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McCain Said Putin is Germany's President

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 30, 2008 5 comments

John McCain is really starting to make me wonder. Hat tip to Journal of Daily Madness.

Hillary Clinton's Involvement in the Christian Right

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 29, 2008 1 comments

This is really depressing, but it explains a lot.

From Mother Jones 9/1/07.

It was an elegant example of the Clinton style, a rhetorical maneuver subtle, bold, and banal all at once. During a Democratic candidate forum in June, hosted by the liberal evangelical group Sojourners, Hillary Clinton fielded a softball query about Bill's infidelity: How had her faith gotten her through the Lewinsky scandal?

After a glancing shot at Republican "pharisees," Clinton explained that, of course, her "very serious" grounding in faith had helped her weather the affair. But she had also relied on the "extended faith family" that came to her aid, "people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me."

Such references to spiritual warfare—prayer as battle against Satan, evil, and sin—might seem like heavy evangelical rhetoric for the senator from New York, but they went over well with the Sojourners audience, as did her call to "inject faith into policy." It was language that recalled Clinton's Jesus moment a year earlier, when she'd summoned the Bible to decry a Republican anti-immigrant initiative that she said would "criminalize the good Samaritan...and even Jesus himself." Liberal Christians crowed ("Hillary Clinton Shows the Way Democrats Can Use the Bible," declared a blogger at TPMCafe) while conservative pundits cried foul, accusing Clinton of scoring points with a faith not really her own.

Read the full article.

It's a good thing I know about it now, but wish it got bigger play in the corporate media at the time. (No, I'm not surprised that they pretty much ignored it.)


Faces of Grief

Posted by libhom 1 comments

One of the most important blogs I have found from the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War is Faces of Grief. It features photographs and descriptions of the grieving that is such a pervasive part of the lives Iraqis due to the senseless war on that country.

We need to think of the war in more human terms. The people making money off of the war want us to forget that people are being devastated. If we let them, we are allowing ourselves to be dehumanized.


Here's the lead from the AP article:

McCain Advisers Lobbied for Airbus


WASHINGTON (AP) — Top current advisers to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign last year lobbied for a European plane maker that beat Boeing to a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, taking sides in a bidding fight that McCain has tried to referee for more than five years.

Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain's campaign. A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain's national finance chairman.

The article caught on to part of the significance of the ties between John McCain and Airbus:
"The aesthetics are not good, especially since he is an advocate of reform and transparency," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group. "Boeing advocates are going to use this as ammunition."

McCain, a longtime critic of influence peddling and special interest politics, has come under increased scrutiny as a presidential candidate, particularly because he has surrounded himself with advisers who are veteran Washington lobbyists. He has defended his inner circle and has emphatically denied reports last month in The New York Times and The Washington Post that suggested he helped the client of a lobbyist friend nine years ago.

Ties between "Keating Five" McCain and foreign lobbyists certainly do contradict McCain's facade as a reformer. Other articles have focused on the potential harm to McCain's campaign in communities where aerospace is a major employer.

McCain's ties to Airbus could cost him votes in Kansas

"Does tanker deal push Washington off McCain's map?"

Boeing certainly is a major employer in Washington and Kansas, and McCain's Airbus corruption could cost him votes. However, there is a broader pattern that is being missed by so many.

McCain's behavior is consistent of that of so many right-wing politicians to ship US jobs oversees.

Whether it is "Keating Five" McCain, the Clintons, the Bushes, or the rest of the corporate right, a huge priority has been to ship American jobs abroad with the two main goals.

1) Shifting jobs to lower wage markets.

2) Putting downward pressure on US wages.

These are the dots the corporate media don't want connected.


Although these large protests marking the fifth anniversary of the war on Iraq were of national significance, I didn't see any mention of them in the corporate media. They really should have been lead stories. Coverage of the protests were limited to civil disobedience in the Washington, DC area, which was important, but far from the whole story. If not for an email from A.N.S.W.E.R., I wouldn't have heard about them. Here's the actual news corporate America doesn't want you to read:

Mass marches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago punctuate week of action

San Francisco 3-19-08
March 19th protest in San Francisco
On March 19, the fifth anniversary of the war, hundreds of protests took place in cities and towns large and small. In San Francisco, ANSWER organized a night-time march of 7,000 people. Thousands of young people joined the very spirited and densely packed march which stretched for several blocks along Mission St. Chants of “Occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine,” “No More War,” and “El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido” (the People United Will Never Be Defeated) echoed through the Mission District. Among the speakers at the event were Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq; independent presidential candidates Cynthia McKinney and Gloria La Riva; Zeina Zaatari of the Free Palestine Alliance; Iraqi American activist Muhammed Al-Adeeb; and Eugene Puryear, National Co-Coordinator of Youth and Student ANSWER. Throughout the day in San Francisco there were direct actions and civil disobedience, planned by many different organizations.

