tonight's theme post night. and the theme is a song that sticks in our head but not because we just heard it on the radio. it's a song you find yourself humming or singing to yourself.
back story on the theme post night. c.i. is exhausted. ava is as well. they're on the road every week speaking out against the iraq war. wally and kat are as well but they'll tell you, if they're tired, they'll beg off a late speaking engagement and go get some sleep. whereas ava and c.i. will be doing their last talk and think they're through and some 1 will say, 'i wish the other girls in my sorority' or whatever 'could hear this.' and ava and c.i. will say, 'can you get them together in an hour?' if so, they do another speaking gig which is how, some nights, they're not done until after midnight.
and c.i.'s up the next morning to get in an hour run before she even starts work on the common ills.
now on the weekend, they try to get some rest. which doesn't work out that way really, but it passes for rest. except last weekend they had to leave dc to be in san francisco for the rally (1 reason, ava had an elderly relative who wanted to go but was nervous about going by herself, 2nd reason, there were some false rumors about the protest in order to try to scare people away so ava and c.i. said, 'we'll be there.'). from san francisco saturday, they flew to la to meet up with some people protesting there and then back to d.c. where they had to work on 3rd and only stopped when it was time to take part in the march for immigration rights and then, when the march was over, they were back at work on third. they got no sleep. i don't have that kind of stamina.
but they are tired and ava called to explain the snapshot would probably be late due to the fact that they had a speaking gig when c.i. normally dictates and also the c.i. might take a brief 15 minute nap after before dictating the snapshot. now we all post around 11 my time. (est.) so c.i. could actually get a snapshot up at 10:59 and not be 'late.' but so that c.i. wouldn't worry (and hoping she'd take a 30 minute nap), i told ava we'd do a theme post and make it an easy night.
so that's what you'll see around the community tonight (but if you're wondering, c.i. didn't take a nap and went right into dictating the snapshot).
now my song.
don mclean had a hit with the song.
and it was nice.
but the version i hear in my head is madonna's.
i'm not joking.
i'm not a huge fan of madonna's. there are probably 5 songs by madonna that i consider personal classics. and there are a lot more i like. but i'm not a madonna freak or member of church of madonna or any thing. i love 'beautiful stranger,' for example, and 'cherish.'
but i was just blown away by the way she remade that song. it said so much more.
and i always hear it in my head during the day and will start singing along.
again, i have nothing against don mclean's version. but for me, even though he wrote the song, madonna defined it.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri wants a recount, a RECOUNT!!!!!, the US media coverage is examined, DoD lies to Congress again, Iraq's LGBT community remains under attack and more.
We'll start with the topic of the Iraqi elections. The latest Listening Post (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday) included a recollection that the American media -- Big and Small -- didn't make time for in their seven year anniversary coverage.
Richard Gizbert (Listening Post anchor): As the Iraqi polls closed last week, we at the Listening Post analyzed election coverage in the country and the state of the media there. This week, we're looking at the same story but switching our focus to the narrative on Iraq in the American media. It is fair to say that US news outlets have, in editorial terms, been all over the place on the Iraq War. Even the so-called liberal media were hawkish during the run-up, then many outlets turned against the war when it was going badly. But now some of them and their opinion makers are changing their tune. They're going back to where they started. We're zeroing in on two pieces in particular: A cover story on Newsweek magazine that talked of victory in Iraq and a column by Thomas Friedman, a foreign policy expert at the New York Times. Our starting point this week is Baghdad. With a story that's being scripted in Washington, DC and being told in America and around the world. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times was not the only editorial voice in America to support the Iraq War. He was just one of the most influential because of who he is and where his work is published.
Michael Hastings: Many of the columnists -- the Thomas Friedmans, the Fareed Zakarias, the George Packers of The New Yorker, you know, these guys are supposed to be these genius foreign policy thinkers, right, and they got the biggest foreign policy question of their generation completely wrong.
Richard Gizbert: As the Times' foreign policy columnist, Thomas Friedman is considered a must-read for many Americans -- particularly policy makers in Washington.
Matthew Duss: He's been able to transform himself into kind of a condenser of the conventional elite wisdom on the Middle East.
Michael Hastings: What Thomas Friedman writes helps shape the debate in Washington, DC, helps shape the debate policy makers are having.
