Saturday, September 29, 2007

Baked Pinapple Stuffing in the Kitchen

Brenda loves Recipe Goldmine and asked if I could provide a link to it. She also e-mailed her favorite recipe from the site:

Baked Pineapple Stuffing recipe
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup packaged cornbread stuffing crumbs
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3 eggs, beaten
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 3 1/2-quart crockpot (you may use a baking dish that fits in a larger crockpot). Combine all ingredients; pour into the crockpot. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
This is good with baked ham.
Serves 4 to 6.

I don't normally include recipes I haven't tasted. I did fix it for Friday night's Iraq study group. It smelled wonderful. But it was gone before I could even taste it. People bring dishes and chips and vegetables and dips. I usually cook a few things myself. Usually something that I can bake so that it's in the oven while the meeting is going on. (Otherwise, I'd miss the discussions.) A slow cooker wasn't something I had thought of using but it's actually ideal because I don't need to set the alarm on my watch to remind myself to rush to the kitchen and pull a dish out of the oven. My husband got some ham from the deli on the way home last night when I told him about Brenda's recipe. He did taste the stuffing and wants a ham at Thanksgiving with this stuffing. (I always threaten that I'll only cook either turkey or ham but end up cooking both.) If it tasted as good as it smelled, it's was delicious.

Another thing to remember about this recipe if you're planning to use it for a holiday is that it will free up the oven. Anyone who cooks a large holiday spread knows how important every burner is and how oven space is sorely lacking. I have a very large stove but even with that and the microwave and the hot plates and the toaster oven, I can always use more space. Holidays here can mean my parents, my husband parents, our brothers and sisters (we both come from large families), their children, their children's young children, our eight children (some of whom have spouses and now we also have a grandbaby) as well as friends who weren't able to make it home for the holidays. Seventy-two may be the smallest we've ever had here for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. We have tables set up all over the house for these events. One year, we tried to set up tables together and would have managed enough seating space for that if my brother, his wife and their children had shown up at the last minute when their flight was cancelled (they had planned to go to his in-laws). There are always people who show up just before it's time to eat and it just makes more sense to use the dining room, the kitchen, the living room and, honestly, the halls.

You may be nodding along with that story or may be thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have a large family!" But if you're cooking on the holidays, you know how stove and oven space is always in short supply. I'm going to try this out again mid-week and plan to include it in Thanksgiving as well (I'll have to increase the ingredients) but you've got plenty of time for test runs between now and the holidays.

Turning to Dennis Kucinich, Paul Hackett's campaigning against him. That's certainly Hackett's right and one of his groupies e-mailed an article this week saying, "You won't even mention it." Oh, but I will. I had to suffer through Hackett's many, many appearences on Air America Radio and I believe he was even on Democracy Now! twice. Hackett was in Falluja for the slaughter but, if understand correctly, he was just in charge of the biometric program. After Falluja was slaughtered the second time, it was time to institute American decided programs such as you couldn't enter the city without being waived in by Americans and only after you'd submitted to biometrics. Hackett never expressed any dismay over the use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons on a civilian population or the fact that the city was reduced to rubble. He never showed any knowledge that tent cities sprung up for the refugees of Falluja and they didn't live there for a week, three years later many still live outside Falluja in those temporary encampments. He was all eager to get back to Iraq. (I don't doubt him. He sounded very sincere on that and other topics he shared on.) Hackett ran for the House of Representatives and lost. It was from Ohio and not a great deal of concern for me except I noted this was another candidate who was more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Paul Hackett then decided he would run for the Senate. Again, I never have doubted his sincerity so when Democrats in power made it very clear to him that he wasn't wanted in the race, he was very public in his whining. As a mother I use "whining" intentionally. Hackett could have stayed in the race. He didn't have the support of Democratic leadership? Well, wasn't he the fighter, isn't that what he campaigned on? I believe he sincerely believed he was a fighter but it's apparently easier to chase after civilians in the middle of the night -- here in the US -- with a loaded gun, force them off the road and hold them at gunpoint than it is to stand up to Democratic leadership. I wasn't bothered by his whining and thought that if you could leave the very personal nature of his campaign wound to the side, there was a great deal to be learned in his public remarks.

Like others in the field in 2006 who would crash and burn at the polls (Hackett might not have, he might actually have become a Senator), he was supported -- or hidden behind -- because he was a veteran. He didn't have any real ideas or plans, but he had been to Iraq. He wasn't for ending the illegal war so I'm not really sure what that experience was supposed to have in it for a positive. I gave birth to eight children. Maybe I should campaign for public office on that?

The Iraq War has no "up" for the United States. So a candidate whose only claim to fame is that he served in Iraq -- and possibly 'leadership' was shown there; however, the US is a democracy and you don't command in a democracy the way you do in the military -- and he's not calling for a withdrawal, just a 'smarter' illegal war, really has nothing to offer but a sugar coating shell for the Bully Boy's illegal polices.

Hackett would disagree but there were troubling aspects about his stances on gay rights and abortion. In the end, he would clarify those stances and do so in such a way that would indicate he might be in line with many who were in favor of both. I didn't see that as sop tossed out to fool the voters. I saw it as someone who had never bothered to think about either topic a great deal before deciding to run for the US Senate. Which, to me, indicated how unready he was to hold a position in the Senate since the only thing he had apparently thought about was his own life. That may be a natural issue of age (he is young) or it may be evidence that he has a hard time grasping the world isn't centered around him.

When he dropped out of the race for Senate, he made many public statements. He found his online buddies had turned on him. Democratic leadership said another person was the designate and he was shoved aside. Robert Parry (Consortium News) appeared to be firmly in support of Hackett and maintained that while others caved. C.I. was against Hackett but never wrote about Hackett's campaign (C.I.'s opposition was to the nonsense Hackett -- while not a candidate -- threw out repeatedly in interviews on Air America Radio and other useless outlets that hid behind the military because they were too cowardly to formulate their own opinions) but C.I. did defend Hackett's right to run and offered that Hackett should take back his decision to leave the Senate race. So he maintained support from Parry and C.I. advocated his returning to the race. I didn't ask C.I. about this but I know C.I. well enough to know C.I. making those comments were in response to the very quick and harsh way Hackett was dropped (I believe C.I. would use the term "used" and then dropped) and the very public manner in which that happened.

Hackett was dumped publicly. Like a contestant on a reality show sent packing. Now he's popped up to reveal a conversation he says took place between himself and Dennis Kucinich when Hackett was running for the House. I don't doubt that the conversation took place because I don't think Hackett's ever lied. I do find it interesting that who called who is not included in the retelling. (I'll assume that's the reporter's axe to grind and not Hackett's.) Left out of the retelling is that Hackett was asking for help in campaigning for the House. If you read this from the article e-mailed to me, you'll infer that help for his Hackett's campaign was being requested:

"He started his conversation off, which was pretty much a unilateral conversation, him to me while I was driving in my car in the 2nd Congressional District, by saying 'I would rather see Jean Schmidt get elected to Ohio's 2nd Congressional District than you. Because you are wrong on Iraq, you fought in Iraq, you're a Democrat in name only,' and a host of other issues."

I don't doubt Hackett's honesty, I do question his retelling abilities. How much of that is his problem and how much of it is the paper's own problem is unknown.

But I don't find anything appalling in that. Hackett was for the Iraq War. Kucinich had no reason to campaign for him. He had every reason not to campaign for him. If Bob Casey had phoned me for help, Bob Casey Jr., I would have responded in a similar manner due to Casey's opposition to a woman's right to choose.

Currently Kucinich is fighting in Congress with a handful of other reps to end the illegal war. The last thing he needed was another rep in the House who was going to push for the continuation of the illegal war. Those angry with the Democrats for still not ending the illegal war can certainly grasp that the obstructionists who continue the illegal war and buy into the illegal war are ignoring the people.

I say, "Good for Kucinich." Hackett goes on to call Kucinich a single-issue candidate which, it should be noted, was one more issue than Hackett ran on in either of his campaigns. Unless, of course, you consider a foul mouth an issue to run on.

Hackett's political immaturity still shines through as he denouces Kucinich as a single-issue candidate. Hackett's got VA benefits so he probably won't give much thought to single-payer health care any time soon. Again, we're back to the candidate (in a House race and a Senate race) who didn't think anything happened in the world if it had not happened to him personally. Kucinich is not a single-issue candidate. Hackett's still politically immature and thinks that because he was in Iraq, he's now an expert on life.

I doubt he's even an expert on destruction of life. But they conmen like Al Franken stroked his ego and led him to believe he was an expert. I would never have gone on Baby Cries A Lot show for any reason. But I gave birth to eight children and I think, in doing so, I provided more of a service to this country than someone who took part in destroying a country far away and still thinks that's a 'cool' thing to do. Hackett's attempting to destroy Kucinich today and it's a sign of how weak his understanding of the candidate he's supporting (or maybe how weak the candidate is) that all he can offer (or, in fairness, all the press can quote him on) is his uninformed attacks on Dennis Kucinich.

I don't care for Paul Hackett. Nothing he's ever said has made me wish I could vote for him. Al Franken, Sam Seder and the host of people who propped him up (when he had Democratic leadership backing) are disgusting types who hide behind the military. Adam Kokesh is a libertarian. I would be more than willing to consider voting for him because Kokesh has an understanding beyond on his own personal experiences. He is a thoughtful person who, when he runs (he will run for public office), has clearly given great thought to many issues. That's true of the illegal war but it's also true of many other things as well. If he was against a candidate who was equally strong, he wouldn't automatically get my vote.

Because I don't suffer from "Vote for Vets"! I don't hide behind a military and, more importantly, grasp that many caught up in that madness (as Hackett clearly is from his talk of his 'men') are not only threatening to women's rights, but threatening to democracy itself. But the military's been elevated so high by cowardly Democrats (such as Al Franken) who can't stand up for what they believe in but will gladly hide behind others, that we seem to be getting ever further away from what a democracy is founded upon. It's not founded upon a worship for the military and it's not founded upon a desire to militarize the United States.

During Vietnam, no veteran was spit upon. The myth survives to this day despite being repeatedly debunked. One reason is that some veterans of that era feel they didn't get their parades. I'm gald some made it back and regret that others died and "others" includes the Vietnamese. But had they thrown a parade in my area at the time, I wouldn't have (and I still wouldn't) turn out to applaud the boys who slit throats with piano wire, the ones dropping napalm on innocent civilians, the ones bombing the dykes in an attempt to starve the civilian populations. Similarly, I won't be applauding service in an illegal war. I will pray for those who were used in an illegal war. But I won't play the fool and turn out for a parade to honor participation in an illegal war.

