Friday, November 03, 2006
We were walking through SoHo, my husband Thomas Friedman and I, when he saw the drawing at left.
He whined about defacing private property and wondered about the finanical impact upon the business properties. After delivering a five minute sermon on his-flat-world, he stopped long enough to ask, "What rapper or hoops star is it?"
I told him it was Kyle Snyder. I explained to him that Kyle Snyder was a young man who had said "NO" to the illegal war and gone to Canada in April 2005 to avoid returning to Iraq.
Somewhere after "Kyle Snyder" he tuned out.
He was fearing his 'power.' He explained that the Republicans didn't like him and it wasn an election year so he had to endorse someone. He felt it was better for the career (he called it the 'art') if he endorsed Democrats.
I tried to explain to him that neither Republicans nor Democrats liked him but he wasn't listening.
He was too busy attempting to figure out how he could endorse Democrats and come off "manly." I bit my lower lip to avoid laughing at him out loud. We were in public and I didn't want him to start stomping his feet and sobbing. If we'd been at home, I would've thrown my head back and unleashed a torrent of laughter. But here, on the streets of New York, I just bit my lower lip and tried not to remember his Marilyn Monroe drag period.
I could just picture him trying to butch up in print and strut around. Then I read his "Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence" this morning and realized I got it wrong. Oh, he was strutting alright. But more than that, he was crotch stuffing.
The column reminded me of an old "Saturday Night Live" skit where Jim Belushi is in a night club and can't get any attention so he goes to the men's room and stuffs everything in there (including the hand dryer) into the crotch of his pants. That's what my husband's column was like.
It was a huge crotch bulge that was so obviously false and, in fact, laughably so. You know how you hear a word and you think you know what it means and then life teaches you the depth of its meaning?
I always thought I understood the term "overcompensating." I never really did until I read his column. It crystalized everything.
Reading him go on and on with his sneers about who severed and who didn't and his whines about how the war was lost because of the number of US forces on the ground, really brought across what an eternal boy-fraud he was, and always would be, as he attempted to pass himself off as some macho-pig-head that only he would think was 'manly.'
Still unable to admit that an illegal war had no option of 'redemption,' he's the phoniest of the 'manly' men. The number of US forces didn't matter if a 'democracy' was going to be created. The military never creates a democracy. It fights a war. Was the war legit or not?
It wasn't legit and therefore nothing good could ever come of it. But there he was, stroking himself to strategies like he was Michael R. Gordon.
Then, as that relization sunk in, it struck me that Thomas Friedman was even more useless than I knew. Here he was, with a column on Friday, weighing in about what had been said on Monday. All week long, everyone and their clone had been offering up endless takes on what John Kerry meant, what the attacks from Bully Boy meant, blah blah blah. On Friday, Thomas Friedman shows up with the idea that anyone gives a damn about the tired topic, that all week long, they'd been thinking, "I can't wait until Friday when Friedman weighs in so I'll know what I really think!"
It drove home the limitations of the daily paper and of columnists who sleep walk across the computer keyboard as they attempt to churn out a few superficial paragraphs. Not timely, not insightful, not passionate, his column just sort of lay there lifeless -- as though it was need of viagra.
And I realized, "We're back to the crotch region again."
So I started thinking about how Thomas Friedman was basically an alien in any movie you could think of or a Ken doll -- and then about how there was no action in the head or in the crotch. Top to bottom, Thomas Friedman was useless and here he was, in print, flaunting it for the world to see.
Then the song "Flaunt It" came to mind, the "Shake what your mama gave you part." And I realized that Thomas Friedman was doing just that. Mama passed on nothing and there he was, in print, with one hand down his pants, wagging his nothing for all the world to see.
My thoughts returned to Kyle Snyder and how it took real courage to say "NO" to war, to put yourself out there like that as opposed to doing and saying what everyone else did -- as opposed to doing what Thomas Friedman does.
Finally, it hit me. Thomas Friedman, who waxes on about the military non-stop is a soldier, a soldier of conformity. It's why he's never had an original thought.
He thinks we're as stupid as he is.
