Thursday, December 27, 2007

Truthdig - Interviews - Scott Ritter on War With Iran

Truthdig - Interviews - Scott Ritter on War With Iran
By Scott Ritter
The Truthdig columnist (and WMD expert) warns that war with Iran could be inevitable, despite the National Intelligence Estimate report that says Iran dismantled its nuclear program in 2003. Bush, Ritter argues, doesn’t let facts get in the way of what he wants.

Listen (podcast) to this interview. or read the transcript from the link above.
Scott Ritter
I had a brief exchange with Scott Ritter when he was in Gainesville and was very impressed in his honesty and integrity. He is a conservative and served in Vietnam as a military intelligence Office in The Marines. Our conversation was about war with Iran and how it would affect anyone in range if nuclear weapons were used. We agreed that thousands of US troops would die from radiation poisoning along with tens of thousands of innocent civilians, and that any type of attack on Iran by the US or Israel would result in major casualties for US forces in Iraq.
Mary Bahr (Served as an Air Force Intelligence officer in Vietnam)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/21/2007 | UNICEF: War has taken a toll on Iraq's children

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/21/2007 | UNICEF: War has taken a toll on Iraq's children:

"BAGHDAD — More than four years after the United States invaded Iraq, the country's children continue to face a litany of problems from disrupted educations to unsafe drinking water, detentions and violence, UNICEF reported Friday."

Among the preliminary report's findings:

  • Twenty-eight percent of Iraq's 17-year-olds took final exams this summer; 40 percent in south and central Iraq passed.
  • Eighty percent of children outside Baghdad don't have working sewers in their communities, limiting access to safe water.
  • An average of 25,000 children per month were displaced within Iraq by violence or intimidation.
  • An estimated 760,000 children were out of primary school in 2006, and 220,000 more displaced children had their educations interrupted in 2007.
  • By the end of 2007, about 75,000 children were living in camps or temporary shelter.
  • About 1,350 children were detained by military and police, "many for alleged security violations."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas from IVAW to Fort Bragg!

A good buddy of mine from the Army, Steve Casey, and one of his buddies recently were handcuffed and held for questioning after handing out brownies, christmas cards, and copies of the IVAW newsletter on base at Ft. Bragg. They were released without charges after a few hours, here's their version of the story.
Cliff Hicks, Gainesville Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW)
"Brownies Will Get You Five"
a Boondocks Chapter Christmas at Fort Bragg

By Jason Hurd

On the morning of December 17, 2007, Steve Casey and I awoke bright and early at the Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Steve and I had driven nearly three hundred miles from our home-base in Asheville, North Carolina to distribute holiday gift bags to the wonderful servicewomen and men stationed at our nation's busiest military post--Fort Bragg. Our friends and supporters in Asheville stuffed nearly three hundred small lunch bags full of holiday cards, chocolates, cookies and home-made brownies. The gift bags had a humble feel to them: brown paper lunch sacks with the tops folded down, green and red ribbons, a copy of our newsletter Sit-Rep stapled to the outside and a small sticker that said, "To: A Warrior, From: IVAW." Our mission was to ensure that these bags--each made with love and kindness--got into the hands of our deserving soldiers.
With gift bags in hand, Steve and I drove to Fort Bragg's Mini Mall and set up a small collapsible table to distribute the bags from. We taped two large poster boards to the front of the table; one said, "Happy Holidays From Your Fellow Veterans," and the other proclaimed, "We Love Our Service Women and Men." Immediately, Steve and I began handing the packages to soldiers as they exited the Mini Mall. I greeted each soldier by saying, "Hello. My friend and I are veterans and we are giving holiday gift bags to our soldiers to show our appreciation for your service. Thank you and happy holidays." Nearly every soldier I spoke with replied with a large smile, "Thank you very much. I'm glad there are people like you doing this. Happy holidays to you too!" Within an hour, Steve and I had given out nearly one hundred and fifty bags. In that time, only one soldier reacted negatively toward us; every one else seemed extremely pleased.
Around one o'clock in the afternoon, a female manager who worked for the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AFFES) came out of the Mini Mall and said, "Hey guys I'm glad your giving out packages to soldiers, but you can't do this on Fort Bragg without a permit." I replied, "Great! Where do we get a permit?" The manager explained where we needed to go, and we began packing up shop to go get our permit. That's when the Military Police showed up. Three MP's--SSG Netwig, PFC Murray and PVT Garren--approached us and began questioning us about our gift bags. SSG Netwig glared at a copy of Sit-Rep and said, "I'm going to keep my personal opinion out of this, but you are disrupting the order and discipline of my post." I explained that we were on our way to get a permit for our bags and we had no intentions of disrupting the order and discipline of Fort Bragg. SSG Netwig replied that we had offended a lot of people with our bags (which was news to Steve and I) and that he would not allow us to continue distributing them.
At that moment, a Special Forces Captain (apparently one of the people we had offended) approached SSG Netwig and spoke with him privately. Immediately, SSG Netwig said that we were going to the Provost Marshall's office to answer questions.
"Are we being arrested?" I said.
"No. But you are being detained," SSG Netwig replied.
At that moment, the MP's shoved Steve and I against their patrol car, searched us, handcuffed us and placed us in the patrol car like criminals. They drove us away leaving a box of gift bags on the trunk of Steve's car. In the back of the patrol car, I looked at Steve and said, "Don't worry, this is a good thing--trust me." "OK," Steve said. SSG netwig drove us to the Provost Marshall's office where, after being searched a second time, we spent the next four hours as detainees. One investigator told Steve that Fort Bragg is a conservative post and that anti-war views were in the minority. The officers separated Steve and I and began questioning us. I asked four times to make a phone call so that I could consult with an attorney; the officers denied my right each time. A criminal investigator entered my room.
"Are you affiliated with any other groups besides IVAW?" he asked.
"No, I am not, " I replied.
"How did you and this Steve guy meet?"
"Look," I said, "I'm not going to continue answering questions without consulting an attorney."
"But you aren't under arrest. You're merely detained and we are trying to have a friendly conversation with you," the investigator said.
"I feel like like it is in my best interests to consult with an attorney before continuing," I replied.
Then the investigator and officers walked out leaving me alone in the room. Against my captor's wishes, I began text messaging the Quaker House and IVAW members to let them know what was happening (the officers had mistakenly left my phone). Immediately, the investigators began receiving calls from every peace activist from North Carolina to Philadelphia urging them to release Steve and I. The MP's knew they had a situation on their hands.
Before we knew it, an investigator apologized to Steve and I for the inconvenience and released us. The investigator informed us that we just needed to get a permit for future activities of this nature. Two young MP's escorted Steve and I back to our car and we talked about Iraq on the way. One of the young MP's said, "Yeah, fuck Iraq. I hate that place. I had friends die there. I don't ever want to go back."

We pulled up to Steve's car and rubbing the cuts on our wrists from the handcuffs, we saw the perfect ending to our day.

The box of gift bags was still sitting atop Steve's trunk and some passerby had written on it the following:
"Hi, I heard what happened. Listen up cops, politicians, and OVER EGOTISTIC DRAMA QUEEN SENIOR NCO'S AND OFFICERS! Many friends in my platoon DIED BRUTALLY for the First Amendment. We have the right to peaceful protest, damn you! Why did you arrest these guys? To all ya'll who don't believe in: freedom of speech, press, council, religion, assembly, and petition...GO TO HELL!! Sincerely, A concerned passerby and witness to the arrest of protesters."
So much for being the minority.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Not Us. We're Not Going."