The only thing I diagree with that's attributed to Kucinich is the thanks for service. Allowing the US to conduct an illegal war is not serving the United States. I grasp that young people may not realize that until they see it first hand, as was the case with Agustin Aguayo, to give one example. I realize that what Aguayo or Ehren Watada, Kyle Snyder or other brave people do is beyond the ability of many. But to have been in Iraq, to have participated in the illegal war, and then to return to this country and still cheerlead it doesn't show bravery, it shows ignorance. Service to the United States is holding a criminal administration accountable, not marching blindly to the orders of a crook.

Kucinich is for universal health care (not for a program that's far from it but is passed off as universal health care), he's for saving the environment (which isn't a side-issue but an issue very important to our very survival), he's for repealing the Patriot Act, he's for creating jobs in this country and a host of other issues. Calling him a one-issue candidate demonstrates either political immaturity or else a strong desire for the illegal war to continue -- so strong that it blinds you to reality.

Here's what Paul Hackett thinks is a single-issue candidate:

After the remarks, Kucinich and his wife spent about an hour answering questions and responding to comments from the audience. The topics ranged from Kucinich's odds of winning the White House to his strategy for the campaign, his thoughts on reducing Americans' dependence on automobiles, the importance of sustainable agriculture and the need for universal healthcare.
"Imagine the Department of Agriculture being really involved in the promotion of sustainable agriculture," Kucinich said as members of the audience laughed and cheered. "Every area of our government can be reorganized" to benefit the environment and improve the world.
One program Kucinich touted several times during his remarks was his universal preschool program for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. The program, he said, would provide child care; expose children to the arts, including music; and provide an education boost. "Our children need to be exposed to the fullness of our culture from an early age," he said.
Kucinich also favors a not-for-profit, universal healthcare system.
"Healthcare is a basic right in a democratic society, not a privilege," he said. Elizabeth Kucinich, a native of England, where such a system already is in place, backed her husband up on his plan.
"Everybody is for this," she said. "There is absolutely no reason why the U.S. can't have a single-payer healthcare system."

That's from Michelle L. Klampe's article in the Ventura County Star. Lastly, a member wrote wondering if there were any hard feelings between C.I. and I over my post last week? No. Nor on my part over C.I.'s noting Hillary will stand firm when she stands up. My post was noted in the Sunday entry and also Monday morning as well as in Monday's snapshot. I offered my opinions and C.I.'s repeat linkings were supposed to make clear that here's a viewpoint you should check out. C.I.'s not interested in telling anyone who to vote for and will also note good qualities of candidates as well. There was no problem for either of us with what the other wrote. I am actively supporting Dennis Kucinich. C.I.'s not going to endorse any candidate. Mike, my son, may not end up supporting Kucinich (he's still deciding who to vote for or if he's even going to support a Democrat in the primary). If he chooses to support a candidate in the primary and it's not Kucinich, there will not be a problem there. To be clear, C.I. is not supporting or endorsing any candidate. They get mentioned at The Common Ills only in relation to Iraq. There is no one that hasn't gotten a favorable mention for at least once telling truth on Iraq in some aspect. Kucinich and Richardson get mentioned more because they are talking about the illegal war. If one of the candidates says (or does) something to prolong the illegal war, they get called out on that. C.I. was here last night and is still here. They're leaving for California shortly. When C.I. came in from running with Mike this morning, I was informed by the two of them by an idea they had for a piece at The Third Estate Sunday Review dealing with the way the primary campaign is currently going. I would urge you to check out The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow.

I said "lastly" but . . . One thing C.I. and I spoke of last night was how furious we are over something. We're not supposed to write about it online. No one is. We're all supposed to support Mike's feelings that we just avoid it. I'm probably the only one who can get away with breaking that because I'm his mother. So let me weigh in. Dave Zirin is a piece of work. Writing a 21-year-old young man who has done nothing but praise you to hiss that you've been distorted and called a "flack" for Obama (Mike did not write that Zirin was a 'flack' for Obama) is really juvenile. Dave Zirin is a juvenile and he's an idiot. I don't care that he in some form retracted that in a later e-mail. The reality is Zirin went on Democracy Now! and praised Roberto Clemente. (And if it's Roger Clemente, I don't give a damn. I'm not a sports fan and think it's hilarious the way so many get so caught up in something as trivial as sports.) In the midst of that praise, he brought up Barack Obama. He may not wish he'd stated that Clemente did something brave and he doesn't see Obama's statements as brave; however, he did not say that on Democracy Now! What he did on that broadcast was praise Clemente and then offer a comparison to Obama that was not negative. In the midst of his gush-fest over Clemente, his comparison inserted of Obama reads like praise for Obama. The fact that in the later e-mail Zirin acknowledges that he was made aware of Mike (and Wally's) praise for Zirin's book in 2005 but never wrote to thank them may not seem like a big deal. It becomes a big deal when you consider that he never thanked either young man for that and he never thanked Mike for the repeated praise my son offered of him over a two year period. However, he shows up two years later, for the first time, to yell and screech at my son, making baseless accusations that (though withdrawn) seriously upset my son. I won't be silent on that even though Mike's asked us all not to mention it. Over 250 times Dave Zirin was praised by my son at his website. When Mike noted that he wasn't into Zirin that much these days, Zirin e-mails a nasty e-mail. Zirin was a personal hero of my son. It's not a question of hate mail because Mike gets that and laughs at. It's a question of someone you've gone out of your way to promote, someone whose work you have really enjoyed, never bothering to thank you over a two year period but showing up to be nasty about the fact that he (Zirin) can't speak clearly. I've seen my son depressed over lost games (that he played in or just watched), over elections, over relationships, but I've never seem him not bounce back quickly until this week. He will be fine. But that someone who has been a hero to him decided to go to town on him (hissing "slander" among other terms) because Zirin's not proficient enough in public speaking to be clear about his own meaning is really sick. Congratulations to you, Dave Zirin, you took someone who was your biggest fan and showed them exactly why they never should have wasted their time even reading you. I will not be silent on that.

And I think someone's ego needs to be checked when they want to reap all the positives from my son's ringing endorsement but when one thing is noted (and noted by Mike correctly), suddenly it's time to e-mail and act like an immature brat. The fact that in what I term "clarification" (not "apology"), Zirin notes he's familiar with all the praise goes to the fact that Zirin was happy to have his ego stroked but anything less than 100% praise means it's time to lash out demonstrates that Zirin has problems. That's my son and I will not be silent while Zirin does a number on him. I understand that Elaine (his girlfriend) and C.I. and others have to be silent. I'm Mike's mother, I do not have to be silent and I will not be silent. Long before the net, C.I.'s ignored the press. I've mentioned write ups since I met C.I. and have always been surprised by the remark, "I didn't read it." But I get the point now. C.I. has always maintained that if you read the good, you have to read the bad; that everyone's not going to like you; that you will do or say things that will upset some people; so you either go full out and read everything or you ignore it. C.I. elected to ignore it. C.I. has repeatedly noted people who read only their positive press and end up with an inflated view of themselves. I would think, "How silly. You are grounded. It's not going to go to your head." But obviously, it did go to Zirin's head. Which is why he felt he could attack my son for the mildest of statements based upon what Zirin did on Democracy Now! -- not on anything my son created, but what Zirin actually did. As Elaine noted (and I won't link to the actual post because Mike's asked us all not to link to any of this and just let it die -- Wally and Cedric link to everything and they told Mike they would emphasize it but they were linking to it):

C.I.'s known as a "really-real," actually, and it is because there's no pretense. C.I. was that way in college, C.I. was that way after the first blush of fame all those years ago. But, and this is in no way blaming C.I., it's probably equally true that the way C.I. is made Mike think that someone far less famous would be the way they self-present and that's not the case with Dave Zirin. Let me add far, far less famous. Maybe another "far" is needed? I doubt Dave Zirin will ever make even one magazine cover.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, September 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the air-war continues and NPR goes ga-ga over it, the mercenaries at Blackwater continue to raise questions, and Dems fund the illegal war again. And, ADDED, PBS examines the Iraq War (tonight in most markets) via Bill Moyers Journal and NOW with David Branccacio.

Starting with war resistance. As Iraq Veterans Against the War notes, the government's 'do-over' (double-jeopardy) attempt at court-martialing Ehren Watada is scheduled for October 9th and "Lt. Watada is facing four charges that could land him in jail for up to six years." June 22, 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in the Iraq War (rightly) noting that the war is illegal. Daniel Ellsberg gave a speech (posted at ICH) last week where he noted Watada, "I've often said that Lt. Ehren Watada -- who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war -- is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath." Watada's attorneys are appealing on a number of grounds including the fact that Judge Toilet (aka John Head) thinks he can be impartial and preside again as well as the fact that a second court-martial (after Head ruled the February court-martial a mistrial over defense objection) would be in violation of the US Constitution which forbids double-jeopardy.

At the start of the week, Audra D.S. Burch (Miami Herald) provided an overview of war resister Aidan Delgado's book The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, noting, "This is a story of one young man's transformation from reserve volunteer to soldier to conscientious objector, practicing Buddhist, author and always -- always -- relentless critic of the Iraq War, a peace advocate with a point of view based on real wartime experiences." Delgado is the third war resister to tell their story in book form this year. In May, Camilo Mejia shared his story in Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia while in February Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla 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, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, 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, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one 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.

ADDED:In media news, the latest episode of Bill Moyers Journal airs on PBS in many markets tonight (check your local listings) and he will remember two US service members who died recently (two of the seven who wrote the New York Times column "The War as We Saw It") and this is also up at YouTube..In addition Bill Moyers Journal examines the Iraqi refugee crisis with NPR's Deborah Amos and War Hawk George Packer while also taking a look at the outrageous amount of monies being spent on the illegal war.

Also: This week (Fridays in most markets) PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio examines the issue of US service members wounded in the illegal war: "For many Iraq and Gulf War veterans, the transition from battlefield to home front is difficult. Bouts of fierce anger, depression and anxiety that previous generations of soldiers described as "shell shock" or "combat/battle fatigue" now earn a clinical diagnosis: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the relatively new medical label doesn't guarantee soldiers will get the care they need. On Friday, September 28 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW looks at how America's newest crop of returning soldiers is coping with the emotional scars of war, and some new and innovative treatments for them."

