Saturday, February 11, 2012
Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister as a result of the November 2010's Erbil Agreement. Following the March 2010 elections, the country was pulled into Political Stalemate I by Nouri who refused to honor the results of the 2010 elections. First, he inisted the results were wrong, that the votes had been miscounted. He stomped his feet and demanded a recount and then began insisting there was fraud. A few votes were tossed to his State of Law party post-election to assuage Nouri's wounded pride. The election continued the mood that was taking hold in Iraq -- a mood that threatens Nouri to this day.
In 2009, provincial elections were held and Iraqis did not embrace sectarian divisions. That was the result of the 2009 elections in Iraq's provinces. Nouri misread the results (and in fairness to him and others, one election alone proves nothing). He thought he'd do better than Dawa (his political party) and didn't want to enter into any alliances with existing groups. He misread the mood and thought that people wanted new groupings to vote for. What they wanted was an end to the fighting, they wanted a united Iraq.
As the results of the 2009 elections demonstrated, so did the 2010. And that's why Nouri -- despite all the money he tossed around, all the bribes he made -- found his State of Law slate coming in second to the brand new Iraqiya. The brand new Iraqiya that Nouri had targeted -- over 500 politicians were disqualified from running in the weeks leading up to the elections and they were mainly Iraqiya, disqualified by Nouri's friends on the Justice and Accountability Commission. He'd used the media to declare them terrorists and worse. And yet Iraqiya bested Nouri's State of Law.
It did so because Nouri was preaching more sectarianism, more hatred, more division. Iraqiya's led by a Shi'ite (Ayad Allawi) but it's got Shi'ites and Sunnis and Turkmen and others in it. It's a mixed slate that was a united slate and that's how this newly formed grouping managed to win.
Nouri is right, they are a threat to him. They are a threat because ideas are always more powerful than politicians. Politicians harness ideas, toy with ideas, betray ideas, but they never trump ideas.
And Iraqiya represents an idea. An Iraq where people are Iraqis and they make a society together.
Nouri's fear of this idea is rooted in the reality that everything he stads for is the past and that his hold on the country slips away. All he has is authoritarianism and barbaric behavior to offer because he's embraced and bathed in the hate of his years of exile. That's not what Iraqis need and it's not what they want.
Nouri's only currency is hate so he attacks others and tries to stir up hatred, always hoping he can rip Iraq apart because only when the country feels misery is a Nouri needed. Good times rule out a Nouri. Only when fear and misery rule a land does a thug like Nouri get to 'lead.'
Which means the most important story out of Iraq today may have been AP's afternoon report that, in the face of Nouri's non-stop targeting of Iraqiya, the Union of Patriotic Figures is formed -- Kurds, Shi'ites and Sunnis who plan to be a check and an opposition.
As if to demonstrate how strongly he is gripped by both hatred and the past, Nouri declared today that Iraqiya is following the orders of "other countries." Al Mada reports he made this charge -- one that he'd sue over if it were aimed at him -- while 'celebrating' Dawa in his hometown of Touirij. Dar Addustour notes a planned meeting at Jalal Talabani's residence on Monday -- Talabani is President of Iraq and this would be his Baghdad residence in which issues regarding the National Conference will be addressed -- between Talabani and Nouri and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.
Al Mada notes a group of women demonstrated in Iraq on Baghdad's Mutanabi Street -- a large number of women from the picture -- to salute Iraq women and the pioneering Iraqi women of the 20th century feminist movement. The women noted the widespread discrimination against women (illegal under the country's Constitution). Dr. Buthaina Sharif made remarks about how the rights of women are a cause for all men and women to share. Dr. Sharif saluted Paulina Hassoun who, in 1923, edited Iraq's first feminist magazine Layla ("On the way to the revival of the Iraqi woman"). She spoke to Iraq's long history of social progress in the 20th century and decried the violence aimed at so many women today. (The UN estimates that one out of five Iraqi women is a victim of domestic violence.) Those demonstrating had passed a list of recommendations.
1) The Constitution must be followed.
2) The government needs to establish a fund for women -- women who are widows and women whose husbands have left them.
3) Publis assistance for the education of girls to prevent them from being forced to drop out.
