April 29, 2006
Coming Home from War on the Cheap: Shortchanging the Wounded
by Judith Coburn
On the eve of his Marine unit's assault on Falluja in November, 2004, Blake Miller read to his men from the Bible (John 14:2-3): "In my father's house, there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I leave this place and go there to prepare a place for you, so that where I may be, you may be also."
A photograph of Miller's blood-smeared, filthy face, so reminiscent of David Douglas Duncan's photos of war-weary Marines in Vietnam, is one of the Iraq War's iconic images. Over a hundred newspapers ran it. But as the San Francisco Chronicle reported recently, Miller, a decorated war hero, has been shattered psychologically by Iraq. Disabled by flashbacks and nightmares, he continues to pay daily and dearly for his service there.
His eloquent commitment to his fellow Marines is the highest value in military life. But the Bush administration, which sent Blake Miller, his fellow Marines, and 1.3 million other Americans (so far) to war in Iraq and Afghanistan apparently does not share this commitment.
Much has been written about how President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld waged war on the cheap, sending too few ill-equipped young soldiers -- 30% of them ill-trained Reservists and National Guardsmen -- into battle. But little has been reported about how shockingly on-the-cheap the homecomings of these soldiers have proved to be. The Bush administration awarded Blake Miller a medal, but it has fought for three long years to deny soldiers like him the care they need. While Miller and his men were being thrown into the fire in Falluja, the White House was proposing to cut the combat pay of soldiers like them. (Only an outburst of outrage across the political spectrum caused the administration to back off from that suggestion.)
April 28, 2006
Peace Takes Courage
By Cindy Sheehan
I have a new friend. She is a 15-year-young peace activist named Ava Lowery. She is disgusted with the war and with the Bush regime, and she has started to use her talents for animation to make cartoons that oppose Bush and the war in Iraq.
She first came to my attention when I read an article about all of the ugly hate mail she is getting on her site for a particularly poignant and brilliant animation she has called: "WWJD." It is a heartbreaking piece that has a child singing "Jesus loves me," and during the song she shows pictures of dead, wounded, bloody and screaming Iraqi children. She wanted to show how Jesus loves Iraqi children also, which is apparently a frightening concept to the people who practice Bushianity.
For this inspired bit of courageous matriotism, Ava has been the object of intense and horribly ugly hate emails and not too subtle threats to do her bodily harm. As soon as I heard about her troubles, I emailed her, and she phoned me right away so we could talk.
Even before I went to Crawford last summer, I was the object of these attacks by many people who touted themselves as Christians doing God's work. The attacks are rabidly obscene and horrible in their rage and just downright meanness. There are entire web sites dedicated to assailing me and my character and where such comments as "Someone ought to do the world a favor and shoot the bitch in the head to shut her up" are common. During Camp Casey, we had to refer more than one death threat to the FBI.
One particularly wicked threat was sent to me the night before I testified at Congressman Conyers's Downing Street Memo Hearings in June, I got an email from a man who said that he hoped that my other three children would die. I think these people level pretty harsh punishments at other people who are only exercising their freedom of speech, when the person who is responsible for killing American soldiers and executing innocent Iraqi children and making them orphans is touted as a fine Christian man.
April 27, 2006
On April 25th -26th, 1986 the World's worst nuclear power accident occurred at Chernobyl in the former USSR (now Ukraine).
This would be an appropriate time to revisit the site of Fiatova Elena Vladimirovna, "Gamma Girl", also known as a "Kid of Speed." She's got a lot of new material from Chernobyl, including high res images and videos.
April 26, 2006
McCarthyism: Mary and Joe
By Ray McGovern
As additional information on the firing of CIA official Mary McCarthy just ten days short of her retirement becomes available, what is afoot is becoming quite clear. We are witnessing a Stalinesque show trial sans the actual trial and inevitable execution. The purpose is intimidation, not extermination. We should be thankful for small favors, I suppose.
There has been no sign they put on the handcuffs as they "escorted" McCarthy out of the office last week. And it appears she will get off relatively lightly - with the character assassination regarded as appropriate for any "traitor" independently in touch with the press. And then there is the stigma that CIA Director Porter Goss, the staffers he brought with him from Congress (not-so-affectionately known as "the gosslings"), and Rush Limbaugh believe should inevitably attach to anyone who gave $2,000 to the Kerry campaign.
Goss and his "independent" Inspector General Danny Kaye - oops, I mean 35-year CIA veteran John Helgersen - are determined to show their patron, Vice President Dick Cheney, some results from the unprecedented rash of "single-issue" polygraph tests now being administered to CIA employees. Beware, all ye who have let the word "media" slip into consciousness. It's sweaty-palms time at CIA headquarters. The Fourth Estate has morphed into a Fifth Column.
April 25, 2006
Discrimination, Not Illegal Immigration, Fuels Black Job Crisis
by Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The battle continues to rage between economists, politicians, immigrant rights activists and black anti-immigration activists over whether illegal immigrants are the major cause of double-digit joblessness among poor, unskilled, young black males. The battle lines are so tight and impassioned that black anti-immigration activists plan a march for jobs for American-born blacks on April 28 in Los Angeles. This is a direct counter to the planned mass action three days later by some immigrant rights groups.
According to Labor Department reports, nearly 40 percent of young black males are unemployed. Despite the Bush administration's boast that its tax cut and economic policies have resulted in the creation of more than 100,000 new jobs, black unemployment still remains the highest of any group in America. Black male unemployment for the past decade has been nearly double that of white males. The picture is grimmer for young black males.
Bin Laden Thumbs Nose Again
By Matthew Rothschild
Here‚s bin Laden, four and a half years after 9/11, thumbing his nose at the most powerful nation in the world, and saying, essentially, you can‚t catch me.