"Not Us. We're Not Going.":
"Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a 'mutiny' that pulls the unit apart."

Another sinilarity to Vietnam at the end - both the refusal to fight and the fact that the command dealt with it "under the table"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Iran Intelligence may stop Necon rush to war with Iran
Ray Mcgovern
December 3, 2008

"I do not know how often Vice President Dick Cheney visited CIA Headquarters during the gestation period, but I am told he voiced his displeasure as soon as he saw the first sonogram/draft very early this year, and is so displeased with what issued that he has refused to be the godfather.

This time Cheney and his neo-con colleagues were unable to abort the process. And after delivery to the press, this child is going to be very hard to explain—the more so since it is legitimate.

The main points of the NIE:

“We judge that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program...

“We assess with moderate confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.

“We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely...

“We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.

“We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.”

Having reached these conclusions, it is not surprising that the NIE’s authors make a point of saying up front (in bold type) “This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.”

This, of course, pulls out the rug from under Cheney’s claim of a “fairly robust new nuclear program” in Iran, and President Bush’s inaccurate assertion that Iranian leaders have even admitted they are developing nuclear weapons."

This report would have been supported with more intelligence on Iran nukes if Valerie Plame and her network in Iran, which focused on intelligence concerning nuclear weapons there, had not been outed by the Cheny gang. Maybe there was method in his criminality since finding the truth is not in his best interest.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

'A Soldier's Officer' -

'A Soldier's Officer' -
a story about how our soldiers are being treated when they break under the nightmare strains of the battlefield. This campaign by the DOD to avoid the obligations - and expense- of treating traumatized vets includes a plague of false "personality discharges" which punishes veterans who need help and denies them their benefits including the medical benefits that would treat their condition.
Here is a related announcement:
subject: Denied benfits due to mmpi?

Iif you've been denied veterans or ssd benefits based on psychological testing from the MMPI2 fake bad scale wherein the government claims you are exaggerating or malingering please email attorney dorothy sims at She has a national newspaper interested in finding individuals hurt by this scale.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Winter Soldier : Iraq and Afghanistan

US War Vets to Speak Publicly About War Crimes -

This public investigation will be called the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. Winter Soldiers, according to founding father Thomas Paine, are the people who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours. The lives of millions of people depend on American's having informed opinions and acting in accordance to their principles. The lives of thousand service members and civilians depend on you being a Winter Soldier. It follows in the footsteps of the Winter Soldier testimony by Vietnam vets including our own local VFP coordinator Scott Camil.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crooks and Liars » 3 Tour Iraq Vet At Dem Debate: “Our Troops Need To Come Home Now”

Crooks and Liars » 3 Tour Iraq Vet At Dem Debate: “Our Troops Need To Come Home Now”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Duty, Honor, Country, And All The Exceptions Thereto…

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Duty, Honor, Country, And All The Exceptions Thereto…l

Veterans Day: One of the best ways to support our vets is to donate to a homeless shelter where you will find about 25% of the population is veterans.

You can also support efforts for Universal Health care to help vets and their families:

"According to a study by some of my colleagues at Harvard Medical School, to be published in next month’s American Journal of Public Health, nearly 1.8 million veterans had no health insurance in 2004, up 290,000 since 2000. An additional 3.8 million members of their households were also uninsured and ineligible for care at hospitals and clinics run by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 2006 data released this year show little change in these numbers.

Many uninsured veterans are barred from VA care because of a 2003 Bush administration order that halted enrollment of most middle-income veterans. Others are unable to obtain VA care because of unaffordable copayments for VA specialty care, waiting lists at some facilities or the lack of VA facilities in their communities. Almost two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed, and nearly 9 out of 10 had worked within the past year. Most uninsured veterans were in working families. Many earned too little to afford health insurance, but too much to qualify for free care under Medicaid or VA rules. (emphasis mine)"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Deaths in Iraq continue

Here is more from Cliff Hicks on His Iraq experience. If you want to work with him in the local Iraq Vets Against the War Chapter to end the killing email him at

Farewell my brothers, farewell my friends.

The first of you was the hardest for me. A short and narrow youth, of pale skin and black hair. Twenty one years old when his tank was struck by armor piercing rockets, fired from some fool's shoulder. His three comrades escaped the flames, they bailed out of their hatches and made themselves scarce I imagine, but M_____ never emerged from the gunner's seat. A teenage girl in rural Michigan became a widow, having only seen her husband twice since their marriage.

Then came P_____. A man I feared and hated in many ways, a stern man, a loud man. Every morning down the hall he stormed; tall black boots strapped and buckled and shined to perfection, trousers hiked just above the regulation waist, chest like a whiskey barrel, and massive hands that could touch both sides of the hallway at once. Both of those arms were taken from him, along with one stout booted leg. You warned that some of us would not survive, and you were right, but we never thought They would get You. I imagine the explosion lifting him into the air, I imagine Their cheers, I imagine his last blank stare into the rain clouds, thinking his last thoughts, uttering his last 'motherfucker!'

The third was in his middle thirties, a troublesome sergeant, a packrat. Two or three times he was promoted to staff-sergeant, each time quickly demoted. He'd been a good boxer in his youth, and still liked to fight, and he was also a believer in heavy drinking, both of which caused him much trouble in the service. I knew him for the length of time it took him to ascend from sergeant to staff-sergeant, and then back again, one full turn. He was tormented by many demons in life, the final demon, I hope, being that sniper's bullet which pierced his body and left him to bleed in the pale dust. I think not of old H_____ himself, but of the young soldiers under his care. They probably hated him, despised him even, but what on earth will they do without him?

Today brought news of the death of the mime. An unusual kid, among so many other usual and unusual kids in the '1st Regiment of Dragoons.' We were all unusual in the sense that we had all turned our backs on the world; we had all bitten the hands which had fed us for so long. For some reason I always had a feeling about S_____, I never actually thought he would get it, but I did often find myself pondering his demise. I was relatively unsurprised this morning when I read his name beside, "... 23, of Bismark, Arkansas, died July 5 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device."

Close the Green Zone to End the War!

Informed Comment
from Juan Cole: a campaign to help end the war by closing the worlds largest Embassy/head of the colonial government in Iraq. Embassies are normally closed in a war zone.

"please write your congressional representatives and senators, and contact your local Democratic and Republican party organizations, and urge them in the strongest terms to close down the US embassy in Iraq. It has no business being there. It is under constant mortar and rocket attack, cannot actually conduct diplomacy, and is a thinly veiled Viceregal Palace intended to perpetuate Bush's neo-colonialism.

To end the war, begin with what is possible. Close the embassy. Save our diplomats."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Central Florida IVAW chapter is forming

IVAW chapter is forming
Originally uploaded by vfpgainesville
See more rally pictures at

Cliff and friends at the Orlando Rally on October 27th. Look for Cliff's accounts of his service in Iraq on this blog along with a contact for persons interested in joining Iraq Vets Against the War.

See more rally pictures at

Orlando Rally pictures

If anyone took pictures in the March/downpour part of Saturday please send me some to post. I did not risk my camera on that one!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iraq Vets Against the War Chapter forming in Gainesville

Call for Interested Iraq Vets to join a chapter of IVAW (Iraq Vets Against the War)
Contact Cliff Hicks at for more information.

