Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: This report's focus is bad radio so I will be covering both Pacifica and NPR. I will start with Pacifica.

Leigh Ann Caldwell attempted to sell the symbolic, non-binding Pelosi-Reid measure as "Troops out of Iraq" repeatedly in Mach. It was not that but to hear her reports on Free Speech Radio News or to hear her on WBAI or KPFA you would never know that. I have covered this before as have others and I have spent five hours on e-mails so, if this is news to you, you can use Technorati or Google search*.

As the D.C. correspondent, Ms. Caldwell is looked to as an expert which makes it all the more frightening when she is so obviously wrong. In the capacity of D.C. expert, she was brought on as a guest for KPFA's The Morning Show Tuesday and listeners should have asked for their pledges back. During a discussion with another guest and host Philip Maldari, Ms. Caldwell . . . I have no idea what she was attempting but it was not reporting. None of the 81 e-mails on this topic were from people who mistook it for reporting either.

The subject of I. Lewis Libby was addressed. For background on that, I will note Bill Moyers from his Friday broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal:

It is well known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby--once Vice President Cheney's most trust adviser--has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie.
Scooter Libby deliberately poured poising into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice. Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places -- including his boss Dick Cheney-- outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied to cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered," wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts.

That very clearly sums up what Mr. Libby was convicted of and explains how offensive what he did, while a sitting member of our government, was. So listening to Ms. Caldwell Tuesday repeatedly state how "harsh" his sentence was took us well beyond what we expect from news and straight into the Gas Bag Beltway. Mr. Libby has not received a "harsh" sentence and Ms. Caldwell's asinine commentary might play well in the Beltway but she is supposed to be reporting to the real world.

Mr. Libby did something very offensive to American democracy and justice which led to him being sentenced to thirty months in prison and fined $250,000. Is that "harsh"? Considering the trust and faith he was supposed to be representing, I do not believe that can be called harsh. But if we leave opinion and go to the facts, we discover that the crimes Mr. Libby was convicted of could have resulted in a one-million-dollar fine and up to twenty-five years in prison. Instead, Mr. Libby has received approximately an eighth of the maximum sentencing time and one-fourth of the maximum fine. That is not "harsh."

Ms. Caldwell would do well to stick to the facts and leave her questionable judgements to the right-wing spin cycle. As embarrassing as that is to Pacifica news, it got worse.

Mr. Maldari, like myself, does not appear to be a computer expert. That is not a problem. It does mean that he will have questions from time to time, as do I, and I credit him with his courage in asking them. One of things that has been revealed in the Gonzales Gate coverage is that Karl Rove, and others but Mr. Maldari was asking of Karl Rove, were circumventing federal guidelines and laws on the preservation of White House communications by e-mailing from something other than their assigned White House e-mail accounts while conducting White House business.

Mr. Maldari explained that he was confused by that revelation and he wanted to know, from Ms. Caldwell, whether this meant that Karl Rove was leaving the White House to e-mail from other computers?

I went back and forth on whether to include that detail because it would be easy for some to ridicule Mr. Maldari for that question. I do not ridicule him for it. He had a question and he had the courage to ask. He noted he was confused by the revelations and Pacifica's D.C. expert was present so it was the perfect time to ask a question that Ms. Caldwell should have been able to answer.

If you assumed that Ms. Caldwell was going to explain about Blackberries and accessing different e-mail accounts on any computer, you were wrong. She responded that was correct. That is not correct. Karl Rove was not running to GOP headquarters every time he needed to send an e-mail from something other than his assigned White House account.

Ms. Caldwell should know better. Ms. Caldwell was asked a direct question and she gave the wrong answer. If Ms. Caldwell, the D.C. correspondent, does not know any better than that, it goes a long way towards explaining the host of mistakes she has been making recently. This reflects poorly on KPFA and on Pacifica Radio. If that is what Ms. Caldwell has to offer, then other programs need to stop bringing her on as a guest. Larry Bensky could have answered Mr. Maldari's question quickly and accurately. I do believe Mr. Bensky stated he was available for guest spots even though he had shut down his program Sunday Salon.

Turning to NPR, as most of the community did last week. I listened online at the national feed and learned a few things. In a report on tariffs, I learned that NPR will go to any lengths to promote free trade. The story attempted to convince America that tariffs only impact the working class. On a higher note, a report on the fortieth anniversary of Monterey Pop, featuring Michelle Phillips, was worth listening to even if the usual sexism was on display. Ms. Phillips was known in that time as Mama Michelle and a member of the Mamas and the Papas. She was also married to "Papa" John Phillips. So it is surprising that these reports continue to tell you of how Mr. Phillips and Lou Adler are responsible for Monterey Pop. As Kat wondered this week, is this an attempt to endorse the sexist notion that a husband's money is his own? As a member of the group and a sometimes songwriter, Ms. Phillips contributed to the family income and Mr. Phillips was not using "his" money.

The Monterey Report was obviously the high point of my listening week being that I am old enough to remember when it was current news. The low point? A program called News & Note which appears to exist so that a clubber, who used to go the Red House before too many shootings made it the Dead House, can pretend to practice journalism.

The show is offensive. It is offensive because it does not meet NPR standards for public affairs programming and, most of all, it is offensive for what it chooses to present to the public.

The actor Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey's Anatomy. This followed his using a slur on the set to refer to a gay castmate and then his again making homophobic remarks, this time in public, at the Golden Globes. If you follow the news, you may think that it is why he was fired. If you heard News & Note, however, you were informed that it was a White Gay Conspiracy. I seem to remember Mike Ovitz getting into hot water for floating similar crazy claims; however, NPR seems to think this makes for quality programming.

Apparently wishing to top that report, which aired repeatedly on the Wednesday feed, on Thursday we were informed, during a supposed discussion of the candidates running to become the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, that Asians and Latinos were breaking the law by voting even though they are not citizens. In fairness to the 'host' and the guest pushing that nonsense, Mary Frances Berry, it should be noted that this false charge seemed to derive from the fact that they were unaware that voters in presidential elections had to be citizens. As C.I. noted Thursday, damage control appeared to Ms. Berry rushing to assure that "their children are legal even if they're not".

This show is objectionable. It is hosted by an African-American woman so possibly we are not supposed to call it out? But having insulted Asians and Latinos in this country, citizens and non-citizens, and having pushed the lie of a White Gay Conspiracy, that is the reality. Apparently McFries buys a great deal of junk chatter hence News & Note.

News & Note also wants to cover the "arts." Which is why someone felt Malcom-Jamal Warner, one time TV child actor, was a guest worth having. Should I assume All Things Considered will next be interviewing Anson Williams?

Until last week, I had the pleasure of not knowing News & Note even aired. I find it objectionable that NPR thinks their programming has to be dumbed down in order to attract African-Americans. I think that when hosts are so ignorant of the laws for national elections, they should not be allowed to discuss the subject. However, restricting the host from that topic would only leave her with conspiracies and failed TV stars who last tasted fame by association in 1992. Possibly the best thing to do would be to replace the host before she offers the next offensive segment partly funded by tax payer monies?

