Thursday, May 03, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

American forces have completed construction of a concrete wall around the Baghdad district of Adhamiya despite protests from the Iraqi prime minister and local residents who claim that they are now at the mercy of militants.

James in Brighton noted the above, from "Anger in Baghdad as Americans finish wall" (Telegraph of London) and noted that paragraph's about all you can trust in the article. So the wall isn't wanted by the puppet, isn't wanted by the residents, but US forces complete construction even though a week ago Nouri al-Maliki said it was stopping. Who's calling the shots? Not the puppet government.

As we noted earlier this week, they've banned heavy trucks from most Baghdad bridges this week. That's due to the fact that it's feared the resistance might be targeting bridges to control the traffic through the capital. (Which would make easy targets of residents as well as the military.) This same fear is why Sunnis object to being walled off. The fact that it is so similar to the illegal walls the Israeli government is using to fence in Palestinians and cut them off from resources is why there was strong Arab outrage throughout the region. But none of that mattered, obviously. All that mattered was what the US government wanted.

That's pretty much the way it's been since day one which is why Iraqis overwhelming want foreign forces out of their country. And who can blame them? Their country has been destroyed. What can be sold off is either sold off or -- as with the oil -- there's pressur to sell it off. Baghdad was a glorious capital. Bustling with life. An urban center. Now, as academics pointed out in August, they can't even gather in their own city anymore. The curfews, the patrols, the militias. Reconstruction? Ha. The millions that didn't disappear didn't go towards anything resembling functioning services.

And the Democratic leadership in Congress posed and preened all week while the wall was still being constructed. Bully Boy doesn't want the illegal war "micro-managed." The wall's not about the war. Where was the oversight from Congress? Where was the concerns for what the residents wanted? Congress -- Dems and Repubes -- are real good about blaming Iraqis for not doing this and not doing that. The wall demonstrates, to even the most thick headed, that Iraqis are not calling the shots in their own country.

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 military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3334 (ICCC). Tonight? 3357. The count includes this announcement from the US military today: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and six others were wounded in an insurgent attack in southern Baghdad May 3." So 23 more deaths since last Thursday. What is the theme for the new issue of The Nation? Oh, yes, education. They love their theme issues. And maybe, if they're ever pressed on their lack of Iraq coverage, they can turn around and point to their theme issues: food, Cuba, education . . . and explain there just wasn't time to cover Iraq. Of course, someone might point out (rightly) that an illegal war that had passed the four year mark seemed more than worthy for a theme issue but surely they'll have a good excuse to offer for why they did nothing. (All their lives, to swipe from Adams' Family Values.)

Molly Ivins said bang the pots and pans, use your voice every day to speak out against the illegal war. Students are doing it. People of all ages are doing it. It's only The Nation that stays silent. There's an article in Extra! (put out by FAIR) on the peace movement which notes that mainstream media shows up to cover the January rally and march in DC ("Can You Hear Us NOW?" by Frances Cerra Whittelsey, pp. 11 - 14) which includes the following:

Perhaps the most telling story about turnout was reported on National Public Radio's All Things Considered broadcast at 7 p.m. on the day of the protest (1/27/07). Jacki Lyden introduced the story this way: "Today's antiwar protests may be one of the largest in years, but while polls say that most Americans are against the war, most people have not been taking their politics to the streets." The news staff at NPR seems to have decided on this theme the day before the protest, when reporter Melissa Block, conducting an interview with Judith LeBlanc co-chair of United for Peace & Justice, said to her:
When you look at what the antiwar movement has done over the last four years of the war, it seemed like there was a big presence at the beginning. And then for a lot of people, maybe it drifted away. It was hard to see where you were. What do you think the problem has been there, in terms of your presence and people's recognition of what you're doing? Why haven't you been able to push the debate forward more?
It does not seem to have occured to NPR's news staff that they, like most of the rest of the media, had ignored protest after protest, and now, suddenly awakening, are wondering at the blank in their memory. They might be surprised to learn that the January 27 protest was the eighth since 2003 that "had at least 100,000 people," according to Leslie Cagan, LeBlanc's co-chair at United for Peace & Justice.
LeBlanc responded to Block by pointing out that if one travels the country as she has,
what you see is that there is a grassroots movement that hasn't always gotten the attention of the national media. So . . . in between these big demonstrations, there are people doing some very heavy lifting, showing films and having discussions, and doing door-to-door work in their neighborhoods. . . . We do have the attention of the national media now, and what is going on in our country is a reflection of all that work that goes on under the radar.
LeBlanc's response was a diplomatic way of saying that the news media suffer from a chronic lack of interest in covering grassroots organizations, preferring public opinion polls with their bloodless and controlled questions to actually reporting on community activists.

