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Dissent From the Front Lines

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Posted on Oct 16, 2007
Arrest in Iraq
AP photo / Hamza Hendawi

A young Iraqi suspected of throwing a grenade at American troops is apprehended in Baghdad on Sept. 17.

By Robert Scheer

When will we listen to the troops?  I’m not talking about soldiers used as props for a George Bush photo op, telling reporters what Washington wants to hear.  The military is disciplined and thus accustomed, from Gen. David Petraeus on down, to toeing the official line.  But the Iraq war has also produced brilliant messages of dissent from the ranks that should cause us to stop in our tracks and reconsider what we have wrought.  First, a group of sergeants came forward, and on Tuesday it was the captains’ turn to speak out.

In “The War as We Saw It,” an eloquent Op-Ed article published in The New York Times in August, seven sergeants summarized the futility of their 15 months of fighting in Iraq:  “To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is farfetched.”  After penning that crie de cour, two of the soldiers died in Iraq and a third was severely wounded. 

On Tuesday, The Washington Post printed “The Real Iraq We Knew,” by 12 former Army captains, all of whom served in Iraq.  It begins: “Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion.  Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start.  And, five years on Iraq is in shambles.  As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we’ve seen the corruption and the sectarian division.  We understand what it’s like to be stretched too thin.  And we know when it’s time to get out.”

How come those brave veterans know it’s time to get out, but leading Democrats, who voted for the war to be authorized, are still pussyfooting about quickly removing the troops from this ever-deepening quagmire?  They’re jockeying for political advantage, knowing that drawing out the war hurts the Republicans.  It is a deeply cynical ploy that works only because with our all-volunteer military, most Americans don’t have to face the choice of sacrificing themselves or their loved ones in a futile and losing war.

Yes, it costs the taxpayers, but so do the “Halo 3” video games they are purchasing in record numbers, and for most Americans, Iraq is a make-believe war.  Even the cost seems unreal, as Bush is the first president in U.S. history to cut taxes in a time of war, with the result that more than a trillion dollars in long-term obligations will not come due while his administration has to foot the bills. 

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If there was a draft, people would be in the streets demanding an end to this carnage, which now threatens to go on for decades.  That is precisely what the neocon ideologues who got us into this mess built their fantasies on:  a volunteer force, supplemented by hundreds of thousands of contractors (including 50,000 mercenary troops like those from Blackwater) and the purchase of largely irrelevant but highly profitable high-tech weaponry, although they forgot about simple armor for the troops.

The most fraudulent neocon claim was that pro-Western, even pro-Israel Iraqis, like their favorite, the now totally discredited Ahmed Chalabi, would police the country as surrogates for the U.S., and that Iraqi oil sales would pay for it all.  The 12 captains, who worked with the locals, are very clear as to the forlorn outcome of that plan: ” ... many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers.  Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq’s oil industry which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.” 

As for that other ongoing illusion—that we are turning power over to Iraqi forces we have trained—the captains write: “Iraqi soldiers quit at will.  The police are effectively controlled by militias.  And ... corruption is debilitating.  U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we’re gone.”

Building an empire on the cheap and by proxy doesn’t work.  If you want one, and of course most of us don’t, since only a few fat cats benefit from such imperial adventures, you need a vast conscript army. 

As the captains put it:  “There is only one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq.  To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service.  Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately.”  Enough said.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By Nancy, November 1, 2007 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I forgive you EC. Thank you. It’s cool.

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By Nancy, October 31, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ThXs cyrena, of course you are right. Sometimes it just gets too frustrating to bear. Sometimes it helps to take a break…when the misunderstandings feel like a mountain climbing expedition. It’s nice to hear from a voice of reason and patience. Which is currently in short supply for me. LOL! Have a great Halloween.

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By monica benderman, October 31, 2007 at 6:00 am Link to this comment

Violence against American soldiers and Iraqi citizens has lessened. 

Here in the states - 138 cases of spousal abuse on one military installation in 2007.

There are people who will say “it’s the soldiers’ problems”.

I am a soldier’s wife - I am here to say it is EVERY American citizen’s problem.

The war is coming home - and the fact is - the issues we are about to face when it gets here are only in part because of combat stress.

Soldiers are citizens - civilians who thought military service was an honorable way to give their lives some meaning.  For many - the thought of finding something “positive” and giving after years of struggling to survive in a society where they felt that no one cared if they lived or died, meant everything to them - and the military became a home they never had…. 

....until a war of aggression based on misrepresentations and manipulations caused them to realize that their society let them down again. 

I am fighting hard to see that one soldier survives - my husband.  But it’s not just one soldier- it’s every soldier who believed in what they were doing when everything else they had believed in had eaten them up and spit them out.

What will it take for people to hear what I am saying???

What will it take for people to realize that the battlefield is not the only place where soldiers die??

And What Will It Take for people to stop the games and fight for this life with the real actions LIFE deserves????

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By cann4ing, October 30, 2007 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, Nancy.  My literacy is in the English language.  It comes from books.  When it comes to Internet-speak, I suppose I am functionally illiterate.  Mea culpa!

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By Conservative Yankee, October 30, 2007 at 5:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

110316 by cyrena on 10/29 at 3:45 pm

“It brings me back to a conversation with an ex-in-law a couple of years ago. She ‘declared’ that she did not like ‘dissention’. In other words, everybody is supposed to agree with her, all of the time.”

This is one of the “check items” we use in child care to determine the level of violence in a home.  I have no information about your inlaw, so I am not suggesting ANYTHING… BUT often folks brought up in a home, where arguing leads to physical violence, are real uncomfortable when people begin an “animated discussion.

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By cyrena, October 29, 2007 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

#110151 by Nancy

....‘Have you become so used to arguing that you suspect the worse of everyone?’....

Man oh man…Everybody’s a little testy, and who can blame us I guess.

But, I just wanted to throw this in…about the arguing…It’s actually NOT a bad thing. Matter of fact, in some of our worlds, it’s actually very good, and it’s what we do for a living. (well, some do).

It brings me back to a conversation with an ex-in-law a couple of years ago. She ‘declared’ that she did not like ‘dissention’. In other words, everybody is supposed to agree with her, all of the time.

So, in order to honor and respect her wishes/orders, I just don’t talk to her anymore. (because there’s no way that I can ever possibly agree with her, or avoid this ‘dissention’ that she doesn’t like.)

Now, in her case, that’s an excellent and pratical solution. But, I certainly wouldn’t use that all the time, since there is generally much to be gained from argument. Well, sometimes. smile

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By Nancy, October 29, 2007 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You completely misunderstood my post. My bad, I assumed every one was internet educated enough to understand when words were cased between <, and >; are clear indications of a quote from someone else. Apparently I was wrong. Seems I must dot every i and cross every T so they’ll be NO misunderstandings. I guess after that one I should just STOP coming to this website at all.

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By cann4ing, October 29, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Oh get off your high horse Nancy!  My posts, from the beginning, have noted how NAFTA & the WTO have permitted a small wealthy elite to outsource our mfg. base in search of the $2/day laborer.  From the beginning I have posted that I favor returning to bilateral trade agreements which protected workers rights and shielded the environment in order to protect the middle class aspirations of American labor.

The first time you entered the discussion was to launch a personal attack.  You called me “naive to the point of absurdity,” adding, “If it weren’t for the ‘$2 a day worker’ in China, Vietnam & India, Americans whould [sic.] already be living in poverty.”  You suggested our factories just had to “move to where costs are susteainable” and then perverted everything I had to say by suggesting that I “would like to see all underclass Americans as slaves to the monied elites” which is precisely 180 degrees from what I had actually been saying.

When I responded by exposing the fallacy of your reasoning, noting that $7 billion/year profits for the Walton family was a bit more than “sustainable” and demonstrating why we, the American working and middle class, cannot afford these “always low prices,” you replied that it appears we were in agreement all along.

If we were in agreement, why did you find it necessary to first inject yourself into what had been an intellectual discourse by suggesting that my ideas were “naive to the point of absurdity.” 

Your suggestion that I did not read what you said is unwarranted.  I read every word.  Perhaps your barely literate skills prevented you from actually saying what you mean.  If you intended to convey that you and I are in agreement, your remark that I was “naive to the point of absurdity” was a very poor method of conveying our intellectual accord.  I do not write out of anger.  I do write out of a brutal honesty which rejects B.S.  If I have offended you by my honesty, then I am truly pleased.

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By Nancy, October 28, 2007 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually we DO agree EC. why do u think we don’t? Have you become so used to arguing that you suspect the worse of everyone? Or are you just so time-strapped, you can’t be bothered to read what people write? Constantly on the defense, your diatribe might be true, but it’s exasperating and exhausting to listen to you. You might want to take a class on social skills including classes on anger management, as well as a ‘focus’ group. I’m tired of it. I won’t bother you anymore. You seem to claim the whole subject as your personal arena, and that’s EXACTLY the problem we are having with our arrogant politicians. Not being nasty, just stating the truth as I see and experience it. The biggest crooks NeVER admit when they make a mistake much less when they commit a crime. Have a nice week.

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By cyrena, October 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

#109217 by Conservative Yankee
•  OH, BTW to plug a whole in your argument you should investigate our debt to Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Kuwait under Jimmy Carter.  in the late 70’s we may have been the #1creditor nation” as you claim (I haven’t looked it up uet) BUT we also owed a shit-load of money to these three nations!
CY,
This is worth a ‘double check’ at least when you have time. I think you’re right on about Japan, but I’m inclined to question Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, at least under Jimmy Carter. So, it would be worth checking into. It’s difficult to believe that if in fact we did owe money to Japan, that the debt was actually incurred under Carter. (IOW, I think he may have inherited it, if indeed we even had this debt).
Saudi Arabia is harder to imagine, since the US is responsible for the riches of that country. In short, the US built ARAMCO, making it America’s Kingdom. And, it began back in Eisenhower’s days, when he agreed to train Ibn Sa’ud’s Army. Every President since, has continued that support, making Oil and ARAMCO America’s largest single overseas PRIVATE enterprise. And, they didn’t do it ‘nicely’ either. It involved slave labor and a disastrous Jim Crow system, to put together. One the likes of which we haven’t seen, (at least this blatantly) since the Civil War.

If you have access to a library near you, this book is worth checking out…”America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier.” Author is Robert Vitalis, ISBN 13:978-0-8047-5446-0

It’s very informative. So, if in fact ‘we’ ever owed any money to the Saudis, it probably wasn’t ‘we the people’ who owed it, and it didn’t begin under Carter, but rather long before that.

Japan is a different story. I don’t know about Kuwait, other than to suspect that much of the labor to build the Kingdom may have come from there.

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By cann4ing, October 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

But manufacturing here will only work, CY, when we repeal NAFTA & the WTO to eliminate competition with the $2/day laborer in China and India.  We should be looking to bilateral trade agreements that serve to protect middle class interests both at home and abroad rather than the fortunes of the global ruling class.

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By Conservative Yankee, October 28, 2007 at 5:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

109939 by Ernest Canning on 10/27 at 8:39 am

“Kudos CY.  I agree where feasible, people should buy locally.”

On page 14 of yesterday’s Bangor Daily News I read that “About 1800 salaried jobs will be cut as Maytag’s Newton, Iowa, headquarters and administrative offices in Canada, Mexico and the United States are closed,.” Maytags are now produced solely off shore (China, Korea, and India)An opportunity for some enterprising sole to buy a used plant at fire-sale price, and begin making washing machines here!

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By cann4ing, October 27, 2007 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Kudos CY.  I agree where feasible, people should buy locally.  But I also think, to the extent possible, we need to be manufacturing locally, growing and selling our food locally.  Aside from the economics, there are ecological issues given the amount of energy wasted shipping products and produce all over the world when the same items could be produced and consumed locally.

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By Conservative Yankee, October 26, 2007 at 4:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“And on that subject; has anyone ever went out to try and buy a particular product that is NOT made in China? Especially any electronics? Can’t be done.


Yes it can I just purchased a Waring Toaster for $150.00 It was manufactured in New Hartford, Connecticut. I purchase NOTHING made in China… I pay a bit more (one can get a toaster at Walmart for $19) but my toaster has a two year guaranty, AND a lifetime obtainable parts warranty.

Automobiles (on the other hand) are packed FULL of Chinese parts, no matter if you buy a Cherry or a Rolls Royce! So I try to buy only used cars, as that cuts into their profits a bit!

Contrary to popular belief, the “outsourcing” of auto parts has been going on for ages!  I have a 1963 Buick with a stock Sony radio!

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By cann4ing, October 25, 2007 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

Nancy, I think you are missing the point.  The issue is not whether you or any other individual can find American-made electronics in stores today.  The issue is how we got into this mess, and what has to be done to get out of it.  We got into this mess by passing NAFTA & the WTO.  We can get out of it, not by kissing Chinese behinds, but by repealing NAFTA & the WTO, replacing them with bilateral trade agreements that respect workers’ rights and the environment.  That means we stop trading with China, which is Communist in name only but in reality is now an environmentally and socially irresponsible fascist/capitalist haven; that we insist not on “free trade” which are code words for perpetuation of a neo-feudal world order where there are the inordinately wealthy few, and everyone one else resembles an indentured servant.  We replace it with “fair trade”—trading only with those nations who respect workers’ rights and provide decent wages.  We reopen American manufacturing.  If the extraordinarily rich won’t go along with reducing their billions in profits for the good of the many, then we make those manufacturing plants state owned, worker run and operating on the basis of the needs of our many citizens—not the profits of the few.

If that is what you have in mind, then yes we agree, but I think not.

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By Nancy, October 25, 2007 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So, EC, if I understand you correctly; you agree with me. And on that subject; has anyone ever went out to try and buy a particular product that is NOT made in China? Especially any electronics? Can’t be done. None by America, or any other country for that matter. I guess we owe them so much money we can’t afford NOT to buy their poisoned products. Under the Chinese regime, we have to bow down and kiss their hinies to live. If we are going to blow anyone up it should be China. No wonder we have no self-respect or self-esteem here in the U.S. We are as dependent on communist China as a poor man is on his rich wife. How embarrassing. No wonder men have lost their cods here in this country. No wonder they refuse to fight for it. Or the constitution. It doesn’t belong to us any more. It belongs to communist China and the greedy Wally world brats. I pray that someday, they have to learn how to cook their own food and clean their own nasty houses. In fact, that’s what I would like for my x-mas present. Otherwise, I could care less if they blew this country away, because apparently we have become nothing more than whining, begging dogs in the street…how disgusting. I have no pride in my country anymore. It doesn’t deserve any under the current idiots. How China must be laughing at us…all the way to the world bank.  At least, if the current system were destroyed we could get back to the basics, back to the land, and be men and women again…

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By cann4ing, October 24, 2007 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

Nancy—sustainable?  I would think that $7 billion/year in annual profits for the five members of a Walton family, which already has $100 billion between them, make the price of obtaining goods in China at $2/hr. a little more than “sustainable.” 

Your post reminds me of a conversation that is said to have taken place between Henry Ford and Walter Reuther as the two walked past a new, automated section in the Ford assembly plant.  Ford pointed to the new machines, turned to Reuther and said, “Bet you’ll have some trouble collecting union dues from these guys.”  Reuther responded, “Yeah, and who y’a gonna get to buy your cars?”

The plain and simple fact is that “sustainable” manufacturing existed for more than two hundred years in these United States before NAFTA or the WTO.  The most prosperous years for America—the country—not necessarily America, the wealthiest one percent—were the post war years under Keynsian economics in which a viable middle class sustained our own manufacturing base.  That prosperity made the United States the world’s number one creditor nation.

It is the current irrational system that is “not sustainable.”  Because there has been a near complete outsourcing, there is now very little that is made in the U.S.A. save weapons—we are the world’s largest supplier of items used to kill people; every thing else is made elsewhere.  As a result, we import.  Military production is parasitic.  What goes into the military budget does not produce goods that enter the marketplace. 

Since the cost of a military to maintain an empire is extraordinarily expensive and since the U.S., thanks to outsourcing, now suffers a massive trade imbalance, U.S. debt has gone through the roof.  All it would take is for our Chinese creditors to pull the plug, and we would be plunged so deep that the Great Depression would look like a financial boom. 

Perhaps the best statement I have seen as to the direction we are being taken by “free trade” and globalization ideology was provided by Chalmers Johnson on the cover of Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” He described it as leading to “our headlong flight back to feudalism under the guise of social science and ‘freedom.’”

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By monica benderman, October 24, 2007 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Hinesville is a small community that most likely would exist with or without the military presence, although the military installation is what provides the work these days.  It was in existence back during WWII, along with several other smaller surrounding communities that have since been swallowed up by Ft. Stewart expansions. 

On the training grounds of Ft. Stewart there are over 300 civilian cemeteries with markers dating back to pre-civil war.  They’re all neatly fenced and marked now and family members still have access to the dirt roads that lead to the last bit of physical recognition that these small farm communities ever existed.

Small family owned businesses still chug away, making enough to keep open, fueled by loyal customers who refuse to pay less at Lowes if it means taking business away from the local lumber yard. 