Chicago 3-19-08
March 19th protest in Chicago
Simultaneously, 4,000 people took to the streets of Chicago. Spirited chants of "Troops Out Now, Iraq for Iraqis" echoed throughout downtown as the march -- made up primarily of young, energetic and militant protesters -- proceeded through the streets. The demonstration was called by a coalition of organizations, and there was a significant turnout of young people from Arab and Muslim communities.

At the rally in Federal Plaza prior to the march, A.N.S.W.E.R. Chicago Coordinator John Beacham told thousands that "Our enemies are not in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela or China. They’re in Washington, The Pentagon, and Wall Street. They want us to fight their wars and fight each other. We must resist their divide and conquer strategies and fight them. Change will come through a united struggle against the banks, corporations and the war machine.”

The March 19 actions came four days after a march of 10,000 through downtown Los Angeles. The march filled the six-lane street from sidewalk to sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd. from Vine to Schrader--many blocks away. During the march, people at the front of the march could see the marchers still joining the action 7 blocks behind them.

Los Angeles 3-15-08
March 15 mobilization in Los Angeles
The demonstration was overwhelmingly youthful, with students pouring into the march from hundreds of Southern California schools. A large, militant contingent of over 200 young people wore red shirts and marched together. Other students lined the front banners, chanting "Iraq for Iraqis, troops out now!" and "Alto a la guerra, stop the war!"

Once the marchers arrived at the main rally point at Sunset and Cahuenga, at least 10,000 people stood at the CNN building. Protesters chanted "CNN, can't you see? Put the peace march on TV!" Despite strong, cold winds and scattered rain, many thousands stayed at the rally site for hours.

Michael Prysner at Winter Soldier:
From March 13-16 in Washington DC, Iraq Veterans Against the War sponsored Winter Soldier, an event that showcased testimony from U.S. veterans who served in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The veterans delivered powerful accounts of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground in those countries. Iraq war veteran and ANSWER organizer Michael Prysner spoke at the event, retelling his horrifying responsibilities as an occupation soldier, and denouncing the Army officers who used racism and bigotry in order to justify the oppression of the Iraqi people. Prysner's eloquent and compelling testimony cuts through the Pentagon's propaganda and can be viewed here.

Also in Washington DC, several civil disobedience and direct actions took place around the city. Dramatic actions took place in front of prominent government buildings as well as the corporate offices of the principal war profiteers.

One of the things I admire about A.N.S.W.E.R. is their willingness to slog through the hard work of organizing. Their determination has played a huge role in the peace movement. As I was reminded while working on the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War, it takes a lot of work, sometimes tedious, to organize something involving large numbers of diverse people.


Report from Tonight's Peace Protest in Staten Island

Posted by libhom Friday, March 28, 2008 2 comments

I attended a protest with about 20 other people against the war which took place at the St. George Recruiting Center, near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. This was the last in a series of five protests in response to the announcement of the 4000 US military deaths in Iraq that meet the narrow criteria the Bush regime uses to count our war dead. (Troops who die from injuries occurring in Iraq after they arrive in military hospitals in Germany and the US are not counted. Neither are dead mercenaries. Military suicides are conspicuously absent from the numbers as well.)

One aspect of the protest really brought home the fact that there is a ticking clock in the war that means we cannot passively accept the carnage going on until January 2009, much less January 2013. There were four signs, one for each digit in the number of the war dead. The organizers had to change the last digit on more than one occasion while the protests were going on over the week, and we found out that the 4005 number for tonight already was out of date by the time the protest had started.

The protest was sponsored by Military Families Speak Out, Movement for a Democratic Society - Staten Island, and Peace Action Staten Island.

Staten Island has a vocal and active peace community. The "forgotten borough" (and the red borough) of New York City has the largest Peace Action chapter in the city, despite Staten Island having the smallest population of any borough and the largest percentage of Republican and Conservative Party members. No matter where you are, a group of committed activists can have a voice on an issue.

Here are the protest's demands, from a press release circulated via email:

Join Staten Island residents, Military Families and Veterans for a Candlelight Vigil marking this TRAGIC milestone. Speak up for the soldiers who no longer have a voice.