Well, at least NPR covered it. Did those who subscribe or purchase The Nation read about it as they flipped through the pages? Nope.

The Bob Herbert nonsense that everyone's e-mailed about will be addressed at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Herbert doesn't call out news does he? Billie made that point noting that on her news tonight (WFAA out of Dallas), the top headline before the opening credits was,
"New liposuction, less pain, better results." Thank goodness we're all informed at the top of the show. Surely that is the most pressing thing in the world today: "New liposuction, less pain, better results."

It's really past time for gas bags and Mommy's Pantyhose to quit blaming the people. That's such a snide attitude, isn't it? Oh, the people are so stupid. Oh, the people just care about crap entertainment. What are the people being informed of? WFAA thought the biggest news on their nightly news was lipo. Quit blaming the people for a news system that repeatedly fails them.

Kyle notes Barry Lando's "And The Lies Go On" (The Middle East Online via Common Dreams):

This is the same reason that, although many journalists are brave and intelligent, it is pretence that they actually know what is going on in Iraq. It is more showbiz than fact. Because of the fearful security situation, they are restricted to the artificial enclave of the Green Zone, literally cut off from the rest of the country. When they venture out, it is usually only with helmet and flak jacket, safely embedded with American military units. Most of Iraq and most of its people are unknown territory.
In the Green Zone, however, reporters are able to cover another highly staged event, the trial of Saddam Hussein, which drones on, even though the former dictator has departed the scene. Officials who served under Saddam are being charged with various crimes against humanity. But there is no mention by anyone -- neither the prosecutors nor the media -- about the complicity of the United States and other major powers in many of Saddam's most horrific acts.
Most reporters also avoid reporting that the claim of the squabbling do-nothing politicians in the Green Zone to be the government of Iraq is another fiction promulgated by the Bush administration. Everyone -- the media, visiting congressmen and officials all seem to play along--but as retired General Barry McCaffrey recently pointed out: There is essentially not a single province in the country where "the central government holds sway."
The current debate over Iraq avoids other fundamental issues. While Congress and the President are at logger heads over a schedule for withdrawing US forces -- as if they're really talking about pulling all US troops in Iraq -- what about the four mammoth military bases that the United States has spent billions of dollars building in Iraq over the past four years? One of them, Balad, North of Baghdad, covers fifteen square miles. Those bases could soon be the object of a major confrontation among Iraqi leaders, hostile to any attempt by the United States to maintain permanent bases in their country. Indeed, there's no way those facilities could be considered "temporary," though that’s how the Bush administration sold them to congress. And then there is the sprawling new American embassy -- the most mammoth American embassy in the world -- currently being built in the Green Zone.
It would be naive to think that the Bush administration would just walk away and leave those facilities. More likely are major troop commitments -- to back up future Iraqi governments as well as America's influence in that vitally strategic part of the world -- commitments that may last for decades. Though these bases are certainly a subject of concern to Iraqis, they've been scarcely mentioned in any of the debates concerning America’s commitment to Iraq. On the other hand, though most Americans have yet to be briefed on the situation, some US troops certainly have. Recently, at one of those facilities, the massive marine base of Al-Asad in Anbar province, a visiting reporter was assured by US soldiers that American troops would be rotating though for at least the next decade.