On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today (second hour), Al-Arabiya TV's Hisham Melhem explained the new meaning of Blackwater since the September 16th incident where they slaughtered at least 16 Iraqi civilians, "In the past, Susan [Page, USA Today], if you wanted to discredit the American war in Iraq or if you wanted to discredit the war on terror all you had to do is just invoke the names of places such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib or Haditha. Now you can add to that Blackwater USA. I mean this is a huge embarrassment and a problem for the United States in the future. These people are now seen by the Iraqis as the new face of the occupation. And the irony of all ironies now, because these people are in charge of providing protection to the American diplomats there -- I mean, you have a private army. This is the privatization of war. More than 30,000 men. And I'm not saying that many of them . . . are [not] honorable and former good soldiers, the problem is that given what they've done, as Robin [Wright, Washington Post] said, just imagine Ryan Crocker, one of the best American diplomats serving in the Middle East, probably the best one available for Iraq now, trying to visit a neighborhood in Baghdad, after the surge, whatever, he's going to be protected by whom? By elements of the Blackwater. That's the irony of ironies."

On the topic of Blackwater, today Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that among the deaths resulting from the US mercenary compnay are four Iraq journalists including Suhad Shakir who was shot dead February 2nd while driving to work inside the Green Zone while three guards of the Iraqi Media Network were shot dead, "picked off one by one by Blackwater snipers stationed on the roof of the 10-story Justice Ministry". The US Defense Department has maintained that they do not use Blackwater for their employees; however, the US State Dept does. James Risen (New York Times) reports that the State Department released a count that found Blaackwater "had been involved in 56 shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq so far this year." An Iraqi government investigation found Blackwater responsible for the September 16th deaths at a time when Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, was issuing strong words that Blackwater would be gone. Instead, the puppet's strings were pulled and he agreed to go along with a US State Department led investigation. AFP reports today that US Gen David Petraues and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker have stated that this 'commission' has still not met and is still "preparing for its first meeting in Baghdad". Rather surprising when Steve Fainaru and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) are able to report on the US embassy's insta-study of the situation today which finds 'confusion' and 'good intentions' (at least one Blackwater employee all but yelled, "Stop the madness!"). Though James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise are back to pimp this report, the New York Times' reporters fail to use the term "self-serving" though they were very happy to apply that to the report on Blackwater from the Iraqi government. Since the mercenaries do not protect Iraqis, since they protect US embassy employees, exactly which report would be more likely to be "self-serving"? Play dumb, Glanz and Tavernise, play dumb. As Reuters notes, the official US State Dept response is "We're not commenting on the substance of the investigation" which allows them to float this, to get it out there, and if it explodes in their faces, claim they never said those things happened. Meanwhile, Kristin Roberts and Sue Pleming (Reuters) report that US Brig Gen Joseph Anderson declared today of the mercenaries, "I can certainly say I've seen them do some tactics that I thought were over the top. Are they quicker with the trigger? Are they quicker to wave a weapon, brandish a weapon, other tactics, cutting people off? All of us have experience, have seen different things at different times. I have seen them, in my opinion, over-react but that does not mean it's consistently the case."

Blackwater is far from the only problem facing Iraqis. Today on WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio (first hour), host Mario Murillo spoke with CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee who explained his latest piece ("The Boys from Baghdad: Iraqi Commandos Trained by U.S. Contractor") noting that Blackwater shooting at civilians was "just the tip of the iceberg . . . because you do have US soldiers and US security guards that are in the country shooting at civilians, dropping bombs on them, etc. -- creating mayhem. But in fact the role the US has played in creating the civil war in fact is far more long lasting, could be far more insidious and dangerous than the occasional massacre of civilians. That's in no way to condone it at all -- but just say that there are far worse things happening today. There are probably at least, to the best of my knowledge, six training programs to support 'Iraqi security'. The first couple are the training of the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army which interestingly enough were given over to private contractors. DynCorp from Virginia trains the police and Vinnell from Los Angeles originally had the contract to train the Iraqi army. Both of these have been pretty much disasters. And in fact one of the things I explain in this article is that in April 2004 when there were like two major incidents in the country -- and I was in Iraq at the time -- one was the civil uprisings in the south with the siege of various cities and the attack on Blackwater personnel in Falluja -- the US tried to press this police and army into service and in both cases, in fact they shipped police down to Najaf the Iraqi police and soldiers just basically fled the scene and refused to fight and, in some case, turned against the US. So the US quickly realized they needed something way beyond the sort of regular security forces. . . . So they came up with this idea of third force. The third force was going to be special commandos that would be highly trained -- a little like Special Forces that could go into action." Chatterjee explains in his article that these are Emergency Response Unit or ERU and that they training "began under General David Petreaus as an effort to bolster security in Iraq, and soon evolved into a system for providing support to the deeply sectarian Ministry of the Interior." That ministry provides their paychecks as well as controls them today. "Sometimes the people that they train are people who come from backgrounds that are either sectarian or criminal," Chatterjee explained to Murillo. "It's one thing to bring in Blackwater and have them protect US diplomats and shoot at anybody who comes close -- that's horrendous -- but it's another thing to actually go in and train people in the art of warfare and hand this training over to sectarian groups that are now creating multiple civil wars in the country. And that, to me, is one of the most insidious and dangerous parts of the US occupation."

Another insidious part of the illegal war is the little noted air war. (Norman Solomon has long noted the air war and it's under-reporting by the media.) Guy Raz (NPR's Morning Edition) reported today that "about every 90 seconds something takes off or lands at Balad Air Base there's C130 Cargo planes, there are helicopters, there are fighter jets and those are just a fraction of the forty different kinds of aircraft that use this base. It's not just busy, it's really busy. Actually the busiest Pentagon airport in the world and the second busiest airport in the world overall." Though such activity might give many pause, Guy Raz is a rah-rah-rah-er and tickled pink to be one of the 'boys'. This as Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Around 2 a.m. U.S. military used aerial fire targeting a building in Al Doura area south Baghdad, Iraqi police said. The aerial fire targeted building number 139 in Al Siha district. 10 people were killed and 7 others were injured according to the Iraqi police sources." Reuters notes eight dead. Meanwhile, the US military issues a press release regarding events Tuesday: "A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcom dropped precision munitions near Al Nussayyib, Iraq Sept. 25, killing Abu Nasr al-Tunisi and two other Al Q'aeda in Iraq operatives. They were killed when the aircraft, assigned to U.S. Central Command Air Forces, dropped two laser guided 500 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition GBU-12 bombs, destroying the terrorist safe house when the three were meeting." If this is the announced 'investigation' into the Tuesday bombing in Mussyyib that claimed the lives of 5 women and 4 children (see yesterday's snapshot), consider it a white wash.

In news of other violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded two people while a truck bombing in Mosull "destroyed a bridge". Reuters notes the Mosul truck bombing left twenty people wounded. KUNA reports that the British military base in Basra was attacked with mortars overnight.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "David Shamoun, a 28 Christian Iraqi . . . worked with a Turkish company and a college students" was shot dead in Mosul


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Meanwhile Dominic Evans (Reuters) reports that if the 59 announced deaths holds, September will be the lowest month of announced US service members deaths for the year. September in 2005 and 2003 was lower than the announced 59. Also worth noting is that M-NF 'elected' to allow DoD to announce deaths this month.

On the subject of the US military's "kill teams," the press continues to avoid the fact that war resister James Burmeister was publicly speaking of them months before the press stumbled onto them this week. Paul von Zeilbauer (New York Times) reported this morning on the court-martial of Jorge G. Sandoval and noted that Anthony G. Murphy had testified in July that there was a sense of sense "of disappointment from field commanders seeking higher enemy body counts" and that "Soldiers also testified that battalion commanders authorized a classified new technique that used fake explosives and detonation wires as 'bait' to lure and kill suspected insurgents around Iskandariya, a hostile Sunni Arab region south of Baghdad." AP reports that Sandoval was acquitted today of some charges; however, "the panel decided he had placed a detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look as if the man was an insurgent."

In Wednesday's snapshot, the Joe Biden led push in the Senate (Biden is a senator and also a candidate for the Democratic Party's potential presidential nomination) to divide Iraq into three section in a vote that found 75 US senators voting in favor of it and only 23 voting against it. Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes, "Partitioning Iraq is not a solution that is Washington's to make. The recent vote by the US Senate is misguided. In addition, it will do little to further the desire of the US public to bring the troops home. Instead, it will put US forces in the position of maintaining the newly created divisions along new lines in the sand. Senator Biden's bill is not a solution. It is another false approach that has as much chance at success as anything tried by the Bush administration. In other words, it is destined to fail." Al Jazeera reports that Nouri Al-Maliki is denouncing the US resolution and declaring, "They should stand by Iraq to solidify its unity and its sovereignty. They shouldn't be proposing its division. That could be a disaster not just for Iraq but for the region." Strong words from the puppet. Words that, if pattern holds, will vanish with the mere pulling of a string.

Which is why the Iraqi government, 'officially' led by the puppet, is held in such low opinion by Iraqis. Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, Hiba Dawood reported, "The slow crumbling of Iraq's government began when the Sadrists withdraw their ministers from cabinet, demanding real authority to provide local services and a timetable for an end to the US occupation. In the fourteen months since then, the Sadrists and the Fadheela Party have split from the United Iraqi Alliance Coalition the largest Shi'ite grouping in the Iraqi parliament. The latest to leave the government were the ministers from the Sunni Accord. They accuse the government of serving sectarian ends. Shi'ite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is accused of sectarianism even by other Shias who accuse him of marginalizing them. But the United Iraqi Alliance, now reduced to just the Dawa Party, and the Iraq Islam Supreme Council insists the government is still performing. Jinan [Jasim] al-Ubaydi is a member of parliament and with the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council. She says the withdrawal of so many parties from the governing alliance doesn't effect government policy or performance: 'There dreams are negotiable and though there are many withdrawals, the government is not collapsing. Ryan Crocker said the Iraqi government has enjoyed many vital successes.' Despite the US ambassador's optimism few ordinary Iraqis say the government is succeeding. There is a growing frustration with both the government and the parties that have pulled out."