Demand that the Bush Administration and our Congress:
Stop all funding for War and Occupation of Iraq!
Bring the Troops Home Now!

Redirect all money back to our communities for:
health care


Disturbing Heterosexism from George Galloway

Posted by libhom Thursday, March 27, 2008 4 comments

From the Independent (UK) 3/8/08:

Mehdi Kazemi is a gay teenager from Iran. He sought sanctuary in Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for homosexuality. So why is Britain so determined to send him back to Tehran – to almost certain execution?

The article has an excellent summary of the situation of a 19 year old gay man who is trying to avoid being sent back to Iran so he won't be killed by the fundamentalist government there.

You would think that a left politician like George Galloway would be supporting queer activists who are trying to stop the deporation. Instead, Galloway is demonizing the queers who are fighting for justice and human rights by claiming that they are somehow tools of the war machine.

But, it gets worse. Galloway made a baseless and viciously homophobic accusation against the boyfriend who no longer is alive to defend himself. Galloway actually said that Kazemi's boyfriend was executed for "committing sex crimes against young men."

That may be the official line of the heterosexist government in Iran, but it is not based on any credible evidence. Galloway is uncritically repeating the pedophile libel which has been used to smear lgbt people by militant Christian fundamentalists for decades. Galloway should know better.

Galloway also made the factually incorrect claim that people aren't killed for being gay by the Iranian government. This is dangerous since it makes it easier for Islamophobic and heterosexist governments in the West to deny lgbt asylum seekers from Muslim countries.

The bigotry in Galloway's comments is not the only disturbing aspect of it. The divisiveness of them also are dangerous. In the real world, efforts to oppose the murder of queers by the Iranian government are going to make no difference in whether or not an attack is launched on Iran, nor will those efforts change the levels of support and opposition to such an attack.

However, the peace movement will be hurt if this kind of homophobia against queer war opponents continues. A productive peace movements works to stop the current war and prevent future ones, rather than dividing and making it easier for the neocons to pursue their ends. Galloway is a leader of the "Respect" party in the UK. This is ironic since many queers have little reason to respect him and he has shown no respect for us.

However, the vast majority of the peace movement has avoided this kind of Jesse Helms style homohatred. Scapegoating is usually the tool of the neoconservative movement. It's important for queers to speak up now, unless we are going to be scapegoated by bigots if Bush attacks Iran.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to condone Galloway's heterosexism by linking to a video where he expresses it. However, I know that Galloway's previous outspoken stance against the Iraq War has given him quite a following here in the US, and some people might not want to believe how bigoted his behavior has been.


Clinton Campaign Keeps Getting More Disturbing

Posted by libhom Tuesday, March 25, 2008 6 comments

Clinton court jester James Carville provided an example of why I can't stand the Clintons and have never voted for them.

"Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out (Jesus) for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic," he said.

The Clintons and their minions will slime anybody, merely for not blindly following them. It's the same attitude as the Bushes.

Bill Richardson responded quite well.
"That's typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton," Richardson said. "They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency."

The Clinton Smear Campaign will stop at nothing to seek power. They spew white supremacist rhetoric; they are trying to steal the nomination with a superdelegates scam; they lie about Ms. Clinton's record as if no one can fact check anything; and they change their positions on the war in Iraq more often than Dick Cheney spouts off about the evils of Iran.

The desperate and nasty tactics have reminded real Democrats of Republicans. No wonder what seemed like a sure nomination for Hillary Clinton has fallen apart. Ms. Clinton's Republican policies are matched by her Republican tactics.

The idea of a rotating "presidency" between the Clintons and the Bushes makes me sick.

This is my contribution to the Blog Against Theocracy.

If you are a queer Christian, it may be difficult for you to understand why those pesky atheists keep making a big deal about prayer in schools, "In God We Trust" on coins, etc.

Part of it has to do with a numerical minority trying to protect its rights and fight for its dignity. That kind of battle, with a multitude of different numerical minorities doing the fighting, goes back to the colonies, before the USA even existed. Atheists in this country are behaving like quintessential Americans.

But, atheists and other supporters of state/church separation have another agenda, preventing theocratic government, government by the churches. For years, when a supporter of separation wanted an example of why state/church separation is so important, Iran was always there to provide a strong argument.

Thanks to the war, Iraq also serves as such an argument.

Thanks to the invasion and occupation, the quasi-government in Baghdad is dominated primarily by various militant Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim political parties. At the local level, religious militias have real power in peoples' day to day lives. This has been disastrous for women. It has been disastrous for queers.

