I was rolling on the floor when I read the last part of C.I.'s snapshot today. I know everyone's sick of the e-mails. I know we're addressing that on Sunday.
I'm new to blogging, obviously. So I am always asking questions of others. I was telling Rebecca about three 'feminists' who showed up in my inbox wanting to trade links. She said, "Tell them, you go first." And then shared with me that those three 'feminists' (they're not feminists) got links from her the same way and then never linked to her. This went on for many months. And it wasn't they forgot, they'd e-mail Rebecca that they were about to, that in a week or two. So I followed Rebecca's advice and wrote back, "Sure. Go ahead and link to me and when you do e-mail." I never heard from them again and that was last week.
There are the people who don't like my opinion and, if I have time, I'll read them. If I have time, I'm fine with it. But those people are letting off steam, they aren't trying to tell me what to write.
That group, the ones who show up to say, "You should write . . ." or worse, "You should have written . . ." are not welcome and I won't read them.
There's a piece we wrote at Third and we're all pissed because one person has taken to (apparently) e-mailing numerous sites. The article ran at Third. If you didn't like it, you damn well didn't like it. Oh well, as Cedric says.
You really have no right to write us privately asking us to change our opinion. We saw something embarrassing sexual attraction passed off as the same as sexual assault -- and, to be clear, sexual attraction that never went beyond the 'tingles.' We're not splitting hairs over an act that took place. We're saying very loudly and very clearly that being sexually attracted to a guy in a club (a guy you never speak to or go off with) IS NOT sexual assault.
If you're so STUPID that you can't grasp that sexaul attraction isn't sexual assault, that seeing someone in a club that turns you on (but you don't pursue it) is not the same as being raped or sexually harassed, you're really too stupid to be operating a keyboard.
But one WHINER thought she could change our opinion. She can't. And, here's the thing, where does she get off thinking she can?
Now that was one of the Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation. It was the only panel we didn't like and we wrote about it in "Negative Critisicm of Winter Soldiers Investigation." It's also addressed briefly in "Roundtable" because Betty (speaking for herself and her mother) were offended. We all were. And, like Betty, I am also damn sure that I heard the offensive woman (who didn't know the difference between sexual attraction and sexual assault) endorsing Barack Obama which really doesn't need to happen at IVAW. They don't need to be endorsing any candidate. Adam Kokesh is personally supporting Ron Paul; however, he didn't use his time on stage to plug his candidate of choice.
In last week's edition/issue, Winter Soldier (which would be airing live after we posted for their last day) is mentioned in at least 10 of 13 articles.
Our big article was "Veterans Healthcare." If you missed it, no one else has addressed that panel let alone written an article about the topic. Democracy Now! mixed in the Lucey's who lost their child. They ignored everything else. That was an important panel and that is an amazing article (and credit Elaine, C.I. and Jim primarily on that article). I am proud to have taken part in the writing of that article, more so than anything else I've written online ever.
So, like everyone else participating, I'm really pissed that some whiner wants to show up saying, "You shouldn't say that about" the gender panel without even noting the fact that there is an amazing article written on the healthcare issue. On the topic of the gender panel article, one woman is praised for her testimony (and deserved to be) and we note that Ava and C.I. will include the testimony of another stronger speaker in their TV commentary (which they did, "TV: Nothing-ness"). That's ignored as well when everyone knows that not only are Ava and C.I.'s pieces the most read any week, but they are read and re-read. They are discovered months later by people (how, I guess passed on, I don't know, but the TV commentaries live forever). So the piece that everyone who comes to the site will read, the most popular piece of any edition, is Ava and C.I.'s and they made a point to include a portion of the testimony from the gender panel in their commentary.
But you can't say thank you for that, apparently. The non-Iraq War veteran just wants to whine. The editorial ("Editorial: Are you ready to listen") gets no thanks. But OH GOODNESS, you were on that panel and WE MUST BE WRONG AND YOU MUST BE RIGHT.
No, it doesn't work that way. It was a sucky panel. Take it from me, a lesbian, it was an offensive panel. It was offensive to hear a gay go on about how easy he had it. That's fine and dandy if that's what he had. But he doesn't need to be on the panel. In fact, march him outside to those Gathering of Eagles and let him give his rah-rah to be gay in the military speech there.
I could dissect everyone of the testimonies on that panel that blew it. I'm noting that one because I am gay and I took HUGE offense that this panel -- the only one where gay issues could have taken the forefront -- was offering up tales of how easy it was.
To read the coverage elsewhere, the only thing worth noting largely was who did what in Iraq -- what awful thing. While that's important, so is healthcare. C.I.'s been screaming for an article at Third on that for over four weeks and noting, I agree, that if it's not dealt with before the end of the Iraq War the feeling that it has to be will vanish. You address it not while the war's going on or you're asking about it after the fact. "Truest Statement of the Week" also comes from that panel and the testimony Adrienne Kinne is sharing should have been the first paragraph in every paper but it didn't even get coverage from 'independent' media.
