Saturday, September 22, 2007

Iraq's president threatens to quit, some will call it 'progress'

Anyone needing proof of democracy's demise must witness the government assault perpetrated on Rev. Lennox Yearwood. Yearwood attempted to attend a Congressional hearing open to the public, where Gen. David Petraeus testified that the killing in Iraq must go on as scheduled.
Yearwood is an Air Force reservist, and was the only black person lined up to enter the hearing room. Capitol police, some of them black, determined who would receive the few tickets distributed to the public. Yearwood, wearing a button proclaiming "I love the people of Iraq" was told he could not attend the hearing. When he protested, without violence or threat, he was literally
beaten down. He later referred to his assault and arrest as DMB, Democracy While Black.
There was no outcry from the people who are supposed to defend democracy. There was no statement of protest from the Congressional Black Caucus, no demand for an investigation. Democracy is drawing its last breath.
The attack on Yearwood provides an important lesson in building a new movement. Activism must be disassociated from the machinations of politicians who aid and abet the Bush terror machine. Indeed, many members of Congress must be sent packing, even those who once honestly claimed a progressive mantle. Every member of Congress who has impeded impeachment investigations must face a challenge in the 2008 election. Congressman John Conyers has the power to begin impeachment hearings, but clearly has no intention of doing so. That is why his congressional career must come to an end along with Nancy Pelosi's and others. As Yearwood said, the co-dependent Congress must go too.

The above is from Margaret Kimberly's "Freedom Rider: Democracy is Dead, It's Movement Time (Part 2)" (Black Agenda Report). This is a follow up piece to last week's "Democracy is Dead, It's Movement Time (Part 1)" (Black Agenda Report).

Turning to radio, Martha notes Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders which will feature:

This week on RN
Now that the world's woken up to Blackwater, will the mercenary army be reigned in? Nation author JEREMY SCAHILL thinks not. Then, economist DEAN BAKER suggests solutions for the popping housing bubble. And, continuing quest for progressive organizing in surprising places, we consider synagogues. Nation authors PETER DRIER and DANIEL MAY have found a new wave of activism stirring in Jewish congregations. Finally, with Israel threatening Gaza with more collective punishment, we sit down with AKIVA ELDAR, author of a new book on settlements, "Lords of the Land," to discuss the malignancy of occupation.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs at one p.m. Sunday on Air America Radio, XM radio and streams online live.

Rachel notes two upcoming programs on WBAI (broadcasting out of NYC and available to online listeners as well)

Sunday, September 23, 11am-noon
Composer/jazz musician Fred Ho hosts this hour on the 25th Anniversary of his Afro-Asian Ensemble.Monday, September 24, 2-3pm
Playwright Charles L. Mee and director Ann Bogart on the Siti Theatre Company's 15th Anniversary performance of Mee's "Hotel Casseopeia" upcoming at BAM; and author Foster Hirsch on his new biography of "Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.WBAI Radio/NY 99.5FMstreaming live at WBAI.orgarchived at

Okay, let's now turn to the news. Peter Bacque (Richmond Times-Dispatch) reports that 19-year-old Dale E. Minter ("Company A, 116th Brigade Troops Battalion in Fredericksburg") was "arrested for desertion" on September 11th. Now that's the fourth arrest we've noted this week and I'm sure others were reported that we missed. Bacque dummies up on how Minter was arrested (he was supposed to report January 1st and did not). But exactly how long are we all supposed to continue to dummy up and pretend that the number checking out isn't much larger than the official figures? Probably as long as the US military is able to get away with continuing to (falsely) claim they don't actively seek out those who go AWOL. Now speaking with the parents of any child who has gone AWOL will quickly underscore just how much effort the US military is putting into tracking them down but we're all supposed to pretend that it's not happening.

This story is a bit like the US weapons on the Iraq blackmarket. When we started noting that here over two years ago, there were all these right-wingers e-mailing to say that wasn't happening, they just knew it wasn't happening because no one was reporting it. Wake up call for the right wingers, AP is reporting that Blackwater is now under investigation to dtermine whether they "illegaly smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S. - designated terrorist organization". Blackwater may or may not be guilty of that but there is a huge and thriving blackmarket for US weapons in Iraq. (Reuters has Blackwater's denial of involvement.) From Leila Fadel and Warren P. Strobel's "Blackwater Incident referred to Iraqi magistrate" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Iraq's Interior Ministry has completed its investigation of last weekend's shooting incident involving Blackwater USA security guards and has referred the case to a magistrate to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, a spokesman said Friday.
Abdel Karim Khalaf, the ministry spokesman, said the evidence collected in the case, in which 11 people died and 12 were wounded, includes videotape from nearby cameras. That tape indicates that the Blackwater guards fired first and weren't responding to an attack, as Blackwater has claimed, Khalaf said.
It's unclear what would happen if the magistrate decided to press charges in an Iraqi criminal court. Khalaf said the Interior Ministry would push to have the Blackwater guards face charges in Iraq, but current law exempts foreign security companies and their employees from Iraqi jurisdiction.

A visitor notes Aaron Levin's "Dramatic Increase Found in Soldier Suicides" (Psychiatric News) which includes this, "The U.S. Army announced in August that 99 soldiers committed suicide in 2006. That translates to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000. There were 948 soldiers who attempted suicide. " Two things, suicide is undercounted and the official count never includes those who return from Iraq or Afghanistan and then take their own lives. Thank you to the visitor for noting the article because it is not receiving enough attention.