Doug Ireland has done some excellent reporting on the situation for queers in Iraq. Here are two examples:

HUNTING GAYS IN IRAQ: How the Death Squads Work (10/06)

“Every gay and lesbian here lives in fear, just pure fear, of being beaten or killed,” says Ahmad, a 34-year-old gay man, via telephone from his home in Baghdad. “Homosexuality is seen here as imported from the West and as the work of the devil.”

Ahmad is masculine and “straight-acting,” he says. “I can go out without being harassed or followed.” But that’s not the case for his more effeminate gay friends. “They just cannot go outside, period,” he says. “If they did, they would be killed.” To help them survive, Ahmad has been bringing food and other necessities to their homes. “The situation for us gay people here is beyond bad and dangerous,” he says.

For the very first time, an official United Nations human rights report released last week has confirmed the "violent campaigns" against Iraqi gays and the "assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq."

"Attacks on homosexuals and intolerance of homosexual practices have long existed, yet they have escalated in the past year," says the latest bi-monthly Human Rights Report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), released on January 16. "Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq," the report says.

Ireland also documents the rise of power for the theocratic elements:

If the Bush administration brokered a deal in Occupied Iraq to enshrine Islamic law as the guiding principle of the new Iraqi Constitution, you'd think it would be headline news in the U.S. media, wouldn't you? Well, that's what has happened -- yet you canIraq_flag search the Sunday papers in vain to find this sell-out to the Islamists clearly portrayed -- or, in some cases, even mentioned.

Anyone familiar with the Christian Taliban should know that when religion takes over politics and government, queers are in danger. It should be no surprise that Iraq follows the pattern. If you think I'm being too much of a drama queen about this, consider what some in the Christian Taliban openly say.

Put Homosexuals To The Sword
Civil officials have a God ordained duty to execute sodomites.

The word of God commands, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev.20:13).

Have we not been taught that homosexuality is an abomination (Lev.18:22). And those who engage in homosexuality are so vile that their very presence defiles the land and its inhabitants (Lev.18:25-28).

This sodomite defilement brings eternal damnation upon all who approve of homosexuality (Rom.1:32, 13:2) and brings God's righteous judgment of punishment and death on the society as a whole (Gen.19:24-25, II Pet.2:6).

This kind of rhetoric is hardly unusual when Christian fundamentalists are speaking to each other, though most are sensible enough not to openly express these views when trying to appeal to the general public.

It's also useful to remember that years of terrible AIDS policies resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men in the US. Those policies (e.g., lack of AIDS education, resisting condom distribution, and low budgets for medical research given the scope of the pandemic) were largely the results of heterosexist Christians trying to act out on the very same Biblical hatreds.

Do you want these people running the country?

Next time you read about someone pushing in favor of state/church separation, don't get annoyed or offended. Support them. They are the first lines of defense against theocracy and all the dangers theocracy poses to lgbt people.

Action Alert: "Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?"

Posted by libhom Wednesday, March 19, 2008 3 comments

When I started the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War with the blogger who does Ten Percent, it was done in part to counter pro-war bias and censorship in the corporate media. So, it is fitting that my contribution to the Blogswarm be to publicize and add to an action alert from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on Winter Soldier.

3/19/08 FAIR Action Alert:

Dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars gathered in Silver Spring, Maryland last weekend for the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings (3/13/08-3/16/08), where they offered harrowing testimony about atrocities they had witnessed or participated in directly. The BBC predicted that the event, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, "could be dominating the headlines around the world this week" (3/7/08). The hearings were covered as far afield as the U.K. (Guardian, 3/17/08), Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/14/08), Croatia (Javno, 3/16/08), and Iran (Press TV, 3/14/08). Yet there has been an almost complete media blackout on this historic news event in the U.S. corporate media.

Despite being noted in the New York Times' Paris-based International Herald Tribune (3/13/08), Winter Soldier has yet to be mentioned in the New York Times itself. No major U.S. newspaper has covered the hearings except as a story of local interest; the few stories major U.S. newspapers have published on the event have focused on the participation of local vets (Boston Globe, 3/16/08; Boston Herald, 3/16/08; Newsday, 3/16/08, Buffalo News, 3/16/08).

The Washington Post, too, published their account in the metro section (3/15/08). In contrast, the paper published an article about pro-war demonstrators protesting the Winter Soldier hearings in the A section (3/16/08), despite the fact that they were, according to the Post, "small in number."