I, for one, don't think that's possible.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 3, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder tells his story to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!, the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone mistakes himself for Jackson Pollock, Bully Boy finally wins at a poll but it's doubtful he'll be happy, nearly 60 corpses are discovered in Baghdad, eight US troops have died since Wednesday, John Dimitri Negroponte heads to Iraq for a surprise visit, and the US air force goes on a spending spree because, hey, it's not their money.
On Saturday, US war resister Kyle Snyder returned to the US from Canada where he'd self-checked out to in April 2005. Tuesday, he turned himself in at Fort Knox only to learn that the arrangement between the US military and his attorney, James Fennerty, was being tossed aside. At which point, Kyle Snyder self-checked out again.
Today, he spoke with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez for Democracy Now! detailing his experiences in Iraq and Canada. Synder detailed the promises of recruiters and how they mirrored the empty promises of the agreement the military offered Synder's attorney: "They can verbally promise anything, but once you are in their custody they can do anything they want with you." Between the broken promises of recruitment and return came the assignment to tasks he wasn't trained for. This is the point of the stand Melanie McPherson has taken. McPherson was trained to be a journalist for the military (at Fort Meade, MD) in April 2000 and then, just as her contract was winding down, she gets orders to report to Fort Bliss to ship out to Iraq. She reports on July 23 of this year and discovers she'll be serving in Iraq as a military police officer, something she has not been trained. McPherson tells her own story here (scroll down).
Jim Fennerty was also a guest and he explained that the military wants to send him (Snyder) to Fort Knox (KY) and that he can't get a call returned from Fort Leonard Wood (MO). Fennerty also addressed the issue of another of his clients, Ivan Brobeck. Brobeck is from Virgninia and went o Canada after serving seven months in Iraq. Like Synder, Brobeck arrived in Canada in April 2005. Unlike Snyder, Brobeck is in the Marines. Fennerty spoke of the different processes in the different branches of the US military and that "Ivan will be taken into custody" and "he'll be placed in the brig" at which point he would most likely face a court-martial.
Snyder stated to the following when asked by Goodman what he would say to other soldiers: "To the soldiers that are in Iraq, for the third or fourth time. A lot of them are scared to make decisions about moral and consientious choices, they're told by their commanders that they can't make these decisions Just follow your heart if you feel that you need to be in Iraq and that you're doing the right thing, that's fine and I understand that. But if you feel like you're doing the wrong thing, please speak out. The G.I. resistance is very important in changing the policits of this country right now and I feel that as G.I.s start coming out that's what's going to stop this war. And that's the only thing that's going to stop this war. As far as the soldiers that are in Canada right now, I love every single one of you, just know that whatever happens here, just keep that in mind, and I'll be keeping in contact with them."
On those still in Canada, Brett Barrouqere (AP) spoke with US war resisters Corey Glass and Patrick Hart who are currently in Canada. Glass is now reconsidering his own decision to return from Canada and both Glass and Hart consider the war to be based on lies. Glass states, "After what they did to him [Kyle Snyder], I don't see anybody going back." Hart says, "I could see going back under some kind of amnesty program or something like that. But I don't trust them."
More information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. In addition Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. On the latter, Courage to Resist is asking supporters to call 502-624-2707 to speak to Major General Robert M. Williams and tell him "Discharge Kyle Snyder!"
In other news of deployment status, Jamie McIntrye (CNN) reports that Santos Cardona will be sent to Kuwait and not Iraq, the Army has decided, due to the fact that Cardona was the "U.S. Army dog handler who was convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison". As to how he's been allowed to remain in the service? In June, Santos was "sentenced . . . to 90 days hard labor and a reduction in rank . . . found guilty of derelecition of duty and aggravated assault" (AP). The prosecution had recommended a discharge for bad conduct but apparently the actions fit into someone's understanding of 'service' and Cardona has managed to remain in the military instead of being drummed out of the service. On a similar note, AP reports that Steven D. Green has been indicted in a civilian court (he was discharged from the military before the allegations were public) in Kentucky for the "premeditated murder in the death of Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi, her father, mother and 6-year-old sister in the central Iraqi town of Al-Mahmudiyah. Green is accused of raping the teen and then killing her after rounding up and killing her family with the help of other soldiers in his unit."
And in Iraq today.