4) Subsidies for young families which would encourage marriage and building families.
5) Better housing for women and priority on housing lists.
6) Training sessions should be opened to women and job creation should keep their qualifications in mind.
7) Double the amount guaranteed by the ration card.
8) Efforts to discredit women by sullying their names with false rumors should result in prosecution in court.
9) Freedom and unity is for all and that includes women.
10) Restore normal life by providing potable water (safe to drink) and electricity.
11) create a Higher National Committee of women and men from different backgrounds and ages
Nora Khaled Mahmoud and Mahmoud Raouf file a follow up piece for Al Mada on the demonstration noting thatit included intellectuals and activists and could said to have been prompted by the Minster for Women's recent remarks that men and women were not equal and her insistance upon dictating how women dress. The note Iraqi women spoke of women's history being a continuum of two experiences: Injustice and triumph. Women face injustice and they triumph over it. They declared that democracy is traveling around the world and that Iraq must be a good model for it. They noted that, throughout the women's movement in Iraq, women and men have taken part in the struggle for equality and that, as early as the 20s and 30s, Iraqi clerics joined in the demands for equality for all. Women, they insisted, must not lose their freedom and that this is even more clear when they hear the Minister for Women publicly declaring she does not believe in equality. While that's her opinion, the women state, that's not the opinion of alll women and it's not the opinion of the Constitution. Journalist and feminist Nermin Mufti declared that civil liberties and personal freedoms are declining in Iraq and that the Minister for Women should represent the interests of Iraqi women and seek to claim the rights guaranteed to women, not rob them of their rights little by little.
We'll close with this by international law expert and professor of law Francis A. Boyle:
February 8, 2012
The Honorable Patrick Quinn
Governor, State of Illinois
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph St., Ste. 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601-3220
Dear Governor Quinn:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! Unfortunately for me, on Friday, March 2, 2012 the City of Champaign will be publicly desecrating Saint Patrick, your Patron Saint and the Patron Saint of our Beloved Ireland. On that day, the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry will launch their annual town-wide Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawls. In previous years this event knowingly and deliberately produced, promoted, and instigated at least one death, numerous maimings, many rapes and sexual assaults, widespread physical assaults and batteries, large scale drunken-driving, destruction of public and private property, and multiple disturbances of public order—all perpetrated by drunken young adults and underage minor drinkers who had been illegally served and serviced by the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry with the full knowledge and approval of the Champaign City Council and Mayor. The good people of your Champaign County will be terrorized and intimidated by several thousands of drunken young adults and illegal underage minor drinkers for the entire weekend.
Because of the enormous sums of money generated by the Champaign Bar and Liquor Industry, and despite my best efforts, all the local public officials have adamantly failed and refused to terminate this orgiastic defilement of Saint Patrick, but rather have tolerated, condoned, and licensed it for well over a dozen years. Therefore I hereby request that you exercise the emergency powers granted to the Governor by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 3305 (West 2007), 3305/4 (“Disaster” includes “riot”) to suspend every bar and liquor license within the city limits of Champaign for March 2, 2012. Under Section 3305/7(9) the Governor has the power “To suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages….”
We must not let these mercenary Champaign bar and liquor store owners murder and maim and rape yet another young person in the prime of his or her life. Their next victim could be your daughter or your son, your brother or your sister, your mother or your father. These Merchants of Death and Destruction must be stopped!
Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. It has been most appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Yours very truly,
Francis A. Boyle
Enclosure: United Ireland, Professor of Law
Human Rights, and International Law
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve been following the issue of toxic environmental exposure of U.S. servicemen and women here at Antiwar.com since 2009. Mounting evidence strongly suggests that the unregulated open-air burn pits used to incinerate everything from medical waste to batteries and rubber tires, has contributed to the fine particulate matter found carried in the dust, including metals and bacteria, and has something to do with the dramatically changed health of returning veterans.
“What makes healthy individuals who have never had asthma end up in wheelchairs on oxygen, or a 34-year-old non-smoker who has near-normal [physical fitness tests] but is short of breath and has lungs that are totally destroyed? These are the problems we are trying to solve,” exclaimed Dr. Anthony Szema, Stony Brook University Medical Center Assist Professor of Surgery, in a recent interview for the Army Times.
