Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kat's Korner: Patti from the Mount


Kat: Patti Smith. Jesus died for somebody's sins but, you know, not hers. G-L-O-R-I-A. Patti got big and Patti got bigger. One minute, she was dancing barefoot, the next, because the fame, because the fame, she was pulling a Laura Nyro in Detroit. The priestess of punk returned, as Ronnie Ray-gun was up to the neck in Iran-Contra, to demonstrate that "People Have the Power" and then she was gone again until the 90s. 1997, she's making Peace and Noise, an album that really felt like one, that held together, that you could put on and not skip tracks. 2004 she drops Trampin' on America and it's the finest thing she's done since her 70s work. Three years later, she's putting out Twelve just as she's inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and is she wood shedding? Is she phoning it in?

Twelve is an album of twelve covers. And, of course, she's on Sony these days, which used to be Columbia, where Clive was once fond of keeping dying careers on life support by insisting the middle of the roaders do covers. "Unless you want to leave your career in San Francisco, you need to remember the kids listen to Simon & Garfunkel, Tony!"

So is Patti phoning it in? Is this just another attempt to pull in some easy cash and coast on the legend? People who know the unreleased "Without Chains" are grumbling about how Patti should have released an album of originals. And a sub-set of that group's greeting Twelve with a wrinkled nose and attitude of "What is this sh*t?"

The ones screaming "Heretic!" are probably lost for a few years. The ones who are just skeptics? Give it a listen, this is no cheesy Self-Portrait.

What is it? Ten. It's Ten. It's not Twelve. Maybe she didn't want to give a nod to Pearl Jam?

"Midnight Rider" will have some Allman Brothers Bands fans nodding to the beat but mainly reminding you of how much the late Duane Allman brought to the band (and to rock) while Gregg Allman (who wrote the song) was mainly able to come up with the sort of catchy chorus that sounds good in the background while a Scorsese trains the camera on a crew of mobsters.
Patti doesn't disgrace herself and grabs the song's only moment worth knowing ("Not going to let them catch me, not going to let them catch me"). Listening, you realize that Gregg Allman is the perfect artist to sample because a rap song featuring one line over and over isn't destroying any art, it's just zooming in on the only thing worth knowing.

Then there's "Changing of the Guard." Bob Dylan at his worst. Even the mash notes stopped with Street Legal. Why is it here? Does Sony own a chunk of Dylan's publishing? Patti and the band run with it like they think they've got something impressive. Someone should have told them they didn't. This is among the worst of his songs making up Street Legal and, for the uninitiated, Street Legal was so bad that Slow Train Coming (the dubious follow up) was actually greeted with praise from some corners.

The other ten tracks are worthy of inclusion and even Dylan comes off well in track three. Probably one of the finest songs Bob's ever written. Or ripped off. It's Neil Young's "Helpless" and it's the standout. First listen was with Dak-Ho and when the track came up, he smiled and nodded, "Knocking On Heaven's Door." Made me realize how successful some of Dylan's thefts have been. No, it's "Helpless" which first appears on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Deja Vu in 1970 but it does musically sound a great deal like Dylan's song three years later. Can't blame Dak-Ho for being confused. Even Rolling Stone praised the derivative while ignoring "Helpless" but, hey, they only had 500 slots, right? No time for "Helpless" but Dylan's right under the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" at 190. Not sure which is the worse insult.

"Helpless" really is the stand out for me. It's not the only standout. But you could purchase this CD (or download it) and just for the one track feel satisfied. Patti's got the always inventive Lenny Kaye on guitars and Jay Dee Daughterty's back on drums along with Tony Sheanahan on bass (and keyboards). It's the tight group she's been working with throughout her re-emergence in the 90s and if the four decided to call themselves "the Patti Smith Group," only purists could argue the point. If you're paying attention the five has dropped to four. The sound doesn't suffer but, as I grow older, Patti with a hot young thang was a source of hope.

"If you can just get your mind together," Patti intones in that voice that still sounds like no other. It's the opening track, it's Hendrix and it's bass heavy. I'm a huge fan of Hendrix and there are few covers I enjoy. Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix had me laughing my ass off like nothing since one of the classic Nichols & May lps. "Bold As Love" was the only cover that worked (not a surprise, it was done by Pretenders) and it seemed to have been included just to make the miserable covers even funnier.

But Patti and the band nail it. Not in a note for note imitation and anyone expecting that may also be ignorant of the fact that the opening track on Horses is Patti adding to a song by Van Morrison.

Patti adding to? See that's the thing I don't get from the set that's screaming she's not doing anything original. Have they listened to Twelve? When Patti's doing this amazing chant two-thirds of the way through "Smells Like Teen Spirit," they aren't really thinking, "Man, Kurt Cobain really had a way with words." -- are they?

Maybe they are? Maybe they really don't know the originals?

You don't need to know the originals to enjoy the CD. But if you're whining that Patti's wood shedding, it probably would be wise to know what you're talking about.

With people who've listened, the most debated song in our conversations has been track two, Patti's cover of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World." Some wonder why Tears for Fears' "Sewing the Seeds of Love" wasn't chosen instead since it is a nod to the Beatles and George Harrison's "Within You Without You" is done to spooky perfection -- spooky because of what Patti brings to it?

Like Carly Simon (who is also on Sony), Patti's doing a covers album and trying to make a cohesive statement about the world around her. Myself, I would've preferred "Sewing the Seeds of Love" (or even "Shout" -- Patti could've done something amazing with that) but "Everybody Wants to Rule The World" fits in with the mood she's creating.

"Gimmie Shelter" may be the closest to a note-for-note recreation and, if so, it's forgiven because when you're touching on the Stones at their finest, why monkey around with that?

Music buffs and historians can find another point of interest in the album with songs like that and "Soul Kitchen." Though it's often forgotten today (we have come a short way -- at least), the general consensus since the beginnings of rock was that women just couldn't sing it. It took too much vocal power to get in front of that big rock sound. (Apparently, they'd never heard of Kate Smith though -- with each subsequent album -- it seems like Bono's bound and determined to rescue her from the just derision her name now conjures.) A girl, a chick, just didn't have that kind of power. Didn't have it or wasn't allowed to show it?

Grace Slick, who more than any woman shredded that fallacy in the sixties, is represented here with Patti's cover of "White Rabbit" (you need to read Patti's notes on that song and I'm not going to spoil it for you but I will tell you she notes some women who came before). Janis Joplin did so as well. If Janis had been African-American, she would have gotten the same White critical reception the equally amazing Aretha Franklin did -- "Oh, yeah, but that's soul. I'm not saying a chick can't handle soul." Janis was doing a rocked up soul & blues sound but in White face and that chipped away at some of the nonsense. But it was really Grace, with a stage persona that bordered on hostility, who started the burial (it was a long grave yard dig and a longer funeral) for that nonsense.

So here's Patti with her band, in 2007, soaring with 60s hard rock classics by Hendrix, the Stones and the Doors. She's carved out the space she inhabits, no question. But it really does demonstrate that women can rock out and could have in the 60s. Women didn't have some sort of genetic mutation, they just broke down barriers.

The barriers have been broken though sexism still exists. A strong case could be made that rock suffers a severe case of sexual panic whenever a woman's work equals (or, heaven forbid, surpasses) her male peers in popular recognition. So, for instance, when all the blossom boys of the 90s were 'whining' over a woman they lusted after from afar, Alanis shows up with "You Ought To Know," singing about the very up close reality -- so close you can see the sweat on the skin -- of a sexual breakup, the 'natural' response is for the boys to throw in the cards and declare rock is now a mishmash of heavy guitars and rap -- as led by the very aptly named Limp Bizkit.

