Monday, February 9, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, Patrick Leahy calls for a truth commission, Moqtada al-Sadr wants a recount, and more.
In the deadly hot spot that Mosul has become the US military loses multiple lives today. M-NF announces: "Three U.S. Coalition Soldiers were killed, and another Soldier later died of wounds when a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in Mosul, Iraq Feb. 9. One interpreter was also injured in the attack and later died of wounds. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the U.S. Department of Defense." This follows Saturday's announcement: "TIKRIT, Iraq -- A U.S. Soldier died as a result of a non-combat related injury near Balad Ruz, Iraq, Feb. 6. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation." It also comes on the heel of yesterday's announcement: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died from a non-combat related incident Feb. 8. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcements brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4243.
AP calls the Mosul attack "the deadliest single attack against U.S. troops since May 2, 2008" (and explains they're seeting the January 26 helicopter crashes aside since the military states no enemy fire was involved). Peter Graff, Michael Christie and Tim Pearce (Reuters) add of Mosul, "Violence there remains high, though it has fallen in most of the country to the lowest level since the war began. U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped that violence in Mosul might subside after provincial elections in January in which Sunni Arab parties won the largest share of the vote in surrounding Nineveh province." (In their report, BBC states, "The US currently has around 147,000 troops based in Iraq.") Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) inform, "U.S. and Iraqi officials said they planned to launch what would be the fourth crackdown in less than a year in the weeks after the Jan. 31 provincial election, during which Sunni Arabs gained control of the province from Kurds." Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newsapapers) reports that three Iraqis were also wounded in the bombing, two of which were police officers.
Meanwhile the press continues trying to grade like George W. Bush. Just as he lied and shaded to hail 'success' on his benchmarks for Iraq, they do the same. At the start of 2007, Bush stated that Iraq would meet the benchmark for provincial elections -- in ALL provinces -- by the end of that year. They didn't. They didn't meet it in 2008 and, despite the press hoopla, they didn't meet it this year. Fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces have held elections. The press, like Bush, is so eager to twist the truth and hail 'democracy' in Iraq that they regularly ignore all the violence that took place in the lead-up to the election and following it. Reuters reported Saturday, "Gunmen kidnapped Talib al-Masoudi, who ran in Jan. 31 provincial elections as a candidate from the Shi'ite Fadhila party, from the Husseiniya neighbourhood in Kerbala, 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, police said." A comprehensive look at the violence aimed at candidates would be disturbing so, day after day, tidbits on one incident after another are offered with no attempt to pool them together and note just how much violence has taken place.
Democracy requires checks and balances and Iraq has none but no one's supposed to notice that either. There is no independent judiciary and the Parliament has become a bigger joke. The Parliament has been without a speaker since December 23rd when they ousted Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. 49 days later, who is the Parliament's speaker? Still no one. AFP reported Sunday that there "are five candidates" but that Parliament remains "deadlocked." KUNA reports today that attempts have failed again and that the issue will be raised next on Wednesday and: "The failure to elect a speaker will not allow parliament to debate or approve a new budget and oil law, deemed crucial to the reconstruction of the country." That means that possibly Wednesday, 51 days after they decided to oust their Speaker, they may vote in a new one. As noted in the January 12th snapshot, "Willam Brockman Bankhead was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives for over four years. He died unexpectably of a heart attack on September 15, 1940. (For those unfamiliar with Bankhead, he was the father of Tallulah Bankhead.) The following day, Sam Rayburn became Speaker of the House." 51 days. Results are still not official in the laughable elections. Apparently counting ballots isn't the difficult thing, it's rigging the results that's creating the hold up. Moqtada al-Sadr apparently didn't learn the only real lesson of the elections: Threaten violence to get your way the tallies. Which is why AP explains al-Sadr is appealing the results of the elections: "The allegations are among a chorus of questions raised by Shiite religious parties and Sunnis about the outcome of provincial elections, in which allies of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won a sweeping victory." Tahir al-Kinani is quoted citing two sets of number: one from al-Sadr's observers in the provinces and the other from Iraq's laughable and discredited "electoral commission."