[*C.I. note, by the end of March, Caldwell was no longer selling the Pelosi-Reid measure as "Troops Out Now." She was now pushing the notion that, in her words, "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding." As far? That the Pelosi-Reid measure cut any funds was certainly an interesting interpretation.]

NYT: Rubin flogs self in public

Yesterday, an F-16 crashed in Iraq. The US military is playing mum with the details. In addition, a mosque was destroyed in Basra (the same thing happened today, by the way). Also five US service members were announced dead yesterday. And of course, Robert Gates (Secretary of Defense) made a trip to Baghdad. It's equally true that Peter Pace revealed that he was forced out as Joint Chiefs of Staff. So picking up the New York Times, you might expect Iraq to be front page news? Some would argue that just the plane crash should make it so.

Iraq's buried inside the paper as usual (A5). Gaza's front page, Iran's front page, Duke's front page, snake wranglers is front page. No, I'm not making that last thing up. Jennifer Steinhauer does a bit of feature writing entitled "Pests That Bite And Slither? Call Snake Wranglers" -- a story that belongs on no front page. Mitt Romney, a 2008 candidate for the GOP presidential nomination (and presently unemployed) is somehow front page news. Worst of all, Julie Creswell proves she listened to NPR this week. I believe that story aired on Wednesday or Thursday but it's been a long week. On Saturday, Julie Criswell offers up "Web Help for Getting a Mortgage the Criminal Way." It's not just a pale copy of the NPR story, it's also wrong. There is nothing "criminal" about what's going on. It soon will be. Laws are being discussed (as NPR informed you) and one business is going to drop the procedure in September. But it is not currently "criminal." (What is it? People allow others to piggy back on their good credit for a fee.) And "experts" may whisper to Julie Criswell that this "has caused a huge spike in loan defaults in recent months" but Criswell, an alleged reporter, should have known better than to fall for that crap. There is no study to back that. Predatory loan companies have caused the huge spike and there are studies to back that up. But Criswell wants to buy into the lie that a national crisis can be pinned on a few shady individuals outside the normal business setting. Danny Schechter covers this (and more) in his documentary In Debt We Trust. Criswell's an idiot. (And apologist/propagandist for the loan and housing industry. Don't believe me? Well I think "experts" say that and, like Criswell, feel no need to check it out before publishing.)

Libby Lewis, in an audio segment that is appoximately five minutes ("Good-Credit Holders Lend Their Histories for Cash") and I see that it aired on June 13th (Wednesday). Good to know that three days later the Times can (mis)report the exact same story. If you're unable to listen online, you can read what's a summary of Lewis' report but don't waste your time on Criswell's nonsense. While we're still on NPR, let me borrow from Rebecca, "click here if you want to hear the npr story on the 40th anniversary of the monterey pop festival with some (not enough) commentary by michelle phillips" -- though far from perfect, that was a segment worth noting.

Alissa J. Rubin offers nothing but bad reporting in "Blast Destroys Sunni Mosque in Iraq, Raising Fears of Reprisals." The F-16 crash? That is first mentioned in paragraph four. Let's point out that a plane crashed in Iraq (it may have been brought down) and Rubin thinks that a paragraph four. Damien Cave, doing the same round up of violence report, has the sense to do an opening paragraph that notes various violence so that, no matter where an incident like that finally pops up in the article, it's in the opening paragraph (frequently in the opening sentence). To Rubin, a plane crash is paragraph four. That's bad reporting. Five US service members killed? That's paragraph five.

So what's taking up all the space before? You could say it was the mosque destroyed in Basra Friday but you would be wrong. It's not about the mosque, read closely. It's Rubin trying to explain how she could be so wrong (and she was wrong) on Friday.

Rubin was wrong on Friday. It happens. That was Friday. You move on. If your name isn't Gordo, Filkins or Miller, just move on to the report you need to write for the new day. Rubin's 'report' was based on a 'hunch' (one had by many) that ended up wrong. It happens. It's not the end of the world and it certainly does not require three paragraphs to explain. We all got our chuckles from it the day before. Today is a new day and you've got an F-16 and 5 dead US service members to cover. There's no time for explanations of how you were wrong. She's been wrong before, she's been right before, both will happen again. She's yet to exhibit any bad patterns of her own (all the bad patterns of the paper are on display) so there was really no reason for the three paragraphs. But if the paper would like for Gordo or Filkins to wear a hair shirt (Miller's no longer with the paper), by all means do.

Thom Shanker tries to tease a press conference into an article with "In Iraq, Gates Says Progress Toward Peace Lagging." Either the F-16 crash or the declaration of the dead US service members could have easily fit into this article. For those who might forget, Gates is Secretary of Defense. Either story applies directly to the office he holds.

Shanker's entire report can be reduced to its third paragraph:

In what appears to be a coordinated campaign by the Bush administration, the defense secretary will be reinforcing a message delivered to the Maliki government in person over recent days by Adm. William J. Fallon, the American commander in the Middle East, and John D. Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state.

And, of course, by Ryan Crocker. But that Operation Happy Talk-er's name has just dropped from the reports of the pressure as the story has gone on throughout the week, hasn't it?

Today in Iraq, Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports three police officers wounded by Kirkuk roadside bombings, and that The Bright Ten mosque was bombed in Basra today (partially destroyed) while, dropping back to Friday, notes "Muhammad Al-Daini (the chief judge of what is known as the Islamic State of Iraq) was killed during clashes that took place between two armed groups at Mustafa neighborhood in Baquba (50 km north of Baghdad), resources from Diyala Salvation Council said." Alex Jimenez and Byron Fouty are two US soldiers who went missing in Iraq on May 12th and the press coverage (with few exceptions) went missing on May 19th. The press found interest again when a video reported to show their murders appeared online. Reuters reports that Jimenez and Fouty's i.d. cards have been discovered in a house "north of Baghdad" as well as video equipment and other devices. Stressing, Alex Jimenez and Byron Fouty have not been found. They remain listed as missing. More importantly, their families have nothing to bury. They may or may not accept the video footage as confirmation and that is entirely their business. If they do not, and are public with that, we will continue to note Jimenez and Fouty as missing.