Patti's been there before. She's lived through it all. For instance, she's seen "Because the Night" go from a co-composition to a Springsteen song -- even though Springsteen couldn't have written the lyrics. (If he had it would have been titled "Because the Wee Wee Hours of the Night.") Springsteen didn't try to strip her of her credit but, let's note, he could have been more vocal in her defense.

Rock gods get a lot of help attaining their legendary status. Women, still, largely climb the mountain alone. Patti Smith's at the top of the mountain again. Twelve continues the growth of Peace and Noise, Gung-Ho and Trampin'. Twelve is two tracks that she and the band give more life than they deserve and ten that come roaring down the Mount of Rock.

NYT: How Stupid Can Two Men Be & Helene lies again

How stupid can two men be?

Pretty damn stupid.

Take this opening paragraph from Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny's "Democrats' Proposals Make Deal on an Iraq Bill Harder" from this morning's New York Times:

The aggressive attempts by Democratic presidential hopefuls to shape the war debate are threatening to complicate Congressional efforts to reach a deal on the Iraq spending bill, as the candidates' calls for accelerating an end to the conflict compete with efforts by legislative leaders to extend financing for the war.

They offer no attribution for that claim. That claim doesn't reflect reality (though they do give "good spin" -- whether they swallow or not, you'll have to find out on your own). So we're left with the fact that they've presented their shakey opinion as fact. In a non-op-ed. Once upon a time, editors at the Times would have caught that. They wouldn't have objected, mind you, but they would have read the paragraph and insisted on, at the very least, "some insiders say" being added to the first paragraph.

Now there's stupid and then there's flat out malice and lie. Welcome to the world of the Bobble Head Pundit, the gesticulating Helene Cooper who teams up with Michael Slackman to offer Gossip to Go with Flo though they call it "U.S. Now Reaching Out to Those It Shunned:"

The opportunity was almost there -- and it was derailed. Ms. Rice planned to seek out Mr. Mottaki at dinner on Thursday, but he arrived before she did, took one look at a female Russian violinist clad in a red dress -- too risque for strict Muslim sensibilities, diplomats said -- and left as Ms. Rice arrived.

For those who've forgotten, it was Helene who lied in print earlier claiming that Hugo Chavez referred to Noam Chomsky as deceased. He did no such thing. It was a ha-ha moment for Helene and she thought she could get away with it (others thought so as well). She's back to lying like a good flunky for the State Department.

Is that why Mottaki left? No, it's not and we went over this in yesterday's snapshot. He stated publicly at a press conference why he left: there was no scheduled appointment and he was tired of waiting. But Helene can print any damn lie she wants and get away with it. She can lie about Chavez, she can lie about anyone. The Times doesn't give a damn about accuracy, it just cares about sucking up to the State Department (regardless of which party is in the White House). Helene really needs someone to go over the office dress code with her. She's scoring points right now by repeating State Department spin/lies as fact. But what she doesn't grasp is that she's the joke of the office. Not for her lies, sadly, but for her outfits and accessories. That's what will take her down at the paper and those who doubt it should take a moment to think about a 2004 'star' who faded some time ago. The same 'reward' probably awaits Helene.

Diplomats said it, did they? Let's review this section of yesterday's snapshot:

Now let's turn to the apparent lie. CBS and AP report that Manouchehr Mottaki (Iran's Foreign Minister) "walked out of a dinner of diplomats where he was seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, on the pretext that the female violinist entertaining the gathering was dressed too revealing." Cute. Kind of like the lie that Hugo Chavez said Noam Chomsy was dead, no? Other versions take greater strides to note that Rice wasn't walked out on, she wasn't present. But they love this apparently false claim of the scantily clad violinist -- in Egypt? the US State Department can't lie any better than that? -- and most include this non-diplomatic quote by Sean McCormack who is a spokesperson for the State Department: "I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state." What's the truth?
Oh, you don't think it's coming out of the braying mouth of Sean McCormack, do you?
KUNA reports: "On Thursday evening, Mottaki left dinner in Sharm el-Sheikh before Rice arrived to sit at the same table" and "Asked why he did not meet Rice, Mottaki told a news conference: 'There was no time, no appointment and no plans. A meeting between foreign ministers has certain requirements (such as) political will and it also has to be clear on what basis such a meeting would be held." AFP, to its credit, noted the comments being put out by "US officials" were "a swipe" on the part of "US officials" but somehow Mottaki's press conference just slipped everyone's attention.
McCormack's statements aren't diplomatic but they are the sort of calculated cheap shots. So nice of so many in the press to run with them just because US officials said they were true. Our Hedda Hoppers of the press.

Sean McCormack said it. He wasn't the only one. It was a cute little lie that was supposed to paint Condi as reasoned. Condi was bullying throughout the conference. (She lost her composure and shouted at least three times. But you won't read that in Helene's mash note to Condi. Which, for laughs, is labeled a "news analysis.") Condi, like Henry Kissinger during Vietnam, was at the conference not at the urging of Iraqis (as the lie has been told) but at the demands (on the Iraqi government) by the US government. The lie about what was said is supposed to (a) make Condi look "stateswoman like" and (b) make some Americans angry.

What! That man doesn't like what a violinist is wearing! Those sexist pigs! As though the White House hasn't been one of the biggest destroyers of women's rights since 2001. The lie is as phoney as Laura Bush's claim (pre-invasion) that women in Afghanistan would be liberated.
Condi wanted no meeting. (The proof's there in her repeated statements about how she did want a meeting.) She was a bully throughout the conference (shocking many who thought she would at least make some gestures) and her big targets were Syria and Iran. Photos of her on Thursday night show a very glum Condi, sitting sullen at a table.

If she hadn't tried to power play, try to one up her Iranian counterpart, he wouldn't have left. But he wasn't going to wait around while Condi played "My ego is bigger than yours!"

There was never going to be any real agreements coming out of this conference. It was supposed to be about the region and that's why Condi was injected into it by the White House over the objection of the Iraqis.

Helene's a fool, she'll die a fool. But she'll do so many years after the Times either dumps her or moves her to one of those desks where nothing gets done but pencils sharpened and paper clips played with. And if stockholders are worried the Times' profit margin, they might want to take a tour of the NYC building and see all the aging slackers that should have been kicked off the payroll years ago, people who don't produce any copy but take up space and pull a check, week after week. If Helene's not fired, she'll soon join the other ghosts who keep their heads down and keep banking the check. Real journalists wouldn't do that but the ghosts sold their souls to the paper long ago. (Which is the real reason the paper keeps them on the payroll -- not because they give a damn about employees -- anyone reading any of the editorial in the last 30 years knows damn well the editorial board is not pro-labor.)

Which brings us to Alissa J. Rubin who files the only story from (the Green Zone in) Iraq. She does so by rewriting. It was an entertaining military press release on Friday. Rubin pads it out a little and calls it "U.S. Forces Break Up Arms Smuggling Ring in Baghdad." She forgots to note that at least 46 corpses were found in Iraq yesterday. Rewriting military press releases can tax a soul apparently.

