Thursday, March 29, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, March 29, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq with over 100 reported deaths in one day, Party Hacks continue to lie about the realities of US Congressional measures on Iraq, and, in response to NOW PAC's endorsement yesterday, some NOW members make their own endorsement.
Starting with news of war resistance, US war resisters Kyle Snyder was arrested at the end of February in Canada, by the Canadian police on the orders of the US military.  More recently, 3 non-Canadian police officers posed as Canadian police officers while they searched for US war resister Joshua Key.  The search was conducted at the same time the US military admits they were looking for him.  Both Snyder and Key are in Canada attempting to receive refugee status.  CBC News reports that The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) is asking questions and spoke with Alex Atamaneko who "said Snyder should not have been arrested because being absent without leave from a foreign military is not an extraditable offence and Snyder has no criminal record" and that "Our concern is that there could be other Kyle Snyders in Canada.  We know that there are a couple of hundred other war resisters here.  Are there those that are being apprehended now?"
Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Dean Walcott, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight 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, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
In "THINKERS? WHO NEEDS STINKING THINKERS?" news, The Nation continues to embrace Party Hacks (and males -- 1 female byline to every 4 males is the current ratio for the print magazine in 2007) as opposed to real thinkers so it's not that surprising that a Party Hack -- consider him another one of Katrina vanden Heuvel's coffee fetchers -- weighs in to reveal not only how shallow he is but how shallow The Nation has become.  After a few 'cutes' on Dennis Kucinich, Ari Melber (at the ha-ha blog Campaign Matters) offers, "It's hard to imagine how the failure of a more 'pure' bill advancing immediate withdrawal would do more to end the war than the succss of Pelosi's bill."  It's hard to imagine who thought a Party Hack was fit to write for an opinion journal?  But for chuckles, click here for (cached version) of when Party Hacks Attack Each Other. Something truly amazing -- David Sirota (of all people) calling Melber a "Self-Promoting Sellouts."  For the record, both Party Hacks now regularly foul The Nation magazine.  For the record, Ari forgets to disclose MoveOn ties.
Hard to imagine, Ari?  Just for the intellectually stunted.  The Institute for Policy Studies is an actual think tank -- not a Democratic party talking points mill.  The IPS' Phyllis Bennis (via Democracy Rising) explains how the bill's not ending anything: "The Congressional resolution passed last week gives Bush another $100 billion to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq.  That much is now guaranteed.  The timeslines and restrictions included in the bill -- clearly responding to the strong public support for ending the war -- were weakened almost to the disappearing point to allow the razor-thin vote. . . .  Congress is not the peace movement.  So the peace movement must stay unified on our principles and our demands, in the face of congressional waffling and 'realistic' pragmatism, unfortunately promoted by one influential part of our movement.  Whatever they do, we must stay consistent on demanding an end to the U.S. occupation: de-funding (not re-funding) the war, and bringing home (not redeploying) all (not just some) of the troops (including the mercenaries).  The longstanding AFSC slogan has it right: 'Not  one more death, not one more dollar.'  That means STOP funding the war.  STOP allowing Bush to send more U.S. troops to kill more Iraqis and be killed in the process.  Just stop."
Some of the Party Hacks are, feeling nostalgic, hoping they can drum this into a Bill Clinton drama: "The right's after him, we all must come to the aid!"  It's not playing that way because the measures do nothing and the Party Hacks spent most of last week proclaiming how stupid the peace movement was and even though, as Mike pointed out, one Party Hack quickly tried to shine on his faux populism, people are not buying it.  Yes, Bully Boy is against the bill.  So?
The Democratic Party ignored the people.  This is, as Robert Knight ( Flashpoints) reported Monday, the DLC's bill.  The left's job isn't to prop up the right-wing, not even the right-wing of the Democratic Party.  Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) made it very clear before any measure passed, "Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on." 