Richard Gizbert: In the column he published on the Iraq election entitled "It's Up to Iraqis Now. Good luck." Friedman wrote, "Of all the pictures I saw, my favorite was the Iraqi expatriate mother, voting in Michigan, holding up her son to let him stuff her ballot into the box. I loved that picture." But Michigan is a long way and a far cry from Baghdad.
Matthew Duss: I do see some irony in the fact that Tom Friedman chose a picture of Iraqi refugees voting in Detroit. It just brings to mind that there is a huge refugee situation -- 5 million people, it's estimated, were displaced this policy of invasion and occupation is now one that's going to be validated no matter what people like Tom Friedman would like to believe.
Jason Linkins: It's a fitting example of the distance of his thinking. What's a woman in Michigan got to worry about. She's not going to be facing the consequences of what's gone on there -- she lives in Michigan. All the people that live in Baghdad, in Barsra, in Kirkuk, they live with these things daily and to Friedman it's all one grand abstraction.
Richard Gizbert: Friedman went on to write: "President Bush's gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right. Some argue that nothing that happened in Iraq will ever justify the cost. Historians will sort that out.
Matthew Duss: Tom Friedman's column is unfortunately, I think, symbolic of the generally caviliar attitude he's had about this from the very beginning. The American people understand that we cannot go about the world just starting wars, invading and occupying countries; however, our elite media, Tom Friedman and others being the perfect example, seem to think that we can.
Richard Gizbert: Friedman talks a lot about democracy in the column but nowhere does he mention the Weapons of Mass Destruction that were never found or the 9-11 attacks that precipitated the war even though back in 2003 terrorism was in the forefront of Friedman's thinking and his writing.
Thomas Friedman (speaking to Charlie Rose in 2003 clip): The Terrorism bubble that basically built up over the 1990s saying "Flying airplanes into the World Trade Center? That's okay. Having your preachers say that's okay? That's okay." And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad. Uhm and basically saying: "You think this bubble fantasy, we're just going to let that go? Well suck on this."
Jason Linkins: The problem of course with the thinking there is that there wasn't anyone in any homes from Basra to Baghdad who had anything to do at all with the 9-11 attacks. You may as well have been kicking in the doors of people in Minneapolis.
Thomas Friedman (speaking to Charlie Rose in 2003): We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Couldda' hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
Jason Linkins: This, I think, correctly represented the way that the Bush administration viewed the world and it represented an unfortunate tendency of many in the media to react to 9-11 in a very defensive and a vey belligerant manner.
Richard Gizbert: The New York Times has a reputation in the US for being ideologically liberal. So does Newsweek magazine whose cover story and splashy headline also attracted attention -- not all of it good.
Michael Hastings: I thought Newsweek magazine's cover that said "Victory At Last" was just very embarrassing for the magazine to even put up there. I don't use the word propaganda lightly but it seemed to me that was propaganda. What it was meant to do was to tell Americans, "Hey, look guys, we won even though the facts don't really back that case up at all.
Richard Gizbert: The Newsweek article was not quite as triumphal as the headline. But it's Newsweek.
[MSNBC anchor]: Your cover of Newsweek -- "Victory At Last"
Richard Gizbert: So it caught the attention of news channels that, back in 2002, 2003, also backed the war.
Newsweek's Jon Meacham: Our reporting has shown that in fact there is a level of stability and a kind of political culutre taking hold. What General Petraeus did and what President Bush came to, seems to have worked.
MSNBC Bobble Head: It's a stunning story.
Jon Meacham: It really is.
Richard Gizbert: However, the Newsweek editor did face on challenging question. Just one.
Panel Pundit: What happens if three or four months down the road, they can't put a government together?
Jon Meacham: Then we will say victory still to come.
[War Hawk Daughter Mika Brzezinski braying uncontrollably, with far less grace than a donkey.]
Richard Gizbert: That was just a joke but it contained a disturbing element of truth. Some of the American media took a one day exercise in Iraq democracy and turned it into much more than that.
Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report, "Senior politicians from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's ruling coalition warned Tuesday that Shiite Muslim-dominated southern Iraq could severly loosen its ties with Baghdad if the nation's electoral commissionf ailed to meet its demand for a manual recount of ballots in parliamentary elections." With Nouri's desire to circumvent rulings, it's a good idea to examine past history and, most recently, that includes his reaction when Sunni candidates were 'unbanned' which was to threaten that violence would result and then unleash his thugs in select cities in order to frighten the commission into changing their judgment. Late to the party? We'll drop back to February 7th for catch up:
Wednesday an Iraqi appeals court ruled that the 500 plus candidates being banned by Iran via the extra-legal Accountability and Justice Committee would be allowed to run. This did not sit well with the thug of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. As one of the many chicken s**t exiles who pulled the world into a war they were too cowardly to fight on their own, Nouri knows a thing or two about perception management even if Reuters doesn't. Helen Long (Reuters) plays fool or whore -- you decide in a video 'report' on 'thousands' of Shi'ite protesters 'offended' that suspected Ba'athists were running. Helen hopes you are so stupid you aren't aware that Ba'athists included Shi'ites during Saddam Hussein's reign. She's also hoping you don't realize how many Shi'ite exiles were Ba'athist. Most of all, she hopes she don't get your information from anywhere else. Especially not Germany's DPA which tells you what Helen refused to: " Thousands of supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawaa Party demonstrated outside the house of parliament in Baghdad on Sunday, to call for the exclusion of 'Baathist' candidates from the March polls." Who were these 'typical' protestors? The governor of Baghdad was among them. Helen whores it and prays the whole world is stupid and doesn't catch on. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports, "Tensions over the dispute flared elswhere, as thousand of protesters attended anti-Baathist rallies in Baghdad and Basra organized by Mr. Maliki's political oranization, the Dawa Party. The Baghdad rally was broadcast at length on state television, showing Mr. Maliki's aides denoucning those sympathetic to the Baath Party".
You get the idea that, given the chance, Helen Long would insist to you that the April 2003 US PSY-OPS operation in Firdos Square where the US military brought down the statue of Hussein amidst a small group of exiles just brought back into the country (by the US) (as well as marines and 'reporters') was a 'legitimate' and 'real' protest by Iraqis. Helen really hopes you're as stupid as she believes you are and that you don't notice, for example, that these 'average Iraqi protestors' are carrying handmade flags . . . Iraqi flags? No, like any 'normal' and 'average' Iraq, they're carrying home made US flags. Yeah, that's believable. (Also note that the women are covered from head to toe but the men were track suits, dress suits, pullover shirts, etc. while few sport any kind of a bear let alone one would that would demonstrate devout religious beliefs -- translation, Nouri stands for more even more suppression of women's rights.) For those who have missed the combined 'reporting' of Michael Gordon and Judith Miller, breathe easy, Helen Long is on the scene.
Something similar wouldn't be surprising especially as Friday approaches when 100% of the vote is supposed to be released. Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) covered the announcement yesterday that Nouri's State of Law would refuse to recognize any results as legitimate without a recount. Even more predictable was today's 'protest' in Basra. CNN reports a hundred or so members of Nouri's political party mobbed the streets demanding a recount. As Alice Fordham (Iraq Oil Report) observes, Nouri's demands were "spurring supporters" into just that action.
Ned Parker, because the Los Angeles Times works so very closely with US military brass, offers the US military's projections of the votes -- votes that the Iraq elecotral commission hasn't even released (they are supposed to release their results on Friday). Parker and Raheem Salman add, "Sami Askari, a member of Maliki's inner circle and his State of Law election slate, described the electoral commission as a U.N. puppet. He also accused the CIA and elements of the State Department of working to bring Allawi, who has ties to the U.S. intelligence community, back to power." Meanwhile Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports that (if initial results hold), the 'kingmakers' may likely be the Sadr bloc and the Kurds. 'Kingmakers' was tossed around over and over in the lead up to Parliamentary elections and in the gas baggery that followed the first week of the vote (like Kat, I wonder Where have you gone Quil Lawerence, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you?). It was an easy call and it may turn out to have been a wrong call. Fadel reports:
"The Sadrists had political and military power that surpassed that of the government, but they misused it and ended up in jails and in exile," said political analyst Ibrahim al-Sumaidaie. "Now, they have mastered their political power. They will find that the political game will give them more power and a wider role than their guns."
In 2006, the Sadrists played a part in choosing Maliki, a Shiite, as prime minister. Two years later, Maliki relented to U.S. pressure and deployed the Iraqi military to target the Sadrist militia, the Mahdi Army, in a successful offensive. But instead of disappearing, the Sadrists regrouped, shifting their focus from armed struggle to political strategizing.
In advance of this year's elections, the Sadrists were among the only blocs in Iraq to educate voters about the nation's complex electoral system. Although they nominated only 52 candidates out of the more than 6,000 who ran nationwide, they were shrewd in deciding which seats to target. As a result, they are expected to win as many as 40 seats in the next parliament, with their Shiite allies probably taking just over 20. There are 325 seats in the new parliament.