Szema recently wrote about a soldier serving both in Iraq and Kuwait who has lung tissue riddled with fine particles of titanium, iron and copper. He published his findings recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It is part of his ongoing study of soldiers suffering from unexplained illnesses.
This particular soldier, according to the report, is suffering from nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis, a rare and dangerous type of pneumonia that afflicts people for no known reason, cannot be treated and is 60 percent fatal within the first six months of diagnosis, according to Wikipedia. What we know about the soldier is where he was stationed, and that he came into contact with “the laundry facility, improvised explosive device blasts, sandstorms, burn pits and the occasional cigar.”
Monday, the first ever Burn Pit Symposium takes place:
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
This program is made possible by support from the Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
2 WAYS TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
* Register with your credit card online at: http://www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/education/cme.cfm
* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211
For Information Email: email@example.com
1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.
9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)
10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
10:40 - 11:10 BREAK
11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)
11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark
12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)
12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)
12:20 - 1:20 LUNCH AND EXHIBITS
Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source
1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)
1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)
2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
2:40 - 2:50 BREAK
2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)
3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)
Continuing Medical Education Credits
The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
It'll be interesting to see which outlets note the symposium and which ignore it.
Violence continued today in Iraq. Trend reports a Jbala bombing injured a police chief and five other people. Sky News adds, "A roadside bomb at Amariyat al-Fallujah in Anbar province killed Sheikh Najem Mustafa al-Hafez, head of the Aweissat tribe, along with his brother, his wife and their two-year-old son, police lieutenant Jabbar Hamad said." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes the death of the Sheikh as well and explains, "Sheikh Najim Abed Hafidh headed up an Awakening Council in the town of al-Hiramat, which is near Falluja" and that in addition, assailants "fatally shot Haider Shamkhi, the government official, while he was in his car on Mohammed al-Qassim highway in Iraq's capital, police officials told CNN." Reuters drops back to Friday to note an Abu Ghraib roadside bombing which left three Iraqi soldiers injured and 1 teacher shot dead in Khan Bani Saad.
The following community sites -- plus Susan's On Edge -- updated last night and today:
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
kelley b. vlahos
Friday, February 10, 2012
In Iraq, where most US troops have already left, the massive CIA presence in Baghdad has been re-purposed. Once focused chiefly on tackling Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents, the American spies are now "monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government."
In many ways thing have come full circle for the CIA, which had a presence on the ground spying on the Saddam Hussein regime before the 2003 US invasion. Now, having spent the last eight years helping the military prop up the Nurul Maliki government, the agency again finds itself there spying.
The above is from "CIA to stay in Iraq, Afghanistan: WP" (Pakistan's The Nation) and they're referring to Greg Miller's Washington Post report from earlier this week. It was an important article and has garnered a great deal of attention from the press . . . outside the US. As noted earlier this week, NPR's Morning Edition ran with Tim Arango but ignored Miller's report. That's fine, Ava and I were already toying with doing "A Tale Of Two NPRs" this Sunday, highlighting the rank hypocrisy and lack of standards -- including the need to tack a 'warning label' on anything to do with women's reproduction, including how some contests matter and some don't, including so much. So we can easily squeeze the ignoring of a major report in -- especially after the propaganda piece Morning Edition aired yesterday that didn't contain a critic. It sure is cute that if that were an anti-war group, they would have felt the need to present both sides but when it's a group associated with the US government, one size fits all. Prensa Latina notes, "The CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency´s largest overseas outposts for years. According to The Washington Post, this will happen even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to neutralize insurgency attacks."
Meanwhile Nouri is facing rumors that he's cooperating with the CIA or assisting them. Al Mada notes State of Law MP Adnan al-Sarraj has issued a statement denying any involvement Nouri has with the CIA -- presumably current involvement is being denied since Nouri and the CIA had a pre-existing relationship prior to 2003 -- and stating that when Nouri met with US President Barack Obama in December, Nouri made clear that the CIA wasn't welcome in autonomous Iraq. Al Mada notes not only Miller's report for the Washington Post but also Iraqi intelligence sources who have that Iraq's leadership and the CIA have an extensive relationship.