The people in this community are not happy with the war these days, even though most of them probably voted Republican in the last election - simply because they don’t trust the Democrats enough to believe it would be worth the change.  But many of them are veterans, and they all remember what it was like to serve.  They also know these military personnel are facing a far more difficult situation, for many different reasons, than many prior veterans faced.  They do what they can to help the soldiers and to help the families during deployments. 

Many local rental businesses barter work in exchange for housing - carpenters, electricians, A/C repair men, lawnkeepers, all do work for reduced rental fees.  It’s a give and take proposition that seems to work. 

Soldiers who return from Iraq and are preparing to retire are often given the opportunity to start with the business they might be moving to after retirement, if it is a local business, if their work schedule does not alter their duty to the military, and if the business is amenable to unannounced time from work for training missions.  It helps the soldiers learn a new trade, and helps keep the community connected to the soldiers.

Working with the soldiers and their families doesn’t just mean soldiers are being taken care of - but it strengthens the community as well. 

People are trying to make better things happen - to work on communications between the military and civilian sectors, and to understand each other’s perspectives.  It may be the only way we can keep this country moving forward.

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By Nancy, October 24, 2007 at 11:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

<<<EC, you are naive to the point of absurdity. The USA can’t afford the price of its own manufactured goods. If it weren’t for the “$2 a day workers” in China, Vietnam and India, Americans whould already be living in poverty. You only have what you do by virtue of the fact that your factories have moved to where costs are sustainable. >>>
Then let it be so. Get us the hell out of the foreign countries and get back to the basics and forget about the hoo-haas and trinkets that unnecessary and ridiculous in the state of the current climate. You would like to see all underclass Americans as slaves to the monied elites, but that can only lead to war. And if that ever happens, your ‘dollars’ won’t help you a bit. But at least you will have the money to go anywhere in the world to ‘lord’ it over the common folk in other nations, won’t you. You corrupt rich folks make me sick. It’s little satisfaction to know that in the end, you will all burn in a firery pit. Have a day.

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By HidYid, October 24, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The sources of this article are dated to say the least.  Some of these captains have not been in Iraq for several years.  They may be speaking of their experience from years ago or guessing what it must be like now.  I returned from Iraq 9 months ago, and the information I have about the situation there on the ground is “stale” at best.  I can appreciate the captains enthusiasm to express themselves, but lets get some current prospectives to write such an article.

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By cann4ing, October 24, 2007 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

So what’s with the complaint about 1001 comments, Doug?  I note that you’re up to 966—that many comments without a coherent thought.  How do you do it?

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By Conservative Yankee, October 24, 2007 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Douglas Chalmers on 10/23

“EC, you are naive to the point of absurdity. The USA can’t afford the price of its own manufactured goods. If it weren’t for the “$2 a day workers” in China, Vietnam and India, Americans whould already be living in poverty. You only have what you do by virtue of the fact that your factories have moved to where costs are sustainable.”

You have moved (IMHO) from “annoyance” to “clown.”

Your seeming lack of understanding of the importance of the US middle class (those auto workers) in any equation supposing a continued US economy at any level is either fueled by rank ignorance, or a weekly check from the Clinton Campaign people.

My guess is you are one of the many Clinton Trolls, and as such we have nothing left to discuss.

OH, BTW to plug a whole in your argument you should investigate our debt to Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Kuwait under Jimmy Carter.  in the late 70’s we may have been the #1creditor nation” as you claim (I haven’t looked it up uet) BUT we also owed a shit-load of money to these three nations!

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 23, 2007 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment

#109140 by Nabih Ammari on 10/23 at 6:49 pm: “Oh Baghdad…”

Um Kulthum - Baghdad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMVTHhl-Wz4&eurl;=

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 23, 2007 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

#109161 by Ernest Canning on 10/23 at 8:18 pm: “...you are correct that our credit status is going down the tubes.  That was not true in the 70s because we were then the world’s number one creditor nation.  Starting with the Reagan administration, we lost that status as an every growing percentage of the GNP was sunk into the parasitic growth of the military industrial complex….”

1001 comments and you still can’t learn any manners, EC, ha ha. Finally, you got it right about the “military industrial complex” but it actually started with the Vietnam war (the “American war”, to them) and accelerated exponentially with the arrival of the Bush dynasty and the two Gulf wars (the “American war”, to them as well, uhh!).

Blaming it all on the Clinton “dynasty” is merely your own childish way of avoiding the reality of your (a) having done nothing to stop it, and (b) still doing nothing to stop it. Sadly, a number of Truthdig commenters have this weakness in common.

As for NAFTA, building a ‘Berlin Wall’ across the Mexican border proved to be disastrous and so the rustbelt era meant that manufacturers and investors vooted with their feet and went to China instead. You now get to pay extra shipping costs as well as a result.

The fact is that the human race needs each other. The problem has been the rise of empires and the selfish and self-righteous European colonialist-expansionist exploitation and domination of the planet which is now coming quickly to an end. The Bush Neocons are the last of that ilk and you can forget about the 1898 “the eagle’s wingspan of 10,000 miles” arrogant dream!

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By cann4ing, October 23, 2007 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, Doug, we can’t afford the price of our own mfg goods precisely because NAFTA & the WTO opened the door to outsourcing, making us compete with the two dollar a day laborer.  When we stopped manufacturing our own products, stopped protecting decent wages, and then used the competition with the two dollar per day laborer, Hillary and her wealthy friends were able to convince numbskulls like you that we can’t afford our own products—meanwhile, Hillary’s old company where she served on the Board of Directors—Wal-Mart, which did not have a single store outside the continental U.S. in 1991 and is now the world’s largest corporation.  It thrives on sweatshop labor overseas while insisting that its own employees survive on $11,000 to $15,000 per year.  These scrooges have even invented off-the-clock schemes in which employees are told to clock out and then sent back to work for nothing.

Wal Mart’s “always low prices” may be punctuated by always low wages for the working class stiffs, but it equates to $7 billion per year in profits, placing the five members of the Walton family whose combined net worth exceeds $100 billion, amongst the ten richest people in the world. 

When, Doug Chalmers are you going to wake up to the neoliberal scam?  Try reading “The Global Class War” by Jeff Faux.  Perhaps, some of it will sink in and you will begin to figure out that the American working and middle classes have been had.  Thirty years ago, at $1.3 million, the average annual CEO compensation was 39 times that of the average worker.  Today, at $37.5 million, it is over a thousand times that of the average worker, who experienced a ten percent loss of real wages during the same 30 years.  During the past 25 years the number of Americans below the poverty line swelled from 21 million to 33 million. Yeah, I suppose those millions we added to the poverty ranks can’t afford to buy our products.

Wealth disparity, not just within the U.S. but throughout the empire, has grown to the point that by 1999 the net worth of just three individuals, Bill Gates, Paul Allen & Warren Buffet, was larger than the gross domestic product of the world’s 41 poorest nations and their 550 million people. 

Finally, you are correct that our credit status is going down the tubes.  That was not true in the 70s because we were then the world’s number one creditor nation.  Starting with the Reagan administration, we lost that status as an every growing percentage of the GNP was sunk into the parasitic growth of the military industrial complex.  The process of outsourcing, facilitated when the Clintons joined with Reagan/Bush in ramming through NAFTA and the WTO greatly accellerated U.S. debt to the point now that we are the world’s largest debtor nation.  Yeah now we’re broke.  Ever wonder why?  It isn’t because we can’t get enough cheap goods from China.

I am sorry to sound rude, Doug, but your lack of a basic understanding of what has happened in this country over the last forty years is nothing less than astounding.

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By Nabih Ammari, October 23, 2007 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To:#108969 by Douglas Chalmers on 10/23 at 7:07

Dear Douglas,

Please accept my heart-felt appreciation for calling
the attention to “Oh Baghdad” as it has been shown by
YOUTUBE website:

http://www.youtube.com

I must confess that I cried as I saw on the screen
what the barbaric,brutal and savage bombing of Baghdad had(and has) done to the innocent civilians,
especially to the children.Have you ever seen a 74
year old man crying???.If you have not, I must tell
you that it is not a pretty sight.

After “Oh Baghdad” was over,I clicked at the five
stars that appeared: I listened to “Um Kulthoom”,
the late legendary Egyptian singer and most beloved
in the Arab World.She was singing a poetic Arabic
song, describing the glory of Baghdad.At the same time,Baghdad was shown in living color as it was
before the two “Bushy Wars” waged against Baghdad:
the streets,old section,souks(market places) and
even buildings were so familiar.The innocent and beautiful smile of 8-10 years old Iraqi girl waving
the Iraqi flag was so touching along with the song.
I could not run away from my memories of the energetic and bustling Baghdad I happened to know
during my countless business visits on behalf of an
American multi-national corporation.I also could not
run away,even if I tried,from the present ugly reality in Baghdad.As I compare,I find tears in my eyes.I LOVED Baghdad and its good and struggling
people.

I encourage everyone who cares to comprehend the magnitude of the crime committed against Iraq and
its people,to see “Oh Baghdad” on the YOUTUBE website
given above.It is worth seeing.

Again,thank you Douglas for being so good in your
choices of follow-up.A great TRUTH-DIGGING!!!
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Douglas Chalmers, October 23, 2007 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

108987 by Ernest Canning on 10/23 at 8:06 am: “...Back in the 70s walking out at GM or Chrysler would have been a major threat to the companies’ bottom lines.  Today, it merely aids in the accelleration of movement of their manufacturing plants overseas…”

EC, you are naive to the point of absurdity. The USA can’t afford the price of its own manufactured goods. If it weren’t for the “$2 a day workers” in China, Vietnam and India, Americans whould already be living in poverty. You only have what you do by virtue of the fact that your factories have moved to where costs are sustainable.

Get it?!?! If not, you will when the value of the $US falls to what it is really worth - somewhere near zero! Don’t forget that the world won’t let you run away from paying all that foreign debt, either. The era of forcing it back onto people in West or East Asia by ‘gunboat diplomacy’ is over!!! The worm has turned…..

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By monica benderman, October 23, 2007 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous -

You make a valid point.  It’s one that we stress whenever we speak to people about our experiences.  It’s also the subject of the first article I wrote back in 2004, which called attention to the need to threaten Kevin’s CO application. 

We live two miles from Fort Stewart.  People are not ready for what will happen when all the military personnel finally come home.

The roads leading through the training grounds here are lined with Billboards - “don’t drink and drive, we want you alive” - and “be a hero, stay alive to continue the fight”—addressing the command’s concerns that soldiers were returning home, using their combat pay to buy motorcycles and fast cars, then drinking and driving to forget their experiences.

The command went so far as to open a bar on post - and open the main gate to civilians so that more girls would be in the bar for the soldiers.  The idea (and this was in an AP article) was to keep the soldiers close to home so when they drank they could walk to the barracks. 

There is a sign in the ground outside the PX on post - surrounded by 138 pinwheels.  It says “138 confirmed cases of Spousal Abuse on this installation in the FY 2007”.  In 2004 a duplicate sign read “131 confirmed cases of spousal abuse” and in 2005 a different sign was posted “191 confirmed cases of child abuse”.  The problem with this is the sign is posted on Ft. Stewart, but not mentioned anywhere in the surrounding community where civilians could learn of the problems and be of assistance.

Kevin and I are working on a project - Benderman’s Bridge.  We hope to work with communities to generate support for offering alternatives to military personnel - not just war resisters, but all men and women who served.  If we could offer them alternatives within the communities, and get the communities involved in generating programs for vocational training, educational support, affordable housing, family support - it would give the military a place to turn other than re-enlisting for another tour simply because the health benefits are there.  BUT - the far reaching goal is to transform this into a program which could benefit all members of the community, even as it reaches out to military personnel, or those with the potential to enlist because they don’t feel they have any alternatives.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, October 23, 2007 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

One of the big problems as I see it with bringing the troops home en masse and soon, is the problem of unemployment.  Very little is being said about this as a problem.  Doesn’t anyone else think it is?  As we saw at the end of Vietnam, thousands of soldiers came home to no job and the unemployment rates went way up.  This meant terrible news for politicians.  Aren’t we going to be faced with the same catastrophe with Iraq veterans?  Take a look at how the government has taken care of injured soldiers after released from Vet hospitals but still needing care.  Do you think for a minute the government is going to care about jobs for veterans?  The national unemployment rate for September was 4.7% up from 4.6% in January 2007 according to Trading Economics.  In 2006 the veteran jobless rate was 10.6%, but you cannot get a rate for jobless veterans right now.  Wonder why?

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By cann4ing, October 23, 2007 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Back in the 70s walking out at GM or Chrysler would have been a major threat to the companies’ bottom lines.  Today, it merely aids in the accelleration of movement of their manufacturing plants overseas as the companies join the outsourcing parade.  We, the American people, have been betrayed by a wealthy elite who have used NAFTA & the WTO to outsource the nation’s manufacturing base in an endless search for the $2/day laborer while what remains of American labor is being reduced to below poverty wages at Wal-Mart or to serving the empire as cannon fodder.  Despite the fact that the Clintons were one of the principle movers in facilitating this betrayal, ramming NAFTA & the WTO through on the fast track, like helpless lemmings, polls show that a large number of our citizens, numbed by a dumb-down corporate media, will vote in favor of their own betrayal because, after all, isn’t time we had a woman president?

There is a way out.  There is a candidate who truly stands with the vast majority of Americans—the middle and working classes.  There is one presidential candidate—and only one—who calls for a repeal of NAFTA & the WTO and a return to bilateral trade agreements that respect worker’s rights and the environment.  A candidate who supports single-payer healthcare that would eliminate the unnecessary corporate middle men who account for 31% of the healthcare costs—for profit healthcare insurers and HMOs.  That candidate is Dennis Kucinich.

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By monica benderman, October 23, 2007 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

Seems to me the UAW walked out of GM on a prime business day - and the contracts were sealed in less than a day. 

When they walked out on Chrysler it was not even an hour was it?

Saturday events, with dancing and singing and large comical puppets aren’t all that intimidating - and it really doesn’t show much in the way of a willingness to commit to giving something of value to the cause.

The UAW put their jobs on the line, shut down production and made their point.

People have to be willing to put something real on the line -

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By cyrena, October 23, 2007 at 3:09 am Link to this comment

#108907 by Verne Arnold

You’re right of course Verne, and I knew that’s what you meant. But, just not ENOUGH of us are doing all of these things. Even the demonstrations aren’t big enough, or well timed enough, to SHUT THE MF DOWN for a little while!!!

A couple or few days of folks just walking, or milling around in the streets, and skipping work, and shopping, and just not doing ANYTHING, (even if they didn’t march anywhere) would be good enough for starters. Hell, everybody in California could just go hang out on highway 101 or I-5, and just have a picnic, (except for now, there’re wild fires all over the place, at least on the Southern end of it) If the THUGS can organize this stuff, it just seems like we ought to be able to do the same thing.

We haven’t done any serious boycotts, (worked for MLK) and what about all of those sit or stand-ins that all of Gandhi’s people did in India? They just sat there, and wouldn’t move. Seems like we ought to be able to get at least 10 or 20 million of us squeezed into DC, (even though I know they’ve got georgies house all barricaded up). There’s gotta be at least that many of us out of work already. What’s a bus ticket to DC cost anyway?

And how about EVERYBODY just don’t buy a single drop of gas for a whole week? And, boycott ALL airports and commercial travel for the SAME week? What if EVERYBODY boycotted Walmart for the SAME week?

It’s been done. And, it’s not violent at all. Doesn’t even seem like that big of a sacrifice. Just…nobody move. And, if nobody’s moving, and nobody’s spending a dime on anything, (which should be easy enough for lots of us), I bet it would work just fine. At least they’d know we were serious. Just need a little organization, so everybody knows which week to stay put. Keep doing that every few weeks, and they’d get the message.

What could they do? Send the police out to drag everybody to work? Or go force a bunch of people out of their houses, or out of the streets, and make ‘em go shop? Maybe force the homeless to fill in as scabs? (now THAT would be a hoot). Can’t you just see a bunch of homeless people working the pharmacy at Walmart, or maybe the electronics department, even though they would be in there alone, since nobody else is supposed to shop? I think that would be a great idea. Besides, they deserve to have a roof over their heads, and the Walmarts have everything they’d need to be comfortable for a week or so. The main thing is just that nobody spends a dime, and prevents anybody else from spending a dime.

We could post a bunch of signs on the first day…AMERICA IS CLOSED FOR REMODLING.(and general pest extermination) And then, just sit our asses down, and howl at the moon or something.

How dangerous is that?

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By Verne Arnold, October 23, 2007 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

#108882 by cyrena on 10/22 at 5:44 pm
(1338 comments total)

Verne 108720

• Well Cyrena, As I said before: What do you really want and what will you pay for it?
It seems to me we want the “world” but what’s missing is “sacrifice”.  Look at our troops…talk about sacrifice!...jeez…these guys and gals are getting killed, maimed (mentally and physically)… The failure is one of connection….most of us are in major disconnect; we just don’t quite see (understand) the big picture…

Well, you’re sort of preaching to the choir on this one Verne, since I already get the big picture.