Ruth is doing a report this weekend. Probably late tonight. On that and other things. If you're using the public e-mail address, you should be a visitor (members need to use the private addresses) and you should be doing that to contact a limited number of people. If you disagree with what I write, by all means use it. If you're writing Ruth, Kat or Isaiah, you need to note that in your e-mail heading. They all come into the public account and folders are created for them so they can go straight to what is intended for them. Unless it's my contribution, it's always credited so there's not really an excuse for saying, "I didn't know that was Isaiah's comic!" or whatever. Shirley, Martha, Eli, Ava and Jess also work the accounts (Ava and Jess can also post here -- Shirley and Martha do once a year with their year-in-books pieces and they're welcome to post more if they'd like, Eli can do whatever he wants whenever he wants, he is the oldest member of the community -- age wise, he's also a long termer -- and he can do whatever he wants) so you can use the public account to write to them or reply to them. But you really need to be clear whom you are writing to. There has been repeated confusion all week and Ruth had her report sketched out and now, due to the fact that she's checked her folder in the public account, she's trying to work many other things into it. Ruth checks her folder in the public account on Monday mornings, on Wednesday mornings and on Saturday mornings. Due to a huge number of visitors writing after she'd last checked her e-mail, she's trying to come up with a new report to cover issues that she's just being greeted with. She wants this noted: In the future, anything that is not brought to her attention by Wednesday 6:00 am EST, will not be addressed in a report that week or weekend. No matter how important it may be to a visitor or even if she (Ruth) thinks it's important as well. I told her, my opinion, go with the report she had planned. She's attempting to contact people (many of whom are not clear -- I'll get to that in a minute) about their e-mails. "In a minute." From now on, Ruth's not replying to any visitor unless she feels there's a need. Her feature is hugely popular and unlike Kat, Isaiah or myself, she won't just make an effort to read, she replies to everything that comes in. She's estimating a good two hours this morning alone just on replies. From now on, her reply will be the report and nothing else unless she needs to follow up on something. She's a busy woman and during the week is watching her grandson. I've told her before that nothing she writes will be posted on a certain weekend or holiday because I know she's so busy and doesn't have the time to do a report. (Ruth calls that being "benched.") What she does is very valuable and we all appreciate it. She is not a penpal for visitors. She doesn't have that kind of time and it may be time (because the volume of e-mail she's now getting from the public account) for her to just get a summary the way Martha and Shirley do for me on the majority of e-mails. I'm speaking of visitors. Members can write (and most use Ruth's own e-mail for that) as often as they want. The other big issue here, on the profile it states the guidelines. Unless they've been altered by someone, they remain that if you want to be quoted or noted, you say so. That's up to Ruth to decide whether you will. But it's not her job or anyone else's to chase down some visitor who is upset about something they heard on the radio and find out if they wanted this addressed and do they want to be noted by name. The only exception to that rule is Ava. She's had with cry babies from the press (small media) and she has informed several to stop writing and done so for weeks now. She has informed them that if they continue to do so, she will note their gripes here. And she did just that Thursday morning. She didn't break policy because that person writes every other day and has nothing to say -- nothing worth hearing. Two weeks ago, she informed him to stop writing or she'd be noting it. He did not heed it and wrote seven more times including on Thursday. He could never be quoted here because he can't manage a sentence without a curse word in it. But I believe that covers everything regarding e-mails. To repeat, Ruth's not going to be burnt out because she's having to trash her reports and start all over. She's not going to be wasting time responding to e-mails asking, "Do you want to be quoted? Do you want to be named?" That's been the policy at this site for some time and the fact that a visitor can't grasp it shouldn't mean extra work for Ruth. She also will not be e-mailing to tell visitors that their issue has been noted. She doesn't do that for members, there's no reason she should for visitors. If this sounds rude (it probably does), this is all me speaking. I was on the phone with Ruth and she was very stressed out. I'm not having that happen again. The community loves her, loves what she does and she can't do that and also respond to every e-mail (including one on something that aired two months ago on a station she doesn't listen to). Kat's not going to spend hours on e-mails so I don't worry about her. Most visitors writing Isaiah are telling him what he should draw next and I know those go write in the trash. (Isaiah needs to visualize what he's going to draw. Suggestions to him are not helpful. Nor does he need a co-writer. This has been repeatedly noted here.) I am not going to have another weekend of this happening, of Ruth putting everything on hold to try to deal with issues raised by visitors we've never heard from before and work herself ragged. I've also instructed Ruth not to write any visitors from her private account unless she establishes some sort of relationship with them over time. I will seriously be suggesting that Martha and Shirley (who I spoke with this morning and are fully behind this idea) do a summary of visitors e-mails to Ruth. Those e-mails that she does need to see would still go in her folder but this ,"Write about this! Tackle this!" . . . She's a busy woman and I think she's being tasked with more than one person can handle.

Beth's ruling? I excused myself from the roundtable (that's noted in the transcript) when Beth was about to discuss it. Like most members (not participating in the roundtable), I found out what she'd decided Friday morning when I read the gina & krista round-robin. I turned the issue over to Beth for several reasons including the fact that I'm only one member of this community. She read all the e-mails on this topic and made her decisions. Three will be removed after this goes up as she decided.

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

A number of those are guest posts.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders now airs Sundays at one p.m. on Air America Radio, XM radio and streams online. We'll note it on Saturday when possible. (I'm often posting her Sunday too late.) What's on? Don't know. But we can note this event on Monday taking place in New York City and note the ticket prices (five and ten dollars, that's really a bargain):

Left Forum and The Nation Present:
A debate between Stanley Aronowitz and Laura Flanders
Monday June 18 , 7pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Elebash Recital Hall
365 5th Avenue at 34th St.
New York City
Stanley Aronowitz, author of Left Turn: Forging a New Political Future (Paradigm Publishers, 2006), and Laura Flanders, author of Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (The Penguin Press, 2007), will discuss and debate the possibilities and limitations of working within the Democratic party.
$5 to $10 admission, ticketing at the door (no advance sales)
Stanley Aronowitz and Laura Flanders will be signing their books after the discussion.
Information: 212-817-2003 or
STANLEY ARONOWITZ is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at CUNY Graduate Center, where he is Director of The Center for the Study of Culture, Technology and Work. He is Founding Editor of Social Text and Situations, was Book Review Editor of Social Policy, and serves on the Editorial Board of Ethnography; Cultural Critique. He has authored and edited 24 books, the most recent being Left Turn: Forging a New Political Future (2006).
LAURA FLANDERS is the host of "RadioNation" heard on Air America Radio and syndicated to non-commercial affiliates nationwide. She is the author most recently of Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (The Penguin Press, 2007) and also BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004), an investigation into the women in George W. Bush's Cabinet.

I'm following Kat's lead and leaving out the moderator. If you can't cover war resisters, you don't deserve to be mentioned. If you can mention Darrell Anderson in an article last month and never note that he is a war resister, you're a coward and your name doesn't belong at this site unless we're ridiculing you. Hence, no mention of the moderator. Alicia was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's "Phoney Terror and Black America" (Black Agenda Report) this week:

Ever since September 11, 2001 Americans have had a legitimate fear of terrorist attacks, yet the government has done little to ease those fears. Color coded terror alerts were announced on a consistently convenient basis. They were meant to make the public more supportive of war, or fearful of changing political horses midstream. Miraculously, none have been issued since the November 2004 presidential election.
Despite the Bush pledge to catch bin Laden "dead or alive," Osama is still at large and there have been no terror convictions of any substance. There has been plenty of publicity about dubious cases that don't pass the smell test. Those cases are always built around the entrapment of Muslims, immigrants and African-Americans.
The most recent case to make headlines involved Guyanese and Trinidadian immigrants. They followed through on an informant-inspired plan to blow up JFK airport in New York. The informant was a
convicted drug dealer looking at the possibility of a life sentence. It is an understatement to say that he had an incentive to create a terror plot. Criminals weaseling out of their own legal troubles are at the heart of many of these cases.
The "plot" ringleader, Russell deFreitas, was unemployed at the time of his arrest, and had been homeless on more than one occasion. He had no money, weapons, explosives or plot that could possibly have been carried out.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, June 15, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 15, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more US service members, a US jet crashes in Iraq, gas shortages plauge Iraq and more.
Starting with US service members. Today, the US military has announced multiple deaths of US service members. They announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near their vehicle while conducting operations in Kirkuk Province, Thursday." And they announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Thursday." And they announced [PDF format warning]: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Wednesday in a non-combat related incident, which is currently under investigation." That was five announced deaths which took the current ICCC total for the number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began (March 2003) to 3519 with the total for the month of June thus far at 42.
That was before a F-16 crashed in Iraq today. CBS and AP report that the US Air Force is calling the crash "an accident" and not giving out any details which includes the status of the pilot.  CNN reports that plan "crashed in Iraq at 12:27 a.m." and that "Pentagon sources" have told them the pilot died in the crash.  Reuters notes the crash comes as 9 helicopters have already crashed in Iraq this year.  The Toledo Blade reports, "A fighter pilot from Toledo's 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, is unaccounted for after a crash while flying an F-16 today during a mission in Iraq."
Turning to war resistance.  In June of 2006, Ehren Watada became the first US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq and in February of 2007 his kangaroo court-martial ended in a mistrial over the objections of the defense when Judge Toilet sensed (rightly) things weren't going well for the prosecution.  As noted Tuesday, Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reports the second court-martial is set to start July 23rd.  Barbara Kelly (Juneau Empire) covers the issue of war resistance in a recent column (June 12th) and notes "those who take such a stand are execrcising a certain kind of moral courage . . .  In speaking of Lt. Ehren Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq, Maj. Gen. John Batiste who has been outspoken in his criticism of the president's Iraq policy, recentlyl stated that Watada followed his conscience.  Batiste says he respects Watada even though he does not agree with what the lieutenant did.  Batiste does not consider Watada a coward."  But he has become a cultural touchstone.  Zbignew Zingh (Dissident Voice) uses Watada as one of his examples of how we have now arrived at "Cola Crime."  Also today, Megan Kung (Asian Week) writing about an exhibit of Tezuka Osaumu's artwork notes: "With Guantanamo Bay, Karl Rove, Iraq and 9/11, it does seem like we're living an anime.  Too bad fighting those 'shadowy' forces in real life is not that easy -- remember Ehren Watada?"  A lot do.  His story has traveled far and wide and, if the military does attempt another court-martial, even more people will be paying attention than in February. 
The movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
This week, Iraq Veterans Against the War Adam Kokesh learned that the kangaroo 'court' on him had rendered a verdict: the honorably discharged marine was informed he'd received a general discharge from the IRR.  Earlier, Geoffrey Millard (Truthout) reported on Kokesh and the compilation tells the story up through the news that came out Wednesday -- this is a video report.  Kokesh states at the end, "I think what they were hoping to achieve with this decision is that because it won't effect my benefits the way an other-than-honorable-discharge would that I would go away quietly but that's not but that's not the case and I don't think they understood or any of the things that I've written or bothered to read the e-mail responses to the plea bargain but I'm standing on principle and we're going to contest this on principle and it's not going to go away."
Liam Madden and Cloy Richards are also targeted for speaking out against the illegal war.
Cloy's mother, Tina Richards wrote (at Grassroots America) about their recent Memorial Day march, "He [Cloy] could have chosen to march with the Marines and received numerous cheers.  For him, it's not a choice.  He has a moral imperative to speak out to end this war, and for this he is booed.  It is not an easy route to take, but the one our family has chosen.  Our children are being killed and maimed as others celeberate and we will not let them forget it.  That Memorial Day was one of distress; I waited to see if my son was going to make it through another tough day.  Another memory of what Iraq wrough him.  Would I walk in and find him with a gun in his mouth, or even worse, I didn't come in time.  Every day I fear my son will not survive this war."  The US military has no such concerns.  They've been happy to launch a witch hunt and a campaign of intimidation and silence at Cloy Richards despite knowing full well that he suffers from PTSD.  That was the US military's own 'special thank you' to Cloy Richards.
In different ways, it's a thank you they hand out to many as Aaron Glantz (IPS) demonstrates as he explores the realities for today's returning Iraq veterans which already includes at least 400 homeless while Vietnam homeless veterans "did not usually become homelss until nine to 12 years after their discharge."  Today, the Pentagon announces more money is needed for veterans.  Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Pentagon announced today that America's "military's mental health system fails to meet the needs of troops and is too short of funds and staff to help service members sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan . . .   Repeated and extended deployments to those war zones over the past five years have driven the need for mental health services higher, but resources have not climbed in response, members of a Defense Department task force said."  Are you shocked and suprised?  Then you must work for the alleged which made a point of denying this issue in 2004.  Aaron Glantz notes, "A recent study by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government found that by the time the Iraq and Afghanistan wars end, there will be at least two and a half million vets.  Because of that, the Harvard study concluded, Congress will have to double the VA's budget simply to avoid cutting services."
In Iraq, John Ward Anderson and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report the escalation has reached its target and 28,500 additional US service members have been put on the ground and quote Giddy Gabor Sister II of the Green Zone, Chris Gaver, declaring the "we'll be able to execute the strategy as it was designed."  Such a Happy Talker.  In the real world, Andrew North (BBC) reports that fuel shortages in Baghdad are leading to massive lines (including one where the people went out at daybreak and over 900 were in line), notes that the Ministry of Oil has declared it "a crisis," and that the "attacks on bridges . . . have seriously disrupted fuel tanker traffic into the city."  What, what?  Didn't the US military, Garver in fact, at the start of the week assure the world that the bridge bombings were of little effect?  Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported Tuesday on Garver's reassurance that it was of no great consequence "because we have other resources, we have 20,000 troops on each side of the river" but did allow it may be "inconvenient for the people who live there".  You think?  (It's more than 'inconvenient' for the US military -- no matter how Garver spins it.)
This is the sort of thing Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) is addressing when he notes Iraq is "going to hell" while other things are focused on.  Rothschild goes on to recount Admirall Fallon and John Negroponte 'lobbying' al-Maliki on the oil law "which would turn over Iraqi's liquid treasure to foreign corporations like ExxonMobil.  This is the paramount concern of the Bush administration.  It is being sold to the American people as a way to equalize revenues to various segments of Iraqi society.  But the true reason for it is to line the pockets of U.S. oil executives."  Marilyn Bechtel (People's Weekly World) notes that, in the US, "We rarely hear that a powerful labor movement is defending workers' rights, campaigning for an end to the U.S.-led occupation and for better daily living conditions for ordinary people, and upholding the Iraqi people's right to keep control of their country's great oil resources.  This month, people across the U.S. are getting a glimpse of that other reality, as they hear from two Iraqi trade union leaders, Faleh Abood Umara, general secertary of the Oil Workers Union, and Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Electrical Utility Workers Union and the first woman to head a national union in Iraq."  The tour continues through the 29th and information is available at US Labor Against the War.  Bechtel notes that during the tour thus far, they have met with AFL-CIO's John Sweeny as well as US Congress members Lynn Woolsey and Dennis Kucinich -- Kucinich is, of course, both a member of Congress and running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
From the criminal theft of Iraqi oil to violence . . . It's Friday.  Most are following the F-16 story or Robert Gates surprise visit. 
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports a roadside bombing in Baghdad that left seven Iraqis injured.  the mosque attacks continue today with Reuters noting that one in "Basra was destroyed"  John Ward Anderson and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report "At least 13 Sunni mosques were attacked on Thursday" and today the mosque attacks continued with Reuters noting that one in "Basra was destroyed" today.  AP informs that the attacks on the mosque began on Thursday with some damage and then, on Friday, a new attack ("planting bombs inside the structure and exploding it completely"). Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports: "Only the front gate of the Talha Ibn Abdellah mosque was left standing after the gang planted bombs around the compound, blowing up two domes and a minaret."
CBS and AP note, "The remains of a Brazilian engineer who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005 have been found and positively identified, the Brazilian foreign ministry said Thursday. The remains of engineer Joao Jose Vasconcellos were identified by forensic experts in Kuwait with support from Brazilian embassy personnel, the ministry said in a statement. It did not say when or where the remains were found, which arrived Thursday in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo."  From CNN: "Baghdad authorities also reported finding 25 bodies."  [Reuters notes 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad yesterday.]
Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense, made a surprise visit to Baghdad today.  This follows an incident yesterday.  Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reports that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated David Petraues "isn't in touch with what's going on in Baghdad" after he saw Thursday's USA Today Q&A where David Petraues gushed over alleged "astonishing signs of normalcy" in Baghdad.  Senator John McCain, naturally, clutched his chest, wept and soldiered on as only Senator Crazy can do: with High Drama.  CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, Gates attempted to find a middle between the general and Senate Majority Leader Reid declaring the results to be "a mixed bag."  No confirmation to rumors that Gates then hollered "Hit me! Papa's got a mixed bag!" while breaking it down old school with the Mashed Potato.
Meanwhile, one of McClatchy Newspapers' Iraqi correspondents has posted (at Insided Iraq) about Falluja noting, "The city is under seige.  You cann not go in only through certain checkpoints witha  badge issued by the marines.  The main soccer field in the city is now a cemetery.  The only amusement park in the city was looted and destroyed; its trees were used by the locals to bake their bread.  Now the former amusment park is intended to be the next cemetery.  Instead of being the city of mosques it will be the city of cemeteries and this will be another achieveement of the invasion that residents of Fallujah will remember through generations."  The correspondent goes on to note the need for burials, for cell phone service to be restored, electricity, water  and notes that the US military does not allow people to come and go freely: "In a prison you can enter but you can not leave.  In Fallujah you can not enter and you can not leave."
In media news, the latest episode of Bill Moyers Journal airs on PBS in many markets tonight (check your local listings) and in a commentary in the latest episode, he notes:
We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites--the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers.  Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail. 
It is well known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby--once Vice President Cheney's most trust adviser--has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury.  Lying.  Not a white lie, mind you.  A killer lie. 
Scooter Libby deliberately poured poising into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.  Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places -- including his boss Dick Cheney-- outed a covert CIA agent.  Libby then lied to cover their tracks.  To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth.  "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered," wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. 
You'll need to check out Bill Moyers Journal.  Remember, Hilda (Hilda's Mix) notes that, online, Bill Moyers Journal is welcoming to all -- it has text, audio and video. And that can't be stressed enough. 
In other media news, as independent media continues to be under attack, News Dissector Danny Schechter's "Special Blog: Can Our Media Channel Survive?" announces the potential fate of which may shut down: "If we can get 1500 of our readers (that means you) to give $25, we can keep going for another quarter. [PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION ONLINE]"
Finally, independent journalist John Pilger is on a speaking tour with his new book Freedom Next Time and his documentary Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (which looks at DC, Afghanistan and Iraq). His next stop is Chicago for the 2007 Socialism conference. At 11:30 am Saturday June 16th, he and Anthony Arnove will participate in a conversation, audience dialogue and book signing (Arnove is the author most recently of IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) and that evening (still June 16th) at 7:30 Pilger will be at Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare (5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018) as part of a panel of international activists. To attend the conference, the fee is $85. For Saturday and Sunday only, the price is $70. To attend only one session, the cost is ten dollars. "Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books. For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or For more information, email"

