Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why does the military continue to lie to parents?

This I leave as my last message to those who I leave behind. I know you think Im a coward for this but in the face of existing as I am now I have no other choice. As the 1st Sgt said all I have to look forward to is a butt-buddy in jail, not much of a future.
I dont want to know what you people think I have going for me to think I should want to live, trust me, I have nothing. I have done nothing but bring dishonor to this unit, myself, but most importantly my family. I wanted one last chance to say goodbye to them but that was taken away like everything else.
Id like also to say goodbye to (blacked out) and (blacked out) the two people that have held me together until now. Split my things up amoung the platoon, after all that why people tolerated me, it's funny how getting your things taken away brings out the truth in people.
Maybe finaly I can get rid of these demons, maybe finaly I can get some peace.

That is the suicide note Jason Scheuerman left before killing himself in Iraq. NPR's Day by Day reported on Scheuerman today and spoke with his father who explained how the military failed his son, how a 'chaplain' saw his son as 'possessed by demons,' and how his son was given no chance at any real help. I guess I am missing something and maybe it is because I am Jewish but how is a 'chaplain' qualified to address PTSD?

As with too many parents, Jason Scheuerman's parents were lied to about their son's death and it took determination and dedication to just obtain the basics.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Thom Shanker flies his right-wing flag (and betrays his allegedly 'objective' profession), sexism is the last refuge to which the barely still Middle Aged Man clings, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In Canada the focus is on getting the Canadian Parliament to act when the judicial branch has thus far failed. November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of war resisters
Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Parliament is the solution.Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. Both War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist are calling for actions from January 24-26.
War Resisters Support Campaign has more on the action in Canada:

The War Resisters Support Campaign has called a pan-Canadian mobilization on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 to ensure :
1) that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters currently in Canada cease immediately; and 2) that a provision be enacted by Parliament ensuring that U.S. war resisters refusing to fight in Iraq have a means to gain status in Canada.
For listings of local actions, see our
Events page. If you are able to organize a rally in your community, contact the Campaign -- we will list events as details come in.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, 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, Blake LeMoine, 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, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

Don't you hate it when the right-wing puts out the false talking point that the US press and the US military are at odds? Does it go down any easier for you when it comes from the mainstream? Monday,
Thom Shanker (New York Times) slimed journalists (his peers -- at least before he wrote the piece) with one lie after another such as this one: "At the start of the Iraq war, decades of open hostilities between the military and news media dating from Vietnam were forgotten". Decades, Shanker says in his best Ann Coulter. Decades? When has the press and the military not been in bed? When April Oliver was kicked off CNN (she would later be vindicated in a court of law) where did the pressure come from? The military. Now a truly "hostile" media wouldn't have given a damn. They would have noted Oliver's reporting stood up and that would be the end of that, no matter how many times Collie Powell came calling. But that's not what happened because -- and there are many more examples -- when the US military brass wants something, the US mainstream press puts on the red light and gets the money up front. Shanks the Clown may not bring in a lot of money, but he works the corner come rain or shine. Shanks tells readers that the US military is pleased as punch these days with the coverage. And why wouldn't they be? Flashing back to November when Project for Excellence in Journalism's report (PDF format here, our summary here) survey was released -- a survey of 111 US journalists (mainstream media) who have covered Iraq and found that 62 percent of respondents stated their "editors back home" had lost interest in reports of day-to-day violence. And the 'coverage' reflects that message sent down the chain. Which may be why Shank's reach-around-pals in the brass are so tickled these days. (Or maybe Shanks just has a light touch.) Shanks fails his now-former peers by refusing to ever note the point of journalism. Or maybe he just never learned it? Reporters are not public relations flacks. They are supposed to root around and unearth the truth. Reporters are not supposed to make the powerful comfortable. Shanks (maybe it's that light touch) seems bound and determined to make them comfortable and, in doing so, feeds right-wing lies from the news pages of the New York Times. He really worked for those five dollars.

Staying with the Times,
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Husaini notice that the US collabortors ("Awakening" Council) are being targeted now. Now? Now they're being targeted? As noted in the June 25th snapshot, Baghdad's al-Mansour Melia was bombed and the targets were? The Sunni tribal leaders who were "Awakening" and collaborating. CNN reports that 8 of the 'Awakening' Council were kidnapped in Baghdad in an attack today that also led to 14 other people being killed: "The Shiite Awakening Council members were kidnapped Monday night in the northeastern Shiite neighborhood of Shaab, one of Baghdad's most dangerous areas and a center for outlawed Shiite Muslim fighters, the official said. Gunmen in at least three vehicles surrounded a checkpoint controlled by the Shiite Awakening Council in Shaab and seized their victims, said the official."

