Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why the GOP loves Bambi

Starting with war resisters.  Stephen Lendman (Global Research) reviews a new book by Francis A. Boyle ("distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights") entitled Protesting Power -- War, Resistance and Law (available in hardcover for $75.00 and in softcover for $24.95). Lendman notes Boyle was not allowed to testify at Camilo Mejia's court-martial but did get to give testimony during the sentencing and was allowed to testify at Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing (August 2006) but not at the court-martial.  Lendman summarizes Watada's February 2007 court-martial: "It began in February under very constricted rules -- denying a First Amendment defense and disallowing one questioning the legality of the war.  However, legality issues were impossible to exclude, they directly related to charges brought, and the prosecution introduced them at trial.  In addition, Watada firmly stated before testifying that he refused to deploy because of the war's illegality.  Unable to pressure him not to so testify, the presiding judge" -- that would be Judge Toilet (aka John Head) -- declared a mistrial.  He'd lost control of the proceeding, knew Watada was on solid ground, and had to prevent his evidence from being introduced to avoid the embarrassing possibility of an acquittal on one or all charges.  If it happened, the war's illegality would have been exposed and its continuation jeopardized.  Under the Fifth Amendment 'double jeopardy' clause, Watada cannot be retried on the same charges." In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.
Meanwhile war resisters who have moved to Canada were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey.  Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.  That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. 
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).


In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause.  Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible.  The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies.  It won't be easy but it must be done.  Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."
[. . .]
Turning to the media landscape.  Carol Jenkins (Womens Media Center) notes last weekend's Saturday Night Live sketches [here for Ava and my piece on that], "The show recognized what many observers had come to feel: the media has conducted itself poorly and are worthy of parody.  And watching Tim Russert, parodying himself last night, scowling eyebrows, raised voice, blustery manner and slightly weird questions -- encapsulated what's wrong with the media.  Time seemed to have the mistaken believe that he was the third debater, an impression only heightened after the debate when Chris Matthews repeatedly lauded Russert on 'reeling in' Hillary Clinton with a question on her war vote."  The Iraq War. Jenkins goes on to list Howard Kurtz and Howard Fineman as among those recognizine a media bias -- a pro-Obama media bias.  But it's not just Real Media, it's also Panhandle Media.  Take the trash that passes for 'journalism' on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! these days.  To her credit, Goodman didn't lead the headlines today with Chris Dodd's endorsement of Bambi; however, as Marcia pointed out yesterday, Goodman led it with it on Wednesday after having already included it as a "news" "headline" on Tuesday.  Jeremy Scahill was a guest on the program today to discuss his talk with a foreign policy advisor on the Obama campaign (everyone assumes it's Samantha Power and the statements/justifications do read as if they're from her -- here for his article at Common Dreams on this topic).  Goody played a clip from the debate.  She didn't play the exchange everyone's working hard to ignore.  We noted the exchange Tuesday night and Rebecca noted it Tuesday night.  From the New York Times transcript of the debate:

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?

[. . .]

SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why. And so when I bring this up, it is not simply to say "I told you so," but it is to give you an insight in terms of how I would make decisions.
Did you catch the lie?  Common Dreams can't stop pushing Bambi off on their readers including today.  Click here for the bad 2002 speech (it calls out the illegal war, yes, it is a bad speech and one that takes for granted that Iraq had WMD which they didn't).  What's the date on that speech?  October 2, 2002.  Obama was not "in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign."  He did not run for the US Senate in 2002.  He was running for the Illinois state senate.  It was not "a high-stakes campaign."  He was running for re-election.  He won the seat in 1996.  He ran for re-election in 1998 and won.  He ran for re-election in 2000 and won.  He won for re-election in 2002 and won.  It was not a statewide campaign.  His race was one of 59 state senate races taking place in Illinois in 2002.  [For Bambi as a state legislator, MyDD recommends Todd Spivak's article in the latest edition of the Houston Press.]
Since we noted Bambi's lies, Rebecca and I have had all sorts of whiners complaining that Bambi was referring to something else.  As with Bully Boy, there's a lot of "Obama really means" going on (Jeremy Scahill takes part in peering into Obama's soul on Democracy Now! today).  So let's go slow for the really stupid who think a politician's statements can be 'fixed.' 
When was Bambi in a high-stakes race?  The Democratic 2004 primary race?  No.  His only real opponent, Blair Hull, was done in by a whisper campaign launched by Barack Obama's campaign.  They used their usual press contacts (including the same writer at The Chicago Tribune who's always been Bambi's bag man) to push rumors about Hull's former marriage repeatedly.  But let's pretend that Bambi, commenting on 2002, actually was referring to that 2004 primary race.  Did it take a lot to be against the illegal war?  No.  Blair Hull, a veteran, was also against the Iraq War.  Dick Durbin's opposition to the illegal war wasn't held against him by the voters of Illinois.  So it wasn't the primary.  What about the campaign for the general election, was that "high-stakes" for Bambi to stake out a position against the illegal war?  [He was not against the illegal war during this time, but let's all buy the lie.]
March 16, 2004 was the primary election.  Obama won the Democratic primary, Jack Ryan won the Republican primary.  The Obama campaign launched a whisper campaign against Jack Ryan almost immediately.  And, not surprisingly, Obama's usual crowd of supporters today were penning columns on his Senate run.  The whisper campaign gets real traction beginning in late April (whisper campaign against Jack Ryan and his ex-wife Jeri Ryan).  You have The Chicago Tribune (and a local station) suing to unseal the records.  Jack Ryan is out of the race June 25th.  Three months after Obama became the Democratic nominee in the Senate race.  "High-stakes"?  No.  July?  No oppenent at all.  A few consider it but none decide on running.  August 8, 2004 is when Alan Keyes agrees to become the GOP nominee.  Keyes did not (and never had) lived in Illinois.  In 1988, he ran for the US Senate from Maryland and only got 38% of the vote, in 1992 he ran again and only got 29% of the vote. He was a joke and there was no "high-stakes" involved in his campaign.  27% would be the percentage of the vote Keyes received.  That needs to be noted.  Barack Obama has never won a tough state-wide race.  In the state legislature, he was representing one of 59 districts.  In 2004, whisper campaigns killed off his only real competition and he was left to run against professional joke Alan Keyes.
Barack Obama lied.  There was never a "high-stakes" campaign he was in where it hurt him to be against the war.  But while doing his US Senate race, he was against US troops leaving Iraq.  That is reality and it will be addressed more tonight.  Liars like Amy Goodman would prefer you not know that reality.  But Obama was not calling for "TROOPS HOME NOW!" when he ran for the US Senate.  That's a lie or, if you prefer, a fairy tale.
The debate was an embarrassment for Obama.  As Ruth points out, he repeatedly cribbed from Hillary Clinton's answers as if he didn't have time to do his own homework.  As Mike points out, Obama's 'excuse' for not holding meetings of the Senate subcommittee he chairs (one whose terrain includes NATO and Afghanistan) is laughable, "I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign."  Then you decline the offer to be chair you do not let 14 months go by without holding a hearing.  The Afghanistan War is not our scope, but it hasn't ended.  Obama demonstrates no leadership but does suggest that he puts his own ego ahead of elected duties.  As Kat and Rebecca pointed out last night, Bambi belittles Hillary's very real experience.  Of course, when you don't have something, you campaign has to belittle it.  We saw that take place in 2004 when the GOP belittled John Kerry's record of serving in Vietnam.  As Elaine pointed out, his manner of destroying candidates in the past focused on whispers about their marriages.  His campaign attempted to do that with the Clintons last year.  When that failed (as always, the New York Times took the bait), it was time to find a new strategy: any criticism of Bambi is "racism."  His campaign has played that strategy for months -- long before South Carolina but they really took it to a new level following New Hampshire.  How long is that going to work?  How long can every criticism be dismissed as "racism" before he turns off voters of all races?

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