The Socialism 2007 conference will take place in Chicago from June 14-17. Along with Pilger and Arnove, others participating will include Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, Joshua Frank, Amy Goodman, Sharon Smith, Dave Zirin, Camilo Mejia, Jeremy Scahill, Jeffrey St. Clair and many others.

Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.

Other Items

Since Friday morning in Baghdad, the US military has announced multiple deaths of US service members. They announced: "Three Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near their vehicle while conducting operations in Kirkuk Province, Thursday." And they announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Thursday." And they announced [PDF format warning]: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier died Wednesday in a non-combat related incident, which is currently under investigation." That's five announced deaths and the current ICCC total for the number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began (March 2003) is 3519 with the total for the month of June thus far at 42. Not that there's been news coverage or commentary from our media -- big or small -- to really inform you of that. Reuters count is also 3519.

Hey, let's drop back to the New York Times, from the previous entry: "Alissa J. Rubin has the temerity to maintain that 'Thursday passed with few violent incidents despite the destruction on Wednesday of the minarets of a holy shrine in Samarra sacred to Shiites'." You think the friends and families of the 4 dead US service members agree with Rubin's judgement that there were "few violent incidents"?

And the mosque attacks continue today with Reuters noting that one in "Basra was destroyed" today. AP informs that the attacks on the mosque began on Thursday with some damage and then, on Friday, a new attack ("planting bombs inside the structure and exploding it completely"). Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports: "Only the front gate of the Talha Ibn Abdellah mosque was left standing after the gang planted bombs around the compound, blowing up two domes and a minaret." Tina Susman and Suhail Ahmad (Los Angeles Times) report 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad yesterday and Lauren Frayer (AP) notes that yesterday's mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone included: "one that hit on a street close to the Iraqi parliament less than a half hour before U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte passed nearby."

In the US, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saw Thursday's USA Today Q&A where David Petraues was doing the Operation Happy Talk he does so well ("astonishing signs of normalcy" in Baghdad) and looking that the then freshly released Pentagon report (which all but screams "LIAR! LIAR!" at all the Waves of Happy Talk) leading Reid to declare Petraues "isn't in touch with what's going on in Baghdad." William Roberts (Bloomberg News), on the same topic, notes Reid said Petraues' comments were not reality but "just trying to make the president feel good." Crazy John McCain issued a statement (from the maternity ward? Read Wally and Cedric's "THIS JUST IN! JOHN MCCAIN'S KNOCKED UP!" and "Senator Crazy with child!") that he was gravely disappointed. Sadly, the statement did not end with the words "in myself." Nor did Senator Crazy's statement of disappointment end with "my poll numbers." Senator Crazy, it starts with you. Focus on your own recovery.

Also in the US, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Lt. Col. William H. Steele will face a court-martial at an undetermined date in the future according to a statement released by the military and that this follows his Article 32 hearing which took place in May with the charges for the court-martial as follows: "aiding the enemy, possessing classified information, disobeying orders and engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer for his alleged relationship with a female Iraqi interpreter."