If Ari's still confused (or pretending to be), Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) makes it very clear: "What House Democrats actually did was pass a special budget bill giving George Bush every dollar he requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a few billion extra, and little more for vets health care, with a few tens of hundreds of millions worth of legislative prok on the side to secure the votes of reluctant Democrats on each flank.  The 'withdrawal measures' in the Democrat-approved war budget are unenforceable suggestions, a patchwork of loopholds held togethr by the empty pretense that President Bush and Pentagon will not lie to us."  Dixon notes that the Congressional Black Caucus "shattered" and "once again proved the near uselessness of the CBC as presently constituted."
CODEPINK's Gael Murphy spoke with Deepa Fernandes and Mitch Jeserich (WBAI's Wake Up Call Radio) Wednesday, who stated of the continued demonstrations to protest the continuation of the illegal war, "It's about having that opposition to this continuing war as visible as possible and as loud as possible."  Jeserich noted the more visible activity and Murphy agreed they had "stepped up our activity since the supplemental discussions and we will stay there through the Defense authorization debate. Fernandez wondered what the main goals were and Murphy replied, "Cut the funding for the war.  We want the war to end this year.  We want Congress to take its responsiblity and to, you know they've been repudiating the surge, they've been repudiating the conduct of the war so it's time for them to do something about it.  And we want them to cut the funding.  We want them to use whatever funding they have for a full, complete, rapid, safe, orderly withdrawal."   A clip was played by Robert Byrd "a new direction and it points the way out" and Free Speech Radio News' Leigh Ann Caldwell: "Well it's a suggested timeline for withdrawal next year, of March 2008.  That timeline is a goal. But what is binding is that the president is supposed to, or has to according to this, it's a statute that says that he has to start withdrawing troops within 120 days of the passage of this bill.  And so that part is binding and the real question is: Is the president actually going to listen to it?  He doesn't follow many of the other,  laws and regulations that are passed.  The fear that he'll sign a signing statement or that he just will ignore it.  The fear of many progressives is that it will end up in the courts." 
Caldwell then made the comment that "I know it doesn't go as far as many Democrats would like in cutting the funding."  Where is the funding cut?  No where.   Murphy stated CODEPINK's goal,  "Our call is absolutely, let's cut the funding now use whatever funding we have for the complete withdrawal.  So our focus is very much on what's going to happen when the supplemental leaves the conference -- cause what's going to happen after the House passes it's version they'll be a conference committee where the two resolutions will be reconciled and then what comes out will likely be a supplemental bill with a timeline and the benchmarks.  We're hoping that Bush does veto it because I think it is in our favor.  And when he does, we are expecting and will put pressure on  members of Congress not to go back to him with a weaker bill but, in fact, a stronger bill and that's where we're going to be putting our pressure to make sure that there is a stronger bill and that it's about getting the troops home by the end of the year."
As Robert Knight ( Flashpoints) noted yesterday, "Democrat and Republican senators continued quibbling over a 125 billion dollar appropriations bill that would guarantee a continued military presence in Iraq wll into the year 2008 if not beyond.  The Senate measure, which awaits a final vote and resolution with a similar non-specifically binding House bill is expected to be voted on later this week even though it faces a presidential veto.  Meanwhile Democratic leadership is already announcing that it's willing to negotiate with president Bush to water down the provisions during markup in order to avoid a veto." 
Progressive Democrats of America grasped the nature of the bills last week and issued their statement ("Disappointed in Democratic Leadership") -- PDA director Tim Carpenter, "It is antiwar sentiment that put Democrats into majority control of Congress.  The recent USA Today - Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, or earlier.  We are profoundly disappointed that the Lee Amendment -- which reflects majority sentiment in the country -- was not allowed to be debated and voted upon by the full House.  In a free vote, we believe roughly 90 members of Congress would have supported the Lee Amendment and the desires of most Americans to get out of Iraq.  Having prevented that vote, the leadership's weak supplemental that prolongs funding of an unwinnable occupation is now more susceptible to wrong-headed attacks from Republicans and certain media circles as somehow risky or extreme."  This week, PDA has noted, "The bad news is that the House bill funds Bush's troop surge and won't bring our troops home until a Sept. 1 2008 'deadline' -- with provisions allowing troops to stay in Iraq beyond that on vaguely-defined 'training' or 'anti-terrorism' missions.  (That's why a group of progressive Congress members -- including Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, John Lewis and Dennis Kucinich -- felt the need to stand firm and vote no.)  More bad news is the disunity stirred up among antiwar progressives in Congress by the House leadership's arm-twisting and the intervention of in support of the leadership's arm-twising."