What is known is that women will hold seats in the Parlimanet. Hannah Allem (Christian Science Monitor):
In an electoral process full of complicated equations, the allocation of seats for women is one of the most arcane. Few of the female candidates can explain the math, but they bristle at being put down as just quota appointees or "political decor," as Nada al Abidi, a candidate from the rural southern Wasit province, put it.
"As long as there is a quota, people perceive women as gap-fillers and not deserving members of parliament," said Damlouji, who's still unsure if she'll get a seat. "The perception of a man is as an individual, but for women it's as a bloc. So if one woman failed, it's as if the entire womanhood has failed."
Delilah Jean Williams (All Voices) reports on the women running for office and explains:
One candidate, Feyruz Hatam from Baghdad, made history by campaigning without wearing the traditional head-to-toe abayas and black clothing. Her head and face were uncovered and she wore make-up in her personal appearances and when she posed for her poster photographs.
Hatam is determined to be a face that helps to change how Iraqi society views women.
"The mentality of Iraqi voters has changed. I'm happy because my photo conveys the message that times have changed," says Hatam, whose brown pantsuit made her stand out from other Iraqi National Alliance candidates.
Feyruz Hatam and other courageous Iraqi women were an unexpected surprise during the campaign, with uncovered faces in all forms of media, advertisements, posters, and television appearances.
Iraqi women are among the targeted in Iraq. They can be straight or gay and they will be targeted. Iraq's LGBT community has been targeted repeatedly and you actually don't have to be gay to be targeted, you just have to be suspected or mistaken of being gay. To call Iraq 'stable' today requires that you ignore the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community (or the Christian community or . . .). On the LGBT community:
The UK government through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel.
This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.
Can you help?
As you may be aware, numerous human rights organisations and journalists have documented the pogrom against lesbians and gays in Iraq. Iraqi LGBT estimates that over 700 LGBT have been assassinated over the past few years. The has advised 'favourable consideration' for asylum claims because of the situation.
As the public leader of the only group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both inside Iraq and in the diaspora, has received a fatwa from inside Iraq as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke last month of their concerns for LGBT both in Iraq and as refugees, in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-signed by 64 other Congresspeople.
Hili has received many requests to speak about the situation in Iraq internationally, including from US-based groups such as the Gay Liberation Network and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign, which he has been unable to pursue.
His solicitor, Barry O'Leary, wrote to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August 2009 that: "he desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world's attention to their plight."
Six months later, the UKBA told O'Leary that:
says of Ali:
"It was Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT who first alerted the world to the organised killing of LGBT people in Iraq - way back in 2005. For a long time, he was a lone voice."
"Mr Hili was also the person who set up the 'underground railroad' and safe houses inside Iraq, to give refuge to LGBT people on the run from Islamist and to provide escape routes to neighbouring countries - which saved the lives of many Iraqi LGBTs.
Ali must travel!
The UK Foreign Office Human Rights Report for 2009 specifically names Iraqi LGBT over other NGOs as a key source of information. Hili has met with them numerous times. The report quotes Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell condemning persecution of LGBT in Iraq.
Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant wrote in his blog on Feb. 24: "I know some people dismiss LGBT rights as something of a sideshow in international relations, but I am proud to say that the FCO has argued for a decade that human rights are a seamless garment."
Yet the same government through the Home Office is effectively aiding that persecution through the failure of government recognition to Iraqi LGBT's leader.
We want the UK government to expedite Ali Hili's asylum claim so he is properly able to tell the world about what is happening to LGBT in Iraq.
How you can help
Write to the Alan Johnson, to ask that he intervene in Ali's case that his asylum application be prioritised. Please mention Ali's Home Office reference which is S1180507/7. (Get a standard letter - please personalise and remember to sign it),
Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Home Secretary, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DFWrite to UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to ask that they ask Johnson to intervene in Ali's case. Please mention Ali's Home Office reference which is S1180507/7. (Get a standard letter - please personalise and remember to sign it)
The Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AAWrite to your MP to ask that they ask Johnson to intervene in Ali's case.
If you are outside the UK, ask politicians, prominent persons and organisations to invite Ali to your country and make Brown and Johnson aware of this request.
Ask those politicians, prominent persons and organisations to issue their own public statement in support of Hili's asylum prioritisation from the UK government.
Write to newspapers, write blog posts in support of Ali, tell people about Ali.