None of the major broadcast TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) have mentioned the hearings in their newscasts. PBS has been silent as well.

But for a couple of exceptions (Time, 3/15/08; NPR, 3/16/08), the hearings have been virtually ignored by all but the independent media (Democracy Now!, 3/14/08; 3/17-18/08; In These Times, 3/17/08; Alternet, 3/14/08) and military publications (Stars and Stripes, 3/15/08 and the four Military Times newsweeklies, 3/15/08, 3/17/08), in a pattern reminiscent of the near complete corporate media blackout on the first Winter Soldier hearings. FAIR founder Jeff Cohen (Huffington Post, 3/16/08) traces the beginning of his career as a media critic back to his experience of watching as "one of the rare mainstream camera crews showed up at Winter Soldier... and then abruptly packed up to leave in the middle of particularly gripping testimony."

While the testimony of soldiers who had served multiple tours of duty was broadcast on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV, and the Real News network, the major broadcast networks and PBS instead devoted airtime to the pro-war assessments of Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain, both of whom have only made brief visits to Iraq (NBC Nightly News, ABC World News, CBS Evening News, PBS NewsHour, all 3/17/08).

Given the common media rhetoric of "supporting the troops" (FAIR Action Alert, 3/26/03), to ignore these same troops when they speak out about the horrors of the war is unconscionable. On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, it is particularly important that the media reverse this silence, and include the voices of the vets who are speaking out about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in national news coverage.

Contact the broadcast networks and ask them why they decided to ignore the Winter Soldiers hearings while carrying the less-informed observations on Iraq of John McCain and Dick Cheney.


ABC World News
Web form: http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3271346&cat=World%20News%20with%20Charles%20Gibson
Phone: 212-456-7777

CBS Evening News
Email: evening@cbsnews.com
Phone: 212-975-3691

NBC Nightly News
Email: nightly@nbc.com
Phone: 212-664-4971

Coverage of Winter Soldier is missing from CNN.com.
Contact CNN!

The New York Times has censored coverage of Winter Soldier too:

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher:

Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager

The Real News Network Channel on YouTube has a variety of video segments from Winter Soldier. Below, Hart Viges testifies about being a morterman in Iraq. He also talks about being invited to take a picture with a corpse.

Here are some other YouTube users with Winter Soldier footage.

- Michael Moore

- Jophdu

Other Winter Soldier Coverage on YouTube:

- Why Not News

- Some BBC Coverage


It's almost time to participate in the Blogswarm that introduced me to blogswarms, the Blog Against Theocracy. This year's one will take place next weekend. I haven't decided exactly what to write about, but it will probably be about how theocratic elements in Iraq are making things worse for queers there.


One of the common threads from different testimony in Winter Soldier was that it is common for US troops to pose for pictures with the Iraqis killed. Of course, for the dead person, it makes no difference. When you die, you no longer exist as a human being. The killing is worse than the photograph, for the people being killed.

But, what about other people?

Can you imagine the effects of Iraqis furtively peaking through windows to see friends' and loved ones' dead bodies used in campy photographs? This has to be incredibly traumatic, and it has to create enormous hatred for the United States.

It has to be psychologically damaging for the American troops involved too. Any kind of physical contact with corpses would be disturbing. Contact with the dead bodies of people one has killed or who were killed by one's friends has got to be even more traumatic.

The military trains people to kill. The minute killing is treated less as a necessary duty and more like a game, the more damage is done to the troops, the military, and our society in the long run. Panelists at Winter Soldier have pointed out that over 1,000,000 Americans have served in Iraq. The vast majority of them will come back home.

Another common thread is that there is no clear mission for US troops in Iraq. Our troops live in a situation where they are fighting for nothing and face being killed by anyone - an adult male, a child, a mother with children, a village elder, or anyone else.

I have read accounts of WWII. There, people were fighting for the mission. There was a tendency to avoid getting too close to other US troops because they didn't want to get attached to people who might die. Thoughts were more on saving the country and returning home.

Winter Soldier testimony has reinforced what I have read about our soldiers in Iraq. There is no mission, and the war has nothing to do with defending our country. So, the military has worked diligently and successfully to build bonds of intense friendship between members of the same unit. This explains the intense and understandable anger when they see their buddies killed by people of a country that their superior officers and government keep saying US troops are there to help.

Wars of suppressing insurgencies against colonial occupations are notorious for dehumanizing the soldiers for the occupying power. The occupation of Iraq is no different.


