We need some silence

As C.I. noted this morning, Kevin Benderman was sentenced.

From Democracy Now! I'll note this headline:

War Resister Benderman Sentenced to 15 Months
A US Army mechanic who refused to go to Iraq while he sought conscientious objector status was acquitted yesterday of desertion but found guilty of a lesser charge during his court-martial. Sgt. Kevin Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the charge of missing movement. He also was given a dishonorable discharge from the military and a reduction in rank to private. If he had been found guilty of desertion, he could have faced five years in prison. Still, his sentence appears to be the harshest yet given to an Iraq war resister.

As Amy Goodman noted, the "sentence appears to be the harshest yet given to an Iraq war resister."

Norman Solomon has spoken up. Hopefully he is just the first of many. From his CounterPunch article "In Praise of Kevin Benderman:"

Monica Benderman is correct. Facing truths about the priorities of our country's government can be very difficult. During the Vietnam War -- also based on lies, also methodically murderous -- an extraordinary U.S. senator made the same basic point. "We're going to become guilty, in my judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world," Wayne Morse said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it."
Moments before the Senate hearing adjourned, on February 27, 1968, Morse said that he did not "intend to put the blood of this war on my hands." In the summer of 2005, while the horrors of the Iraq war continue, not a single United States senator is willing to speak with such moral clarity.
As an astute cliche says, truth is the first casualty of war. But another early casualty is conscience, routinely smothered in the national media echo chamber.
On the TV networks, the voices are usually smooth, and people often seem to be speaking loudly. In contrast, the human conscience is close to a whisper. Easily unheard.

Especially in these times when we've all been egged on with the blood lust. We haven't had a moment of silence or time to reflect as the Bully Boy's encouraged us to behave like an ADD nation.

"Why are you so scared of silence? Here can you handle this."

That's from Alanis Morissette's "All I Really Want."

We better. We better start taking time to pause here and ask ourselves what's really going on in our country, what is our nation really doing?

Behind the chants of "go get 'em," something really ugly is seeping in. Amidst the chants, a great deal of people still haven't noticed. Some people are noticing. They're touched by the casualities personally or they're able to connect with the humanity that's under attack.

People slowly realizing that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 are waking up. And they're wondering what we are doing in Iraq.

Bully Boy saw it as our national baptism. Now we're soaking in the blood bath.

We need to find some silence and think about what we are doing.

Please visit BendermanDefense.org.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
Warmaking doesn't stop warmaking. If it did, our problems would have stopped millennia ago.
Colman McCarthy


Some lead, some hide on the sidelines

It's Elaine again. Still with you while Rebecca's on vacation.

Thanks to everyone who's written and thanks to C.I. for forwarding the e-mails. (I don't have Rebecca's password so if you need to write me, please write care of common_ills@yahoo.com and C.I. will forward it to me.)

A few of the e-mails coming in have asked for personal details which I'm really not comfortable doing. But some ask why the posts go up in the evening? That's a valid question. I work during the day and I also help out a local college group. I think Rebecca's noted here that I'm a psychologist so I'm fine putting that out there. That's why you may hear me use words like "clinical." I try to catch that when I can and I try not to turn this into some sort of debate on various strands of therapy.

A lot of the e-mails ask how Rebecca, C.I. and I all met. Actually, I know C.I. from my brother.
I'm not sure if I met Rebecca before C.I. or around the same time. But they were my two closest friends and you know how that goes, you introduce friends to each other and hope they hit it off. They did hit it off but they're much closer these days.

And if you've been in that situation before, you know it can feel a little odd because you go from being the mediator bringing two people together to filling left out. And there have been times when I honestly did feel that way. Rebecca is always on the phone. It's nothing to get three to four calls from her a day. Fortunately, they're quick calls or I'd be on the phone all day too. But once she started blogging, it stopped being her asking me how C.I. was to her telling me how C.I. was. And that was a little weird at first.

I got over it but I really understand it now because, like Rebecca, I'm calling C.I. several times a day and floating ideas. I've also gotten to know Kat and Mike pretty well while I've been subbing. Mike wrote this really supportive e-mail after my first attempt at substituting went up and included his phone number. So we've spoken a great deal and exchanged ideas. With Kat, we've talked about the two albums she's been reviewing and I've asked her for tips on how to say something effectively because I really think she captures each album she reviews in a way that you grasp immediately what the album has to offer or doesn't have to offer.

(And let me link to Mike's favorite post by Rebecca because he was talking about this yesterday and I forgot to do it then.)

And let me thank C.I. Our friendship predates blogging, predates the internet and we're always e-mailing or calling so I didn't think twice about ringing to say, "Okay, I told Rebecca I'd do this but I'm in way over my head."