Despite this, the US Congress continues to fund the illegal war. John Nichols (Common Dreams) reports that the Senate raised the debt limit for the federal government and gave the Bully Boy "at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq" in a 94 to 1 vote with Russ Feingold being the sole senator to vote no (and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain and Sam Brownback all missing the vote due to campaiging for their parties' presidential nomination) while the House of Represenatives passed the measure by a 404 to 14 vote with Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Earl Blumenauer, Keith Ellison, Ron Paul, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Maurice Hinchey, Dennis Kunich, Jim McDermott, Donald Payne, Lynn Woolsey and Diane Watson voting no (Kucinich and Paul are running for their parties' presidential nomination). Meanwhile, the national Green Party has noted Democratic party hopefuls for their party's presidential nomination Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama declared this week in a forum broadcast by MSNBC that they couldn't guarantee all US troops would be home, if they were elected to president, by the year 2013. The Green Party notes:

The Green Party of the United States has called for full and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of which is entering its sixth year; the party opposes a US military attack on Iran and warns Americans not to believe the new flood of deceptive war propaganda.
Greens stress that Congress could end the war quickly if Democrats refused to move on bills for war funding, including the latest request for nearly $190 billion the Pentagon says is necessary to keep combat troops in Iraq for another year. Greens urge Congress to divert federal funds from war spending to human needs and services in the US, including restoration and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast.
The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, including misleading the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. Greens have called the invasion a criminal breach of the US Constitution and international law, motivated by desire for political and corporate dominance in the region, control over Iraqi oil and other resources, and cooperation with Israel's aggressive strategic objectives.

In news of pacts, CBS and AP report: "Turkey and Iraq signed a counterterrorism pact Friday aimed at cracking down on separatist Kurdish rebels who have been attacking Turkey from bases in Iraq. The agreement, however, falls short of meeting Ankara's demand to send troops in pursuit of Kurdish rebels fleeing across the border into northern Iraq, Turkey's Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. 'It was not possible to reach a deal on chasing Kurdish rebels, however, we hope this issue will be solved in the future,' Atalay said. 'We are expecting this cooperation against terrorism to be broadened as much as possible'."

Last night, Houston's The Progressive Forum (KPFT -- here for KPFT archives) devoted the second hour of the program to a speech by Gloria Steinem delivered September 17th in Houston, Texas and entitled "The Progression of Feminism: Where Are We Going?". Steinem declared near the start, "I arrived here this morning and I said, 'Oh, this is Ann Richards Airport.' Don't you think we're going to live to see the day when they'll be glad to change the name?" She then began addressing the efforts to destroy tribes, women, LBGT and other members in an attempt to dominate and colonialize. As she observed, "No, we can't go back and it's not about romanticizing the past but it is about understanding that if a system of male dominance had a beginning, it can have an end." Steinem's Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions was mentioned in yesterday's snapshot as was a documentary, Anthony Thomas' Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done which a typo turned into "They" (I put in links on a good day and then dictate later in the day -- I dictate very fast and would have my own typos if I typed the snapshots -- we're noting this one because the documentary's title was wrong due to the typo "They Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.")

now with david branccaciopbs

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kugel in the Kitchen

We were in DC for the demonstration and rally and for a few days prior and a few days after. The cooking was shared and there are several recipes that I wrote down and plan to post here. This week I'm going with kugel and I have two recipes. The first one is more ambitious and the second one is very easy. Tracey, Ruth's granddaughter, made the first one on Tuesday and I don't think I've ever had a real kugel before. I'm familiar with the carrot kugel which is a lot like a carrot cake as well as some with raisins. The two recipes I'm offering are more of casserole type dish.

4 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of cooking oil or melted butter
1 tablespoon of salt
pepper to taste
5 eggs
2 onions
8 potatoes

Using a grater (cheese grater), grate the potatoes and onions. into a bowl. After you do that, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In another bowl, add the oil, flour, salt, pepper and the eggs (yolk and white) and mix. Grease a baking pan with butter. Now return to the potato and onion bowl. Some moisture from them will be evident, you want to drain that. Then add potato and onions to the other bowl with flour, etc and mix. Add this mixture to the baking pan, smooth it so that it's an even layer on top, pop it into the 400 degree oven and bake for one hour. As you would with a cake, insert a toothpick (you can use a fork if you don't have a toothpick) and you'll know it's done cooking when the toothpick comes out clean when you remove it.

This was a wonderful dish. I'd only had the sweet kugels before and honestly thought it was only a dessert. Tracey learned this recipe for one of Ruth's birthdays. All the adults brought a dish and Tracey was only 13 at the time but wanted to have something to take her grandmother as well. Her aunt (Jayson's mother) showed her this recipe and Tracey says that "other than things you pop in the microwave or toaster, this was the first thing I learned to cook." She is very fast with the grater. Ruth loves the dish but offered an easier kugel in case anyone wasn't up to grating. Ruth grates all the time for various potato dishes but notes Tracey is her only grandchild that uses a grater "even for cheese. Everyone else is, 'Grandma, you can buy it shredded.'" So when I was getting the exact recipe from Tracey, Ruth suggested I offer two.

1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
4 eggs
1 pound egg noodles

Cook the egg noodles according to the directions on the package, drain them and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use butter to grease a baking pan. In a bowl, add the sour cream, cottage chesse and eggs and mix well, combining all. Add the noodles to the mixture and mix so that they are coated. Transfer this to the baking pan. Add some bits (dots) of butter to the top and bake in the 350 degree oven for forty minutes. When it's golden brown on top, it's done. That's largely true of Tracey's as well but you really do need to insert something into Tracey's to check due to the onions and potatoes.

Ruth and I fixed the above together Wednesday morning and served it as part of breakfast. It went fast. I fixed both last night for the Iraq study group and they were among the first to be gone. If you are Jewish or cook Kosher, you are probably familiar with multiple kinds of kugel but most people referred to Tracey's dish as the potato casserole when they asked for the recipe. With Ruth's, they just called it a casserole when they asked. So those are two kugel's and you just have to use the oven which allows you to get the meal started and cook something on the stove with it (Ruth loves to steam some spinach to eat with either) or just go take care of something else. For me, that's what I love about baking, you're not standing there stirring the entire time.

Monday night, Dennis Kucinich will be a guest on The Tonight Show on NBC. (If you're a Diana Krall or fan of "The Rock," they are also schedule to appear.)

One of the most interesting things to me during the week was the press love for Hillary Clinton. Now they still get snide and nasty and you'll always have the Andrea Mitchell's serving up rumors about Clinton's marriage. But they're on board with Hillary Health Care. She's either a witch who tried to destroy health care or the martyr who tried to save it. Neither is true. Hillary Clinton glommed on the health care issue because it was popular. The same reason her husband suddenly added it to his campaign list. He wasn't a populist and Jerry Brown stood a good chance of continuing to beat him. So the DLC Bill suddenly care a little about the little people. Hillary met with a lot of health care providers and made a lot of promises. Then, as the 1992 election grew closer, she met with a lot of big business. Guess who won out?

Though it was difficult to know because Americans weren't informed as it was going on. Like Dick Cheney with his oil panel, Hillary thought the people's business was best done in secret and refused to release information about her meetings. When the multi-paged nonsense was released, we were left with far less than what we were promised. Now she's gearing up again to be a friend to the insurance companies and screw over the people.

But such is the climate change in the media that the same voices who screamed she was offering socialized medicine (she wasn't) back then, now rush to paint her as a martyr. And there are still the attacks.

Sometimes, you wonder if Hillary gets thrilled with some of these attacks? They are so off base, she has to know only the extreme right will give them credence and everyone else will be appalled so she can ride the sympathy wave one more time.

I think it's great that Bill Clinton's written a book entitled Giving. Maybe he'll learn something from it? He didn't "give" to the working poor or the poor as president, he slashed the safety net to such a degree that too many fell through to count. Paul Krugman, every time a job report comes out, gets highly indignant that the government is fudging the numbers. I hope he remembers that when the Democrat is back in the White House because the government's been fudging the umployment numbers for decades.

I don't know if the Clinton White House was the slimy-est or if it just had so much scum taking to the airwaves to support it: James Carville, the little weasel now hosting This Week on ABC, Paul "I'm almost as famous as James!" and all the other rejects who lied over and over.

I don't care that Bill Clinton couldn't keep it in his pants. I do care that he attacked the poor, I do care that he betrayed the Democratic Party (with a lot of help from enablers -- many of whom still exist today). "The Big Dog" nickname should have tipped everyone off that a man with no sexual control was in the White House. "No sexual control" does not mean I believe he harassed any woman or raped any woman. I think every woman he was involved with was a willing participant. He has a very seductive nature and I think the women who cried foul, like Paula Jones (whose stories never match up from one to the next), cried foul because, like the country, they got seduced and then they got dumped.

At the height of the sex scandals, Caroline Kennedy wrote a piece in Newsweek expressing outrage. Her own father had multiple affairs and the press covered up in those days. So it was easy for some to make little jokes about what she had written. I didn't make jokes or think, "Hypocrisy!" I thought she was writing as the daughter who loved her father but realized how much her father's sexual escapades had hurt her mother. That's something left out of the story even now. You hear about JFK and Marilyn Monroe or any number of women. And where's Jackie? Humiliated and ignored in the narratives. I thought Caroline Kennedy's piece was a strong one and one that got to the heart of the pain that was caused.

So now Hillary wants her chance to occupy the White House as president and all the same warning signs are there that were there in Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. She is out of touch of voters, considers big business her closest friend and wants the illegal war to keep going and going and going.

I don't for a minute believe that Bill Clinton will be able to keep his zipper closed and if Hillary is as inevitable as an e-mail declared this week, I guess we'll be back on board the Clinton scandals shortly. What fun that will be as we yet again focus on all their personal crap and get stuck pointing out that personal matters are no one else's business while the latest Clinton destroys the country the same way her husband did.

Media consolidation an issue that concerns you? Thank Bill Clinton and the Saint Al Gore. Bothered by arsenic in the water? Remember Bill Clinton had time for Monica and big business but no time to address the issue until after the 2000 elections (eight years after he was first voted into office) and then issued an executive order as he was about to leave the White House.
Disgusted that the nation is involved in an illegal war? Remember that Bill Clinton's administration laid the groundwork and that's why Hillary refuses to call it out. Think there's too much money in politics? Remember that the 'humble' Bill and Hillary moved into the White House having never owned a home and now they're multi-millionaires.