In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Shihab Hamid (Dar Addustour) offers that national reconciliation is important to the political and social future of Iraq as well as to the security and stability of the country and that all Iraqis should be able to participate because, otherwise, the price paid with millions dead was for nothing. Al Mada notes that Iraqiya has confirmed to them that there are various plans being put forward for the national conference and that, at Monday's meeting, the National alliance offered a working paper, as did Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance. The plan is for the three proposals to be discussed at the next meeting which is currently scheduled for Sunday. Yes, another meeting to make preparations. President Jalal Talabani and Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference since December. It's February. Is it going to take eight months of preparation? Or, more likely, in a month or two is Nouri just going to say that since they've managed this long without one, they really don't need it?
When Nouri returned to Iraq, his war against Iraqiya and Sunnis became more obvious and he began demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his position and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on 'terrorism' charges. Al Mada notes that Saleh al-Mutlaq is stating that the problems in Iraq remain serious and that he will not return to Cabinet meetings until there is a guarantee that the political proces will be fixed and that the groundwork for a real partnership is in place. He maintains this needs to take place before the Arab Summit which is scheduled to be held in Baghdad currently. Al Sabaah notes that the meeting is scheduled for March 29th and is part of a series of planned visits by foreigners to Iraq -- a list that's said to include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visiting.
Of the Sadr Festival yesterday, Al Mada reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's speech and who knew Moqtada was such a chicken He calls out the illegal war and he calls out the American troops but is apparently too scared to call out the Ahmed Chalabis who didn't just live in exile but actively courted and lobbied the government of England and the US to go to war with Iraq. If you're going to talk "blood on their hands," it seems you start with those who begged and lied to get the western invasion of Iraq.
We'll close by noting this from The Bat Segundo Show:
Greetings from The Bat Segundo Show, the long-running (and free!) cultural radio program devoted to goofy, thoughtful, and comprehensive conversations with the cultural figures and eccentric minds of our time. You can listen to the show at the main site or subscribe through iTunes.
We have three new and exiting shows to tell you about, as well as an enticing live event that's going down at McNally Jackson next Thursday which you may want to attend. We'll express more exuberance in this email in a bit, but in the meantime, here are sundry social media options. Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our supplemental Tumblr, in which we offer additional contextual notes.
As previously announced, the great Stewart O'Nan will be making a New York City appearance at McNally Jackson on February 16, 2012 to discuss his latest novel, The Odds. Odds that Our Correspondent will be baking cookies shortly before the event? 2.2:1. If you're not up to speed on O'Nan, we check out our lengthy email volley with him last year or listen to our previous show with him.
As this one hour conversation demonstrates, Stephen Fry is indisputably a world-class raconteur, a gentleman and a scholar who has rightfully promulgated erudition and the miracle of language. But why is he so reticent to confront Foxconn? Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Agnieszka Holland discusses In Darkness, how to find the right sewer, and the present state of Holocaust cinema. Two wanted women, one dual biography, one 35 minute conversation.
If you wish to subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:
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These conversations will put a smile on your face, tickle your funny bone, and may just challenge you.
Thanks again for listening!
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The Bat Segundo Show
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the washington post
And in the burning heat
Hanging on the edge of destruction
You can't stop the pain of your children crying out in your head
They always said that the living would envy the dead
-- "One of the Living," written by Holly Knight, sung by Tina Turner, first on the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack
Thursday a service was held for the late Alan McMenemy. Cameron Hay (Scottish Sun) reports, "More than 400 relatives and pals joined widow Roseleen and kids Erin and Luke at Bearsden Cross Parish Church near Glasgow." Alan McMenemy was a bodyguard for Peter Moore. So were Jason Crewswell, Jason Swindelhurst and Alec Maclachlan. The five British men were all kidnapped May 29, 2007 in Baghdad. The League of Righteous took the five men and killed all but Peter Moore. When US President Barack Obama made a deal with the terrorist organization -- which was responsible fore the deaths of US soldiers and the deaths of Iraqis -- allowing their main leader, his brother and other League of Righteous officials out of US custody, they released the corpses of three of the bodyguards. (Peter Moore was the only one not killed by the League.) Missing was the Glasgow native Alan McMenemy.