That's a reality. It doesn't get noted very often, but it's a reality. How can people know what's not covered?

Now we saw something really disgusting in independent media last month. We saw a refusal to speak the truth. Oh no, WalkOn might not like us. Oh no, a Party Hack might get nasty with us. So they all dummied up, collectively (with few exceptions) on the issue of that shell game Congressional Dems were playing on the public. (The Nation, to be fair, needed no excuse to be silent, they've largely spent the last two years playing The Quiet Game. Apparently, the secret plot twist is that, when undressed, you see the Council of Foreign Relations dangling from their body.) Military bases were in that measure we were all supposed to applaud. The privatization of Iraq's oil was in that measure we were all supposed to applaud. Troops home? No, not in that bill. Some might come home. If Bully Boy followed the non-binding wording and didn't use the escape clause to reclassify US service members.

It was a con game, a shell game, fool the public and won't we score points for 2008!

That's disgusting. In fact that sort of lying is as bad as Bully Boy's ignoring the people. It should have been called out. A few did. Their reward? They didn't show up in print in some outlets, they did a vanishing act over the radio air waves. It's really kind of amazing that they all stayed silent supposedly for the "good" and yet they've all got their knives out for George Tenet. Have at him. It's nothing I'm going to sweat. But the same 'logic' that dictated (to many) that they needed to be silent about the realities of the illegal war (for the larger good b.s.) didn't prevent them from tearing apart one of the highest ranking officials to call Bully Boy out. And did anyone else wonder about that interview where Tenet was yelled at? Did no one get that was only possible due to the fact that the administration had indicated the gloves were off with Tenet? It's the same sort of thing they attempted to manufacture earlier. The same sort of thing that allowed David Gregory to go on air and smear someone falsely (the most basic of research would have told Gregroy the administration was lying -- most basic being just reading the preface to The Price of Loyalty). But there was some applause for that interview with Tenet and no one bothered to note that the same reporter had all but groveled, mere weeks earlier on the same program, at the feet of the Bully Boy. That wasn't about brave reporting, that was yet again following the administration's signals: Gloves off, tear 'em apart.

Tenet has a lot to answer for and should be held accountable but let's not pretend when the mainstream does a 'hard hitting' interview they're doing it because they're journalists. Matt Lauer did the same thing with Kitty Kelley. It had nothing to do with journalism. It did have to do with the adminstration wanting someone silenced and their statements discredited.

Tenet's own actions have discredited him. This isn't about Tenet. Not on my part and not on the 'brave' mainstream media. (I'm referring to the mainstream. Ray McGovern has rightly criticized Tenet. I'm not talking about that. McGovern holds Tenet to the same level of accountability he holds the Bully Boy.) But if last month's coverage of the non-binding, toothless measure wasn't bad enough, this week we've seen independent media enlist yet again -- following the talking point that we can use the veto to outrage the people. That bill did nothing. It wasn't enforceable, it was a joke. But let's manufacture some rage! It is ridiculous. And while many in independent media re-enlisted in that propaganda, in the mainstream you were supposed to prove your bonafides by heaping scorn on Tenet -- who absolutely deserves and has earned it but it's hypocritical when the Bully Boy is not challenged in the same way. When is he going to be challenged and met with skepticism on the issue of torture? Don't hold your breath for the mainstream to do that.

And let's remember something else, if he is impeached (which he should be) count on a hack to show up on the evening news telling you that his pardon is for the good of the nation and puts the whole issue behind us. Dan Rather was the hack offering that crap when Nixon was pardoned.

What got put behind us? The truth. Reality. And it allowed the same players to pull off the things they couldn't even under Nixon. So if Bully Boy is impeached (again, he should be), let's not fall for that nonsense again. Let's not be hyped into "a healing process." The tumor will still be there -- spreading. The "healing process" will be nothing but denial.

