Monday, July 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Ralph Nader files to be on the ballot in more states, Robin Long's deportation hearing takes place today and Cynthia McKinney declares "Yes, Sojourner, there's a lot out of kilter now, but these two women, Rosa and me, joined by all the men and women in this room, are going to do our best to turn this country right side up again" as she wins the Green Party's presidential nomination Saturday in Chicago.
Starting with war resistance. The American Family News Network's OneNewsNow demonstrates just how some people must actually beg to be stupid -- that's the only explanation for their nonsense. They quote a retired Lt Col Bob Maginnis in the US on war resisters in Canada stating, "The military is pretty strict on treason -- and if it gets its hands on these people, it will put them in jail. They'll spend years, I would expect, in jail. I don't think they're just going to let them go free unless a new president comes in and grants amnesty -- and of course we've seen that in the past." "Treason"? What a moron. Desertion is not treason. As for amnesty and "we've seen that in the past" -- does he mean Vietnam? We saw no amnesty for desertion (Gerald Ford did institute a clemency program for deserters and draft evaders -- there was no amnesty for deserters, not even by Jimmy Carter). Historically, Andrew Johnson gave amnesty in December 25, 1868, FDR gave amnesty in 1933, Harry S. Truman did four amnesties -- all programs included deserters. Canadian MP Bob Rae took to the Toronto Star on Saturday to give a much needed history lesson on Canada during Vietnam, "At the time, those coming over as draft dodgers and deserters knew they would not be able to return home without facing arrest. It would be years before a general amnesty would allow that to happen, and it applied just to the draft dodgers; deserters are still arrested if they return. The Pearson and Trudeau governments kept the border open, despite U.S. objections, and refused to allow Canadian border officials to become agents of American military policy. It strained the relationship -- as did public statements by Canadian officials about the war itself -- but it did not break it. The Vietnam generation has made an extraordinary contribution to the life of the country. In every walk of life, in every profession, in every community, Canada is a better place because we decided to become a place of refuge for those seeking a different political home, even those who were defying American military law to do so." Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times offers the editorial "Seeking asylum in Canada: The case of U.S. Army deserter Joshua Key should prompt the U.S. to do some soul-searching" which notes, "Because of the sympathetic reception that Canada gave U.S. conscientious objectors and deserters during the Vietnam War, Americans may assume that our gentle northern neighbor will grant refuge to the perhaps 200 Iraq war deserters who have fled to Canada and thus spare us the agony of prosecuting them. But times and Canadian laws have changed. Although Canada declined to help the U.S. invade Iraq and its public largely opposes the continuing U.S. operations there, its courts have consistently ruled that U.S. deserters have no right to asylum. The courts have sensibly concluded that Americans who volunteer for military service cannot claim to be conscientious objectors merely because they oppose the war in Iraq, and that soldiers who wish to challenge the conduct of the war can do so through established legal procedures at home without fear of persecution." The editorial notes Canadian Judge Robert Barnes decision regarding Joshua Key's claims for refugee status as well as the motion the House of Commons passed June 3rd) and comes out on the day that Robin Long's hearing takes place.
War Resisters Support Campaign - Vancouver notes that hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:30 this morning. Andy Iven (The Province) reports, "Long's lawyer, Shepherd Moss, will ask the Federal Court this morning to grant a stay of his deportation order" and notes Vancouver's War Resisters Support Campaign chair Bob Ages explaining that Long was never informed that the Canadian Border Services Agency had decided to deport him prior to his being arrested and quotes Ages asking, "Without the decision [being communicated], how do you know you are supposed to appeal?" Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio will feature Sarah Bjorknas (of Vancouver's War Resisters Support Campaign) as a guest this evening. She will be speaking about Robin Long. It airs live on 101.9 FM in Canada ond online from five to six p.m. PST.
Dahlia Hashad: Matthis is with Iraq Veterans Against the War and a conscientious objector himself. Welcome Matthis to Law and Disorder.
Thank you ma'am. It's good to be here.
Dahlia: Matthis, you're here in New York City protesting. Can you tell us why you're here?
Matthis: I call New York City my home but I'm out in front of the Canadian embassy today. I am advocating the rights of Corey Glass and other US war resisters in Canada who may face deportation despite a resoulition of support from the Canadian Parliament for allowing US war resisters to stay in Canada. And that is not right. That is not democratic. The people at large have spoken -- two-thirds of the Canadian people believe US war resisters should be able to stay and the government is prepared to act in opposition to that.
[. . .]
Michael Smith: Matthis, we hear the chants of anti-war activists in the background. We wanted to ask you about yourself. What's led you to the decision to refuse to deploy to Iraq?