Here is Cliff's story of his experiences in Iraq:

My name is Clifton Hicks, I volunteered to fight in Iraq when I was seventeen years old, three of my best friends died there. The first burned to death when his tank was hit by a rocket, the second was shot by a sniper, the third was blown to pieces by an IED. Four years later I stand before you in the name of Peace and Liberty, and I stand with you against the illegal, immoral, and unnecessary occupation of Iraq. When I joined the Army, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, be they foreign or domestic. To this day I still live by that oath.
In October of 2003, I was ordered to join the 1st Squadron of the 1st United States Cavalry Regiment, which had been in combat for five months just south of Baghdad. When I got there, they gave me an M16 rifle and a bullet proof vest, and in exchange for this, they took from me my soul and my conscience, and for ten months, every single aspect of my humanity. They told me to forget everything I'd ever known or thought I knew, they taught me to shoot first and ask questions later, they told me that if I wanted to survive, I would turn myself into a machine. So I shut my mouth, and I shut my ears and my heart, and I didn't hear the screaming of the people that died, or the pleading of the women who’s husbands we took away in the night, or the motherless children who begged for food and water. It was easy for me to ignore these things, to pretend that they didn’t affect me, because I was so afraid. I was afraid of dying, more afraid of being crippled, and even more afraid of what might happen to me if I was ever captured. I was so afraid of this that I swore that I would never surrender to the enemy, and for this purpose, I kept a spare bullet with me at all times, so that I could take my own life if necessary.
By the time I was nineteen I had learned that the natural human reaction to fear is hatred, shortly followed violence. Because any Iraqi might potentially pose a threat, all were treated as the enemy, and eventually, as casualties mounted and families fell apart back home, abusing them was seen as a simple matter of revenge. Wether it be demolishing their homes with our tanks, handcuffing and publicly beating them in front of their families, destroying their livestock and burning down their places of business, kid-napping entire male populations of villages to be tortured in secret prisons, refusing basic medical care to mothers with dying children, cheering from roof-tops while entire apartment complexes were leveled by C-130 gun ships, or even covering up the wrongful deaths of local civilians. I speak not of rumors or of hear-say, I speak of what I have seen with my own eyes, and what I have done with my own hands. Because of our hatred for the Iraqis, and our fear of our own corrupt and abusive leadership, none of these occurrences were ever questioned, they were simply seen as the way things had to be.
Now I’m not here to tell you war stories, and I’m not here to shock you, none of these things should come as a surprise to any of you. We’ve seen it all before throughout history; the countless times we’ve murdered each other by the thousands, and by the millions, over nothing. Wether we’re talking about Iraq, or Vietnam, the 1st World War, or even our own Civil War, all of these tragedies, these fools’ errands, have had one thing in common besides fear, hatred, and death. All of them directly resulted from the same pointless and idiotic logic, the same greed for wealth and power, and the same disregard for the sanctity of human life.
Well I don't know about you people, but I for one am sick and tired of being thrown to the lions every time some high-born coward decides that we need another war. I came here today, to tell these lying, yellow-bellied, chicken-hawks in Washington, that the American people are against this stupid war, and that the American people will not stand for it any longer.
I had a conversation with my father the other day and he told something that really stuck in my mind. Now Dad was in the Army back in the 60's and his father was a Captain back during the 2nd World War. What he said was this, “History has proven that the United States cannot be defeated from without. It can only be defeated from within.” They ram it down our throats every single day, that it’s, “Better to fight them over there, than over here.” What they’ve never told us is that the enemy is already here, and that they never came from places like Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran. They were born and raised right here in the United States, and they all live about 700 miles North of here, right across the Potomac River, in a place called Washington, D.C.

More personal and more intense is this account by Cliff of one of his tank patrols while in Iraq:

Ten Seconds
Clifton Hicks

The wind is cold and damp against the flesh of my face; the only exposed skin on my body. My shoulders ache under the strain of a thirty pound armored vest, the back of my neck grows raw from the constant friction of my rifle's heavy canvas strap. My rotten leather pistol holster constricts my lungs and digs painfully into my ribs, the bruises on my hips grow darker with each jolt against the turret ring. Every few minutes I fall asleep for a moment, perhaps a fraction of a second, awakened only when my chin touches the kevlar neck guard that is fastened tightly over my throat; I’m the only one in my platoon who still wears it. The inside cloth is oily and slick and brown, coated with two months of sweat and filth, has it really only been two months? I am utterly exhausted, I think of nothing, my mind is completely vacant.
A shot rings out, I ignore it, I'm so tired I don't even care, and besides, someone is always shooting at something around here, I wish they'd just fucking quit, this is so stupid. Another shot, followed by a few more, a bullet glances off something in the road and screams over my head, the spark remains in my eyes. I am awake now, totally awake, the kind of 'awake' that cannot be described and most people never have to experience. It's four in the afternoon right now back home, my friends graduated from high school a few months ago, I was still in basic training. Their faces flash through my mind, I can barely recall them now. I know my mother is thinking of me, can she sense what is happening to her only son? More bullets, closer this time, and these do not glance off the road but fly straight past my face, coming dead on now. I can almost taste their heat, like sitting too close to the fireplace, and the sound of a thousand bull whips crackling all around me. So this is what it's like! Just what I expected, which in turn surprises me. No fear though, I always thought I'd be afraid, thought I’d be the one to lose it, but there's no time for fear now.
I drop down inside the hull of the humvee and glance around at the faces of my comrades, they stare at me apprehensively. Someone asks if I've been hit, "No. I'm fine, I'm fine." We're moving swiftly now, the road is uneven. I lose my balance for a moment but catch myself on the 'butt strap', a canvas strap which is fastened into the turret for me, the gunner, to sit upon, though I've rarely been allowed to do so. In fourth platoon we stand fully erect with eyes scanning back and forth, 180 degrees from shoulder to shoulder, completely exposed for all the world to see and kill. He's still shooting.
I notice that his weapon is on semi-automatic, they never use semi-automatic, but not this one, his aim is true, he means to kill me. I respect him now, it's easy to admire a man like him. After all, he is not like me; a soulless mercenary who kills on a three year contract, this is his life. He hates me, I cannot hate him, but I must try to kill him. He continues to shoot at me, I wish he'd just run on home like the rest of them.
Them... how I hate Them, we all do. They are so easy to hate, so vile and treacherous, subhuman even. It's because of them that I am here in the first place, God how I hate every inch of every one of them. We will all fight to the death, we are prepared even to take our own lives rather than to fall into their hands, to be tortured, raped, and humiliated. They thieve and lie and have killed boys who were once my friends. People with whom I used to carry on intelligent conversations, laugh with, live with, and when I saw them last I never knew it would be the last. They have transformed them from men into cumbersome heaps of cold flesh, no longer anything more than a sanitation problem to be solved with the aid of a plastic bag. The blood and entrails must be scrubbed away with Simple Green and scratch pads. My first true friend in the Army was cleaned up in this way. Thank God I wasn't there, had I seen it I wouldn't be able to remember him as I do now; always a smile, always a comment worthy of note, always something interesting in mind; a husband and a son. And when he died I didn't even bother to cry, I wanted to, I even tried a little bit, but that was stupid, and wrong. No need to lie to yourself my friend, you are no longer human and everyone knows it.
Pulling myself up, using the butt strap for leverage, I bring my eyes up just far enough to peer over the lip of the turret ring. Where is this motherfucker? I take a look around.... there he is! Not 'him' per say, but a tiny flash of light, followed by the report of a rifle and the sound of a bullet striking concrete or metal, I never learned to tell the difference. I look down at the orange handle which will unlock the turret and allow me to swing it around, pointing the machine gun in his direction. No, there is no time for all that, with the way this humvee's leaning and rocking I'd never be able to do it. The gun alone weighs nearly eighty pounds, it's the old kind, a 'fifty cal'. Besides, he’s standing on the roof of an apartment building, and I imagine a family huddled inside their cramped home. They are poor and the weather is cold so they sleep in the same room, probably without beds. I will not send a score of fifty caliber bullets into that building, to grind and shred the flesh of three generations with one flick of my pathetic thumb, my thumb that is only eighteen years old. I'm not that inhuman, not that cruel, not yet at least.
No, but I will use my rifle. Now I am ready, now I have a purpose. No longer will I cower inside this armored hull and take whatever he chooses to give me, now I will give him something, I will take control, I will kill him. I bring the rifle to my shoulder, the same kind my father and uncles carried when they were in the service. What a loathsome object, it's black steel and plastic lay cold and lifeless in my hands, much like the corpses it was designed to create, incapable of human warmth. I place the tip of my nose on the charging handle, shut my left eye, and peer into the sight hole.
Now I am in a different world entirely. A still, silent void that has but one entrance. You cannot reach it through meditation or by ingesting some strange plant, not even in death can one find it. This man-made world can be glimpsed only through the sights of a rifle, only when it is pointed at a living thing. Here there is no God, no Hell, no consequences and certainly no remorse, those will all come later. For the time being he and I are completely alone, oblivious to the outside world.
Now the moment of truth. Am I really going to go through with this? Can I? Oh yes, I can, and I will, I must. This man is attacking you and your comrades, it is your duty as the gunner of this vehicle to kill him as soon as possible. This is your time, you are responsible for the lives of these men inside this humvee. I hope... I know that they would do the same for me. Now I'm nervous, my knees tremble, I feel like a kid who's just been caught stealing. For an instant I can clearly see his bullet coming for me, flying straight towards my face, I vividly imagine the impact. Switch the safety off, take a moment to blink your eyes and breathe. Let me wait and see one more muzzle flash before I strike, let him reveal himself just once more. Oh what sweet satisfaction I am about to receive! Two months of misery and a lost childhood because of you, damn you, I finally get to kill one of you now. I will use you as the object of my vengeance, this is for everything you have done to my life and to my family, you alone will pay the price, tonight. I think of nothing else now but my own misery and suffering, selfish I know, to kill a man and not even think about him. Then my wish comes true, I see one last flash of light, he has sealed his fate. Instantly I readjust my hands, he's fairly close so I aim a little lower than usual, just like they taught us at Ft. Knox. And now I can feel the trigger. In this moment I think of my father, who always taught me to 'squeeze' a trigger, never to 'pull' it, so, ever so slightly, I begin to squeeze. The movement of my index finger is barely perceptable to the human eye, it curls inward only millimeters per second, when the rifle finally discharges it's almost unexpected. A shell casing jingles against the floor, I taste smoke, and the guilty finger now points at no one but me.
My enemy, my peer, a man who I have even come to admire in the last few seconds, stops firing immediately. I raise my cheek from the rifle and look at him. I see him for the first time, nothing more than a black silhouette against a midnight sky, but I see him. He goes down behind the edge of the roof. I never see him again, I never learn his name or his lineage, I never learn what became of him.
Later the next morning, when the patrol is over, after I've refueled the humvee and dismounted the weapons, I'm congratulated by my friends. I am quiet and expressionless, though I'm not upset, not at all. I sit down alone on my cot and disassemble my rifle, the one I used against my enemy, the brother I never had, the only man who has ever faced me as a natural equal. The smell of the spent bullet is strong, but the weapon is mostly clean, after all it was only one shot. I slide a piece of tissue paper through the barrel with a thin rod and push it back and forth, causing me to smile as I recall some past sexual encounter. Soon the paper is plucked from the breech, bearing it’s little sunburst of black residue. I wipe off each metal part, coating them with fresh oil, and reassemble them slowly, methodically. This rifle did not fail me in my hour of need, it may have even saved my life. I imagine the next soldier who will carry it after I have gone on, after I have shed this awful uniform forever, will he ever know of the sin it has committed this night? How many people did you kill before I took you from the rack? I push such thoughts aside and am asleep in a matter of seconds.

Informed Comment

Informed Comment
Claims on MSNBC of a droppping casualty count for US soldiers are responded to by Juan Cole with this:
It is only late October and already more US troops were killed in Iraq in 2007 than in all of 2006. Indeed, 2007 will almost certainly hold the record for the year of the most US military deaths since the war began.

According to the Iraq Casualties Site, these are the yearly numbers of death of US military personnel in Iraq:

Year US Deaths
2003 486
2004 849
2005 846
2006 822
2007 832 (by October )

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not-So-Horrible Thing Happens In Iraq | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Not-So-Horrible Thing Happens In Iraq | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Sometimes only the Onion can really tell the truth, or tell it by not telling it!

"BAGHDAD—In a development Pentagon officials are calling not nearly as horrifying as usual, three car bombs ripped through a Baghdad marketplace Monday, killing fewer than 15 innocent civilians, severely injuring no more than 30, and merely maiming one U.S. soldier."

"Not bad—not bad at all," said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, who claimed the attack is conclusive proof that the tide in Iraq is somewhat turning in a vaguely less-ghastly direction. "This is hardly the parade of death and destruction we've grown accustomed to. In fact, I've recently received word that our injured soldier isn't even going to lose his other leg."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: What If The Military Advertised With Disclaimers? [VIDEO]

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: What If The Military Advertised With Disclaimers? [VIDEO]:

"A commercial that gives an honest account of what US military service would really mean?"

Does a take-off of pharmaceutical ads with disclaimers.

A Tale of Two Atrocities — Blackwater and Haditha -

A Tale of Two Atrocities — Blackwater and Haditha -

"During the course of this trial (Haditha), we learned that Marine rules of engagement allowed them to shoot in the back unarmed people running away from the scene of a car bomb explosion, even if there was no reason to connect them with the attack. We learned that in the second assault on Fallujah (in November 2004), approved procedure was to “clear” rooms by tossing in fragmentation grenades blind — even though initial estimates were that perhaps as many as 50,000 civilians remained in the town — and that many Marines used the same technique afterward in other areas. We learned about the routine practice of dead-checking — if a man is wounded, instead of offering him medical aid, shoot him again, on the principle that “If somebody is worth shooting once, they’re worth shooting twice.” One of the Marines testified in the hearings that they were taught this practice in boot camp."

Remember that these Marines are young Americans who, if they survive, bring home their training in these rules of engagement and their deprogramming on the rules of our own society. Don't believe for a second the lie that we are fighting the over there to avoid fighting over here - its coming home. America will deal with the results of these practices for decades to come in the form of broken families, homelessness, increasing violent crime, abuse of authority and overloaded prisons (sound familiar?). And as usual what is true for American families is true in spades for Iraqi families and Iraqi society. But if we have no compassion and empathy for our own children, especially if they are poor, how can we possibly have any for Families in a far away land?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Watada's Double Jeopardy

Watada's Double Jeopardy

The Nation, October 12, 2007

The Watada case has presented a serious challenge to the military. As Daniel Ellsberg put it, "Lt. Ehren Watada--who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq, which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war--is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously...his oath."

While evidence of the war's illegality was barred in Watada's court-martial, his position is grounded in military law and doctrine. At a National Press Club luncheon February 17, 2006, just a year before Watada's court-martial, Gen. Peter Pace, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked, "Should people in the US military disobey orders they believe are illegal?"

Pace's response: "It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral."

