Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is how Pretty Boys 'work'

Starting with war resistance.  Canada's CTV offers a report on war resister Phil McDowell which features text and a video clip.  Below is a transcript of the video report.
Tom Hayes: Phil McDowell and Michelle Robidoux hang out with a morning coffee but it's a relationship that goes much deeper.  McDowell is a US army deserter and Robidoux is helping him out.  It was this day [Sept. 11th, footage of NYC and the Pentagon shown] back in 2001that sent McDowell running to the enlistment office.  After all he felt he had to defend his country.  Then his country decided it was going into Iraq. 
Phil McDowell: There's no doubt that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction.  There's no doubt that he has, that Saddam Hussein has ties with al Qaeda. 
Tom Hayes: Did they convince you?
Phil McDowell: They convinced me I believed it.
Hayes: McDowell wants to be clear: He's not afraid to go into combat, not afraid to pick up a gun.  We know this because he's already been there.  McDowell served a year in Iraq.  He was a model soldier.  He survived and was sent home.  He was then discharged.  No longer in the army, he was told to go off and get on with his life.  But a few months later, Uncle Sam wanted him back, back to fight a war he no longer believed in. 
Phil: This can't be right, I don't want to have anything to do with this.  They said, well you don't have a choice.  You're going back whether you like it or not.  I signed up to defend my country.  I didn't sign up to take part in wars of aggression. 
Tom Hayes: There are about 150 US deserters now in Toronto.  They are seeking refugee status on the grounds the US is fighting an illegal war.  But it's a tough sell.  Much tougher than in the sixties when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcomed Vietnam draft dodgers with open arms.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't so keen on a motion to allow the deserters to stay.  The House of Commons will decide that by mid-April but that could already be too late for eight US war resisters who have already received deportation notices.  And if they are sent back, they will be arrested the minute they step foot on US soil.  Robidoux runs the group  She's currently helping out more than fifty US deserters.  McDowell calls her a good friend.  His wife has also joined him here in Toronto.  If he is allowed to stay, however, he faces a future without an extended family.  If he's not allowed to stay, he faces up to five years in prison.
Phil McDowell: I would definitely go back to visit my relatives but if it's -- the choice I made here to move to Canada rather than fight in an illegal war, I'd make the same decision any time.   
Tom Hayes: Tom Hayes, CTV News.
For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains 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.

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, Logan Laituri, 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). 
[. . .]
 Turning to US campaign politics.  Today Barack Obama, of all people, had the nerve to toss out Iraq as his latest excuse to hide behind.  Before we get there, Barack has been hiding out in the Virgin Islands (see Wally, Cedric, Rebecca, Wally and Cedric again and Mike). Taking a page from the 'successful' John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign, Obama decided hiding out in the Virgin Islands was the perfect way to address the Jeremiah Wright controversy that is not going away.  Jeremiah Wright would be Barack's friend, mentor, pastor, and just about everything but helpmate -- for over 20 years.  Hiding out in the Virigin Islands does you little good when Wright can't stop making the news.  Specifically Anna M. Tinsley (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports on TCU (Texas Christian University) deciding that Jeremiah Wright -- who used his pulpit to damn the United States -- wasn't appearing on their campus. Fredreka Schouten (USA Today) reports that a Tampa, Florida church has also cancelled a schedule appearance (and, no, it wasn't due to 'security'). AP reports that THREE Houston churchs have cancelled appearances by Wright scheduled to take place this Sunday. The issue is what USA Today notes as "God d—- America for treating our citizens as far less than human." Wright damned America.  It offended many. 
But Obama ignored it last week and the press ran with the distraction.  He refused to address specifically the offensive remark in last week's nearly 5,000 word speech.  It should have been addressed.  Instead we got nonsense.  Lots and lots of nonsense.  And drooling in the media (mainly White) because that speech wasn't about race.  In fact, I keep waiting for someone to point out the most offensive aspect of Barack's speech.  He wanted to take it to historical oppression and go back to what he dubbed "original sin" in the region we call the US today.  Well gee, Bambi, long before anyone, ANYONE, sailed over by choice or force, Native Americans populated this region so if you're going to talk about "originial" anything, trying getting your facts right. Or try being inclusive -- Liang offered her response to that bad speech here. But as Ava and I noted, the MSM is never going to be honest about race and Panhandle Media has made sure to convey that they too only see race in two shades: Black and White.  It's amazing to hear all the gushers gushing over a speech that ignored race in the US so completely.  But the speech was never supposed to be about race.  It was supposed to distract Americans -- that is who will be voting in the presidential election in November -- from the fact that Barack Obama believes it is perfectly okay to belong to a church whose pastor uses the pulpit to damn the United States -- to damn the country Barack Obama says he can represent, says he wants to represent, says he can defend.  Defend or damn?  That's the question on many minds.
Today AP reports that Bambi showed up in North Carolina to claim that Wright's comments were nothing but "a half-minute sound clip" --  that's all they were? -- and that "We cannot solve the problems of America if everytime somebody somewhere does something sutpid, that everybody gets up in arms and forgets about the war in Iraq and we forget about the economy."  Uh, excuse me, Barack Obama, but who forgot the illegal war.  That would be you.  That would be you who told Elaine and I, when you were running for the US Senate and begging for money, that the US was in Iraq now and so the troops had to stay to win.  And, sure enough, when you made it into the US Senate, you didn't do a thing to end the illegal war.  And in your campaign, you haven't done a thing.  In fact, Samantha Power -- your then foreign advisor -- revealed to the world -- via BBC -- that you didn't mean a word you were saying about "combat troops out in 16 months" which you lie in your speeches and reduce to "We want to end the war now!"  That's the extent you offer on Iraq -- a bumper sticker.  Now you spoke for nearly 5,000 words last week. Yes, you appear to have cribbed my points and words (and, no, you did not have permission) but it was a bad, bad speech.  And the reality is, you haven't even tried to speak like that about Iraq.  So don't blame the fact that your pastor of 20 years, in the church you made your home, damned the United States for the fact that you won't address the Iraq War.  The president of the United States is expected to defend the US.  But when Wright damned the US, you didn't leave the church.  You still haven't called him out on it or distanced yourself from his remarks damning the US.  You want to be the leader of the US and America's not even sure you can be counted onto verbally defend the US because Wright damned the country and you did nothing.
As Craig Unger (Vanity Fair) points out, should Barack get the Democratic Party nomination (he means presidential, but apply it to the v.p. slot as well), the "Wright scandal" is not going away and "you can bet that it will be an issue in the general election".  Yesterday, Hillary Clinton was asked about the issue in an newspaper editorial meeting and again at a press conference. CNN reports:

