Thursday, May 31, 2007

When are we going to get out of here?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five "surge" brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.

He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:

"When are we going to get out of here?"

The rest was a laundry list. When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather? ......

Then Lieberman walked in, wearing a pair of sunglasses newly purchased from an Iraqi market that the military had taken him to in southeast Baghdad. He'd been equipped with a helmet and flak vest when he toured the market, which he described as bustling.

Earlier, Lieberman had met briefly with Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi police at a Joint Security Station; there are 31 throughout the city now. The senator, who's steadfastly supported the Iraq war along with the current surge of more than 28,000 additional American troops, said things were better.

"I think it's important we don't lose our will," he said. "To pull out would be a disaster."

The soldiers smiled and greeted him, stood with him for pictures and sat down to a lunch of roast beef and turkey sandwiches. It was unclear if they ever asked their questions.

As Lieberman walked out, he said that congressionally mandated withdrawal would be a "victory for al-Qaida and a victory for Iran."

"They're not Pollyannaish about this," he said referring to the young soldiers he ate lunch with. "They know it's not going to be solved in a day or a month."

It isn't clear whether Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it.

"We don't feel like we're making any progress," it said.

McClatchy papers link

Mass funerals for soldiers at Ft. Lewis

This is tragic, and why in the world would they consolidate funerals? If it was my family member, I be really pissed that I could not have a private funeral.


Too many Iraq deaths, so Fort Lewis consolidates memorial services

Associated Press - May 30, 2007 1:35 PM ET

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (AP) - So many Fort Lewis soldiers are being killed in Iraq the Army base will no longer hold individual memorial services.

Starting next month Fort Lewis says it will hold one memorial a month for all the dead soldiers.

Nineteen Fort Lewis soldiers have been killed this month -- the most of the war, so far.

The Fort Lewis acting commander, Brigadier General William Troy, told staff last week that the number of soldiers in harm's way will preclude individual services.

About 10,000 Fort Lewis troops, including two Stryker brigades, are now in Iraq, the most since the 2003 invasion.

Some other Army posts have already consolidated services.

A memorial service planned for tomorrow for one soldier will go on as scheduled at Fort Lewis, and the first consolidated service for four soldiers will be held on June fifth.

A total of 127 Fort Lewis soldiers have died in overseas deployments since Nine Eleven.

An article about Cindy Sheehan's farewell

Second weekend in Crawford Aug. 2005 {apologies, I can't find the photos from the week before with the Veterans for Peace bus, and the survivor of Hiroshima. If I find them I will add them.

I will always thank Cindy for being active and getting the peace movement noticed. I had found it so disheartening to march with 12 people or less in various spots in Texas, without media coverage, and with people yelling rude things, like "traitor" to us. Why peace is so frightening I will never understand. So it was with great pleasure that I drove to Crawford that first day when Cindy brought her lawn chair to sit outside Georgies ranchette. I will miss her, but I think some breathing and healing room will be excellent for her.

This was a nice article about Cindy's work.....

Cindy Sheehan's Farewell

[from the June 18, 2007 Nation Magazine issue]

Cindy Sheehan never set out to be the face of the antiwar movement. She was a mom thrust by an ugly circumstance and a lovely faith to the forefront of a movement that was struggling to find its voice. She gave it that voice as an honest player who spoke her mind--sometimes intemperately, often imperfectly, always sincerely--and backed up her words with actions. Her unscripted activism allowed her to succeed where others had failed in touching hearts and calling the disengaged, the disenchanted and the downright angry to believe once more in the prospect that citizens can make real the promise of the American experiment.
full article

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thoughts on Memorial Day

I remember my Dad, my Uncles, my sister, and all the others who have given their lives in service to our nation. Some wars justified, some not. Vietnam killed my sister psychologically, she never got over it.

So, here is what we need to do. March, write, work for peace. Get on the peace train.

ViDEO: Greg Palast Finds 'Lost E-Mails' Revealing Karl Rove and New US Attorney Griffin Integrally Involved
Says New Information Exposes Criminal Intent Behind US Attorney Scandal...