Tell Congress: No More War Funding

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 15, 2008 4 comments

From CODEPINK's Action Alert:

Five years ago, the Bush Administration went to war against Iraq. For five years, Congress has approved every funding request for this war and occupation. Over $500 billion has already been spent. If we include health care for the vets, interest on the debt to finance the war and other "hidden costs", over $1 trillion of our tax dollars have been spent!

Congress is now being asked for yet another $100+ billion for the occupation of Iraq. It is time for Congress to ONLY fund the safe and speedy withdrawal of our troops.

Stop funding Bush's war and instead use our resources for health care, education, housing and other human needs at home and in Iraq.

Listening to part of the Winter Soldier testimony only made it more obvious that there is no excuse for this war. Over one million US troops have been forced to participate in the occupation of Iraq. That has devastated the Iraqi people while creating enormous physical and psychological injuries for our troops.

This insanity needs to stop.

Contact Congress


I managed to catch some of Winter Soldier today on WBAI, and I thought I would share some of what I've learned.

Here is a description of Winter Soldier from the Fact Sheet.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will give veterans and service
members the chance to speak out and share their experiences about what is really happening, day in and day out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The four-day event in Washington, D.C. will bring together veterans and service members from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. There also will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and others to give context to the testimony.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a problem I had heard of before, but knew little about. The Winter Soldier testimony has made it clear that everyone in this country needs to know more about TBI.

According to the National Institute of of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also called acquired brain injury or simply head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Two things I learned from the Winter Soldier Testimony of Adrienne Kinne:

- The symptoms of TBI and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be similar.

- The Veterans Adminstration (VA) decided not to screen returning veterans for TBI because they lacked the resources to provide treatment for the 10,000 plus vets they expected to suffer from it.

There has been sporadic coverage of Traumatic Brain Injury from the corporate media, but it tends to stay off of the front pages. For instance, there was a page B1 piece from the Washington Post on 4/08/07 called "A Shock Wave of Brain Injuries." The lead alone was scary.
This is the new physics of war. Three 155mm shells, linked together and combined with 100 pounds of Semtex plastic explosive, covered by canisters of butane or barrels of gasoline, can upend a 70-ton tank, destroy a Humvee or blow an engine block through the hood of a truck. Those deadly ingredients form the signature weapon of the war in Iraq: improvised explosive devices, known by anybody who watches the news as IEDs.

Some of the impact of these roadside bombs is brutally clear: Troops are maimed by projectiles, poisoned by clouds of bacteria-laced debris and burned by post-blast flames. But the IEDs have added a new dimension to battlefield injuries: wounds and even deaths among troops who have no external signs of trauma but whose brains have been severely damaged. Iraq has brought back one of the worst afflictions of World War I trench warfare: shell shock. The brain of a soldier exposed to a roadside bomb is shocked, truly.

About 1,800 U.S. troops, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, are now suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by penetrating wounds. But neurologists worry that hundreds of thousands more -- at least 30 percent of the troops who've engaged in active combat for four months or longer in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are at risk of potentially disabling neurological disorders from the blast waves of IEDs and mortars, all without suffering a scratch.

Of course, the reality of thousands of Iraq veterans suffering untreated with a terrible medical condition because of the corruption and cruelty of the Bush regime makes one sad and angry on their behalf. It also makes any rational person a bit worried in a purely selfish sense. Is it safe to have thousands of people with untreated brain injuries here at home? Inhumanity to one group of people generally tends to bite other people in the ass.

One of the painful realities of the Iraq War is that keeping up with the news involves learning about all sorts of terrible and depressing things that one would like to avoid thinking about. As long as the war is going and as long as an Iraq veteran or an Iraqi person continues to suffer, that kind of ignorance is inexcusable.

Here is some preliminary coverage of Winter Soldier in the media.

- Democracy Now! 3/14/08

- AFP 3/13/08

- The Real News

- OpEd News

- Minneapolis City Pages 3/13/08


When the blogger behind Ten Percent and I started the blogswarm, I had hoped there would be a lot of participation, but I didn't think it would get to over 200 blogs. I love being pleasantly surprised. It is so reassuring to see that so many people are caring and informed enough to call for an end to this nutty war, despite the efforts of the corporate media to distract us from it.

Of course, the news from Iraq has a way of bringing one back to Earth really fast.

5 US Soldiers Killed in Baghdad Bombing

I cannot help but wonder how many Iraqis were killed by US troops today, fighting in a corrupt war at the insistence of the Bush regime. The corporate media seldom cover that. Watching CNN, for instance, you would think that almost all Iraqis being killed are dying as the result of attacks from other Iraqis. Iraqi on Iraqi violence certainly is occurring, but that is far from the whole story.