"It's not our fault that some people couldn't vote because they are lazy, because they didn't bother to ask where they should vote." That's the 'electoral commission''s chief speaking. And al-Sadr should have taken a lesson from that. To widely documented problems that is Faraj al-Hadiari's response. To the thugs of Anbar's allegations that couldn't be proven and the thugs threats? al-Hadiari leaps into action and 'massages' the results. Because heaven forbid thugs aren't pleased with the results. Heaven forbid that while giving lip service to democracy, no one actually expects in Iraq.
Nawal Al Samarrai announced last week that she was resigning as Iraq's Minister of Women's Affairs noting that it was a for-show position that was drastically underfunded. AFP reports today that she has revealed "her budget was slashed from $7,500 (BD2,8282) to $1,500 (BD566) per month as part of this year's government spending cuts due to plunging oil prices." We'll get back to the reality of what the puppet government spends money on but first let's note that a country with over 25 million people (CIA estimate) and more females than males -- especially among the adult population -- really should be ashamed for spending only $7,500 -- forget for cutting it to $1,500. $7500 was never going to be enough for a monthly budget. The US military had nearly 100,000 "Awakenings" on the payroll (a huge number still remain on the payroll) and paid $300 a month. That was $300,000 a month being paid to thugs so they wouldn't attack the US military -- the infamous fork-over-your-lunch-money-in-the-playground 'strategy.' In other words, 35 Awakening members a month were making the same amount of money as the entire monthly budget for the Ministry of Women's Affairs. 35 men. In 'good' times, al-Maliki thought $7,500 was more than enough for a ministry (dealing with women) to have as a monthly budget. Now he's slashed it to $1,500. But not everything gets slashed. And not everything gets underfunded. Dropping back to the December 11th snapshot:
October 31st, AP reported the puppet government in Baghdad's latest boo-hoo: Oil prices had dropped and their budget for 2009 had to be cut by $13 billion. The Guardian of London (via Iraq Directory) was writing that there was talk of raising production due to the drop from the expected $80 billion 2009 budget to the $67 billion budget. In 2008, they couldn't meet their spending targets and sat on a ton of money while infrastructure remained unrepaired and Iraqis suffered without electricity and potable water. This week they're on a spending spree. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency made several announcements yesterday [all links of announcements take you to PDF format]. DSCA announced: "On Dec. 9, the Dfense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 36 AT-6B Texan II Aircraft as well as associated support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $520 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 400 M1126 STRYKER Infantry Carrier Vehicles as well as associated equipment. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.11 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 20 T-6A Texan aircraft, 20 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $210 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (20) 30-35 meter Coastal Patrol Boats and (3) 55-60 meter Offshore Support Vessels as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.010 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks modified and upgraded to the M1A1M Abrams configuration, 8 M88A2 Tank Recovery Vehicles, 64 M1151A1B1 Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), 92 M1152 Shelter Carriers, 12 M577A2 Command Post Carriers, 16 M548A1 Tracked Logistics Behicles, 8 M113A2 Armored Ambulances, and 420 AN/VRC-92 Vehicular Receiver Transmitters as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised could be as high as $2.160 billion." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of 26 Bell Armed 407 Helicopters, 26 Rolls Royce 250-C-30 Engines, 26 M280 2.75-inch Launchers, 26 XM296 .50 Cal. Machine Guns with 500 Round Ammunition Box, 26 M299 HELLFIRE Guided Missile Launchers as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $366 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (80,000) M16A4 5.56MM Rifles, (25,000) M4 5.56MM Carbines, (2,550) M203 40MM Grenade Launchers as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $148 million." And they announced: "On Dec. 9, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq of (64) Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters (DRASH), (1,500) 50 watt Very High Frequency (VHF) Base Station Radios, (6,000) VHF Tactical Handheld Radios, (100) VHF Fixed Retransmitters, (200) VHF Vehicular Radios, (30) VHF Maritime 50 watt Base Stations, (150) 150 watt High Frequency (HF) Base Station Radio Systems, (150) 20 watt HF Vehicular Radios, (30) 20 watt HF Manpack Radios, (50) 50 watt Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) Ground to Air Radio Systems, (50) 150 watt VHF/UHF Ground to Air Radio Systems, (50) 5 watt Multiband Handheld Radio Systems as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $485 Million." That is over six billion dollars being committed "if all options are exercised" -- which is a little over 10% of their entire budget for 2009. There's always money to spend when it comes to weapons. And human life is always done on the cheap.