Now the effect of this big whiny non-Iraq War veteran e-mailing was to have most people say, "You know what, I'm not even writing about it." Meaning Winter Soldier. Ruth and C.I. continued. Ruth was upset but kept at it. C.I. was probably pissed off but won't deal with it until after The Common Ills is done covering Winter Soldier because to deal with it before then (C.I.'s feelings) will mean pulling the coverage. Talk about lack of gratitude.
Since November, C.I. has noted Winter Soldier once a day (at least) Monday through Friday. Sometime after Christmas, it became at least once a day seven days a week. Now forget offline, just focus on online. In addition, C.I. has covered it more than any of us. Last Friday's snapshot covered Winter Soldier as did Monday through Friday this week. Winter Soldier was covered in two entries C.I. did on Sunday. It was covered it one entry on Saturday. Monday through the time C.I. heard about the e-mail, it was covered in the two morning entries at The Common Ills as well.
It wasn't mentioned last night and that's partly due to time but also because I think C.I.'s pissed. I don't blame C.I. for that.
That some idiot confuses sexual attraction with sexual assault is bad enough. That we wrote about it (and noted the reason was due to complaints from IVAW members about that panel) results in a "you are wrong" e-mail from a non-Iraq War veteran, has really pissed us all off.
We're not wrong. Sexual attraction is not sexual assault. But damned if that woman didn't claim it was and damned if KPFA didn't run with her "Sexual assault begins at recruitment!" pull line in their on air highlights played during every break.
Here's the story for any who missed it. A woman, who didn't serve in IRaq and bragged about her "smooth ride" in the military, wanted to tell about seeing a man in a club, after she was in the military, wearing a recruiter t-shirt and he was her type -- "big, strong guy" she said repeatedly. She did not dance with him. She did not speak with him. She did not go up to him. But from that she wants to build to "Sexual assault beings at recruitment!" Since all present should have been adults (booze was served, everyone should have been at least over 18 if not 21), the fact that she got tingles from "a big, strong guy" did not qualify for sexual assualt.
Since IVAW repeatedly stated that all members of panel served in Iraq (of Afghanistan) and their records were vetted, the woman who served in neither had no business being on a panel.
Having shared that sexual attraction was sexual assault, she then wanted to whine about an affair that took place. That wasn't sexual assault either. Two growns up deciding to have sex is not assault. The lame-ass e-mail tried to say there are rules and regulations!
Honey, I'm a lesbian. If I was in the military, I'd probably be eating out some woman I found attractive or being eaten out by one. And I can guarantee you that there are regulations against that as well. It doesn't make my consensual behavior assault and IT NEVER WILL. If you don't get how offensive a suggestion that it is actually is, you probably need more help than anyone can ever provide you with.
Now we were actually kind in that article. C.I. held us all back. But we will never, ever pretend that sexual attraction and sexual assault are the same thing. In fact, suggesting they are would probably get my ass kicked if I was in the military. I would be told, "You were sexually attracted to that woman! It's the same as if you assaulted her!"
That was an insipid panel. It was unfocused. It did not offer direct testimony. No one needed to hear xenophobic thoughts about "third world drivers." But that b.s. panel was so bad, SO BAD, that it even allowed a man to make a one sentence statement about his wife giving birth and then go off into Iraqi drivers. That's not gender, that's not sexuality, it is just offensive.
It was a BAD panel. And we were SO MUCH KINDER than we should have been.
But it wasn't kind enough for one e-mailer who started e-mailing individuals who participated in the writing of a piece that ran at The Third Estate Sunday Review so she could have her DRAMA trip and be a STAR.
There were serious panels, there were serious witnesses. After that e-mail, the chance that most would get noticed fell for everyone except Ruth and C.I. Because no one needs an e-mail not just defending that STUPID panel but telling us that we need to rethink it and apparently rewrite it.
Tough s**t. You didn't like what we wrote. Too damn bad. That was a group effor and let me put in the names (with links) of who worked on it:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.
Throw Dallas in there too because he is a sounding board and usually offers a line or two in everything (except Ava and C.I.'s pieces). You've got different genders, different races, different ethnicities. You have a Jew (Ruth) and a Latina (Ava). You have gay (Ty and myself). You have African-American (Ty, Betty, Cedric and me). You have older and younger.
This wasn't ONE PERSON'S VIEW. This was our view across the board.
On top of WHINING, the person then wanted to speak with those who had complained, those IVAW members who had complained.
Yeah, that's going to happen. You don't like our view and you want to gripe at us and then you want to gripe at IVAW members who don't think your crappy panel was worth having. Yeah, we'll get right on that. I know that, more than anything else, offended C.I. because Mike told me C.I. hit the roof on that. (And C.I. called those who had complained and asked, "Do you want to speak with ___" and was told "Hell no!")
