Wednesday, June 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, issues fall by the wayside for the 'issues' (smears and distortions) and more.
Starting with war resistance. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. He's no longer threatened with deporation on the 12th (Thursday) but has been 'extended' to July 10th. Will the Stephen Harper government really attempt to deport him? That will depend upon how much support Corey Glass has. Over the weekend Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) issued "NUPGE urges Harper to let Iraq war resisters stay in Canada:"
That's their statement in full and it's very important. A huge cross-section of people ensured that war resisters could stay in Canada during Vietnam -- students, labor, churches. NUPGE's stepping up is important. To keep the pressure on, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca").
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Turning to US catty-claws. Senator John McCain made a statement that was clear and one that this community disagrees with. Appearing on NBC's Today Show, he was asked about withdrawal from Iraq. And stated he wasn't worried about withdrawal estimates ("that's not too important") and somehow it was time for Democrats to embarrass themsleves. What's McCain talking about? His position is that troops should stay in Iraq. He would argue he's not talking about a continued war, he would state that (as he said on Today this morning), troops should remain there as they do in Japan, South Korea, etc.
Anyone truly opposed to the illegal war has an opening to go after McCain. Sadly, we don't have a lot of elected officials really opposed to the illegal war. So instead it was time for hypocrisy and catty natures. Susan Rice -- a long time War Hawk and monger working for the Obama camapign -- repeated talking points of how McCain was "confused," "confusing," etc. As Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times) wonders, "Is that a code for suggesting McCain is too old to understand what is going on?" Rice denies it but the Catty Obama Crew has already attempted that nonsense before. They are the cattiest campaign. Senator John Kerry tried to rescue Rice. As usual, he failed (and needs to stop worrying about Obama's campaign and start worrying about the Democratic challenger to his own seat). US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saw an opening and immediately issued her own statement: "Senator McCain's statement that it is 'not too important' when U.S. troops are redeployed from Iraq is yeat another indication how out of touch he is with the effect the war in Iraq is having on the readiness of our military. Addressing the national security implications . . ." blah, blah, blah. No one cares, Nancy. Everyone knows you're the Speaker of the House. Everyone knows you took power in January 2007. Everyone knows the illegal war drags on. Before you hop on your high horse you need to grasp just how disliked you are around the country. (Visit some campuses, Nancy.) Your self-serving statements only reflect poorly on you and Democratic leadership.
And that's the real revelation here, how Iraq is now a non-issue for Democrats. They can't even showboat convincingly because they've had nearly two years in which they controlled both houses of Congress and they didn't do a damn thing to end the illegal war. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, uses a lot of words as well. He only makes himself sound like a hypocrite. Too many to name embarrass themselves deliberately twisting McCain's meaning. Of all the people in the world who make sense on McCain's remarks, it's Senator Joe Lieberman. (Whom I personally loathe.) Lieberman labels the organized hit "reflexive attacks" and notes, "It's very obvious what John McCain is saying, and it's consistent with what he's said along the way." [Click here for the Baltimore Sun's Mark Silva's write up which includes text but also includes video of McCain on Today.] Lieberman also notes what Pelosi, Reid, Biden, Kerry and Rice don't, John McCain actually has a child DEPLOYED to Iraq.
We're not getting issues, we're getting smears. McCain firmly believes the US needs to remain in Iraq and he's not arguing for the illegal war to be continued, he thinks the illegal war (which he doesn't think is illegal) can be tranferred to a smaller US presence which would include many decades on Iraqi soil. That is his position.
It's a position the Democrats should love because it should provide them with the ability to present a strong contrast between McCain and themselves. Today we get smears, catty remarks (that were intended to be about McCain's age or mental well being), we get hypocrisy and so much more. The country (US) would be better off if we could address the issue. The issue isn't "Is McCain senile?" (he's not) nor is it "McCain disrespects the military!" (he doesn't). The issue is McCain has a viewpoint on how he sees the US presence in Iraq. Why can't the Democrats take that issue and run with it?
