Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sexism and more

As most of you know, my grandson Eli was with me in Kentucky, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota. So was my granddaughter Tracey. My grandson Jayson was also there for a healthy chunk of time. But Eli is a toddler so today was Granny takes him to the pediatrician.

That is not a problem at all; however, it really leaves me behind in a number of ways. Which is before I mention that I have a bit of heartburn because my grandson Jayson has a summer job as a waiter and it is a grandparents job to make sure their grandchildren get a least one good tip a week but the salsa and I did not agree.

Someone e-mailed me the other day and as I rake my mind trying to think when I will have the time to reply to that or any of the other ones, I thought that since we are attempting a conversation, this man, and I in e-mail I could do my reply here. I am not going to name him and if he wants to write anything regarding it he can start a site at Blogger/Blogspot if he does not already have one.

I do not have a policy regarding e-mails. Kat's attitude is like Elaine's, she'll make it public if she wants to. I believe when Eric Alterman did his little screed on Elaine that was the first time someone wrote to one of us and was "outed." I know Rebecca, prior to that, came close when a crybaby with NDN went griping about her to C.I. This was not a friend of C.I.'s or anyone C.I. knew but, as is often the case with Rebecca, when it was time to disagree the first thought was, "I'll e-mail the public account of The Common Ills and complain to C.I.!" In case what I am about to offer is boring, I will note a story Kat shared with me. Kevin Zeese has been writing to complain and complain about Kat. So Kat has started replying to him at her site. After ____ passed on Jess' e-mail to The Nation (___ is a name as is his organization and I will be kind) and after David Swanson passed on Rebecca's e-mail to Lennox Yearwood it is very rare that strangers will receive e-mails. Both were passed on without permission and neither Jessica or Rebecca wrote anything embarrassing but the fact that e-mails were being passed around means few people outside the TCI community get e-mail replies. Some do like Kat and reply at their sites. But Kat's story was that she and Ava were waiting for C.I. to finish Monday morning's entries so they could go to the airport. So time was limited. Matthis Chiroux had given his speech the day prior. C.I. was on two phones (a landline and a cell, with the other cell for incoming) and trying to track down information on Chiroux when the cell rings (the one not in use) and it is a friend with IVAW saying that they had e-mailed C.I. the video of Matthis speech. C.I. is asking which account and is in three e-mail account on various screens. C.I. has already argued with one friend that the two paragraphs they passed on could not have been Matthis entire speech because it was supposed to have been over seven minutes (it was a little over nine and I will post the video tomorrow, time permitting, but I will post it this week). So it was mailed to the public account and C.I. is going through pages of e-mails trying to find it. There is an e-mail that came from the mirror site's contact form and C.I.'s is asking if that is it while opening it and, as it is pulling it up, C.I. says, "___ it, Kat, that damn Kevin Zeese is writing you again!" I cleaned that up a little. C.I. was really ticked off because (a) Zeese is not supposed to be writing anymore (C.I. made that clear on Thursday or Friday at The Common Ills) and (b) why is he using The Common Ills mirror site to contact Kat? So C.I. finds the video listens quickly and transcribes the nine minute speech and then they head for the airpot. At which point, C.I. asks Kat, "What is the deal with your big fan Zeese?" (If you have been following the story at Kat's site, you will be laughing. If not, consider it a private joke.)

So I will call the man Eli X and will give him the name of my youngest grandson but I am tired and just remembered one other thing I do need to pass on. This is really exciting news to me. Yes, I am a grandmother many, many, many times over. Jim's joke about my family being of Biblical proportions is not far from the mark. But when I dropped Eli off this evening at his parents, my other daughter-in-law was there as well. She should have passed on the news to her husband (my third son). They already have four boys and I honestly did not know they were trying for anymore children. Their youngest is ten and the four were not spaced far apart. But they always wanted a girl and they have been trying. She is pregnant and she "knows" it is a girl. I will wait for medical confirmation on the gender but it is exciting news. I was asked if I would mind watching the child after she goes back to work? Of course, I am thrilled to do so. Eli's now a toddler and he loves Rebecca's baby. I have a cute story there to tell but I will do it after the Eli X part of this post. But if you are bored out of your mind with my post tonight (more so than usual), stick around for the last story.