We'll close with Margaret Kimberley's "These People Frighten Me" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) which Keesha was the first to highlight:

During the first Democratic presidential debate a little known candidate, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, ended up with one of the most memorable lines of the evening:
"And I got to tell you, after standing up with them, some of these people frighten me - they frighten me. When you have mainline candidates that turn around and say that there's nothing off the table with respect to Iran, that's code for using nukes, nuclear devices.
"I got to tell you, I'm president of the United States, there will be no preemptive wars with nuclear devices. To my mind, it's immoral, and it's been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy."
Of the eight candidates on that stage in South Carolina, only Gravel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich will say that there is no reason for the American people to incinerate the Iranian people with nuclear weapons.
When Senator Barack Obama
repeated the lie that Iran is on the verge of attaining nuclear capability only Kucinich would call him out. He politely said that Obama's assertions were in dispute.
Obama: I think it would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran.
But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.
Kucinich: (OFF-MIKE)
Obama: I understand that, but they're in the process of developing it. And I don't think that's disputed by any expert. They are the largest state sponsor of terrorism...
Kucinich: It is disputed by...
Obama: ... Hezbollah and Hamas.
Kucinich: It is disputed.
Obama: And there is no contradiction, Dennis, between...
Kucinich: It is disputed.
Obama: Let me finish.
Kucinich would have been correct if he had called Obama a liar. Gravel is right, most of the Democrats are very frightening indeed.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

The e-mail address for this site is There will be another entry today. It may be me doing it (on Iraq) or Kat may do a review. Ruth plans to do a report this weekend. Radio programs? None of what we normally note sent out e-mails. (I called Rachel and Martha to double check.)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, May 4, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the deaths of more service members, the mainstream press gloms on an apparent lie, a US senator floats his inablity to stand (no spine), and more.
Starting with news of war resisters.  Today Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) interviewed US Senator Daniel Akaka, the junior senator from Hawaii.  Ehren Watada was brought up.  Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  A February court-martial ended in an mistrial.  This month (the 20-th through the 21st), pre-trial motions are scheduled.  If the judge elects to ignore the Constituion's ban on double-jeopardy, Watada would then be court-martialed beginning July 16th.  Before the Febuary court-martial,  he spoke to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!  Tuesday, January 23, 2006 and Goodman and Gonzalez played a clip for that for Akaka today:
In my preparation for deployment to Iraq, in order to better train myself and my soldiers, I began to research the background of Iraq, including the culture, the history, the events going on on the ground and what had led us up into the war in the first place, and what I found was very shocking to me and dismaying, and it really made me question what I was being asked to do, and it caused me to research more and more. And as I found out the answers to the questions I had, I became convinced that the war itself was illegal and immoral, as was the current conduct of American forces and the American government on the ground over in Iraq. And as such, as somebody who has sworn an oath to protect our Constitution, our values and our principles, and to protect the welfare and the safety of the American people, I said to myself that's something that I cannot be a part of, the war. I cannot enable or condone those who have established this illegal and immoral policy. And so, I simply requested that I have my commission resigned and I separate completely from the military, because of those reasons, and I was denied several times, and I was basically given the ultimatum: either you deploy to Iraq or you will face a court-martial.
Noting that Akaka is opposed to the war, that Carolyn Ho had visited him in DC to ask for his support for her son, Goodman asked Akaka, "Do you think he should be court-martialed?"
Akaka: I know him and I know his dad and his mom very, very well in Hawaii.  I admire his position and, for me, it's a position that has grown with him being reared and brought up in Hawaii in a diverse population and with diverse culture and a care for people.  And what he has done is so difficult for any young man to take a position like that, to the point where he is willing to resign his position as an officer and to leave the service of the United States.  But he bases it on the mistakes that this country has made.  And so, he needs to be admired for that.  But he has had a difficult time to convince the military courts, as well, to just let him resign.  But for me, we'll let the courts decide that.  But I admire his position.  It's very difficult, and we know that we all love our country, and I know he does too.  But his reasons are, as I said, moral and that's really basic for anybody as he makes a difficult decision as he has.
For those lost in Akaka's useless wordage, the answer is "no."  He will not do one damn thing.  Would the answer have been different if Goodman or Gonzalez had raised the issue of double-jeopardy?
No.  Akaka is as useless as his words.  "I know him . . I know his dad and his mom . . ."  Yes, he does know them.  He was happy to have Bob Watada work his butt off for his campaign and many others.  And while Akaka's happy to pose as BRAVE SENATOR AGAINST THE WAR he can't won't lift a damn finger to help anyone that's suffering for Akaka and other senators' useless manuevers.  What is Akaka so scared of?  He was just re-elected in November of 2006.  He is 82 years old.  Is he afraid he won't be able to be a senator at 88 if he shows some damn courage?  When Time magazine picks you as one of the Five Worst Senators maybe it's time you stepped aside ("As a legislator, though, Akaka is living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise.  After 16 years on the job, the junior Senator from Hawaii is a master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee.")  Voting against the war doesn't mean a damn thing if that's where you courage ends.  Staying on dumb and useless, let's turn to Hawaii's other Senator (though let's note that when it's time to stand up for drilling in the AMWR, Akaka is present and accounted for), Daniel Inouye.  Like Akaka, Inouye has strongly benefitted from the work of Bob Watada.  Inouye is 82 as well (he is actually four days older than Akaka).
Inouye voted against authorization for the illegal war.  At 82, why is he so scared to speak up in defense of Watada?  Greg Small (AP) reported on Inouye's attitude towards Watada last August: not "too happy," rushed to note "he wasn't praising Watada" . . .  So two senators, damn well old enough to know better, can't do one damn thing.   They can't end the war, they can't speak out for someone forced to take a stand (one they themselves are too feeble or cowardly to take).  They both knew Bob Watada.  They're thanks for all the hard work he put in is to turn their backs on his son?  May voters show them the same sense of 'loyalty' if the OLD FOOLS are idiot enough to run for re-election (2011 for Inouye, 2012 for Akaka).  Inouye and Akaka the strongest reasons today for a mandatory retirement age for the Senate.
In other war resister news, this week Camilo Meija's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published and, as Courage to Resist reports, he will be joining Agustin Aguayo Pablo Paredes, and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:
Wednesday May 9 - Marin           
7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento        
Details TBA

Friday May 11 - Stockton    
6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey      
7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 
7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.