The Army wants to sentence Ehren Watada to six years in the brig for the crime of trying to fulfill that absolute responsibility.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Death and Taxes 2008 Poster - $24.95 : ..., The Entire Federal Government... in 6 Square Feet

Death and Taxes 2008 Poster - $24.95 : ..., The Entire Federal Government... in 6 Square Feet

This is an interactive flash version of the Federal Budget. Check out our Government's priorities - where they are really putting the money!

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq - New York Times

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq - New York Times

Unfortunately they just want to move them to Afghanistan (the other war we are losing in the Middle East).

U.S. must face huge death toll of Iraqi civilians --

U.S. must face huge death toll of Iraqi civilians --

"News report tallies suggest that about 75,000 Iraqis have died since the U.S.-led invasion. But a study of 13 war-affected countries presented at a recent Harvard conference found that more than 80 percent of violent deaths in conflicts go unreported by the press and governments."

"... last month, the respected British polling firm ORB released the results of a poll estimating that 22 percent of households had lost a member to violence during the occupation of Iraq, equating to 1.2 million deaths. "

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Warrior Writers Project

The Warrior Writers Project

We tell stories and we listen to stories in order to live. To stay conscious. To connect one with another. To understand consequences. To keep history. To rebuild civilization.

Why I fight and why we all must. - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth

Why I fight and why we all must. - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth

Even General Patraeus can't say that we are safer because of the war in Iraq. During our troop surge the Iraqi government fell apart. We have granted amnesty to Sunni militias in Anbar with American blood on their hands, and we are now arming and financing them out of desperation to stop the violence. We are doing the same for Shiite militias loyal to Al Sadr who is a mass murderer of US troops. The Iraqi government, police force, and security forces are rampant with corruption. Is this the Iraq that our troops were sent off to die for? If Bush cared the slightest bit I would love to ask him that question.

Now it has been suggested by General Petraeus that the surge has been such a success that we can bring home 30,000 troops by this summer. Really? That would mean that if there were any gains made by the surge they will evaporate almost immediately into thin air. We will be right back were we started with fewer troops in an extremely hostile environment -- The Rumsfeld Doctrine. What then? Do we have another surge? Is that possible with a broken military? OF COURSE NOT.

Bush and his loyalists in Congress won't even allow our troops to rest after mulitple deployments that go above and beyond the call of duty.

During the last Democratic presidential debate the front runners for the nomination could not even guarantee that our troops would be home by the end of their first term in 2013. For me that is just tragic to hear.

The American people want an end to this war so badly. If the politicians will not listen it is our duty as Americans to make them listen. We owe it to our country and our troops to ensure that our members of Congress no longer allow themselves to be bullied by a coward like George W. Bush. If Bush vetoes legislation for our troops and an end to the war Congress must shove it right back in his face. We must act now while there is still a chance to make Congress do their job as a co-equal branch of government and start bringing this war to an end. They need to be equally as defiant as Bush has been for the last 7 years and fight fire with fire when it comes to this President. After all, that is what we elected them to do.

I will fight for an end to this war with my last breath. We all must.

John Bruhns
Iraq Veteran

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Truthdig - Reports - Iraq Will Have to Wait

Truthdig - Reports - Iraq Will Have to Wait

Here’s the danger: While the antiwar movement focuses its limited resources on trying to leverage real congressional opposition to the war in Iraq, which simply will not happen before the 2008 election, the Bush administration and its Democratic opponents will outflank the antiwar movement on the issue of Iran, pushing forward an aggressive agenda in the face of light or nonexistent opposition.

Of the two problems (the reality of Iraq, the potential of Iran), Iran is by far the more important. The war in Iraq isn’t going to expand tenfold overnight. By simply doing nothing, the Democrats can rest assured that Bush’s bad policy will simply keep failing. War with Iran, on the other hand, can still be prevented. We are talking about the potential for conflict at this time, not the reality of war. But time is not on the side of peace.

Southpinellas: Vets get a peaceful welcome

Southpinellas: Vets get a peaceful welcome
ST. PETERSBURG - The last time Veterans for Peace members set foot on a Pinellas County high school campus, uniformed police officers escorted them off the premises.

Members of the antiwar group Veterans for Peace Patricia Boynton, left, and Linda Hubner talk to students Michael Bianchi, 14, and Danniel Martinez, 15, right, in the Dixie Hollins lunchroom. Boynton and Hubner began visiting Pinellas County schools Friday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Army of Dude: The Real Deal

Army of Dude: The Real Deal

A response to Rush Limbaugh and his "Army of None" calling anti war vets "phony Soldiers". The post includes an exhaustive analysis of Rush's reasons for not serving in Vietnam.


"I'm not above self-criticism. This is me on the last patrol we did in Old Baqubah on August 20. Like a coward I stayed in Iraq only fifteen months. We heard rumors that the 1920s might ambush us on our last patrol. Too bad they didn't, or they would've sent a lot of phonies home in body bags!"

Below is a comment from a vet of another war about how all those soldiers were phonies too.

oldfart namvet said...

Thank you phony soldier. I remember sitting around with the phony soldiers that could have been their fathers. We spoke of our fathers and the battles of the big one. We called ours "the long one". I hope when this mess is over you will not do as we did and shut up about what a stupid thing it is. We were the winter soldiers, from a Thomas Paine pamphlet. Look it up.
Talk about it. Believe in the promise of America. It is no crime or shame. The crime is betraying the trust we have in that promise.
Always remember: Democracy is a participatory team sport. As with any sport, the better you know the rules the better your team performs. Stay in touch and help each other through low spots. Hold your head up and make sure your children learn from you. Teach them better than we taught you.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another View of Counter Protesters at Washington March

UF Journalism student Iñigo Amescua sent this account of his encounter with the pro war forces that gathered to greet anti war protesters in Washington on September 15th.

“What are you looking at? You jerk. Hey what are you doing with your camera freak?”
says the big-clean-cut-hair-Rayban-sun-glasses-fat-guy.

I don’t know if I understand the situation; I don’t say a word. “Hey YOU” – he looks like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski movie without the tender heart: “What are you recording freak?”

I, this time, know what is going on, remember the Marvin Gaye’s song?

I doubt whether to respond him or not… “You shouldn’t”. I think to myself. “You are a journalist, shut up”. I say to myself. And the big-fat guy continues shouting at me while he turns his ridiculously small- chilli-red head towards me like a turtle.

“Damn”, I give up and say, “Why are you insulting me?”
“Oh,” big guy-big belly responds trying to mimic me “poor little guy ‘Why are you insulting me?’” and smiles sardonically.

I, old Spaniard proud pumping in my veins like red hot coal, repeat my question:
“I am working here, I am a journalist, I’m just taking pictures and sound… why you are insulting me?”
And then big-fat-empty-head-guy says: “I am using my freedom of speech”. ZAS! HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH? WHAT? FREEDOM OF WHAT?

I just stare at him. I really don’t know what to do or say. Should I kick his balls in a wonderful exercise of my freedom of kick-the-asshole-balls? Umm… attractive idea but I should not, I have a student visa, a scholarship, I cannot… I just smile and turn.

I do understand now. You cannot really have a conversation with this kind of person: they don’t understand anything about freedom, liberties or even speech. There is a beautiful middle aged woman with clear blue eyes who comes to me and says in an incredible sweet voice: “I am so embarrassed. You are not even from this country and you are already suffering this behavior.” Gosh, I don’t know what to say either and not just because she looks very fine… she almost embraces me, and tells me she is from New York, and introduces me to a friend of hers who is shooting a documentary about the march.