C.I. and I talked about the "moderates" who condemned Jane Fonda this week. (This was an on the record talk.) It's interesting that they feel they know so much as they trash her for her Christianity or make jokes that maybe Ted Kennedy can drive the bus. All the while claiming not to be Republicans. They're disgusting.

They're too scared (or stupid) to do anything themselves, so they want to trash her. And they somehow missed that she's not doing the tour alone.

They claim she's doing it to promote her book. The book already spent three weeks at number one, "moderates," it's a hit. C.I. pointed out that she could be sitting her butt the way so many others are but instead she's putting herself out there. While whiney little moderates (who link to the Drudge Report, no less) do nothing.

When we were in Boston on election night, or when we were at the inauguration protesting, or when we go around speaking out against the war, C.I. and I do stuff. But these "moderates" stay safe in their own comfort zone.

People are dying and Jane Fonda's putting herself out there to speak out. She knows that the right will attack her. It's interesting to see that the "moderates" will as well. But they need a Fonda to prove how "reasonable" they are.

They're ahistorical idiots. The fright wingers at least have the excuse that they've suckeled so long from the fright wing that they have no idea what reality is. The moderates have only deluded themselves. They have only themselves to blame.

They can't speak out against the war because there's no belief that they won't sell out to appear "moderate." Or maybe they just have no beliefs?

They're disgusting. Clinically, they're something's very self-hating when they claim "Democrat" and link to The Drudge Report. Every link adds to that idiot's visibility. Some even link to the Free Republic.

And they want to question Jane Fonda's motives?

They're fake and they see others as fake because they can only see themselves in others.

Usually, those types are stunted early on in their adolescence. I find it much easier to treat someone suffering from a trauma than to try to reach these types in my practice.

They need a Fonda or a Dixie Chicks or a Susan Sarandon (they need them, really need them, to be women) so that they can say, "See, I'm not one of those lefties!" No, and you're not a righty.
You're just a nothing going through life doing nothing and accomplishing nothing.

While the Fondas, Howard Zinns and others inspire, the "moderates" have about as much to offer the world as Cokie Roberts as they teeter on the fence, never able to committ to anything. It's honestly sad.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Bishop Desmond Tutu


Attacks on Fonda and word from Rebecca

Elaine back with you as substitute blogger while Rebecca is on vacation.

I want to start off by noting that Google, whose politics have been repeatedly questioned, currently features, when you search Jane Fonda in news, a bull's eye target shoot photo of Jane Fonda. I guess I miss the "joke" or how this vile thing is "news." Or why Google feels it's okay to promote it?

It's not okay to promote that. Mike wrote a thing yesterday about how his sister saw one of those trashy shows that junk up the airwaves (this one starring the "I'm reforming!" stooge) called The Insider who felt it was necessary to interview the man who spat on Fonda at a book signing. As Mike rightly asked, would they also interview celebrity stalkers? Would they give those violent kooks a platform? No, but they feel it's okay when it has something to do with Jane Fonda.

On the plus side, it's a testament to how much these war mongers, creeps and losers fear Jane Fonda's upcoming speak out tour that they are crawling out of the woodwork prepared to launch these attacks.

However, that doesn't excuse Google's use of a target photo of Jane Fonda. Note that I said "use." I did not say promote. Google would argue that they are not "promoting" violence against Jane Fonda. They would say they were just displaying "news images." But it isn't a "news image." And they are using it. It has no place popping up in one of their searches.

A great deal was made recently, to give but one example, over their apparent hiding of images of Abu Ghraib; however, encouraging violence towards Jane Fonda is apparently a-okay?

It's not okay and they need to pull that "news" photo from their "news" results.

The idiot who "created" the photo can run it as his site (I'm guessing that it's a "he"). Free speech gives him the right to be as vile as he wants to be. But the image is not "news" and it doesn't belong in a news search done on Google and hopefully Google will address this issue promptly.

Now I'll move on to tell you that I heard from Rebecca today. She phoned a little after noon. She's enjoying herself and and her rest but said to tell everyone she is missing blogging and will be back when she's had enough of her vacation. She says to tell Sherry that she (Sherry) was right, the wrong men wear speedos in real life. She said to tell you that she misses all of you but she needed to get away from all the crap (mainly ex-in-laws shredding an entry she'd worked hard on about her abortion) and needed a rest.