This from Citizens for Legitimate Government's Lori Price:

Spitzer's Sex Life Is Weapon of Mass Distraction for Bunch of Bad News for Bush 10 Mar 2008 By Lori Price On Monday, we learned: The Iraq war will top 3 trillion dollars; a former Pentagon official has written a book attacking the CIA and other US officials over the US-led Iraq war; 5 8 US soldiers were killed in a Baghdad blast; an Iraqi tribal leader - the head of an 'Awakening Council' - and three others were killed in a Diyala province suicide bombing; CIA torture will continue, per Bush; the House Judiciary Committee has filed suit to force two White House officials to provide information about the firing of U.S. attorneys; more trouble for Carlyle group has surfaced; oil has soared to $108 per barrel; gas prices have reached a new record; a lawsuit has been filed claiming that the Fish and Wildlife Service is now in breach of its own mandate; an AP investigation has revealed that a vast array of pharmaceuticals are in the US water supply. Oh. Last but not least: The Dow and Nasdaq are down hundreds of points, again. But, here is the mainstream media's headline: Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring.

It is important to keep these things in mind during the Spitzer media circus.


Where Obama Could Do Better Than Kerry

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 09, 2008 5 comments

It looks like the only way Clinton can win the Democratic nomination would be through a party-destroying superdelegate scam. Obama really is the only Democrat who is a viable candidate in the general election. Under these circumstances, it is interesting to think about where Obama could do better than Kerry did in 2004.

Of course, people who aren't completely brainwashed by the corporate media are aware that Kerry won the 2004 election, with both Florida and Ohio stolen via massive GOP election fraud. However, GOP criminality is still a serious threat, so Democrats need to think about how they can run up the score in the Electoral College.

One group of red states which would provide fertile ground for Obama is the small states where live speeches and rallies can have a proportionately higher impact. These states have been neglected by candidates in both parties, making attention paid on them more striking on the audiences.

For the sake of setting an arbitrary boundary, here are red states with 5 or fewer electors.

Alaska (3)
Idaho (4)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (5)
Nevada (5)
North Dakota (3)
South Dakota (3)
Utah (5)
West Virginia (5)
Wyoming (3)
- That's a total of 39 electors, enough alone to flip the election.

Another set of promising states are Midwestern and Western states where the strong GOP edges of the 90's are eroding. (Arizona is omitted because it is "Keating Five" McCain's home state.)

Colorado (9)
Kansas (6)
Montana (3)
- 15 electors (not counting Montana twice)

Then, there are the typical swing states that Kerry happened to lose.
Arkansas (6)
Iowa (7)
Missouri (11)
New Mexico (5)
- 29 electors

A lot of pundits are describing Virginia as a new swing state. Let's say they are correct:
- 13 electors

What about Ohio and Florida? With a Republican Governor and a Secretary of State appointed by that governor, the Democrat will win, but the election will be stolen. However, Ohio now has a Democrat as Secretary of State which will make it much more difficult for the GOP to steal the election there.

- 20 electors

That adds up to:

116 electors!

Obviously, it is unlikely that Obama will win all of those states, but he should have little difficulty picking up the net gain of 18 electoral votes needed to become our head of state. As long as the Democratic Party insiders don't disenfranchise the voters to benefit the Clintons, the GOP will lose their hold on the Executive Branch.


A Snarky Golden Rule for Atheists

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 08, 2008 3 comments

A Tongue in Cheek Golden Rule Graphic.

I missed this one, which is great. Kudos to Shut Up, You're Killing America.

Gay Liberation Network Press Release:

For Immediate Release: March 7, 2008

For More Information: Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network, LGBTliberation@aol.com

"Homosexuality Destroys Families" Speaker Draws Pro-Gay Protest

The Gay Liberation Network recently learned that one of the foremost promoters of the fiction that LGBT people can "change" their sexual orientation through fundamentalist Christianity will be lecturing in the Chicago area on Thursday, March 13.

Charlene Cothran, a new darling of the far right lecture circuit and alleged former lesbian, has titled her presentation "How Homosexuality Destroys Families, Not Just Values."