Cyrena,
This was not originally aimed at you personally…it was an all inclusive “you”, for the ones who don’t get it.  I know you do.  My ongoing frustration; the reasons for which, should be obvious, is the apparent powerlessness of everybody in this country with the exception of the gangsters in the WH.
Writing,
Voting,
Demonstrating,
Blogging/Blogs,
E-mailing,
Activism,
Yelling, screaming, cursing, swearing, singing, crying, bleeding, praying, and finally dying.  All for naught.

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By cyrena, October 22, 2007 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

Verne 108720

•  Well Cyrena, As I said before: What do you really want and what will you pay for it?
It seems to me we want the “world” but what’s missing is “sacrifice”.  Look at our troops…talk about sacrifice!...jeez…these guys and gals are getting killed, maimed (mentally and physically)… The failure is one of connection….most of us are in major disconnect; we just don’t quite see (understand) the big picture…

Well, you’re sort of preaching to the choir on this one Verne, since I already get the big picture. And, I don’t see as how there’s anymore ‘sacrifice’ involved, than we’ve already got going. (the above mentioned troops). I want the troops home, NOW, because their sacrifice, is not to anyone’s advantage. They are being ‘sacrificed’ for OIL, and who’s gonna get it? NOT US. We’ll still be held hostage by Cheney, because we’ll have to buy it from them, after they steal it from Iraq. Since he can’t steal it without our troops, we can let the Iraqis have their own OIL, and we’ll BUY it from them. (no sacrifice there, since they aren’t gonna charge us $10billion a month for it, which is what it’s costing to kill/maim our troops, along with millions of Iraqis, and they STILL haven’t stolen the oil)

And nope, I DON’T want ‘the world”. And I don’t think the average American ‘wants the world”, since we could all do quite nicely, with even a PARTIAL re-distribution of the wealth. (what could we do with $10 bill a month?) A hell of a lot, as long as 1 person isn’t taking $9billion of it, and leaving us to fight over the rest.

However, this scheme doesn’t allow for anyone to become FILTHY rich. It just allows for more people, to live more fulfilling lives, and allows us to become self-sufficient again.

So, that’s what I want. Not the world, just the troops home, so we can get them well, and use our money on THEM, and the rest of US, instead of giving it to Dick Bush. Now, how much sacrifice does that involve? We get our neighbors together, (anybody that can move with relative ease), and we pack up some shit, (water, maybe some ‘road rations” pick some fruit along the way) and we all walk our asses to DC. Since not everybody will be able to make the trip, they can just stay where they are, and provide rest stops and way-stations.

How long would that take? Well, it would depend on where we’re walking from. But hell, it’s been 7 years. I think we can do it faster than that. Whoever gets there first, just start setting up shop. The apparatus is already there. We’ve got the buildings, offices, etc, etc.

So, let’s get with it. Anybody who can walk, needs to start walking. Anybody who can’t, needs to start cooking. Pack you stuff. Firearms are not required, but small knives and other weapons will be allowed, (slingshots, bows w/arrows, etc) first aid kits. I don’t think we have to worry about any huge armies overtaking us, seeing as how we’ll be on the move. (hard to target a moving mass) and besides, who would do it anyway? Blackwater? There aren’t THAT many of them, and the rest of the national guard and Army and Marines are in the Middle East. (found that out with New Orleans, eh?)

Meantime, you’ve got NINE US warships in the Persian Gulf right now. You start packing them to the gills with the troops that are already there, and they head home. For the rest, we borrow/rent some airplanes. (Weve got more than enough here, but we can also arrange with Iran and maybe Egypt, to use some of theirs). That’ll take care of the rest. We start walking now, and they leave the Middle East now, and we’ll be able to meet ‘em in DC when they get here. I think it’ll all work out. Get the sign-up sheets going. So what if nobody goes to work. All we need is food and water, and we’ll get that along the way. (good time of the year for it anyway)…all the crops should be in harvest condition.

That’s the plan. No sacrifice required.

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By Nabih Ammari, October 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To:Vernon Arnold,Cyrena and Outrage,

GREAT and AMBITIOUS THOUGHTS,if you can fulfill it
in massive scale.Mahatma Gandhi of India lived on
goat milk and persuaded his fellow country men and
women to boycott British products and anything British.
The British were forced to leave India by such great
and wonderful peaceful means after colonizing India
tens of decades I cannot remember the exact number.

Since Cynera has mentioned that the upcoming Anti-
-War demonstration is scheduled to take place on
October 27,2007,perhaps that date should be your
“first step for a journey of one thousand miles”,a
Chinese saying.May I suggest the following just as
a starter:

(1)Persuade the leaders of the Anti-War movement of
the validity and final effect of your ideas as Gandhi
has proved.

(2)Appeal directly to the demonstrators by making
speeches about the importance of the massive economic
efforts that will have on their efforts to stop this
criminal war in Iraq and else where in the Middle
East and in the rest of the world as a whole.

If you succeed in the foregoing two points outlined
above,then and only then you proceed to achieve the
following steps:
-Elect a committee made from the leaders or delegates
of the various Anti-War organizations,to follow-up
across first the U.S. and eventually across the globe
especially major industrial countries of the world
-You need not only determination and resolve but also
funds-a lot of it.Therefore,I suggest to contact
wealthy Democrats who feel strongly against the war
and Gorge Soro,the extremely wealthy man who has
proven through the years that he stands for justice
in this world.It does not hurt if you even contact
wealthy moderate Republicans that are still in the
Eisenhower"s mold and are still believe in his moral
authority in leading a law-abiding world for peaceful
coexistence.There are honorable and decent Republicans who abhor quietly, and some of them
publicly,what has been going on in Iraq and Washington DC.You just have to find them.
-For structural and rapid contact with the masses
of people,contacting a movement like “MoveOn.org”
and have a plan to work with it would be a good step
in the right direction.

I very much regret that I cannot participate in the
October 27,2007 Anti-War rally because of poor health
problems ranging from heart attack to prostate cancer
to frequent urinations problem and blood sugar
condition.Perhaps,a typical old age problems.I am
old man of 74 years old.

I wish you the best of success in your noble thoughts
which may be converted into deeds with your resolve.
Good Luck and may the future be youre.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Verne Arnold, October 22, 2007 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

Cyrena;
Addendum, this administration is getting recruits because they are offering huge re-up bonuses (45,000 - 150,000)...given most of the soldiers are not college degreed it looks like Avalon, the dream come true….but only if you make it home in one piece…many don’t.  Most don’t if you count mental health…..........

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By Verne Arnold, October 22, 2007 at 3:56 am Link to this comment

#108715 by cyrena on 10/22 at 1:42 am
(1334 comments total)

Well Cyrena, As I said before: What do you really want and what will you pay for it?

It seems to me we want the “world” but what’s missing is “sacrifice”.  Look at our troops…talk about sacrifice!...jeez…these guys and gals are getting killed, maimed (mentally and physically), failed marriages and relationships, and god knows what else.  The failure is one of connection….most of us are in major disconnect; we just don’t quite see (understand) the big picture…I think.  To your point about losing ones job; sure, that’s possible….shoot…now, with this gov’t, anything is possible (hell, an American citizen can be jailed without habeas corpus!)…but that is just exactly the point…so again…what do we want and what are we willing to pay for it?………the answer to that question is the thing that frightens me. 
I don’t much care what it takes, short of armed insurrection, I just want us to get a plan and do it.

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By cyrena, October 22, 2007 at 2:42 am Link to this comment

Outraged, Verne,
I’m glad you answered this, because I couldn’t remember which thread it was on.
I personally, think it’s a WONDERFUL idea. And, it doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate it anyway, (neither do I). It just matters that every single body who DOES celebrate it, DOESN’T do it this time. No buying, no shopping, no gifts, no parades, no decorations, no anything. (gonna be hard to keep folks out of church though..so they can do that if they want). Lets’ just acknowledge that there is a WAR going on!!
So, somebody just help us figure out how to organize the AWARENESS of this. Like, get the word out. It’s not that far down the road.
Meantime, here’s a link to another of the same, planned for this upcoming Saturday. October 27th.

http://www.oct27.org

There are some other links for this same activists’ group, but my eyes are closing, so I’ll have to do them later in the day.

If anybody can help spread the word on this one though, we’d be grateful.

Oh, on the calling in sick…that does work, (we used to call them ‘sick-outs’) but there are of course always repercussions. (or possible ones) and that especially holds, if not everyone does it. They can alter days, but it has to be pretty much 100% involvement, so that the ones that do, (if there are only a handful, or even 35%) don’t just get dumped, fired, shitcanned…

Because, that’s what most of these corporations at least, will do. Matter of fact, they’d love the opportunity to fire anyone who doesn’t come in on what they will call an ‘illegal work strike’. Now if it’s EVERYBODY, it’s kind of hard to fire them ALL, and still run the business at a later time.

So, that’s just something to keep in mind. Civil disobedience, even at its most non-violent form, (think Gandhi and MLK) still comes with some risks. Thing is, so does EVERYTHING that’s worth anything. Besides, it really doesn’t seem like there’s all that much left to lose. At least not for the bulk of us.

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By Verne Arnold, October 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment

#108578 by Outraged on 10/20 at 11:54 pm
(271 comments total)

RE: #108482 by Verne Arnold on 10/20

Do you think we could get a worldwide movement to NOT celebrate Christmas in protest of the war?

This would be huge if done worldwide.  This would impact the food, manufacturers, transportation, retail, liquor and tourist industries to name a few.

Sure…but I for one, already do not celebrate x-mas, haven’t for many years.
I think one day everybody against the war; should wake up, and, all on the same morning, don’t go any where…just stay home…call in sick…one day….everybody…that would get noticed…for sure.  Kind of like “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

What do ya think?

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

#108659 by monica

Monica,

Thanks so much for your response, and for your email address. I have copied it down, and I will write soon, with my own.

It may not be until tomorrow, since I’m sort of real behind right now, but I will definitely be in touch.

Best to you and Keith. Hang in there, help is on the way. (or, at least a good ear.) wink

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena and Ernest -

Thank you.  Trust is the reason the posts were as they were to begin with.  There’s a great deal that could be misconstrued by people without the capacity to understand. 

If you two would be willing, my email address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I can make things very clear.  If not I understand.

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Reply to #108601 by monica benderman

Monica,

Thanks so very much for putting the real deal down in writing, so that we might all (or anyone paying attention) actually understand, and connect the dots. I’m so sorry you didn’t offer this the first time, because without it, there’s no way for the reader/listener to comprehend the seeming contradictions in your earlier posts. By all means, as I read, I can far better ‘interpolate’ and get to the REAL ISSUES.

So, I’m going to say this again, and I’m NOT being facetious in saying this, (which is exactly what you erroneously assumed when I put it forth the first time) YES!!! This IS a nightmare –a horrible one- that you and your husband have had to endure. And, although I should be able to come up with some descriptive words for it, I’m at a loss right now.

So, I’m going to say this, and I hope that you find it useful. This is the epitome of injustice. You have both been ‘targeted’ by this regime that high-jacked our government long ago. And, their people are EVERYWHERE. They are in the military…at the highest commands. They are in the Corporations, and they are in the Churches.

Now, I’m going to assume, (since you were communicating with Cynthia McKinney) that you’re located in Georgia. THAT alone, made you even MORE susceptible to the tactics that were used against you and your husband. AND, if you’ve had time to follow the general ‘trend’ of this, you’ll know that Cynthia McKinney has undergone the VERY SAME type of ‘persecution’ (for lack of a better word). It is, in short political lynching from this gang of Thugs that has taken over. They have targeted HER, as well.

And, while I have PERSONALLY experienced this same scenario (AND MORE) –it’s too much for me to put down at the moment. I will when I can. But the most very important part to make overwhelmingly clear at this point, is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is not only a character assassination, but like I said earlier…A LYNCHING. It is designed to BREAK DOWN, and totally DESTROY any person who might show any form of dissent. This is the real deal, this is what it’s about, and this has happened to SO MANY people that you may as yet be unaware of, and with good reason. Because, that’s how they’ve managed to do this. And the bottom line, is that it cannot HELP but take a horrible toll on you. There’s no way around it. It has taken me nearly 7 years, to overcome some of the damage, and even now, I’ve only barely been able to crawl back up enough out of the hole, to be able to look around, and at least be able to see where the ‘enemy’ is, so that I can attempt to maneuver my way through the land mines that are all still there. I thought I’d escaped to a certain degree, but as time has passed, things have only become worse, as the Thugs in Power have become more desperate.

In short, these are horrific times, for all of us, and some have paid a far bigger price than others. Some, like Valerie Plame Wilson, (and her story is now on the front page of Truthdig, and worth the read if you don’t know her situation) are more ‘well known’ to the general public. This is politics Monica, and none of us are immune from it, if we dare to speak up. This is why I explained the importance of HISTORY. In all honesty, MOST of us alive today, (with the exception of nearly all black Americans, who have simply lived with this forever) are too young to remember the McCarthyism of the 50’s, but…it’s back, and it’s worse, because it is disabling more and more of us, in larger and larger numbers. In other words, it’s far ‘bigger’ than just your situation, or my situation, or Ehren Watada’s situation, or even Valerie Plames situation.

There is a small part that will be ‘missing’ between this and part 2. Not all that important. I can address it later.

TBC

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

Part 2 reply to monica 108601

Yes, they saw how their fellow citizens were being targeted. But, everybody just kept silent, for fear of jeopardizing their own –whatever- job, status, and yes…false security. Because, in an environment such as this, it IS a false security.

So, it was probably 2004 or whenever Cindy Sheehan first began her own movement, before I got even a glimmer of hope, that people were finally waking up. AND…even at that, she was vilified, demonized, and had her own character assassinated, for her efforts. So, if you want to direct your very justifiable frustration and outrage – it should be to that remaining part of the population who still follows blindly along, SHOPPING, and concerning themselves with bullshit superficial stuff, or watching Oprah, or playing righteous in Church. In targeting the ‘protestors’ you’ve got the wrong enemy. And yes, I understand even more, why it may seem to you, a waste of time, and that nothing is being accomplished. But, you would be wrong. Because until more Americans are willing/able to get out of denial, and wake up to what is happening, as they’re being driven off the cliff, we will NOT be able to survive this.

If it were not for people like Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, and a host of other very brave Americans who have been acting –from whatever position they COULD- none of us might ever even KNOW of the things that your husband has endured, because that’s been the whole point of this takeover. So, THIS is the support that you NEED, and it hasn’t been available for all that long.

When I first returned to academia, (4 years after my own LYNCHING) it was my biggest frustration and demon….my plea, my question to anybody who would hear me was…WHY ISN’T ANYBODY DOING ANYTHING? Are they BLIND? Do they not understand that THEY COULD BE NEXT? And yes, the ‘divisions’ had already begun.

Anyone who was against the war was ‘against the troops’. What BULLSHIT! We were very much in support of our troops. We KNEW what this was about, and we didn’t want them put in harms way, to satisfy the agenda of the Criminals in DC. And, you see what’s happened. We’ve been accused of treason, and being ‘unpatriotic’ and all the rest. When my oldest nephew graduated from high school, his childhood friend that he’d been in school with since kindergarten, went off to be in the military. His family was so proud, and my sister cried.

And…the divisions intensified. Long term and very dear friends of my own, had children of military age, and children and grandchildren who had been in the military in years before. They knew how opposed I was to this war, (before it even started) and they were brainwashed into believing that I was ‘against the military’. MORE bullshit. I told you earlier, 4 generations of my family have served proudly in the US military. My friend would send me mail, (Bible stuff) and then attach stuff like, “Now, if only Cindy Sheehan would stop spreading hate! My God, my God. Did they not UNDERSTAND?

Well, not in Texas, and that’s where she was – which is where I’d been, at the time of my own lynching. And so it put a division there…as I watched this whole thing grow bigger and bigger, pitting American against American, with very few of us understanding how this was happening. (divide and conquer) It put divisions in my own extended family. It was the ‘military community’ against the rest of us. Little did they know or understand, what was really going on. Yet, even now…many of them still cannot admit, (and that too is understandable) and I cannot (nor will I) ever play the “I told you so card”. It would be of very little value, and I don’t believe in rubbing salt in already open wounds.

TBC

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By cann4ing, October 21, 2007 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

Monica:  Kevin’s dilemma was specifically addressed by attorney Staughton Lynd on Democracy Now, Oct. 20, 2006.

“The concept of conscientious objection in American law and in the regulations of all the military services is that you must fulfill two requirements:  you must be opposed to war in any form—that is, to all wars—and you must do so on the basis of religious training and belief.  But a moment’s thought will suggest that there are not going to be too many objectors to all wars in a volunteer army.