Okay, so Eli X and I have been exchanging e-mails regarding the sexism in the media coverage of Senator Hillary Clinton. And I really do not think he gets it but I think I may see why or else he was responding to one of my tangents that I have forgotten.

On the issue of sexism in the media, he lists various campaign strategies that he feels Senator Clinton utilized. I disagree with him regarding the various strategies. But if that is where he is going (as opposed to responding to some tangent of mine I have forgotten) then that may be part of the confusion.

I do not feel comfortable quoting him without his permission so I will summarize his main point which is that Senator Clinton was this person and then that person and then someone else. Sound familiar? It was the Barack Obama talking point picked up by Maureen Dowd (whom Eli X references as a source) and Frank Rich and countless others. It is the talking point Bob Somerby long ago warned everyone (at his Daily Howler) on how that group of Kool Kids (I believe that is Mr. Somerby's phrase) operates. It is how they did it with Al Gore in 2000, it is how they do it with anyone they do not like. Inauthentic, liar, etc.

Eli X has been on the road a great deal and I think that also effects his perception because he really does not grasp that he is repeating talking points. At one point, he is talking about her trying to be like the men in a bar and that is a reference to her campaigning in Pennsylvania and, as politicians who visit the area do, drinking.

I do not think he realizes that (a) this has nothing to do with sexism and (b) this is what Ms. Dowd and others do. Had I know Ms. Dowd was that influential, I would have joined Rebecca in calling for C.I. to address her. Rebecca will badger C.I. to read the columns and C.I. ignores Ms. Dowd but, on days when Rebecca badgers hard, C.I. will read enough to catch Ms. Dowd's big mistake and let Rebecca write about it saying, "I'm not interested." Ms. Dowd's most recent problem was writing her column before she was ready to write so she already had her jokes and her theme and just had to plug in reality; however, Ms. Dowd was to thrilled with her theme that she tried to force a square into a round hole and it was not pretty. Since then, C.I. pointed out, "Maureen took that, almost word for word from ___" (a film). Ms. Dowd is a very 'creative' writer if borrowing from films is 'creativity.' (C.I. then quoted the scene, word for word, and Ms. Dowd changed about four words in five sentences.) (Sometimes Ms. Dowd grabs from several films and that is always interesting as well.)

But Ms. Dowd has her own thing to write and she grabs bits of reality to insert in her pre-planned columns. She apparently spends a great deal of time in front of her TV.

So I hope that is clear enough that I do not consider Ms. Dowd to be an authority on politics. But there was Eli X running through Ms. Dowd's greatest hits. And I realize that since Eli X is on the road, he may not have called actual moments as they happened and may place more weight than I do on the serial novelization of our society by Ms. Dowd.

Since Ms. Dowd was the one who repeated the joke by either Penn or Teller, I really do not know why a discussion on sexism would reference her? The joke was sexist, it was ugly, and it never needed to appear in any newspaper. Add in that Ms. Dowd is not a feminist, wrote a book full of female stereotypes -- and, sadly, one that reflected she herself had bought into the stereotype of "old maid," and generally has very little to say worth hearing. She and Mr. Rich write with gusto and flourish. They do not, however, write about the real world.

After recounting Ms. Dowd's many tunes, Eli X writes that Senator Clinton waited to call out sexism until after she was losing. Eli X may know Senator Clinton but he appears to think he does. (I do not believe he knows her.) That allows him to ascribe motive and intent on the part of Senator Clinton.

He notes that she never gave a speech on sexism. Why would she?

Every woman who has called out sexism has been stoned in the press throughout the campaign. Ms. Clinton should know that better than anyone considering the way her words were picked over. When Senator Clinton spoke of sexism, she focused on the media and did so in a conversation with The Washington Post.

I will assume that when that conversation made it through the Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, et al mills it sounded completely different.

But there is no denying that sexism was displayed by the media non-stop. Does Eli X thinks it is amusing for William Kristol to 'joke' about White women and when he says "we all know what they are like," for Juan Williams to laugh hysterically? Is that normal TV viewing? Is it normal TV viewing to suggest, as Keith Olbermann did, that a candidate should be taken into a room by a super delegate and only he leaves? Is it normal for a candidate to be subjected to Tucker Carlson speaking of how he instinctively crosses his legs when Ms. Clinton is onscreen? I am not remembering former Vice President Gore being called shrill? Should MSNBC have been selling, at their airport stores, "nutcrackers" with Senator Clinton's likeness on them?