How much do you think YOU ARE OWED?
Seriously, it's not enough that you want to change our opinion, you also want to argue with IVAW members who are offended?
Those who could continued covering Winter Soldier. But we all expected to hit on it hard all week long. Instead it was Ruth and C.I. and Kat a little. I found The Real News Network videos and C.I. and I posted those. That allowed others who supported Winter Soldier but didn't want to hear FROM THE SCREECHING CRONE to post the videos and say nothing.
The panel WAS OFFENSVIE. The e-mail that followed was OFFENSIVE. Telling us that we're wrong and writing indivuals who took part in the writing of a piece that appeared at only one site is JUST PATHETIC. It's a lobbying effort over one article. And it's not going to work. The only thing it did do was cut down on coverage of Winter Soldier because we were all so sick of this s**t.
You present something, you expect that people may or may not write about it. If they write about it, they're going to evaluate it critically. We're not going to lie and pretend a bad panel was worth holding. We're not going to lie and pretend that sexual attraction and sexual assault are the same thing. By the time the article ran on Sunday, C.I. had done an Iraq snapshot on Winter Soldier's first day and done two entries (Saturday) on the lack of coverage one of which was covering Winter Soldier. The rest of us had all written about one testimony at our sites. Then came Third with 13 articles and we've got one TITTY BABY who wants to come along and whine that blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I worked on that panel, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Go look on some right-wing blogs, dear, you'll find some really mean things written about Winter Soldier. We didn't do that. We praised all but one panel. We didn't like the panel. We would never like a panel that (a) doesn't follow the rules for Winter Soldier and (b) agree that sexual attraction is the same thing as sexual assault (that sounds like a right-wing Fundamentalist talking point!) and (c) ever betray people by hooking you up with them so you could screech and badger at them.
It's like Mike says, "You never a get thank you. You can promote something till the cows come home and you can praise it like crazy. Then you note you didn't like one interview a guy did and you've got him screaming at you in an e-mail." (That happened with Mike last year. A guy whose books and columns he'd praised had a meltdown because Mike didn't like him pimping Bambi in an interview and wrote something like "I'm not noting ___ as much lately because I didn't like his interview a few months ago where he was comparing Barack Obama to Muhammed Ali." The guy's screaming at Mike in an e-mail and Mike's point back to him was, "Where the hell were you when I picked your book as the best of the year?" I mean Mike praised that guy's writing. None of the rest of us will ever note him because of what happened to Mike. As Elaine says, "We don't support bad manners.")
So this community busted their ass to note Winter Soldier and one panelist (that we never noted) wants to get bent out of shape and show up screaming because we don't believe that sexual attraction is sexual assault. No, no, dear, THANK YOU.
I mean give me a damn break.
We had planned to note Winter Soldier in depth this Sunday but that woman has just ticked everyone off. I'm sure Ava and C.I. will find a way to work it in to their TV piece.
But the attitude of the rest of us is that we busted our ass and there was no thank you, which is fine, but there's a screeching IDIOT writing various members ripping apart what we wrote because SHE THINKS SHE PEES RAINBOWS.
Again, tough s**t. You didn't like our opinion, tough s**t. We think you're a FOOL to try to make the claim, after that bad panel, that SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL ATTRACTION are the same thing.
I think you're ungrateful little ass. I think you have a lot of nerve e-maling anyone to tell them they are wrong and that they need to change their mind on one article without ever taking a moment to note the MANY other pieces that were written. Not counting mirror sites, this community provided eleven sites by Saturday morning covering Winter Soldier. And that's coverage you didn't give a damn about. You didn't give a damn about the coverage Third offered. You just were pissed because the panel you were on wasn't one we liked.
Grow the hell up.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, March 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the cease-fire gets frazzled, Antonia Juhasz spoke at Winter Soldier and we highlight her and Iraq vet James Gilligan, Cheney's out of the country, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez propose a military draft for the children of elected officials, Joe Wilson attempts to set the record straight re: Bambi, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Remember James Burmeister? Probably not. He was never interviewed on Democracy Now!, he was never profiled in The Nation. He was one of the war resisters of 2007 who were ignored non-stop by Panhandle Media. (August 24th, Maria Hinojosa interviewed Burmeister for NOW on PBS.) Ava and my summary:
James Burmeister also self-checked out while in Germany. He was lifted out of Iraq and taken there after he was injured. He enlisted to do humanitarian work (e.g. rebuilding in Iraq) and, of course, that didn't end up being the case. ("Of course" is not a judgement of Burmeister's intelligence, it is noting that we are probably far more cynical than he is.) "Humanitarian work" for the US military translated as leaving US military items out in public so that when an Iraqi touched them, he or she could be shot for touching US property. Your tax dollars at work in the illegal war. Following the third bombing he was the victim of, Brumeister was sent to Germany to recover. At that point, he and his family made the decision to go to Canada.