Later I see all these people lying in the ground just as if they were dead. I see the V-for-Vendetta masked veteran, the girl with the fake blood in her face, the photos of the dead boys in the chest of their mothers: I see the ardour in the eyes, the excitement, the hope, and the old delusion floating everywhere although nobody wants to recognise it.

I talk with Don the veteran in his wheelchair; he talks about his pain, his wounds (the ones that I can tell from the outside and the ones that are inside), his dead friend Ray, and his pretty Vietnamese wife dead in a terrorist attack in Saigon. I have just met him but I cannot help but embrace him while he cries. I hate it, I don’t like the possibility of being too emotional, but I do CAN’T HELP IT, this man is suffering, he has been suffering for 40 years now. He says “thank you” in quiet manner.

The big white dome of the Capitol floats above our heads like a birthday cake made of cream.

See Iñigo's photos from Washington and his blog

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Crooks and Liars » “Blackwater” Author describes the US civilian Militia Group’s relationship with BushCo. “Shadow War”

Crooks and Liars » “Blackwater” Author describes the US civilian Militia Group’s relationship with BushCo. “Shadow War”:

"Right now in Iraq, private personnel on the US government payroll outnumber official US troops. There are about 186,000 so-called private contractors operating alongside 165,000 troops. The US military is the junior partner in this coalition.—-This is a shadow war. We’re in the midst right now of a discussion about a surge, and about troop withdrawals, and we hear conflicting messages. But there’s been a surge on for four years of the private sector, in Iraq, this mercenary army that the Bush administration has built up all over that country. The arrogance of the West, toward Iraq is incredible. This is a civilization that’s been around for thousands and thousands of years. We think that we’re going to somehow bring the solution to Iraq? No, these are people that can very much dictate their own destiny and they should be allowed to do so, and mercenaries need to get out of Iraq immediately."

Gold Star Father Beaten by Gathering of Eagles

Monday, September 17th, 2007
Gold Star Father Kicked Defending Dead Son's Memorial Mélida Arredondo

Mélida Arredondo is the stepmother of Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, killed in Iraq, Aug. 25, 2004.

Carlos Arredondo, 47 year old father of two sons, arrived in the nation's capitol on Monday, 09/10/07 to share a memorial he has made to honor for his eldest son, Alex. Carlos has visited thirty of the United States with the traveling memorial to his son Alexander. Lcpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, USMC was killed on 08/25/04. He was 20 years and 20 days old. The memorial consists of a casket, poster- size photographs of Alex when he graduated from boot camp, before his second tour in Iraq, lying in state at his wake, and a photo of Alex with his younger brother Brian.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 consisted of first a rally, a march towards the capitol and then a die-in. Carlos pulled the memorial along the march route approaching the rotunda near the capitol building. Several of the marchers requested for him to speak about the memorial where a crowd gathered around him. After finishing, several people walked with Carlos as he pulled the memorial. Several pictures of Alex dressed in his blues were attached to the display.

As Carlos passed counter protesters, one man ripped a picture of Alex from the memorial. Carlos leaped on the man to retrieve the picture. It was at that point that approximately five others all began to attack Carlos by kicking him in the head, legs, stomach and back.

The Capitol police bicycle patrol then appeared to break up the fight. Several officers including a female officer were engaged in breaking up the fight and were able to stop any further injuries from occurring. Hannah Jones who was walking with Carlos was also assaulted.

A bystander named Ramesh witnessed the whole encounter and also retrieved the picture of Alex for Carlos. He was quite distressed at how he watched the men yelling epithets follow Carlos as he pulled the memorial, and eventually take Alex's photograph. Soon, an ambulance showed up as well as many concerned activists. The paramedics provided first aid to Carlos but he did not seek further medical attention. Carlos sustained bloody cuts on his shins. He also reported bruises all over his torso and head where he was kicked.

I will send updates on Carlos and his work in DC as I am able.

Mélida Arredondo,
Remembering Alex Arredondo and all those
who died too young at war to aid the Iraqi people
and his own nation, the USA,
and while protecting his buddies...
08/05/84 - 08/25/04

Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 15th March on Washington: 100,000 March Against Iraq War in Washington

September 15th March on Washington: 100,000 March Against Iraq War in Washington

Here is ANSWER's report on the March followed by a report on the counter protest which claims a thousand pro war protesters. As you will see by my photos below I could not find that many! click on the picture to get my comments.

Area residents join D.C. protest - News -

Area residents join D.C. protest - News -

Local media coverage is among the best and most accurate found on the web today where major News outlets severely underestimated antiwar protester numbers and overestimated pro war numbers or ignored the march all together. Below are my own photos in a slide show. You can click on the pictures below to go to the album and read my comments including some estimates about numbers. More pictures of the pro war crowd to follow.

Mary Bahr

Crooks and Liars » Rachel Maddow’s Campaign Asylum: Still Stupid On Iraq

Crooks and Liars » Rachel Maddow’s Campaign Asylum: Still Stupid On Iraq

Here is my favorite political analyst on the topic of how the "antiwar dems" are handling the framing of ending the war. She's brilliant and funny!

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Washington Monthly

The Washington Monthly
....How brain dead do the Bushies think we are, peddling this horse manure that US troop deaths have fallen? (There are always seasonal variations because in the summer it is 120 F. in the shade and guerrillas are too heat-exhausted to fight; but the summer 2007 numbers are much greater than those for summer 2006; that isn't progress.) And why does our corporate media keep repeating this Goebbels-like propaganda? Do we really live in an Orwellian state?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Comment is free: The wrong kind of surge

Comment is free: The wrong kind of surge:
Despite escalating evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration continues to support the military surge in Iraq.

The 74 US military deaths reported in July (since revised upwards to 78) were indeed the lowest since November. According to a high-ranking commander quoted by the New York Times, this is a "positive sign". Viewed in another way, though, the figure is alarming. As Juan Cole, the blogging professor from Michigan University, points out, a decrease in July would be normal:

"July is like a blast furnace in Iraq, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees F in the shade. Guerrillas typically lie low in this unfavourable environment, compared to other seasons, and so the casualty rates go down. Instead, this year the killing season has gone on as if it were spring." In fact, last month was the deadliest July for American troops since the war began. The July figures for previous years range between 43 and 54, so - behind the spin - this year has seen a big increase.

The aim of the surge is to take control of troublesome areas and deliver security. So if the surge was really working we ought to be seeing the start of a downward trend in civilian casualties - but unfortunately not.

According to the Iraqi government, civilian deaths totalled 1,652 in July - up by a third compared with June. And with attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces, civilians and infrastructure averaging of 177.8 per day. June itself was the worst month for attacks since President Bush declared "mission accomplished" in 2003.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cutting Costs, Bending Rules, And a Trail of Broken Lives -

Cutting Costs, Bending Rules, And a Trail of Broken Lives -

We have been discussing contracters and here is another example of why holding organizations accountable is important. That part of public business seems to have dropped off the edge of the earth.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Israel Plans to Drop Nukes on Iran’s Nuclear Program - The Largest Minority

Israel Plans to Drop Nukes on Iran’s Nuclear Program - The Largest Minority

Iraq attacks hit new high | WORLD | NEWS |

Iraq attacks hit new high | WORLD | NEWS |

Here are the tables of statistics dropped in the article link:
Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........976

Coalition forces...3212


Daily average.......176.5 * JANUARY 2007 (31 days)-------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........946

Coalition forces...3301


Daily average.......166.5 * FEBRUARY (28 days)-----------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........850

Coalition forces...2955


Daily average.......162.9 * MARCH (31 days)--------------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........937

Coalition forces...3112


Daily average.......157.5 * APRIL (30 days)--------------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........966

Coalition forces...3051


Daily average.......163.5 * MAY (31 days)----------------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........987

Coalition forces...3423


Daily average.......173.1 * JUNE (30 days)---------------------------

Attacks on:



Iraqi forces........889

Coalition forces...3671


Daily average.......177.8 Special Report: Clinton Accused Special Report: Clinton Accused

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Video: Sean Smith in Iraq | Video | Guardian Unlimited

Video: Sean Smith in Iraq | Video | Guardian Unlimited

And here, at the end of this video, is one of those "Iranian bomb factories". But wait, it's in Baghdad!

