Ron Jacobs & more (Betty filling in for Rebecca)

Betty here, filling in for Rebecca. Tomorrow night, you'll have Jim or Mike. (They'll work it out tomorrow evening.) The other will grab Friday unless Rebecca wants to. I've told Rebecca, I'm here as long as she needs me. This isn't a chore for me. (It may be a chore for her readers to wade through!) It's been a lot of fun. Tonight, Kat found something and we're both noting it. From Ron Jacobs' "Cheney Threatens More War" (CounterPunch):

Anyhow, back to arms-for-hostages deal. It was but one of many and was but a small part of the much greater Iran-Contra scandal. However, the important bits of this escapade is the presence of a number of individuals previously or currently employed by the Bush administration and its departments. A short list includes Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, Otto Reich, John Poindexter, and, most importantly, George Allen (Head of the Department of Homeland Security), and Robert Gates. Now, only some of these men are involved in policy that involves Iran, but one has to wonder what their work in relation to he Iran Contra affair plays in the Bush administration's approach to Iran. Indeed, Gates co-authored a report in 2004 for the Council on Foreign Relations that encouraged a combination of incentives and punitive measures. The report did not call for a settlement of all of the issues between the two countries, stating that such a "grand bargain" is not in Washington's interest. About the only thing that can be ascertained is that there seems to be a disagreement within the administration as to whether or not Iran's current government can help resolve Washington's situation in Iran. If there is any reason why those in the Bush White House intent on changing the regime in Tehran have not succeeded in getting their way, it is because the war on Iraq has failed so miserably in its stated goals. This fact has given the advocates of realpolitik in the Empire's drive for hegemony a chance to push their strategy--a strategy that relies on more than war.
Not that any of this really matters. After all, the Democrats are almost completely on board when it comes to preventing Iran from dominating its region of the world. To prove their commitment, they recently struck language that would have required the White House to get permission via a Congressional vote before it attacked Iran. Furthermore, their counterpart to the Project for a New American Century--the Center for American Progress, agrees in its policy statement that there should be no "grand bargain" with Tehran. Instead, both elements of Washington's policy elite prefer the current instability. Why? Probably because such a scenario allows Washington to change its mind at any time and attack. Not that a "grand bargain" would necessarily prevent US forces from attacking anyhow, yet it would at least acknowledge that the government there officially exists. That is something that Washington has refused to do, from Carter to Bush the Younger. Apparently, it's current status as part of the "axis of evil" is preferable to one that would require Washington's acceptance of its defeat in 1979. Instead, the world is subject to the constant threat of a greater war and the instability such war would certainly bring.

What this says to me is that the point isn't "How did we get here?" (asked in confusion) but why the hell did we allow ourselves to be dragged to this point?

I read that and immediately think of The White Nation and it's editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel. So cozy with her Council of Foreign Relations, so tight with her Center for American Progress. No wonder The White Nation isn't worth reading.

As a Black woman, I find their Obama craze insulting. This is the magazine that seems to feel they've covered race with their token Brown v. Board of Education each year. And there they are pushing Barack Obama over and over. He's not Black. I am just tired of hearing that.

I am a Black woman, I have Black children. Barack Obama is bi-racial. That's the term. Use it. You're not teaching my children anything other than if they were half-White, you'd get behind them too. And it is so insulting to those of us who are Black to hear over and over how Barack Obama is Black or, worse, the 'good' kind of Black.

Hmm. How could I be more like Barack? I guess I could travel back in time and try to get one of my parents to sleep with a White person. There's really no other way for me to alter that. Just like I can't make my children 'acceptable' to the ones loving them so Barack. Short of time traveling back and finding a White father for them.

Today, I had a pretty strong disagreement with a friend who is White and it wasn't about Barack. But she called tonight and asked if I was filling in for Rebecca? I said yes and she said, "You were right. Write about that because it might help someone."

She's a little older than I am and has three children two of which are over 18. The middle child is a son (as it the youngest one) and she's a friend so we always offer each other advice on our kids (her advice is generally much better than mine because she's already been through stuff I've not yet had to).

But she was talking about the middle child and I kind of went off on her. I'm not last of the litter, so maybe I was projecting? I didn't think so.