Partly because for all the nonsense of 'hope' and 'change,' Barack's advanced via character assassinations on his opponents and that's what's going on when McCain's sanity or his support for the military is questioned. It's catty, it's embarrassing and it doesn't help Barack appear mature. But there's no real difference Barack's calling for. June 5th he told Candy Crowley (CNN, link has text and video) that his Iraq 'policy' on withdrawal (his 'promise' throughout the campaign that US troops would be out of Iraq within 10 months of his becoming president -- in a speech in Houston, Texas, he dropped from 16 months down to 10), "Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind." Really? Because in your speeches you don't include that qualifier. He added, "Obviously, I'm open to the facts and to reason. And there's no doubt that we've seen significant improvements in security on the ground in Iraq. And our troops, and Gen. Petraeus, deserve enormous credit for that. I have to look at this issue from a broader perspective, though." He has to look at it from a broader perspective? Does anyone remember his stump speech that included that 'applause' line? No, because he didn't include it in his speeches.
Barack Obama is not promising to end the illegal war. He is not promising anything. That's the point Samantha Power was making to the BBC in April and why she explained that these 'pledges' he makes on the campaign trail mean nothing, that he'd decide what to do about Iraq if he got into the White House. Not before then.
And that's why this mock outrage is being created by various Democrats [on the very day that Michael Scherer (Time magazine) points out how faux outrage bit Barack in the butt]. It's a way to create the appearance of a difference between Barack Obama and John McCain. Heaven forbid we have a real difference.
When Barack is asked hard questions or hit with real criticism, his response is to whine that he wants to focus on the issues, that he wishes he could focus on the issues (and his waffles) but instead . . . His campaign launched a smear job on John McCain today. They didn't have to do that. They could have taken the issue of Iraq and presented an actual difference. Instead, it was John McCain's too old, he's senile, he doesn't appreciate military service, blah, blah, blah. Not an ounce of truth in any of those charges.
It didn't have to be that way. If Iraq's going to be an issue, let's have it be one, a real one. Let's see Barack stop the character assassinations and start having that always postponed conversation about the issues he keeps insisting he wants.
And anyone considering themselves part of the peace movement better start hollering. If this is what's going to pass for "Iraq discussions" ('McCain's old and crazy and he hates the military!'), don't even pretend that the illegal war is ending in the next four years. We should all be appalled and saying, "ENOUGH!" Joshua Frank (Dissident Voice) explains, "Four years ago, as the sentiment against George W. Bush's administration mounted, the entire left-wing spectrum hung on tight to the coattails of John Kerry, grasping for dear life. Critics called it the 'Anybody but Bush' syndrome, but it should have been more aptly coined 'Nobody but Kerry.' Virtually every progressive cause, from labor to environment, had been co-opted by a mindset that would have ensured more of the same. There was no pressure put on Kerry to change, and he didn't." Naomi Klein called that nonsense out in real time and has repeatedly warned since then that the peace movement does not need to go silent for the 'good' of an election.
The peace movement can get co-opted again, it can buy into the Iraq War 'really doesn't matter,' or any other nonsense it wants but as someone who was on campuses after that crap, 'leaders' who think they can pull the wool over the young people again better grasp there will be fallout. The peace movement should call out any candidate who refuses to address Iraq. When Team Obama has the perfect opportunity to draw a real distinction and instead results to smears, it's an indication that Barack's not overly concerned about Iraq. The Iraq War is an ongoing, illegal war that will hit the six year mark next year. Any candidate who thinks character attacks are addressing it really isn't fit to run for the presidency. And anyone thinking "We just have to be silent until November" better accept the illegal war isn't ending via silence. As Joshua Frank notes, despite Democrats being given control of both houses in the November 2006 elections, "Two years later, we have nothing to show for it. The Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress, yet have rubber stamped virtually ever Iraq war spending bill that has come down the pipeline -- ensuring the bloodbath for years to come."
Let's go straight into some of today's reported violence because the refusal to address Iraq allows the dying to continue.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer and left seven more wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 5 lives with ten more people wounded, a third Baghdad roadside bombing that injured two, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that wounded six people and a Wasit bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer with four more wounded.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps -- Iraq Soldier died of non-battle related causes in Baghdad, June 11. An investigation into the cause of death is under way." 4095 is the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war, 11 is the number for the month thus far.