Sandy Sand (Digital Journal) explains, "Feeling frustrated and abandoned herself, Nawal al-Samarraie left her post as Iraq's minister for women's affairs after six months on the job due to severe cutbacks in her ministry's funding. Not counting staff salaries, her budget, which was meager to begin with, was slashed from $7,500 a month to $1,500." Samarraie is quoted stating, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women. The budget is very limited ... so what can I do?" Kim Gamel (AP) reports:
Al-Samarraie's resignation has cast a spotlight on the overwhelming problems facing Iraqi women, tens of thousands of them left poor or widowed by war.
An untold number have lost their husbands or other male relatives to violence or detention since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, often leaving them alone with children and virtually no safety net or job opportunities.
Al-Samarraie claimed Iraq has 3 million widows, calling it "a full army of widows, most of them not educated." The figure, which she said came from a government survey, includes those who lost their husbands under Saddam Hussein's regime and was impossible to verify.
All Iraqis have undergone difficulties, but women face the additional danger of being sidelined in a male-dominated society. Widows in Iraq, for example, traditionally move in with their extended families, but many families find it increasingly difficult to care for them.
Other problems for women include homelessness, domestic violence and the random detention of women caught up in U.S.-Iraqi military sweeps.
Sami Moubayed (Asia Times), apparently high off huffing the fumes emitting from Nouri al-Maliki's crotch, informs that Nawal al-Samarai didn't support the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement (smart move on her part) and insists her walkout has nothing to do with any apparent 'mythical' issues of funding but is part of a Sunni plot to bring his lover-boy Nouri al-Maliki down ("Her walkout puts the prime minister in a tight position, having already lost six Sadrists, three members of the secular Iraqi National List and six of the Iraqi Accordance Front, in addition to the Shi'ite party, al-Fadilah."). Less giddy of 'forceful' Nouri and a little less conjecture might make Sami a real reporter some day. IRN reports:
"My office is inside the Green Zone with no affiliated offices in other provinces and not enough funds to hold conferences, invite experts for studies and implement development plans," Al-Samaraie said. "How can I work and serve women under such circumstances?"
Al-Samaraie said there was "an army" of uneducated women, widows, victims of domestic violence and female internally displaced persons in dire need of assistance.
"My resignation is a warning to the government and a protest against its inability to evaluate the needs of women," she said. Al-Samaraie's frustration is echoed by a group of women's rights activists led by prominent female member of parliament and women's activist Safia al-Suhail. "When we talk about the women of Iraq, we are talking about nearly 65 percent of the population. They need a national and comprehensive strategy to help them enjoy their legal, health and social rights," Al-Suhail said.
Over the weekend Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) offered a strange report ("U.S. Military Violated Security Agreement Twice in 2 Weeks, Iraqi Leaders say") that informed the US military shot dead "a 58-year-old man" in Kirkuk Friday without coordinating their mission with Iraqi authorities. Rubin describes the shooting as "an American raid" and says an earlier incident was "when Americans soldiers fatally shot an Iraqi couple in their home near Kirkuk after the wife reached for a pisotl hidden under a mattress." She says this "was reported at the time" but only now are allegations surfacing that it was not coorinated with the Iraqi government. The couple was shot dead January 24th (their daughter was wounded). From January 25th's "And the war drags on . . .:"
In today's New York Times, Timothy Williams reports on a Saturday raid by US forces in Hawija in which a husband and wife were killed by US forces and their young daughter was wounded. The house raid, Williams reports, required helicopters and was done at two in the morning. For killing the wife, the official story is she reached for something and, later, a gun was allegedly found under a mattress. After he saw his wife slaughtered, the husband went after the US soldiers and was killed. Ahlam Dhia, the eight-year-old daughter, was shot by US soldiers for no official reason cited and she is quoted stating, "They killed my mother and father right in front of me. I was under the blanket. I heard my mom screaming, and I started to cry." Based on descriptions, Williams hypothesizes the soldiers were American Special Ops. It is interesting that when Iraq supposedly has control over their country, US forces -- not Iraqi forces or, for that matter, US forces and Iraqi forces -- are conducting house raids. Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) report, "The chairman of the Hawija Council said the woman's husband, Dhia Hussein, had not been linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq, as the U.S. military claimed" and quote Hussein Ali Salih (the chair) stating, "I personally know Col. Dhia Hussein; he is one of the former army officers and he was trying to return to the new Iraqi army. He has no affiliations with any armed groups." NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (All Things Considered -- link has video and text) reports:
The U.S. military said the operation was conducted with and approved by Iraq's security forces, as stipulated by a security agreement that went into effect at the beginning of the year. But a senior Iraqi government spokesman said there were no Iraqi forces present and is calling for an investigation of the deaths.