Meanwhile, RadioNation with Laura FlandersLaura Flanders (The Nation via Common Dreams) observes, "Nonbinding this and that, deadline lah-di-dah, Bush/Cheney are going to ignore the mandate of the midterm elections and every pressure from Congress on Iraq, because Bush/Cheney know their opponents' bark has no bite.  And that's because those opponents have yet to renounced the Bush/Cheney vision of US supremacy in the world.  In fact, mostly, they share it."
Which gets to the heart of the matter.  Anne Flaherty (AP) reports that the Senate's bill has passed "a mostly party line 51-47 vote". Flaherty also quotes White House Flack Dana Perino stating, "I think the founders of our nation had great foresight in realizing that it would be better to have one commander in chief managing a war" blah, blah, blah.  Perino should realize the people of the nation have said no to the war and the issue of 'managing' is not a valid one -- the issue is ending the war.
In Iraq today, the violence and chaos continues as even the supposedly 'secured' capital is rocked with explosions.  CNN reports that two "bombers wearing explosive vests self-detonated in a crowded market in a Shiite district in the northeastern part of the capital."  Ahmeed Rasheed (Reuters) reports that an official for the Health Ministry believes most of the dead are women and children and quotes eye witness Wissam Hashim (injured in the blast) stating, "I saw heads separated from the bodies and legs blown off."  This after, as noted in yesterday's snapshotThe John McCain Showboat Express pulled into DC on Tuesday to proclaim "we are starting to turn things around." Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes the assertion by US Senator and presidential candidate McCain "that an American could now walk unharmed through several districts of Baghdad was heard with bemusement by Iraqis.  He would certainly be murdered or kidnapped by Sunni insurgents, Shia militiamen or criminal gangs before he had taken more than a few steps."  And today's death toll from the market bombing in Baghdad alone proves there is no straight talk to John McCain.  Rasheed reports that at least 62 people are dead from the bombings while CBS and AP go with 60 and note 40 wounded.
Other bombings?
AP notes that 25 people died in Khalis from three car bombings. Sinan Salaheddin (AP) notes that the toll climbed to 43 dead and 86 wounded "according to police and officials in the predominately Shiite town."  Other bombings noted by Reuters include a western Baghdad car bombing that killed 3 people (16 injured), a southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 4 police officers "and one civilian" (9 injured), another southwestern Baghdad bombing that killed 2 police oficers (6 wounded), a western Baghdad bombing that wounded 3 Iraqi soldiers, a southern Baghdad bombing that claimed 3 lives (20 wounded), a car bombing in Mahmudiya that killed 4 (20 wounded), and a Mahmudiya mortar attack that killed 2 (7 wounded).
Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Wiwaniya, two traffic police officers were shot dead in northern Baghdad with two more wounded, an eye doctor was shot dead in Mahmudiya
Reuters notes 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad today.
Finally, returning to US political news. Yesterday the NOW PAC endorsed US Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.  Later yesterday, "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich."  NOW members Kat, Rebecca, Dona, Ava, Betty, Gina, Krista, Keesha, Kayla, Elaine, Martha and Shirley as well as former NOW member Trina used their voices to note that NOW PAC, which did not poll membership, does not speak for them and to decry the removal of the white dove and slogan "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" from the NOW website in time to endorse War Hawk Hillary Clinton.
Along with  "NOW members endorse Dennis Kucinich" (Kat's Korner). Elaine's "I endorse Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 primary" and Rebecca's "this now member is endorsing kucinich" also address the issue and why they are endorsing Dennis Kucinich for the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. All who signed encourage other NOW members to announce their own endorsement.  NOW PAC is a political arm of NOW but it is NOW and NOW members should, as they have so powerfully throught the years, use their own voices to speak for themselves.
This week, Kucinch amplified his call for a national discussion regarding impeachment.

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