"The Big Dog" should have been known as "The Broken Promise."

What the Republicans couldn't do on their own -- destroying the safety net or turning Tricky Dick Nixon into a 'statesman' -- Bill Clinton did for them. If Hillary is the nominee and then becomes the president, I guess we'll get more of those 'good' times. Pray for the country but especially pray for the poor.

And pray for Iraq because Hillary has demonstrated no concern for Iraqis. Like NOW Pac whic endorsed her, she never had a word to say about 14-year-old Abeer who was gang-raped by US soldiers and then murdered. Way to go NOW! What a bunch of leaders you are! Such strong women to make the 'pracitical' decision that what the world needs is any woman in the White House! It doesn't matter that she doesn't represent women, that her positions on everything from the illegal war to reproductive rights are out of touch with women, she's got the XX and that's all that matters! I really am disgusted with NOW. They sent out an e-mail last week where they suddenly remember the illegal war again. First time since they endorsed the War Hawk that they thought to mention it. Possibly the money's not flowing into the coffers the way it once did. If so, good. I'm done with them. I'm sick of their faux outrage over the illegal war that they set aside to endorse the war hawk.

Linda S. Heard has an article entitled "Apathy is our greatest enemy" (Online Journal) and the opening is very powerful but I'm going to excerpt the conclusion:

Even as I write, the Iraqi government is coming under severe pressure to sign-up to an oil law that will concede a large proportion of the country's prime resource to foreign oil companies for decades to come.
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich says, "The administration has been relentless in trying to force the Iraqi government to enact a so-called hydrocarbon law that will, in fact, enable multi-national oil and energy corporations to gain control of 200 billion to 300 billion barrels of Iraq's oil with a market value of around $20 trillion".
"And to facilitate and protect that scheme," he says, "he [George Bush] is willing to continue the occupation, keep our brave men and women in the line of fire, and risk an escalation of violence and regional stability".
That's right. The US occupation of Iraq is due to continue in some form for decades. Why else would the US have built the largest embassy complex in the world, along with permanent bases?
But those who thirst for governance of the world's precious resources aren't content with the black gold of Iraq. There may be another war for oil in the pipeline and more millions will die or be left maimed.
Unless we wake up long enough to put our pretty toys aside, stare at the ugly face of reality and scream "not in our name" the burden of our apathy will be our legacy for generations to come.

Where's Hillary on the issue? Too busy becoming the number one Dem when it comes to contributions from the oil industry.

If Hillary does get elected, I guess we can all enjoy watching NOW squirm as the candidate they endorsed tries to continue the illegal war when not slashing reproductive rights. We can all chuckle over that and remember that Molly Yard spoke out against candidates like Hillary but today NOW embraces them. United for Peace & Justice made a huge mistake recently. They posted (and probably commissioned) a report on Iraq by Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver that offered a "low" and "high" for the number of Iraqis who had died in the illegal war. Their "high"? "600,000 plus" Iraqis had died. That wasn't even the "high" from the Lancet study that ended it's count in July 2006. 1.2 million and 1.4 million are the current "high" numbers. So that was really offensive. Unlike NOW, United for Peace & Justice heard the criticism from members and considered it. They've now updated their report to reflect the million number. So that's one organization that listens to its membership. (NOW Pac and NOW are two different groups by law. But there seems to be enough 'leakage' between the two to suggest that the difference is only maintained by law.) So give United for Peace & Justice credit for being willing to listen to their members.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Friday, September 21, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, 'progress' is no where to be found in Iraq, the US loses weapons and the Iraqi resistance reportedly now has them, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Alaam News reports that a US family of five (three children) is seeking asylum in Finland "with local media speculating that it is opposition to the Iraq war" that has led the family to leave the United States and start over in Helenski this week. If true, it would be only the second time this decade that an "American citizen . . . [has] filed an asylum application in Finland during the current decade." Meanwhile IVAW's Michael Prysner (PSL) reports, "The number of deserters is also steadily climbing, with official numbers now reaching over 10,000 since the war began. Many believe these numbers may actually be much higher. The G.I. Rights Hotline reports an average of 3,000 calls a month by new recruits and active duty soldiers who have decided they want to abandon the military. . . . Soldiers against the war have begun organizing within the military. Active duty soldiers started the Appeal for Redress, a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was formulated less than a year ago, and has collected over 2,000 signatures of soldiers currently serving in the military. Membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War is nearing 600. . . . Soldiers like Lt. Ehren Watada and Camilo Mejia have set the example, publicly refusing deployment and condemning the war for its illegal and immoral nature."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla 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, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, 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, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one 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.

Peter Hart spoke with Anthony Arnove (
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) on this week's CounterSpin (airing on most radio stations today) about the issue of contractors.

Anthony Arnove: There is effectively a doubling of the US occupation in Iraq right now through the employment of private contractors of whom as many as 50,000 are armed -- effectively private mercenaries working in the employee of the US occupation. Blackwater is operating under the employment of the State Department. What's interesting is that very early on in the US occupation, Paul Bremer -- who was acting as the colonial viceroy -- in his capacity of head of the Coalition Provision Authority deliberately exempted these mercenaries and other US contractors from Iraqi law. And they've created basically a legal black hole in which these mercenaries can operate without any accountability. And the few times there have been incidents in which Iraqis tried to pursue contractors for violations they've been skirted out of the country so as not to have to face any prosecution. They do technically fall under rules of engagement set down for US contractors -- whether that's Pentagon rules or State Department rules. But like we've seen with active duty troops who've engaged in abuses of human rights in Iraq, there's really been no accountability certainly not up the chain of command.

No accountability. And Bremer and the CPA were nothing but a shell game. Bremer stripped Iraqis of oversight and, in fact, the US may not have any legal right to oversight as well. As Naomi Klein explains in her new book
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

Bremer's CPA would not try to stop the various scams, side deals and shell games because the CPA was itself a shell game. Though it was billed as the U.S. occupation authority, it's unclear that it held that distinction in anything other than name. This point was forcefully made by a judge in the infamous Custer Battles corruption case.
Two former employees of the security firm launched a whistle-blower lawsuit against the company, accusing it of cheating on reconstruction-related contracts with the CPA and defrauding the U.S. governments produced by the company that clearly showed it was keeping two sets of numbers -- one for itself, one for invoicing the CPA Retired Brigadier-General Hugh Tant testified that the fraud was "probably the worst I've ever seen in my 30 years in the army." (Among Custer Battles' many alleged violations, it is said to have appropriated Iraqi-owned forklifts from the airport, repainted them and billed the CPA for the cost of leasing the machines.)
In March 2006, a federal jury in Virginia ruled against the company, finding it guilty of fraud, and forced it to pay $10 million in damages. The company then asked the judge to overturn the verdict, with a revealing defense. It claimed that the CPA was not part of the U.S. government, and therefore not subject to its laws, including the False Claims Act. The implications of this defense were enormous: the Bush administration had indemnified U.S. corporations working in Iraq from any liability under Iraqi laws; if the CPA wasn't subject to U.S. law either, it meant that the contractors weren't subjected to any law at all -- U.S. or Iraqi. This time, the judge ruled in the company's favor: he said there was plenty of evidence that Custer Battles had submitted to the CPA "false and fraudulently inflated invoices," but he ruled that the plaintiffs had "failed to prove that the claims were presented to the United States." In other words, the U.S. government presence in Iraq during the first year of its economic experiment had been a mirage -- there had been no government, just a funnel to get U.S. taxpayer and Iraqi oil dollars to foreign corporations, completely outside the law. In this way, Iraq represented the most extreme expression of the anti-state counter-revolution -- a hollow state, where, as the courts finally established, there was no there, there.

Contractors in Iraq -- with the permission of the US government and sometimes on the orders of the US government -- have been allowed to act with impunity.
Daniel Howden and Leonard Doyle (Independent of London) provide a look at the rise of outsourcing governmental tasks and note, "A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: 'These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.' In Abu Ghraib, all of the translators and up to half of the interrogators were reportedly private contractors."
Rosa Brooks (Los Angeles Times) also addresses the reality of governmental tasks being sold off to the private section, "What's been happening in Iraq -- and in Afghanistan, Columbia, Somalia and the Pentagon and the State Department -- goes far beyond the 'outsourcing of key military and security jobs.' For years, the administration has been quietly auctioning off U.S. foreign policy to the highest corporate bidder -- and it may be too late for us to buy it back. Think I'm exaggerating? Look at Blackwater. Its $750-million contract with the U.S. State Department employees in Iraq is just one of many lucrative U.S. (and foreign) government contracts it has enjoyed (and it's a safe bet that Sunday's episode will be only a minor PR setback for Blackwater). As for Blackwater's most recent slaughter, Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reconstructs the events on Sunday via eye witness testimony: " We have found no Iraqi present at the scene who saw or heard sniper fire. Witnesses say the first victims of the shootings were a couple with their child, the mother and infant meeting horrific deaths, their bodies fused together by heat after their car caught fire. The contractors, according to this account, also shot Iraqi soldiers and police and Blackwater then called in an attack helicopter from its private air force which inflicted further casualties." Apparently unable to speak to Iraqis, Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz (New York Times) rely on a leaked report from the Ministry of the Interior which "has concluded that employees of a private American security firm fired an unprovoked barrage in the shooting last Sunday," "that the dozens of foreign security companies here should be replaced by Iraqi companies, and that a law that has given the companies immunity for years be scrapped" -- and the reporters offer: "The Iraqi version of events may be self-serving in some points." And the US version may be what? Tavernise and Glanz ignore that prospect. Blackwater's apparently ignoring some things as well. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, "In Iraq, the private security firm Blackwater USA is reportedly back on the streets of Baghdad despite an announced ban on its activities. The Iraqi government said it had revoked Blackwater's license this week after its guards killed up to twenty-eight Iraqis in an unprovoked mass shooting. But a Pentagon spokesperson said today Blackwater is guarding diplomatic convoys following talks with the Iraqi government." So, as Ian Thompson (PSL) judged it, "Even the Iraqi puppet government leadership spoke up -- but its words were hot air. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to gain credibility and appear to be independent of his U.S. colonial masters." The events appear to answer Thursday's question ("For the US government, it's a quandry: Do they use this moment to provide al-Maliki with a chance to alter his image or do they continue to let greed rule?"): Greed again won out.