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Clinton referenced a speech she gave nearly a year ago after talk-radio host Don Imus' controversial remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team.  
"I said it was time for standing up for what is right, for saying enough is enough, for urging that we turn a culture of degradation into a culture of empowerment, for saying that while we of course must protect our right of free expression, it should not be used as a license or an excuse to demean or humiliate our fellow citizens. Sen. Obama spoke eloquently at that time as well," she said.
"Everyone will have to decide these matters for themselves. They were obviously very personal matters," Clinton added. "But I was asked what I would do if he was my pastor and I said I think the choice would be clear for me." 

No she would not have stayed and no one running for president should have stayed with that church.  This isn't minor.  This has nothing to do with race.  It has to do with the character required to be president.  Barack Obama can agree with many of Wright's points regarding racism (I happen to) but when it comes to the issue of damning the United States and doing so from the front of the church, a pastor using all his presumed power/pull with God to damn the United States, there are serious problems and serious questions and last week's speech was the distraction from that issue.  But the issue is not going away.  USA Today cites Obama flack Bill Burton declaring that Hillary -- responding to direct questions -- is offering a "transparent attempt to distract attention." No, Burton, she was answering a question. The transparent attempt to distract was sending Barack off to the Virgin Islands to lay low and hope the outrage died down. As the cancelled appearances for Wright suggest, it has not died down. Now Barack's showing up in North Carolina to claim that anyone raising the issue is preventing talk about Iraq.  No, that's not preventing talk about Iraq and Mr. Pretty Words offered nothing but bumper stickers for months and months when no one was talking about Iraq.  He may think Americans are that stupid but that's not the case.  The only stupidity is a campaign that's refused to address an issue that won't die down.  And, again, shouldn't.  The people of the United States have a right to expect that someone running for president will defend the country.  Barack Obama has yet to prove that defending the US is a concern for him.
While Barack pretends that he could address Iraq if only pesky Americans would stop focusing on questions his own actions raise, Senator Hillary Clinton underscored the differences between herself and Senator John McCain on Iraq:
While there is much to praise in Senator McCain's speech, he and I continue to have a fundamental disagreement on Iraq. Like President Bush, Senator McCain continues to oppose a swift and responsible withdrawal from Iraq. Like President Bush, Senator McCain discounts the warnings of our senior military leadership of the consequences of the Iraq war on the readiness of our armed forces, and on the need to focus on the forgotten front line in Afghanistan. Like President Bush, Senator McCain wants to keep us tied to another country's civil war, and said "it would be fine with me" if U.S. troops were in Iraq for 50 or even 100 years. That in a nutshell is the Bush/McCain Iraq policy.

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