When Senator Clinton was speaking in New Hampshire and two men held up an "Iron My Shirt" sign and yelled things at her, where was the media? They found it amusing. It is difficult to think of a similar incident involving Mr. Obama that they would have found so amusing and worked so hard to avoid calling out. I believe "independent" journalist Robert Parry referred to it as a "joke" -- possibly a "bad joke." It is not funny. And of course those signs would show up later, carried by Barack supporters. It was not funny then either.

In New Hampshire, when that happened, Senator Clinton made her first comment about sexism on the campaign trail. Apparently, Maureen Dowd never noted it but it did, in fact, take place.

Mr. Obama spoke of how she "periodically feels down" and "feels the need to attack" someone. Was that funny? Was it funny to know that he is so ignorant of women that he does not grasp Senator Clinton no longer has PMS because she went through the change sometime ago?

Was it funny when we had the press reports of his entrance into Iowa, his triumphant entrance, on the night of the caucuses to the song "99 Problems But a Bitch Isn't One Of Them"?

Was it funny or appropriate for a CNN 'discussion' on politics to turn into a debate on whether or not Hillary Clinton is a "bitch"? I remember very well when Joan Collins first used that word on prime time in Dynasty and it was considered shocking. Apparently, we can now use it to discuss politicians, or at least female ones?

Was it "funny" when Chris Matthews offered critiques of her clothes and make up? In fact, he made the point of saying he needed to address that before anything else.

Was it "funny" when he said she was only a senator because people felt sorry for her?

Was it funny when Glen Beck said, "It cries." Senator Clinton did not cry but that moment, for those who forget, came the day before the voting in New Hampshire took place and the chattering men of cable could not stop gloating. They were thinking of an eighties incident, when a woman running for president dropped out, and cried during her speech. The assumption, the immediate assumption, was that Senator Clinton had just lost the race. Mr. Beck was far from the only male gas bag ridiculing her.

But Mr. Beck was the one who decided to do a little bit about how masculine he thought she was as he mimed her shaving her face.

Eli X, while you were on the road a great deal was happening and I have not even offered the half of it.

There was the "cackle." And, of course, long after that was called out as sexism, there was self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders going on KPFA to 'joke' about Hillary's laugh or, as Ms. Flanders termed it, the "cackle." Eli X makes the point that it was not just men.

I have never suggested it was just men. Please, I saw it and I certainly read Ava and C.I.'s many commentaries on it.

It was women as well as men participating.

There was David Shuster and his non-stop attacks that finally led to him being suspended for suggesting that Senator Clintion was 'pimping out' her daughter.

Eli X has high marks for Chelsea Clinton and I will agree she handled herself well. But I am also aware that when the knives were sharpened for Chelsea, C.I. did not just yell out against it online, C.I. also yelled over the phone at outlets saying they needed to get a grip. (In much more colorful language, as I remember it.) Women? Arianna Huffington, the 'sprite' who wandered over from the GOP side, loathes Senator Clinton. And it may have been her site that decided a man could attack Chelsea Clinton. He showed up there or at Slate to whine about how he was the injured party. He had written a 'humorous' column ahead of a visit by Chelsea and then First Lady Clinton had sicked the Secret Service on him.

Chelsea was seventeen-years-old. The man was an adult and a journalism student. He thought it was 'funny' to threaten violence against her and say that she not only should be killed while visiting, they should stomp on her corpse. How that ever got printed, I have no idea. Certainly nothing like that was ever written about the Bush twins. Possibly Amy Carter was targeted with something similar? There seems to be a policy that you can attack the child of any Democratic president.

The man was not a "victim." He threatened and encouraged violence against someone who was legally a child. The child happened to be the president's daughter and it is the Secret Service's duty to find out whether threats are real or not.

He tried to become a mini-celebrity and that might have happened had enough people not immediately called it out.

What we had been discussing, Eli X and I, in our e-mails was sexism but I am happy to go beyond that topic if needed.

I do not understand Eli X's comment that a winning candidate is someone who can bring together different constituencies, for example. Is that justifying the Obama's campaign's use of sexism and arguing that this is something to do? I do not think that was the point. But if we are speaking of uniting voters, Mr. Obama never did that and still has not. That is why, for example, there are still so many undecideds in the polls and why Mr. Obama cannot pull ahead of Mr. McCain. Do not point to a five percent lead in a poll. Such a lead is in the statiscal margin of error.