It was all about vote caging in order to win the 2008 elections. Iglesias even notes that he was asked to arrest voters for voter fraud in the last election, and was told he could just let them go later. The publicity of voters arrested for voter fraud was what the ReThugs wanted.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Believe it? I don't Bush lies and I am not afraid

"Buying the War," Part II - Now It's Iran
By Will Bunch
The New York Daily News

Monday 21 May 2007

You would think that after after all the official and unofficial lies that came out of the Washington spin machine during the 2002-03 run-up to the war in Iraq, newspapers would be a little more skeptical about similarly unsupported, high-level but anonymous and bellicose allegations about Iran (or anyone else).

And you would doubly think that about a newspaper that, day in and day out, is one of the best in the world: Britain's Guardian.

You'd think...but you would be wrong:

Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."

The story does have another source - another anonymous U.S. official, but in Washington:

"Tehran is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They're betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don't trust," a senior administration official in Washington said. "They don't know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they're hedging their bets."
Boo! Scared yet?

Look, I think that reporting of the Iraq crisis should be as aggressive as possible, and that obviously includes talking to American officials in Washington and in Baghdad. And, the situation in the region has become quite volatile since our decision to invade it, and no doubt Iran is a player, but...

I can also tell you as a journalist with 26 years of experience behind me that this story is the biggest load of crap - and that's not a phrase I would use loosely - I've ever seen in my life. Two unnamed government officials as sources, and a perfunctary denial from an Iranian officials in the last paragraph - and that's it?

This is a stunning allegation - so stunning because it really makes no sense. Iran's government does have close ties with some of Iraq's Shiite leaders that we also seem to be propping up these days, but it is the bitter enemy of the Sunni forces that these unnamed Bush spinmeisters now claim they are also supporting. If such a bizarre reversal had taken place, and I were to write a story about it, I would be sure to talk to outside experts on the region and to non-U.S. government sources - and quite them by name - to prove such an unlikely premise was in fact true.

That did not happen. And in fact, the story is so "out there" that it would be best ignored - except that you can't ignore it. For one thing, it's highlighted on the Drudge Report, and since Matt Drudge rules the world of Beltway media, it's going to become part of the public discourse. Also, in spite of its lack of even truthiness, let alone truth, it does prove - just like the top-selling "Christian book" calling for an American jihad against Tehran - the lengths that some of our leaders are still willing to go in formenting Armageddon.

But the fact that one of the world's better newspapers was willing to play along - or that my own colleagues in the mainstream media seem to never learn - is the saddest development of all. Didn't anyone watch "Buying the War"?

Iglesias speaks out

Iglesias says a whole lot in these few sentences. If only the TV put on all the real nformation instead of celebrity crap!
Here it is from truthout:

Loyalty is a virtue with limits. That was one of the many hard lessons from Watergate. In that scandal, some of President Nixon's staffers carried their loyalty to the president all the way to federal prison.

All federal prosecutors take a public oath when they assume office. I personally swore in about 30 new federal prosecutors during my tenure as U.S. attorney for New Mexico. The oath is to the U.S. Constitution, not to the president or his Cabinet.

Somehow Goodling did not understand this keystone concept. She appears to have placed her loyalty to the Bush administration and the Republican Party above any allegiance to the Constitution - which may have led her to believe that Bush acolytes would make the best federal prosecutors. Paradoxically, she knew enough of the Constitution to claim the protections afforded by the 5th Amendment - the right against self-incrimination.

I trust she now understands what is at stake in the U.S. attorney scandal: the rule of law, the independence of the prosecutor and the apolitical calculus of who should be prosecuted. Now, her immunity deal secured, she needs to seek redemption by clearly testifying about how my colleagues and I came to be placed on the to-fire list. It will demand moral courage, but she must name the political operatives regardless of where they sit in the West Wing of the White House. She needs, in the words of Isaiah the prophet, to "maintain justice and do what is right."