In many markets, PBS stations will be airing the new episode of NOW with David Brancaccio tonight. (Many, but not all, check your local listings.) The new episode's topic:

In the 1970's and 80's, Land Developer Gary Bradley worked to transform Austin, Texas' pristine hill country into lucrative residential subdivisions, making both headlines and lots of money. When local residents learned of new plans to develop 4,000 acres over nearby Barton Creek, they rose up to stop Bradley and his partners in their tracks. Wheres the developers had strong connections in the Texas legislature -- and a powerful ally in eventual Governor George W. Bush -- the city had an even stronger connection to their unspoiled home.
On Friday, June 15 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW's David Brancaccio talks with filmmaker Laura Dunn about her documentary, The Unforseen, which captures the drama, passion and heartfelt convictions on all sides of the conflict without making easy targets of any of them.
The NOW website will provide a clip from the film as well as featured commentary from Robert Redford starting Friday morning, June 15th.

In addition, last week's report on the future of internet radio is available online at the program's website or at YouTube [those links should take you straight to the reports]. And on the topic of the media, here's an excerpt from Larry Pinkney's "The US Mass Media: Tools of Disinformation and Control" (The Black Commentator):

Black America knows, from continuous and deeply painful first-hand experience, that those politicians and "journalists" who, for example, feign surprise and ignorance at there having been no so-called "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq are, in fact, part and parcel of what the US mass media and "educational" system have always been about: deceit and disinformation [see Black Commentator-American Democracy: Legacy of Hypocrisy & Deceit]. In this vein, it is stunning to the point of being absurd that the US "news" media, which represents the only nation in the world to have actually used nuclear weapons - having dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities - dares to schizophrenically portray America as if it has never used weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations, and as if other nations (particularly of color) throughout the world are not keenly aware of this fact.
We must steadfastly refuse to succumb to the deliberate disempowering, inaccurate, and wholly misleading terms and expressions used by the US mass media, including "educational" institutions and so-called "news" and information outlets. An example of this is the misleading and inaccurate term "third world debt." There is absolutely no such thing as so-called third world debt. Rather, the accurate definition and description is actually "first world" (i.e. European and US) extortion. Yes, it is extortion by European nations and the US (through thievery of natural resources, amoral subjugation, colonization and neocolonization) of the peoples of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Central & South America. To reiterate: There is no such thing as "third world debt;" there is, quite bluntly, US and European extortion of these nations.

And from the Green Party of Suffolk:

Press Contact:
Kimberly Wilder, Green Party of Suffolk Press Secretary
(631) 422-4702 / votewilder at yahoo dot com
The Green Party of Suffolk is holding a "Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" on Friday, June 22nd at the scenic Setauket Neighborhood House.
The evening's events will include: A Silent Art Auction; display of youth and adult poster contest entries; music by "Blacklisted and the Banned"; and a vegetarian/vegan potluck dinner.
This event was originally scheduled for St. Patrick's day, and was snowed out. We are excited to hold it in June, when guests may enjoy the porch at the Setauket Neighborhood House.
For information and directions, see details below, or go to:
Pictures and videos of some of the art to be auctioned can be found at:
A steel sculpture of a peace sign by the artist, Portugie. It is made from rolled steel and is about 12 inches in diameter. Portugie, aka John Phillips, is a Babylon sculptor, musician, and public access producer.
"Jardin du Luxembourg" by Peter Josyph. Media: acrylic, oil, and wax-oil crayon on handmade French paper. Artist notes: "I chose a nice abstract (one of a few post-9/11 works) that happens to be on the best paper made in the world: extremely heavy handmade paper from a mill somewhere in France, paper I've only seen in Paris and have had to carry back with me. Its also of a series that enables me to double-sign it: once vertically, once horizontally: very user-friendly for accommodating wallspace!"
A painting, "Escaping the Fire", by Amityville poet/painter Lois V. Walker. The painting is acrylic and multimedia, and measures 15x21. More works by Lois V. Walker can be found at
A birch weaving by Manorville naturalist/puppeteer/ farmer/artist Tom Stock. It is mounted on a curved piece of wood. The weaving is made from Adirondack Birch Bark that naturally peels off the trees. It measures 8 x 14.
A pastel by Huntington artist/musician Gary Ivan. The piece measures 8 x 11.
Four pieces donated by Ron Thomson for the Silent Art Auction. More works by Ron Thomson can be found at
A photograph, "End of the Road", by Long Island photographer Robert A. Kelly. The Photograph is 10 x 10. More works by Robert A. Kelly at
A photograph, "Shep Jones Lane", by Robert A. Kelly. The Photograph is 10 x 10.
The Silent Auction will also include a number of autographed books, some of them by the artists whose art is also represented. Amityville scholar/poet Pat Falk has also donated a signed copy of her most recent book It Happens As We Speak:A Feminist Poetics and a book of her poetry.
"Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" Information and Directions:
The Green Party of Suffolk will be holding a "Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" on Friday, June 22 from 7pm to 10pm at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. (Main Street is north of 25A and 6/10th of a mile west of Nichols Road)
The evening will include a performance by the music group "Blacklisted and the Banned." There will also be a potluck dinner, a silent art auction, and a display of entries from the "Bring Home Our Troops" poster contest.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes will be served. Admission is $15 (with a dish) and $20 (without a dish). Children are welcome. There will be a Silent Art Auction of work by local artists.

Blacklisted & The Banned will perform their unique style of original, political music. Blacklisted features local musicians Sonny Meadows, Bob Westcott, Jon Foreman, Bob Campbell and Robert Langley. The Banned has a new CD out: I Never Thought I'd Miss Richard Nixon. You can purchase the new CD at CD Baby.

The Green Party is an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. The Green Party's values can be described by the four pillars of: Nonviolence; Grassroots Democracy; Ecological Wisdom; and Social and Economic Justice.
Donations and/or requests for advance tickets can be sent to: Green Party of Suffolk, 14 Robin Drive, Huntington, NY 11743. Please note that political donations are not tax-deductible. For more information call Roger at (631) 351-5763 or go to
Green Party of Suffolk:
Information on Blacklisted and the Banned:
Setuaket Neighborhood House:
Information on poet, Pat Falk:

The e-mail address for this site is

The escalation is 'complete' -- not that that means anything

The full contingent of new U.S. forces being sent to Iraq -- what military leaders call a "surge" of troops to improve security and stability in the capital -- was completed by Friday, with 28,500 additional troops now posted in the country, a U.S. military spokesman said.
"The strategic movement of forces into the theater is complete, and the surge is just starting," said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. "Now that the force is here, we'll see the counterinsurgency start in full swing, and we'll be able to execute the strategy as it was designed."
The full mobilization of the surge comes at the end of another tense week in Iraq, following the bombing Wednesday of an important Shiite shrine in Samarra. A widespread curfew and appeals for calm appears to have muted the cycle of retaliation that followed a 2006 attack on the same mosque. At least 13 Sunni mosques were attacked on Thursday, but the violence did not seem to be escalating into open warfare.