Courage to Resist reports that "Burmeister recently returned from Canada and turned himself in to the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky on March 4. In May 2007, James refused redeployment to Iraq. He lived in Canada for the last ten months with the help of the War Resisters Support Campaign. James' father Erich Burmeister of Eugene, Oregon believes that the Army is getting ready to prosecute James. He is asking people to call the Fort Knox Public Affairs office at 502-624-7451 and let them know you are concerned about PFC James Burmeister."
Meanwhile Duluth's Budgeteer News reports: "War resister Melanie McPherson, an Army reservist from Tofte, will speak at 7 p.m. in UMD's Montague Hall, Room 70" on March 25th next week. Also speaking next week is Iraq Veterans Against the War's chair Camilo Mejia who, Burlington Free Press reports, "plans to speak at Green Mountain College on at 7 p.m. on March 27 in Ackley Auditorium."
War resisters in Canada were dealt a setback in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Like most things Iraq related, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation is not receiving the attention it deserves. Noting the media silences on Iraq and actually writing about Winter Soldier, Osagie Ighile (North Carolina's Duke Chronicle) observes:
In the three days of testimony by war veterans, one thing that has emerged is that Abu Ghraib and other atrocities are not exceptions, but are commonplace. The main cause is not an innate wickedness in our troops but is rather the necessary outcome of placing them in a situation where friend and foe are indistinguishable and soldiers are forced to choose between their survival instinct and their moral code.
Marine Corps Sgt. Adam Kokesh, who served in Falluja from February to September 2004 on a civil affairs team, specifically explained this confusion of the rules of engagement, which state that 'positive identification is required prior to engagement' where positive identification means "'reasonable certainty' that you target is a legitimate military target." However, Kokesh said when all soldiers see is a muzzle flash from a building in a civilian area, they are forced to choose between increasing their chance of survival by returning fire and not breaking the rules of engagement. Consequently, he stated that "we changed the rules of engagement more often that we changed our underwear."
Trina wrote about Kokesh's testimony on Friday's Rules of Engagment morning panel and she noted him explaining, "During the seige of Falluja, we changed rules of engagement more often than we changed our underwear. At first it was, you follow the rules of engagement you do what you're supposed to do and then there were times when you could shoot any suspicious observers or someone with binoculars or someone with a cell phone was fair game. And that really opened things up to a lot of subjectivity. But also firing at muzzle flashes into the city. Firing Mark 19s became common practice. At one point we imposed a curfer on the city of Falluja and at that point we were told we could shoot anything after dark." Which goes back to Jason Hurd's testimony on the same panel about how civilians were supposed to recognize a checkpoint easily but, as Hurd noted, "I was in front of a desert colored vehicle, preceeding a desert colored building in desert colored camoflauge."
James Gilligan testified about both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our focus is Iraq but his testimony on Afghanistan was very powerful for any who want to pursue it.
James Gilligan: 2003, Iraq. My HNS Company first sergeant. He had a thing for handing out candy to the children who would come up to our Humvees -- winning the hearts and minds. My first sergeant had seen that there was a little girl next to the Humvee and he personally handed her a lollypop. The little girl, excited, ran away from the vehicle and we're guessing her brother or a neighborhood kid came up behind her and hit her. My first sergeant then proceeded to get out of the vehicle in the crowded marketplace endangering our entire convoy, withdrew his M9 pistol and ran after the kid, picked the kid up approximately 30 feet away from our vehicle and hoisted him one foot in the air, threatening him with the M9 pistol. In 2003, in Iraq, we were ordered to . . . secure an expeditionary runway. It was my job to pull overwatch security. . . . In 2003, while securing this expeditionary runway we had observed that there was a gentleman at the end of the runway collecting souveniers. I was my job as a corporal to go down and investigate and, of course, push this guy away and inform him that he was not to be at the end of our runway collecting souveneirs. I took Lance Cprl. Jermone with me and we had went all the way down to the runway on foot, it's approximately 200 meters. After walking down there, the gentleman was collecting bits of rounds set from a previous battle. I radioed over what we were doing and of course we searched him and took away any kind of munitions that we had found I was then ordered to search the vehicle. As I told Lance Cpl. Jerome "Secure my detainee," I went ahead and I searched the vehicle. Afterwhich, I reported back that I did not find anything futher other than what was on the ground and we had already taken away from the gentleman, I was informed to make the vehicle inoperable. It is at this time that I pulled out my knife. I opened up the seats, I cut every single wire that I could find, I slashed tires and I made sure that his vehicle could not be used again without even thinking that this could be this man's lifeblood.