Mr. Obama did not get the Latino vote, he did not get the White working class vote, he remains troubled with women and the LGBT community and Mr. Obama are not "tight."

That tends to happen when you put homophobes on stage at a campaign event even when gay rights groups lodge a complaint. It tends to happen when you brag "We got what we needed" after the homophobes trot across stage and repeat lies.

It tends to happen when you refuse interviews with the gay press.

We can talk about the Obama campaign and how it was not one of strength (outside the press) but the issue is sexism and sexism took place.

The examples I have given thus far are not even the tip of the iceberg.

I would especially ask Eli X to answer the question Ava and C.I. posed in their most recent commentary ("TV: Strength greeted with confusion, attacks & silence"). Senator Clinton did not cry.

Bill Moyers decided to 'discuss' that moment with "Dr. Kathy." So he played a clip to set up the discussion.

Mr. Moyers, on PBS, is a journalist or supposed to be one. Since he wanted to discuss that moment, or said he did, what clip did he select?

Is it not true, Eli X., that a journalist uses primary sources when available? So despite that clip being readily available why did Mr. Moyers not air the clip?

He aired instead Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.'s attack on Hillary Clinton. A complete distortion and a sexist take on it.

It is laughable that he accuses Senator Clinton of vanity since he himself had two-thirds of his intensines removed to lose fifty pounds. That would be vanity.

Mr. Obama had lost New Hampshire and was going into South Carolina which he did not have sewn up and did not even have the full support of the African-American community. So Mr. Jackson Jr. also thought to charge racism via his accusation that she did not cry for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Senator Clinton did not cry period. Mr. Moyers wanted to discuss the moment and the clip should have been of what happened. Not of Mr. Jackson Jr.'s rant that distorted and lied.

So Eli X., I will ask you, if you had Eli X.'s Journal and wanted to discuss the moment where Senator Clinton teared up, would the journalistic thing to do be to show the viewers the actual moment or to instead present an attack on her about the moment?

There was sexism throughout the campaign. I do enjoy Mr. Moyers show still. Less so than I once did. But the reality is long before Barack Obama gave the speech on race that Eli X. references, Mr. Moyers was doing one segment after another on race. Yet Mr. Moyers never did a segment on gender. He wanted to discuss racism with guests and Dr. Kathy.

Sexism was never discussed.

Since polls repeatedly found throughout the race that more people (by a slim margin) were saying they would not vote for a woman than an African-American man, how do journalists think they can get away without addressing sexism? Especially journalists on PBS which is supposed to address the topics not being addressed?

Sexism was used. It was used by 'independent' media as well. It was used by men and it was used by women. And that is one of the things C.I. is referring to when discussing the complete lack of standards now on the 'left.' They wanted to do their hit job on Senator Clinton. They were prepared to use any tactic in order to do so. They have no standards.

I have no respect for Medea Benjamin anymore. I have no respect for Cindy Sheehan either. The fact that she was going to Common Dreams and leaving those slams on Hillary Clinton in the comments was appalling. She was building up Barack Obama to tear down Senator Clinton and Ms. Sheehan either felt lying was okay or was just ignorant of reality.

You heard over and over about how Hillary Clinton voted for the Iran resolution and Barack Obma voted against it. Only he did not vote against it. He skipped the vote. When he attempted to lie, Senator Harry Reid's office set the record straight and made clear that they had told him the voting would be taking place 24 hours ahead of time. But Sheehan and others attacked Senator Clinton over her vote and repeated the lie that Mr. Obama voted against it. They also ignored the fact that the vote was on a non-binding act and that Mr. Obama had proposed a binding version of it, had co-sponsored it, mere months before.

Stephen Zunes and Dahr Jamail repeated those kinds of lies as well. But then both pushed the lie that Senator Clinton's trip to Iraq in 2005 was her only tripe when, as anyone with a brain remembered, she had gone there in 2003 at Thanksgiving. As C.I. said, "They lied and then they lied some more." And, Eli X., they rarely got called out on it. (Foreign Policy in Focus took down Mr. Zunes' article after they were provided with links to the photos of the visit. The article still exists at Common Dreams and elsewhere. No one ever issued a correction. Eli X. is that responsible journalism? When an error is pointed out, are you not supposed to correct it?)