Last month, the League of Righteous finally released the body of Alan McMenemy. Cameron Hay reports:
The minister revealed that plans are in place to plant a cherry tree in memory of the man who worked for Canadian security firm GardaWorld, having previously served as a paratrooper.
A police escort led hundreds of vehicles to Clydebank Crematorium where his body was committed.
Mourners left the building to the sound of the Norah Jones hit Sunrise.
STV News offers a video report of the service here. In Costa Rica, the Tico Times reports on Carlos and Melida Arredondo whose son Alexander was killed in Najaf August 25, 2004 while serving in the Iraq War and whose son Brian took his own life December 19th last year:
Seven weeks have passed since Brian's suicide. The Arredondos keep themselves going by speaking out against U.S. conflicts and fighting for the rights of current soldiers -- the commandos in Afghanistan, the young recruits serving in posts around the Middle East, the officers still in Iraq as contractors. Mélida speaks of the high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder among troops, the large number of homeless veterans and the lack of spousal assistance for soldiers that are overseas. She and her husband worry that Alexander and Brian died in vain.
"We continue talking about Alex and Brian because we don't want them forgotten," Mélida said. "It turns into a number or a monument, like the Vietnam War, and past that, people forget. We're here to say 'no.' War impacts all of our lives, even here in Costa Rica."
Like Carlos and Melida, Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) lost a child in the illegal war -- her son Casey -- and she shares, "To me, in the perpetual political hypnosis and hypocrisy that exists in this nation, the most tragic thing is that the dead, too numerous to actually count, were used by the Faux-gressives as convenient weapons to bludgeon Bush and the Republican party, but were so easily discarded as garbage on the dung heap of US electoral politics when victory was declared by the Democratic warniks." Also in the US, Stu Bykofsky (Philadelphia Inquirer) tells the story Iraq War veteran John Milton (not his real name) who is haunted by his experience in Iraq:
In 2003, attached to the Third Infantry Division, he and five buddies were returning from a beer run into town from their base - buying Jordanian Horse Head beer from an Iraqi entrepreneur who served hot grilled chicken in the front of his stand and warm beer in the back. They were riding in two Humvees when a roadside bomb blasted the passenger side of the vehicle Milton was driving. Before the smoke cleared, a shocked Milton looked down and saw his buddy's eyeball in his lap.
Milton and the soldier in the back seat were not injured, nor were the GIs in the second vehicle, who saw the man who planted the bomb and shot him several times. He was down, but not mortally wounded.
The soldiers were screaming, punching and kicking him. Like his buddies, "I was a little crazy," Milton says. Instead of medicating the insurgent, he drew his Beretta and shot him in the head, killing him.
Milton didn't regret it then, but he does now.
He was not yet 21, likely in shock, trained by the Army to kill. Had he fired that same bullet into the Iraqi one minute earlier, when he was vertical, it would have been OK. But because the Iraqi was horizontal, it was not.
The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Cindy Sheehan and NYT's At War -- updated last night:
We'll close with David Swanson's "The Election We Should Be Following" (War Is Crime):
For progressives and populists around the country who take an interest
in Congressional races there are always a few good challengers we
might hope to send to Washington. Incumbents, we assume, can take
care of themselves.
But in Northern Ohio, redistricting has thrown two incumbents into one
district. It's a heavily Democratic district created purposely to
guarantee a number of other districts to Republicans. The incumbents
are both Democrats, both white, both 65, and many imagine that they do
similar work in Washington. In fact, they could not be more
different. One of them does tremendous good for our national
politics, working to move our government in a better direction from
inside it, just as the rest of us do from the outside. We cannot
afford to lose him. We would be obliged to work for his reelection
even if his opponent were far above average. The record suggests
A useful example to highlight the contrast between Congressman Dennis
Kucinich and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is found in the funding of
wars. Between 2001 and 2009, Congresswoman Kaptur voted for $545
billion in war funding, voting Yes over and over again for Bush's
wars. Congressman Dennis Kucinich voted for a total of $17 billion.
(See the chart below.)