Meanwhile Barbara Boxer continues her wobbles in the Senate. Lloyd notes this piece in the Washington Post (actually, I didn't see it in the paper so it may be online only or I missed it)which is about Joe Biden's efforts to divide up Iraq into three regions and Boxer and Republicans have signed on. I guess that's another way to 'give' democracy to Iraq -- for the US to decide it needs to be partioned.

AP reports that 25 have been arrested in the killing of the sheik who was a friend of Bully Boy. It's amazing how many murders take place in Iraq and never get investigated but let a friend of the Bully Boy get murdered and it's roundup time. Meanwhile KUNA reports another threat of withdrawal from the US installed government in Iraq and this one may pack more of a punch because it's from the Accord Front and the threat of withdrawal is coming from Iraq's president Tareq al-Hashemi who declared the intentions of his bloc and himself to withdraw stating they would not "be marginalized" and that, "Now we have withdrawn from the Iraqi government, but we will quite the presidency and the parliament in case our talks with the government reached a dead end". So there's more 'progress'? Iraq's president is threatening to quit his post and we're supposed to believe that all is well and moving along nicely in Iraq?

ICCC's current total for the number of US service members who have died in the illegal war since it began is 3795. Five away from the 3800 mark.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

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

Kevin notes Robert Borosage's "Craven Fools" (Common Dreams) as "what not to do." I would agree. I'll add my opinion quickly. While condemning 22 Dems for being "craven" it is equally craven and foolish to dub's ad title ("General Petraues or General Betray Us") "unfortunate." If you think it's "unfortunate," then "craven fools" have every right to vote a resolution denouncing it. It wasn't "unfortunate" -- it was the bravest thing WalkOn's done in some time. It's a play on words (and Wally & Cedric were there with it long before WalkOn -- when Wally read that over the phone to me, I laughed, it's funny -- after Wally and Cedric started using the play on words, so did the Times of London and I don't believe the Senate's made a motion to declare their outrage over Rupert Murdoch's paper -- but then our 'left' at the mikes don't appear to be able to read, do they?) and there's nothing "unfortunate" it. It is "unfortunate" that Borosage thinks anyone's above criticism and it is "craven" to hide behind the US military. Ava and I dealt with this nonsense last Sunday while writing about Bully Boy's televised address:

After Thursday night's episode was finished, time was rounded out with a gag reel. Someone portraying US Senator Jack Reed jerked around a lot physically while muttering little-nothing lines that failed to note the illegal nature of Bully Boy's war and, apparently sending up the Democrats non-stop desire to hide behind the US military, had very little to say about democracy. Paired together, the two shows could have been billed as Junta!
The Reed impersonator didn't call for an end to the illegal war or bringing US troops home, he instead issued a call that the US "redefine our mission in Iraq". The last time we checked public opinion, "redefine our mission" wasn't what the people were calling for.
But it's what the parody offered and elected Democrats have no one to blame for the cheap shots but themselves. For over four years now, they've not only hidden behind the US military, they've glorified it as if the point of a democracy was to worship the US Army. We started wondering if churches will shortly begin replacing crosses with shrapnel?
The parody was so spot-on because it perfectly captured last week when the Congress heard from General David Petraeus. Petraues is an employee of the United States. Members of Congress are representatives of the people. But nothing in the proceedings indicated that these basic facts were grasped. We can't imagine, for instance, the Head of Health and Human Services being repeatedly thanked and praised for their service. We can't imagine the agency head being told repeatedly how much respect there is for the agency.
Like that agency, the military is in the employment of the United States. Elected Democrats refuse to make that point. Instead they glorify and build up repeatedly only to be defeated in the spin wars and then whine, "How did this happen?" It happened because they forgot they were not elected to the posts of Groupies to the US Military. They were elected to represent the people. Representation means heeding the will of the people. When they instead prostrate themselves before a section of a branch of government that they are supposed to practice oversight over, they've stripped themselves of their own power. It's really sad that it was John McLaughlin (on PBS' The McLaughlin Group) who semi-jokingly raised the issue of whether what took place last week (with the will of the people being ignored) was a silent coup? But such is the state of TV today.

Borosage's 'defense,' like the weak ass 'defense' of Lynne Stewart so many offered, indicates that a lot on the left should just wear t-shirts announcing "I Gave Away My Strength In Exchange For The Spotlight." Borosage is upset that WalkOn got attacked in Congress but he can't bring himself to defend them. I do not like WalkOn, I think they are ineffective and too tied to the Democratic Party; however, the ad they did was clever and funny. It made its point and there was nothing wrong with it. They should be applauded for running the ad. Offering that it was "unfortunate" weakens any defense of the ad. It was a strong ad, it caught attention and it was clever. They have nothing to apologize for that ad, they did nothing "unfortunate." No link to Borosage, we don't link to trash. And trash can be defined as wasting everyone's time by saying the Senate was wrong but WalkOn ran an "unfortunate"ly titled ad. Grow the hell up. Really, grow the hell up. This weak ass 'defense' does nothing but put out the 'even the left feels the ad was unfortunate' and 'even the left can't defend the ad' nonsense. It's shameful, it's cowardly and it needs to stop.

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