Self-serving? Sabrina Tavernise and James Glanz apply that to the report from Iraq's Interior Ministry and it's doubtful they'd ever use the term for the upcoming US report. Along with the issue of equality, there's also the fact that the term is flat out wrong. The Interior Ministry is not self-serving, it's US-serving.
Dropping back to the September 6th snapshot:

Turning to retired generals,
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported today, "A panel of retired US generals is urging the United States to disband and reorganize the Iraqi police force because of infiltration by sectarian militias. The generals also report Iraq's security forces will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently for at least another twelve to 18 months." Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) explains that the national police force as well as the Iraq Interior Ministry are "riddled with sectarianism and corruption" by the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq headed by James Jones (Marine general) in there 150-plus page report which also finds the Iraqi army at least a year to 18 months away from being able to handle "internal security". Tim Reid (Times of London) reports, "The 20 member-panel also said today that the Iraqi Army was incpable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven'."

The militias of the Interior Ministry are thugs who terrorize. Who trained them? Who introduced the "Salvador option"? The US. Who has refused to disband them? The US. Self-serving? The Interior Ministry wishes it were self-serving. Then it could really go to town slaughtering 'enemies.' It wouldn't have to worry that one of the many torture chambers they are running might result in a US military 'rescue' of their torture victims. If they were independent and self-serving, all of their torture chambers would be signed off on and not just some.

Today on
NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung, the Wall St. Journal's Neil King Jr. and Newsweek's Michael Hirsh about a number of topics. On the topic of Blackwater, Hirsh declared, "Often all that happens is that the employee is spirited out of the country. That happened last Christmas Eve when a Blackwater employee shot and killed a guard to a senior Iraqi official inside the Green Zone which was obviously a little politically toxic. And he left, the company has since refused to disclose his name and he has not been prosecuted."

Neil King, Jr. (Wall Street Journal): The thing that is extraordinary about it is that we had the Petraeus hearings last weekend or last week, and all the discussion "we want Iraq to be a country, we want it to step up, we want it to meet all these benchmarks" etc. And yet we don't really actually treat it as a country to the extent that we've got thousands of our own nationals driving around with machine guns and opening fire on people and then being totally immune from the law and as is the case of this shooting last week -- sorry, last December -- where a person shot a security guard who was the personal security guard of the vice-president of Iraq and the person's spirited out of the country. Nobody ever knows what his name was and he's gone. There'll never be -- I mean if you reverse the scenario and imagine any remote corrolary to that in the United States which is literally unimaginable.

A point the paper of record misses. Self-serving also wasn't applied by the New York Times to any of Gen. David Petraeus' many laughable reports to Congress. Rather strange considering
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London via CounterPunch) was reporting in the midst of the dog & pony show on how Petraues was explaining how he wanted to be President as early as 2004 but thought 2008 would be too soon to run. As Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported earlier this week, safety "is deteriorating in southern Iraq as rival Shiite militia vying for power have stepped up their attacks after moving out of Baghdad to avoid U.S.-led military operations, according to the latest quarterly Pentagon report on Iraq". If it all sounds familiar it's because it's the same story that's been playing out over and over across Iraq. But this was hailed last week as 'progress.' Let's stick with 'progress' for a bit. Remember how the meaningless soccer victories didn't change anything but were hailed with waves of Operation Happy Talk? Strangely, that's not been the case for a title Iraq actually won. The title? Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reported mid-week that "Iraq holds the world record for both the first and second highest amounts taken in the history of bank robberies." Number one! Number one! In fact, the chart accompanies the article reveals that four of the top five Iraq bank robberies have taken place this year for a total of $282 million (US equivalent). And how about the 'progress' in the spreading of cholera? What had been a crisis for nothern Iraq is now reaching into Baghdad with Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reporting that there are now two confirmed cases of cholera in Baghdad. And it's not stopping at Baghdad. Katrina Kratovac (AP) reports that "a baby in Basra" is "the farthest south the outbreak has been detected." "Progress"? Robert Burns (AP) reports that Iraqis control approximately 8 percent of Baghdad -- only 8 percent -- which Burns points out is not a large growth even though Maj Gen Joseph Fil claims it is, "Despite the slow pace of progress towards having Iraqi forces maintain control of Baghdad neighborhoods with minimal U.S. troop presence, Fil said he was hopeful that it would accelerate in coming months." He's hopeful -- that's supposed to have us all glowing.

Well maybe there's 'progress' to be found in oil news? Tuesday
Press TV reported on the bombing outside Beiji of an oil pipeline "causing huge quanties of crude oil to spill into the Tigris River" which has "caused oil to seep into the Tigris River damaging water stations and triggering their temporary closure in Tikrit". And the Tigris flows. Last night AP reported, "City officials urged Baghdad residents Thursday to conserve water and fill up their tanks in case water treatment stations have to be shut down because of an oil spill in the Tigris River." Progress? Just more violence.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Hawija bombing of the home "of the former chief of Hawija police". Reuters reports 1 Romanian soldier dead from a Tallil bombing that left five more injured, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and 1 Iraqi police officer, an Iskandariya mortar attack that claimed 1 life (three more injured)


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and three female corpses in Basra. Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Yusufiya and 1 in Bajwan.

Today the
US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Task Force Lightning died in a non-combat related incident in Kirkuk province Sept. 20." And they announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed in Diyala Province Thursday when an explosion occurred near his vehicle." The deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war since it began in March of 2003 to 3794 (ICCC). That's six announced deaths away from the 3800 mark.

Finally, the
CBS Evening News' Armen Keteyian looks into the missing weapons "the U.S. military could not account for" (190,000 of them) and discovers a large number of the Glock pistols have ended up in the hands of the Iraqi resistance: "According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Garlic potatoes in the Kitchen

"'Die-in' Kicks off Week of Anti-War Protests" (Democracy Now!):
More protests in Washington begin tomorrow, when a week of anti-war activism kicks off with a “die in” on Capitol Hill. The peace coalition ANSWER says more than one-thousand people will lie down to represent the Iraqis and Americans killed since the US invasion. ANSWER is predicting a turnout of more than ten thousand for a march through Washington.

That's later today. Carolyn and Marilyn (sisters) wrote a joint e-mail. Marilyn's increasing her garlic intake and they've found one recipe they really enjoy.

4 baking potatoes
russet potatoes -- cut in wedges
2 cloves of garlic minced
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Cut the potatoes into wedges (skins on or off depending on your taste but Marilyn really loves the skins on -- remember to wash the potatoes before you begin slicing). Place potatoes wedges in a bowl. Add the oil and pepper. Toss the ingredients.
Now if you use a glass bowl that's oven safe, you'll only have one bowl to clean. If that's the case, sprinkle the minced garlic over the potatoes, place in a 425 degree oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Carolyn also had a question about pizza rolls you buy in the freezer section. Her pizza rolls always seem squishy and she remember when their mother (now passed away) would fix them and they'd be warm and crisp.

She wasn't sure about the microwave setting and just tossed that out to see if I had any ideas. You can toss a question out and I probably won't know the answer. But I know the answer to this one and I bet some of you do as well.

Carolyn and Marilyn's mother didn't use a microwave. Pizza rolls are moist from the bag and moist inside. If you cook them in the microwave, they're not going to be the firm, crisp kind Carolyn remembers. (Unless you burn them!) There are instructions on the plastic bags they come in for "conventional oven." You put them on a cookie sheet and follow the cooking instructions. I believe it's usually 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

I suggested that and Carolyn e-mailed that's the answer. She also added that they use the sleeves frozen egg rolls sometimes come with to cook them in the microwave. As with the pizza rolls, they end up with soggy egg rolls so they're sticking to the oven for both the pizza and egg rolls in the future. She also said, in answer to my question, that they have another sister but she doesn't have a "lyn" at the end of her name. She's the baby of the family and is named Leigh. (And no, Carolyn and Marilyn are not twins. Carolyn's two years older than Marilyn.)

Okay, there are some changes in the Dennis Kucinich campaign. This is from Marie Horrigan's "Retired Army Captain Hired to Manage Kucinich Campaign" (Congressional Quarterly):

Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio has hired retired Army Capt. Mike Klein to help turn around a presidential campaign based on a platform of "strength through peace."
It is the first time Klein, a business and communications consultant, has spearheaded any political campaign. Klein said he was brought on board to reorganize Kucinich's campaign, bringing in new staffers, launching a new Web site and working on "branding and the messaging."
"We definitely have a viable campaign, we're just going through the process of proving it to the public," he told
Klein described Kucinich as "an honest broker," which he said was one of the reasons he was attracted to the campaign.
Klein is taking over the reins from David Bright, an activist and organic farmer in Dixmont, Maine. Bright remained in Maine, while Kucinich campaign headquarters are in Cleveland. The New Republic reported in July that Bright was difficult to reach and rarely answered his cell phone because, as his outgoing message explained, cell phone coverage was spotty at his rural locale.

One thing I have heard a great deal over the years is how people wish they could find a politician who tells the truth. I've said it myself. So what I wonder is how they ignore Dennis Kucinich's campaign? He is telling the truth.

This is from "Continued Occupation of Iraq is 'a Crime of International Proportions' and a Smokescreen for the Real Objective: Privatization of Iraq's Oil, Says" [Kucinich] (China posting of a press release from the Kucinich campaign):

President Bush''s announcement that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq beyond his term in office for the "stability and security" of that nation "is a smokescreen to cover the immorality and criminality of the real reason he took us to war and the reason he refuses to end it: oil."
"It is impossible to deny that fact any longer," charged Ohio Congressman and Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, campaigning in Hawaii today. "This Administration has been relentless in trying to force the Iraqi government to enact a so-called hydrocarbon law that will, in fact, enable multi-national oil and energy corporations to gain control of 200 billion to 300 billion barrels of Iraq's oil with a market value today of around $20 trillion," Kucinich said. "And to facilitate and protect that scheme, he is willing to continue the occupation, keep our brave men and women in the line of fire, and risk an escalation of violence and regional instability."

Now I know it's not Obama declaring yet again how he was against the illegal war before it started and then needed to get into the Senate so he started toning down the remarks and then he started stating that the US couldn't withdraw from Iraq and then he got elected to the Senate and voted for every funding measure that came before him until this summer. I know that, but Obama seems to forget everything except "I was against the illegal war before it began." So this week, he offers up another speech about how the war can't be won and there's no military solution and his solution is not to move for all troops out of Iraq. But it pleases the press and they treat it as if he said something brave. Brave is what Dennis Kucinich says.