Here's the way the story goes. She said it was okay to write about this and we went over it because I wanted to be sure I didn't say anything I shouldn't.

She was married to a real jerk who fathered the three kids -- one girl, two boys. And it just ended up being a pattern that her middle son, I'll call him Bill, got ignored. I didn't realize that until we were talking today. We've known each other for five years so I come in late but I was still shocked.

Bill's a really nice young man. Any time she's brought him along with her when she dropped by, he always asks me if I need something fixed, if there's something heavy that needs to be moved, is there anything he can help me with? He is just the nicest kid.

And I just got really mad as I was hearing the story of his life today because he has been treated like trash. With her first husband (the children's father), Jerk (that's what I'll call husband number one) hated Bill. Hated Bill from the minute he was born. I knew the two didn't get along. That's partly because Jerk hit my friend throughout their marriage. I knew some of that but I had no idea how bad it was (this was before we knew each other) or that Bill would bodily step in between her and Jerk from before he was in elementary school. Which only made Jerk hate Bill more. And Jerk beat that kid. He never beat the daughter or the youngest son. But he just went to town on Bill.

This all came up because Bill is graduating high school later this month. And she was talking about suits today. She needed to buy a suit for the graduation. I was sharing the kind I thought would look nice, just tossing stuff out there and, suddenly, I realized we were talking about her youngest son, not Bill.

She said, "Well he's going to the graduation. Bill will be wearing a cap and gown."

I asked if Bill already had a suit and he didn't. Then she started explaining how she always had to buy clothes for her daughter and for her younger son. I stopped her and asked what about Bill? She said Bill really didn't ask for stuff.

And we're talking and it comes out why. Bill didn't get things from Jerk (other than beatings). And Jerk wouldn't let money be spent on Bill. Bill's grandparents (her parents) would get him clothes for Christmas and for his birthday (which, fortunately, was in September). That was it. He might get undewear and socks but that was it. Those were his school clothes.

She's remarried now. When we became friends, she was with him and I can be a pain in the ass. Not even knowing everything that was going on, I told her, "You've got to leave him." It was just obvious. So she did. Within a year she found a wonderful guy and married him.

Now he sometimes says, "Shouldn't we give money to Bill to get clothes" at the start of the school year? Oh, he doesn't need it, would be the reply.

Bill went through his junior year with two pairs of blue jeans and a pair of khakis and six shirts.
Now, I'm not slamming any parents or family that this happens in if that's all that can be afforded. But she and her husband make money. They could buy Bill clothes. (Bill has his first set of real clothes this year because he's worked as a stocker all year long. I've been telling him how great his clothes were all year and I had no idea that this was the first time he really had any say. They look great and he was always glad to hear it. But if I'd known that, I would've been getting him a shirt and pants or anything to help out.)

They didn't.

So my friend is explaining how this is just Bill and this was how he was and then starts telling me the whole story and I really just lost it. I wasn't screaming, "I hate you!" I wasn't doing anything like that. But I did tell her, "If I was with some man beating me and one of my children was jumping in the middle every time to save me, you better believe I wouldn't just remember that, I would make a point to let him know how much that meant to me."

I brought up how much they spent two years ago on her daughter's prom dress. (Over a thousand dollars.) I was just fit to be tied. And I told her I was as mad at myself as well because this whole time I'd thought, "Well Bill just doesn't like to be all dressed up like his brother or his sister." Bill comes over every week in the summer and mows my yard. He will not take money from me. I knew he liked movies so I started getting him DVDs and while I know he appreciated that, if I'd known that he needed clothes, I could have been getting him those to thank him instead.

And when I said that, I remembered my sister gave him their old DVD player one Christmas when he'd brought over some things (he's always doing errands for his family). She said they had a new one (which they did) all wrapped up and asked him if he wanted it? That's the DVD player he has in his room. (The TV was from his grandparents.) That may not seem like a big thing but his brother and sister have their own computers, iPods, TVs, you name it, in their rooms. I was such an idiot. I just thought he was "spartan." That he didn't like clutter.

And, if I'm being honest, I really am mad at myself still. I'll just give cash for graduation and try to make it up some there. But he's just the nicest kid in the world and I never would have thought he might be doing without.