And what of the embattled attorney general? Will Gonzales stay on to be the only Cabinet officer to receive a no-confidence vote? I once said that I found Gonzales to be a personal inspiration. No one can deny him his life's story, which is the American dream writ large. It began in Humble, Texas, born of impoverished Mexican American parents. He, like me, is a veteran of the U.S. military. He went to some of the best schools in America, including Harvard Law. Yet, somewhere along the line, he drank the loyalty Kool-Aid. Watching him testify before the Senate and House was painful for me. He had been a trailblazer for the Latino community, and then, in the space of a few hours of tortured testimony, he became just another morally rudderless political operative.

Will he "cowboy up," as we say in New Mexico - that is, find the courage to do the right thing? Or will he make the Senate go right up to the precipice of a no-confidence vote?

The new Monica

Oh. My. God. Did You Hear Monica Goodling's Voice?

She's a Valley Girl; who could
Have forseen a
Thing like this? Gag me with
A subpoena.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tell Dems get a spine and stop Iraq funding

Grieving Moms vs. Washington Pols

By Robert Parry
May 22, 2007

Every other month, Gold Star mother Teresa Arciola drives from her home in Westchester County, New York, to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, sits on her son’s grave and reads aloud from “Corduroy,” his favorite baby book. Another mother spent winter afternoons in a sleeping bag stretched across her son’s final resting place.

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The unspeakable suffering of these parents of dead soldiers stands in marked contrast to the maneuvering over the Iraq War now underway across the river in Washington. There, George W. Bush appears quietly planning another escalation of the Iraq War – possibly doubling U.S. combat troops by Christmas – and many members of Congress are frightened of the political repercussions if they stand up to him.

A possible compromise could come from a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House granting Bush only two months of the additional war spending that he wants, rather than the full amount through the end of September.

At least requiring a second vote sometime in the summer might force serious thinking about alternatives to continuing the war indefinitely and creating many more fresh graves at Arlington Cemetery.

But Senate Democrats – faced with a near-solid phalanx of Republicans standing behind the President – appear eager to run up the white flag, give Bush pretty much whatever he wants, and break for the Memorial Day recess.

The Democrats didn’t help themselves when they started their “negotiations” with the White House by announcing that they would eventually give Bush a bill that was acceptable to him. That’s a bit like going into a car dealership, declaring that you intend to pay the full sticker price and then trying to bargain.

Knowing that the Democrats planned to fold – to avoid accusations that they weren't supporting the troops – Bush could confidently veto the first war spending bill, which had timelines for withdrawing U.S. combat forces, and threaten to veto any other bill that sought to limit his options.

Bush also has pleased some Democrats by dangling suggestions that he is taking a second look at the bipartisan Iraq Study Group’s recommendations from last December. The ISG, which was headed by Bush family lawyer James Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, urged a drawdown in U.S. troops, a focus on training Iraqis and more regional diplomacy.

Annoyed at the implied criticism of his work as “war president,” Bush shelved the report and declared that U.S. troops would “stay in Iraq to get the job done.” He added, “This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever.”

Bush chose a different course. On Jan. 10, he announced a “surge” in U.S. forces, raising troop levels to 160,000 from 140,000. Since then, the administration appears to be inching the numbers even higher while hoping that the creeping escalation doesn’t get much attention.

Second Surge?

But the Hearst newspapers disclosed on May 22 that “the Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year,” to 98,000 from 52,500, boosting the total U.S. military presence to 200,000, according to an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders.

“The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there,” the Hearst newspapers wrote.

With this quiet escalation on the one hand and hints about an ISG-like Plan B on the other, the Bush administration appears to be playing a double game with the goal of securing about $100 billion more in war spending before Congress catches on to the expanded combat plans.

Helping to lull Official Washington into a pre-Memorial Day daydream, administration officials briefed pro-war Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on more peaceful plans for the “post-surge” period.

“The post-surge policy would, in many ways, track the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which senior administration officials say the President now supports,” Ignatius wrote. [Washington Post, May 22, 2007]

This notion of Bush finally entertaining the ISG recommendations is music to the ears of hopeful Democrats, such as Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. They seem content with having sent Bush a message about Iraq rather than forcing him to accept an exit strategy.