In other reality based news today,
Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes the p.r. push on the Iraqi army and reminds that "relying on Iraqi security forces has proved risky. In February, when Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. handed off command of U.S. troops in Iraq to Gen. David H. Petraeus, he predicted that Iraqi forces would be in charge of security nationwide by fall." Didn't happen, now did it? But they presumably run the checkpoints where a kidnapping took place today.

Turning to some of the reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the targeting of officials goes on in Baghdad where an bombing killed Dr. Falah Mansour Hussein ("head of Yarmouk council"), while a bomber in a vest killed his or herself and 1 police officer (with three more people wounded), a Medain district mortar attack wounded two people and a Diyala Province bombing clained the life of 1 woman. Reuters notes a Tikrit bombing that left three police officers injured and a Shura roadside bombing that claimed 1 life.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the targeting of officials goes on in Baghdad where Mohammad Aziz Al-Gatia was gunned down ("an officer of the minitary of interior") while "the deputy of Masnour taxes department" was also gunned down. Reuters notes an attorney was shot dead by police officers in Kut -- apparently by mistake.


In addition to
CNN's report on the 8 members of the alleged 'Awakening' Council being kidnapped in Baghdad today, Reuters notes, "A police officer and his driver were kidnapped in their car at a checkpoint while travelling from Baghdad to Baquba in Diyala province, police said."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpses were discovered in Mosul.

Turning to US politics. In his latest column,
Robert Parry (Consortium News) makes it clear where he stands on the Clintons: "The Clintons rarely stood up for decent individuals who suffered for doing the right thing in Washington, usually those people got sold out as the Clintons sought out unprincipled characters on the other side who could be put to short-term use." Really? Seems at odds with key points of Parry's Secrecy & Privilege, doesn't it? If you've read it, you're aware of Spencer Oliver's complaint wasn't that the Clinton's "sought out unprincipled characters," it was that they "didn't even staff key offices with loyalists" and Parry quotes Oliver here, "They left a lot of people in place in the government who were hardcore Republican operatives. Their loyalties were not to Clinton at all. . . . The whole first three years of the Clinton administration, everything they did wrong was leaked, every, every peccadillo, every mistake, whether it was the White House Travel Office, Hillary's (health care) task force, whatever it was. They never really took control of the government." I believe that's page 266 (from memory, so anyone needing a citation check it out first). Having written repeatedly of Bill Clinton (and somewhat of Hillary) for years, Parry's only chosen to recently come out as a Clinton-hater. "The Clintons rarely stood up for decent individuals who suffered for doing the right thing in Washington, usually those people got sold out as the Clintons sought out unprincipled characters on the other side who could be put to short-term use."

Geez, how long has been holding that in? Was he in danger of exploding? You have to love that stylistic touch, "decent individuals" -- implying they would have stood up for the indecent? For those trying to figure out when Parry became a Clinton hater it appears to have been when a woman decided to run for president.

Bill and Hillary are not as evil as some have made them out to be nor was the Clinton era as wonderful as some on the Democratic side (I wouldn't call it the left) have repeatedly maintained year after year this decade. Some of their problems were their own. Some of their problems were the result of the right-wing noise machine. It's not that Hillary is a saint that's the problem with some of these revisionary pieces showing up lately, it's that the things they're hammering her to the cross for are the same things evident in Barack Obama.
Parry leaves the world of reporting with the column and that may be most noticeable with this sentence about Bambi, "Indeed, he may be the only Democrat in the race who can transcend the expected dirty politics of the Right and achieve a victory that can trasnform American politics for the better." Before we go into that, the tired online, latter-day Dylan rushes that same nonsense out -- surprising considering all the threatening e-mails his putrid friend has bothered me with for over a year now as he maintained that Hillary Clinton would have the nomination despite people like me.