He spoke last Friday, on the second Rules of Engagement panel. Antonia Juhasz was among the speakers on the corruption and contractors panel that took place immediately before the second Rules of Engagement panel. Among the tiny attention that's been doled out, this hearing has had almost no attention. (There's one that got even less attention.) So we're going to note her comments at length (and Wally and Cedric noted her last week).
Antonia Juhasz: The problem is that when these grants were given, first of all, Iraqis were of course overlooked. But not only were Iraqis overlooked, the entire structure of the economic
reconstruction laid in place the results we're seeing now. So one of the first acts of the US occupation government led by Paul Bremer was called the de-Baathification order. This was the order by which Bremer fired 120,000 of all of the key ministerial leaders in Iraq, all of the engineers, all of the scientists, all of the people who ran the water ministry, the electrical ministry, the oil ministry. He fired them all. 120,000 people. He fired them all because he didn't want anyone standing in the way of the restructing that was being planned. That left an enormous brain vaccum. The next step that Bremer did was to fire 500,00 Iraqi soldiers. . . . Half a million Iraqi soldiers. The US military had intended that those soldiers would be put to work to do the reconstruction but the Bush administration's economic plan didn't include that. The Bush administration's economic plan was to bring in private contractors. So immediatly at the get-go you had half-a-million men with guns made unemployed, without jobs, without money and their families left without hope, without money. And some estimates put that number at 2.5 million Iraqis -- ten percent of the population -- who from the get-go were now very, very hostile to the reconstruction and to the invasion, and to the occupation. All of these people also knew that US companies were being given billions of dollars to reconstruct the country and you'll hear many people testify to the fact that there were many Iraqis who while they were upset that Iraqis companies -- of which there were many, Iraqi workers -- of which there were many, who were more than capable of doing the work, were being jumped over. But there was a sense that, "If America was going to spend 10 billion dollars fixing our electricity, that's no so bad and, you know, maybe that'll be good." And there was a sense of allowing this to take place. The reconstruction failed and one of the primary reasons that it failed was that objective was not to just get the services up and running. The objective was this longer term permanent presence which I mentioned.
So that you had companies like Bechtel spending the first six weeks in country . . . walking around doing an assessment of the situation. They could have talked to the Iraqis who ran the water systems. They could have hired the Iraqis to run the water systems. But they didn't. They walked around, they checked out the scene. In that time there was no electricty, there was no water being provided and that built up, of course, bad will and by the time Bechtel got to work it became very unsafe for Bechtel to be at work. The failure of the reconstruction continues but one of the things that's important for us to remain aware of today is that many of the companies have radically failed. So Bechtel, a recent report found that they completed less than half of the projects that they were contracted to fulfill and that was water, electricity, schools, basic rebuilding. Parsons, another analysis just done that Parsons had barely fulfilled any of its comittments. Of the statistics that Louis just gave, Parsons was hired to rebuild 150 primary health centers across the country. They built 34 and not all of them are even functional. But not all of that money has been paid out and that's an area where we can take action. I just don't have nearly the time to say the things I'd planned to say so let me just say a couple of things. The first is, the intention of the war to be about oil. Right now we are in a situation where five oil companies -- Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and Total, have just signed, within the last week, contracts to get oil -- to go into Iraq. Anyone with any sense of Iraqi history recognizes the names of these companies. These are the exact same companies that from the end of WWII until 1970 owned all of Iraq's oil. They were given it as a war bounty at the end of WWI. They owned it, they controlled it and they controlled Iraq's fate because of owning the oil. Since they were kicked out in the early 1970s, they've been trying to get back in. This is the second or third and maybe the largest pot of oil in the world depending on who's counting. The world is running out of oil; however, oil sells for $110 a barrel. This oil is sitting there like a gleaming prize at the end of the finish line. And believe me, they have been planning and plotting to get it. These five contracts are the tip of the iceberg. The intent is to get the Iraqis to pass a law that would put everything back the way it was in the '20s, to take it from a nationalized oil system to a privatized oil system where US oil companies -- and a little bit for the French and a little bit for the British because, you know, we like them -- would own and control the oil. Now, if that happens a US government report that was leaked by ABC News said -- and just so we are using the terminolgoy, this is one of the president's benchmarks for Iraq, which the Congress adopted, passage of an oil law in Iraq. Another one of the benchmarks, by the way, was reversing the de-Baathification law that Bremer put into place that fired all of those experts. The oil law, if it is to be put into place and if US companies that are angling are Exxon, Cheveron, Conoco, Marthon, BP, Shell and Total. If they stay, they will need to be quote "underwritten by the US government." I take "underwritten by the US government" to mean you, to be underwritten by the US military. That we will have to stay to ensure their safety and the continuation of their mission which was the whole reason we went there in the first place.
On contractors, at the start of the week Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the opinions expressed by Iraq's clerics that "the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanaging toxic fumes" and Allam noted that now worms are being found in the water.