What happened was that for Bill's whole life he didn't get money spent on him and it was like she internalized that even after she left Jerk.

I wish I'd been able to discuss this nicely but I just lost it. My friend said on the phone tonight that it wouldn't have hit home if I hadn't. She said seeing me so mad made her realize what had gone on. And that's not because she's bad.

Bill doesn't ask. Now Bill doesn't ask for anything because he's been raised to believe he wouldn't get anything. And he doesn't expect anything.

Jerk's parents? They'd have to spend every Christmas with them when she was married to Jerk. All the grandkids, including her youngest son and her daughter would get gifts. Bill? She's telling me today about the typical Christmas. There's a big gift with Bill's name on it. He opens it. A box, he opens, over and over until he has a can of green beans and all the adults (except for her) and the kids are laughing. That might not be so typical, some years he didn't even have a box under the Christmas tree.

Would you ask for anything after that? Would you expect anything after that?

My heart just broke for that poor kid and that's just one of the stories I heard today.

She asked me to note this and here's the point. She's remarried. He's a great guy. But, on some level, she was afraid. That's what she thinks it was. (I'm not doubting her. But she siad she did a lot of soul searching after we talked.) And saying, "We should get Bill . . ." whatever was just something that was programmed out of her in years and years of abuse.

And bringing it up after all that was probably something she avoided for fear of a repeat of her first marriage. Now she talked to her husband about this and Bill's getting a suit (among other things). But her point was that even after Jerk was out of her life, she continued the cycle (of nothing for Bill). The first year, she was suddenly supporting the whole family so that's understandable (all the children did do without during that period). But when she remarried, she continued it.

I told her when we'd first been discussing this that my biggest concern was Bill because he's an adult now and his childhood is over. He went through his entire childhood with that. I really am concerned. Maybe he's turned lemons into lemon pie? Maybe he's taken this difficult thing and turned it into a plus? But maybe he really thinks he's not worthy of the things other people are? I am seriously concerned about that. Off the football field, he's the most gentle person in the world and I can't imagine him repeating the cycle of abuse with any woman he is with. But I can picture him going through life thinking he's not worth much, or that everyone's needs are more important than his own.

So that was my big drama today. Don't you love how I made Bill's problems into my own drama? I just had to hear about it, he had to live through it.

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, 3 US soldiers remain missing, war resistance gets active (within the military and outside of it), and Bully Boy finds his soul mate (maybe Match.com hooked them up?).

Starting with war resistance. Today is International C.O. Day.
Susan Galleymore (Raising Sand, KZSU) interviewed two war resisters of the current illegal war, Camilo Mejia, Agustin Aguayo, as well as David Harris (Vietnam) and Aimee Allison (Gulf War). Both Mejia and Aguayo spoke of the promise of advancement outside the military -- of joining because of promised college benefits and the chance to advance for themselves and their family (Aguayo has two twin daughters, Camilo has one daughter). Late yesterday, Paul McNulty, Deputy AG, stated he would be stepping down and cited "financial realities" resulting from "college-age children" -- well, gee, McNulty, get your kids to sign up. No, that's not why McNulty stepped down but it's a good cover because college costs a lot of money (a great deal more since the Bully Boy began occupying the White House). It's not only dishonest it's insulting at a time when we have a poverty draft (for more on that see Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq).

In fact, we need to stop there and really absorb that. At a time when the poor, working poor and economically struggling enlist to have a shot at college it is appalling that the comfortable McNulty wants to slink off, he uses that excuse.