“So what does Camilo Mejia or what does Kevin Benderman do, if they are in Iraq and they see around them what they can only consider war crimes?  How are they to find a way to resist?  And my point is that there is available to such persons our own Nuremberg precedent.  We hanged Germans and Japnaese leaders, because they engaged in war crimes in a particular war.  We said that orders from a superior are no excuse.  Well, the logic of those precedents is that a soldier in Iraq, or like Lieutenant Ehren Watada, under orders to be deployed to Iraq, can say, ‘I consider this to be a war crime.  Even if my superiors tell me something different, I am obliged to use my own judgment, my own conscience.  And I say no.’  So my plea is that we recognize the legitimacy of objection to a particular war on the basis of a good faith belief that war crimes are being committed.”

http://www.democracynow.org/print.pl?sid=06/10/20/1434205

One could add to Mr. Lynd’s analysis that under the Nuremberg Charter a unilateral decision to invade another nation except in response to an attack or pending attack is considered the ultimate war crime for it is the crime from which all other war crimes arise.  The German foreign ministry was hanged for the unprovoked invasion of Norway.

Unlike Kevin, my own little piece of Hell occurred long ago in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, but unlike Kevin, I and the others who then served, did not face “stop-loss” at the end of our tour.  People will say that I was “serving my country.”  But, after these many years, I have come to realize that no one serving in the military has truly “served this country” since the end of WW II.

What is truly ironic is that it was after they changed the name from the “War Department” to the “Department of Defense,” people like myself and Kevin stopped “defending our nation” and started “invading” other nations.  While each of us, as we donned our uniforms, was told we were “serving our country” in reality, each of us “served the empire.”

Today, more than ever, America is under the control of a narrow group of people, the CEOs of giant corporations, especially those which stand to gain the most from war and occupation—the military-industrial complex, the war profiteers, multi-national corporations and the oil cartel.  Young soldiers most often serve as unsuspecting pawns in their corrupt but deadly plots at expansion, enrichment and power.

The best way to avoid Kevin’s dilemma is to avoid enlistment in the first place—and to join with others in countering the lies of the military recruiters before they dupe our young people into joining the military. In the meantime, you need to keep Kevin’s dilemma in full public view, perhaps by contacting Amy Goodman and asking her to air an update.

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Part 3 reply to #108601 by monica benderman

And of course, the unspeakable happened. The very dear friend from which I had become alienated, as a result of these views, lost her goddaughter in Iraq. (I will try to find the article and photo, to post for you). She was a young, beautiful, and full of life woman, just out of West Point, where she had graduated at the top of her class. Initially, her death was reported as a result of ‘friendly fire’. Later, they changed it, and said she’d been blown up by an IED. I felt so horrible for my friend, and her family.

Since then of course, there have been so many others. I get to a few of the bases in my own state, just to help the families with forms, and all of the other bureaucracy that is such a twisted and tangled maze for them. But, sometimes I wonder if any of it even makes a single dent in the misery. So yes, it does become discouraging, if only because we see that these same criminals have continued to get away with even bigger crimes.

Still, it’s so important to remember that now at least, there IS support. There hasn’t always been. When I was attempting to ‘challenge the system’ as a result of the grave injustice perpetrated against me, I was TOTALLY alone. I couldn’t even get an attorney –where I lived at the time- to help me. NOT ONE. And in TEXAS? Ha! There was no such thing as an angel like Cynthia McKinney anywhere in those halls of local government. And there was no Code Pink, and no MoveON.org, and it was a very, very, very scary thing.

However, (and you said this yourself, so you’ll know what I mean) blessings DO come in many guises. “A blessing in disguise” is what the old folks used to say. And, some people can and do live their entire lives, without ever grasping the real meaning of that. But, I did. Of course it didn’t happen ‘immediately’ because when one is experiencing such a trauma, and when it seems to continue for so long, we are NOT inclined to see it as any sort of a ‘blessing’. (That’s like getting the shit beat out of you, and having somebody tell you it’s “for your own good” as they continue to inflict the blows). Never worked with me.

But yes, I did attempt to work through the “system” and all of the rules and regulations, and I was determined to continue, which is why I write, and why I continue to study, and now teach as well. And THAT, is my blessing. Had these troubles not come to me, (and in this severe form) I would very likely be stuck in that same trap (as a Corporate Slave) for all of the same reasons that you’ve mentioned earlier…job security, a paycheck to support myself, and the other things that we’ve been conditioned to see as ‘security’ for our futures. Having all of that so unjustifiably snatched from under me, was in fact a blessing in disguise, because it forced me to do something else, something that is far, far better, and far more suited to me and what I can offer. STILL, it took that to force the change. Not exactly the best method, but…the outcome has been worth it.

And, I haven’t ‘won’ anything in the traditional sense. I’ve yet to attempt any other litigation, because the time still isn’t right. But when I do take it up again, the chances of success will be far greater, thanks to the efforts of these very people, who have – in the ensuing years, brought this to the forefront. (I should add that escaping Texas, where I lived for 17 years) was the first part of that blessing, even though at the time, it seemed more like a ‘banishment’, I’ve come to think of it as an escape, and I had the good fortune to return to my own State, that I never appreciated nearly as much as I do, after what I went through in Texas. So yes, many blessings, even though my still clueless colleagues from the past, would certainly not see it as such. I’m grateful that I can in fact recognize it. It means being able to see beyond the façade, beneath the surface of what is fed through the system. But, not everyone has had that opportunity.

TBC

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Part 4 of reply to Monica

So indeed…I wish you the best. Let us know if there’s anything at all we can do, and try not to be too hard on those anti-war groups, even though I do understand your frustrations. I feel the same way about so many others, but they are mostly the politicians, who DO have the power to stop this destruction, if they would only do their jobs.  Obviously bravery is NOT their strengths, but rather their own political asses and political expediency are the rules of that game. Nancy Pelosi is playing games with (in my opinion) as much cynicism as the Thugs in DC. Our soldiers continue to die and suffer permanent injuries to the body, mind and spirit, while we destroy entire populations of millions, in the BIG HEIST. And, they jockey for political advantage, while the Liar-in-Chief threatens the next one on the list. Iran. That TOO, has been in the planning stages from the very beginning, just as the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been on the drawing board, since long before the Thugs stole our government.

So, keep reading. This is an excellent news site, and there are several others. And, you’ve got our support. It’s more than just words. It means everything. You’ll have to trust me on that.

Oh, here are just a couple of links that may be helpful. Not propaganda, but serious articles from serious people, many of which simply are never make it to the government controlled main stream media. And, if you’re in certain parts of the Country, (the South and Southeast, parts of the Midwest,) the access is even more restricted. Beware of Corporate Media. (and, that’s just about all of it)

The “Good Germans” Among Us
  By Frank Rich
  The New York Times

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/101407D.shtml

America, Land of Fear?
  By John Cory
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/101707R.shtml

Orwell in 2007
  By Robert Weiner and John Larmett
  The Oregonian

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/101507M.shtml

OK…lots of study…and I’m behind. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate some of these articles.

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By Conservative Yankee, October 21, 2007 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

108601 by monica benderman on 10/21 at 6:56 am

“A prominent Constitutional Historian, also a well-respected expert on Conscientious Objection, prepared an Amicus Curiae brief on Kevin’s behalf - filed in court for the second court-martial.  It cited the Nuremberg Tribunals, the Geneva Conventions, Law of Land Warfare and the Constitution all as justification for Kevin’s having filed his CO application and refusing further participation in this war as a result of his first-hand experiences.”


You might consider getting Kevin a service-connected lawyer, instead of a civilian attorney.  I know this sounds counter productive, HOWEVER, that document Kevin signed when entering the service has a little known glitch for anyone attempting to use civilian law to exit the service before the end of the contracted terms.  Kevin is under military law which is some ole different!  He has forfeited many of his civilian rights, and therefore will need someone who understands the Twilight-zone world he willingly entered.

This is the reason it is IMPERATIVE that people entering the service realize that while they may be defending the freedom of others, they are sacrificing their own!

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

Cyrena—

Gifts come in many guises. 

Kevin’s case was denied at the Army Court of Appeals level and is now being considered in COMUS.

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

Addendum:

A prominent Constitutional Historian, also a well-respected expert on Conscientious Objection, prepared an Amicus Curiae brief on Kevin’s behalf - filed in court for the second court-martial.  It cited the Nuremberg Tribunals, the Geneva Conventions, Law of Land Warfare and the Constitution all as justification for Kevin’s having filed his CO application and refusing further participation in this war as a result of his first-hand experiences. 

This brief was in response to an In Limine brief filed by the prosecution asking for relief from Kevin being able to use his CO application, his beliefs about war, or any of his personal experiences in his defense against the charges of Missing Movement and Desertion. 

Kevin was ordered to speak to no soldiers about Conscientious Objection - the prosecution in its closing arguments, and the command and military spokespeople in interviews with MSM reporters after the CM were all quoted as saying that “a stiff sentence (in Kevin’s case) was called for to show other soldiers that CO status could not be used to get out of going to war.

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

Part 3

In prison - Kevin was to have a parole hearing 6 months after incarceration and one month prior to his parole date - they delayed that as well - no attorneys to force their hand.  when he did have a parole hearing, I was to have been able to testify on his behalf, as was Cong. McKinney - we didn’t receive notification of the hearing date until after they’d already denied Kevin’s parole citing his “lack of sufficient rehabilition.”

While confined in Loss of Privilege Kevin was denied access to his mail and access to communications with Cong. McKinney’s office.  It took an inordinate amount of pressure but he finally did receive confidential communications with her office.

I am fully aware of what the constitution allows, what the Army allows and what the citizens of this country have failed to do - I have lived it from having a husband serving in Iraq to having him serve in prison - he freely chose knowing the consequences he would most likely face and he did so hoping others would see that more than just talk is needed.

Everyone has a choice and the consequences of their choice are what will determine the direction this country moves.

Kevin and I fought the system and continue to fight this system - and we did it following the regulations and accepting the limits of those regulations every step of the way - and it was incredibly difficult and educational.  And we are not done.

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Part 2

On the day of deployment, after having received a strong letter in Fax from Cong. Cynthia McKinney suggesting they reconsider how they were treating Kevin and place him in Rear Detachment and give due process to his CO application- the command called Kevin and ordered him to a meeting with his Sgt. Major - scheduled at the same time the rest of his unit was deploying.  At the end of the meeting Kevin was released to go home and work on his application and prepare for all that it would entail. We did what we were told. 

Two weeks later - charges of Desertion and Missing Movement - a SET UP - as punishment for what Kevin and I had spoken about. 

The first court-martial was dismissed because the investigating officer showed bias in claiming her belief that Kevin was guilty of the infraction because he did not desert during OIF I.  Because the prosecution did not want to face a second CM knowing they had no evidence whatsoever that Kevin didn’t deploy - and because there was a risk of double jeopardy, Kevin was then threatened with two counts of Grand Larceny because his command had erroneously put combat pay in Kevin’s LES - and although Kevin took care of it, and they knew the charges were bogus, they still attached the new charges as a way to force the second court martial without risk of double jeopardy.

Kevin’s CO application—another joke - returned from the Dept. of the Army in a record 16 days - just in time to be denied before the CM happened - and the witnesses they used to deny it - the same commanders who had given him top honors for promotion as a dedicated soldier and who had given him two ARCOMS in Iraq. 

Witnesses who could testify on Kevin’s behalf that Kevin was released from deployment were conveniently discharged from the Army and left no forwarding address - imagine that.

Kevin was sent to prison for 15 months - 3000 miles away at Ft. Lewis WA.  I am aware of Watada’s case - he contacted me long before his case even became public because he knew Kevin was at Ft. Lewis - in prison.

Kevin was denied access to his attorney while in prison - he was denied access to a civilian chaplain- he was threatened with being re-courtmartialed because we continued to post statements he wrote to our website - they couldn’t stop them.

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By monica benderman, October 21, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Ernest and Cyrena—Part 1

http://www.BendermanDefense.org

My husband freely volunteered to serve in the US Army for ten years - earned two ARCOMs in Iraq and was up for promotion in 2004.

But because he was ordered to shoot children in Iraq, because his unit was ordered to perform missions involving ordnance outside the realm of their training causing several soldiers to be injured, and because, even as a top-knotch Bradley maintainer who was frequently sent to the frontlines to work (including a misguided incursion into Iranian territory) he could not keep members of his unit from dying when the poorly designed mechanical systems shut down in a firefight - Kevin returned home angry.  Because even as an NCO he could not get the command to authorize much needed psychological help for PTSD at risk soldiers (two of whom ultimately attempted suicide) and these same commanders were stealing new body armor meant for soldiers and selling it on E-Bay for twice the profit - he freely filed a Conscientious Objector application as his opposition to everything this war represents. 

In Dec. 2004, I published a 5 page letter on several major indy media sites outlining our concernings regarding this, and all war - thus angering the command.  We asked several constitutional attorneys, experts, and many others for help - we were told there was little they could do. 

My husband’s command, in anger, violated military regulations and refused to accept my husband’s CO application because of the letter I wrote. 

His command brought him to a counseling session before 15 Jr. officers and Sr. enlisted and said he would bring Kevin up on charges of Disrespecting a Superior Officer and Making Disloyal Statements because we spoke publicly about Kevin’s CO application on NPR and in other media.  Two days later he dropped that idea - they didn’t know if the charges would stick, but they came up with an alternative.

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By Nabih Ammari, October 21, 2007 at 3:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#108394 by me(Nabih Ammari)on 10/19 at 8:04 pm.

The following statement is incorrect:

“When their aggressive and insulting bellicosity did
not wash,they insulted our intelligence and human
integrity by telling us it was alright to be against
the “TROOPS” as long as we also supported the troops
in the fields”.

The above statement is corrected to read as follows:

“When their aggressive and insulting bellicosity did
not wash,they insulted our intelligence and human
integrity by telling us it was alright to be against
the “WAR” as long as we also support the troops in
the fields”.

I apologize for the error.I feel that I should inform
you that I type by one finger and I am illiterate in
computer manipulations.Therefore,I respectfully ask
for your understanding as I err.To me,typing is a big
frustrating experience because I simply do not know
how to type.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, October 21, 2007 at 12:54 am Link to this comment

RE: #108482 by Verne Arnold on 10/20

Do you think we could get a worldwide movement to NOT celebrate Christmas in protest of the war?

This would be huge if done worldwide.  This would impact the food, manufacturers, transportation, retail, liquor and tourist industries to name a few.

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2 reply to#108446 by monica benderman

Monica,

No apologies required. I’ve realized in re-reading, (or maybe even before) that you’re speaking in a mixture of theory and reality, and yes, in these days, they are surely complicated. And, breaking it down is complicated as well. So, I’ll try to explain a little better.

For instance, you’re very much focused on this “freedom of choice”. It is a concept to which I passionately subscribe myself. I always have. On the other hand, it’s a concept that does not apply –in reality- to the subject at hand, and you pretty much said that, (probably without realizing it) when you first explained why it is that members of the military continue to fight in an illegal war – as a result of their individual ‘freedom of choice’, they were doing it, (and I paraphrase your words) because, THERE ARE NO ALTERNATIVES. You claimed that it provided future ‘protection’ for them and their families. You insinuated that there were no alternatives as in jobs, housing, etc.

Now, that CAN in fact be interpreted as ‘freedom of choice”. And, I DID acknowledge that. I even allowed for a host of other reasons why our voluntary military might choose to fight in an illegal war. And, I accept that, whether I agree with it or not.

HOWEVER, I don’t interpret that as “freedom of choice”. In other words, can ANY SINGLE person, now serving in Iraq, just ‘CHOOSE” to leave there, and come home? Can I set-up an airline ticket for ‘will call’ at the Baghdad airport, and they just show up with their ID, pick up the ticket, and just jet on home? I think you know the answer.
Can any of those 16,000 single mothers, who signed up to defend their country as part of the National Guard, (and they DID choose ‘freely’ – yet under the assumption that they would be in a ‘traditional’ NATIONAL GUARD, which does not ‘traditionally’ fight wars abroad”) choose NOW, to come home? I think you know the answer to that as well. And, do you really call that a ‘free choice”, when they thought they were committing to one thing, and it turned out to be something else?