Monday May 14 - Watsonville           
7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto          
7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka  
7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland    
4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
Aguayo wants to take part in that but may not be released in time. If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Where's Augie?"  All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, 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 addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others. (Filling in for Rebecca, Betty  wrote about Sir! No Sir! last night.)
Now let's turn to the apparent lie.  CBS and AP report that Manouchehr Mottaki (Iran's Foreign Minister) "walked out of a dinner of diplomats where he was seated directly across from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, on the pretext that the female violinist entertaining the gathering was dressed too revealing."  Cute.  Kind of like the lie that Hugo Chavez said Noam Chomsy was dead, no?  Other versions take greater strides to note that Rice wasn't walked out on, she wasn't present.  But they love this apparently false claim of the scantily clad violinist -- in Egypt?  the US State Department can't lie any better than that? -- and most include this non-diplomatic quote by Sean McCormack who is a spokesperson for the State Department: "I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state."  What's the truth?
Oh, you don't think it's coming out of the braying mouth of Sean McCormack, do you?  KUNA reports: "On Thursday evening, Mottaki left dinner in Sharm el-Sheikh before Rice arrived to sit at the same table" and "Asked why he did not meet Rice, Mottaki told a news conference: 'There was no time, no appointment and no plans. A meeting between foreign ministers has certain requirements (such as) political will and it also has to be clear on what basis such a meeting would be held."  AFP, to its credit, noted the comments being put out by "US officials" were "a swipe" on the part of "US officials" but somehow Mottaki's press conference just slipped everyone's attention. 
McCormack's statements aren't diplomatic but they are the sort of calculated cheap shots.  So nice of so many in the press to run with them just because US officials said they were true.  Our Hedda Hoppers of the press.
Staying on the topic of the press, in the current issue of Extra! (March/April 2007, put out by FAIR), Pat Arnow explores (pp. 9-10) the censorship the press doesn't fight.  Using a photo (by Robert Nickelsberg) that ran with Damien Cave's "Man Down," Arnow explains how the New York Times groveled and apologized to appease the US military, "apparently removed the photos from their website" in order to gladly go along with the latest dictates of the US military: "Now publications of pictures of casualties violates new media ground rules for Iraq from the Department of Defense.  The regulation states, 'Names, video, identifiable photographs of wounded service members will not be released without service member's prior written consent' -- which seems absurdly unlikely."  The US military has declared that photos of casualties taken in a public area are not, in fact, public.  It's the sort of thing one expects from Team Crusie, but not from the US military, and the sort of thing one doesn't expect for news reporters (as opposed to feature writers) to ever go along with; however, go along with it the Times and other outlets have (Arnow also names the Washington Post).  Arnow concludes, "Photos of American suffering or suffering caused by Americans might indeed sicken and offend viewers.  But by acquiescing to the military's censorship and avoiding most of these images of American involvement, the media does not offer a true portrayal of the consequences of war. . . .  By accepting military censorship without discussion, though, the media demonstrates cowardice."  (It should probably be noted that no one has yet to touch the much talked of incident where the Times pulled a reporter from Iraq to appease the US military.)
Barry Lando (The Middle East Online via Common Dreams) notes the "pretense that they [journalists] actually know what is going on in Iraq.  It is more showbiz than fact.  Because of the fearful security situation, they are restricted to the artificial enclave of the Green Zone, literally cut off from the rest of the country.  When they venture out, it is usually only with helmet and flak jacket, safely embedded with American military units.  Most of Iraq and most of its people are unknown territory. . . .  Most reporters also avoid reporting that the claim of the squabbling do-nothing politicians in the Green Zone to be the government of Iraq is another fiction promulgated by the Bush administration.  Everyone -- the media, visiting congressmen and officials all seem to play along -- but as retired General Barry McCaffrey recently pointed out: There is essentially not a single province in the country where 'the centeral government holds sway.'"
Today, the New York Times grabbed some ribbon and tied a 'terrorism' bow around any story they could.  Damien Cave tries to fix the mess of official statements in opposition and ends up coming off like Faye Dunaway in the My-daughter-My-sister scene in Chinatown.  So after wasting a ton of space and ink this week on whether or not this 'terrorist' was killed or that one was, Damien Cave tells us that the US military asserts they "killed a senior propagandist . . . who was involved in kidnapping Westerners, including the American journalist Jill Carroll."  Though repeating every word purred by the Giddiest Gabor Green Zone (Willie Caldwell), Cave misses basic reality.  As Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) reports "Carroll says she doesn't recognize the photo released by the military of [Abdul-Latif al-] Jubouri."  That much was known yesterdayMurphy also reports that Caroll identifies Abu Nour as a major player in her kidnapping and there is "no doubt in her mind that he was the most powerful of the captors".  Murphy also reminds that "Over the past the year the US military has detained a number of figures believed to have been involved" in Carroll's kidnapping and that of Tom Fox and three members of CPT.  Somehow, Cave misses all of that.  But then, he is working for the paper that early on could have interviewed members of the resistance but a vexed look from a US military official was enough to send Dexy Filkins off to his corner, whimpering and sucking his thumb.
These days, very few outlets could get an interview with anyone in the resistance.  Alive in Baghdad did get an interview this week, with a member of the Islamic Army in Iraq which has been dubbed "a resistance group" by Iraq's vice president Tareq al-Hashemi.  Below is a transcript of the masked man's statements:
In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.  The new security plan is a huge failure.  We have nothing against the American people.  On the contrary, we know there are educated Americans and Americans who like the Iraqi people.  Our problem is with the American occupiers who invaded our country.  I ask any American, if an invader broke into his country, what would he do?  Welcome them? He is going to use this weapon by the will of Allah. God is supporting us. Concering the execution of the hero martyr Saddam Hussein, I call on all the TV networks to visit Iraq and find someone who supported the execution of the Iraqi president.  May God have mercy on his soul.  When he executed the 148 men as the media claims, they were traitors when we were at war with Iran.  If the American president faces an assassination attempt, what is he going to do?  Is he going to release them from prison?  He'll find the terrorists.  This is very normal and the Iraqi president was in a war situation where he was about to be assassinated.  So what could the man do? Iran sent these men and supported them and even Iranian weapons were found.  My late uncle was a senior official in the state.  He saw these weapons.  All of them were made in Iran.  Where did they get them from? From Iran.   They say that the Iraqi president was Sunni and execute Shiites but that is a lie.  Those executed by the president were traitors.  They didn't deserve to live on the land of Iraq. So he was not sectarian.  The late Iraqi president was a patriot who loved his country & people.  He made us live in safety,
although the country was going through economic difficulties because of the embargo imposed by the Americans and the Kuwaitis.  It was what God willed.  This security plan has failed and the Iraqi government is loyal to Iran, to the Safavid [Iranians].  This government is unable to run a group of people.  So how can it run an entire country with 28 million Iraqis?  I call on the Americans to leave Iraq and re-build the former Iraqi army.  By the will of Allah, I call upon the American people to withdraw their sons, brothers, and fathers before they are buried her in Iraq because we noble Sunnis do not accept that and the biggest proof for that was how the late president sacrificed himself and his sons for the sake of Iraq and the land of Iraq. And as it is said, we are people who will never surrender. 
Alive in Baghdad does a contextual wrap around (at the end they're noting the Mongols) including: "We are aware that some may find this content objectionable or irresponsible, but we feel it is completely in line with our mission to detail facets of daily life in Baghdad."  Those who find it objectionable may do so because they've become so used to what passes for reporting in the mainstream press.  Alive in Baghdad, as BBC reported last December, "won a crop of 'Vloggie' industry awards for showing the human face behind Iraq's daily toll of deaths and kidnappings."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that killed 5 police officers and left 2 more wounded, a Baghdad taxi bombing that wounded one police officer, and a Babil car bombing that claimed 1 life and left 21 wounded. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A car bomb and two roadside bombs went off overnight in Kirkuk, killing six Iraqis and injuring at least 33" while a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 2 lives.
Wednesday's rocket attack on the Green Zone killed four contractors.  Lelia Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Two of the dead were from India, one was from the Philippines and one was from Nepal."  Thursday's snapshot, citing Reuters, noted the four were all from the Philippines.
Hussien Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 guards were wounded by gunfire in Baghdad (Habibiya neighborhood) and two guards of the Imama Ali mosque (in Baghdad's Adhamiya neighborhood) were wounded in an attack that also led to the mosque being burned down, a Shurqat attack that left a police officer dead, and "For the last five days, the tribes of Shimar who live at the villages of Kinaan have been on fighting with the terrorists there with no help from the government having one man killed and five injured."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 8 corpses in Suwayra, 6 in Baiji (all police officers) and 9 in Falluja. AP notes 7 corpses "found floating in the Diyala River in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, and snipers were preventing police and medical teams from recovering from the remains along with other bodies spotted in recent weeks from the waterway, police said."
Today the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device targeting an MND-B patrol killed one Soldier and wounded three others in a western section of Baghdad May 3."
And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier was killed and six others were wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital May 3."  And they announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad today."  Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that there were 65 attacks using projectile bombs.
The deaths announced today brought the total number of US service members to die in the illegal war to 3363.
Finally Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported yesterday on an ethics study the US military conducted on marines stationed in Iraq.  The study found that 40% was the number who stated they "would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian" and Rogers reported: "The report indeed showed that longer deployments and multiple tours of duty were increasing troops' rates of marital and mental-health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder."  Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports on the study today and notes that "55 percent of Army soldiers would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian."