Mejia spoke with Galleymore about the difference in economic status that resulted from his moving from Latin American (Costa Rica) to the United States. Mejia tells his story in
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. In the book, he covers his return to the United States (as a small child, his mother brought Camilo and his brother to the US before deciding to move to Costa Rica) (pp. 14 -15):

Furthermore, the staff did not understand that even though I was in eleventh grade in Costa Rica, I was a senior. They insisted that I take two more years in order to graduate, and I ended up having to attend night school in an attempt to do two years in one. A good portion of the students in the night classes were troublemakers who had been kicked out of day school for disciplinary reasons.
I also had to work for a living for the first time in my life. My mother had rented out our apartment in Nicaragua, and my father was still sending some child support money, but even with this extra income my mother's salary as a supermarket cashier wasn't enough to pay the rent and put food on the table. So I got a job at a fast-food restaurant, where I swept the parking lot, put the chairs down from the tables, and cleaned the bathrooms every single morning before moving to the kitchen to flip burgers for six hours. After work I had a two-hour break before going to night school, so my days started at five-thirty in the morning and didn't end until I returned home from school at ten at night.
Graduation was also very different from what I'd imagined. There was no prom night for me, nor did I have any friends with whom to celebrate. I just walked into the school principal's office and he handed me my diploma. I think he said "Congratulations and good luck, son." I went to the local supermarket and sat outside on a bench, staring at m diploma and wondering if this was all that happened when you graduated.
The following year, after I attended a community college for two semesters, the government terminated my federal student financial aid, claiming I made enough money at my dead-end job to pay my own tuition. I found myself without any real prospects for the future. It seemed as though I was working my butt off for a life that offered nothing at all.
It was these circumstances that led me to join the U.S. Army in Miami at age 19. The recruiter didn't really have to work hard to get me to sign the treacherous contract. The army offered financial stability and tuition, the military held out the promise of helping me claim my place in the world.

Joshua Key, Ryan Johnson and many other war resisters can tell that story. Many within the military today can tell that story. It's why Casey Sheehan joined up. So for McNulty to hide behind "college-age children" as he abandons the sinking ship isn't just laughable it's insulting.

Donna Jones (Santa Cruz Sentinel) notes that Mejia and Aguayo are on a speaking tour with war resisters Robert Zabala and Pablo Paredes and reports: "Paredes, a former Navy petty officer, disputed the Army's figures on resisters, saying the counseling hot line he staffs has received 40,000 calls. Many apply for CO status, but get discouraged in the face of delays and intimidation, Paredes said, adding the military definition is very low." Aguayo noted, on Raising Sand Radio, that his struggle to be granted CO status continues (the DC Court of Appeals turned down the motion on Feb. 16th). Jones provides the Army's released figures relating to CO's (an undercount, to be sure): 2001 - 18 approved and 5 denied; 2002 - 17 approved and 6 denied; 2003 - 31 approved and 20 denied; 2004 - 30 approved and 30 denied; 2005 - 23 approved and 38 denied; 2006 (first 9 months only) - 33 approved and 9 denied.

Tonight and through Friday,
the speaking out tour continues:

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Friday May 18 - Berkeley7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

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.

And speaking out goes on around the country on campuses, on streets . . . At the GI coffeehouse
Different Drummer Cafe, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Adrienne Kinne, Matt Howard, Drew Cameron and Matt Hrutkay used their voices. Eric Ruder (ISR) captures the discussion and we'll note Drew Cameron (and try to note each of the four this week): "The thing that is most important for us who have been there, for us who are affected by this, for us who know what's going on -- it's just like Matt was saying -- we've got to be honest, we've got to be truthful about what we did, what we're doing, and how we're being treated. . . . So when we get back and we have problems and we need educational opportunities and we need health care, what happens? They are creating veterans every single day who are pissed off and think: I'm done with this. I've got the VA, I can rely on that a little bit, that'll be alright. But instead, we get a cold shoulder. They say, we'll see you in three months or six months. They are creating veterans every single day who come back from combat and there's no suport structure. There's no reaching out. A lot of people have to wait until it gets really bad. When I got back from active duty I moved up to Vermont from Oklahoma and no one told me this is where the VA is, this is what you have to do, this is how you get your benefits, this is what you're eligible for. Nobody told me any of that, I had to find out on my own. I had to go to the clinics and ask do I get this or that. Where's the outreach and support? What happened to all the stuff we were promised? All the stuff that we deserve, where is it? They don't care. That's the biggest realization that I've come to. They do not care. They. Do. Not. Care."