Please copy any letters to the campaign in support of Ali Hili to firstname.lastname@example.org
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured five people, another Mosul roadside bombing injured one person, a Mosul mortar attack which left four children and three adults injured, a third Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a Muqdadiya roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people.
Reuters notes Iraqi forces in Baghdad killed 1 person (another injured). Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports 5 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in a Baghdad "by a group of men in three cars as they passed through a checkpoint".
DoD lie of the day: "I promise that going forward, we-we will be as open as we possibly can and candid about the -- the uh -- what's going on in this program." DoD lies, where does it take place? Congress. The House Armed Services Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcomittee held a joint-hearing today. US House Rep Adam Smith Chaired the hearing and he raised the issue of the spending, of the costs that keep rising. He is Chair of the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and Roscoe Bartlett is the Ranking Member. Bartlett also raised the issue of soaring coasts and how Congress is not kept up to date on the spending. And we'll note this section of his opening remarks:
I also share my colleagues' concern over the health of the Joint Strike Fighter program. This is an enormously expensive program that promises a great deal of capability, but I'm frankly concerned that cost growth will render it unaffordable in the long term. In my eighteen years in Congress, I have seen program after program in which the cost grows, the production is reduced to fit inside a fixed budget, and the program ends in a spiral that leaves the services well short of their inventory requirements.
US House Rep Gene Taylor is the Chair of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee and Todd Akin is the Ranking Member. In his opening remarks, in the first sentence of his opening remarks, Akin called for Congress to be kept informed as to "affordability challenges." He outlined, at length, with hard numbers, how the Department hadn't been very good with numbers.
The soaring costs would come up repeatedly in the hearing but Bartlett bore down on the issue. For the record, Congress controls the purse. Congress controls all spending. Congress is supposed to be kept informed of any cost increases for programs they authorize (they authorize but which the tax payers fund). Bartlett is speaking with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
US House Rep Roscoe Bartlett: Are there regulations, written or unwritten, in the building that precludes including us as a partner in those discussions?
Ashton Carter: Uh -- I have to get back to you on the technicality of that. Certainly uh-yuh as a general matter, no, we try promptly to keep this Committee informed of important developments in programs that are in -- are in your purview. As I said when I uh earlier, because of the particular timing of the jet estimate and the Department's deliberations which were in the December-January period, leading up to the release of the president's budget -- It wasn't until the president's budget was released that the uh-uh jet estimate was -- which was included in that budget -- was uh-uh available. We did however -- It's my understanding that the jet estimate, even back in 2008, was made availabe uh to the Committee.
US House Rep Roscoe Bartlett: Thank you. Your statement goes on to say that program management contractors and the department need to surface candidly and openly issues with this program as they arise so that Congress is aware of them and they can be addressed." In the spirit of that statement, it would have been nice, I think, if we'd been part of that two month discussion between November and January. Would you agree?
Ashton Carter: I promise that going forward, we-we will be as open as we possibly can and candid about the -- the uh -- what's going on in this program.
Yesterday's snapshot and Kat's "Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing" covered a hearing of the House Armed Service's Military Personnel Subcommittee. Kat noted, "You've got a woman over 80-years-old but for her to receive the monies she's owed, she needs to drop her widow status and remarry." A visitor e-mails the public account to ask if that's hyperbole? No. Suzanne Stack testified, "Ms. Kozak of Jacksonville, Florida, needs to receive her SBP in full but does not want to start dating and remarry at age 85." I'm not sure that "Kozak" is the spellling, it may be "Kozack." But it was part of Stack's testimony. The woman does not receive her Survivor Benefit Pay and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation monies in full. Because she is eligible for both, her SBP is reduced. That's not fair but there is a way around that. She can, after the age of 57 (and she's 85), remarry and she'll get both payments in full. An 85-year-old widow being told to remarry to get the money she's owed and the money her husband assumed she would receive. SBP today, this was one part of the testimony, is not being explained accurately to service members who are signing up and thinking that the payments will be full. They take this out, it's a policy. Then they die and their wife or husband may or may not receive the full payments.
In the US over the weekend, demonstrations against the wars were held around the country. Sam Waite and Michael Chase (US Socialist Worker) report today:
In Washington, D.C., thousands turned out to a demonstration, called by International ANSWER, against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan across the street from the White House early in the afternoon.