I'll be here until she gets back which, hopefully, will be soon.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
We must be the change we wish to see.
Mahatma Gandhi


Here come the war mongers

And the blog goes on, and the blog goes on. Elaine back with you while Rebecca's on vacation.
Let's start with something from Democracy Now! today:

Gov't Study Estimate War Cost to Reach $700B
A new government study has found that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will top $700 billion over the next decade. Already $300 billion has been spent. The total cost estimate comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The San Francisco Chronicle reports this would make the combined campaigns the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years. It is estimated that the Vietnam War cost about 600 billion in current dollars. The Korean War cost about 430 billion in current dollars.

There's always money for war, isn't there? People in the world and in our own country go without food and shelter but we can always scrape together the big bucks for war. The administration can screech lies about Social Security having a solvency problem but at the same time they can throw out $300 billion to invade and occupy. These are the priorities of some of our rulers and at a time when Hillary Clinton's making it clear where she stands, you need to be asking yourself if these are your priorities?

Mike has a great post on this today:

I had an e-mail from Kat about how the same day Fonda comes on strong for peace Hillary Clinton's trying to prove . . . Well what is she trying to prove?I never disliked Hillary until that speech she gave yesterday. She's not one of my senators so I didn't pay as close to attention to her as I did to Kerry and Kennedy. But she was our First Lady and I thought she did a pretty good job of that. Yesterday she embarrassed herself. Now maybe she appealed to some cowards and stuff but she came off pretty cowardly to me.

That really is what it's about. Fear. War mongers rattle the swords because they fear. They try to impose out of fear. Throughout history, they've operated from fear. Fear combined with greed as they've defined the other and then attempted to conquer the other.

Now comes Hillary Clinton clearly stepping into the mix. It wasn't a secret to her constiuents who attempted to speak to her about the war. She's brushed them off and ignored them repeatedly. But this was Hillary Clinton on the national stage announcing that she is one with the DLC and, therefore, one with the war mongers.

Clinically, what makes a person respond that way? I'd argue that it has a great deal to do with the attacks on her over the years, attacks that still cotinue but have lessened in their severity as she's associated herself with the likes of Newt Gingrich. She'll never be embraced fully by the right wing, but as she's moderated her stance, she's seen that some on the right have supported her and defended her even when rumor riddled book was released.

When Chris Matthews starts praising her, we'll know her own Scoop Jackson transformation has been complete.

That theory is based upon the belief that she's ever stood for something. For many, left or right, there's the belief that she's never had a core belief she'd stand for and by. That's why she could participate in the attacks on working women and single mothers, known as "welfare reform," while still being hailed as a feminist hero.

Rebecca's made it clear in this space that she has little to no use for Hillary Clinton. As she moves further and further away from the beliefs that her core supporters hold, it will be interesting to see whether they'll continue to justify her actions or whether they'll move away from her.

Among the supporters are people who truly are opposed to many policies that Bill Clinton championed in the nineties. When they justify, you can hear them offer, as C.I. noted this morning, that it would have been worse without Bill Clinton. Which reminds me of a woman in the ER with swollen lips and black eyes arguing that her husband could have also broken an arm but didn't.

There is a dance that Hillary Clinton does and there's a dance that her supporters do and somewhere in the movements, truth goes unheeded which is why questions can't be asked and her supporters will get very angry when they are.

As Hillary Clinton, who's always been one of the team C.I.'s dubbed The Operation Happy Talkers, comes out steadfast in her support of the occupation/invasion, it's important for us to remember what is going on, what actions we are using. I read Jane Mayer's detailed, eleven page article "The Experiment" detailing what's gone on Gitmo, how the techniques were developed and how they migrated to Iraq, most famously with Abu Ghraib. If you haven't read the article, please read C.I.'s summary of it. From the summary:

Concerns are raised regarding "force drift." That's when "interrogators encountering resistance begin to lose the ability to restrain themselves." If you'll think of it in terms of parenting, you'll relate that to the "power struggle." There's also a "seductive" component of these techniques, as an attorney for several prisoners -- Marc Falkoff -- notes. Falkoff asserts that "a mass suicide attempt at Guantanamo, in August 2003, in which two dozens or so detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves, was provoked by Koran mistreatment . . ."
That's a SERE technique. Only on American soil, while "testing" American soldiers, they used a Bible. They might tear pages out of it or kick it around or some other method. But it was developed here with the Bible. (Again, I'm holding my tongue and just attempting to summarize.)
The question is posed (and I'd argue throughout the article) by at least one person in the article of what are we becoming? What does it say about us when we "do things that our enemies do, like using torture?"We'll close out this summary by noting that doctors have participated as "bisquits" (though not all "bisquits" are doctors -- some are p.h.d.s) with the comments of Jonathan Moreno (bioethicist):
Guantanamo is going to haunt us for a long time. The Hippocratic oath is the oldest ethical code we have. We might abandon our morality about other professions. But the medical profession is sort of the last gasp. If we give that up, we've given up our core values.

