be temporary, he said any increase should last "until we can get the situation under control, or until it becomes clear that we can't."

No, McCain, that's not what the polling's reflected for some time. Most Americans feel it was a boneheaded mistake to start an illegal war of choice. Senator Bonehead is, as usual, out of step with the American people and more interested in selling war than in listening to the people. He can repeat his nonsense over and over and it can go into papers and over airwaves without being questioned but it's not reality.

Some may mistake it for that. Some may rush to hide behind or cheerlead the generals. Did someone say Michael R. Gordon? Gordo and Thom Shanker contribute "Top Commanders Appear Set to Urge Larger U.S. Military:"

The review of Iraq policy by senior commanders appears to be headed toward a recommendation to increase the size of the American military, both to sustain a long-term commitment in Iraq and to leave the United States better positioned to deal with potential adversaries, in particular Iran and North Korea, Pentagon and military officials said Thursday.
[. . .]
Officials who took part in the session or who were briefed on it would not give specific figures that were being discussed for growth goals. But their descriptions revealed a broad conclusion that has received increasing support in Washington: that regardless of the exact shape of President Bush's new strategy on Iraq, the Army and Marine Corps are stretched thin by their commitments around the globe, in particular in Iraq.

Gordo's too modest. Support from Washington?

Support for this doesn't come from the people but it does come from the War Hawks and from those who have spent 2006 demonstrating repeatedly just how useless they can be. Refusing to address the war, hiding behind generals, go down the list. And anyone who thinks that means "mainstream press" has been comatose for most of the year and missed the majority of the cover stories coming from The Nation.

The war's not ending. Not only that, now it's very likely more US troops will be sent over. You can thank people who have made themselves useless repeatedly in 2006. Maybe they wanted to ha-ha it with talk of the Oscars (they don't grasp the process and let's hope it was humor that allowed them to 'simplify' 2000's election and not an honest reflection of their grasp on reality).
Maybe they needed to be the last word in food. Or maybe they just wanted to give one more "F.U." to the readers? (The song Mike's referring to is Jackson Browne's "Shaky Town.") What they didn't want to do, repeatedly, was address the war in a serious manner that provided them with no cover to hide behind.

If the skirmish in 2005 resulted from a desire to nag, nag has been giving up, now they just flip the bird while asking that people pay to be flipped off.

We'll close with reality, noted by Martha, from Sudrarsan Raghavan's "Gunmen Kidnap Baghdad Shopkeepers, Bystanders" (Washington Post):

Hardly a soul stirred on Thursday afternoon inside the warren of narrow dark alleys and side streets in Sanak, one of the Iraqi capital's busiest commercial districts. Shop after shop remained closed, their steel doors sealed with thick padlocks. Empty stalls, flanked by apartments filled with cowering residents, served as a silent coda to what had unfolded two hours earlier.
Gunmen in camouflage uniforms drove up in 11 cars at about 10 a.m. and surrounded the area, just around the corner from an Iraqi police checkpoint, witnesses said. Some wore black ski masks, others black bandannas. They casually went from business to business, spending 30 minutes rounding up at least 25 shopkeepers, witnesses said. The men hustled their captives past the stalls and stunned customers, grabbing a few bystanders along the way.

"They took Sunnis, Shiites and Christians," said Ziad Ali, one of the shopkeepers. "They did not differentiate. They even grabbed six boys."
The mass abductions, brazen even by Baghdad standards, were the latest sign of worsening insecurity in the capital.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

I've been going through the e-mails for an hour and a half and they're two groups: one complaining about how little there is to even suggest for a highlight and others containing highlights we won't note.

On the latter, someone who cheerleaded the war now works for elsewhere and he seems to think his remarks in editorial board meetings are unknown or forgotten. That's not the case here. I know damn well what he did from the sole person opposed to the war in real time, when it mattered, on the editorial board. He's written a lovely puff piece to some Republicans and going after other Republicans and I'm guessing his own political affiliation is unknown which is why his lousy piece of writing (which is actually to recast the illegal war if you read it closely) is featured at a left site. I've explained to members with highlights why those aren't going up here and that includes kinda-con who realizes that the American people are against the war so now he attempts to recast himself.