Matthis Chiroux: Yes. Well I served for five years in the army. I see a great need for a defensively postured, professional force that can also participate in military operations abroad but I see that this force has been hijacked by those who are not adhering to the Rule of Law anymore as recorded in the Constitution and I refuse to -- I refuse to follow illegal orders.
Michael Smith: Are you under orders now to deploy to Iraq?
Matthis Chiroux: I am. I am under force reactivization orders. The president signed a state of emergency orders declared on September 14, 2001. It's the reason, his authority for calling me back and more or less drafting me as a veteran to go and fight his war in Iraq which I believe to the very core of my self as a soldier and citizen that this war is illegal and I feel bound to refuse to participate.
Michael Smith: When are you supposed to ship out?
Matthis Chiroux: I was supposed to ship out June 15th. Instead I made a speech in Washington, DC. I was there actually informing members of Congress of the plight of war resisters. I met with members and their staff and I think roughly about 30 offices and I put forward to them the fact that military members who cannot call themselves conscientious objectors according to the army's standard are being left with options by the army and that is 1) deploy as ordered despite your beliefs and despite what you understand the law to be; 2) go AWOL -- you know flee the country or, if you stay in the country, go into hiding and live like a criminal . . .
To show your support for Matthis, Iraq Veterans Against the War asks that you:
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).
Moving on to crimes. Abeer. The 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped by US soldiers while her mother, father and five-year-old sister were shot dead in another ream. Following her gang-rape, she was shot dead. Then US soldiers attempted to set her corpse her on fire. Those still in the military when the truth came out (originally the crimes were blamed on "insurgents") admitted their guilt. Steven D. Green was already out. He was supposed to be tried recently but they moved the court day due to a quilting bee. Russel Carollo (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reveals that "Green's attorneys notified prosecutors that they may use insanity as a defense." In a piece published elsewhere, Russel Carollo (Sacramento Bee) reports on the paper's findings after examing "120 cases of people whose backgrounds should have raised the suspicions of military recruiters, including felony convictions and serious drug, alcohol or mental health problems. Of those, 70 were involved in controversial or criminal incidents in Iraq." Mario Lozano Jr. who shot dead Nicola Calipari and wounded Giuliana Sgrena (he also wounded Andrea Carpani -- not mentioned in the article) after journalist Sgrena had been released by kidnappers. Lozano threatened a man with a bat in 1994, his then-wife reported spousal abuse in 2000 (he was in the military at that time), he was wanted for questionin in Fairbanks for threatening a man, wrote bad checks, didn't pay child support. For those who have forgotten, he also blamed his shooting, the death and the two wounded on . . . Sgrena -- yet another indication that he has problems which should have been red flags. There are many other cases including the mother of a soldier whose been charged with drug selling in Iraq and, noting his "history of drug and mental problems," declares, "Shame on my son, but shame on all you people out there who are policing this and allowing this to continue."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing via hand grenade that claimed the lives of 3 people and left thirteen more wounded, a Diyala Province bombing that wounded two members of the "Awakening" Council and a Sulaimaniyah roadside bombing that wounded two people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi security forces fired on a man (killing him) who was "wearing a suicide vest" and disguised a woman and 1 police officer shot dead in Nineveh Province. Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 2 corpses discovered in Muqdadiyah and 5 in Tel Atta. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mahaweel ("handcuffed, blindfolded")
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Force -- West Marine died July 13 as the result of a non-combat related incident."
Turning to the US presidential race. The Green Party concluded their convention yesterday. Media attention largely fell into two categories: silence and snark. Leave it to Aileen Alfandary to bring in "uninformed" which, for the record, she did on the first news break of KPFA's The Morning Show where she declared of the Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente ticket, "This year's Green ticket marks the first time a US has nominated women of color for both president and vice-president." Uh, no, Alfandary, it's not. From Friday's snapshot: "What About Our Daughters? explains that, if McKinney is the nominee, this is the third time two women of color would be on the ticket with the first being Lenora Fulani and Maria Elizabeth Munoz in 1992 (New Alliance Party) and Monica Moorehead and Gloria La Riva (Workers World Party) in 1996." And, no, Alfandary, she's not a "Hip-Hop artist" -- usually you have to go to the Atlanta Journal-Constiution to find that sort of lie. She's a "Hip-Hop activist" (and bills herself as that). Alfandary continued, "McKinney is African-American, Clemente is Puerto Rican." Oh really? That's how Clemente self-defines? Here's Clemente explaining it in 2007, "I am often asked what I am usually by Blacks who are lighter than me, and by Latinos as dark or darker than me. To anser the ,000 question, I am a Black Boricua, Black Rican, Puertoriqueoa! Almost always I am questioned about why I choose to call myself Black over Latina, Spanish or Hispanic. Let me break it down. I am not Spanish. Spanish is just another language I speak. I am not Hispanic. My ancestors are not descendants of Spain, but descendants of Africa. I define my existence by race and land. (Borinken is the indigenous name of the island of Puerto Rico.) Being a Latino is not a cultural identity but rather a political one. Being Puerto Rican is not a racial identity, but rather a cultural and national one. Being Black is my racial identity." Amazingly Alfandary made so many mistakes during The Morning Show while providing McKinney, Clemente and the Green Party convention 49 less seconds than she devorted to a Barack Obama magazine cover (listen to all Alfandary's news breaks in the program). A political party holds a convention. They nominate their presidential candidate. And it's less important to Alfandary than a magazine cover? Is their any perspective or awarness? (No, there's not. And Ava and I will tackle it Sunday at Third.) NPR gave the nomination three minutes in a report Sunday by Cheryl Corley (Weekend Edition Sunday). And just to be clear, the cover is not the issue. Though Amy Goodman and Aileen Alfandary act like it is, the reality is Obama campaign is attacking the cover to discredit the article. Back to the Greens.