As a country we're giving up a great deal of what we believe in. Read C.I.'s summary of Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" because The New Yorker hasn't made the article available online. Then use your libraries to find a copy of the issue.

We're not seeing a lot of "leaders" asking that we think about our actions and the consequences that will result from these actions and others. We need to be asking those questions. Real leadership by true leaders would result in opening up a dialogue on this topic. Instead, we see the Operation Happy Talkers and the war hawks like Hillary Clinton whose fear and blood lust require denying reality and speaking out for more deaths.

The easy road is never the moral one or the ethical one which is why so many skip down it. We can follow them or we can insist that a dialgoue on these issues, an honest one, may take place.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
Cesar Chavez


Jane Fonda speaking out against war again

Elaine back with you for another day filling in for Rebecca. News that made me happy today included the first item below. (The illustrations above were done by Isaiah and thanks to Isaiah and C.I. for permission to run them here.)

"Fonda to tour in opposition to war in Iraq" (Associated Press)
Actress and activist Jane Fonda says she intends to take a cross-country bus tour to call for an end to U.S. military operations in Iraq.
"I can't go into any detail except to say that it's going to be pretty exciting," she said.
Fonda said her anti-war tour in March will use a bus that runs on "vegetable oil." She will be joined by families of Iraq war veterans and her daughter.

C.I. and I were on the phone about this for about a half-hour this afternoon. The other thing we were discussing was Matthew Rothschild's interview with Carl Webb on The Progressive Radio Show. There are a number of ways you can listen to the interview, just go here where you'll find that "Carl Webb is a US soldier who has gone AWOL. I speak with him about his reasons for this decision, and what may be in store for him as a consequence."

"I" is Matthew Rothschild. Here's my attempt at a transcript. Rothschild asks him about his objection to the war.

Carl Webb explains, "It's overtly political. I do not believe that this country went to war for the excuses that they're putting out in their propaganda, the idea of us exporting democracy or actually defending this country. You know the president has already come out on TV and admitted not that they can't find any weapons of mass destruction but that there aren't any weapons of mass destruction. The links between Iraq and Al Qaeda and 9/11? False. I guess we could still claim that we are trying to export democracy but those were fraudulent elections . . ."

Matthew Rothschild asks him how he sees the war going and Carl Webb replies, "I think it will go very similar to the way Vietnam went. They're going to claim that they have some plan to withdraw and it's just going to escalate and escalate."

Now I'll put The Third Estate Sunday Review editorial in here because Rebecca always does this.

Editorial: The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight
Jimmy Breslin wrote about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Plauging our nation today is The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight. Whether it's "privatization" or "tort reform" or "Clean Skies" or "No Child Left Behind" everything's hidden behind a phrase that implies something directly opposite from the actual meaning. (And no, we don't find that "ironic.")We've seen it play out since before the Bully Boy started occuyping the White House. "The votes have been counted and recounted!" (When in fact the majority had never been counted.) So maybe it shouldn't be shocking, for instance, that Bully Boy now says he'll fire whomever outed Plame in his administration only if they're found to have committed a crime.