People like me? This community has called her out for Iraq. That is our focus here. But unlike the groupies, we've called Bambi out too. As
Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) has noted of the two candidates, they are siamese twins. Hillary's crime for some is being a triangulator. What does that mean? She 'reaches across the aisle,' the same thing Bambi does. Bambi backed Joe Lieberman as an independent candidate against Ned Lamont. Backed him publicly with words and backed him with money from his slush fund a.k.a. political pac. Bambi takes pride in decrying "Tom Hayden Democrats" and rushes to the right as if he's in search of a veneral disease.

Parry, like too many of the Middle Aged Men providing cover for Bambi, likes to cite the youth. Bambi inspires the youth. Not all. Just the stupid. Just the ones dumb enough to believe the hype they've been fed. As
Russell Mokhiber (writing at CounterPunch) points out, "While idealistic young people are swooning over Obama's message of hope, faith and change -- no one inside the beltway has any doubts about the corporate connections. The Hill reported earlier this year that three of Obama's top fundraisers were registered as lobbyists in 2006." Last week, Robert Parry appeared on Democracy Now! and Willie Safire never did such a hit job (he tried, he really tried, but Parry has intelligence and Willie doesn't). Parry made many claims:

*"One of the concerns, for instance, about Senator Hillary Clinton has been her ties to the Washington establishment, whether she is too much of a calculating politician."

This is a talking point for the Bambi campaign and, intentionally or not, Parry showed up to advance it. It was carried over to the Iowa night photos of the two speaking onstage. As
Ava and I pointed out (though Parry plays dumb):

If you're one of the (lucky) few who missed the photos 'commentary' that was everywhere Friday morning, Hillary was pictured with Bill, Mad Maddie Albright and Wesley Clark among others. Barack Obama offered a White Bennington ad (though no one commented on the Whiteness of it all). Dr. Kathy saw symbolism in the photos, saw portents, saw . . . a load of crap. Here's the reality Dr. Kathy and others wouldn't tell you, Hillary's photo was your basic speech photo with the candidate surrounded by their team. Bambi's people, Technicolor by Deluxe wizards that they are, saw a chance to use the speech to send a false message. Now the reality is that Bambi's backed by Sammy Power,
Sarah Sewer, Anthony Lake, Dennis Ross and Zbigniew Brzezinski among others. So a lot of garbage about how the photos say this or that ("Change!" "Break with tradition!" on Bambi's part) needs to note the reality of what's not said in the photos.

Parry was working all the Bambi talking points (intentionally or not) and went on to declare, "And one of the surprising issues that emerged early in the debates was her support of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which was a resolution to declare the Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. And she was seen as sort of playing to, again, this sense that she would be part of that Washington establishment of how these kinds of issues are approached. She seems to be playing into the hands, again, of the neoconservatives."

He went on to call Hillary out for statements Bill had made -- even Amy Goodman felt the need to note that ("Now, of course, this is not a comment about what his wife, the New York senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, would do if she were president.") But his talking points were pure Bambi campaign: "It again brings back issues of judgment by Senator Clinton, Senator Dodd and Senator Biden, who supported the Iraq operation, and again, in this case, Senator Obama, who opposed the Iraq war, although not inside the Senate at the time, is able to point out that he did not make those kinds of judgments."

No, Bambi wasn't in the Senate. In 2002, he called the illegal war "dumb." And after? He gets a lot of mileage from that one lame speech (a legal expert calls the Iraq War "illegal," not "dumb") but what happened after?
Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) points out that when Bully Boy was riding high in the polls with the May 2003 "Mission Accomplished" speech, Obama's Senate campaign website disappeared the speech: "After calls to Obama's campaign office yielded no satisfactory answers, we published an article in the June 5, 2003 issue of Black Commentator effectively calling Barack Obama out. We drew attention to the disappearance of any indication that the U.S. Senate candidate Obama opposed the Iraq war at all from his web site and public statements. We noted with consternation that the Democratic Leadership Council, the right wing Trojan Horse inside the Democratic Party, had apparently vetted and approved Obama, naming him as one of its '100 to Watch' that season. This is what real journalists are suppoed to do -- fact check candidates, investigate the facts, tell the truth to audiences and hold the little clay feet of politicians and corporations to the fire." Dixon is correct, that is what real journalists are supposed to do -- but Bambi mania has revealed the US has damn few real journalists.