The convention began Thursday "at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago" and it ran through Sunday. A video of McKinney speaking at the party's Presidential Candidate Forum Friday night can be found here. Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) has a photo essay of the weekend here and you'll notice how much Cynthia McKinney looks like her mother, Leola McKinney, who was among the many attending the convention (as was Cynthia's father Billy McKinney). Wilder reports that not only were they, they "switched their registration from Democratic Party to Green Party" and "were elected to be the delegates from the Black Caucus. So, Cynthia McKinney's parents went on stage to cast the GP-US Black Caucus's two votes: both for their daughter". The voting took place Saturday and involved only one round which Cynthia won. In her acceptance speech, McKinney noted her son Coy who "grew up playing on the Floor underneath my desk in the Chamber of the Georgia House of Representatives. His buddies were the legislators down there, under the Gold Dome, who were my and my father's colleagues." She noted her father, "When my father first started out in the world of politics in Georgia, he began as a Republican, because Georgia Democrats would not allow Blacks to vote in their primaries. Some of my father's closest friends today are still Republicans because of that history. My father served 30 years in the Georgia Legislature as a Democrat. Because of him, I served 4 years in the Georgia Legislature, when we were the country's only father-daughter legislative team. And then I went to Congress and served 12 years working with the Democratic Party and its current leadership representing the State of Georgia." And she noted her mother, "My mother is the genteel Southern lady who keeps our family glued together. A nurse by profession, a nurturer by instinct, she could patch over all the times I had political disagreements with my Dad and it ended up being discussed, not only at the family dinner table, but also on the evening news." She noted the Democratic presidential primay, "And even though for the first time a woman and an African-American were being taken seriously in national primaries, a real discussion of race and gender has been studiously avoided on all sides." From McKinney's speech (which is posted in full at Austin Cassidy's Independent Political Report):
In 1851, in Akron, Ohio a former slave woman, abolitionist, and woman's rights activist by the name of Sojourner Truth gave a speech now known as "Ain't I a Woman." Sojourner Truth began her remarks, "Well children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter." She then went on to say that even though she was a woman, no one had ever helped her out of carriages or lifted her over ditches or given her a seat of honor in any place. Instead, she acknowledged, that as a former slave and as a black woman, she had had to bear the lash as well as any man; and that she had borne "thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And Ain't I a woman?" Finally, Sojourner Truth says, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!"
As it was in 1851, so too it is in 2008. There is so much racket that we, too, know something is out of kilter. In 1851, the racket was about a woman's right to vote. In 1848, just a few years before Sojourner uttered those now famous words, "Ain't I a Woman?" suffragists met in Seneca Falls, New York and issued a declaration.
That declaration began:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government . . . . But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled."
Two hundred sixty women and forty men gathered in Seneca Falls, NY and declared their independence from the politics of their present and embarked upon a struggle to create a politics for the future. That bold move by a handful of people in one relatively small room laid the groundwork and is the precedent for what we do today. The Seneca Falls Declaration represented a clean break from the past: Freedom, at last, from mental slavery. The Seneca Falls Declaration and the Akron, Ohio meeting inaugurated 72 years of struggle that ended with the passage of the 19th Amendment in August of 1920, granting women the right to vote. And 88 years later, with the Green Party as its conductor, the History Train is rolling down the tracks.
The Green Party is making history today. According to one source, 45 women have run for President in primary elections in the United States in the 20th Century; 22 have made it on the ballot in at least one state in November. Thank you, Green Party, for pulling this history train from the station.
But we make history today only because we must. In 2008, after two stolen Presidential elections and eight years of George W. Bush, and at least two years of Democratic Party complicity, the racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community. The racket is even about values that we thought were long settled as reasonable to pursue, like liberty and justice, and economic opportunity, for all. Yes, Sojourner, there's a lot out of kilter now, but these two women, Rosa and me, joined by all the men and women in this room, are going to do our best to turn this country right side up again.