"The Americans were on foot," said Hussein Ali, the father of the man who was killed. "They threw percussion hand grenades at the door, then they started shooting. When I got inside the house, the Americans were gone. I found [my son and daughter-in-law] in the bedroom, dead beside each other. They shot my son at close range. His blood was all over the wall."
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) waits until paragraph eight to note that Iraqi officials say they did not approve the raid and that it wasn't an Iraqi operation. The first seven paragraphs are the US military's assertion (presented as fact) that the US military, with Iraqi forces and Iraqi approval, conducted the house raid. China's Xinhau cites an unnamed police source, "The source also said that local security forces were not informed about the raid and that the reasons behind the killings are unclear yet."
It would appear the charge of lack of coordination was known some time ago. In a further sign of non progress, a tourist was 'detained'. Rubin teamed up with Stephen Farrell to report on Italian civilian Luca Marchio causing a commotion while visiting the Falluja police station . Marchio stated, "I am a tourist. I want to see the most important cities in the country. That is the reason why I am here now. I want to see and understand the reality because I have never been here before, and I think every country in the world must be seen." He couldn't see Falluja overnight as he was advised to leave town. He ended up being 'detained' ("for his own safety") and note that one "American marine working with the police suggested taking him to the city limits and dropping him where Falluja met the main highway." Note that is not what Americans do in other countries, especially ones where allegedly democracy is emerging. When an American makes such an insulting and dumb ass statement is indicates to everyone that even those countries with democracy do not value it. Should Marchio have gone to Iraq? It's not illegal. There is no travel ban to Iraq. On top of that, he entered the country using his passport and crossing through the border checkpoints. Could he have gotten killed? Unless he's the luckiest person on the face of the earth, he most likely would have. But that doesn't excuse American representatives from making anti-democratic and dumb ass statements in a foreign country when surrounded by foreign officials attempting to figure out what to do with someone. That marine disgraced his or her self and disgraced the US. When an American spits on democracy in Iraq, it has a huge effect and indicates to Iraqi officials that democracy is nothing but a bunch of empty words. As a private citizen, the marine could have done whatever they wished. As someone sent to Iraq by the US government, he or she needs to always remember that they help set the tone, that they send the cues and that Iraqis are watching them.
When not trashing democracy, some US troops do physical damage. Marc Santora (New York Times) reports an eight-year-old girl was shot dead by US troops on Saturday:
Jassim Hassan, a 25-year-old college student, described a scene of chaos and confusion. "I don't know how all of this happened and I can't remember a thing, because everything was so fast and sudden," he said.
After the short burst of gunfire, the 8-year-old girl, Sa'adiya Saddam, collapsed on the ground by her wailing mother, witnesses said.
Her brother, Hussein, also 8, said: "We didn't notice the Americans before the gun shooting started. My sister fell immediately, swimming in her own blood."
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newsapapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that left seven people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing that left two children injured, a Mosul mortar attack that claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded and a Kirkuk roadside bombing that left one police officer wounded.
Reuters notes 1 taxi driver shot dead in Mosul last night.
Reuters notes the corpse of a "16 year-old teenage girl from the Yazidi religious minority" was discovered in Mosul.
Turning to the US, labor reporter David Bacon explores the state of unions in an essay at Monthly Review:
Unions in the rest of the world are not simply asking us whether we will stand with them against General Electric, General Motors, or Mitsubishi. They want to know: What is your stand about aggressive wars, military intervention and coups d'état? If we have nothing to say about these things, we will not have the trust and credibility we need to build new relationships of solidarity.