As for the concept and theory of a conscientious objection in relation to military service, it’s something worth reading up on, since it is what you are attempting to use as your ‘freedom of choice’ defense. I won’t get into it here, because it’s actually pretty involved. But, it is a status that has been recognized in the military, for many decades, and it has never been based on ‘freedom of choice’, in respect to military service. It applied during times of compulsory service, to allow for those who REALLY DID OBJECT to killing other people, in combat, regardless of the ‘legalities’ of the conflict. So, lets say in WWII, which most historians and military/legal experts consider to be a valid and legal war, based on the multiple International Laws that govern such things, there were still soldiers who objected to participating in the violence of combat in those wars. Call them pacifists, or anything else that suits you. The bottom line is that it was against their personal principles, to participate in the killing/maiming or other destruction of human life, and it didn’t MATTER to them, if the war was ‘legal’ or not. THOSE are conscientious objectors. So, in times of compulsory service, (which was still in effect during the Vietnam war) those people could ‘register’ as such, and be allowed to do their service in non-combat positions. This was not a matter of ‘freedom of choice’ because the “choice” to serve or not –in the military- was not a ‘choice’. If one was drafted, they went. What was recognized (and respected to the extent possible) was the individual’s personal objection to killing.
TBC

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By cyrena, October 21, 2007 at 12:22 am Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2 reply to #108446 by monica benderman

This is why I mentioned Ehren Watada, and Ernest has given an even better explanation here, (#108525 by Ernest Canning) so I hope you’ll look it over. Ehren VOLUNTEERED to serve in the military, and was well aware that combat could be part of it. He was willing to do that. So, he does NOT fall into the ‘conscientious objector” status. RATHER, he falls into the status of honoring his oath, which is to protect and serve the Constitution. The Constitution says that this war is ILLEGAL, (immoral too, but by law, ILLEGAL). THIS is why he has refused to deploy to Iraq. Now, we could call this his “freedom of choice”, but I don’t see it necessarily as that either. I see it as his OBLIGATION to honor the oath, and to OBEY THE LAW. In that respect, (and this is probably what he would say, though I’m not attempting to put words in his mouth) he really does NOT have this ‘freedom of choice”. It’s the law. He has to honor it. To participate in the conflict would be a violation of the laws, and therefore the oath that he swore.

As for the signs, slogans, speeches, transportation fuel, blah, blah, blah..Yes!! I understand your frustration. I feel the very same way any time any single politician or candidate for the next election, (that is probably already decided) appears anywhere, or says much of anything. I’m particularly revolted anytime George Bush takes up air communication time/space or even opens his mouth, or appears in public. All I can think is…what a waste. More than a waste, what a DANGER, for anyone who listens to him. And yet, he keeps talking, and keeps spending, ($4billion a week on Iraq alone). And so…what choice do I have? I can avoid listening to him, or looking at him, and for a while, I did…preferring to read the stuff after the fact. Now of course, I’m certainly astute enough to know that I need to be paying very close attention, to everything he says, and DOESN’T say. So, I read it instead. (just to keep the stomach churning at a minimum.) Sometimes, I even force myself to watch him when he delivers the poison.

In the end, the ‘freedom of choice’ is definitely a paradox of a concept. At least in reality. Hopefully, you get my point. Meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to read over the other comments from Bob Zimmerman, and I mentioned Ernest Canning earlier. The reason this is important, is because HISTORY is important. The Constitution IS in fact important, (or at least it should be) but we cannot look at it, and cherry pick an article here, or an amendment there, and make an interpretation that suits what we want it to mean, without considering the entire context of it. The HISTORY of it. How they connect, and yes…how there are parts that would appear to conflict with other parts.

So, check out some of these comments. It’s actually quite a gift. Ernest is an attorney, and a Constitutional Law expert. Do you have any idea how much it would cost you if you were enrolled in school, to get this same knowledge from him?

That applies to other posters as well. And yes, you can EVEN learn something from the banners, speeches, and slogans. One requires an open mind for that. It’s the same reason I force myself to listen to George Bush, even though I know that he’s an immoral idiot and a sociopath. I STILL need to know what he’s saying and thinking, because he’s the one in power. He’s the one spending our money, and allowing for the overall destruction of our Republic, (not to mention the rest of the world). So yeah, I have to pay attention to stuff – even when I don’t like it, or don’t agree with it.

(No Ernest, I’m not comparing you to george, but I know you at least, get my point)

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By Grappa, October 20, 2007 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

The only way to stop this juggernaut is not through marches or protests, most people will side with the military. Its the industrial end of the complex that will end this madness. What I mean is that its the economics of the situation that can change things. its just a matter of time before the rest of the world calls in their markers,[Americas Charge Account] when this happens the stock market will begin to regress and people will get laid off and employment will hit the ditch. the current status of local Urban budgets are already at the breaking point if employment takes a big hit and tax revenue shrinks the Fed will need troops back in this country to deal with the problems associated with the rioting that will take place. Just look at the level of violence in New Orleans and magnify that a thousand times.

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By cann4ing, October 20, 2007 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment

Yes Monica, the Constitution was “meant” to limit the power of the federal government and the executive branch in particular.  But you have to understand that the hard-right has spent the past 40 years packing our courts with radicals in robes who subscribe to the radically subversive “Unitary Executive” theory that bestows unchecked dictatorial power on the executive branch.  The framers of the Constitution had placed powerful tools in the hands of Congress, also designed to check the executive branch—Only Congress was granted the power to declare war.  It was given the power to adopt laws governing the conduct of our armed forces and captures on the high seas and in foreign battle fields.  The Congress was given the power of the purse and, most importantly, the power to impeach.  What the framers did not envision, however, was that at the same time the executive branch would be occupied by fascist sociopaths, the majority of the Congress would be composed of lazy and corrupt cowards who are more interested in trolling for the corporate dollars needed to buy the extraordinarily expensive but thoroughly deceptive 30-second ads needed to secure re-election than they are in protecting the survival of our Constitutional Republic.  Finally, the framers of the Constitution envisioned a free and independent press as the ultimate check against tyranny.  They did not envision a media bought up by a wealthy elite which would be in bed with those whose goal it is to subjugate the common man; who see government as merely a tool for funneling the public treasury to the coffers of the military-industrial complex while government protects corporate media profits through expanding consolidation.

The only thing left to protect the Republic and the Constitution are We the People and citizen soldiers like Ehren Watada who understand that their duty is to our Constitution and the rule of law and not to the man occupying the White House.

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By Bob Zimmerman, October 20, 2007 at 11:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As one who protested the Vietnam war in the late 60’s, I thought they were very effective in getting politicians such as Robert Kennedy and Gene McCarthy to step forward and pressure LBJ into not running for reelection. Sirhan Sirhan stopped Kennedy and Nixon defeated a weak Hubert Humphry who was also pro-war. Nixon lied about having a plan to end the war, and it took another 5 years to get us out of there. But the anti-war protestor’s lighted the fire. Today, with no draft and a volunteer army, not many American’s have any skin in this war, so there is huge apathy. Also the media has elected to not cover the protests like they did in the 60’s, even the large ones like those in D.C. Also Iraq is not front and center each night on the evening news and fewer people even watch the evening news. We now have competing celebrity gossip news which was non-existant in the 60’s. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome to make protest’s effective in today’s society. Moveon.org has their work cut out for them, which is why I was so disturbed by Pelosi/Reid putting out that condemnation resolution. Everything Moveon.org said about Petraeus was true. We need Democrats with the fire of RFK and Gene McCarthy in order to get our troops out of Iraq. I don’t see that fire in our current crop of candidates. And forget about the Republican’s. They seem to be even more hawkish than Bush except for Ron Paul. Don’t give up on the protest’s though. We may just yet reach the tipping point where they do start to make a difference.

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By monica benderman, October 20, 2007 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

Wouldn’t it also help to remember that the Constitution is meant to limit the power of the Federal government and put control in the hands of the people through their state and local governments. The enumeration of rights is not to specify what belongs to the people but to ensure the federal government does not overstep its bounds by interpreting the laws in ways meant to give themselves more power. 

Instead of approaching this as different groups/organizations of people going head to head with the federal government, if we were to assert the power given to us by the IX and X Amendments, and form a consensus of the people through our local governments enumerating their wishes to the state governments, the state governments can then exert the authority given to them to regain control over those in federal government positions.

If all the organizations and groups randomly applying their own efforts to attack at the federal levels were to organize and commit efforts to the consensus at the state and local levels, I think we would see more states asserting their power in unity against what the federal government is trying to do.

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By Verne Arnold, October 20, 2007 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

60 published comments…if one adds up all of the comments from the last year from this web site alone, about this topic, there is a consensus;  but it keeps going back and forth…round and round…most of us want the same thing, an end to this bloody war.  Can’t we just agree and join together and stop this travesty?  The question is this:  Given the reality, how do we stop this war?  Look at what’s been done and what has not worked!  It is not happening…yes?  So….what to do?  Stop the rhetoric and find a solution!  Sure, everybody has an idea, but at some point we must make a decision and go with it…yes?  So lets just stop doing anything.  Don’t buy anything that is not a necessity.  No major purchases…of anything!  No new cars, no homes, no tv’s, no refrigerators, ……………nothing, but that is for life itself.  If we cannot do this then there is no commitment…no commitment means we’re not serious…not committed…so…what’s the point?  At some point there has to be a sacrifice…no sacrifice no gain……………………..so what will it be?  What do you really want and what will you pay for it?

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By Conservative Yankee, October 20, 2007 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So it has come to this AGAIN!  One thing about US soldiers is they must not learn anything from their older brothers and fathers who served in previous wars.

Sitting in American Legions nationwide, Drinking with multi-generations in VFW’s I’ve seldom heard any one talk about what really happened in WW II, Korea, or Vietnam.  Soldiers keep their real stories to themselves (in general with some exceptions) Dad had to be in my truck, way out in the middle of the Maine woods before he would give me even little hints about what life was like on Normandy Beach. Roland Cassia my good friend and first boss would only tell fleeting humorous tales about his stint in Korea. and I notice that is only just lately, and through the anonymity of the internet that Vietnam vets are “coming out” and admitting that indeed they served.

Speaking of Vietnam and in an attempt to pass on some knowledge, I would advise the troops stationed in Iraq “Don’t be the last soldier to die in Iraq”

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By monica benderman, October 20, 2007 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Cyrena

I am in no way critical of the people working to educate others about the reasons this war is wrong - not if they are working with positive counter-recruiting efforts, writing, posting information, working within their state and local communities to encourage measures which support real legislative efforts to stop the war.  I just don’t see any benefit from many of the protest actions in the streets.  At one point they may have meant something but it seems they have now become outmoded and ineffective, almost continued without thought. 

I am simply wondering, my right to freedom of speech, expression, and choice - whether there is a more effective means of stopping the war than spending the time and money on placards, puppets, ribbons, banners, speakers and microphones, transportation around the country and world that uses fuel, and all the time away from communities which could benefit from the positive energy people could apply to creating programs which could establish a foundation for real change and move us further away from the need for war. 

People protest - I am simply questioning its effectiveness.

My response about soldiers serving was actually right on… in response to your comment:

RE: 108321 Cyrena -

“I’m truly sorry to hear of your husband’s troubles as well, though admittedly I find it curious that you would be actively promoting and defending the rights of others to fight in an illegal war that he has opposed, and paid such a price for doing so.”

I do apologize if I mistakenly took that as a question but I felt your curiousity deserved a response. 

I believe freedom of choice is the essence of Conscientious Objection, and I believe it’s significant in the issues we face as a result of this war.  Even in what some perceive and the apathy of others - they are making a choice.  It’s our choices which create the consequences we continue to face. 

Organizations like MoveOn make the choice to continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on public protests - the consequences of that will show themselves in finally prompting a productive end to the war, further inaction in response to those protests, or in people turning away from the efforts to find something more productive as a solution. 

It is only my opinion, but I believe there is more we can do to show the federal government that they must answer to the people than just standing in the streets yelling at them.

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By cann4ing, October 19, 2007 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment

Monica, I commend your husband for his principled stand.  I note your reference to Lt. Ehren Watada.  Here is a portion of what Lt. Watada had to say during a June 2006 speech.

“It is my duty as a commissioned officier of the United States Army to speak out against grave injustices.  My moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders….It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law….As the order to take part in an illegal act is illegal as well, I must as an officer of integrity and honor refuse that order….The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the Army’s own law of land warfare.  My participation would make me a party to war crimes….”

Lt. Watada’s recognition that a soldier’s legal duty is first to the constitution and the laws of these United States may prove to be of far more critical importance than just the war in Iraq—though I by no means intend to downplay the significance of that horrific imperial conquest or what it has wrought.  As revealed by a number of articles by Paul Craig Roberts, who had been an assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, there are executive orders now in place that would permit the President to declare a state of national emergency in the event of a new terrorist incident on U.S. soil.  While much of the content of the orders is deeply shrouded in secrecy, the gist is that such an incident, perhaps precipitated by a unilateral strike on Iran, would be utilized as an excuse to invoke marshall law, suspend elections and perhaps even disband Congress. 

Far fetched?  Only for those who do not appreciate the level of Dick Cheney’s ruthlessness.  Everything these fascists have done over the past seven years reveals that much of our constitutional democracy has already been dismantled: e.g., the elimination of habeas corpus which dates back to the Magna Carta, the claimed right to detain even citizens indefinitely without charge, the right to kidnap people from anywhere on the planet in order to have them tortured by other nations, the advancement of “Unitary Executive” theory which is not merely radical but subversive because, as now applied through more than 1000 signing statements, it means that a president is not merely “above” the law but “is” the law; use of the NSA capability to capture the entire stream of electronic communication to spy on our own citizens—a dismantling made possible by a timid Congress and equally timid press.

If it occurs; if the war criminals now occupying the White House take steps to make their reign permanent and to bring to an end to our more than 200 year experiment in constitutional democracy, it may come down to the men and women in uniform.  Will they silently obey the orders of these fascists who would turn America into a totalitarian police state with surveillance capabilities that far exceed the imagination that was required for George Orwell to write “1984” or would they, like Lt. Watada, have a clear-sighted vision that “duty, honor, country” are not just empty words but the embodiment of the oath they took to defend this nation against all enemies foreign or “domestic.”  I can think of no enemy of these United States more dangerous than those who have risen to the highest offices in the land, President and Vice-President in order to destroy the constitution they took a solemn oath to defend.

If you think the choice your husband made with respect to Iraq was difficult, wait and see the dilemma that all members of the armed forces, as well as civilians, will face if and when the putch comes.  Perhaps they would do well to begin planning for that contingency.

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By Outraged, October 19, 2007 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

RE: #108245 by Ernest Canning on 10/19

“the problem with your media analysis is your erroneous assumption that the corporatists masquerading as Democrats are part of the left.  Clinton and Obama represent the ruling class—the top 1% of America.  They may not be as harsh as the fascists who now control the White House but the outcome of their policies leads to the same results, e.g. both, while giving lip service to ending the war in Iraq became tongue-tied when asked whether we would still have troops in Iraq in 2013.  Both offer bogus “universal coverage” healthcare plans that amount to subsidy schemes for the healthcare insurance industry.”

——-

Thank you Ernest Canning,

This in of of itself is the crux of it all.  It has bearing not only on social policy but foreign affairs and basically just about anything you can think of, right down to the socks on our feet.  It might sound far-fetched, but corporatism and their adherents are at the root of ALL that’s wrong with the world.  This is why my mantra is END PRIVATIZATION.

While I realize this will not cure all the ills of the world, it is the first step.  Since we are one of the richest countries in the world and currently the most powerful, it needs to come from us, possibly China.  American corporations were the root of many wars, much disenfranchisement and heavy handed tactics throughout the world all in the pursuit of the ALMIGHTY dollar (soon to be Euro).  It was not Americans who endorsed these illegalities, but American businessmen with the help of their foreign ilk.  I often feel that serial killers are tame in comparison to the CEOs of American multinational corporations.  Since so often they peddle the human condition with abject frivolity.

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By cyrena, October 19, 2007 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

#108361 by monica benderman on 10/19 at 4:19 pm

Cyrena

In answer to your question as to why we support other soldiers who continue to serve - we believe everyone has the right to make their own choices.
======================

Humm, this is a bit of a concern to me Monica. BECAUSE…I DID NOT…I repeat, I DID NOT, ask you why you supported soldiers who continue to serve. Please, please, please, don’t read or write, or THINK anything into anything that I have not expressly committed to writing.

The issue of everyone having a right to make their own choices, (while naïve) is not one that I would EVER argue. You are absolutely correct…at least on paper, that everyone is SUPPOSED to have the right to make their own choices. In reality of course, that is simply not the case, but I’m not going to get off the track on that. It’s enough to know that you already went through this thing about free choice in the message that I first responded to.

In reality, my larger trouble with that original post (or at least the one that I responded to) was when you claimed that too much time, energy, and money were being spent on the anti-war movement. And MY point, was simply to reiterate your own. We ALL have a right to express ourselves, and make our own choices, (again, at least that’s the way it’s written in the Constitution). So, that would most certainly include those with MoveOn.org, as well as CodePink, or any other movement or INDIVIDUAL, who chooses to spend his/her/their time, energy and money, on what they choose to spend it on. They have the right, to make their own choices as well.

In other words, I TOO support the active troops, in whatever their situations may be, but while I may not have gone into detail, most of my own VOLUNTEER work, is for things that this nation should be providing to these troops, WHICH THEY ARE NOT!! I know that I also mentioned, that I’m from a family that has given at least 4 generations to the US military, many of them who have made careers of it. And, I’m actually glad that my grandparents and great-grandparents aren’t alive now, to see what it has become. But, my dad is still alive, and it truly breaks his heart, to see how our troops are being treated by their own government, and the fact that there is no longer any leadership to our Armed Forces. It goes without saying, that he is not alone, and that’s what the point of this article has been.