For Bush and Rumsfeld, who had bin Laden dead to rights in Tora Bora and then outsourced the job to an Afghan warlord, every new bin Laden recording serves as a reminder of their colossal military blunder.
Now Scott McClellan, who is still on the payroll as the President‚s spinner, can claim the tape proves that „we are on the advanceš and that bin Laden is „on the run and under a lot of pressure.š
But that comment merely underscores McClellan‚s ineptness as a spokesman and the Administration‚s embarrassment at bin Laden‚s continued success at eluding the U.S. This has got to be one of the longest marathon runs an enemy has ever been able to pull offųand one of the least effective advances by a country with every weapon at its disposal.
The substance of bin Laden‚s statement was the same mixture of opportunism and fanaticism that has come to typify him.
Opportunism to hitch his propaganda offensive to Hamas‚s fate.
Fanaticism to call for the Danish cartoonists to turn themselves over to Al Qaeda for punishment.
And fanaticism to call for armed resistance against the U.N. peacekeepers in the Sudan, who are doing what?
Simply trying to prevent genocide, that‚s all.
I‚m not surprised by bin Laden‚s fanaticism, however.
9/11 was proof enough for me.
But I am surprised that Bush hasn‚t been able to get him yet.
And that‚s just another reason why Bush will go down in history as our worst President ever.
April 24, 2006
PINK'S PLEA TO BUSH
The pop star Pink stretches a bit from her standard fare with this protest song about Bush--which includes the lyrics, „How can you say no child left behind? We‚re not dumb and we‚re not blind.... What kind of father would take his own daughter‚s rights away? What kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?š
When GI Joe Says No
by CHRISTIAN PARENTI
A young former US Army sniper wearing a desert camo uniform, an Iraqi kaffiyeh and mirrored sunglasses scans a ruined urban landscape of smashed homes, empty streets and garbage heaps. His sand-colored hat bears a small regulation-style military patch, or tab, that instead of reading "Airborne" or "Ranger" or "Special Forces" says "Shitbag"--common military parlance for bad soldier.
This isn't Baghdad or Kabul. It's the Gulf Coast, and the column of young men and women in desert uniforms carrying American flags are with Iraq Veterans Against the War. They are part of a larger peace march that is making its way from Mobile to New Orleans. This is just one of IVAW's ongoing series of actions.
In all, about thirty-five Iraq vets cycled through this weeklong procession of 250. For the young, often very broke, very busy veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, this represents a fairly strong showing. But many casual observers, influenced by memories of Vietnam-era protesting, when veterans mobilized in the thousands, expected that US soldiers in Iraq would turn against the war faster and in greater numbers than they have. An estimated 1 million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but so far IVAW has only about 250 members.
For many of the more activist IVAW vets, their political evolution did not follow the simple trajectory one might expect, from idealism at enlistment to postcombat disillusionment. In fact, many of them shipped off to war despite serious political misgivings. "I went to Iraq opposing the war," says Garrett Reppenhagen, the former sniper with the irreverent potty-mouthed patch on his hat. Reppenhagen served a year with the Army's First Infantry Division in and around the very violent city of Baquba. "I was reading Zinn's People's History and John Perkins's Economic Hit Man before I went."
What's that? Someone went off to be killed or maimed or possibly to kill "hajjis" despite being an antiwar leftist? And Reppenhagen is not alone. A recent Zogby poll found that 29 percent of soldiers in Iraq favored immediate withdrawal, which some see as a sign of an imminent crisis in military discipline. But the poll could be read in exactly the opposite fashion. If the Army and Marines can keep the disgruntled soldiers fighting and fighting, even 70 percent of troops could favor immediate withdrawal and it would mean nothing.
April 23, 2006
I'm back from Chicago, after visiting with my mother, my brother, and his family for a few days. The entry quoted from Riverbend in Baghdad seems an appropriate entry to come back to my blog with.
A Royal Visit...
It‚s officially spring in Baghdad. We jokingly say that in Iraq, spring doesn‚t exist. We go immediately from cold, windy weather to a couple of months of humidity and dust storms, to a blazing, dry heat, i.e. summer. This is the month, however, for rolling up the carpeting and rugs and taking out the summer clothes.
Unpacking the summer clothes and putting away the winter clothes is a process that takes about a week in our household. When the transition from winter clothes to summer clothes is finally over, the house ends up smelling of naphthalene, and unused hand soap, which is sometimes used to store clothes or linen in order to ward off insects.
Besides the usual őspring cleaning‚, etc. the last few weeks have been volatile, even by Iraqi standards. The area of A‚adhamiya in Baghdad has seen some heavy fighting, especially during the last week. There‚s almost always some action in A‚adhamiya but a week ago it got to the point where there was open fighting in the streets between Ministry of Interior militias and guerrillas. As a result of this, we have an elderly relative staying with us. Her son, my mother‚s second cousin, dropped her off at our house with the words, „Her heart can‚t take all the excitement. Some bullets shattered the windows on the second floor and we thought she was going to have a heart-attack.š
Apparently, prior to this latest outbreak of violence in A‚adhamiya, there was a ősilent agreement‚ between the guerrillas and the Iraqi police that no attacks would be launched against Iraqi security forces in the area as long as Iraqi special commandos (Interior Ministry militias) would not attack homes in the area as they have been doing for the last year.
So we‚ve been spending the days with Bibi Z. (őBibi‚ being a Baghdadi word meaning „grannyš or „nanaš) We don‚t know her exact age, but we estimate she‚s well into her eighties. She has a deceptively frail look about her- soft, almost transparent skin, a small face framed with long wisps of white hair. Her dark eyes are still very alive and have a look of permanent fascination because her brows are so white, they barely show up against her skin.
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No War in Iraq march.
San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
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This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.
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