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"At least they told us now and not in June."
Those were my words when I found out about the extension policy that was implemented on April 12. Minutes before, I read about the death of Kurt Vonnegut at an internet terminal at the Frankfurt International Airport. He died on April 11. I'm glad to say I'm new to his writings, because after finishing three of his books, I still have a lot of his work to look forward to. Vonnegut has the reputation of being anti war, anti imperialism and against any absurdities committed in the name of America. I came to the conclusion that the administration waited patiently for Kurt Vonnegut to die before rolling out this Iraq wide extension. They didn't want to be embarassed by what he would have to say.
And I can't imagine what that would be. But here is what he said about me and my friends in his column in the magazine In These Times:
By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of
wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

He speaks, of course, of the hawkish writers that suggest speaking out against the administration, Bush and of the Iraq War was unpatriotic, and gasp! Would seriously undermine the morale of the military. Like a congregation of Tipper Gore clones they loudly bombasted, "Oh, would someone please think of the soldiers!" At the same time, those same people in the Senate, as well as Bush, reject a timetable for troop pullout, saying it would put us in serious danger and give the insurgents a plan for attack.
Now let that settle in. A pullout date would put us in serious danger and give the insurgents a plan for attack. What are we in now, relative safety, and the insurgency in its last throes? Last throes? Oh sh*t, where have I heard
that before?
This of course comes back to the extension. Secretary Gates issued at least a three month extension to everyone in Iraq, on top of the twelve months they already have. Their plan was to have units home for a full year before deploying again, but some units were coming back to Iraq and Afghanistan in ten months. It wasn't adequate time they decided. And since the military is stretched, especially during the surge, some units would have to spend more time in Iraq than promised. A problem arose from this. They couldn't pick and choose which units to extend to relieve the pressure, so with an effortless gesture of a pen stroke, 160,000 troops are being held for fifteen months (except us, we're staying for sixteen months! Hooboy!). Secretary Gates also mentioned that every soldier spending more than a year deployed will get an extra $1000 per month, and a guarantee of twelve months home between deployments and you're f**king lucky to get that much.
If I've learned anything thus far, a guarantee from the Army and three dollars will get you a coffee at Starbucks.
Let me give you a little backround if I haven't already. I joined the Army out of half patriotism, half desperation in 2004. I was still angry about September 11 and I totally f**ked up school. I barely made it out of there with a diploma, and I knew it was because I had no discipline or direction. I thought the Army would be a magic bullet for all of those problems. The war was going on for a year when I joined, and I thought it was just and right at the time. Flash forward to 2007, and please, let's be grownups now. There were no weapons of mass destruction found, reason one. Reason two, the connection between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, which is largely unfounded. So why did we attack Iraq in response to September 11? It was like getting stung by a bee in your house and responding by going outside and kicking over an anthill.
I promise you all, there's no method to the madness. I put my life on hold for another four months for nothing. Can you imagine? I know soldiers fighting in previous wars had it a lot tougher. Kurt Vonnegut had it tougher in World War II. But at the very least, they had a goal, a promise of a bright new world free of Nazism. Brave men literally fought for freedom, because if they didn't, the world was going to be in the hands of Germany and Japan. That was the light at the end of their tunnel. Do you know what the light at the end of the tunnel is for us?
Yeah, food. When we're on patrols and house clearing missions, what's keeping us going is not the promise of freedom and democracy in Iraq. It's the vision of hamburgers, fries and ice cream. I can live without a market based economy in the Middle East, but I can't live without a toasted ham sandwich. Several times we have raced back to the base to get to the dining hall as it closed. Something to eat is the high point of the day. Imagine the low points.
As Kurt Vonnegut suggested, our morale is shot to pieces. The few tattered remains left were eviscerated when they extended us four months. The most devious trick the media and the government has pulled in the last ten years is suggesting to the public that the soldiers believe in the mission and the war itself. In my unit that is definitely not the case. We just fight for food and friends, and the hope of getting home. I know a few people who still believe in the cause. I would know one more, but he died when I was on leave.
Remember that naive 19 year old kid I described earlier? The one unsure about his future that wound up in the Army? Those kinds of kids are the most succulent prey in the system. Kids that age and a little older are slammed with guilt trips to reenlist to stay in for several more years. In Iraq they are given $15,000 bonuses, tax free. That's a lot to a kid, very irresistable. At the same time, they are browbeaten by their superiors into reenlisting, saying it's for their own good. You'll fail on the outside. Stay where you're loved. What else are you going to do? All common phrases thrown around in the countless reenlistment briefs I've attended. But it's 2007, not 2004, and I'm not falling for it a second time.
Earlier editions of this blog have mentioned the date in which I seperate from the military, November 24, 2007.
That is merely symbolic now. After coming home, you must stay for three months so they determine you're not crazy and all that. Our return home date is October 15. So that means I'll be held against my will again, until January 2008 it seems.
So Lauren, my sweetheart, I won't get to go on summer walks and picnics with you. I hope Pike's Market is nice in the winter. Mom, I won't be there for your birthday. Yours either Dad. Can't forget Andrew's. And Albert's. Won't be making your wedding either, Albert. To the students of my high school, I won't get to thank you in person for the letters and packages you sent until November at least. Readers, fear not! Despite the caustic undertone of this entry, I am glimmering with hope. The dining hall opens in ten minutes for breakfast, and they make some killer omelettes.
I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you
different. -Kurt Vonnegut


The above, noted by Eddie, is from Alex's "Man, I'm Hungry" (Army of Dude) and it's one of two Iraq blogs that Veterans for Peace has noted. Turning now to an AP story (which may sound familiar), Penny F. Johnson (39-years-old) was court-martialed April 15 and found guilty of "being disrespectful during a conversation with a captain at Camp Arifijan, Kuwait, on Nov. 14, 2006 and of failing to report to Ali Al-Saleem Airport on Jan. 29, 2007 for a flight to Iraq." If it seems familiar, you may be remembering Sean J. Maxwell whom we noted on Sunday.

Today the US military announced: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad today." And Dems are saying they won't cave on non-binding measures (interview airs on Democracy Now! which also features Joan Baez today). We'll play wait and see.

Doug notes the following appears at Dennis Kucinich's website:

Thank you for your interest in Dennis Kucinich. Due to enormous response, our website is undergoing a necessary technical upgrade and is temporarily down. Please check back again.