CNN reports that mortar rounds in Baghdad claimed the lives of three and left six wounded. Reuters notes four police officers dead in Madaen from a roadside bomb, two young males dead from a landmine in Kut, and three people dead from a roadside bomb in Baghdad. (CBS and AP note: "Police Lt. Thaer Mahoud said the death toll in the rush hour bombing of a crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City district Thursday had risen to 11 on Friday, with 51 reported wounded." Yesterday, the known dead from that bombing was seven.)
Reuters notes that "Resan al-Sayab, a local singer" was shot dead in Baghdad, while, in Kirkuk, a preacher (Sunni) and a gas station worker were shot dead (the preacher Thursday night), the shooting death of "a bodyguard of Shiite cleric Sadiq al-Hakim" near Najaf, and a cab driver shot dead in Baghdad.
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that 56 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that the corpse of Abdul Majeed Ismael Khalil, freelance journalist, was discovered in Baghdad in addition to the 56 other corpses and that a severed head was found as well.
Today the US military announced "Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Nov. 2 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province," "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died from injuries sustained due to enemy action Thursday while operating in Al Anbar Province," "Three Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldiers died at approximately 2:15 p.m. Thursday when the vehicle they were riding in was strcuk by an improvised-explosive device in eastern Baghdad." That makes eight reported deaths for US troops since Wednesday. Iraq Coalition Casualties currently lists the toll for the month thus far as 11 dead (and 2829 dead since the start of the illegal war) which would indicate more announcements will be made later today or tomorrow. All as Italian troops prepare to leave Iraq and the so-called coalition continues to suffer from shrinkage.
Activst, author and Vietnam vet Ron Kovic (Truthdig) reflects on the wounded US troops in Iraq, noting that he was paralyzed January 20, 2968 while serving in Veitnam, and describes the moments after: "They are being put on a helicopter, with the wounded all around them. They try to stay calm. Some are amazed that they are still alive. You just have to keep trying to stay awake, make it to the next stage, keep moving toward the rear, toward another aid station, a corpsman, a doctor a nurse someone who can help you, someone who will operate and keep you alive so you can make it home, home to your backyard and your neighbors and your mother and father. To where it all began, to where it was once peaceful and safe. They just try to keep breathing because they have got to get back. . . . They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now. Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa. I know they're there -- just as I was. This is the part you never see. The part that is never reported in the news. The part that the president and vice president never mention. This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever. They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children. And they're not saying much right now. Just like me they're just trying to get through each day."
As for the man responsible for so many US troops wounded and dead, for so many Iraqis wounded and dead, the polls haven't been very kind to him of late. However,
the Guardian of London is reporting that Bully Boy is 'Top of the Pops' in a new poll [ICM polled Isreal, Canada, Mexico and England for the poll]. Before Laura breaks out the good china and heats up the Frito Pie, the survey found that 69 percent of British respondents "believerd US policy had made the world less safe since 2001"; that 71 percent of British respondents felt the illegal war "was unustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians"; and it "ranked President Bush with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety."
Anxiety was in the air as John Negroponte made a surprise visit to the heavily fortified Green Zone area of Baghdad. What exactly was the Director of National Intelligence doing in Iraq? Advising the death squads? Paying them off? He was a long way from Honduras or Nicaragua. John O'Neil (New York Times) reports that Negroponte had no public statements (proving he's smarter than the Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone). Al Jazeera reminds that Negroponte "had served as the American ambassador to Iraq before the current envoy Zalmay Khalilzad." For those who've forgotten, it was his security detail that fired at the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena who had just been freed from her kidnappers. Nicola Calipari was in the car and killed. Sgrena sustained serious injuries. As AFP notes, the trip followed Stephen Hadley's (National Security Advisor for the Bully Boy administration) trip by three days and followed the video conference held last Saturday.
Staying in the Green Zone for news of the Giddiest Gabor, as Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, Willie Caldwell made a surprising remark yesterday. Apparently inspired by the 140 million dollars a painting by Jackson Pollock fetched the other day, Little Willie decided to jazz it up a bit. Briefing the press yesterday, the Giddiest Gabor began with a presentation including slides ("Slide please"). The presentation included the following prepared remarks (note, this was not in response to a question, this was part of the presentation): "A transition is not always a pleasant thing to watch as it happens. But when common goals are achieved, speed bumps and differecnes of opinion along the way are soon forgotten. Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition. A lump of clay can become a sculpture; blobs of paint become paintings which inspire." As most know, there's no scarier stage than when a starlet fancies herself an artist.