In short, our troops KNOW (at least most of them) that they are fighting a losing mission and illegal war of aggression, and losing their lives as a result. They KNOW – by now at least, that they have been sent on this mission, NOT to DEFEND our country, but to steal oil, and to establish a permanent Imperial presence in the Middle East. And, they KNOW that they are the only ones making these ‘sacrifices’, (which is such a cynically crude way to acknowledge the grief and destruction to these brave men and women). You acknowledged, yourself, in that original post, that they KNOW what’s going on. You explained that in spite of that, they continue to serve, because there are no other alternatives. (at least as they see it)/ They have to survive, and this is how they’ve chosen to do it. I personally don’t see that as a way to survive, but you’re right. It IS their choice.

And, it is still the right, of every single US citizen and taxpayer, to CHOOSE to oppose having our military involved in an illegal war, and to use our money to pay for it. (and, I was in error with the $2bill a week. I’ve just been corrected. It’s now up to $4billion a week.)

Everybody gets these choices. At least theoretically.  My only new curiosity, was your explaining your husbands’ status, and his pending appeal with a CO defense. I don’t think it’s gonna fly, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, based on Military Law.

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By Nabih Ammari, October 19, 2007 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One of the biggest lies of the 20TH century was initiated by some of those who pushed hard for the
First Gulf War (Bush Senior’s War) in 1991.Those liars,
or propagandists if preferable,were so rude in telling
us, who are against the war,that meant we were against
the troops in the fields.When their aggressive and
insulting bellicosity did not wash,they insulted our
intelligence and human integrity by telling us it was
alright to be against the troops as long as we also
supported the troops in the fields.Does that make sense???...It certainly have not made any sense to me
all those years since 1991 till present time.How I
could be both at the same times???.Answer:Impossible,
as long as I want to maintain my sanity intact.This
impossibility reminds me of one of the “Laws of Motion”
in physics which states simply that it is impossible for two objects to occupy the same space at the same
time.To me,it is as simple as that.

What is troubling from all of the above case is the
fact that a new generation of bellicose warmongering
chicken-hawks emulate the former generation by repeating the old impossible fabrications.It seems
that they have not learned anything from the disasters resulted from lies,fabrications,aggressive
propaganda and the bellicose nature of some men/women.

It is heartening to read that the dissent against this criminal war in Iraq has already started to
spread among the soldiers in uniforms and among those
who had already served in the real Iraq and not in
the pleasant American “Green Zone”.I take my hat off
in due respect to everyone of them,including the
conscientious objectors.Wars produced more wars:The
First Gulf War in 1991 was nothing more than a fore-
-runner to the current war in Iraq.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio

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By monica benderman, October 19, 2007 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena

In answer to your question as to why we support other soldiers who continue to serve - we believe everyone has the right to make their own choices.  We do our best to make the information available through our websites, through our writing and speaking, and then it is up to others to decide what to do with that information. 

Kevin is and always will be a soldier - he is one who believes in the defense of our laws and swore an oath to that effect.  By filing CO status and opposing this war he believes he continues to defend those laws.  But - we can’t simply apply the laws as we choose.  Kevin took a year to decide how to approach his beliefs about this war and the misrepresentations of the administration, his command and the mistreatment of the soldiers he served with.  He listened to every bit of information he could find, but he made the decision that was best for him. 

The constitution gives every citizen the right to make their choices - this is why I mention other issues in the same text as this military discussion - because no matter the choice we all have the right to make it.  We do not oppose other soldiers still serving because they are the ones who must make their choices - they are the ones who must live with those choices, just as Kevin must live with his.

We accepted the consequences of the choices we made - we don’t discuss them openly for people to feel sorry for us, but to hopefully express our experiences openly and fairly so that other soldiers will be as fully informed as possible about the effect their choices will have.  They have that right.

Firsthand experiences play a big role in how people make their decisions.  We don’t believe it is our place to influence others to make choices that may not be right for them, because we believe we are capable of making the right choices for ourselves without the added pressure from people who really know nothing about the people we are or what we believe, so we must afford others the same rights we ask for.

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By jbart, October 19, 2007 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our kids involved need to be, truly, informed, It’s the least we can do,as a people,to make them aware of why they are fighting and placing themselves in “harm’s way”.
I, as a person with a conscience, cannot B.S. them. My only message to them, considering the truths and lies that are being used,is to STOP. GET OUT.ANYWAY YOU CAN. Sorry if to the “right-side” this offends you (no,I’m lying. If this offends you,I detest you. Now,that’s honesty)Stop the senseless harm to our kids for untrue causes/reasons.

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By monica benderman, October 19, 2007 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena

I think it might be easier to send you to our website to answer your questions than to write the answers all here - http://www.BendermanDefense.org - as far as Kevin’s case.

Our book, Letters From Fort Lewis Brig, A Matter of Conscience also explains it all.  It is published by Lyons Press/Globe Pequot Press. 

We are working to move beyond the typical military interpretation of Conscientious Objection.  I actually addressed a congressional briefing about the issue back in 2005.  Conscientious Objection may apply in one sense as far as the military’s very close ended regulation - but to us, CO’s exist beyond those in the military who say NO to war and it is this discussion we hope to encourage.  CO’s are people who stand for and live by their conscience, making moral and ethical decisions based on the laws of humanity - and using these principles in their daily lives. 

As a CO, Kevin is refusing to allow himself to be used as a mercenary.  He is willing to serve as a peacekeeper - as are many others in the military who are opposed to this war.  “This is not our father’s conscientious objection” and it is meant to encourage a redefinition even as civil rights debates were intended to encourage redefinition. 

Our stance is to encourage a public discussion of Conscientious Objection and to work toward the development of a Military Reform Caucus within Congress.  It is our belief that if volunteer soldiers are given the rights they deserve as US citizens first, they will be able to act on their conscience and would have more say over how their voluntary service is applied. 

With a volunteer military the regulations must be upgraded to take into consideration the fact that only a very small percentage of the US citizenship actually makes a significant sacrifice in the case of a war of aggression. 

It is a work in progress, and one which will take a long time to even catch hold, but it is a vision and we believe worth pursuing.  There are others who believe as we do.

As far as the rest of my posts - they are in answer to your questions of a previous post and therefore apply.

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By cyrena, October 19, 2007 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Monica

I appreciate all of your additional information, except that it doesn’t address the point. It’s conflicting.

I’m truly sorry to hear of your husband’s troubles as well, though admittedly I find it curious that you would be actively promoting and defending the rights of others to fight in an illegal war that he has opposed, and paid such a price for doing so.

The ‘conscientious objector’ status is a bit misleading in this case, since I don’t know, from your posts, if he’s ALWAYS been a conscientious objector. As a general rule, (in wars that have required a draft) a conscientious objector is ALWAYS a conscientious objector. So, they make that clear in their intentions before being drafted.

It is unusual, (I would think) to find a conscientious objector volunteering to enlist in the military, unless they just expected that there would be no war or combat involved. So, why else would they voluntarily enlist –as a conscientious objector- unless they just depended on that institution (the military) to provide a living?

Surely you are familiar with the case of Ehren Watada? He does not say, (nor do I) that he is ‘conscientiously objecting to war”. History has provided (for a few thousand years) that wars are going to happen, for a variety of reasons. So, nations establish armies, for the purposes of DEFENDING themselves, their land, and their resources. That’s why it’s called the Dept of Defense. It’s more than hypocritical to think that any person would volunteer to serve the Department of Defense, -in the military- if they were a conscientious objector, to war in general.

Ehren Watada is undergoing his own dilemmas NOT as a conscientious objector, who doesn’t believe in war –at all-. Rather, he has taken the time to study this, enough to know that the war in Iraq is an illegal war, and therefore a violation of his oath as a military officer, to defend the Constitution. He has been more than willing to fight in Afghanistan, since he believed that to be a valid war. (I do not, but that’s beside the point as well) So, maybe you should be clearer on what you believe a CO to be.

Be that as it may, I explained that I did not believe the responsibility to ‘end’ the war, should be on our troops, at least not at the level of the rank and file. As for a ‘legal’ way to say no to the fighting; there is. And, it’s not complicated. The legal way is simply to say that the war itself is illegal, and therefore constitutes a violation of their ethical and legal duties if they agree to fight in it. If you need help with THAT part of the argument, I’d be more than happy to provide it, free of charge. But, if you’re still trying to have it both ways, and defend the mercenary nature of serving, it would be of little assistance to you.

Meantime, all of your other ‘division-diversion’ tactics are simply that. They have nothing to do with the topic here. “Race issues” have existed since before this country was even founded. Immigration has only become a major issue in the past decade or so, because of the same age old reasons that there have always been problems. Immigration was acceptable when labor was needed to build this nation, until resources began to dry up, and jobs began leaving the country en masse. Ergo, a competition for those resources.

As for the money used by such campaigns as Move.On.org, I mentioned this as well. It doesn’t come from the government. How were you able to publish your book? Were government funds used for that? Just curious.

Four generations of my family have served the Military of this country, so I am not speaking from an ‘anti-military’ stance myself. I’m only opposed to illegal wars of aggression.

Good luck to you and your husband. I’m glad that he’s at least out of prison, and that it wasn’t a secret detention cave, or Guantanamo, when he was confined, and likely to be tortured. There are also worse things than a dishonorable discharge for those of conscience.

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By cann4ing, October 19, 2007 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

ctbrandon, the problem with your media analysis is your erroneous assumption that the corporatists masquerading as Democrats are part of the left.  Clinton and Obama represent the ruling class—the top 1% of America.  They may not be as harsh as the fascists who now control the White House but the outcome of their policies leads to the same results, e.g. both, while giving lip service to ending the war in Iraq became tongue-tied when asked whether we would still have troops in Iraq in 2013.  Both offer bogus “universal coverage” healthcare plans that amount to subsidy schemes for the healthcare insurance industry.  (Hillary is the second largest recipient of healthcare insurance industry dollars—second only to Geo. W. Bush).  Neither Clinton, Obama nor Edwards are willing to challenge NAFTA & the WTO, the devices that have permitted America’s ruling elite to betray American labor by outsourcing our manufacturing base in an endless search for the $2/day laborer as what remains of American labor has been increasingly Wal-Mart-ized.  (Both Hillary and Obama’s wife are former members of the Wal-Mart Bd. of Directors.  In 1991 Wal-Mart did not have a single store outside the U.S.  Thanks to NAFTA & the WTO it is now the world’s largest corporation and a threat to middle class aspirations everywhere.) It was the Clintons who joined with Republicans in Congress quietly giving away monopoly control of the public airwaves as corporate conglomerates consolidated their power over what we see, hear and read via the Telecommunications Act of 1996, enhancing their corporate bottom lines by billions of dollars in the process.

The only candidates who truly represent the left are the candidates who represent the vast majority of the electorate—the middle and working classes.  In this election there is only one presidential candidate who has consistently opposed the imperial conquest of Iraq, voted against every bill to fund it, has a detailed plan to end it within three months, proposes a repeal of NAFTA & the WTO, replacing them with bilateral trade agreements that respect workers’ rights & the environment; calls for single-payer healthcare that eliminates for-profit healthcare insurers & HMOs that account for 31% of the cost,
a restoration of the Fairness Doctrine and a roll back of media consolidation—Dennis Kucinich.  If being a Democrat means representing the interests of the middle and working classes, Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who deserves to be called a Democrat.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the corporate media has done all it could to marginalize Mr. Kucinich and his candidacy.

The class divide with respect to control of the media is indeed a right/left divide.  The breadth of acceptable discourse within the corporate-controlled media is defined by the scope of divergency of opinion that exists within the confines of the ruling class.  The notion that there is a “liberal” media is a myth concocted by the right-wing echo chamber.

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By monica benderman, October 19, 2007 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

Cyrena

I know all too well what it takes to be a war resister.  My husband is one.  He served a tour of duty in Iraq. He was released from military prison last August after having been incarcerated for over a year for declaring himself a conscientious objector to this war.  He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, loss of all pay and a dishonorable discharge, which is still pending his appeal. 

There are many national anti-war organizations which spend a great deal of money on protests.  These organzations are now at odds with each other over how to schedule the protests, to direct them, even how to advertise them.  Counter-productive to me. 
And divided. 

Two days ago there were demonstrations outside a recruiting station in Berkeley.  On one side of the road - Code Pink.  On the other side - Gathering of Eagles.  Divisions.

Immigration reform - divisions. 

Healthcare reform - divisions.

Race issues - divisions.

I am against this war - and I think my husband and I have put enough on the line to support that.  I believe we must stop funding this war.  I do not believe it is right to simply tell the soldiers to stop fighting it. 

If the soldiers are mercenaries simply because they want to provide for their families, then what about the contractors who repair the bradleys and tanks?  How about the people who operate the Post Exchanges, the fast food restaurants and gas stations on post to provide for the military personnel?  How about the civilian doctors and nurses who work at the military hospitals?  Or the people in the manufacturing sector who make the weapons, the ammunition, the Bradley parts, the armored vests?  All of these people are working to provide a living, a future for their families - utilities, food, clothing, education. Are they mercenary because they support the soldiers serving in Iraq, and shouldn’t they resist the war by quitting their jobs?

Many people now working in the civilian sector are children of military personnel, whose education and well-being were provided for by military pay, and yet who used that education to find work in their communities.  Not everything about the military is mercenary - but using soldiers who volunteered to serve in a peace-keeping force as mercenaries because the laws leave them little room to legally say NO is not good - and not the fault of the military personnel. 

I worked in longterm care and worked with veterans from WWII, Korea, Viet Nam - and I work with a WWII vet and his family today.  Yes, there is not enough money to provide for the care of the veterans of this war and many do face serious issues as a result - this is something we must address, no doubt.  But - there are also hundreds of thousands of military personnel who do receive retirement benefits, who are given healthcare benefits and who have been treated with respect for their service.
In my opinion, we have to offer a fair assessment - if we want to find a way to peace. 

There are many people in the anti-war movement who are volunteering a great deal to help educate others about war - I don’t discount them.  As a matter of face we address that repeatedly in our book.  But they are individuals who have chosen to make a real sacrifice, and there are many organizations who have swallowed those individuals up in their zealous publicity actions that don’t remember humanity in their efforts. 

Everything has two sides - even the anti-war movement and the military. 

In my opinion, we have to be willing to look at both sides, the good and the bad - and open up the lines of communication between each in order to achieve peace.  In my experiences of working with veterans, being with my husband when he went to war, and struggling through the last two years of his saying NO to war - there are many divisions that keep us from communicating in any positive way.

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By ctbrandon, October 19, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

The Right thinks the Left controls the media, the Left thinks the Right does. Does anyone out there actually see the truth?

There is no left or right anymore. There are two classes, the elite, and the rest of us. Clinton and Bush play for the same team. So does Obama, Guliani, Romney, and every other candidate save Ron Paul and possibly Gravel or Kucinich. Stop blaming each other and lets stand up and take our country back together.

ctbrandon
http://www.actforyourself.org

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By rowman, October 19, 2007 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

Ooops. Author forgot the disclaimer… let me help. Save the flames, I am not reading them.

//Disclaimer//
This article has been paid for and planted by the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party Dynasty has survived over 200 years due to our ability to control media outlets so as to manipulate the American people with propaganda that deters those from the real issues so we can further wasteful spending, increase dependency on our party and thus, increase our power over you.

We realize that this article lacks substance and may contain a lie or two and well, perhaps a few but we know that if we repeat it enough you just might start believing it. Should you choose to point any of this out, our cronies are at the ready and will descend upon you with all fury. We own the media and will abuse it by all means within our power. Should our media whores be unable to silence you, we have no problem abusing our congressional power to attack private citizens http://cgi.ebay.com/Original-Harry-Reid/Rush-Limbaugh-Smear-Letter_W0QQitemZ260170172469QQcmdZViewItem

We do this for your own good because you and we know that you are incapable of making rational decisions so we will make them for you. We know what is best for you and what is best for us. They may be different standards but you will not object because we own you too. Let me remind you of our goal to increase taxes to a point that you must come to us for your basic survival and you can do nothing about it. Just remember, it’s for your own good, you forced us to do this and hurts us more than it hurts you.

Finally, whenever a different party is, god forbid, president, our job is to attack them. Keeping up with all the slander, lies and deceit is a full time job and we are forced to put the country business aside. It’s ok though because we say so. We will launch endless campaigns to turn countryman against countryman and to divide citizens over meaningless issues. We will even use our media to manipulate other countries and their citizens that the United States is bad. We do this because a president from another party has the power of VETO and this is a very bad and evil thing. Sometimes, it’s powerful enough to stop our corrupt programs so no matter the cost, we will unleash our fury upon them.
\\Disclaimer\\

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By cyrena, October 19, 2007 at 1:58 am Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2#107994 by Monica

Monica,
There are so many really horrible things about your argument, and it skips all over the place, so it’s difficult to respond with anything that might help you. But, let’s start with the fact that you can’t have it both ways. You say that the soldiers know what’s going on, and I’m sure that many of them do. I’m even willing to go as far as to suggest that many of may be opposed to this war, but somehow feel some perverted duty to prosecute it. Or even that they might just be ‘stuck’ there (not like they can easily boogie over to Baghdad airport and catch the next flight home) or that even when they come home, they return out of some sense of duty to their comrades.