I am going to have to stop here, I did not realize I had gone on so long. But Eli X. also mentions Rev. Jesse Jackson's wife supporting Hillary Clinton. I am not sure what the point in mentioning that is. I am aware of that. That is how Amy Goodman presented Clinton supporters, after all. Bring on Rev. Jackson who was supporting Barack Obama and mention, in passing, that his wife is supporting Senator Clinton. Rev. Jackson is a good person, I do not doubt that. But exactly how is that balanced? "Let's talk to the Barack supporter about how wonderful Barack is and I'll mention that his wife is supporting Hillary and that way I've covered the basis."

In fact, I can write at length about the frauds and journalistic malpractice Ms. Goodman practiced.

The term "piggie" was mentioned. The Common Ills has a "work safe policy" and, as Jim always says, you can consider certain words like Don Rickles' use of "idiot" on TV. Meaning, if you saw Mr. Rickles in a night club, you would hear something much stronger.

"Dumb ass" is an approved term. But I do try to keep it work safe and I will call anyone a "pig" or a "piggie" or whatever else. There are many worse names I could call a person. I am a very old woman and I do know them all. (That was the story I was going to share but will share tomorrow.)

If I feel someone acts like a pig, I will say so. And, as Ava and C.I. have done, I have called men and women pigs.

I would also recommend that Eli X. read Bonnie Erbe, "Obama and the Democrats Owe Hillary Clinton and Her Supporters a Formal Apology for the Campaign's Sexism" (US News & World Reports):

The Democratic National Committee either doesn't get it or refuses to admit it. Nothing short of a lengthy, detailed mea culpa by the DNC and by Obama himself, directed to Clinton supporters for the sexist name-calling and personal, nasty characterizations Clinton was alone forced to endure, will do. Even that may not persuade these voters to consider supporting the party this fall. The DNC, Democratic Party leaders in Congress, and Obama should have been at her side, calling her treatment by the media (and even by some Obama supporters) unacceptable.

I am pulling a Kat, stealing her trick because it is so late. I have mentioned the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, another journalist is killed in Iraq, a bombing with mass fatalities in Baghdad reminds the press the Iraq War drags on still, the US Senate examines torture, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. The vote found all the other parties outvoting the Conservative Party. That is the party of Stephen Harper who is the country's prime minister. On Saturday, rallies took place. Mario Cootauco (Canwest News Service) reported on one in British Columbia that US war resister Rodney Watson attended. Watson explained that he didn't want to return to Iraq, "There's no need for us to be over there and I saw that first-hand. I decided I needed to get out of there. I wanted to go just to be a support. I didn't want to go kicking down doors, killing children or innocent people or getting my hands dirty or anything. I support my country, but I don't support the way we're going about it." As Cootacuo observes, "It's now up to the Conservative government to implement the decision."

Joan Wallace wrote to Nanaimo Daily News over the weekend to share her opinion:

I agree with the writer who urges our government to comply with the recent vote in the House of Commons, in which a motion passed allowing U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada. Phone calls and e-mails from thousands of Canadians went a long way in achieving this first step to open our doors to these men and women. Some of them have been in Iraq and seen the horrors of war and cannot with conscience support it any longer. Our doors must also open to those who enlisted to serve their country, but who came to the realization later that they could not go through with their commitment to fight in an illegal war that continues to breach international and human rights law. Thanks to the NDP for putting this motion forward and also to the other opposition parties for supporting the motion. It is now up to us to keep this issue on the radar. We need to write to our prime minister, to our MPs, and to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration and urge them to create the legislation necessary to grant a permanent haven in Canada to all U.S. war resisters.

To keep the pressure on,
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail http://us.mc366.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=finley.d@parl.gc.ca -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail http://us.mc366.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca").

Turning to the US. Matthis Chiroux announced
May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq. The day he was due to report was June 15th, Sunday, and he delivered a speeh explaining why he wouldn't be deploying (see yesterday's snapshot). Iraq Veterans Against the War advises:

IVAW members Matthis Chiroux and Kris Goldsmith have been
pounding the pavement in Washington DC, with the help of IVAW's DC chapter, to get members of Congress to support Matthis in his refusal to deploy to Iraq. Matthis was honorably discharged from the Army in 2007 after five years of service, but he received orders in February 2008 to return to active duty from the IRR for deployment to Iraq.
On Sunday, June 15th, the day he was due to report for active duty, Matthis stood with his father and supporters in DC and reaffirmed that he is refusing his orders on the grounds that the Iraq war is illegal and unconstitutional.
How you can help:
Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to publicly support Matthis.
Contribute to IVAW's legal defense fund to help Matthis and other resisters.
Send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux at
Find out more about Matthis Chiroux.