That was true last night. Which is why we posted the response to Hillary Clinton's proposed bill here last night (also because Trina had asked it to be noted):

In response to reports that Senator Hillary Clinton plans to support a bill deauthorizing the Iraq War on October 11th, Congressman Dennis Kucinich said:
"Now that Senator Clinton supports deauthorization, will she support defunding the war? When someone votes to fund the war 100 percent of the time and then says she supports deauthorization, it looks like a gimmick. Last week she voted to fund the war again. Every time she votes to fund the war she reauthorizes it. The true test of her commitment to ending the war is whether she'll vote to stop funding it. Congress will soon be faced with yet another decision on whether or not to fund the war. Let's see how Senator Clinton votes, to see if she is to be believed."
Congressman Dennis Kucinich opposed the war from the start and has voted 100 percent of the time against funding it. When President Bush vetoed the recent funding bill, Kucinich was the only member of the House to vote Present. He did so because he objected to the Congressional Democrats' position and to Bush's position. Kucinich has a plan to end the war: HR 1234.

On the issue of Kucinich, Carl notes Glen Ford's "Big Media Censor the Kucinich-Gravel Tag Team" (Black Agenda Report)

For those who bother to watch, the debates provide a brief glimpse of reality through an otherwise solid corporate media wall of distortions. The most grotesque distortion is that Senator Barack Obama is an "anti-war" candidate. Corporate media are only able to pull this trick off by pretending that the top two "tiers" of candidates are the only ones that count. Tier One is Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Tier Two is Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson. For all corporate media intents and purposes, Tier Three does not exist. Until recently, it consisted of just one man: Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the only genuine anti-war candidate - in fact, the only real progressive in the race, period.
Kucinich was joined in Tier Three invisibility by former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who hasn't held office since 1981. He was an early and fierce opponent of the Vietnam War. Gravel is not really a candidate; he is there to raise hell, on camera, with Tiers One and Two, all of whom are war mongers to one degree or another. As a non-officeholder, Gravel doesn't have to worry about the getting along with fellow party members after the elections. As an elder statesman, he must be accorded a modicum of respect when the cameras are rolling. He is perfectly suited to denounce and berate the phony progressives, the false peace candidates, as he did in South Carolina.

The Pentagon says 300 Iraqi soldiers died in Iraq (WP article noted by a visitor). Martha notes Ann Scott Tyson's "Projectile Bomb Attacks Hit Record High in Iraq" (Washington Post):

Attacks in Iraq involving lethal weapons that U.S. officials say are made in Iran hit a record high last month, despite efforts to crack down on networks supplying the armor-piercing weapons known as explosively formed projectiles, according to a senior U.S. commander.
The number of attacks with the projectiles rose to 65 in April, said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who oversees day-to-day
U.S. military operations in Iraq. "The overwhelming majority" were in predominantly Shiite eastern Baghdad, Odierno said in an interview this week. Officials have said the projectiles are used almost exclusively by Shiite fighters against U.S. military targets.

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NYT: Grabs some ribbon and ties a 'terrorism' bow

We conducted a joint operation with the Iraqi Army back in December, 2006. We integrated "IA" personnel with us and went house to house through a neighborhood in Baghdad. We were searching houses for weapons and getting a feel for the community. I'd like to add that the people of Baghdad are some of the nicest, most hospitable and interesting people I've met.
We went into our first house with our IA counterparts. I searched a couple of rooms while the IA soldiers talked with the family in the living room. After I finished my search, I returned to the living room. THe lady of the house offered my team members and me a seat on the couch. While we sat, the conversation between the IA soldiers and the matriarch grew heated. They started yelling at each other in Arabic. My squad leader called outside for an interpreter. The "terp" came in and listened to what was going on. She told us that the woman was saying that Iraqi Army guys came to the neighborhood and shot at the houses. My squad leader, playing the diplomat, told the "terp" to say that "the bad guys" will dress up as IA and do bad things. The interpreter said, "Yes," and spoke in Arabic to the woman. The matriarch spoke and what she said enraged the IA soldier. They started shouting. The interpreter told us that the woman said that the men were dressed exactly the same, had similar weapons and had IA vehicles- "humvees." Again, my squadleader made a feeble attempt to asuage the woman with stories of "bad guys." The interpreter then brought up a very good point. Why were the IA guys being so defensive about this? Every time the matriarch made a statement, the two soldiers started yelling. What about the humvees?
We went from house to house with similar results. There were many quarrels between the people of the neighboorhood and the Iraqi Army. I came to find out that we were in a Sunni neighborhood and that the Iraqi Army was mostly Shiite. As we walked from house to house, the IA guys would periodically point their weapons at people and yell at them. When we entered a house, the IA guys had no respect for their belongings. All day there were reports of IA personnel stealing from the people and being violent. It seemed as though they were "casing" the houses for a later visit to the neighborhood. All of us could feel it. It was very uncomfortable. When we were in Mosel, Iraq, we had to help the IA man an outpost. We would have a few American soldiers at one of their bases. A soldier from my platoon told a story of something he saw there. He was looking for someone and going door to door to find him. He opened one door and saw an IA soldier standing on the chest of a detainee while another IA soldier whipped the detainee.

The above, noted by Eddie, is Justin C. Thompson's "The Iraqi Army" (Burst Assunder). It's one of two Iraq sites that Veterans for Peace noted and we're noting both this morning -- and a post in full due to the fact that the military is cracking down.

We're also noting it in full because the New York Times is so useless this morning. The public has turned against the war, they're 'impatient' for the illegal war to end. What to do? For the Times it's time to push hard on 'terrorism' which means not one, but two articles on terrorism.
The first is from Jordan. It's key point may be best captured in "most of whom are believed to be foreigners" which, of course, has no attribution. Possibly, we're supposed to insert "according to officials' pillow whispers" ourselves. The second is about a 'terrorism' 'propagandist' being supposedly captured and, before you get excited, they haven't carted off Michael Gordon in chains. Fans of the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone (Willie Caldwell) should enjoy this. The rest? Well it is early, but if you're up to drinking, Damien Cave allows you to take a shot every time "said" appears next to Willie's name. You should be hammered by nine. Strangely enough, Dames leaves out Jill Carroll. Now she is mentioned in the story, the supposed propagandist was supposedly involved in her kidnapping. (And we may have used more qualifiers in the last sentence than there are in Cave's entire article.) But somehow the fact that, when shown a photo of the man yesterday, Carroll stated she didn't recognize him from that photo just slip-slides away from Cave.

Lastly before moving on to the next entry, Vic notes "Coffee house raises funds for war resisters" (Nanaimo NewsBulletin):

The Nanaimo War Resisters Support Group is organising a coffee house in the Red Willow series at Hope Lutheran Church, 2174 Departure Bay Rd., on May 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Performing will be Sue Irwin, Joan Wallace and Barry Hall, the Rabbleberries, Tracey Meyers and Myron Makepeace, Sue Solomon and Dan Miron, The Owl and the Pussycat and Penny Sedora.
Admission is by donation at the door and includes refreshments. There will also be a silent auction.
Funds will be used to help with legal costs for one war resister living locally and to help provincial and national support groups.
With no end in sight to the Afghanistan war and reserves being called, support groups are also concerned about Canadian war resisters who may need help in the future.
For more information, please contact Joan Wallace at 758 8973 or e-mail

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

American forces have completed construction of a concrete wall around the Baghdad district of Adhamiya despite protests from the Iraqi prime minister and local residents who claim that they are now at the mercy of militants.

James in Brighton noted the above, from "Anger in Baghdad as Americans finish wall" (Telegraph of London) and noted that paragraph's about all you can trust in the article. So the wall isn't wanted by the puppet, isn't wanted by the residents, but US forces complete construction even though a week ago Nouri al-Maliki said it was stopping. Who's calling the shots? Not the puppet government.