However, that’s not the argument that you make. No, the argument you make is that of a mercenary. They don’t have jobs over here, (and neither do the rest of us) so they just continue on; doing the time for a paycheck. I mean, is that not what you’re suggesting here:

•  Many civilians can’t seem to understand that soldiers do think for themselves, they do understand what’s going on, and they are not apathetic. Most soldiers are doing what they are doing because it provides them with what they need for themselves, their families and their future.

Based on this, they DO seem to be thinking for themselves, (though most of the military that I’ve been familiar with throughout my life have NOT been able to do that…just the facts). But in this case, at least the way you’ve explained it, they ARE “thinking for and OF themselves” in a most mercenary way. Why not just go work for Blackwater? OH, that’s right. They basically just take the former pros.

So, you’re suggesting that it provides for them, and their families, and their future. What future would that be, Monica? I’m curious because there’s been no sign of a future for the military families, (that I know and work with) who’ve lost a loved one to this illegal war, be it because they died, or have been so wounded as to wish they had died.

So, I’m going to ask if you’re at all familiar with the thousands (hundreds of them) who return home to a government that has absolutely no interest in providing for them, in any form or fashion? None of the very serious medical care that they need, and so many of them go months and months and months without any income at all…docked pay for ‘bonuses’ that were promised and delivered BEFORE they became wounded or dead. Refusal to provide a multitude of medical help, etc, etc. Do you really think that’s helping them or their families? And, do you really believe that to be a future?

It sounds like you’re suggesting that they stay on to fight in Iraq, so that they can have all of these things that wouldn’t otherwise be available…housing, jobs, whatever…Is that not a most cynical (not to mention stupid) reason for putting oneself in harms way? Or, do you figure that if they die, then at least the government will take care of their families? I’m trying to understand the logic here.
So far, there isn’t any. But, bear with me, maybe you can in fact salvage this.

TBC

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By cyrena, October 19, 2007 at 1:36 am Link to this comment

Part I of II#107994 by Monica Benderman

Monica,
There are so many really horrible things about your argument, and it skips all over the place, so it’s difficult to respond with anything that might help you. But, let’s start with the fact that you can’t have it both ways. You say that the soldiers know what’s going on, and I’m sure that many of them do. I’m even willing to go as far as to suggest that many of may be opposed to this war, but somehow feel some perverted duty to prosecute it. Or even that they might just be ‘stuck’ there (not like they can easily boogie over to Baghdad airport and catch the next flight home) or that even when they come home, they return out of some sense of duty to their comrades.

However, that’s not the argument that you make. No, the argument you make is that of a mercenary. They don’t have jobs over here, (and neither do the rest of us) so they just continue on; doing the time for a paycheck. I mean, is that not what you’re suggesting here:

•  Many civilians can’t seem to understand that soldiers do think for themselves, they do understand what’s going on, and they are not apathetic. Most soldiers are doing what they are doing because it provides them with what they need for themselves, their families and their future.

Based on this, they DO seem to be thinking for themselves, (though most of the military that I’ve been familiar with throughout my life have NOT been able to do that…just the facts). But in this case, at least the way you’ve explained it, they ARE “thinking for and OF themselves” in a most mercenary way. Why not just go work for Blackwater? OH, that’s right. They basically just take the former pros. So, you’re suggesting that it provides for them, and their families, and their future. What future would that be, Monica? I’m really curious because there’s been no sign of a future for the military families, (that I know and work with) who’ve lost a loved one to this illegal war, be it because they died, or have been so wounded as to wish they had died.

So, I’m going to ask if you’re at all familiar with the thousands (hundreds of them) who return home to a government that has absolutely no interest in providing for them, in any form or fashion? None of the very serious medical care that they need, and so many of them go months and months and months without any income at all…docked pay for ‘bonuses’ that were promised and delivered BEFORE they became wounded or dead. Refusal to provide a multitude of medical help, etc, etc. Do you really think that’s helping them or their families? And, do you really believe that to be a future?

It sounds like you’re suggesting that they stay on to fight in Iraq, so that they can have all of these things that wouldn’t otherwise be available…housing, jobs, whatever…Is that not a most cynical (not to mention stupid) reason for putting oneself in harms way? Or, do you figure that if they die, then at least the government will take care of their families? I’m trying to understand the logic here.
So far, there isn’t any. But, bear with me, maybe you can in fact salvage this.

TBC

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By cyrena, October 19, 2007 at 1:34 am Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2 #107994 Monica
•  So much time, money and energy has been wasted on protesting a war - and it’s not working.  It’s not that soldiers or any other community members don’t know what’s going on, it’s that there is no alternative if they were to choose to respond to what is going on.
This actually makes me really angry. So much time, energy and money WASTED on PROTESTING the war. Monica, exactly whose TIME MONEY and ENERGY do you think that is? Not the troops…their in Iraq. How about us civilians here at home, who have every bit a right to our Constitution as you and they do? And, is it not their DUTY – the TROOPS, to DEFEND our CONSTITUTION? Is that not the oath that they swear? And, do you honestly believe believe that any of that time, money and energy are coming out of the government tills. NO dear. That VOLUNTEED time, money and energy. And do you think that even that, could EVER equal the 2 billion that we drop, (of the taxpayers money) every week on this WAR? Do you have any IDEA what $2billion dollars even IS? Do you have any idea who will be born into debt to pay for it? Do you think this is money that we just ‘have on hand”? No dear, we’re in debt to multiple other countries, and the troops, and their grandkids, and their grandkids’ grandkids, will be paying it back. Last question on these trillions of dollars…Do you not think, (please try to connect the dots here) that if Dick Bush wasn’t spending those $2bill a week on an illegal war, that we might actually be ABLE to provide those ‘alternatives” that you speak of?
For instance, how about education? Wouldn’t it be preferable to hold a book in your hand, instead of a weapon? What about the kids? Might it not be a good idea for THEM to get an education in something besides aggression? Learn how to work through these problems without destroying societies around the world? I ask because I’m 54 years old, so I know that I’m going to need the assistance of the next generations, and I want my own part of that next generation to have these things as well. Having a stupid and dumbed-down generation or four, simply doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.

What about jobs, and these other things you speak of? Do you think these trillions of dollars spent here at home, would not provide that for the troops? I mean hell, we could pay ya’ll to fight forest fires, or re-build our crumbling infrastructure. THOSE are alternatives. Maybe some of you could even become doctors, to help your fallen comrades? Maybe we could even afford to fix up the hospitals for our veterans? I’m very troubled by your absence of cognitive reasoning here, even though you claim that the troops can think for themselves. $2 billion a week in Iraq would do you all far better (not to mention the rest of us) if you weren’t fighting a war. And to even SUGGEST that too much money, time, and energy is WASTED on protesting, is naïve at best; stupid at worst.

As for these ‘divisions’ you speak of. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that we are at all ‘divided’ on the one thing that is most important to our collective society, and THAT is stopping these illegal wars of aggression. The Iraqis aren’t either. They want US GONE.

I’m NOT suggesting that it’s the responsibility of the troops to ‘stop’ the war. But, I do think that your dismissal of those of us who ARE attempting to salvage and/or restore what might be left of our country, and the rule of law, is very disrespectful.
If you still believe that yours is a valid excuse for continuing the fighting… no alternatives, and that’s why you/the troops do it, then don’t bring up the Constitution when you try to defend it. That’s very disingenuous. Better to just admit to mercenary intentions. Because, as long as we’re still dropping billions on war, I can assure you there’s little future…for any of us.

Also, since it IS -OUR- time, money, and energy, as well as OUR country/Constitution, I think we’ll just keep up the protests.

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By cann4ing, October 18, 2007 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment

The recent stats contained in a Nation magazine article said it all:  Every ten minutes an Iraqi dies.  Every ten hours an American is killed and every ten days $2 billion is extracted from our national Treasury and placed in the coffers of Halliburton, Blackwater and the other war profiteers.

Referring to the impact of imperial conquest, the ancient Roman historian, Tacitus, observed:  “They create devastation and call it peace.”

Bush parades General Petreus before the Senate to provide a new twist on Tacitus’s observation.  They had created chaos and now call it progress.  Despite the fact that the Pentagon has practiced information dominance, hiring Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Blackhawk Down and a Hollywood set designer to erect its disinformation center in Doha, despite the phoney heroic tales about the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tilman made up from whole cloth, despite their having presented the tearing down of Saddam’s statue as a spontaneous event, when, in truth—as revealed by a Reuter’s aerial photograph, the marines had cordoned off Firdos square so that a handful of Chalabi’s men could carry out the task, all the Bush regime had to do is have a man in uniform with ribbons across his chest to have the so-called Democratic opposition genuflecting as the general and the ambassador spun their yarn about the supposed progress of the “surge,” but these gutless wonders actually turned on their own base by condemning Move On for an ad that told it like it is. 

Yeah, the real combat veterans made a splash with their op ed pieces when they exposed the reality of the facts on the ground, but the captains and the sargeants don’t have access to the right-wing echo chamber or the corporate electronic media.  In today’s Orwellian America, driven by a corrupt corporate media with an attention deficit disorder, it is a simple matter for the hard-right to change the subject through scurrilous attacks on the character of the opposition, be it the Swift Boating of John Kerry, the condemnation of the Move On ad, or the reprehensible assault on the character of a 12 year old boy in need of S-CHIP. 

Sorry Non Credo but the failure of the Democrats to end this imperial conquest cannot be laid solely on the doorstep of Sen. Lieberman and AIPAC, though both are deserving of our condemnation.  The plain and simple fact is that it only takes either 41 votes in the Senate or a simple majority in the House to block all further funding for this war.  The argument that Dems could not do so because they would be accused of not supporting the troops is utter rubbish.  You don’t “support the troops” by enabling George Bush to keep them in harm’s way.  You betray them!

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By TJ, October 18, 2007 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ask the imperial Roman generals and Ghengis Khan what it takes to build and hold an empire.  Anything short of that is just illusion.  The best we are able to do in Iraq at this point is merely to prevent the various sides at war from a decisive battle that would determine the outcome and lead to a period of “stability”, probably in the Sadam Hussein sense.  Preventing the decisive action is a strategy with no end and no advantages to the US as I see it.

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By ANDREW GREELEY, October 18, 2007 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I you think this war is going bad…

October 17, 2007
ANDREW GREELEY .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
It would appear, according to news reports, that the hard-liners in the Bush administration, led by the vice president, are pushing for a war with Iran. The tactics are the same. Once you’ve played the fear card to start one war, the second time is easier.

Iran is a threat to American security and freedom. They are trying to build nuclear bombs to use against us. They are already killing Americans in Iraq. They hate us and our freedom. Eliminating the Iranian government and destroying its nuclear facilities is essential to the security of the United States and part of the international war on terror.

Will the shell game work again? I would like to think that it would not, that the American people will not be won over by “war on terror” propaganda, that Congress would not be taken in this time (not even Sen. Hillary Clinton), and that the national media would raise a loud hue and cry against yet another “preemptive war.’‘

Yet surely the hawks would shout once again that in a “national security emergency” the commander in chief has the power to go to war without authorization from Congress. The president might argue that Gen. David Petraeus approved the attack. Indeed, those on the dark side could even suggest that a presidential election could be “postponed” until the Iranian crisis is over—and like the Iraq crisis, that might be never.

Once you have stolen one and maybe two presidential elections, it’s relatively easy to steal a third, especially as part of the “global war on terror” and a “national security emergency.”

A year ago, I would not have suspected that such a scenario could possibly be taken seriously. I’m not so sure anymore. The claims made for the almost unlimited power of the commander in chief seem to make anything, however bizarre, possible. Despite intense national opposition to the war in Iraq, there are enough “patriotic” cement heads in the country to provide support for such a project.

Cries like “nuke the Iranians before they nuke us” would be heard in the land. It might tip the national election to a Republican candidate—perhaps the 9/11 candidate from New York City—and to a majority of Republicans in Congress.

The president could even hint that such a war was ‘‘the right thing to do,’’ a conclusion he had reached after a long conversation with God.

There is precious little that those who are opposed to such a war could do. The president, his vice president could assert, is the commander in chief. He has the inherent power to start a war if he deems it necessary for the security of the country. The National Security Council could eavesdrop on opponents to the war, and the FBI could turn up with “national security letters” to probe into the lives of these “security risks.” The pliant Supreme Court, having permitted the president to seize an election on the grounds of equal rights under the law, could easily phony up an argument that Justices Scalia and Thomas and their allies would support.

Perhaps the House could vote a bill of impeachment but there are not enough votes for conviction in the Senate. And the president could dismiss such an action as a violation of his powers as commander in chief.

Certainly Congress could pass a joint resolution now against such a war. But they would need half a dozen Republican senators to support it. That’s not likely to happen. And the president could claim that he has the inherent power to ignore such a resolution.

When it comes to war in this administration, Dick Cheney always gets his way.

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By Nancy, October 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes. Wasn’t it convenient that they started the war with an all-voluntary troops. Sooner the draft the better.

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By monica benderman, October 18, 2007 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Miguel - Soldiers do resist every day.  Some soldiers resist by not re-enlisting.  Others resist by not deploying, by filing for medical holds, by going AWOL… and many more resist by standing for what they believe while continuing to serve.  Many soldiers in Iraq simply go about their work, fulfilling the duties they committed to, waiting for the day they return home and can be done with the madness. 

Many more soldiers resist the pressure of others telling them what their responsibilities are and how they should handle them, asserting their rights to the freedoms afforded them by the constitution they swore to defend, which allow them to decide for themselves what is right and wrong about their actions.  That type of resistance takes an inordinate amount of strength - doing the right thing for themselves, hoping they can do so without hurting others in the process. 

Simply by serving in Iraq, they are not necessarily hurting others there.  Not all soldiers randomly fire their weapons as innocent civilians, not all soldiers violate the code of conduct which shows respect for the citizens of the occupied country.  What about the soldier who is currently stationed in Iraq who has established his own foundation meant to provide relief for the Iraqi people he comes in contact with??? 

I strongly believe it is time for compromise, and a willingness of the divided sides of this country to come together in a realistic discussion of perspectives, so that we can find our way back closer to the center again and a solution rather than greater divisiveness.  What is needed is patience, understanding and a commitment to move us all forward and closer to peace.  That is not going to happen without a willingness by all to open up to hearing from the other side. 

The chaos this country slides deeper into every day is a result of war.  It was an unwillingness to compromise and work together which sent us to war - so it seems to me the only way to stop the war is to do the opposite of what got us there to begin with.

Soldiers should not resist if it is not something they believe in, something they are willing to face the consequences for, and something they know will be the best for themselves and their families.  No one else will be there for those they are responsible for if they don’t make the decision that is right for them.  I know this - more than I ever needed to know.

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By Chuckwagonchuckie, October 18, 2007 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This little war is about OIL. Regardless of the garbage placed in the media, our OIL and Defense Lobby has a big stake in Iraq and the Middle East. Our troops are present to protect our OIL intrest, our OIL partners and their filthy rich rulers.
Pull out now and RUSSIA and CHINA along with IRAN will fill the void. WOW! China dictating OIL policy along with building our CONSUMER GOODS, it is coming and soon.
A Shiite population controlling the oil fields of Iraq under the support of Iran is more than the NEO-CONS and their OIL buddies can stomach.

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By Miguel, October 18, 2007 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Monica Benderman, why should the soldiers resist?

Maybe because it would be the moral thing to do?
Maybe because if they did so in mass that innocent lives in Iraq will stop dying because of an immoral war?
Maybe because it would show to the American people, and even the world, that American solders can lead us out of this mess?
Maybe because our troops, deciding to defy their commanding officer, Bush, would show him and those to really run the world, that enough is enough and the American people, being lead by our brave and moral solders are taking back America for the ordinary American people?

If our solders do not take the lead, by resisting, by turning their back on an illegal war, by disobeying illegal orders, then our American soldiers are no different than those soldiers that fought for Nazi Germany. For that matter, the American people, by not supporting our American soldiers in their resistance to this evil and horrible illegal war, are no better than those Germans that supported the Nazis, or those that just stood by as the Nazis brought havoc to western Europe.

Monica Benderman, why shouldn’t the soldiers resist?

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By Monica Benderman, October 18, 2007 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This country is divided - by every issue imagineable.  People argue over the smallest things and the greatest things.  If “you’re not for us, you’re against us.”

To me, the IX Amendment of the Constitution is the greatest.  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

To me - this amendment gives us our freedom.  It means we have the right to our privacy, the right to make our own choices, the right to agree or disagree, and the right to live with those choices.  To me - this amendment carries the weight of the Laws of Humanity - those which give our individual consciences their voice. 

To me - this amendment says we must work for compromise - recognizing our freedom but also remembering that freedom is limited by our consideration of the rights of others to be different, think differently, and live differently. 

I think compromise is what is missing in this country today. 

We live two miles from Fort Stewart and still talk with many soldiers.  Many civilians can’t seem to understand that soldiers do think for themselves, they do understand what’s going on, and they are not apathetic.  Sure there are soldiers who simply follow orders, but people like that exist in every walk of life - look at our Congress. 