Staying with the topic of contractors, Sahara Zahav (Florida Alligator) notes Iraq veteran Anthony Maroun's speaking to students at Santa Fe Community College prior to Winter Soldier:
As the team leader of his unit, it was part of Maroun's job to keep the Dell computers they used from overheating in the desert climate. But as hard as he tried, Maroun couldn't manage to get the necessary air conditioner, which meant his unit couldn't do its mission.
"I finally asked a friend of mine, this contractor, to help me out," Maroun said. "He got the air conditioner so fast. But me, a leader in the Marines, wasn't connected enough to get the equipment we needed."
Maroun said for him, that air conditioner stood for the "corporate takeover of a country."
We'll be noting Winter Soldier in Monday's snapshot. Visitors have e-mailed to complain that this or that person hasn't been noted. Regarding civilians offering testimony, Nancy Lessin of Military Families Speak Out is someone that will be hopefull noted on Monday. Otherwise? None of us are interested in highlighting someone who says -- to wide applause -- that there's no difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the illegal war and then rushes off to give an embarrassing interview where he maintains there is a difference and, since he can peer into the souls of both, he knows Barack is all things wonderful. So if he says, to applause at Winter Soldier, that the candidates need to be pressed and now is the time and he then rushes off to give an interview where he completely dismisses Hillary's signing onto US Senator Bernie Sanders' call to ban Blackwater (while offering the valentine of an excuse for Bambi that it's "complicated"), we're not interested. We're not interested in liars. We're not interested in people who went to Winter Soldier to get some applause and some attention and then turned around and gave interviews taking back their applause lines. Six snapshots have covered Winter Soldier and Monday we'll probably wind things down. We don't have time to note hypocrites so those visitors needing their 'man' noted can just forget it. He danced pretty at Winter Soldier and then -- like his earlier interview subject Samantha Power -- said something completely different. We're not interested. We could further add that while others had to stick to a time limit, the visitors' 'man' was allowed to run on and on, always promising to wrap up but avoiding that repeatedly. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.
Juhasz also spoke of oil, so let's note Deb Riechmann (AP) reported that two months after Bully Boy went to Saudi Arabia to beg, Dick Cheney does so now:
During his trip to Saudi Arabia in January, President Bush urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production, saying it was a mistake to have the economies of its largest customers slowing down as a result of higher energy prices.The oil-producing nations ignored Bush's request. The White House said it disagreed with OPEC's decision to rebuff that request, and that the oil-producing nations themselves could be hurt by gas prices that are more than $3 a gallon.Cheney was greeted at King Khaled International Airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. The two shared tea inside the airport before heading to the king's horse farm, a posh retreat with a towering water fountain and statues of four show horses, their tails standing high.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit roadside bombing that wounded "a little boy". Reuters notes a Dour mortar attack that left four children injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province 2 people wounded by unknown assailants who shot up their car in Diyala Province, 3 police officers wounded in a shooting in Diyala Province, a Tikrit home invasion that left 1 person dead and an attack in Balad on the Chief of Police of al-Mahata area that killed him and 2 of his guards as well as leaving two bystanders wounded.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Meanwhile Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports on the "Awakening" Council -- thugs changed to turncoats against the Iraqi people when the US tossed coin their way -- who are now getting antsy because another thug -- Nouri al-Maliki -- won't bring them into the government already. Zavis notes that "the fighters need jobs now. If not, many openly declare that they will have no choice but to work for the insurgency" -- of course not, they only turned to begin with because they were bought off. This as Reuters reports that the cease-fire/truce between the US and forces alligned (at one time?) with Moqtada al-Sadr battled in Baghdad and Kut -- 3 followers dead in Kut, five injured in Baghdad.
In political news, Military Families Speak Out [PDF format] notes Diane and Neil Santoriello are calling on Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama "to meet them at their son's grave in Arlington National Cemetry -- a a grave they visit every month." Their son Neil Santoriello "was the 930th [US] soldier killed" in the Iraq War (August 13, 2004). Both parents are quoted. This is Diane Santoriello:
I would like to see the presidential candidates utilize the leadership that they each claim to have. With each funding bill that the President signs, he is actually signing the death warrant for more soldiers and more Iraqi civilians. The Senate has the power to stop that death warrant from reaching his desk. Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, and Senator Obama all share responsibility for continuing this war. Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, do you have the courage and honor to face up to the reality of section 60? If so give us the day and time and we will meet you there. (Leave the wreaths, the media and your staffers at the gate.)
And this is Neil Santoriello:
I challenge each presidential candidate to meet us at our son's grave in section 60 of Arlington Cemetery. I want them to stand at his grave and face the Memorial Bridge. I want them to see how many more soldiers have been laid to rest since he was buried in 2004. He was the 930th soldier killed. How many more rows need to be created before they say enough?