The other problem is a constant -- if someone's actually talking Iraq (or think they are), they're boring us with the James Baker Circle Jerk. A visitor actually sent in a strong piece on that, outlining all that is wrong with what the Circle Jerk produced. And I know the writer and I like the writer as a person, activist and writer.

If that had showed up last week, it would have made it into a snapshot. But on Sunday, we went out with Russ Feingold's criticism of the Circle Jerk. We're done with it. The fact that so many members are complaining about how Iraq's falling apart and writers are still writing those articles (dopey ones -- "There's a silver lining to the report . . ." -- or maybe multiple linings) demonstrate that the decision was the right one to make.

We only have the power we use. We can trash it, we can trash it by highlighting a kinda-con bully who couldn't handle that, on an entire editorial board one person, one person, was opposed to the march to illegal war -- that it unhinged kinda-con so badly he not only had a scream-fest, he also started throwing things. He doesn't fit with our politics (even with the recasting he's attempting) and, even if he did, we wouldn't highlight him.

I really am sorry about the writer the visitor found. Had it come as late as Sunday, we would have gone out with Feingold and the writer both. They would have both had the last word on the matter. But you take a stand or you don't. Sunday, I stopped the entry to talk to Ava, Jess, Jim, Dona and Ty. Jim asked, "So if Robin Morgan, Tom Hayden, Alice Walker and Naomi Klein wrote an article together on the Circle Jerk, it still wouldn't get highlighted?" No. And with those four we could wait and find other things to highlight. But the person in question does more activism and other things and doesn't write op-eds very often. So it pains me that we can't highlight him. But the decision was made and the community supports it -- and we're standing by it.

Could we do an entry without any highlights? Yes, we could and I was prepared to do so but a number of members responded to the e-mails explaining why something couldn't be highlighted by digging for something more.

Lyle was one of the members who had suggested the kinda-con (think of him as "Ye Shall Know Him By Those Who Praise Him"). Lyle e-mailed another highlight we can use, Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Dawdles for a Reason" (The Progressive):

With every day a wasting, with the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq now standing at 2,920 and climbing, Bush is dawdling.
[. . .]
My bet is that he's postponed his big speech till after the holidays because he doesn't want to dampen this season of cheer by announcing that he's planning on upping the troop levels.
Only 12 percent of the American people are in favor of that, according to an LA Times/Bloomberg poll this week.
But Bush and Cheney don't care what the American people want.
As Cheney said, right before the election, "It may not be popular with the public--it doesn't matter."

"It doesn't matter." Rothschild's nailed the reason the war continues and will continue for some time more. Iraqis don't matter. US troops don't matter. Public opinion doesn't matter. The public doesn't matter. The deaths don't matter.

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 number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 2921. Tonight? 2938. 17 more since last week and panning a laughable report because it's an easy topic to write about and you want to flash your 'bipartisanship' (talk about indecent exposure) doesn't end the illegal war. It does provide the cover.

It's nonsense. It's not ending the war and it's not intended to.

Maybe Bully Boy can find 'resolve' in the fact that Latvia just decided to stay in Iraq for another year? Xinhau reports that they will continue their number of troops in the country: 125. Maybe John McCain and Joe Lieberman can stop off in Latvia and ask them to send 15,000 - 30,000 additional troops?

Every one of the jaw boners tries to pan for the 'negotiation' invention! It must be a new invention, negotiation, the way they're all so taken with it. The reality is negotiations have gone on and the US has walked away repeatedly -- which, for those who do remember Vietnam, indicates that it's just going through the motions. (Kind of like the sappy report.) With one example of previous negotiations, Lynda notes Gareth Porter's "U.S. Weighed Sunni Offer to "Clean Up" Militias" (IPS):