In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, Kucinich's was the clearest
voice against it. He circulated evidence of war lies to his
colleagues. He organized many of them to vote No with him. Kaptur,
too, voted No on the authorization.
But once the war had started, many Congress members, including Kaptur,
turned around and voted to fund its continuation and escalation, year
after year, even as the public turned more and more strongly against
the war. While Kucinich was working to impeach Bush and Cheney,
Kaptur was voting to fund their wars. While Kucinich was advancing
resolutions to shift the debate toward ending wars and preventing new
ones, Kaptur was claiming wars made us safer and reciting "support the
troops" rhetoric, as though what veterans need most is the creation of
more injured veterans.
This distinction matters more than ever as the prospect of a war on
Iran looms larger. Kaptur wants NASA and the Pentagon to work
together more closely, while Kucinich opposes the militarization of
space. Kaptur seems to believe the military industrial complex is a
beneficial jobs program, whereas Kucinich seems to believe it is what
Eisenhower said it would be.
Congresswoman Kaptur has been spending a lot of money on television
ads in hopes of defeating Kucinich in the upcoming primary. Where
does her money come from? Well, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), in the current election cycle,
she gets 77% of her money from PACs, and 5% from small individual
contributors. Kucinich, in contrast, gets 5% from PACs, and 68% from
small individual contributors. Kucinich does not get money from war
contractors. Kaptur is a different story. Thus far, in the current
election cycle, her fourth biggest "contributor" is a little operation
known as General Dynamics. Her third biggest is Teledyne
Technologies. Tied for seventh place are American Systems Corp and
Northrop Grumman. Tied at 16th are Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Most
of these corporations have been among Kaptur's regular funders in past
campaigns as well. They are also among the leading violators of U.S.
According to the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database
(ContractorMisconduct.org), these are the worst four offenders from
Contractor Federal Contract $
Instances of Misconduct Misconduct $
1. Lockheed Martin $34367.4m
2. Boeing Company $19366.6m
3. Northrop Grumman $15522.7m
4. General Dynamics $14908.8m
Among the types of misconduct engaged in by these four leaders, as
detailed at the above database, are the following: contract fraud,
kickbacks, defective pricing, unlicensed exports, emissions
violations, groundwater cleanup violations, inflated costs, providing
of bribes and sexual favors, nuclear safety violations, nuclear waste
storage violations, federal election law violations, radiation
exposure, illegal transfer of information to China, violations of the
National Labor Relations Act, embezzlement, racial discrimination and
retaliation, age discrimination and retaliation, unauthorized weapons
sales to foreign nations, retaliation against whistleblowers. And
that's just Lockheed. In fact, that's just a small sampling of just
Lockheed. Why take money from these companies?
According to the National Priorities Project (CostOfWar.com) Kaptur's
Ninth District of Ohio (prior to redistricting) has shelled out over
$3.1 billion for wars since 2001. That expense has been with Kaptur's
full cooperation. And that is an expense measured purely in dollars
taken from tax payers to pay for wars. It does not include further
costs for veterans' care, for interest on war debt, for increased fuel
prices, or for lost opportunities. Nor does it include the cost
already extracted of several times the $3.1 billion for a base annual
military budget that has roughly doubled this decade and done so on
the basis of the wars.
According to a report titled "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military
And Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis," (PDF) by
Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy
Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst,
(October 2009), spending the same dollars on the military (without
specifying war spending which would likely make the contrast even
greater) produces many fewer jobs than if spent in other industries.
If Ohio's Ninth District's $3.1 billion had been spent on tax cuts for
working people, instead of on the military, the people of the Ninth
District could have seen a net gain of 9,920 jobs. That's considering
the full impact of jobs lost, directly created, and indirectly
created. Military spending, purely in terms of job creation, is worse
than nothing. Tax cuts -- not for Mitt Romney but for the rest of us
-- does more good.
But the same study also shows a better path. If the $3.1 billion had
been taken away from the military and spent instead on clean energy,
we would have seen a net gain of 17,050 jobs. If instead the
investment had gone to healthcare, the net gain would have been 24,000
jobs. And if the choice had been to fund education, the gain in jobs
would have been 54,250. Could Ohio's Ninth District use 54,250 jobs?
