Last weekend, I put up my Christmas tree and was rocked with the memories of the last Christmas I spent with my only son, who died a month and a half later, in February 2004. He was home on an unexpected leave. My husband and I had no money as he had been laid off from work and I was the only one keeping us afloat then. We had barely enough to make ends meet. But Jeremy was coming home and we were determined to make the holiday a good one for him, knowing that this could very well be his last Christmas ever.
I got a PayDay Loan. Then, because all of our holiday decorations were in storage in another city, I went out and bought a small silk tree and decorated it. I bought small, inexpensive gifts and food for our traditional Christmas Eve feast. And when my son came home, I hugged on him, kissed him and spent as much time as I possibly could with him. In the end, it was a good Christmas.
Now, I put that little tree up every year in remembrance of my only son, my beloved boy whose voice I will never hear again, the young man I will never again hug or kiss. And I cry tears of sorrow for the senseless end of his life.
that's from amy branham's 'Open Letter to Bush and Congress -- Bring our Troops Home!' (buzzflash). it's especially important on the day bully boy wants to increase troop levels in iraq (really in baghdad, as c.i. pointed out). along with bully boy, other war hawks embracing the idea include harry reid, hillary clinton, john kerry, and nancy pelosi. the latter didn't surprise me but i've only heard robert knight note it tonight on Flashpoints. (if he noted it, i'm sure it's true.)
meanwhile, if you caught bully boy's nonsense press conference, you heard him try to sell his illegal war on some psuedo-religious grounds saying that it was 'the calling' as though there's some church hymn about killing and killing. (probably there is. if so, don't bore me with the lyrics to it.)
democracy now today played a recent speech (i believe from last weekend) by robert fisk. i enjoyed it but let me point out the issue of 'end credits' to the james baker circle jerk was covered by c.i. the day the report was released. wally's asked me to write about this and i'll do so briefly. this was on the trip wally and ty were on. they were in the newsroom when a copy of the report came in. to help out a friend who had to report on it, c.i. grabbed the last 1/2 of the report and went through making notes.
i dropped out on the james baker circle jerk some time ago (as did the community last week); however, when i was still following the coverage, no 1 was making the point about the lengthy 'end credits.' i was glad to hear fisk point it out. and to do so briefly because we've all heard enough about that nonsense report.
speak of the c.i. just called. could i note something? yes. norman solomon will address the nonsense of troop 'surge' tomorrow morning on kpfa's the morning show. by the way, kat's got a bad cold so let me send a get well wish to kat. (i'm not going to risk calling her when she may be asleep. so i'll use my site to say, 'get well.')
and thinking of my sick friend made me remember to visit her favorite site (elaine's as well) where i saw dave lindorff's 'Sell-Out Democrats Walk Into a Bush Trap on Iraq' (counterpunch):
The Democratic Party and its feckless leaders in Congress are about to fall into a trap. The trap is being sprung by President Bush and his too clever brain trust, but the sad fact is that it was actually laid by the Democrats themselves.
Taking over the Congress on a wave of popular revulsion at the twin catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats could have issued immediate calls for an end to those wars, a return of the troops, and investigations into the criminal causes of those costly fiascos. They could have initiated efforts to halt funding for further war and foreign occupation. Of course, taking such stands and actions would have opened them to charges of being "soft on terror," but the public clearly isn't buying that crap any more. With a little courage and leadership they could have handled it, and come out winners.
Instead, they took what they thought was the easy road, condemning not the criminal policies themselves, but only the administration's handling of the wars. This led some to call not for an end to the wars, but for more troops.
Now, Bush has called their bluff by proposing just that: more troops for Iraq (the so-called "surge" option), and a major expansion of the army over the longer term--the better to allow the president to invade other countries even as the nation is already mired in two losing wars.
And what are the Democrats in Congress going to do? Devoid of any principles, their chance to demand an end to reckless imperialist military adventures squandered, they are likely to fall in line and vote to fund both an escalation of the Iraq War and an expansion of the military.
It's a double win for Bush. He gets the funding for more war right through the end of his second term of office, allowing him to hand the Iraq quagmire to the next president, making it someone else's job to take the blame for the eventually unavoidable loss. And he gets a bigger defense budget and more troops to play with--perhaps as much as a 10 percent increase in total combat troops.
that just about says it all, doesn't it?
too cowardly to lead and too worthless to make a difference, the democrats sell out the people who put them back in control and do so before they're even sworn in. that must be some kind of record.
i didn't say a 'good' record. not all records are good. take wally and cedric's comparsion of bully boy's oval office performance with that of jake plummer's record as quarterback. i don't follow the nfl (i do follow basketball) but flyboy explained it to me. jake plummer seems the perfect comparison as bully boy attempts to 'go long.'
we're trying to decide what to eat tonight. it was a crowd today. not a complaint. when you're not leaving the house, you really need and love company. my mother and my grandmother were visiting today. ruth is here monday through friday and she made a spread for every 1. ruth's too good of a cook, however, and it was all gone quickly. i was really glad ruth got to meet my grandmother because i always mention 1 to the other and this was there 1st face to face. they actually had a lot to talk about.