Meanwhile, after requesting what Reuters called "a staggering 50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007," the US air force quickly handed out contracts. Lockheed Martin got 30 million, DRS got $6.3 million, L-3 got $42 million and Boeing got a whopping $229.8 million. The whisper-it-to-the-press-but-don't-attribute 'reason' for the request in emergency funding is that, otherwise, wounded and dead US troops might not make it home. The shopping spree calls that 'reasoning' into question.
In more money being burned news, Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud (New York Times) report that the Pentagon is created a new office which will include the "rapid response unit" that they hope and pray will make all the reality vanish the way those waves of Operation Happy Talk used to. Remember the discolored fingers? Remember the any-day-now turned corner? Even most of the press sees new attempts at waves as a wipe out so the Pentagon intendes to dispense with the messenger and lie directly to the people.
Until then, some reality news still comes out. James Glanz (New York Times) reports that Stuart W. Bowen Jr. will be outed from his post as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction next October as a result of Congressional legislation that no one in Congress appears able to explain or even able to figure out when that section entered the bill.
In election news, Carol Britton Meyer (TownOnline) reports that, in Massachusetts, Mary Sochacki, Shirley Brown, Katharine Sangree, and Chartis Tebbetts were among those members of the South Shore Peace Forum gathering signatures to put a resolution on next Tuesday's ballot "calling for an immediate end of the war in Iraq".
In other peace news, US war resister Mark Wilkerson reflects on his time in Iraq and notes: "Before I deployed to Iraq during OIF1, I was full of optimism for what we could do to help the people of Iraq. One of our missions, after all, was to 'win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.' And in that regard, we have failed miserably. In the year I was in Iraq, I saw kids waving American flags in the first month. Then they threw rocks. Then they planted IEDs. Then they blew themselves and others up in city squares full of people. The only conlcusion I can come up with as to why this happened is the way the American troops have treated the Iraqi people as a whole. From random raids of whole city blocks, to checkpoints that interrupted the daily lives of the Iraqis, to incidents of torture and even massacres, a majority of Iraqis now feel as though the American soldiers, once hailed as heroes and saviors, are now seen as conquerors." Wilkerson still awaits news on what the army intends to do now that he's returned from his self-check out.
Wilkerson isn't the only war resister who has said no to war and still awaits a decision/ruling. Keeping the issue front and center, Ehren Watada's father Bob Watada and his step-mother Rosa Sakanishi continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Upcoming dates include:
Nov 3, TBA St. Paul MN. Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand AvenueSponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 4, 11AM Milwaukee, WI. Location: Great Lakes Arlington EventContact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991, email@example.comSponsor: VFP Chapter 102 * See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"
Nov. 5, 2PM Boston, MA Encuentro 5 33 Harrison Ave. 5th floor (Chinatown)Sponsors: Asian American Movement Ezine Asian American Resource Workshop Boston Hawaiian Club Chinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global Action New England Japanese American Citizens League
Nov 5, 7PM Cambridge, MA. Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard SquareSponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter Contact: Lee VanderLaan, 978-257-2350
Nov 6, 2-4:30PM Boston, MA Location: University of Massachusetts/BostonSponsor: The Institute for Asian American Studies William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence Time: 2-4:30 pm
Nov 6, 7PM Worcester, MA. Location: Clark University University Building, Lurie Room Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10 Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479, IrishBob54@aol.com
Nov 7, 4:30PM Portland, ME Location: Meditation Center Sponsor: Veterans for Peace, Chapter 1 Contact: Doug Rawlings, 207-293-2580, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Nov. 7, 6-9PM Brunswick, ME Location: Morrill Room, Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant Street Pot luck supper and speaking engagement Time: 6 - 7:30pm
Nov 8, 7PM Albany, NY Sponsor: VFP National Location: TBAContact: Elliot Adams, 518-441-2697, email@example.com
A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
brett barrouquerekyle snyder
amy goodmanjuan gonzalezdemocracy now
ehren watadabob watada
the new york timesjames glanzdavid s. cloudthom shanker