Ralph Nader is running for president and Matt Gonzales is the vice-president on the ticket. At their campaign website, it's noted today: "President Bush believes that the war in Iraq is 'worth the sacrifice.' The question then becomes -- sacrifice by whom? What about George Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara? Prince Harry served in Afghanistan. Senator Jim Webb and Senator John McCain each have a son who served in Iraq. During World War II four of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sons entered the armed forces, as did General Eisenhower's son, John Eisenhower. No double standard for them. So, why not Jenna and Barbara Bush? And why not military service for the children of all members of Congress -- who have funded this criminal war in Iraq? . . . It's called -- draft at the top. Pass a law that says this -- whenever Congress and the White House take our country to war, all able-bodied military-age children of every member of Congress, the President and the Vice-President will be conscripted automatically into the armed forces."
Meanwhile Dominque Soguel (WeNews) speaks with US service members Luz Gonzalez, Carolyn Schapper, Emily Stroia and Chrissy DeCaprio who state their concerns for the next president include "vision, experience and patriotism." If your candidate of choice wasn't mentioned and you're not a community member, tough. This week was the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, not the fifth anniversary of a Venezuelan War, for example. Maybe your candidate needs to learn to focus? Regardless, we don't have time for nonsense. We do have time to support our own. As Gina's long noted, this is a private conversation in a public sphere. If you're a visitor, you can listen in, but you cannot steer it.
Patriotism. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America has offended many Americans and will only offend more as time passes. Barack Obama's Tuesday speech was met with the usual press nonsense which was to focus on the pretty words he offered and not grasp that the speech was a distraction and an avoidance. As the polling indicates, Americans grasped it far better than the press did. We all love Betty and what Cedric has termed her "deep wisdoms from the south." We love them because she's usually right on the money. This was Betty in Sunday's "Roundtable:" "We've seen a very ugly campaign season and I was so disappointed when it was announced on Friday that they were calling a truce. Whenever the heat gets turned up on Bambi, it's time for a truce. Jesse Jackson Jr. can get on TV and lie about Hillary and not be called out but when realities emerge about Bambi, it's time for a truce? There should be no truce and there should be no nonsense that race hasn't played a part or that White people have repeatedly ignored the way the Obama campaign has used racism throughout the campaign." Betty's correct that everytime the Obama campaign gets into hot water they insist on a truce and then they don't honor it. Jeremiah Wright's damning of America was offensive to many. It was time for a "truce" insisted the Obama campaing and then, not a full week later, they show up to "peddle photos of President Clinton shaking hands with . . . Wright less than 48 hours after calling for a high-minded conversation on race. Well, President Clinton took tens of thousands of photos during his eight years as president. Stop the presses." Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton were members of Wright's church. This is the same crap that the George W. Bush campaign repeatedly pulled in the 2000 election. And you need to be noticing Hillary's response.
Democrats have stated since 2000 -- when Al Gore didn't fight hard enough after the election -- and again in 2004 -- when John Kerry refused to stand up for Ohio voters -- that the party needed a fighter. Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She's fighting for the nomination and doing so against one of the most rigged systems in recent memory. Panhandle Media has churned out embarrassing, fawning copy for Obama since 2006 in anticipation of his run while running 'exposes' on Hillary. It hasn't changed a thing with the core of the Democratic Party, working class people, who continue to support her. Panhandle Media's non-stop lying has allowed some very smart Obama supporters to believe such lies as "Obama voted against the Iraq resolution in 2002." They believe that because the LIARS of Panhandle Media repeatedly suggest that. Last year on KPFA we saw Professor Patti Williams float that lie and when called on it, by a woman of MidEastern descent who pointed out Obama wasn't in the Senate in 2002, Professor Patti had her meltdown on air, snarling at a woman who obvioulsy had dificulty speaking on air. How proud Professor Patti must be -- both for attempting to lie and for attacking a woman who pointed out that Professor Patti was wrong. We saw all this crap during the 2000 George W. Bush campaign. We're seeing it all again but it's coming from Democrats and it's not Hillary, despite Panhandle Media's non-stop lying. It's the Barack team.
Meanwhile, having offended a good portion of Americans, what has Barack done? It is now Friday and the best he can offer is to try to smear the Clintons by pointing out that Wright was among many clergy invited to one prayer breakfast at the White House. If you're not alarmed by that, you're not paying attention. Wright is toxic. He is pulling the Obama campaign down. And the campaign's best response is to pull out a photo-op shot of the man with Bill Clinton? How does Barack Obama plan to address a Republican opponent because he's running a losing campaign right now. You need to think about Florida 2000 and ask yourself which of the two would be fighting and which would be saying, "Oh, well, we all need to heal and blah blah blah" thereby stabbing voters in the back. I don't think anyone can argue that Hillary would say, "Oh well, it's over. Heal, America, let's all heal!" Democrats have complained and, yes, whined for eight years now that they wanted a figher. You've got your fighter, it's Hillary Clinton.