And did anyone hear that nonsense in the Univision debate? Didn't it seem like everyone on stage was ready to lynch Hugo Chavez except for Mike Gravel and Dennis?

That should worry everyone. The Iraq War, they want you to believe, they're against but it sure sounded like they were willing to invade Venezuela in a heart beat. In fact, if you'd armed John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd, they probably would've boarded a chopper and headed straight to Latin America.

And on top of everything else (including going to Hawaii to campaign this week -- an important thing to do, Joan and other community members living in Hawaii are pretty sick of never seeing Democratic candidates during presidential elections), he was there for students this week. This is from Jose Pagliery and John Kimbert's "Kucinich hosts students' debate" (Miami Herald):

When little-known Democratic and Republican students from Miami's two largest universities met for a debate on the University of Miami's Coral Gables campus Monday, the world watched.
Or at least, it could have, according to the Open Student Television Network, which showcased the event on its website, The company, whose programming is entirely produced by students, hopes to launch a new age of interactive media.
WFOR-CBS 4 anchor Eliott Rodriguez, who moderated the event, noted that technological advances have reshaped communication.
In the past, ''we did not have any of the amenities you have today,'' Rodriguez said.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, also a presidential candidate, hosted the hour-long debate on current political issues. Filmed at the UM's Studio C, it was simultaneously broadcast in 46 countries.
''This is better than some exchanges I see in Congress,'' Kucinich said after the cameras stopped rolling.

So he's shaking his campaign, he's speaking the truth, he's helping out students and he's going to a state most Democratic presidential candidates avoid (leaving Hawain Democrats very angry and since 2004 saw the Bush-Cheney campaign land in Hawaii, Dems need to stop taking Hawaii for granted). What more do people want?

Whatever it is, you can probably find something about it at his campaign site. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

September 14, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, a Blair crony sobs in public, the reviews are in for Ugly Bully and -- no surprise -- it isn't pretty, the "die-in" is tomorrow, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Gerry Condon (Courage to Resist) reports on the status of the many women and men who have elected to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada noting, "These abesentee GI's are upholding the Nuremberg Principles, which were adopted as U.S. law after World War II. By refusing to fight in illegal wars or to commit war crimes, they are exercising their rights and responsibilites as soldiers. So far, the war resisters' refugee claims have been rejected by the political appointees on Canada's refugee boards, who say that war resisters had legal avenues in the U.S. they could have pursued. They say that prosecution for being AWOL does not amount to 'persecution.' They are reluctant to call the U.S. war 'illegal'." Condon proposes that you let Stephen Harper and Diane Finley hear from you. Harper is prime minister (clicking on his name provides his e-mail, his fax is 613-941-6900) and Finley is the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration (work phone number between eight in the morning until seven in the evening is 613-954-1064). Also at Courage to Resist, Spc. Justin Cliburn announces he will not be fighting in the illegal war, "I am done with the military. I don't know how exactly I will leave the service just yet, but I know that I will. I entered the army in an honorable fashion and I will leave it that way, but leave it I will. I leave Friday for Washington DC to take part in the September 15th protests in DC with tens of thousands of other concerned Americans, including representatives of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families, and the ANSWER Coalition. I am taking more and more responsibility within IVAW to end this war, take care of our veterans, and provide reparations for the Iraqi people and it feels right." Courage to Resist also offers the story of Derek Hess who entered the Army via a delayed entry program in 2005 and discovered in basic training that "we weren't training for any set mission in Iraq, just for survival." As he began to see the Iraq War as illegal and as a way to benefit Big Business, he applied for CO status in January of this year. No surprise, the US military do what they generally do: denied his application. With Hess informing the higher ups "that I would kill myself if I was sent to Iraq -- so there would be no way I could [be] used as a weapon of mass destruction for the US government," the military elected to give him a medical discharge ("honorable in character").

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla 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, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, 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, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one 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.

As Ugly Bully prepared to air last night in prime time,
Iraq Veterans Against the War were ready to respond. Both Geoff Millard and Adam Kokesh spoke out, Millard on CNN's Situation Room and Kokesh on Larry King Live (videos here at IVAW, CNN transcript for Millard's appearence here, CNN transcript for Kokesh's appearnce here). Millard spoke of what he would like to hear in Bully Boy's speech, "Well, I, of course, would like to hear him say that all U.S. forces, not just merely the ones that are being forced to leave because they don't have replacements at the end of the so-called surge, to be coming home. But that's not going to happen. As his political appointee, General Petraeus said when in front of the Congress, that he couldn't even say that this war was making us safer. It's not making us safer. It's hurting the military. It's hurting us here at home. It's not protecting America. . . . let's face it, he [Petraeus] was put into the position taht he's in as a political appointee of the Bush administration. He was put there as a political appointee to continue the occupation of Iraq. And that's really what we're talking about here too, is an occupation. Not a war like we saw in World War II . . . It's an occupation. Saddam has been out of power now for quite some time, and we're occupying a foreign country." Adam Kokesh spoke after the speech and noted, "Well he said a lot of things, but first let me just commend Bush for his service in the Air Guard and choosing to go AWOL instead of being part of the war crimes and setting an example for the growing number of soldiers who have the courage to resist the way that he did out of cowardice." In response to a question from Larry King, Kokesh replied, "Success would be giving the Iraqi people the right to self-determination and the resources that they need to create the rule of law and stability in their country. And the best thing we can do to do that is pay repatriations and remove the American troop presence that is impeding that progress. . . I feel I have a moral obligation with my voice as a veteran. We have a certain power in speaking out and a relevancy in this most pressing debate before America. And with that power comes a responsibility. And I don't think I could live with myself if I wasn't doing everything I could to bring our brothers and sisters home alive, safe as soon as possible."

So those were the realities spoken last night, now let's head to Crazy Town where a dazed and lethargic Bully Boy attempted to sell "Return On Success" as this decade's "Peace With Honor" (Tricky Dick's January 23, 1973 speech). Watching, Americans grasped Why The Caged Bird Wears An Ear Piece. But sadly, he didn't wear it last night electing instead to prove he was the best little reader in first grade. Bit . . . by . . . bit . . Peterah . . . Petraues! He knew that word and resumed reading bit . . . by . . . bit. No, he isn't the "Great Communicator." No, his reading level does not appear to be higher than elementary school. Maybe all those books the White House forever insists he is "reading" are Books on Tape? If you could follow along without falling asleep, this morning you might have
grasped what Robert Parry (Consortium News) did: "Let it be noted that the morning after George W. Bush announced an open-ended -- possibly permanent -- military occupation of Iraq the premier U.S. newspapers ran headlines about the President ordering 'troop cuts,' itself a troubling reminder of how the American people got into this mess. The New York Times' lead headline read: 'Bush Says Success Allows Gradual Troops Cuts.' The Washington Post went with: 'Bush Tells Nation He Will Begin to Roll Back "Surge".' . . . So, Americans bustling past newstands on their way to work would get the superficial impression that Bush was finally moving toward the Iraq exit door when he really was doing all he could to paint the country, and his presidential successor, into a corner." (Parry's brand new book Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush explores the media and Bully Boy and, though it should be filed under "incest" due to the nature of the relationship between the press and the Bully Boy, you can find it in the non-fiction section at bookstores and libraries and you can also order it online.) Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) added it up and found 12 references to al Qaeda and 13 to "success" but zero on "victory" and provided historical context as well, "He introduced a weak sister to 'peace with honor' that Nixon and Kissinger invoked in Vietnam. "The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is "return on success",' he said. And like Nixon and Kissinger, Bush started talking about enemy body counts. U.S. and Iraq forces, he said, 'have captured or killed an average of more than 1,500 enemy fighters per month since January.' Somehow the resort to body counts is not reassuring. Bush let on that the American military presence in Iraq will be long term. Permanent military bases, anyone?" Rothschild also observes that, though the administration maintained an illegal war with Iraq had nothing to do with oil, Bully Boy was talking about Iraqi oil last night as well. (Rothschild's just published book is You Have No Rights: Stories of America In An Age of Repression.) Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) analyzes the performance and notes a number of things but we'll zoom in here on this, "And in January, he asked Americans for 'more patience, sacrifice and resolve.' In Thursday's speech, he did the same."

Far from the lies of the Bully Buy is the distant isle of reality. Gold Star Families Speak Out Dante Zappala wasn't on TV last night. At Military Families Speak Out,
he shares what he would have discussed had he been on MSNBC's Hardball earlier this week to share his opinion of the 'progress' report: "I wanted to talk about the humanity of this war. My brother died in Iraq. He died looking for WMD. He died because this country capitulated to fear, because the people in power were hell bent on an ideology, because the principles of reason were tossed for negligent policy. The General says give us time. Where others see 12 months, or 18 months, I see bodies. I see 900, 1300 dead troops. I see tens of thousands injured, wives who will see their husbands again -- someday -- but never know them again. A million firsts will pass without wtiness. A baby's first steps, a first word, a first day of school. The consequences extend beyond this generation. The consequences are right there, in my nephew's eyes, who has the unmistakable gaze of his father."

Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) observed that talk of the 18 'benchmarks' were
"[l]argely gone" from last night's speech. Why was that? Because in the one report the White House fully controlled, even they could only disguise reality so far.
Jennifer Loven (AP) reports the White House report on 'benchmarks' was delivered to Congress today and found "that Iraqi leaders gained little new ground on key military and political goals, a discouraging assessment a day after President Bush said progress justifies keeping a large U.S. military presence there. The report underscored the difficulty of Bush's argument that continued American sacrifice was creating space for Iraqi leaders to make gains on tamping down the sectarian fighting that leaves Iraq persistently fractured and violent." BBC reveals that the report "says Iraq has performed satisfactory on nine out of 18 benchmarks -- one more than in a previous assessment in July. Among the failures, it cites militia control over security forces and not enacting laws on sharing oil revenues."