In the House, however, other Democrats, such as Rep. John Murtha and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have resisted pressure to simply cave in to Bush. They favor, at minimum, putting some strings on the spending bill or keeping its time frame short so Congress would get a second shot at assessing the situation in July or August.

Since the Democrats have set the upcoming Memorial Day recess as the deadline for getting Bush a spending bill that he will sign, the odds favor an impending capitulation rather than an extended impasse. But the Democrats have to worry that they may discover, as they head back home, that Bush is set on escalating the war and that they've been hoodwinked again.

There are some certainties, however, If the Democrats do run up the white flag: Bush and his advisers will enjoy one more high-fiving celebration at the White House; the anti-war Democratic base will be furious; and more mothers can expect to be spending time at Arlington Cemetery.

[For more on the new graves and new grief at Arlington Cemetery, see the Washington Post, May 20, 2007.]

Monday, May 21, 2007

It is all about the OIL stupid!

√Pentagon Making Preparations To Keep Tens Of Thousands Of Troops In Iraq For ‘Decades’
In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee this month, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace uttered a “carefully worded” statement revealing that the Pentagon had no plans to fully withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq if legislation passes Congress mandating troop redeployment:

PACE: Sir, we have published no orders directing the planning for the overall withdrawal of forces. We do have ongoing replacements of forces, and we do change the size of the force over time so that that system is available to either plus-up or draw down, but we have published no orders saying come up with a complete plan for total drawdown.

NPR investigated Pace’s statements and found one scenario being considered within the Pentagon would maintain a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq for several decades into the future.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bush gets testy with reporters

All I can do is groan. This is our President? holy cow.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The true meaning of Mother's Day

Mother's Day History
From Jone Johnson Lewis,
Your Guide to Women's History.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Iraq War Hampers Kansas Cleanup

As a Nebraskan, who grew up in tornado alley, I know how much we depended upon our National Guard troops. Now these poor folks in Kansas, can't depend on the National Guard. I feel so sorry for the folks in Greensburg, what a trauma to lose an entire town. When Xenia, Ohio was wiped off the face of the map several years ago, they had all the help they needed. Sadly, the folks in Greensburg won't get the help they need. At least the Red Cross showed up, so they can have food and water. Just think, no tents, no nothing. How horrible.

Iraq War Hampers Kansas Cleanup

GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) -- The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor.
Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.

The Greensburg administrator estimated that 95 percent of the town of 1500 was destroyed by Friday's tornado.

The Kansas National Guard has about 40 percent of the equipment it is allotted because much of it has been sent to Iraq.

Wal-Mart labels Boerne nuns a security threat

Believe it or not, our nuns are a "security threat" to Wal-Mart. Ridiculous. Their work for social justice should be applauded by all of us.

Wal-Mart labels Boerne nuns a security threat

Web Posted: 05/05/2007 01:41 AM CDT

Nydia Lopez
KENS 5 Eyewitness News
It's a David versus Goliath battle heating up in the Hill Country — a group of nuns from Boerne is taking a stand against Wal-Mart.

The corporate giant reportedly labeled the nuns a security threat after they raised questions about Wal-Mart's business practices.

Sister Susan Mika is part of the Benedectine Sisters, which is part of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. The center has been questioning Wal-Mart's business practices for years.

"We've been raising questions with them for about 17 years, so it's not like they don't know it," Sister Mika said.

Now, the sisters find themselves on Wal-Mart's security threat list. Sister Mika said the group has been wrongly labeled.

"In no way have we ever been a threat to the company in that sense. We might be a threat in the kind of question that we're asking, but not a security threat," Sister Mika said.

The sisters have raised questions on wages, human rights, health care and the pay disparity between CEOs and workers. They believe that's why Wal-Mart has launched a surveillance operation on the small church group.

"We wanted to find out more about what was actually happening, and did they do any surveillance on us, either personally or as a community, and to let us know what that would be, and to apologize to us," Sister Mika said.

Calls from KENS 5 to a Wal-Mart spokesperson went unreturned.

The nuns say they want an apology and will continue to raise concerns and issues until someone launches an investigation into thousands of allegations against Wal-Mart.