The above, noted by Lloyd, is from John Ward Anderson and Joshua Partlow's "U.S. Says Iraq Troop Surge Complete" (Washington Post). Read that last sentence again to be sure we all grasp that, at a minimum, 13 mosques were attacked. Over at the New York Times -- they're giddy from other news -- Alissa J. Rubin has the temerity to maintain that "Thursday passed with few violent incidents despite the destruction on Wednesday of the minarets of a holy shrine in Samarra sacred to Shiites."

So the 'surge' is complete. For now. The escalation is part of the never ending 'crackdown' begun in June of 2006 and continued since then. A lot of reporters try to fool and josh and act like February 2007 is a new 'plan.' Tell is to the service members who were leaving Iraq in August -- or in one case, had left and were sent right back. There is no plan, there is no strategy. For 12 months, Bully Boy's answer to the violence has been toss more American lives on the bombs and before the bullets while Nouri al-Maliki thinks he can scream "Curfew! Curfew!" for another 12 months and that somehow demonstrates he is a well trained puppet. And the press goes along with the nonsense and repeats talks of 'new plans' and acts as though the crackdown begun in June of 2006 (in response to the storming of the walls of the Green Zone) hasn't gone on and on and on. Or that the 'answers' provided aren't the same thing over and over.

In fairness to Rubin, she did file a piece. All together now, in our best Tim Russert, "If it's summer, it's Israel." And so it goes once again.

Matt Lauer had to repeat "America's closest ally" how many times on Today? (We were checking out, Jim and I, and it was on in the lobby.)

Meanwhile, there are multiple deaths of US service members announced (in Iraq, the war that's being forgotten again). We'll address that in the next entry this morning.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

In reading the series of important issues brought up in FPIF's excellent round table sparked by Lawrence Wittner's essay, I find myself most concerned by the historic omissions from Wittner's own introduction. The question is undoubtedly appropriate, and Wittner's framing of possible explanations for weakness -- ending in the fact of corporate militaristic hegemony -- is useful and correct. But his own review of recent movement history for solutions is seriously flawed. Yes, progressive organizations have been challenging elite dominance for some time, but unlike Wittner's models of unity there is little to suggest that One Big Centralized Peace Union would be the most effective means of countering corporate moves for continuous war.
The history of the U.S. peace and justice movements of the 1950s to the present is in dire need of careful review. These essays cannot adequately address this need, so I will simply attempt to highlight some of Wittner's errors in as succinct a form as possible, for further discussion and review.
First, though SANE and Women's Strike for Peace undoubtedly gained one significant piece of reform legislation in 1963, there is little evidence to suggest that their work or the Test Ban Treaty itself secured any kind of lasting peace or peace sentiment. Indeed, the years following 1963 saw dramatic increases in Cold War rhetoric and arms build-up, as well as hot war realities all over the globe. In fact, the purging of Communists from the ranks of SANE during this same general period may have caused lasting damage in the movement as a whole, especially regarding the class and race issues which the CPUSA and socialist forces gave special emphasis to. Since many respondents to the Wittner article call for greater analytic and programmatic integration of the issues of race, class, and militarism, there is reason to believe that that the early 1960s SANE example balances more on the minus than the plus side.
Second, SANE/FREEZE, though gaining numerical superiority in the peace movement of the 1980s as far as membership was concerned, was far from the central force uniting the movement for nuclear disarmament at that time. In fact, a careful review of 1980s disarmament history will reveal that the history-making June 12, 1982 United Nations Special Session demonstration, which brought over one million people to the streets of New York City in what was the watershed event of the period, was led by none other than Leslie Cagan of the Mobilization for Survival, now the co-chair of United for Peace and Justice. Sometimes bitter disputes arose in the months building up to that demonstration, where representatives of pre-merger SANE and FREEZE and others argued that a single-issue focus on freezing current arms level should be the major movement demand. Masses of grassroots groups that had been building the work for years, however, ultimately demanded that the movement link the freeze with more general anti-nuclear arms and anti-nuclear power issues. Direct actions targeting all of the world's nuclear powers enabled demonstrators to make connections particular to their own ideologies (in a day of coordinated civil disobedience, for example, anti-Stalinists sat in protest against the Soviet nuclear arsenal at the same time that anti-apartheid activists targeted the South African government). The delicate and temporary federation of diverse forces that made the anti-nuclear and freeze movements so significant in the 1980s were championed by structures and peoples resembling the UFPJ, not SANE/FREEZE.

The above, noted by Micah, is from Foreign Policy in Focus' "What the Peace Movement Should Do Now" which features Robin Hahnel, Michael Foley, and Matt Meyer and Meyer who is quoted above (that's an excerpt, he offers additional reasoning). This is a follow up to an essay by Lawrence Wittner which led to a roundtable entitled "What's Next for the Peace Movement" and now the above. Everyone who contributed to the discussion (whether you agreed with their personal suggestions/thoughts or not) and Foreign Policy in Focus, contributed to efforts of peace, efforts to end the illegal war. It's a war that's gone on for over four years. 'Hot topics' from the Water Cooler Set aren't going to end the illegal war. Refusing to address it or mentioning it in one sentence and then working an Iraq term into your title of a piece that is not about Iraq isn't going to end it. Playing dumb's not going to end it or covering everything but the illegal war or, as Mike rightly noted, treating it as War As An After Thought, won't end it. I'm not saying, if the peace movement wants to end to end the illegal war, they need to get serious. They have been serious (and creative and inspired, etc.). I'm talking about the coverage and I'm (Teena Marie nod) talking indy media to you, baby, square, square biz.

Now big and small, media loves to talk about America not being 'touched' by the illegal war. Which must translate as either very small NYC recruitment or else media doesn't hang with the types that would enlist in that region. Across the country, people are effected by this war (even if media isn't). Speaking with a large group of high school and college students tonight, Jim and I heard about it. We were far far from NYC where the media is based and made the huge distance makes it hard for NYC based media to hear the voices? (Yeah, let's pretend that's it.)

They spoke of sisters and brothers and parents, in one case an aunt, they spoke of people they knew who had enlisted (some would be going to Iraq, some already knew they were) and they spoke of Iraqis. The silence around Abeer only exists in media, big and small. In fact, one young woman wanted to point out the huge problem with media as she saw it: An Iraqi woman is stoned and that American columnists can write about "over and over" but Abeer? Jim offered they can't even say Abeer's name. The woman agreed completely. But her point, and it's worth noting, is that American columnists who took a pass on Abeer were comfortable discussing the Iraqi teenager who was stoned. What was different, she wondered? Of course, the very obvious answer is that the woman was stoned by Iraqis and Abeer was gang-raped and murdered (and her parents were murdered as was her five-year-old sister) by US forces.