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated with Sunni armed groups for several weeks earlier this year on an agreement that would have supported Sunni forces in attacking pro-Iranian Shiite militias, according to accounts given by commanders of armed Sunni resistance organisations.
The revelations of the intensive U.S.-Sunni negotiations, reported by Hala Jaber in the Sunday Times of London Dec. 10, are consistent with an account of those negotiations provided by a Sunni participant last May in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
But the new accounts make it clear for the first time that the main objective of the talks was to explore possible U.S. support for building a Sunni military force directed primarily against Shiites in Iraq.
The Bush administration never responded to the Sunni offer and resumed its support in April 2006 for fielding an almost exclusively Shiite and Kurdish army and paramilitary forces to suppress the Sunni resistance. The decision against any accommodation with the Sunni organisations made it virtually impossible for the United States to curb the rising tide of sectarian Shiite killings of Sunni civilians and the open sectarian civil war that has followed.
In the talks, the Sunnis assured the ambassador that the Sunni insurgents had sufficient manpower and knowledge to deal successfully with the problem of Shiite militias in Baghdad, which Khalilzad had begun to recognise as a serious policy problem for the Bush administration. "If he would just provide us with the weapons, we would clean up the city and regain control of Baghdad in 30 days," one insurgent leader was quoted as saying.
The Sunni participants did not refer to potential cooperation against al Qaeda in Iraq and other jihadist terrorist networks in Iraq, but the organisations involved had parted ways with al Qaeda on central issues and some insurgent leaders had reportedly offered in late 2005 to turn al Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al Zarqawi over to the Iraqi government as part of a broader peace agreement.
The negotiations between Khalilzad and Sunni insurgents were said by the Sunni leaders to have been brokered by former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, at Khalilzad's request. Allawi apparently convinced Sunni resistance leaders that they could find common ground with the United States over Iranian influence in the country, which was exercised through Shiite political parties and militias. Allawi established his bona fides with the Sunni resistance on the Iranian threat to Iraq by having his defence minister refer to the main Shiite list in the first parliamentary elections as the "Iranian list".

See, there is a great deal worthy of attention -- possibly some are too taken with White officials or maybe it's xenophobia or a desire to appear 'respectable'? Who knows?

Caitlen (a visitor who said to use her first name) wanted to know why Dennis Kucinich has now appeared in two snapshots this week? Caitlen feels that I've violated my principle not to endorse. I haven't endorsed anyone. Kucinich is addressing the war. He was in the snapshots before because of that. Since his campaign doesn't run from the war, he'll probably be noted in the snapshots for some time to come. That would be true of anyone. And we noted Tom Vilsack
in the snapshot when he had something to say about Iraq. (It was a slow day in terms of news. I quoted Vilsack, I didn't offer a comment on his statement. Read the statement and you'll see why.) If Kucinich has something to say (and I'm aware of it), he'll make the snapshot that day.

Expect to see more of him. I'm not endorsing anyone but he'll probably make the snapshot more than many others because the majority flirting with going for the 2008 nomination are not people who make brave statements. 'Rock Star' Obama? I wasn't impressed when I met him in 2004 and said, "He's only speaking this way because he has an opponent." When he didn't have a real one, he began back pedaling. He's continued to do so. He's the Jerry Bruckheimer of candidates -- Feel Good statements so you can Feel Good about Feeling Good. Short of a spine transplant, don't expect to see the 'Rock Star' quoted in the snapshot.

At this point he's merely a distraction as is all the talk of 'hopefuls.' For all the carping that certain candidates should have dropped out during the last cycle (Kucinich was targeted with that), this nonsense of "HE MAY RUN!" eats up more time than anything. It's gas baggery. And offers nothing. Unlike the candidates being urged to drop out in 2003 and 2004 -- who were actually offering (or trying to) something to the debate. ("Trying to" only because they weren't covered as candidates in 2004 because the press was too busy gas bagging and handicapping a horse race.)