Unless Bully Boy was seeking to establish a precedent, wasn't that always a given? Is he trying to tell us that's what he meant all along? "You go to prison, I'll fire you." That is where he draws the line?
His concept of integrity baffles the mind. But we're seeing that and a lot worse play out. Over and over, they try to divert and obscure. The gang that couldn't talk straight fails to grasp that conviction or not, Rove and Libby have already done enough that demonstrates they need to go. Enough has also come out that a Congressional investigation is needed to find out who else helped and (just as important) who failed to do anything when news of the impending outing reached the administration (as early as July 7th, 2003, Valerie Plame was outed on January 14th, 2003).
From Watching the Watchers' "Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" by A! of Watching the Watchers, we learn that:
Data is emerging, no matter how the administration attempts to hide it, that the new photos and video of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison include the torture of children.
Norway's Prime Minister's office says it plans to address the situation with the U.S. "in a very severe and direct way."
Could this mean losing yet another ally in the Iraq occupation? Amnesty International in Norway has said that Norway can no longer continue their occupation of Iraq, or their support of US policy in this matter.
And some countries, as Tom Tomorrow notes, actually listen to their activists.While there isn't even an inkling of this in the US Mainstream media, all over the world people are beginning to read about the US abusing children at Abu Ghraib.
We weren't supposed to worry about that either, remember? Remember Operation Happy Talk of "a few bad apples" and that the photos just showed more of the same as the already released photos? Remember the GOP senators rushing to tell the public that releasing the photos could hurt us as a nation?
So they sat on them, after apparently lying about them, and a surprise only to the administration (which never seems to grasp that eventually the truth will come out), the photos haven't gone away.
Karl Rove and Karen Hughes may have instructed, "Clap your hands if you believe in Bully Boys." If so, not enough people clapped because not enough people believe. Operation Happy Talk goes into motion and at best disguises reality for a few weeks. Truth does come out.And what's coming out is that this administration with all their talk of "integrity" and "honor" has been the least accountable administration in recent history. They've fixed reports. They've lied about PDBs. They've outed a CIA agent. They've tried to cover up abuse that we should have dealt with a long time ago.
If America is hurt by the release of the photos, the Happy Talkers have themselves to blame.
They should have owned up to what was happening when they saw the photos. Instead, they tried to obscure the issue. As if it weren't bad enough that the torture occurred, our administration is now seen as trying to cover it up.That's not the way the United States is supposed to behave.
Make no mistake, Bully Boy and his Bullies Without Borders have had a lot of enablers. Including wishy-washy Democrats who didn't want to speak up or, when they did speak up, wanted to immediately cave, buckle, wimp out in the face of criticism.
The only apologies in the last five years have been coming from Democrats and, frequently, they're apologizing for things that don't require an apology. While the Dems bend over backwards to apologize for words, the administration demonstrates no accountability for its actions.
That needs to stop. The unwarrented apologies from Dems who try to speak the truth and the lack of accountability for the most mismanged administration that any of us can recall.
Congress better start excersizing their oversight because if they don't, accountability may come in the form of votes on election day in 2006. We need a truth movement in this country. Actually, we have it. You saw it on Saturday with people meeting to discuss and raise attention on the Downing Street Memo. As with Valerie Plame, the public's the one pushing for the truth.Hopefully, the mainstream press will also take part. But they haven't driven this.
One person who is asking questions that need to be asked is Robert Parry. From his "Rove-Bush Conspiracy Noose Tightens:"
The second new fact is what Rove did after his conversation with Cooper.
Although supposedly in a rush to leave on vacation, Rove e-mailed Stephen J. Hadley, then Bush's deputy national security adviser (and now national security adviser). According to the Associated Press, Rove's e-mail said he "didn’t take the bait" when Cooper suggested that Wilson’s criticisms had hurt the administration.
While it’s not entirely clear what Rove meant in the e-mail, the significance is that Rove immediately reported to Hadley, an official who was in a position to know classified details about Plame’s job. In other words, the e-mail is evidence that the assault on Wilson was being coordinated at senior White House levels.
Cooper also told the grand jury that his second source on the allegations about the Niger trip and Wilson’s wife was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a leading neoconservative advocate for invading Iraq. According to Cooper, Libby said on a not-for-attribution basis about Plame, "Yeah, I’ve heard that, too."
See last week's editorial and you'll know why we're glad he's raising it and surprised that everyone else (including Richard W. Stevenson in today's New York Times) isn't also on it.
As the public begins asking what Parry's asking, The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight is going to find itself in even hotter water. What we've constantly seen is avoidance in the place of accountability. With consistently bad polling results, we like to hope the sheen is finally off the Bully Boy.
Speeches and phrases based upon coded antonyms and the refusal of others in place to hold the administration accountable (the press, the Congress) have resulted in our current state. But at a time when things could seem hopeless, what we're seeing is a public getting active and asking the questions and raising the issues that others won't. That's healthy for democracy. And having grown weary waiting for leadership, the public's now ready to set the agenda and lead on their own.
[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

I'm all over the map tonight. But Rebecca's really big on noting the community members with their own sites. She's also very big on David Sirota. He's not Christian Slater or Dahr Jamail, but he is one of her crushes. So I'll do a quote from him before wrapping up.

"How the DLC Reinforces Dishonest Stereotypes" (Sirotablog)
I've written before about how some people who claim to speak for Democrats seem to take pleasure in
reinforcing dishonest stereotypes about the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council is no different - just read the headline of this article. Their whole case is based on the idea that Democrats do not back the military, which is so wildly dishonest it's beyond just a normal lie: it is a knowing lie. Democrats have consistently backed the military where the Republicans have not. That is a hard fact. But that doesn't fit the DLC's goals, which are to undermine the Democratic Party. Instead of working to debunk these right-wing stereotypes, these insulated Beltway snobs seem to only feel relevant if they reinforce the right-wing stereotypes parroted by Fox News and the Republican Party. It just shows that for Democrats who want to win - and not just preserve their status on the Washington cocktail party circuit - the DLC is really part of the problem, not the solution.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.
Bayard Rustin