Most soldiers are doing what they are doing because it provides them with what they need for themselves, their families and their future.  Unfortunately we do hear from many in the anti-war movement who do think the soldiers are to blame, and who don’t have much good to say about them.  In our book, Letters From Fort Lewis Brig, we discuss the difficult situation military personnel are in.  Members of a prominent anti-war group criticized the book as “glorifying the military” - and characterized it as a “bad book” in part because of that.  We don’t “glorify” the military - but we do what we can to help people see soldiers as people trying to survive extraordinary circumstances.

It’s not up to the soldiers to stop this war - it’s up to all of us. 

If we want to stop a militarized state we have to give alternatives to that militarized state, not just protest the actions of the state.  We have to provide jobs, education, training, affordable housing, and support - and the best place to do that is in our individual communities. 

So much time, money and energy has been wasted on protesting a war - and it’s not working.  It’s not that soldiers or any other community members don’t know what’s going on, it’s that there is no alternative if they were to choose to respond to what is going on.

If we took all the money, energy and time and used it to work together to create alternatives, we could stop this war much more quickly than if we continue to protest with no viable alternatives to present.

We argue the differences between us all the time - and yet those differences are supported by the IX Amendment - to me, we should embrace those differences and use them as strengths, combining the knowledge stemming from our different backgrounds to create viable alternatives to what we now face together. 

Instead of criticizing everyone who thinks differently, and shunning them from discussions because they present alternative perspectives, perhaps we should be willing to open ourselves up to those different perspectives and in the ensuing discussions find a way to end the war and create solutions to keep it from ever happening again.

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By ShockandAwe, October 18, 2007 at 1:14 am Link to this comment

You’re right too, Monica. Not a day goes by that someone isn’t telling me to refuse to fight.

I’d like to, but ones trying to influence me aren’t usually hiring and have no support to offer. While on R&R;this past July, a woman asked me “Why don’t you just not go back?” I looked her in the eye and asked her if she was hiring. The GI movement of today isn’t like Vietnam because all of us volunteered to serve in a military uniform, not a prison one.

Whether the war goes well or not, or whether we win or lose, I think America has learned not to blame the warrior for the war.

Not everyone though. I had a reporter ask me how much I got paid to kill Iraqis.

Soldiers speaking out aren’t really embraced by either side. I ran into that also while on R&R;. The right automatically writes us off as liberals, meanwhile the far left write us off because we typically aren’t anti-imperialism or anti-war. Iraq Veterans Against the War is just that, Iraq Veterans Against the War.

We are made up of deserters, conscientious objectors, people who served their time. We’re not all conscientious objectors, and we’re not all non-combatants. Some of us believe what we’re doing to the Iraqis is wrong, some of us care less about the Iraqis and think that the support given to the troops by the brass is wrong.

Because of this, the left doesn’t fully embrace us either.

Iraq Veterans Against the War. There’s nothing more to read into.

I don’t know why I felt the need to rant.

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By aafshar, October 17, 2007 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment

Monica Benderman
i am speechless, i don’t know what to say other than to thank your husband and you for the sacrifice you have made for our comfort. i am shameful and speechless.

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By ShockandAwe, October 17, 2007 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

http://www.ivaw.org

I’ve been speaking out against the war. On 60 Minutes, NPR, BBC… the soldiers I serve with agree with me and I don’t fear for my life at all here in Baghdad (well, not from soldiers).

Vet240, you’re absoluely right that this is a careerist’s dream come true.

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By Monica Benderman, October 17, 2007 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why should these soldiers stop fighting and resist the war? 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe this war is wrong and believe we should have left Iraq long ago. 

My husband and I put our money where our mouths are - he was a soldier who served in Iraq and publicly declared his opposition to war, filed a CO application, which was refused, and was subsequently court-martialed for his actions, sent to prison for over a year and now faces a dishonorable discharge in addition to having lost all pay, and nearly everything we had worked for together. 

But - every day he struggles and looks at his situation and wonders - why did he even bother to think filing CO status and resisting this war would bring him peace or help the other soldiers he served with because no matter how much we have said and no matter how much we have shared, he still feels as if it has all fallen on deaf ears - and he is the one who paid the heavy price that many, even in these comments, are asking our resisting soldiers to pay.

To stop war you have to do more than simply protest - simply post web blogs and commentary derrogatory to the administration and the inactions of a Congress who think that because they were elected to office they have somehow been elevated to a status well above that of the common US citizen - forgetting they are nothing more than common US citizens themselves, sent to represent the common interests of us all in a government that has lost sight of the laws in place to keep them all in check.  But then look how many US citizens not holding government positions have forgotten about those very same laws, and the reasons they exist. 

Why should the soldiers resist when what they would come home to is no less chaotic than where they are?

Why should the soldiers resist when promises of “supporting the troops” haven’t materialized in over 5 years of fighting - what is there that would make them believe the promises of support when they resist are any more realistic?

Why should the soldiers resist when those in government leadership positions say “war is needed to bring the peace”?

Why should the soldiers resist when there is nothing to return to that will give them health care coverage for their families, put food on the table, pay their utility bills and give them retirement benefits?

Why should the soldiers listen to anyone telling them they must be responsible for stopping the war when they weren’t responsible for starting it?

When do we start working on making this country what it should be - for all citizens - so that the soldiers have something worth resisting for?

Monica Benderman
http://www.BendermanDefense.org
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Louise, October 17, 2007 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

An afterthought:

The oath to protect and defend the Constitution explains why the Bush administration sees the need for a “private” militia. [Mercenary army] Because they do not take the military oath.

Prince [Blackwater] has made the observation many times that his men are former military. But, the point has to be made there is a huge difference between military that understands the oath and steps up to the plate when called on and former military who apparently just like to fight. Which by the way is probably WHY they are no longer in the military!

There is a huge difference between disciplined troops who follow orders and sometimes make judgment calls based on simple intelligence. The kind we all have in our brains, not the kind manufactured by despots hungry for control. And Gung Ho types who go off half cocked every time they hear a bang. Those guys get drummed out of the military.

We also need to pay attention to how often someone on active duty who spoke out has been silenced by death. Coincidence?

The “onward Christian soldiers” who are as whacked out as the Bush administration don’t hesitate to threaten anyone who challenges their current view of gods needing them to do what their god apparently cant do. [or maybe doesn’t want to]

And there are troops who sleep through training. A few years back, I got into a debate about the merits of blindly following a Commander in Chief who is basically a deserter trashing the Constitution,  I ended my observation with, “Well you know. You remember your oath.” And to my astonishment he replied, “Yeh, to protect the borders and the country, or something like that.” I love this guy and consider him a good friend, who by the way knows his oath now. As he explained, “they work you till you drop, I must have slept through all that.”

Since then he’s been there and back and will be going again soon. He has developed a deep and abiding respect for his oath and the Constitution. He doesn’t like to talk much about it, but he worries about the corruption that is filtering into the military, primarily through civilian and political influence and power in the Pentagon. He doesn’t talk about Israel or the Nutty Christianists who want to control by force. He doesn’t have time to go there. But he is very worried about what an indifferent congress and a slightly mad president are doing to the military.

We must all recognize the military is not likely to take up arms against the despot.  After all, we really don’t want a government run by the military. That was never the intention of the Constitution. However, they are quite dismayed that we the people continue to allow our congress to allow this abuse of power to continue!

So we wonder why THEY don’t do something about it and they wonder why WE haven’t already DONE something about it.

Why haven’t we?

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By Greg, October 17, 2007 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One and only option for 2008….Ron Paul.

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By aafshar, October 17, 2007 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

Louise
Great post, however as for teaching the constitution in our schools, we are already doing that. I helped my son last year in his 8th grade.

In reference to start having classes before voting people will not show up to vote, so be it, at least you have informed votes rather than bought votes.  I have been involved with campaigns both republican and democrat and I have seen it firsthand how they bring in these homeless people and others by bus loads to vote.  That vote in my eye has no value it just goes to show the power of the campaign, which is not democratic.  I am more for quality that quantity, I rather have an informed vote than a bought vote.  What I say about this is, if your vote is not influenced by logic and facts then you know you are not a free society.  We have to free ourselves from influential groups and lobbies; this should be the next freedom movement in this country and it needs a leader like MLK.  We are not a free society till this happens.  We should not let our government be lobbied about our foreign policy.  This is just incredible to me, what makes us think another nation is for our welfare and prosperity and not theirs.  I don’t care what country that is not even UK should have a lobby in this country.  I can’t think of another country that allows country be it friend or foe influence their officials, that is treason no matter what country it is.  Why do we let other nations influence and control ours?

We should hold our elected and none elected officials accountable.  The problem you have right now is the people who have to hold the executive office accountable are being influenced and controlled by the same people who influence the occupants of the white house, it is a circle that is going around, how do you expect to have accountability in this environment.  Read the Israel lobby book.  I may sound like I am against Israel; on the contrary I am not, I am not against any country I am just for this country.  I am against having an elected official who is loyal to a group that its loyalty is to another nation and not to this nation. 

Just look at what the republican and democrat candidates said when they went to the Jews lobby fundraising, they didn’t talk about what is good for this country, they all talked about what is good for Israel why.  Politician’s first goal is to stay in power, if you are not in power you are not a politician.  And in this country in order to stay in power is by money, who has the most money the lobbies.  Get rid of the lobbies all of them.

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By Louise, October 17, 2007 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Getting people out to vote is already a chore. Even the well informed often don’t bother. If people were required to take a class before they were allowed to vote, even more would stay away. Besides educating people on the “issues” will never be the answer, because “issues” like political parties and politicians are shaped by individuals. And individuals interpret “issues” to their own set of rules and understanding.

We actually have the answer and the tool already. And one of the biggest reasons people don’t value voting, or care about the “issues” is because over the years, pressure [largely] from the conservative side has removed this tool from public debate.

Of course I’m speaking of the Constitution of the United States.

People in the military do speak out, because they understand the Constitution. When you raise your hand and commit to possibly giving your life, it’s important to understand why you’re doing that. Understanding the Constitution and how important it is to protect and defend is a central point in military training because that’s the oath they take. They, more than most folks back home understand what it means, what it does and how constantly it is under threat.

“Being in the military, our oath isn’t to the current foreign policy or to the president, it is to the Constitution and the country.”

Today we see the most perfect example of what happens when respect for the Constitution stops.

The abuses of the Bush administration.

And we see the most perfect example of what happens when people do not understand the Constitution.

Our congress, who seems to have forgotten, protecting and defending the Constitution against ALL enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC is the oath they take!

What we need is a restoration of civics education in our schools, centering on the Constitution. What led to it’s creation. What it means. And why it’s important enough to give your life to protect.

The one question missing from all debates, “Do you understand the oath of your office?”

The one demand missing from the constituents. “We expect you to honor your oath.”

And the one subject never mentioned by main-stream media. “They are either ignorant of the Constitution, or do not honor their oath.”

If they did, we would be well into impeachment hearings by now!

So here’s what we need to do. Let every single one of those Representatives and Senators running for re-election know, they will be replaced by any democrat or independent who wants to run for the office. And that’s the challenge to us. Have we got the guts to make that happen?

And I’m sorry folks it has to be a democrat or an independent, because the republicans have done absolutely nothing in the past three decades to demonstrate they will repent and start honoring their oath!

And if you think the answer cant possibly be that simple I suggest you study the Constitution. It’s all there. The presidents obligations and limitations. And the power of the congress to stop the presidents abuse of power!

Now it’s time for us to let congress know we know and they better climb out of their “mutual admiration” rut and start earning their keep!

And yes, that includes Nancy and Harry!

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By cyrena, October 17, 2007 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

#107805 by Louise
•  Dear Robert Scheer;
“..When will we listen to the troops?

Probably about the same time congress starts listening to the troops!”…


Another great one Louise. (for me to send around to non-bloggers).

Meantime, someone else suggested the same in regards to the troops. We’ve not listened to them at all, since they didn’t JUST START making these things known. Of course I’ve talked about going over there to pick them up ourselves. But, another poster on this thread (jabart#107845) has said the same.

•  We need them now, in a serious time in our nation’s history, to “step up to the plate” and resist.  Did someone say “coo-dey-tah”?

At this point, I’d have to agree that this is the only other thing to do, despite the “messages” they continue to send by intimidating the troops, (with whatever tactics are “required”) and putting Ehren Watada through another trial, clearly double jeopardy, and against the law. (not that the ‘law’ has been in effect for the past 7 years).

Still, since they’re stuck over there, (most of whom wouldn’t be able to make it home on their own) we’re looking at the Commanders and the Generals to DO something. Like, get our troops out of there.

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By aafshar, October 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

cyrena
i agree with every point you have made.  I wonder if you have read the book the Israel lobby. it is quite telling.  As for Liebermann point you made, yes some of us knew, and even on the msm there were talks of it, to the effect that he is in the pocket of aipac, and that is why al gore choose him because of the Jews vote and money, I am sure you had heard that then. There even was a saying going around: our good senator from district of Israel, district referring to District of Columbia where all the decisions are made.  You just have to have sharp ears and read between the lines. I agree with you all the blame goes to Mrs. Pelosi, and her constituents should show their thru patriotism and their love of country and honor and respect for the constitution and try to recall her if not vote her out on next election. But a recall is a very good first move. Then they can start by organizing against her and start fundraising and advertising against her. She will start to get the message.  I am surprised Moveon has not gone after her, they wasted their time and money with that ad about the general, didn’t do anything other than giving them bad press. If they had gone after Pelosi they not only have the republicans with them they would have the majority of democrats too and they would have been able to get something done. But they didn’t.  Another dumb move democrats made was the move against Rush Limbaugh, which he took great advantage of, instead of going after him personally; they should have tried to pass the fair media act, which is going nowhere now.  But this the congress we have, they are the true lame ducks not the occupants of the white house.

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By cyrena, October 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

#107807 by aafshar

Aafshar, on your response to Louise:

I would agree that many Americans were informed about the Dick Bush agenda prior to the 2000 Coup. BUT, please keep in mind, that it WAS a Coup. The U.S. populace, (informed or not) didn’t elect these criminals. We elected Al Gore. (unfortunately, that would have given us Lieberman as well, and you see where he is now – the biggest cheerleader for the attack on Iran, right behind Dick Cheney).

So, just thinking about that, is scary. Because…THAT MUCH, (about Lieberman at least) I don’t think we DID know. (at least I didn’t).

And, none of us could have known about 9/11 either. (even though I suspect it too, was in the planning stages at the time.)

So, in all fairness, we can really only do the SUPER Congress blame game, (at least as far as the dems are concerned) for the period since Jan, 2007..when they did finally take control (in numbers-name only) of Congress, which would be the same time that Nancy Pelosi took ‘impeachment off the table”. I could also add that Nancy Pelosi badgered and intimidated the entire rest of the House, into backing down on that.

It was ‘shut up about impeachment’. I want NO dissent within this party. Same as she did to Murtha recently about the war tax. It’s all about her and her politics. Nothing to do with what we want. She too, has always had an agenda. Doesn’t matter how many of us die, or go hungry, or without health care, or how many trillions she allows Dick Bush to pour into the sands of the Middle East.

And, as another poster mentioned, he’s written to Pelosi –since she’s been the speaker- (rather than as a California constituent) and didn’t even get a standard form letter reply. I’ve written as well, (though she’s not my Congresscritter) and…same thing. Nancy is about her own agenda, (very much in line with the Thugs) and she has effectively battered down any dissenting voices.

Meantime, can somebody tell me why they have this guy (the photo in the article) blindfolded? I mean, they claim that he threw a grenade, and so that’s why they grabbed him, and have him handcuffed. (I guess…kind of hard to imagine that they could just ‘pick him’ out of a crowd, and decide that he’d thrown a grenade. (but of course that doesn’t surprise me either). Still, I don’t get the point about the blindfold.

Can anybody guess?

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By jbart, October 17, 2007 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At the risk of appearing redundant, I repeat.  In order to effectively stop this insanity, we need the military to get involved.  Not in Iraq & Afghanistan (already there, doing that), or Iran (coming soon to a theater near you) but in this debacle we call our disagreement with our “Government’s” policies.  We need them to assert themselves into the fray.  They alone have the might(which WE provided the ability), the “wherewithall” and, according to these Op Ed pieces, the will as well.  They do, after all, work for America and it’s people (can you say, TAXES?). We need them now, in a serious time in our nation’s history, to “step up to the plate” and resist.  Did someone say “coo-dey-tah”?

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By aafshar, October 17, 2007 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Bob Zimmerman
“Most American’s don’t follow politics closely and like their answers spoonfed to them” you are quite right most Americans are uninformed or poorly informed.  For democracy to work you have to have inform electoral, what I would have like to see in this country is in order to be able to vote, not only you would have to register but you would have to take a class before voting to learn about issues. It is clear the pamphlet you get in the mail for you to study is not working and not many people read it. And our media is not doing its job in educating the electoral on the issues. So the best way would be to show up in a class and learn about the candidates and issues then you can go and vote.

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