When it was time for Nixon to face reality, the visit was made by Poppy Bush. Bully Boy's already noted that he 'listens' to a higher father. Impeachement, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi says, is not off the table and Bully Boy's refusal to listen to the public makes impeachment all the more likely. There's talk of where will the Republican support be for it? As the 2008 campaign edges closer, even Repubes will have to reach out beyond their base (unless they feel they can win the White House with a little over 30% of the voters). (I'm not predicting impeachment. I am saying that Bully Boy's refusal is making the establishment nervous.) We need to know our history.

Lynda notes Cindy Sheehan's "Four Dead in Ohio" (Common Dreams):

Now in a very weak, baby step, but a step in the right direction, nonetheless, Congress sent King George yet another "non-binding" bill for troop withdrawal that he vetoed, exercising that power for only the 2nd time in his administration.
Of course George Bush vetoed the will of the American public that he scorns and ignores (unless they are the members of his "base" -- the wealthiest top two percent). Of course he is waging crimes against humanity against the people of Iraq and in such prison camps as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. All doubt has been removed that Bush&Co lied before the invasion and have continued lying throughout the occupation. But now that he has defied Congress yet again, the people's representatives need to slam shut the bank vault to bring our troops home and get busy removing an Executive Branch run amok. Impeachment is not a Constitutional Crisis...

Bush&Co are the crisis and impeachment is the remedy.
It is time to come out from behind our complacency in the face of one fresh outrage after another to stand up to the Bush Regime and take our country back while there is still something worthwhile to save. Bush&Co are as surely destroying this country with their greed and callousness as they are destroying Iraq. Our republic is rapidly disintegrating due to George’s War of Terror and we citizens are the only glue that can hold it together.
The Camp Casey Peace Institute on Monday, May 14th as we gather in front of the White House to march on Congress to show the people who work for us that saving lives is more important to us than partisan politics. It is time that people on both sides of the aisle stop playing their bloody games with our children’s lives and the country of Iraq. Real people are dying and civilized countries are being demolished while time is being wasted on non-binding b.s.
Washington DC needs to be shut down on a day when there are actually people in town, It’s time to go retro and reclaim our collective history as dissenters, protesters, patriots and effective and affective players on our political scene. It is too late for so many, but even more need our help now.

I'm at Trina's (and her son Mike's -- but Trina's declared her support for Dennis Kucinich). Hillary Clinton has joined with Robert Byrd for something (we'll wait to see it in writing before cart wheels commence). Truthdig offers their view here. They note Kucinich has issued a statement; however, when you click his site is currently down. She was hoping his statement could be noted in full tonight. It can be.

In response to reports that Senator Hillary Clinton plans to support a bill deauthorizing the Iraq War on October 11th, Congressman Dennis Kucinich said:
"Now that Senator Clinton supports deauthorization, will she support defunding the war? When someone votes to fund the war 100 percent of the time and then says she supports deauthorization, it looks like a gimmick. Last week she voted to fund the war again. Every time she votes to fund the war she reauthorizes it. The true test of her commitment to ending the war is whether she'll vote to stop funding it. Congress will soon be faced with yet another decision on whether or not to fund the war. Let's see how Senator Clinton votes, to see if she is to be believed."
Congressman Dennis Kucinich opposed the war from the start and has voted 100 percent of the time against funding it. When President Bush vetoed the recent funding bill, Kucinich was the only member of the House to vote Present. He did so because he objected to the Congressional Democrats' position and to Bush's position. Kucinich has a plan to end the war: HR 1234.

That's his official statement in full and hopefully his site will be up and running by tomorrow morning. (It's down due to an upgrade due to heavy traffic.) Lastly, if you haven't yet read
Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" (Salon) please make a point to do so. (It's discussed in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin which hits your inbox tomorrow morning.)

The e-mail address for this site is