McKinney is an actual nominee, her party's candidate. The Democrats don't have one yet, they'll hold their convention in August. Barack Obama is presumed to be the candidate and a new group has sprung up in reaction to him. Progressives Against Obama announces: "When Barack Obama broke his promise to progressives, and voted for the FISA Amendments Act, it was with the assumption that progressive voters would never abandon the Obama campaign, because they had no alternative. Now a group is organizing disgruntled voters online with the purpose of proving Obama's assumption to be wrong. Progressives Against Obama have begun to organize online at ProgressivesAgainstObama.com. " Along with the FISA cave, the organization notes Barack's waffling position on Iraq, his announcement that he'll expand Bully Boy's 'faith' based funding, his "opposition to full marriage equality" and his "use of homophobic preacher Donnie McClurkin." The organization's founder Jonathan Cook declares, "We do not support John McCain, and we do not support right wing and racist attacks against Barack Obama. As progressives, we oppose Barack Obama from a progressive perspective. We intend to hold true to our ideals even as Barack Obama trades them away for the sake of political power." Gilles d'Aymery (Swans Commentary) advocates for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, "The Nader-Gonzalez ticket is by far the most qualified and experienced to govern the nation. Their combined expertise, their common sense approach to problem solving, and their acclaimed honesty appeal to a wide range of people from all sides of the political divide. Contrary to the two candidates of the duopoly [Barack and McCain] they are not panderers; they are not flip-floppers; they do not exploit fear for political ends; and they have no corporate masters and are not owned by lobbyists, which allow them to represent the interests of the entire American people, not the top twenty percent of the population. . . . as often stated, a vote for Nader is a vote for sanity -- and the country has never needed more sane and sound policies than since the 1930s." Jesse A. Hamilton (Harford Courant) reports, "Right about now, the Forces of Nader are adding the familiar name of Ralph Nader to the Rhode Island presidential election ballot for November. The state requires 1,000 signatures to do so; his campaign reported they'll be handing over more than 2,000." Foon Rhee (Boston Globe) notes, "His campaign also plans to turn in signatures today in South Carolina, and says he will be well on the way to being on the ballot in 15 states by next week. In Massachusetts, Nader said he has about 17,000 signatures in hand and is aiming for 20,000. He needs 10,000 valid signatures to get on the Bay State ballot." Chris Giganti (The Digitel) explains that 18,500 signatures were gathered in South Carolina and that the petition was filed this afternoon. Nader was campaigning in North Carolina this weekend and Rachana Dixit (Charlottesville Daily Progress) reports he declared that corporations "were never designed to rule us. They were designed to be our servants, now they have become our masters" and that he addressed "cutting the military budget, adopting single-payer national health insurance, completely reversing the United States' policy in the Middle East, impeaching President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and cracking down on corporate crime and welfare." This morning Team Nader summed up the goals and objectives for the immediate future as well as the ones reached over the weekend:
Four days ago we announced our goal of putting Ralph Nader on the ballot in five more states - for a total of fifteen states - by July 20 and that we would need to raise $60,000 to get it done.
How are we doing?
In those four days, we've raised - thanks to you - more than $26,000.
Later today in South Carolina, we will turn in more than 18,000, more than enough to get us on the ballot. We only need 10,000 valid.
South Carolina - check.
Later today in Rhode Island, we will turn in more than 2,000 signatures.
We need only 1,000 valid to get us on the ballot there.
Rhode Island - check.
In Massachusetts, we have about 17,000 signatures in hand. We need 10,000 valid. Our goal is 20,000.
We're well on our way in Massachusetts.In Missouri, we have 14,000 in hand. We need 10,000 valid. Our goal is 20,000.
We're well on our way in Missouri.
Our South Carolina road crew is being deployed to Arkansas this week.
They should knock out Arkansas by the end of the week.
So, by Sunday, July 21, as promised, we will have 15 states in the bag. (See updated map here.)
On the political front, McCain and Obama are in a dead heat. (See Rasmussen daily tracking poll here.)
CNN's most recent poll puts Ralph at six percent.
Ralph has been on the road campaigning, most recently in Charlottesville, Virginia. Check out this news video.
And as the panderer Obama moves to the right, many of his supporters are taking a new look at Nader/Gonzalez.
Check out, for example, Allison Kilkenny's Huffington Post blog titled The Other N Word.
And see also Greg Kafoury's After the Obama Betrayal.
Our short term goal - raise the remaining $34,000 by July 20. Help us get there now.
Our medium term goal, put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states by September 20.
Our long term goal - change the country.
Step by step.
Together, we are making a difference.