As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer points out, "It doesn't matter that people of two nations -- the U.S. and Iraq -- are dead set against an agreement, or treaty -- for permanent, er, long-term military bases in Iraq. And never mind what having such a presence in Iraq would do to that nation's relationship with Iran (a major player on the ground), where leaders suspect that the bases in the 'enslaved' Iraq might be used as launching points to attack their country. The Bush administration is hellbent on banging out the much-denied treaty by the end of July." Leila Fadel and Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) report that the White Hous insists the negotiations on the treaty "can be completed by a July 31 target date" but the White House "is apparently scaling back some of its demands, including backing off one that particularly incenses Iraqis, blanket immunity for private security contractors." They also report that in the US Congress objections are coming from both sides of the aisle as well as from the chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joe Biden) and the Senate Armed Services Committee (Carl Levin). Amit R. Paley and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explore objections to the treaty in Iraq and quote Sami al-Askari ("senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki") stating, "The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq. If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you hear anymore.'" Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) also quotes al-Askari, "There is the camp who still believe that we need the Americans to stay and the other camp that says we don't need them anymore. . . . If I'm from the group that believes in the need for the Americans to stay, and then they face me with such a draft, then I'll say, look, I'd rather go with the others." As was noted (and objected to) throughout The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Show that played Congress in April, the Iraqi Parliament will get a vote on the treaty (disguised as a "Status Of Forces Agreement" by the White House) but the US Senate will not. Apparently, Bully Boy needed to wipe his rear on the US Constitution at least one more time before leaving office so that Constitutional mandate that all treaties be approved by the Senate got tossed out the window. M.D. Nalapat (UPI Asia) argues that if SOFA goes through, the puppet of the occupation (al-Maliki) will fall and "other moderate politicians in Iraq could soon become history. From then onwards, public opinion in Iraq will almost certainly turn in favor of those Shia and Sunni politicians opposed to the pact, creating more followers of Moqtada al-Sadr and the former Baathists." Ghida Fakhry (Al Jazeera) asserts, "If the original deadline is missed, it could mean that major obstacles have emerged and that the plan to rush through a deal before George Bush steps down as president might also be in jeopardy." As Dan Eggen (Washington Post) observes, speaking from Germany, Bully Boy referred to Iraq opposition as "noise".
The Bully Boy of the United States: "First of all, I think we'll end up with a strategic agreement with Iraq. You know, it's all kinds of noise in their system and our system. What eventually will win out is the truth. For example, you read stories perhaps in your newspaper that the U.S. is planning all kinds of permanent bases in Iraq. That's an erroneous story. [58 bases.] The Iraqis know -- will learn it's erroneous, too. We're there at the invitation of the sovereign [puppet] government of Iraq. And I strongly support the agreement because I think it helps send a clear message to the people of Iraq that, you know, that security you're now seeing will continue. And one of the lessons of Iraq is, is that in order for a democracy to develop or in order for an economy to develop, there has to be a measure of security, which is now happening. So I think we'll get the agreement done."
Bully Boy went on to declare, "You know, as to -- look, Eggen, you can find any voice you want in the Iraqi political scene and quote them, which is interesting, isn't it, because in the past you could only find one voice, and now you can find a myriad of voices. It's a vibrant democracy; people are debating." Yes, it appears that one thing the America has transferred to Iraq is relief that the reign of the Bully Boy will end in a few months.
On the US political front, Team Nader breaks down the Lehman Brothers scandal whose Richard S. Fuld announced "a staggering $2.8 billion loss in the second quarter, exceeding the most dire forecasts" and yet nothing changes on Wall Street or, for that matter in Congress: "Still, there is no regulatory action in Washington which doesn't even move on behalf of consumers to regulate the New York Mercantile Exchange where rampant speculation, not supply and demand, decides what you are paying for gasoline and heating oil. With the politicians sleepwalking in Washington, while their campaign pockets are filled by Wall Street cash, isn't it time for the people of America to rouse themselves civically and politically? Act before the financial sector, using your money, shreds itself under the weight of its own top-heavy greed and cliff-hanging mismanagement." Ralph Nader is running for the White House. Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Team Nader also addresses the NBA today by noting an objection Nader raised in 2000. Steve Powell (The Olympian), writing today of the criminal activity of "former referee Tim Donaghy" who has entered guilty pleas to multiple felony charges, points out: "Donaghy claims it happened in a playoff game in 2002. And looking at the Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings series, he makes a good case. Even at the time, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, a presidential candidate this year, sent a letter to Stern complaining about the officiating. The Lakers won the game after shooting 27 free throws in the fourth quarter.".