As we noted earlier this week, they've banned heavy trucks from most Baghdad bridges this week. That's due to the fact that it's feared the resistance might be targeting bridges to control the traffic through the capital. (Which would make easy targets of residents as well as the military.) This same fear is why Sunnis object to being walled off. The fact that it is so similar to the illegal walls the Israeli government is using to fence in Palestinians and cut them off from resources is why there was strong Arab outrage throughout the region. But none of that mattered, obviously. All that mattered was what the US government wanted.

That's pretty much the way it's been since day one which is why Iraqis overwhelming want foreign forces out of their country. And who can blame them? Their country has been destroyed. What can be sold off is either sold off or -- as with the oil -- there's pressur to sell it off. Baghdad was a glorious capital. Bustling with life. An urban center. Now, as academics pointed out in August, they can't even gather in their own city anymore. The curfews, the patrols, the militias. Reconstruction? Ha. The millions that didn't disappear didn't go towards anything resembling functioning services.

And the Democratic leadership in Congress posed and preened all week while the wall was still being constructed. Bully Boy doesn't want the illegal war "micro-managed." The wall's not about the war. Where was the oversight from Congress? Where was the concerns for what the residents wanted? Congress -- Dems and Repubes -- are real good about blaming Iraqis for not doing this and not doing that. The wall demonstrates, to even the most thick headed, that Iraqis are not calling the shots in their own country.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3334 (ICCC). Tonight? 3357. The count includes this announcement from the US military today: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and six others were wounded in an insurgent attack in southern Baghdad May 3." So 23 more deaths since last Thursday. What is the theme for the new issue of The Nation? Oh, yes, education. They love their theme issues. And maybe, if they're ever pressed on their lack of Iraq coverage, they can turn around and point to their theme issues: food, Cuba, education . . . and explain there just wasn't time to cover Iraq. Of course, someone might point out (rightly) that an illegal war that had passed the four year mark seemed more than worthy for a theme issue but surely they'll have a good excuse to offer for why they did nothing. (All their lives, to swipe from Adams' Family Values.)

Molly Ivins said bang the pots and pans, use your voice every day to speak out against the illegal war. Students are doing it. People of all ages are doing it. It's only The Nation that stays silent. There's an article in Extra! (put out by FAIR) on the peace movement which notes that mainstream media shows up to cover the January rally and march in DC ("Can You Hear Us NOW?" by Frances Cerra Whittelsey, pp. 11 - 14) which includes the following:

Perhaps the most telling story about turnout was reported on National Public Radio's All Things Considered broadcast at 7 p.m. on the day of the protest (1/27/07). Jacki Lyden introduced the story this way: "Today's antiwar protests may be one of the largest in years, but while polls say that most Americans are against the war, most people have not been taking their politics to the streets." The news staff at NPR seems to have decided on this theme the day before the protest, when reporter Melissa Block, conducting an interview with Judith LeBlanc co-chair of United for Peace & Justice, said to her:
When you look at what the antiwar movement has done over the last four years of the war, it seemed like there was a big presence at the beginning. And then for a lot of people, maybe it drifted away. It was hard to see where you were. What do you think the problem has been there, in terms of your presence and people's recognition of what you're doing? Why haven't you been able to push the debate forward more?
It does not seem to have occured to NPR's news staff that they, like most of the rest of the media, had ignored protest after protest, and now, suddenly awakening, are wondering at the blank in their memory. They might be surprised to learn that the January 27 protest was the eighth since 2003 that "had at least 100,000 people," according to Leslie Cagan, LeBlanc's co-chair at United for Peace & Justice.
LeBlanc responded to Block by pointing out that if one travels the country as she has,
what you see is that there is a grassroots movement that hasn't always gotten the attention of the national media. So . . . in between these big demonstrations, there are people doing some very heavy lifting, showing films and having discussions, and doing door-to-door work in their neighborhoods. . . . We do have the attention of the national media now, and what is going on in our country is a reflection of all that work that goes on under the radar.
LeBlanc's response was a diplomatic way of saying that the news media suffer from a chronic lack of interest in covering grassroots organizations, preferring public opinion polls with their bloodless and controlled questions to actually reporting on community activists.

Well, at least NPR covered it. Did those who subscribe or purchase The Nation read about it as they flipped through the pages? Nope.

The Bob Herbert nonsense that everyone's e-mailed about will be addressed at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Herbert doesn't call out news does he? Billie made that point noting that on her news tonight (WFAA out of Dallas), the top headline before the opening credits was,
"New liposuction, less pain, better results." Thank goodness we're all informed at the top of the show. Surely that is the most pressing thing in the world today: "New liposuction, less pain, better results."

It's really past time for gas bags and Mommy's Pantyhose to quit blaming the people. That's such a snide attitude, isn't it? Oh, the people are so stupid. Oh, the people just care about crap entertainment. What are the people being informed of? WFAA thought the biggest news on their nightly news was lipo. Quit blaming the people for a news system that repeatedly fails them.

Kyle notes Barry Lando's "And The Lies Go On" (The Middle East Online via Common Dreams):

This is the same reason that, although many journalists are brave and intelligent, it is pretence that they actually know what is going on in Iraq. It is more showbiz than fact. Because of the fearful security situation, they are restricted to the artificial enclave of the Green Zone, literally cut off from the rest of the country. When they venture out, it is usually only with helmet and flak jacket, safely embedded with American military units. Most of Iraq and most of its people are unknown territory.
In the Green Zone, however, reporters are able to cover another highly staged event, the trial of Saddam Hussein, which drones on, even though the former dictator has departed the scene. Officials who served under Saddam are being charged with various crimes against humanity. But there is no mention by anyone -- neither the prosecutors nor the media -- about the complicity of the United States and other major powers in many of Saddam's most horrific acts.
Most reporters also avoid reporting that the claim of the squabbling do-nothing politicians in the Green Zone to be the government of Iraq is another fiction promulgated by the Bush administration. Everyone -- the media, visiting congressmen and officials all seem to play along--but as retired General Barry McCaffrey recently pointed out: There is essentially not a single province in the country where "the central government holds sway."
The current debate over Iraq avoids other fundamental issues. While Congress and the President are at logger heads over a schedule for withdrawing US forces -- as if they're really talking about pulling all US troops in Iraq -- what about the four mammoth military bases that the United States has spent billions of dollars building in Iraq over the past four years? One of them, Balad, North of Baghdad, covers fifteen square miles. Those bases could soon be the object of a major confrontation among Iraqi leaders, hostile to any attempt by the United States to maintain permanent bases in their country. Indeed, there's no way those facilities could be considered "temporary," though that’s how the Bush administration sold them to congress. And then there is the sprawling new American embassy -- the most mammoth American embassy in the world -- currently being built in the Green Zone.
It would be naive to think that the Bush administration would just walk away and leave those facilities. More likely are major troop commitments -- to back up future Iraqi governments as well as America's influence in that vitally strategic part of the world -- commitments that may last for decades. Though these bases are certainly a subject of concern to Iraqis, they've been scarcely mentioned in any of the debates concerning America’s commitment to Iraq. On the other hand, though most Americans have yet to be briefed on the situation, some US troops certainly have. Recently, at one of those facilities, the massive marine base of Al-Asad in Anbar province, a visiting reporter was assured by US soldiers that American troops would be rotating though for at least the next decade.

That's a reality. It doesn't get noted very often, but it's a reality. How can people know what's not covered?