"It's really easy to talk about one and not the other," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

She takes Abeer very seriously (and she wasn't the only one who did). But she is so right. One is endless copy and tales of Romeo & Juliet reenacted for the ages. (In Romeo & Juliet, they both died -- at their own hands. But don't try to upset the flow of gas bags.) They can get lumps in their throat as they picture that love story playing out . . . if only, hand to heart, that hadn't happened. A fourteen-year-old girl gang-raped, murdered and her copses set on fire by US forces is something that's a little too real and a little too less drama for them. It's a solid point (one I wish I had thought of). But there's no 'gap' for those students, there's no gulf needing to be bridged. It's probably an easy out for media -- big and small -- to claim that's the case. It excuses their nonsense columns on American Idol and rushing to the Water Cooler topic of the day and all the other nonsense they offer (repeatedly) while a very real, very illegal war drags on and people are dying and being maimed and wounded for life.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3504. Tonight? 3515. That includes the US military's Friday announcement: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Thursday." And, of course, the Pentagon's recent estimate (released today) is that 100 Iraqis are dying each day. And, of course, the Green Zone was the site of repeated mortar attacks today. The 'crackdown' is now a year old. They have repeatedly sent more US service members into Baghdad in the last 12 months (with more on the way) and the 'crackdown' has never worked. But for over a year now, doing the same thing over and over has passed as "a plan" and as "strategy."

Back in the real world, two other names that came up tonight were Cloy Richards and Tina Richards. They weren't mentioned as "those people" or "the soldier and his mother." Students knew their names. Far from the 'worldy' home of media, students knew them and knew the story. Lucy notes Tina Richards' "Memorial Day: A Marine Mom's Perspective" (Grassroots America):

We are recent additions to this parade. Silence greets us; pockets of applause and calls from the crowd, "TRAITOR!" "TERRORIST!" as we continue to march the parade route.
We will not be turned away. We hold our heads high. I reach out to my son. A proud Marine, awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and Good Conduct Medal because he served two tours in Iraq. He could have chosen to march with the Marines and received numerous cheers. For him, it's not a choice. He has a moral imperative to speak out to end this war, and for this he is booed. It is not an easy route to take, but the one our family has chosen. Our children are being killed and maimed as others celebrate and we will not let them forget it.
That Memorial Day was one of distress; I waited to see if my son was going to make it through another tough day. Another memory of what Iraq wrought him.
Would I walk in and find him with a gun in his mouth, or even worse, I didn't come in time. Every day I fear my son will not survive this war. I have searched my heart and my mind wondering if there is something more I can do to ease his pain, to stop his torture, to prevent the inevitable. I feel at times I'm watching a Shakespearean tragedy; I know the end and I'm powerless to stop it.
Each week brings more tragedy into our lives. I work night and day with the only option I feel I have left to help my son. To end this war. Each day this war rages on, each day his brothers-and-sisters-in-arms die and the casualties mount, my son suffers. The chance to heal can only happen when this war ends.
I'm such a coward. I'm so terrified what this Memorial Day is bringing my son. I see the downward spiral he is in, and I'm powerless to stop it and cannot even bear to watch it. I call to talk to him and I don't know who I'm talking to. Afraid to say anything because each word I say sparks new anger or sadness.

Tina Richards isn't a coward. She's scared for very real reasons and she's plugging away regardless. (If you're interested in/able to join her in DC, more info is at Grassroots America). She knows what she's up against. She's seen what happened to Cindy Sheehan when Cindy dared to stray from the party line and she's experienced it herself because, at a time when one would think the left would be sympathetic to her, Party Hacks were all over the so-called left sites rushing to defend David Obey while ignoring or minimizing her. (For those not familiar, non-progressive Obey told Tina Richards he was sick of "idiot liberals" -- I have no idea if she is even a liberal, I know she's a parent trying to help her child.) She saw that happen. She saw how few stepped up to the plate. The Party Hacks came out in full force writing their op-eds and the support she had either grew silent or cratered in many cases.

All that she's fighting for, all that Cloy Richards is fighting for, is very difficult because there's so little support from the media. And let's not forget that in addition to having to deal with everything and maintain, Cloy Richards is also the target of a witch hunt by the US military (as are Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden). That's a really strange way to say "thank you." And it's appalling in every instance. But when you're dealing with Cloy Richards who has been open, and Tina Richards has been open about this as well, about the PTSD he is suffering from (not 'suffered' -- a magic pill didn't pop onto the scene and take it away), it is even more offensive. Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden probably have their own things they carry and I'm not minimizing those. But Cloy Richards is trying to hold on after serving in Iraq. That's why Tina Richards has been fighting. He is just trying to get through the day and this is what the US military thinks is 'helpful' to a vet? Threatening them with the loss of benefits and worse? Putting them and their families through this crap?

It should make you cry. (I'm not embarrassed to say it's makes me cry.) But, by all means, professional Party Hacks, use your forums to defend David Obey and toss Cloy Richards and Tina Richards on the trash bin because, goodness golly, they might not make for an electable with regards to that 2008 White House prize. It's disgusting.

And it needs to be noted, no one is as tough as Adam Kokesh comes off. That's not meant as an insult. But egg him on, and he'll fight back -- he'll deal with whatever he has to on his own. That's his type. Try to start something with him the way the US military has (and it's not over on his end) and he'll dig in his heels and he'll be immovable. But you better believe that no one (including Liam Madden) gives the time and effort like that except to help someone else from hurting. This isn't an ego trip for any of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. They know what they lived through and they're trying to stop anyone else (American, Iraqi, British, etc.) from having to go through that same thing.

But by all means, let's focus on the 2008 White House race. And let's not even focus on the Iraq positions/plans (or lack of them), let's just find a way to be completely useless and screw Iraqis, screw US service members, screw aid workers and everyone else over in Iraq because the most important thing in 2007 is a 2008 election. (That was sarcasm.)

It's sickening and it's disgusting to see this repeatedly play out, week after week, month after month. But the thing is, outside of the media, Iraq is registering. And when citizens went to the polls in November, they weren't voting on an abstract notion of Iraq. It registered then as well.

What we lack isn't a peace movement and it's not even compelling stories. What we lack is a means to get those out. But as demonstrated with the students tonight, peer to peer, people are doing what the media refuses to do.

And what the media refuses to do was a topic with plenty of examples. The question was how come people don't call out the media? Indies call out big media of course. But why won't they call out small media which, with few exceptions, really can't claim to be doing anything or be any better? Well, if you go on ___ and you say to the host, "The problem is independent media!" -- now do you really think you'll be invited back on? And if you write that, do you really think many print outlets are going to run it? It's not about anyone getting their own name in print or getting on radio or TV, it's about the fact that there are so little opportunities given from independent media to discuss the illegal war that no one dares state the obvious for fear that they might damage the entire movement's chances.

With few exceptions, independent media has made themselves worthless. When was the last real coverage -- serious, lasting more than one segment, article or day? November 2004. That's three years ago. Maybe if another city is slaughtered we'll get some more coverage? Sadly, no. It's not safe for anyone who can't pass for Iraqi to be unembedded now (and not even safe for those who can). Chances are the next full out slaughter (didn't we have a smaller scale version of that last summer in Ramadi before indymedia went running off to Mexico and then Israel) we'll take place with little press attention. It's doubtful the White House isn't also aware of that fact.

The e-mail address for this site is And expect little tomorrow other than link-fests in the morning. I'm tired and will be up in less three hours.