U.S. corporations operating in countries like Mexico and El Salvador are, in some ways, opportunistic. They take advantage of an existing economic system, and make it function to produce profits. They exploit the difference in wages from country to country, and require concessions from governments for setting up factories. But what causes the poverty in El Salvador that they exploit to their advantage? What drives a worker into a factory that, in the United States, we call a sweatshop? What role does U.S. policy play in creating that system of poverty?
Unions need the kind of discussion in which workers try to answer these questions. Labor education is more than technical training in techniques for grievance handling and collective bargaining. It has to be about politics, in the broadest and most radical sense. When unions don't work with their members to develop a framework to answer these questions they become ineffective in fighting about the issues of peace and war, globalization, and their consequences, such as immigration.
When the AFL - CIO campaigned in Washington against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, labor lobbyists went up to Capitol Hill to mobilize pressure on Congress. Some unions went to their local affiliates and asked members to make phone calls and write letters. But what was missing was education at the base. Had unions educated and mobilized their members against the Contra war in Nicaragua, and the counterinsurgency wars in El Salvador and Guatemala (and certainly many activists tried to do that), U.S. workers would have understood CAFTA much more clearly over a decade later. But because there's so little effort to create a conscious, educated union membership, it will be hard to get members to act when labor's Washington lobbyists need them to defeat new trade agreements, in the upcoming battles over the Colombian and South Korean FTAs.
The root of this problem is a kind of American pragmatism that disparages education. We need to demand more from those who make the decisions and control the purse strings in our unions.
David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). In other US news, Feminist Wire Daily notes the Constitutional line of separation between church and state gets thinner and thinner:
President Obama announced late last week that he plans to maintain and expand President Bush's Office on Faith Based Initiatives. Obama has renamed the office the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has appointed 15 of the 25-person council, and has appointed Joshua DeBois, a Pentecostal who worked on Obama's campaign, as the head of the office, according to the Washington Post. A White House press release outlined four priorities for the office, including that "it will be one voice among several in the administration that will look at how we support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion."
Though Obama has said that the office's goal "will not be to favor one religious group over another - or even religious groups over secular groups," his choices for the advisory panel are already drawing criticism. In relation to the priority regarding reproductive health care, former president of Catholics for Free Choice Frances Kissling wrote for RH Reality Check that "The only person on the Council who might have the slightest knowledge about these issues is the president of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Judith Vredenburgh. Of the nine religious representatives on the Council, most are anti-abortion, from Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter to the emeritus president of the Southern Baptist Convention and of course, Father Larry Snyder, head of Catholic Charities. The rest have no public record on reproductive health issues, with the single exception of Rabbi David Saperstein, who is pro-choice."
Women's rights organizations have been lobbying President Obama to reopen the White House Office on Women's Issues, but currently, women's issues continue to be covered by the Office of Public Liaison. Martha Burk, co-founder of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, stated in the Huffington Post that "to accord this advisory panel so much power, while relegating women to the margins, speaks volumes....It's not too late for President Obama to change his mind and give the majority - women - a place at the table by re-opening the White House Office on Women's Issues."
Meanwhile US Senator Patrick Leahy wants a truth commission. Speaking at Georgetown Univeristy today, Leahy delivered "Resotring Trust in the Justice System: The Senate Judiciary Committee's Agenda in the 111th Congress" (below is an excerpt, for full speech use the link):
We have succeeded over the last two years in revitalizing our Committee's oversight capabilities. The periodic oversight hearings with the Attorney General, the FBI Director, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and others will continue. The past can be prologue unless we set things right.
As to the best course of action for bringing a reckoning for the actions of the past eight years, there has been heated disagreement. There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past. Indeed, some Republican Senators tried to extract a devil's bargain from the Attorney General nominee in exchange for their votes, a commitment that he would not prosecute for anything that happened on President Bush's watch. That is a pledge no prosecutor should give, and Eric Holder did not, but because he did not, it accounts for many of the partisan votes against him.
There are others who say that, even if it takes all of the next eight years, divides this country, and distracts from the necessary priority of fixing the economy, we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker. Of course, the courts are already considering congressional subpoenas that have been issued and claims of privilege and legal immunities – and they will be for some time.
There is another option that we might also consider, a middle ground. A middle ground to find the truth. We need to get to the bottom of what happened -- and why -- so we make sure it never happens again.