And they don't. If they did, if the administration did, if the Congress did, they'd be addressing the PTSD epidemic. Instead they ignore it.
Military Families Speak Out notes: "Servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to their combat experiences are routinely re-deployed to comabt, and/or kept in combat, according to Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), a nationwide organization of 3,500 military families who have been speaking out in opposition to the war in Iraq." Aaron Glantz (IPS): "At the beginning of May, Corporal Cloy Richards tried to kill himself. 'He punched out all his windows and cut major arteries,' his mother Tina Richards told IPS. 'he had to go to the hopsital because he almost bled to death.' Cloy Richards, who lives in rural Salem, Missouri, has served two deployments in the Marine Corps in Iraq. The military lists him as 80-percent combat disabled. His mother says he has knee and arm injuries, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, and currently has a claim pending with the Army for a traumatic brain injury. 'It's something that affects us every single day,' Tina said, 'when he's 23 years old and he can't even climb the stairs. He has bad nightmares where he thinks he's back in Iraq." And that's why Tina Richards speaks out and calls for action. US House Rep David Obey can scream his head off at her in his public tantrum (and have the usual Party Hacks defend him) but get a damn grip, his life, as 'tough' as it ever may be, is nothing compared to the Richards family live with every day and live with as a result of an illegal war that Congress shows no will to end.

Monday, as
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) reports, Tina Richards joined Cindy Sheehan and over 250 others to march "through Washington, DC to Capitol Hill. When they reached the Cannon House Office Building they formed two circles blocking the street to traffice. The demonstration was the 'Mother of a March spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan whose son died in Iraq. The march kicked off a 'Summer of Action' where anti-war demonstrators will SWARM on Congress from today until June 31 advocating an end to the war." CODEPINK notes that over 30 were arrested in the action including Cindy Sheehan and Tina Richards (link has several photos as well as text and click here for audio & video). Have you been to jail for justice?

Turning to Iraq, the 3 US soldiers who have been missing since a Saturday attack outside Mahmudiya (that left 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator dead) remain missing.
CNN notes that the attack took place at a "staionary observation post" and that there is confusion as to who is missing: "Four other soliders -- three missing and one of the dead -- remain listead as 'duty status whereabouts unkown.' The military can't yet sort out precisely who was kidnapped because one of the four bodies is so badly burned that it can't be immediately identified." CBS' Mark Strassman "reports all the soldiers involved in the ambus were from Fort Drum, in upstate New York." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) notes of the ongoing search: "Helicopters had logged more than 255 hours and other US security agencies had deployed their assets in the race to locate the soldiers, whom the military still assumed were alive, [Lt. Col. Christopher] Garver said. Other aircraft and jets zoomed overhead, and satellite technology had been tapped, as soldiers scoured the hostile area."


CBS and AP report: "At least one mortar or rocket slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Tuesday, wounding five American Embassy contractors, a spokesman said." Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left 5 dead and 15 wounded, aan Abu Saida bombing that left 12 dead and 22 wounded. Baghdad mortar attack that left 4 dead and 4 wounded, and a mini-bus bombing that left 1 dead and 4 injured. Reuters reports 2 dead and 4 injured in a Mahmudiya roadside bombing and 1 dead, 4 Iraqi soldiers injured in Mosul from a bombing, and 2 wounded from a Hawija roadside bombing.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Colonel Raed Mohamed Shihab shot dead in front of his house and 2 people shot dead in Al Khalis. Reuters notes a Tikrit shooting that left two dead and one wounded.


Mohmmaed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

In Iraqi legislation news,
Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports 'progress' on Iraq's constitution plan which translates as the proposed changes (including the privatization of the oil) is being sent to the parliament for a vote. Sunday, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on the troubles some aspects face if put to a floor vote. The laws aren't any closer to being passed. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) notes last week's stand by the Iraqi parliament "against the US occupation and for a rapid withdrawal of American troops. This is the perfect opportunity for a face-saving and orderly US withdrawal based on the request of a soverign government. To reject the offer would paint the US as a naked imperialist without a fig leaf of legitimacy."

on tonight's broadcast of The Bachelor: White House Bully Boy hands a rose to Army Lt. Gen Douglas Lute and says, "You defeat me. Be my war czar." Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) first reported on the search April 11, 2007. 34 days later -- can you say "shotgun wedding"? -- Bully Boy has his man.