Caitlen says that I supported Kucinich in 2004 and now I'm doing the same "all over again!" First, this site wasn't up then and, other than e-mails and reading, I didn't do anything online in 2004. Second, I've stated I supported John Kerry in 2004. Actually, I've stated I supported the campaign beginning in March 2003. And March 2007 is probably when I'll make some decision. Kucinich has been in the snapshots because he addresses the war. John Kerry, making the same statements he made up to 2004, wouldn't be. That's not addressing the war. It really wasn't at the time. Had the convention speech (recently misquoted in The Nation) been given earlier, I would have went with another candidate. We were supposed to see echoes of John Kennedy but it seemed to me to harken to John-John (the salute). I didn't care for the majority of the convention speeches. I felt war was being glorified.

Nor did I look at the 2006 election and think, "Thank God the vets are coming in to save us!" because military service is not a pre-requiste for public office in the United States and it seemed like a nice way to avoid the issue while hiding (as one candidate Amy Goodman interviewed this week demonstrated -- attempted to have it both ways -- vote for me because I served but I have no plans for addressing the war). A real candidate uplifts, not by providing cover to hide behind, but by inspiring. I also wasn't one of the ones fretting about military ballots in the 2000 election. If you're going to impose the rules, you impose them on everyone. There was one excuse after another for why they should be counted (and of course Joe Lieberman destroyed the Gore campaign with his stupidity on Meet the Press). Sorry, a legal ballot is defined by the law. There was no attempt to make excuses for any other segments of the public. In a democracy, no one's vote is more important. While there are classes that need protection due to historical violations and abuses, the military doesn't qualify for that category. How Florida's 2000 vote went was, you could be a legal voter denied the vote because of race but you could be in the military and not have a postmark or a signature or even arrive by the deadline but still have your vote counted. Forgetting all the other abuses in the Florida vote and reducing it solely to what the law was supposed to recognize as a legal vote, that's not how a democracy is supposed to work.

For the record, in 2002, I assumed I'd be supporting John Edwards. He will most likely run a better campaign this go round if he declares but I was less and less impressed with the campaign as it went along. I truly do not who I will be supporting for 2008 and I can't imagine a more boring subject to discuss. But Caitlen's concerns have been noted and addressed.

Which is more than most elected Dems do these days. Carl e-mailed with a question and a highlight. First the question: why hadn't other sites linked to Black Agenda Report? Templates are a pain in the butt. All community sites now link to the site (thanks to Carl's e-mail) but it was a case of it being on a list of things to do that hadn't been completed yet. I did call or e-mail everyone this evening noting Carl's question and we're all now linked. Margaret Kimberley, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon are names we know from another site and now that they've started a new one, we will highlight them here. Saturday is reserved for Kimberley who is a community favorite. Carl wanted to note another contribution (and if he or anyone will e-mail a highlight for the Thursday night entries, we'll note it each week). Today, Carl noted Glen Ford's "The Irreplaceable Cynthia McKinney: Outgoing Rep. Smacks Bush with Impeachment Papers" (Black Agenda Report):

"To my fellow Americans, as I leave this Congress, it is in your hands -- to hold your representatives accountable, and to show those with the courage to stand for what is right, that they do not stand alone." -- Rep. Cynthia McKinney on U.S. House floor, December 8, 2006
Cynthia McKinney will soon exit the U.S. House of Representatives, her second departure from Capitol Hill since voters first chose her to represent a majority Black, suburban Atlanta district in 1992. In parting, McKinney once again showed herself to be an irreplaceable presence in the Congress -- the only Member to dare submit a resolution to impeach President George W. Bush, along with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.To borrow an accolade bestowed on Paul Robeson, the great African American singer and political activist [
1898-1976 ], McKinney proved to be "the tallest tree in the forest."
"Confronted with the most lawless presidency in the history of the Republic, the thoroughly cowed Democratic 'opposition' shriveled into inconsequentiality."
Evidence of the Bush regime's multitudinous crimes has for years been available in abundance to every conscientious citizen and all 535 Members of Congress. Yet, confronted with the most lawless presidency in the history of the Republic -- a White House even more criminal than that of Andrew Jackson, who
defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring banishment of the Cherokee to Oklahoma, in 1832 -- the thoroughly cowed Democratic "opposition" shriveled into inconsequentiality.
Except for Cynthia McKinney.