One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth commission. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts. If needed, such a process could involve subpoena powers, and even the authority to obtain immunity from prosecutions in order to get to the whole truth. Congress has already granted immunity, over my objection, to those who facilitated warrantless wiretaps and those who conducted cruel interrogations. It would be far better to use that authority to learn the truth.
During the past several years, this country has been divided as deeply as it has been at any time in our history since the Civil War. It has made our government less productive and our society less civil. President Obama is right that we cannot afford extreme partisanship and debilitating divisions. In this week when we begin commemorating the Lincoln bicentennial, there is need, again, "to bind up the nation's wounds." President Lincoln urged that course in his second inaugural address some seven score and four years ago.
Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. Sometimes the best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again. When I came to the Senate, the Church Committee was working to expose the excesses of an earlier era. Its work helped ensure that in years to come, we did not repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to think about whether we have arrived at such a time, again. We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past.
It is something to be considered. It is something Professor Bernstein, for whom this lecture series is named, might have found worth studying. We need to see whether there is interest in Congress and the new administration. We would need to work through concerns about classified information and claims of executive privilege. Most of all, we need to see whether the American people are ready to take this path.
Edmund Burke said that law and arbitrary power are eternal enemies. Arbitrary power is a powerful, corrosive force in a democracy. Two years ago I described the scandals at the Bush-Cheney-Gonzales Justice Department as the worst since Watergate. They were. We are still digging out from the debris they left behind. Now we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression while still contending with national security threats around the world. This extraordinary time cries out for the American people to come together, as we did after 9/11, and as we have done before when we faced difficult challenges.
That is no more improbable than the truth that came to light and laid the foundation for reconciliation in South Africa, or in Greensboro, North Carolina; no more improbable than the founding of this Nation; and certainly no more improbable than the journey the people of this Nation took over the last year with a young man whose mother was from Kansas and whose father was from an African village half a world away.
In US political party news Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) has an announcement:
It is with some regret, and many mixed feelings that I am announcing my resignation from the Green Party.
Some of the background reasons are a shift in personal focus. Though, I also feel great tension in belonging to a political organization which has made some decisions I do not like, and a political organization which I feel is less becoming less available to correction and input from individual members and/or grassroots ideas.
I had already resigned from the GPNYS/NY State Committee several months ago. With my current resignation from the party, I mean: I am resigning my post as a representative to the GP-US National Committee. I am resigning my position as Co-Chair of the GP-US Diversity Committee, and that, next week, I will unenroll "Green Party" via the Board of Elections. I will re-enroll "blank" (a term in New York which is similar to terms in other states such as "unaligned", "independent", or "no party.") I totally reject the two party duopoly, so I would never consider joining the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. And, at this time, I have not found a party that meets my various criteria and high ideals, including being for non-violence, against any war, and allowing for abundant and fair input from membership.
I value my time in the Green Party. I will still think of the four pillars as a personal mantra: non-violence; grassroots democracy; social and economic justice; ecological wisdom. I have learned a lot from many wonderful, wise people, in the state and national party, some of whom are still in the party, but many of whom have left.
I still have complete faith and respect for my local, the Green Party of Suffolk. And, it is because of their good work and my friends there, that I have the most regrets for leaving the party. I suppose having given so much of myself to the other levels, I can't feel as separate from the state/national internal bureaucracy shenanigans and mistakes as other greens can.
Many of my friends and family members will remain in the Green Party. And, I will remain a publisher/contributor of "Onthewilderside" website, where my co-blogger is a loyal Green Party member and enrollee. My focus in my writing and in my activism will be more with non-partisan efforts at peace, anti-nuclear issues, and dismantling racism. I will continue to explore themes of ballot access and support for third party and independent ideals. (Though, I am feeling pretty fed up with politics.)
Thank you for all your support of my Green Party efforts in the past. I hope that many of my green friends and colleagues will find other, mutual areas of interest to share with me.
And, may the Green Party --but, more importantly, the green movement -- grow, reflect, evolve and prosper.
North Babylon, Long Island, New York
Community note, Kat's "Kat's Korner: Tracy Chapman's truly amazing Our Bright Future" went up Sunday and her "Kat's Korner: Springsteen's serving up a dud" went up Saturday while Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Dicky Breaks It Down" went up Sunday.
alissa j. rubin
the los angeles times
the washington post