so flyboy's digging through the fridge and darting back in here (i'm on the couch with the laptop) trying to see what sounds good to me. believe it or not, a b.l.t. and i'm not generally in the mood for bacon. i'm so not in the mood most times that flyboy said, 'don't say it just because it's easy, i'm just telling you what we've got.' i wasn't. i really am in the mood for a b.l.t.
we're going to eat and watch the late show - the movie with lily tomlin and art carney. it's 1 of my favorites. it's really windy tonight. i haven't been outside but i can hear it. (i do go outside. i just had no need to today.) so we'll turn off the lights, park in front of the tv (i've been parked all day) and watch the semi-scary movie (it's a comedy but it has its scary moments) while the wind whips around outside.
here's c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Wednesday, December 20, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the New York Times which continues to act as though Colin Brown and Andy McSmith (Independent of London) broke no news last week, now plays "I don't see Chatham House" which may make it difficult for them to explain why Britain's Foreign Secretary is fessin' up to her own 'blot'; a large crowd turns out in Honolulu to hear US war resister Ehren Watada; and Bully Boy, who wants to go long with the lives of others, lets slip a bit of truth (naturally, the Times plays dumb).
In England, a [PDF format] report continues to spark debate. Chatham House issued the six-page report yesterday (see yesterday's snapshot) and Tony Blair rushed to deny the conclusions but mainly revealed that six pages are about five too many for him to read and comprehend. Along with the prime minister, also issuing denials was the country's Foreign Secretary who termed the report "utterly ridiculous." "Utterly ridiculous" describes Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and her performance on BBC Radio 4 yesterday where she attempted to rewrite history. After confessing that the (false) claim that Iraq could attack England with WMDs within 45 minutes, Beckett attempted to make light of it: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance". John Humphrys (host of the BBC program Today) begged to differ and noted that the Blair government never corrected the public record, never came out and stated, "Ooopsy! That was a big fat lie." Beckett snarled back, "Oh, come on -- nobody that it was revelant. Nobody thought it was a big sweeping statement."
This is London adds the perspective Beckett attempts to strip from the public record -- Tony Blair made that claim in the 2002 while advocating war, it "was at the heart of the Downing Street dossier issued in September 2002 where Blair wrote: "The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them," Blair went on to push the false assertion four times more in the dossier and once in a public speech to the House of Commons, and the lie was at the root of the 2003 inquiry into whether or not intel had been 'sexed up' -- as the BBC reported it had -- during which time Beckett and Blair continued to sit on the truth and David Kelly died. Now Beckett wants to say, "Oh, come on"?
The BBC reports that the Tory party are calling it "appalling" and noting the false claim did not belong "in a government dossier". William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, states, "If it is true that the 45-minute claim had been discounted before the invasion, it is appalling that there seems to have been no effort or coordination between ministers to put the record straight. This is yet another reason to dismantle Tony Blair's sofa policy-making and restore Cabinet government." The BBC notes what the New York Times can't or won't, "The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that 'at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests'. He also claimed that there was no evidence of 'significant holdings' of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion. "
While the Chatham House report goes largely ignored by the US press, Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) observes, "If it wasn't so serious it would be hilariously funny. 'Mr Tony', as he now apparently likes to be called, has been explaining his theory of leadership: 'The art of leadership is learning to take decisions.' So far, so good. And, he goes on, 'sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong. Some of the decisions are very difficult and someone always gets angry.' Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. Look at the Baker-Hamilton commission in the United States, which gave a devastating critique of the policy, warned of the situation in Iraq deteriorating and of the threat of regional conflagration. Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."
Mr. Tony? Sounds like he's getting ready to do a rinse and set. Tareq al-Hashemi thinks another kind of washing has gone on. The BBC reports that al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, spoke to the Council of Relations in NYC and, noting that Mr. Tony had been favorable to the ide of a withdrawal timetable for foreign troops, went on to conclude that possibly Mr. Tony had been "brainwashed" by the Bully Boy since he changed his mind on the subject: "It is quite unfortunate that your president made a sort of blackmail out of Mr Blair."
Brainwashed, blackmailed or strong armed, it's exactly the sort of cow-towing, lackey decision making that the Chatham Report noted and stated needed to stop. In the United States, desperate for something, anything!, to fuel a new wave of Operation Happy Talk, the US government declares (and CNN runs with) that they have captured yet another al Qaeda leader in Iraq! Six days ago is whispered in sotto voice. al Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to the illegal war and, as the US Pentagon underscored yesterday, it's not the force the hyped up talk repeatedly makes it out to be (the Pentagon found militias to be the greater threat to national security in Iraq). But if the US administration pushes it hard enough, maybe the wave of Operation Happy Talk will drown out reality.
Or at least allow people not to note that the same Bully Boy who used Daddy's connections to avoid serving in Vietnam (not due to any opposition to the war, just cowardice of putting his own ass on the line) now tests the waters for sending more US troops to die in Iraq. Speaking to the press today, Bully Boy declared, "They think they can. They think it's just a matter of time before America grows weary and leaves, abandons the people of Iraq, for example. And that's not going to happen." Once again, he demonstrates how he can sleep easy even after all the blood on his hands -- he just doesn't give a damn. Which allows him to lie with claims such as "I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now." As polls have repeatedly demonstrated, Americans and Iraqis favor, in strong majorities, US forces doing just that.