What most weren't willing to do, Cynthia McKinney did. That's been true of her Congressional career. Not just once, but repeatedly she stood up. She didn't get a great deal of support and, in fact, was undercut (to put it nicely) by many in her own party. That includes Nancy Pelosi who wouldn't restore her seniority and it includes the thankfully cancelled Crossfire and their gas bags from the 'left' (camera angle?). What Greg Palast rightly noted as the "screwing" over of McKinney happened not just due to the mainstream press (and their faux left) but also due to the fact that so few refused to stand up and say "No." They should have. McKinney was a brave voice in Congress. She'll continue to be a brave voice outside of Congress. Maybe she'll run for president? Maybe she'll demonstrate that power comes not from official office but from using your power? McKinney wasn't afraid to call out the war. (Still isn't.) When she won back her seat in 2004, she could've played the game so many attempted to force on her but she didn't. She stayed true to what she believed in and what voters had voted for her to. As in 2002, she wasn't defeated by the Republicans, she was defeated by her own party.

Flyboy e-mailed a highlight after mentioning it on the phone (when I was noting that we might be doing a one highlight entry tonight -- which would've have been more than fine). He was helping Rebecca with her post tonight and had a question about how to put the map into her post. If anyone's missed it, Rebecca is pregnant. Between that and quitting smoking (due to the pregnancy) she's pretty wiped out right now. So anytime she has a highlight to pass on or for Flyboy to pass on, it will go up here. So they both note Robert Parry's "A Way Forward, a Look Back" (Consortium News) which is so far removed from gas baggery it should have many hanging their heads in shame:

So, given this unfolding disaster, what are the lessons that should be learned and what might a genuine new course forward look like?
First, the American people should hold accountable everyone who advocated or enabled the Iraq War in 2002-03 -- Democrats, Republicans, pundits and journalists whether they promoted the policy or just went with the flow.
These public figures either demonstrated a lack of judgment or a lack of courage. They represent threats to U.S. national security -- and should be viewed in that harsh light. Conversely, early skeptics of the war should be rewarded, not only out of a sense of fairness but from a practical appreciation of their farsightedness and bravery.
When looking for someone to lead the way out of this quagmire, it does'’t make much sense to rely on the people who led the way in.
Second, the U.S. press and politicians should cool the heated rhetoric about "terrorism" -- and start using the word more precisely and less ideologically. The definition should be confined to intentional violence against civilians to achieve a political goal. Plus, the word should be applied evenhandedly, not as a propaganda weapon.
When the word is hurled against any militant group that's unpopular with Washington or that has attacked U.S. soldiers, it becomes not only a way to incite irrational hatred, but an impediment to rational policy. Also, overusing the word serves the interests of actual terrorists such as al-Qaeda by lumping them together with, say, Iraqi insurgents.
Another harsh truth is that virtually no ethnic group, race, religion or nation has clean hands when it comes to "terrorism." Historians can point to a long record of Americans employing terror tactics going back to the origins of the country and continuing through recent atrocities and indiscriminate killings committed against Iraqi civilians.
It's also true that some Jewish extremists used terrorism against British administrators and Palestinians to advance the founding of Israel. Some of these extremists, such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, later rose to positions of prominence, including the post of prime minister.
So, avoid selective outrage.
Third, the United States must recognize that the best way to help Israel is not always doing what the Israeli government and its influential backers demand.
Possibly one of the greatest contributions to Israeli security was the Sinai peace deal with Egypt that President Jimmy Carter hammered out in the late 1970s, often over the angry objections of Prime Minister Begin and Israeli hard-liners.
On the other hand, the yoking of U.S. and Israeli positions during George W. Bush's administration has caused severe damage to Israeli security interests, including a stunning military-diplomatic misadventure in Lebanon in summer 2006 and a disturbing rise in Islamic extremism across the region.
Fourth, if the United States is to protect its interests in the strategic Middle East and improve prospects for regional peace, a dramatic change in policy is needed -- one that respects and addresses the legitimate grievances of all sides.

That's just an excerpt. The column says more than some have produced in all of 2006.

And that's what it's going to take to end the war. The e-mail address for this site is

and the war drags on