And listen to what our soldiers have to say to the politicians extending their tours in Iraq.

Informed Comment on Al-Qaeda in Iraq

Informed Comment

Ned Parker of the LA Times reports that of 19,000 "insurgents" held by the US military in Iraq, only 135 are foreigners.

Think about that when you hear Bush say that the US is fighting "al-Qaeda" in Iraq or that "al-Qaeda" would take over Iraq if the US left. The foreigners just are not that important to the guerrilla war. Only .7% of detainees are foreigners, and unless they run faster than Iraqis, that is likely their percentage share in the "insurgency," too.

The US is fighting Iraqis in Iraq, who are nationalists of various stripes, whether religious or secular. They are Sunni. They haven't given fealty to Bin Laden and are not "al-Qaeda."

So if they aren't from Iran, where are they from? Saudi Arabia--- 45%! Only 15% are from "Syria and Lebanon," and I'll bet you that all but one of those are Sunni. 10% are from North Africa, which is only about 14 guys. North Africa is Sunni.

That is, the numbers Parker pulled out of a US officer in Iraq demolish the entire image that the Bush administration and the Washington press corps has been presenting of the war."

AlterNet: Health & Wellness: The Best Health Care Is Reserved for Congress

AlterNet: Health & Wellness: The Best Health Care Is Reserved for Congress:
I have been looking for this info!

"here is an employee/insurance deal in the U.S. that includes unlimited doctor office visits of your choosing; covers all accidents, routine exams, physical therapy, labs and X-rays; and the like; unlimited hospital visits and stays; certain chronic care and rehab; full prescription coverage; and unlimited specialty consultations. For the employee and the entire family. There are no deductibles, no co-pays, and only a $35 monthly fee taken from an annual salary of $158 thou. Thirty-five dollars!

The group awarded this insurance looks forward to a full pension and continued coverage until their deaths. Quite a few, most in fact, were millionaires before they took on their jobs that got them such a perk. Who gets this coverage? It would be nice if it were the underprivileged or the chronically ill and debilitated or our veterans.

But no. For starters, the 535 members of the U.S. Congress, and add to that the few hundred in the upper executive and judicial branches of government. They are also members of a demographic group where seven were arrested for shoplifting, nineteen for writing bad checks, and eighty-four for drunk driving. This bunch also has an overrepresentation of felony indictments, and a few ended up serving time."

And, they are also the very same group who keeps such credible healthcare proposals and bills like John Conyers' HR676 and Barbara Lee's HR3000 holed up in committee, year after year, denying them access to a public hearing and floor vote. In 2005, the president and his cronies up on the Hill voted to slash $10 billion over the next decade from Medicaid. Their own medical benefits stayed intact.

Could it be they don't believe that the rest of America should share in what they are so fortunate to have? ... the billions spent on the Iraqi campaign yearly would have given similar healthcare benefits to four out of every five Americans for a year.

US Senate unanimously passes threatening measure against Iran

US Senate unanimously passes threatening measure against Iran

A little publicised amendment to the defence spending bill denouncing Iran for the “murder” of US soldiers in Iraq was proposed by Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman and passed unanimously in the US Senate on Wednesday. Republicans and Democrats all lined up to support the White House’s unsubstantiated accusations that Tehran is funding, training and arming Iraqi militias, “who are contributing to the destabilisation of Iraq and are responsible for the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces”.

For all their antiwar posturing, not a single Democrat, including the leading presidential contenders Hilary Clinton, Barrack Obama and Joseph Biden, opposed the amendment. Having supported the Bush administration’s crimes in Iraq, the Democrats are lending credibility to another campaign of lies, half-truths and disinformation aimed at justifying a new military adventure.

The vote demonstrates once again that the differences between the White House and the Democrats are purely tactical. What unites all factions of the American political establishment is their defence of the strategic and economic interests of US imperialism in the Middle East.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Crooks and Liars » Report: DoD No Bid Contracts Has “Put Troops At Risk”

Crooks and Liars » Report:

Is it the antiwar folks who are putting our troops at risk - or is it the people who sent them to iraq?

DoD No Bid Contracts Has “Put Troops At Risk”
: "A study completed in late June by the Pentagon’s Inspector General concludes that the Department of Defense (DoD) has risked the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq due to malfeasance in awarding and monitoring contracts for badly-needed armored vehicles.

The study, which was requested by Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, found that since 2000 the DoD has awarded “sole-source” contracts valued at $2.2 billion to just two companies, Force Protection, Inc.(FPI) and Armor Holdings, Inc (AHI).

Inspector General auditors found that the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) made these two companies the sole providers of armored vehicles and armor kits for troops, despite knowing that other suppliers may have produced the equipment so desperately needed in Iraq substantially faster. Both manufacturers fell far behind delivery schedules, while AHI also produced inadequate and faulty equipment."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Dead Iraqi is Just Another Dead Iraqi… You Know, So What?’ -

A Dead Iraqi is Just Another Dead Iraqi… You Know, So What?’ -

"The publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.

The report steers clear of widely reported atrocities, such as the massacre in Haditha in 2005, but instead unearths a pattern of human rights abuses. “It’s not individual atrocity,” Specialist Garett Reppenhagen, a sniper from the 263rd Armour Battalion, said. “It’s the fact that the entire war is an atrocity.”"

Saturday, July 7, 2007

McCamy Taylor's Journal - Homegrown Terrorism: When Christians Attack, the Press Keeps Quiet

McCamy Taylor's Journal - Homegrown Terrorism: When Christians Attack, the Press Keeps Quiet:

Over 60 right wing plots discovered in US since 2001.

"Why is the mainstream media so obsessed with pretending that religious fanatics are all Muslims? Only two of the terrorist attacks on US soil have occurred at the hands of Arabs. All the abortion clinic terrorists are Christians. The Branch Davidians were a Christian sect. The Oklahoma City bombing was not committed by anyone named Abdul. A Christian recently was caught with napalm at Jerry Falwell's funeral (note how CNN, which loves to magnify the scope of Muslim terrorism, downplays this crime):"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

YouTube - Gonzales: "I Don't Recall"

YouTube - Gonzales: "I Don't Recall"

Note Adam Kokesh starring with Gonzo in this segment from CNN. ;-)

Army Reservists Ordered for Screenings

Army Reservists Ordered for Screenings

Trying to nail down the IRR. I guess they don't want to be trying to deploy disabled and deceased reserve members anymore.

Cheney’s Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed -

Cheney’s Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed - "WASHINGTON - A media campaign portraying Iran as supplying arms to the Taliban guerrillas fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, orchestrated by advocates of a more confrontational stance toward Iran in the George W. Bush administration, appears to have backfired last week when Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, issued unusually strong denials."

War and Censorship at Wilton High -

War and Censorship at Wilton High -

As a teacher this brought me to tears. Is this Fascism yet?