Bambi himself would tell the New York Times in 2004 and The New Yorker in 2006 that, if he had been in the Senate in 2002, he didn't know how he would have voted on the Iraq resolution. But what does it matter, his groupies know how he would have voted. Based on his Senate record? Oh, that is funny. While Parry clobbered Hillary for voting on the Iran resolution, he failed to note that Bambi, then in the Senate, chose to skip that vote. While Parry trashes Hillary as someone who sells out and Bambi's "True Blue" ("Baby, Parry loves you"), Hillary Clinton voted against the Senate resolution to condemn MoveOn.org for the Betray Us ad. Bambi? Bambi skipped that vote too. On votes that mattered, in fact, Bambi either skipped out or he voted in an embarrassing manner. Such as his repeated votes to fund the illegal war. Real journalists would know Bambi's record. Real journalists would share Bambi's record. There aren't a lot of real journalists left. We do see a huge number of Bambi groupies. And they will lie freely. (One wonders if the "blotted" Colin Powell endorsing Bambi will lead to a Parry column noting -- yet again -- the crimes of Powell or whether that too can be spun feel-good?)

I don't care whether someone votes for Obama, Clinton, John Edwards, Green Party candidates or whomever. People are responsible for their own votes (or for not voting). What I do care is about the truth and it's been really interesting to find out how few do care about the truth.

Parry waits until the second paragraph of his column to get to the 'tears' -- I guess that's 'progressive' of him. Hillary Clinton was asked a question and, during the response, her eyes misted over. She did not tear up -- if she had, a tear would have ran. You can't start to cry and then stop the tears. You can end the crying immediately and be left with a tear or two but if you are 'tearing up,' you have a tear and it will fall. That's basic.
Kat addressed the nonsense of the media yesterday (and we'll get back to a point Kat made in a minute). Katha Pollitt (And Another Thing, The Nation) continues her hot and sensible streak of late, observing, "John Edwards just lost my vote. How dare he take cheap shots at Hillary Clinton for letting her eyes mist over (not 'crying' as was widely reported) at a meeting with voters in Portsmouth NH earlier today? This is a man who has used his most private tragedies--his wife's cancer, his son's fatal accident -- in his campaign in a way that had a woman done the same she would surely be accused of 'oprahfying' the lofty realm of politics. This is also the man who promoted himself early on as the real women's candidate, and who has repeatedly used his likeable wife to humanize his rather slick and one-dimensional persona. Today he deployed against Hillary the oldest, dumbest canard about women: they're too emotional to hold power." Katha misses something (or, maybe like the rest of us, she's had it with the sexim repeatedly on display and can only tackle so much). Yesterday, a man (you knew it was a man, right) showed up at one of Hillary's speeches holding a sign that read a 'slogan' he also 'helpfully' chanted, "Iron this shirt!" Kat (rightly) wondered which Little Boys of the Left would call that out? Answer? Not Parry. He can note the 'tear,' he just can't note the sexism -- maybe noting them would be exposing all the sexism involved. Air Berman (at The Nation, no link, you'll see why in a minute) does note it . . . in paragraph five of a six paragraph post. But credit to Berman for noting it, it puts him far ahead of the other Little Boys of the Left. Ruith Conniff (The Progressive) also shows some real strength today declaring, "Let's call the focus on Hillary's brief teary-eyed moment what it is: pure sexism."
(Caution Little Boys of the Left, Conniff also notes, "But on policy matters and fundraising, Barack and Hillary are actually not that far apart." Just warning you, before your viagra-ehanced boners shrink, we all know how you need those fantasies, trained as you were by the Playboy centerfolds.) So Ari Berman buries an ugly attack on Hillary in paragraph five and who else bothers to note it? Hey fellows, what's going on? What smear would the sign have had to offer on Obama to get you pounding furiously away at the keyboards?

Gloria Steinem (writing in the New York Times) sums up what's going on:

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects "only" the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more "masculine" for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren't too many of them); and because there is still no "right" way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

Here's why it matters in terms of Iraq: the 'boys' are giving Bambi a pass while beating Hillary over the head with Iraq. Bambi's not a damn bit different on Iraq. (He may be worse considering that he's got Sewer, et al backing him up.) And voters have a right to know that. Citizens have a right to know that. And journalists have an obligation to report that. Again, not a lot of journalism on display from the Little Boys of the Left. Sexism? It's overflowing. Bully Boy got a pass from the MSM and the right-wing. And Bully Boy provided us with the long planned Iraq War. If elected, what's Barack going to provide people with and how betrayed are they going to feel by independent media or alleged independent media?

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