On Democracy Now! today, Matthis explained, "OK, I was supposed to report Sunday, Father's Day. I did not. I was in Washington, D.C. with the Iraq Veterans Against the War at their chapter house. I gave a short speech on the porch of our house there, and I stood with my dad, and I kept my promise to the military, I kept my promise to my country, to refuse an illegal order to participate in an unlawful occupation. . . . Well, right now it's turned into a bit of a waiting game, as far as the military goes. You know, I made my intentions clear, and then I followed through on them, and I'm waiting to hear from the military. There's no real way I can know what consequences to face here. You know, many, many members of the Individual Ready Reserve, about 15,000 of them, have been called up since the beginning of this occupation of Iraq, and only 7,500 of them have reported. So there's about half there that's unaccounted for. And many of those individuals have been ignored by the military, as they should be. It is an illegal order to call up and deploy to Iraq. Others have been charged with desertion. So, during a time of war, actually, desertion can be punishable by death. So, you know, my spectrum of consequence is in the situation range literally anywhere from nothing to death. So I will wait faithfully in the United States, as I promised to do, to see how the military will react."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq, where the
Times of London reports, "The most deadly Baghdad attack since March ripped through a crowded market today killing at least 51 people in the Iraqi capital." BBC notes, "The bomba appeared to have been timed to go off during the early evening rush hour, when the bus stop was crowded with waiting passengers." The toll for the wounded is currently seventy-five. Both figures may rise. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ali Hamid (New York Times) declare, "Survivors and relatives of the victims in the Tuesday blast were enraged and on edge. One man lost 11 relatives, including five female cousins. At a courtyard in front of the Kadhimiya Hospital morgue, people screamed, wept and shrieked. Some cursed the government for allowing the blast to happen while others called on God for revenge. People fleeing the balst site who were interviewed by a New York Times reporter at a cordon set up around the scene of the attack said there had been two boms, not the single explosion that Iraqi officials described." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) informs, "Many victims were trapped in their apartments by a raging fire that engulfed at least one building, according to police and Interior Ministry officials".

Turning to some other reported violence today . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad motorcyle bombing that claimed the lives of 4 "Awakening" Council members and left two other peoplw ounded, a Bahgdad roadside bombing that wounded one police officer "and three civilians" and another Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in one person being wounded a Diyala Province car bombing wounded eighteen people.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad armed attack on "two employees of the prime minister's office" resulting in the death of 1 employee and the other being wounded. Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that Muhieddin Abdul-Hamid, an Iraqi TV reporter/anchor, has been shot dead in Mosul. Al Dulaimy explains the journalist was "a newscaster at a local station called Nineveh Television". Reporters Without Borders explains that he is the 216th journalist killed in Iraq (they divide up the category, here we just count all working on news as journalists because they're all doing more than one job) and they quote Samir Slouki explaining that threats had come in on on Al-Nakib. Reporters Without Borders states, "The journalist was ambushed in front of his home, an attack which bears the hallmarks of a number of armed groups that are the scourge of the press in Iraq. Even without any claim of responsibility, it is highly likely that the journalist was targeted because he worked for a state media. We urge the government of Nuri al-Maliki to open an investigation into who was responsible and to bring them to trial. The impunity that has prevailed in the country for more than five years only encourages the killers of journalists to continue their evil work." Reuters notes 1 "municipal worker" shot dead in Tuz Khurmato while a Mosul home invasion resulted in 1 woman being shot dead and another Mosul shooting resulted in 1 police officer being shot dead..


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 6 people were kidnapped in Kut by unnamed assailants who then set the kidnapped victims vehicles ablaze luring the police to the scene but a roadside bombing claimed the life of Col Ali Mohammed and left six other police officers wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad

"It never entered my mind." "I had no knowledge of it." Either statement pretty much sums up the stonewalling the US Senate Armed Services Committee received today. The first statement was made by Retired Lt. Col Daniel J. Bumgartner Jr. and the second was by the DoD's former Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence Richard L. Shiffrin. They and the laughable "Dr." Jerald Ogrisseg ("Former Chief, Psychology Services" for the Air Force) made a mockery not only of the US Congress but also of humanity. Helping with that were Senators Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham. That said, there weren't a lot on the committee doing anything to take pride in.

SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. The lie is that the military and psychologists -- some with the military, some brought in -- are doing something good. No, they're not. And several times during the first panel today, someone would almost reach that line before rushing away from it. The SERE program tried waterboarding on US service members. Why?

That's the question that no one wanted to ask. The implied reason is that SERE is attempting to study . . . What? You can have sat through the entire hearing and you never got an answer. You got lies. You heard talk of "survival" and "resistance." Gee, POWs can -- and historically -- have been shot. Does that mean the US needs to begin shooting service members for a study?

The big OH-NO! in the hearing was how SERE had mission creep. And that is appalling. But it crept from somewhere. It never should have been a program. No one, not even the chair Carl Levin, wanted to question SERE. SERE would not be acceptable in any civilian setting. The 'tests' being done -- such as water boarding -- would result in legal charges if implemented in a civilian setting. With the government and the military behind it, they are doing tests that are brutal. In the hearings, Richard L. Shiffrin and Jerald F. Ogrisseg tried to minimize what was going on and referred to . . . What they wanted to say was "safe word". They backed off because "safe word" will remind most people of S&M. And that's really what this is. Non-consensual S&M which is also known as torture.

You heard a great deal in the hearing from well meaning Senators where they decried what was done in Guantanamo or Iraq. But everyone needs to grow up enough to grasp that what SERE is doing -- and has done -- is not science anymore than Nazi Germany's 'experiments' were science. (I'm not referring to concentration camps in the Nazi illustration. I'm referring to the very well known torture techniques.) Shiffrin played with himself (scratching his chest, his left nipple) and smirked throughout. To Levin he would insist that things like "good cop/bad cop" have "been around for years." We're not talking a lawful interrogation; however. We're not talking about a one interrogator plays the nice one and the other the menacing. What SERE does is devise "bad cop" techniques and punishments. Until that's addressed, don't expect to see any real changes in the US.

Jerald Ogrisseg would use strange words for an alleged pshychologist. He would refer to his group as "the good guys" and he would float al Qaeda to try to spin the minds. For the record, al Qaeda didn't run the SERE program.

Senator Claire McCaskill would bring up the issue of "immunity in advance" annd wonder "what planet are we on? There is no such thing as immunity in advance?" Shiffrin found that so amusing, he not only chuckled, he played with his left nipple repeatedly. Despite, like McCaskill, having been a prosecutor, he attempted to dance around the issue forever. But, no, immunity in advance -- the White House policy -- has no known legal standing and goes against the rule of law as McCaskill pointed out. Shiffrin just wanted to be vauge (and to touch himself). McCaskill would ask for "the names of people" and point out -- as did other senators -- that they were looking for accountability and responsibility: then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, president of vice Dick Cheney, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then-Homeland Security chief Michael Cherton. Others? "There are still people involved at the periphery of this that are in positions of responsiblity in today's government, so our frustration is that we would like to hold someone responsible, and i's like trying to catch shadows here," McCaskill noted. When pressed, Shiffrin defocused and tried to dance away. "Could you give me the names of other lawyers that were there when you were given the impression . . . besides, Jim [William] Haynes, who was in the room?" He finally moved away from "a number of people" to Charles Allen. He actually named others but he stated Allen was "in some of these meetings" plural which took the conditional "I believe" off the statement. McCaskill asked him about a meeting with Haynes and Shiffrin responded he would need a date.

Shiffrin: "If you give me the day of -- of course I met with Mr. Haynes every day.

McCaskill: November 27, 2002.

Shiffring: I don't have a recollection.

"I think you're probably a really good lawyer and probably care deeply about your country," McCaskill told him but "we're trying to figure out here who decided that we're going to go ddown this road and when did it get decided?"