Well-known antiwar activists such as Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney and members of Iraq Veterans Against the War took the stage to denounce the Obama administration's continuation of George Bush's "war on terror." "We can't make more excuses for the government," said Sheehan. "We can't make any more excuses for the president, no matter what party that president comes from."
The sentiment was widely shared by demonstrators. "Obama is the president. He's the leader of this war effort, and we're going to oppose it," said Bruce Wolf of U.S. Labor Against the War. Wolf has organized a weekly vigil outside Walter Reed Memorial Hospital since 2005.
Jessica Rua, who came from Atlantic City, N.J., agreed, saying that Obama's election had "no effect at all" on the prospect of ending the wars. "Our kids don't deserve this hell," said Rua, whose brother is missing in action in Afghanistan.
The crowd was notable for its diversity. Veterans of antiwar movements since the Vietnam era mixed with a sizeable student contingent. Immigrant rights activists took part, as did Muslim and Arab American organizations.
Samuel Davidson (WSWS) reports on the DC actions:
On the official website of the demonstration, www.march20.org, there is little of Obama. His name did not even appear on the website's home page. Only a few of the more than two dozen updates on the website calling for people to attend the rally and reporting on support mention the Obama administration.
Outside of a few homemade signs, none of the official mass-produced placards mentioned Obama and the role of the Democrats in promoting the war.
As for the speakers, one had the strange feeling that you could have heard the exact same speeches at the rallies held two years ago when George W. Bush was still president. One had to wonder if Obama's name was censored from their remarks. However, it is more likely that the silence on Obama was self-imposed, a reflection of the fact that most of those who addressed the rally had either endorsed Obama in the 2008 elections or had adopted the more general "anybody but Bush" line promoted by the protest groups as a shamefaced form of backing the Democrats.
Brian Becker, the National Coordinator for the ANSWER coalition did not mention Obama at all, and gave no explanation for the growing militarization of American life.
John Catalinotto (Workers' World) has a strong article but we're grabbing on Los Angeles because there's been little coverage of that action:
In Los Angeles, thousands, including many youth of color, gathered at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and marched down Hollywood Blvd. to the rally site at Highland Ave. There they listened to speakers prominent in left and progressive movements demand an end to U.S. militarism and money for human needs at home and abroad.
Martin Steiner files what may be the lengthiest report on the Los Angeles action and she files it (audio report) for KPFK's Uprising. We'll note this from a male speaker in her report:
As students, we are gathering from all around the state to say, Mr. President, we are the future! And we need education! As veterans, we are saying today, Mr. President, we will not fight your battles anymore! We will not spill our blood for you anymore! We will not give our lives for you anymore! And for the profit of these corporations that run these wars and then profit off of the deaths of our brothers and sisters every single day in the war! Today, let us stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the people of Iraq, with the people of Afghanistan and with the homeless men and women and children of America and say that today we will stand up and we will form a movement and we will be back in the streets every day until we get our demands!!!
The report features many other speakers and it also features interviews with people taking part. 8 people were arrested at the DC protest including Cindy Sheehan. Jon Gold (Peace of the Action) writes of the arrests:
Cindy Sheehan, myself, and others walked through the crowd until we reached the barrier closest to those laying down on the sidewalk. As you can see in this video, the barrier failed, and Cindy Sheehan walked across. As soon as she entered the "arrest zone," the Park Police immediately grabbed her, and handcuffed her. They were literally manhandling her.
This made me angry, and I yelled at the Park Police to "let her go!" Before I knew it, the barrier was back up. I tried to push through the barrier, but the Park Police pushed back. I managed to push two Park Policeman back until one of them grabbed for something on their side to use against me. It was probably mace, but it could have been anything. I stopped pushing. I walked around to the side where the police tape was, that failed, and I found myself within the "arrest zone." I decided that I was going to allow myself to be arrested in order to keep an eye on Cindy. One of the Park Police grabbed me by my arm, and placed me next to Matthew and the others.
When I sat down next to Matthis, he said to me, "you're on the right side of the line," and I said, "I know." One of the Park Police walked over to me, and said to another officer, "he crossed the line, arrest him." That Park Policeman lifted me up, and put me in regular metal cuffs. As I stood up, I screamed as loud as I could, "THIS ARREST IS DEDICATED TO 9/11 VICTIM FAMILY MEMBER ROBERT MCILVAINE JR.!!!" and part of the crowd cheered. As they walked me away I could see Ann Wright waving her fist at me with a big smile on her face as if to say, "RIGHT ON!"