Now the rejects of Panhandle Media -- who couldn't work in the Real Media -- are facing their own little awakening. They have to face that all their talk of 'democracy' and of 'participation' and of embracing the 'working class' is just b.s. They've spat on all three notions this election cycle. They've stamped their feet and amplified their LIES when they didn't get their way. It is a testament to the spirit of working class Democrats that with all the lies, all the distortions, they have refused to be taken in. But then real Democrats didn't vote for the Bully Boy in 2000 or 2004. And maybe Panhandle Media should start including disclaimers when they LIE about Obama. Maybe readers do, as Mike and Marcia both noted yesterday, have a right to know, when reading yet another endorsement of Obama, whether the writer can even vote in the election, whether the writer is a Democrat, whether the writer is a Communist, whether the writer voted Democrat before or -- again -- even can vote.
They've created their little artisan class (highly undemocratic) to act as an echo chamber and they've enlisted people who HAVE TO PASS for Democrats. When someone has to pass for a Democrat, there's a problem and that's an indication that they probably shouldn't be addressing a Democratic primary to begin with. Hillary's fighting and Panhandle Media can't stand that. They're working overtime to say that damning the United States does not matter -- how very cosmopolitan of them -- or is it European of them. It does matter and they need to get out of their elitist little nooks and crannies to start interacting with real Americans. If they do that, they'll quickly grasp how serious Barack Obama's 20-year-relationship with Jeremiah Wright is.
Panhandle Media can't allow for dissent at something as 'serious' as rigging an election. So they (like the Obama campaign) toss people to the curb. One such person is Joe Wilson. you may remember him and how the likes of David Corn, BuzzFlash, Amy Goodman and all the other sorry excuses for 'media' can't seem to find him today -- because he is supporting Hillary Clinton. Via TaylorMarsh.com, here's Joe Wilson, former US ambassador:
Senator Clinton has a long and well documented history of involvement in many of critical foreign policy issues we have confronted and will continue to confront as a nation. Critics can quibble about the details of the health plan she fought for in the 1990s, or whether hers was the decisive or merely an important voice in the Northern Ireland peace efforts, but there can be no denying that she has been in the arena for a generation fighting for what she believes in, gaining experience and developing leadership skills. She has traveled the world and met with international leaders both as the First Lady and as a respected senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee. As NSC director on Africa I experienced her direct positive involvement in U.S.-African relations; it was she, as First Lady who advanced through her own travel, then urged and made possible President Clinton's historic trip. In the Senate, she has aggressively exercised her oversight responsibility and held the Pentagon's feet to the fire on plans related to withdrawal from Iraq, shaped legislation requiring reports to Congress, and cosponsored legislation with Senator Byrd to deauthorize the war with Iraq. She has exercised the levers of power because she knows how to do so. That is not a small thing; it is not a campaign theme. It is simply true and goes to the heart of whether she, or anyone, is prepared to be the president to manage at once two wars and a global economic crisis.
Senator Obama is clearly a gifted politician and orator. I disagree profoundly with his transparently political efforts to turn George Bush's war into Hillary Clinton's responsibility. I was present in that debate, in Washington, from beginning to end, and Obama was nowhere to be seen. His current campaign aides in foreign policy, Tony Lake and Susan Rice, were also in Washington, but they chose to remain silent during that debate, when it mattered.
Claims of superior intuitive judgment by his campaign and by him are self-evidently disingenuous, especially in light of disclosures about his long associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. But his assertions of advanced judgment are also ludicrous when the question of what Obama has accomplished in his four years in the Senate is considered.
As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee on Europe, he has not chaired a single substantive oversight hearing, even though the breakdown in our relations with Europe and NATO is harming our operations in Afghanistan. Nor did he take a single official trip to Europe as chairman. This is the sum total of his actions in the most important responsibility he has had in the Senate. What are his actual experiences that reassure us that when the phone rings at 3 a.m. he will know what to do, which levers of power to pull, or which world leaders he can count on?
Obama has stated that he will rely upon his advisers. But how will he know which ones to depend upon and how will he be able to evaluate what they say? Already, one of his chief foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power, has been compelled to resign for, among other indiscretions, honestly revealing on a British television program that Obama's public position on withdrawal from Iraq is not really his true position, nor does it reflect what he would do. Her gaffe exposed a vein of cynicism on national security. How confident can we be in his judgment? In fact, the hard truth is that he has no such experience.
He will rely on his advisors? Oh, didn't we all hear that in the 2000 campaign and, after all these years of that man occupying the White House, don't we all grasp how dangerous that is. That's in for two reasons. 1) Betty's father asked for the topic to be addressed and 2) Jim thinks we'll also grab it at Third on Sunday. On the first, that's how it works: the community dictates content, not outsiders.
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