Not many people would choose to chase those jobs away in order to
support wars based on lies, wars that endanger us, wars that devastate
the natural environment, wars that erode our civil liberties, wars
that carry a heavy human cost -- not just an economic one. Not many
people, but one of them is Marcy Kaptur.
If you visit Kaptur's campaign website at MarcyKaptur.com, only one
specific issue is immediately visible, front and center: celebration
of a World War II memorial. At Kucinich.us there is also only a
single issue immediately visible: a petition urging the Congressman's
colleagues to stop funding the war in Afghanistan. In the "Agenda"
section of Kaptur's site there is no acknowledgement that war or peace
is an issue to be considered at all. In the "Issues" section of
Kucinich's site, there is a section on war and peace that addresses a
number of specific wars.
There is also, on the Kucinich site, a lot more detail than on
Kaptur's about numerous other issues. The example of wars and war
funding is fairly typical. In rough terms, Kucinich tends to back
peace, justice, and the will of the public, while Kaptur tends to back
the very same things when and if the leadership of the Democratic
Party happens to do so. Back on February 25, 2010, she voted to
extend the PATRIOT Act without reforms of its abusive procedures.
Kucinich voted No. Back on October 23, 2007, Kucinich had also voted
No on the Violent Radicalization and
Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, while Kaptur voted Yes. On
December 8, 2010, she voted against the DREAM Act, while Kucinich and
a majority of the House and of the Democrats voted for it. Any
elected official will let us down sometimes, but Kaptur is just no
Many organizations agree. VoteSmart.org lists the rankings of various
groups. Planned Parenthood gives Kucinich a score of 100%, Kaptur
71%. The ACLU scores Kucinich 94%, Kaptur 75%.
Also favoring Kucinich in their rankings are the Arab American
Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights, the League of Conservation Voters, Peace
Action, the AFL-CIO, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty
Law, etc. I'm not being selective here. There don't seem to be any
progressive analysts scoring Kaptur over Kucinich on anything.
Progressives like Alan Grayson and Barney Frank are urging us to
support Kucinich over Kaptur.
How independent and principled a member of Congress is has a direct,
and sometimes devastating, impact on their district and the nation and
the world. Kaptur believes a nuclear power plant at the edge of Lake
Erie with a bad history of safety violations should be allowed to
continue to operate, while Kucinich has asked for it to be repaired or
decommissioned. Only one of these two representatives is putting the
safety of the public first.
I believe people who care about the future of the United States, from
Ohio's new Ninth District or anywhere else, should be following and
supporting Kucinich's campaign. If he loses, we lose. We may not
always agree with him. He may not always be able to win over a
majority of his colleagues. He may sometimes let us down. But were
he not there, votes that helped end the Iraq war would have never been
held. Debates that have helped curtail further war making would
simply not have happened. Articles of impeachment for Bush and Cheney
would never have been introduced. Countless witnesses before House
committees would have gotten off without ever facing the important
questions. Many people pushing for single-payer healthcare in their
states would have never heard of it. Our televisions would be better
able than they are now to pretend that majority positions on major
issues do not exist, because there would not be that one man in the
government willing to raise the issue and publicly lobby his
colleagues to join him.
We're such defeatists these days, that we either condemn Kucinich's
compromises, forgetting that Kaptur outdoes him in that regard
100-fold, or we imagine that because he's so much better he must be
doomed to lose. On the contrary, Kucinich has a long history of
winning congressional elections, both primaries and general. While
the redesigned district includes a larger population from Kaptur's
former district than from Kucinich's, it includes more Democrats from
Kucinich's than from Kaptur's. Kucinich inspires his supporters, and
in primaries it is the relative turnout of tiny percentages of people
Who is in Congress or the White House is going to be of far less
importance than who is in the streets and what kind of people's
movement is developed to nonviolently resist injustice and war. But
without a single voice inside Congress willing to speak up in the ways
Kucinich has, the people's movement will suffer. There's no
lesser-evilism required here. Kucinich is actually a good
representative. There's no partisanship required here. Love a party
or hate them all; regardless, we should reward those who have listened
to our demands. Or why would anyone listen again?
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