In other news out of England,
John Kampfner (New Stateman) profiles Tony Blair's ambassador to the United States, David Manning, who wants everyone to know, "You have to understand Blair the person before you get into this. A lot of what he was doing with Bush, he was doing with Clinton. Blair was very clear about the doctrine of liberal interventionism. This was not something . . . invented to justify close relations with George Bush." No, it wasn't, Blair was endorsing Bully Policies long before the Bully Boy was installed into the US White House. Manning whines that the US State Department was supposed to be in charge of reconstruction but it ended up being the Defense Department and by the time the looting in Baghdad began, "That was the moment I remember having real feelings of disquiet. Then we got very concerned when we heard the army was being disbanded and when we heard that de-Ba'athification was going ahead on the scale it was." Manning, like so many War Hawks, wants everyone to believe the illegal war was 'right' and that what resulted after the invasion began were just screw ups. A defense he might try at a War Crimes Tribunal but it probably won't go over very well there either. The destruction and tag sale on Iraq was part and parcel of the illegal war.e thought. As Naomi Klein notes in her forthcoming book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism:

If "nation creating" was going to happen in Iraq, what exactly was supposed to become of the nation that was already there? The unspoken assumption from the beginning was that much of it would have to disappear, to clear the ground for the grand experiment -- and idea that contained, at its core, the certainty of extraordinary colonialist violence.
[. . .]
The bombing badly injured Iraq, but it was the looting, unchecked by occupying troops, that did the most to erase the heart of the country that was.
[. . .]
Thanks mostly to the efforts of clerics who organized salvage missions in the midst of the looting, a portion of the artifacts has been recovered. But many Iraqis were, and still are, convinced that the memory lobotomy was intentional -- part of Washington's plans to excise the strong, rooted nation that was and replace it with their own model. "Baghdad is the mother of Arab culture," seventy-year-old Ahmed Abdullah told the Washington Post, "and they want to wipe out our culture."
As the war planners were quick to point out, the looting was done by Iraqis, not foreign troops. And it's true that Rumsfeld did not plan for Iraq to be sacked -- but he did not take measure to prevent it from happening either, or to stop it once it had begun. These were the failures that cannot be dismissed as mere oversights.
[. . .]
Some insight into why there was so little official interest in stopping the looting has since been provided by two men who played pivotal roles in the occupation -- Peter McPherson, the senior economic adviser to Paul Bremer, and John Agresto, director of higher education reconstruction for the occupation. McPherson said that when he saw Iraqis taking state property -- cars, buses, ministry equipment -- it didn't bother him. His job, as Iraq's top economic shock therapist, was to radically downsize the state and privatize its assets, which meant that the looters were really just giving him a jump-start. "I thought the privatization that occurs sort of naturally when somebody took over their state vehicle, or began to drive a truck that the state used to own, was just fine," he said. A veteran bureaucrat of the Reagan administration and a firm believer in Chicago School ecnomics, McPherson termed the pillage a form of public sector "shrinkage."
His colleague John Agresto also saw a silver lining as he watched the looting of Baghdad on TV. He envisioned his job -- "a never to be repeated adventure" -- as the remaking of Iraq's system of higher education from scratch. In that context, the stripping of the universities and the education ministry was, he explained, "the opportunity for a clean start," a chance to give Iraq's schools "the best modern equipment." If the mission was "nation creating," as so many clearly believed it to be, then everything that remained of the old country was only going to get in the way. Agresto was the former president of St. John's College in New Mexico, which specializes in a Great Books curriculum. He explained that although he knew nothing of Iraq, he had refrained from reading books about the country before making the trip so that he would arrive "with as open a mind as I could have." Like Iraq's colleges, Agresto would be a blank slate.

The Shock Doctrine is released in the United States this coming Tuesday (September 18th). The book will be launched this Monday (September 17th) in NYC at an event with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street. Event is free and open to the public and Klein and (I assume) Goodman will be signing their books (Goodman's latest bestseller is Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back written with her brother David Goodman and now out in softcover).

Turning to Iraq,
Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) judges yesterday's assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha as "a serious blow to President Bush and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who have both portrayed the US success in Anbar, once the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US forces, as a sign that victory was attainable across Iraq." Kim Sengupta (Independent of London) reports that Al Anbar Province is "under a state of emergency" -- that would be the 'model province' according to the White House -- and that "messages were being posted on international jihadist websites exulting at the end of 'the traitor and aposate'." But don't worry, hate is thriving from all sides. CBS and AP report that the sheik was buried today and those gathered "vowed revenge". Bully Boy hears that, grins and sighs, "Progress."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Beiji car bombing that claimed 10 lives ("including 4 policemen") and left fifteen wounded. CBS and AP report that a US helicopter staged an assault on a mosque yesterday in Karmah and the press release brags of three 'fresh kills' that they're pretty sure were 'insurgents'.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Col. Hussein Alwan ("officer of the protection force in Salaheddin province health dept") was shot dead in Kirkuk today and that Hadla Ali Hassan is the name of the mother who was shot dead yesterday in Kirkuk (her daughter was injured). Reuters notes that 3 people were shot dead today in Suwayra and that, in Hilla, an attack on the home "of a senior army officer" resulted in 1 guard being shot dead and another injured.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports six corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpses of a judge and police officer were discovered in Balad.

Today the
US military announced: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed in Diyala Province Friday, when an explosion occured near their vehicle."

Dave Lindorff (This Can't Be Happening!) notes the "accident" on Monday that claimed seven lives including two who were among seven active duty service members who wrote the New York Times op-ed noting the illegal war was lost and he notes, "The mother of one of the dead soldiers is demanding a full and open investigation into their bizarre deaths. Congress must join in that demand." As if to head off such a demand, the US military releases their statement today (my, what a quick investigation that was!) which is that the vehicle had an accident with no other car or person, just on it's way back to base and drove off a highway overpass, most natural thing in the world, apparently. They also state that along with the seven US service members who died, two Iraqi prisoners died as well. No word as to their alleged crimes.

Meanwhile, United for Peace & Justice picked a bad time to endorse an undercount. In their 'report' written by Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver, the numbers of Iraqis who have lost their lives in the illegal war range as low as (insert Iraqi Body Count figure) and as high as (insert the lower of two figures in the Lancet study last year -- a study that noted it was tracking deaths through July 2006 -- over a year ago) "over 600,000 plus." Well fate, like attempting to disappear dead Iraqis, can be ugly and today it slaps the authors and United for Peace & Justice (if not for correct body counts) in the face as
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Britain's ORB "has conducted several surveys in Iraq, followed statements this week from the U.S. military defending itself against accusations it was trying to play down Iraqi deaths to make its strategy appear successful. The military has said civilian deaths from sectarian violence have fallen more than 55% since President Bush sent an additional 28,500 troops to Iraq this year, but it does not provide specific numbers. According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million. [. . .] Based on Iraq's estimated number of households -- 4,050,597 -- it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains that, "The British agency Opinion Research Business surveyed more than fourteen hundred Iraqi adults." Alan Maass (US Socialist Worker) isn't one to play dumb or useless and his review of the realities in Iraq gets straight to the point noting in large, bold type, "More than 1 million Iraqis killed." He refutes the claims of progress with specific data throughout his report but that's all we have time to note.

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 15th (see
ANSWER for more information) mass protests will be taking place in DC and IVAW will lead a "die-in". Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains, "The peace coalition ANSWER says more than one-thousand people will lie down to represent the Iraqis and Americans killed since the US invasion. ANSWER is predicting a turnout of more than ten thousand for a march through Washington." This will be part of a several days of action lasting from the 15th through the 18th. September 17th IVAW will kick off Truth in Recruiting. CODEPINK will be conducting a Peoples March Inside Congress (along with other groups and individuals) on September 17th. United for Peace & Justice (along with others) will begin Iraq Moratorium on September 21st and follow it every third Friday of the month as people across the country are encouraged to wear and distribute black ribbons and armbands, purchase no gas on those Fridays, conduct vigils, pickets, teach-ins and rallies, etc.

Mark Rudd and Doug Viehmeyer (Common Dreams) explain the basics of a moratorium (and it's history):

The original Vietnam Moratorium, October 15, 1969, was a decentralized anti-war demonstration in which literally millions showed their opposition to the war around the world in a vast variety of ways. There were many school walkouts and closures; local demonstrations involving thousands around the country (a quarter of a million in D.C.; 100,000 in Boston); workplace sickouts; vigils, sit-ins at draft boards and induction centers. President Nixon pretended not to notice, but there's good evidence that the outpouring of opposition to the war prevented the war planners from using nukes against the Vietnamese (see Tom Wells, The War Within). A month later, the second moratorium day brought hundreds of thousands to Washington, complete with an angry siege of the Justice Dept. that reminded Attorney General John Mitchell, watching from inside, of the storming of the Czar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, back in 1917. Nixon himself, prior to the action, commented during a press conference: Google "Vietnam Moratorium" to check out what went on.
Why now? The anti-war movement, for a variety of reasons, has hit a plateau since the war began in 2003, despite the majority sentiment in the country against the war. No strategies have emerged to grow the movement. The thinking behind the Iraq Moratorium is that the moment is right for nationally coordinated local anti-war actions which will allow people to express their anti-war sentiments wherever they are and in a variety of ways. At the same time the Moratorium gives local groups a focus. For example, a campus anti-war organization can decide to do whatever's appropriate for their school--a teach-in, a walk-out, a vigil, a film showing, a sit-in at a recruitment center. It's all good!
The growth of the anti-war movement has to be seen as our current goal, not just a means. Every action, every demonstration should be judged by one single criterion: does it bring more people? We think that the biggest stumbling block up to now has been the too widespread belief that neither individual nor collective actions have no effect. The moratorium, allowing for a variety of tactics with one single focus, coordinated nationally and possibly internationally, has a chance of bringing antiwar expression into mainstream society. Sept. 21 will be the first moratorium day, followed by succeeding moratoriums (moratoria?) each third Friday of every month. If enough people and groups catch on, the movement grows.

That article is written by two generations of
SDS, Rudd from the original and Viehmeyer from today. SDS is growing on campuses across the country and an organization to watch. (In the good way, but you can be sure the FBI is watching it as well.)

Finally, on PBS'
NOW with David Brancaccio: this week (Friday's on most PBS stations), the program expands to an hour for a special look at the Third Infantry's First Brigade which is on it's third deployment to Iraq. A preview is posted at YouTube. The earlier broadcast of interviewing the Third Infantry's First Brigade can be found here. And NOW is offering an online exclusive of interviews with members of the Third Infantry and their spouses.

patrick cockburn

now with david branccaciopbs