AP reports that John Abizaid ("commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East") has submitted his plans to retire. That's surprising only to those who missed Thom Shanker (New York Times) report today that Abizaid "argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security." That opinion is no longer in favor with the US administration (or War Hawks in the press like Gordo) so it's no surprise that Abizaid is stepping down.
Robert Gates, the newly installed US Secretary of Defense is all for more US troops being sent to Iraq. CBS and AP report that Gates visited the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad where he "discussed a possible infusion of more U.S. troops into Iraq with American commanders on Wednesday but said no decisions have been made. On just his third day in his post, Gates journeyed to Iraq armed with a mandate from President Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy." There are no new strategies, just desperation tactics. As Peter Baker (Washington Post) reported today, the Bully Boy has admitted that the US is "not winning" which, Baker observed, "was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections declared, 'Absolutely, we're winning'."
Though some Democrats in the Senate may scratch their heads and wonder what happened to Bobby Gates, the reality is that his lackey qualities were well known long before they confirmed him. As Robert Parry (Consortium News) reports, the thinking was "that Gates was a closet dove who would help guide the United States out of George W. Bush's mess in Iraq. The thinking was that Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group, would represent the views of James Baker and other 'realitists' from George H.W. Bush's administration. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his 'candor' when he acknowledged the obvious, that the war in Iraq wasn't being won. Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of 'victory' or 'success,' no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat." As Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) noted yesterday, there's one conclusion left out of Parry's report -- the statement "I was right." Parry was right and had Senate Dems been more interested in exploring the record and less in a hurry to get rid of Donald the Rumsfled (who was out the door regardless), as Rebecca pointed out, "we wouldn't have the new donald rumsfeld. that's all gates is. actually, he's rumsfeld without 4 years of baggage, 4 years of known lies. he's rumsfeld with a honeymoon period from the press that will probably extend all the way through 2008."
Instead of recognizing the peace mandate of the November elections, as CBS and the AP report, the Pentagon is asking for an additional 99.7 billion for the wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) which "would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion."
More money and more lives down the drain in an illegal war of choice. In Iraq today . . .
Outside of Baghdad, Reuters notes two dead and three wounded in Baiji from a roadside bomb. Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times) reports "a massive sucide car bomb" this morning in Baghdad "near the entrance to Baghdad University" which claimed eleven lives (plus the driver of the car) "including six Iraqi police" and left "at least two dozen" injured. Reuters also notes three other car bombs in Baghdad: four dead and eight wounded from one "in the parking lot of an Interior Ministry office," two wounded from one in the Bayaa disctrict and two wounded from one in the Camp Sara district.
Molly Hennesy-Fiske (LA Times) reports that three people were shot dead and at least seven more wounded at the Bab Al Muadhem bus terminal in Baghdad, that Mahmoud Mohammed Rahseed was shot dead in the Baghdad neighborhood "where he taught middle school," that Ali Arnoosi ("deputy dean of the college of law at the University of Baghdad") and law professor Mohammed Hamdani were also shot dead in Baghdad continuing the targeting of educators in Iraq. This comes at a time when, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has made attendence mandatory for both professors and students and failure to comply will lead to "dismissal or expulsion" so "the professors have begun hiding their education by donning ratty clothes, pulling on traditional Arab head scarves and driving to campus in beat-up cars." Like the Bully Boy, the puppet's not concerned with safety just with the appearances.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A military official in the 5th division of the Iraqi army said that a soldier was killed and 3 others were wounded when a group of more than 30 insurgents attacked early morning today a military checkpoint in Abo Al Nakhal district in Khalis city north of Baqouba city. The source confirmed that 5 insurgents were killed." and "A governmental source in Baladrooz town east of Baqouba city (60 kms north of Baghdad) said that 2 civilians were killed and 8 were injured when an insurgents group from Dainiya neighborhood targeted civilians in Shakori village in the same town early morning today."
Reuters notes that eleven corpses were discovered in Mosul and two in Mahmudiya while 76 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Repeating, 76.
In addition, the US military announced today: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in a southern neighborhood of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The combat patrol was conducting a route clearance mission in order to free the roads of any possible dangers. As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles, killing one and wounding two other Soldiers." The US military also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 20. The dismounted combat patrol was on the way to investigate an explosion that occurred in the area when a roadside bomb detonated. As a result of the explosion, four Soldiers were wounded and one Soldier was killed."
Turning to peace news, in June of this year, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, in Honolulu, he spoke out again. Rod Ohira (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that a crowd of 350 turned out to hear Watada speak at the Church of the Crossroads where he stated, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?"
Watada faces a pre-trial hearing in January and then a court-martial in February. Though the US Congress seems unable or unwilling to excercise their oversight and have largely rebuffed his mother, Carolyn Ho, and her efforts, the reality is that he is one person in a growing movement of resistance within the military that includes Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public while currently there are thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.