In the third 'panel' -- which consisted solely of William Haynes (fromer general counsel to the DoD), McCaskill pointed out that as senior lawyer William Haynes was over those under him. She noted the questions coming into him, "You had received the information from various lawyers . . . asking legal questions about these techniques?" ("This is again six years ago, so my memory is not perfect," was his nonsense reply.) The point McCaskill was making was the he was in charge of all legal issues for the Defense Department and (my point) he didn't do his job no matter how often he said "I take my, and I took my, responsibilities very seriously" (which he said later to Senator Jack Reed). McCaskill's point was that, reviewing all the documents available, she found no legal opinion other than Lt Col Beaver. She asked, "You have said the you relied on the legal advise of Lt. Col Beaver, is that correct?" He agreed it was and she pointed to the one page memo he wrote (that he would brag he typed himself during his exchange with McCaskill) which cites no legal precedent, doesn't cite Geneva, the US Constitution, any legal opinions. He tried to weasel out, he tried to cut off McCaskill. She would interrupt him with, "Wait, wait, there was no legal opinion in that package other than her [Beaver] legal opinon. Was there any other legal opinion that you relied on . . . written legal opinion that you relied on other than Lt Col Beavers' opinion?" He attempted to weasel out of that but, as McCaskill pointed out, no one he was naming was a lawyer. McCaskill's point was that this was a huge shift in the law (to put it mildly) and the Defense Department's chief lawyer created and/or waived through a policy (with questionable legal basis -- to put it mildly) and did so without any effort to create a legal opinion of his own. He would tell Reed he did an "analysis" but any attorney attempting to justifying billing by providing that one page memo would be laughed at. To Reed he would insist that the US Constition didn't apply nor did Geneva. Where is that analysis in writing? With Reed, he would finally admit, "I didn't write a memorandum to that effect." Reed would ask, "Did you write any memorandum?" Referring to the one page memo, Haynes would point to "that memorandum you have in front of you." The issue is did he blow off responsibilities or are there additional documents that have not been provided to the Congress.

Lt Col Diane Beaver participated in the second panel and told the Senate that she didn't believe the opinion she prepared "would become the final word. I did not expect to be the only lawyer to write an opinion on this monumentally important decision." Nor should she have expected that. Her argument should have been explored further up the line by people higher than her including Haynes. Reed would ask about these conditions placed on the torture techniques that Haynes referred to. Haynes stated everyone knew them, that it was obvious. Reed flipped a mountain of pages and noted that there were no conditions in them and asked Haynes to discuss the conditions which a testy Haynes refused. If they were so readily apparent to all involved, Reed would wonder, why was it that Haynes couldn't list them? In response, Haynes attempted to suggest Reed's comments were insulting to the US military to which Reed responded, "Don't you go around with this attitude that you protect the integrity of the military, you degrade the integrity of the military."

An out of control administration with no respect for the Constitution or the rule of law stained the reputation of the United States at home and abroad. The US government has been utilizing torture and the White House worked to create a fake legal basis for it. There was none. Those involved need to be held accountable but the Senate has accepted the idea that SERE isn't the problem. SERE is the problem. Without SERE, it wouldn't have happened. SERE argues it is defensive (it's trying to find out how to protect people from torture or prepare them for it -- reality, there is no prep and there is no protection if someone's captured). The committee wants to act shocked that a defensive research program would be used for offensive (illegal) actions. There's no shock there. It just took one out of control administration and SERE is as much an issue as is the White House. Repeatedly the first panel would say they never could have guessed (did Condi coach them?) that their work would be used for offensive actions. Reed would ask if it ever entered thier minds "when you were sending this information over to the General Counsel office why they needed it?" No. Never. They did their jobs, they insisted. And, in a way, they're right. But those jobs should never have existed. Experiments on humans that involve torture are not 'medical' and are not needed. McCaskill made the point that lawyers know about interrogations and know what works. She's right. And the medical field is not about creating harm to figure out how much a human being can hold up to. Again, those type of experiments took place in Nazi Germany, they are not supposed to take place in the United States. Punishing those responsible for implementing torture needs to take place but allowing SERE to continue just means someone else will come along at some point who will do the same as the current occupant of the White House.
Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported this morning that today's hearing was expected to undersorce "that the use of the aggressive techniques was planned at the top levels of the Bush administration and were not the work of out-of-control, lower-ranking troops" and that the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency was "asked . . . for help devising the techniques." If SERE had not existed, it couldn't have been utilized.

Turning to the US race for president. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will be on Democracy Now! tomorrow. Today
Team Nader notes:

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iraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
rodney watsonmario cootauco
richard a. oppel jr.the new york times
mcclatchy newspapers