"The production, “Voices in Conflict,” moved the audience to tears, ending with a standing ovation for the teenage actors, still reeling from a controversy that had propelled them onto the New York stage. Their high school principal had banned the play.

Bonnie Dickinson has been teaching theater at Wilton High School in Connecticut for 13 years. She and her students developed the idea of a play about Iraq, initially inspired by the Sept. 3, 2006, death of Wilton High graduate Nicholas Madaras from an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in Baqubah, Iraq. The play uses real testimonials from soldiers, from their letters, blogs and taped interviews, and Yvonne Latty’s book “In Conflict,” with the students acting the roles. The voices of Iraqis are also included.

In mid-March, after students spent months preparing the play, the school administration canceled it. Superintendent Gary Richards wrote: “The student performers directly acting the part of the soldiers … turns powerful material into a dramatic format that borders on being sensational and inappropriate. We would like to work with the students to complete a script that fully addresses our concerns.” (The students have modified the script; they perform Richards’ letter, its cold, condescending bureaucratese in stark relief with the play’s passionate eyewitness testimonials.)"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Time for change's Journal - The Five Pillars of George W. Bush’s Republican Party

Time for change's Journal - The Five Pillars of George W. Bush’s Republican Party:

This post on DU says it all about the threat to our republic and its values posed by the neoconservative movement cloaked in false christianity, using fear and racism to convince America to abandon the values of the founding fathers. Note the specific use of the bill of rights amendments here:

"Though the dangers that our nation faces today are clearly minor compared to those we faced during nearly half a century of the Cold War, George W. Bush has declared a state of permanent war in our country and virtually suspended the freedoms and rights guaranteed to us in our Constitution; he invaded and occupied a nation which posed no threat to us, spawning a war that shows no signs of abating after more than four years; he violated our Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches with his warrantless spying on hundreds of thousands or millions of American citizens; and in his abusive treatment and torture of thousands of prisoners of war, he has repeatedly violated international law specified in the Geneva Convention of 1949, as well as the due process clause of our Fifth Amendment, our Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, to face one’s accusers, to be represented by counsel and to be informed of the charges against one’s self, and our Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. And our Republican Congress sat silently by while George Bush and Dick Cheney did all this."

A nice summary of how we are left with only 2 Amendments and the first one is threatened by intimidation and media control.

Here is a quote from Gore's new book that the article uses:

Rejecting the idea that Bush is either stupid or truly religious, Gore characterizes Bush in a nutshell like this:

"I’m convinced, however, that most of the president’s frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with his right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible…. Now, with the radical Right, we have a political faction disguised as a religious sect, and the president of the United States is heading it. The obvious irony is that Bush uses a religious blind faith to hide what is actually an extremist political philosophy with a disdain for social justice that is anything but pious by the standards of any respected faith tradition I know.

The truth about this particular brand of faith-based politics is that President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged…

Make no mistake: It is the president’s reactionary ideology, not his religious faith, that is the source of his troubling inflexibility. Whatever his religious views, President Bush has such an absolute certainty in the validity of his rigid right-wing ideology that he does not feel the same desire that many of us would in gathering facts relevant to the questions at hand."

Gore also uses Roosevelts term "Economic Royalists" to describe Neoconservative attitudes towards poverty:

He describes the economic royalists as those

"who are primarily interested in eliminating as much of their own taxation as possible and removing all inconvenient regulatory obstacles. Their ideology – which they and
Bush believe with almost religious fervor – is based on several key elements:

First, there is no such thing as “the public interest”; that phrase represents a dangerous fiction created as an excuse to impose unfair burdens on the wealthy and powerful.

Second, laws and regulations are also bad – except when they can be used on behalf of this group, which turns out to be often. It follows, therefore, that whenever laws must be enforced and regulations administered, it is important to assign those responsibilities to individuals who… reliably serve the narrow and specific interests of this small group…

What members of this coalition seem to spend much of their time and energy worrying about is the impact of government policy on the behavior of poor people. They are deeply concerned, for example, that government programs to provide health care, housing, social insurance, and other financial support will adversely affect work incentives"

Finally Gore's quote on the Neoconservative philsophy versus the consitution;

"The unifying theme now being pushed by this coalition is actually an American heresy, a highly developed political philosophy that is fundamentally at odds with the founding principles of the United States of America… In America, we believe that God endowed individuals with unalienable rights; we do not believe that God has endowed George Bush – or any political leader – with a divine right to exercise power."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cuba's health care system is helping the world's poor by Sarah van Gelder

Cuba's health care system is helping the world's poor by Sarah van Gelder: "Solidarity” has real-world implications. Before Cuba sent doctors to Pakistan, relations between the two countries were not great, Ceballos says. But now the relationship is “magnificent.” The same is true of Guatemala and El Salvador. “Although they are conservative governments, they have become more flexible in their relationship with Cuba,” he says.

Those investments in health care missions “are resources that prevent confrontation with other nations,” Ceballos explains. “The solidarity with Cuba has restrained aggressions of all kinds.” And in a statement that acknowledges Cuba’s vulnerabilities on the global stage, Ceballos puts it this way: “It’s infinitely better to invest in peace than to invest in war.”

Imagine, then, that this idea took hold. Even more revolutionary than the right to health care for all is the idea that an investment in health—or in clean water, adequate food or housing—could be more powerful, more effective at building security than bombers and aircraft carriers."

Maverick Mike Gravel - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Maverick Mike Gravel - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Saturday, June 9, 2007

THOMAS PAINE’S CORNER |• » Beyond PTSD: the Moral Casualties of War

THOMAS PAINE’S CORNER |• » Beyond PTSD: the Moral Casualties of War: "Acknowledging the existence of moral casualties in war by no means diminishes the importance or prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rather, it enhances our understanding of the war experience and its devastating effects, expands our area of concern beyond trauma and PTSD, and allows us to more adequately meet the needs of our returning servicemen and women."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What If Our Mercenaries Turn On Us? - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

What If Our Mercenaries Turn On Us? - - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community: "Armed units from the private security firm Blackwater USA opened fire in Baghdad streets twice in two days last week. It triggered a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, a reminder that the war in Iraq may be remembered mostly in our history books for empowering and building America’s first modern mercenary army.There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 armed security contractors working in Iraq, although there are no official figures and some estimates run much higher. Security contractors are not counted as part of the coalition forces. When the number of private mercenary fighters is added to other civilian military “contractors” who carry out logistical support activities such as food preparation, the number rises to about 126,000."

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Crooks and Liars » Jon Soltz On Bush, The Troops & Cheap Sunglasses

Crooks and Liars » Jon Soltz On Bush, The Troops & Cheap Sunglasses

Soltz: "And now you have Joe Lieberman who spent his Viet Nam War years in law school and claims that he's some sort of arbiter of patriotism going to Iraq wearing his fake Oakley sunglasses. And, uh, it's hard for me to know that he actually gets to see the troops because those soldiers, they wanted to talk to Joe Lieberman and they want to tell them the truth. They want to tell him what they saw which was that they're driving around and they're getting shot and they want to know when they're going home."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day Events

Announcement from VFP Gainesville:

Gainesville Vets for Peace
Memorial Day 2007
NW 8th Avenue and 34th Street

Mile long Display of Tombstones
Commemorating the War Dead

Cost of War Posters and Banners

Dawn to Dusk on Memorial Day, Mnnday May 28th
Parking at Westside Park on 34th street and NW 8th Ave

Arlington - Liberty Bell

One of our fellow VFP chapters is also putting out tombstones to commemorate Memorial Day.