Now we saw something really disgusting in independent media last month. We saw a refusal to speak the truth. Oh no, WalkOn might not like us. Oh no, a Party Hack might get nasty with us. So they all dummied up, collectively (with few exceptions) on the issue of that shell game Congressional Dems were playing on the public. (The Nation, to be fair, needed no excuse to be silent, they've largely spent the last two years playing The Quiet Game. Apparently, the secret plot twist is that, when undressed, you see the Council of Foreign Relations dangling from their body.) Military bases were in that measure we were all supposed to applaud. The privatization of Iraq's oil was in that measure we were all supposed to applaud. Troops home? No, not in that bill. Some might come home. If Bully Boy followed the non-binding wording and didn't use the escape clause to reclassify US service members.

It was a con game, a shell game, fool the public and won't we score points for 2008!

That's disgusting. In fact that sort of lying is as bad as Bully Boy's ignoring the people. It should have been called out. A few did. Their reward? They didn't show up in print in some outlets, they did a vanishing act over the radio air waves. It's really kind of amazing that they all stayed silent supposedly for the "good" and yet they've all got their knives out for George Tenet. Have at him. It's nothing I'm going to sweat. But the same 'logic' that dictated (to many) that they needed to be silent about the realities of the illegal war (for the larger good b.s.) didn't prevent them from tearing apart one of the highest ranking officials to call Bully Boy out. And did anyone else wonder about that interview where Tenet was yelled at? Did no one get that was only possible due to the fact that the administration had indicated the gloves were off with Tenet? It's the same sort of thing they attempted to manufacture earlier. The same sort of thing that allowed David Gregory to go on air and smear someone falsely (the most basic of research would have told Gregroy the administration was lying -- most basic being just reading the preface to The Price of Loyalty). But there was some applause for that interview with Tenet and no one bothered to note that the same reporter had all but groveled, mere weeks earlier on the same program, at the feet of the Bully Boy. That wasn't about brave reporting, that was yet again following the administration's signals: Gloves off, tear 'em apart.

Tenet has a lot to answer for and should be held accountable but let's not pretend when the mainstream does a 'hard hitting' interview they're doing it because they're journalists. Matt Lauer did the same thing with Kitty Kelley. It had nothing to do with journalism. It did have to do with the adminstration wanting someone silenced and their statements discredited.

Tenet's own actions have discredited him. This isn't about Tenet. Not on my part and not on the 'brave' mainstream media. (I'm referring to the mainstream. Ray McGovern has rightly criticized Tenet. I'm not talking about that. McGovern holds Tenet to the same level of accountability he holds the Bully Boy.) But if last month's coverage of the non-binding, toothless measure wasn't bad enough, this week we've seen independent media enlist yet again -- following the talking point that we can use the veto to outrage the people. That bill did nothing. It wasn't enforceable, it was a joke. But let's manufacture some rage! It is ridiculous. And while many in independent media re-enlisted in that propaganda, in the mainstream you were supposed to prove your bonafides by heaping scorn on Tenet -- who absolutely deserves and has earned it but it's hypocritical when the Bully Boy is not challenged in the same way. When is he going to be challenged and met with skepticism on the issue of torture? Don't hold your breath for the mainstream to do that.

And let's remember something else, if he is impeached (which he should be) count on a hack to show up on the evening news telling you that his pardon is for the good of the nation and puts the whole issue behind us. Dan Rather was the hack offering that crap when Nixon was pardoned.

What got put behind us? The truth. Reality. And it allowed the same players to pull off the things they couldn't even under Nixon. So if Bully Boy is impeached (again, he should be), let's not fall for that nonsense again. Let's not be hyped into "a healing process." The tumor will still be there -- spreading. The "healing process" will be nothing but denial.

When it was time for Nixon to face reality, the visit was made by Poppy Bush. Bully Boy's already noted that he 'listens' to a higher father. Impeachement, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi says, is not off the table and Bully Boy's refusal to listen to the public makes impeachment all the more likely. There's talk of where will the Republican support be for it? As the 2008 campaign edges closer, even Repubes will have to reach out beyond their base (unless they feel they can win the White House with a little over 30% of the voters). (I'm not predicting impeachment. I am saying that Bully Boy's refusal is making the establishment nervous.) We need to know our history.

Lynda notes Cindy Sheehan's "Four Dead in Ohio" (Common Dreams):

Now in a very weak, baby step, but a step in the right direction, nonetheless, Congress sent King George yet another "non-binding" bill for troop withdrawal that he vetoed, exercising that power for only the 2nd time in his administration.
Of course George Bush vetoed the will of the American public that he scorns and ignores (unless they are the members of his "base" -- the wealthiest top two percent). Of course he is waging crimes against humanity against the people of Iraq and in such prison camps as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. All doubt has been removed that Bush&Co lied before the invasion and have continued lying throughout the occupation. But now that he has defied Congress yet again, the people's representatives need to slam shut the bank vault to bring our troops home and get busy removing an Executive Branch run amok. Impeachment is not a Constitutional Crisis...

Bush&Co are the crisis and impeachment is the remedy.
It is time to come out from behind our complacency in the face of one fresh outrage after another to stand up to the Bush Regime and take our country back while there is still something worthwhile to save. Bush&Co are as surely destroying this country with their greed and callousness as they are destroying Iraq. Our republic is rapidly disintegrating due to George’s War of Terror and we citizens are the only glue that can hold it together.
The Camp Casey Peace Institute on Monday, May 14th as we gather in front of the White House to march on Congress to show the people who work for us that saving lives is more important to us than partisan politics. It is time that people on both sides of the aisle stop playing their bloody games with our children’s lives and the country of Iraq. Real people are dying and civilized countries are being demolished while time is being wasted on non-binding b.s.
Washington DC needs to be shut down on a day when there are actually people in town, It’s time to go retro and reclaim our collective history as dissenters, protesters, patriots and effective and affective players on our political scene. It is too late for so many, but even more need our help now.

I'm at Trina's (and her son Mike's -- but Trina's declared her support for Dennis Kucinich). Hillary Clinton has joined with Robert Byrd for something (we'll wait to see it in writing before cart wheels commence). Truthdig offers their view here. They note Kucinich has issued a statement; however, when you click his site is currently down. She was hoping his statement could be noted in full tonight. It can be.

In response to reports that Senator Hillary Clinton plans to support a bill deauthorizing the Iraq War on October 11th, Congressman Dennis Kucinich said:
"Now that Senator Clinton supports deauthorization, will she support defunding the war? When someone votes to fund the war 100 percent of the time and then says she supports deauthorization, it looks like a gimmick. Last week she voted to fund the war again. Every time she votes to fund the war she reauthorizes it. The true test of her commitment to ending the war is whether she'll vote to stop funding it. Congress will soon be faced with yet another decision on whether or not to fund the war. Let's see how Senator Clinton votes, to see if she is to be believed."
Congressman Dennis Kucinich opposed the war from the start and has voted 100 percent of the time against funding it. When President Bush vetoed the recent funding bill, Kucinich was the only member of the House to vote Present. He did so because he objected to the Congressional Democrats' position and to Bush's position. Kucinich has a plan to end the war: HR 1234.

That's his official statement in full and hopefully his site will be up and running by tomorrow morning. (It's down due to an upgrade due to heavy traffic.) Lastly, if you haven't yet read
Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" (Salon) please make a point to do so. (It's discussed in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin which hits your inbox tomorrow morning.)

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