As a publisher of Venus magazine, a publication formerly oriented towards African American lesbians, about a year ago Cothran apparently decided that the grass (and money) was greener on the Republican right, and has since become a tool of their movement and a professional gay hater. Her presentation, which is advertised as "free and open to the public," will be at 7 PM, Thursday, March 13th at the Hoffman House, 7550 E. State Street in Rockford , IL

The Gay Liberation Network (www.GayLiberation.net) will be car-pooling from Chicago to counter her lies, with our protest beginning at 6:30 PM that night. GLN invites all LGBT people and our allies to join in countering Cochran's hate. For more information, email LGBTliberation@aol.com.

Given the facts about "ex-gay" ministries, it is amazing that they even exist. The two men who founded Exodus, the most infamous of them all, did something the Christian extremists don't want people to know. They fell in love; left the ministry; and had a commitment ceremony.

From talking to a former "ex-gay" who was involved in the sad thing for years, I learned two interesting things.

- The vast majority of people who get involved in those ministries leave very quickly.

- In the meetings, even the leaders admit that they still have same-sex desires. In other words, "ex-gay" ministries don't even change the sexual orientations of their leaders.

From a man who was in a relationship with a guy who went in and out of the "ex-gay" scams, I learned that "ex-gay" conventions are wild events with the "ex-gays" sneaking around and having sex with each other. Put a bunch of lonely, sexually frustrated people together and make sex even more forbidden than it already is in our culture, and you will get a sexual frenzy.


Other Possible Explanations for Moses' Delusions

Posted by libhom Thursday, March 06, 2008 2 comments

A lot of media attention has gone to an Isreali researcher's claim that Moses was high as a kite when he wrote the "Ten Commandments."

High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

This explanation is perfectly reasonable. Here are two other reasonable explanations.

1) It is entirely possible that Moses was suffering from mental illness.

2) Malnutrition and/or dehydration may have played a role in Moses' visual and auditory halucinations.

Obviously, these three explanations are not mutually exclusive.

An aside: I can not remember what the name of the song and the group are for the following lyrics.
I'm high as a kite, and I just might stop to check you out.

Let me go on, like a blister in the sun.

It's a really funny song, and I would like to remember who did it and its title.


From the text of the Code Pink Action Alert:

On March 11, we will deliver a letter to every woman Member of Congress who has publicly expressed concern about protecting the rights of Iraqi women. Our intention is to provide them with recent information about the struggle of Iraqi women living under occupation and press them to take supportive action in the next few weeks by voting to fund human needs in Iraq, not warfare, and to legislate the return of all the troops and contractors. Please add your name to this letter below and sign on as a co-sponsor to Congresswoman Water's BILL HR 5488. We will attach to this letter a recent Women for Women International report based on a survey conducted of more than 1500 Iraqi women.

Code Pink also has the following statement urging people to join their friends in signing the letter.
As you read this, women in Iraq live in a Hell we have created.

In Central Iraq, 91.8% of women polled by Women for Women International say that violence against women is increasing. 74.5% of Iraqi women avoid leaving their homes. 63.2% have regularly not sent their children to school. 65.3% report that US security forces are only making security worse. One woman who was interviewed commented, "They gave us freedom and they took from us security…but if I have to choose, I will choose safety and security."

We cannot allow this to continue.

As we gear up to honor International Women's Day on March 8, let us remember the dire situation of our Iraqi sisters. Let us use our voices to make their voices heard.

On March 11, CODEPINK will deliver a letter to every woman Member of Congress to provide them with chilling information about the struggle of Iraqi women living under occupation, and press them to take supportive action in the next few weeks by voting to fund human needs, not warfare, in Iraq, and legislate the return of all the troops and contractors.

Please join me in adding your name to the letter.

This letter will include the Women for Women International report on the status of Iraqi women.

I hope you will read it yourself to learn more about the tragic circumstances they are living in.

Thank you for taking action with me!

CODEPINK certainly is good at publicizing their organization with very bright pink costuming. More importantly, they are an excellent resource for specific actions you and I can take to stop this insane war.

Sign the Letter!


As one would expect, most of the over 170 blogs participating in the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War are American. After all, the Bush regime is the primary aggressor in the war. Americans have the greatest responsibility to try to end the occupation. Only the Iraqis have lost more blood and treasure in this war.

However, an interesting and encouraging aspect of the blogswarm is the international participation. These are some of the other countries represented.


There also is a blog which whose name is in Asian characters. I don't know how to distinguish different Asian languages, but the domain name suggests the site may be Japanese. If I have missed your blog's country, please let me know, and I will be happy to update this.

Just when I thought the Clinton campaign couldn't sink any lower, this happened (CanWest News Service 3/4/08):

The intensity of the competition among Democrats was on full display as Clinton's campaign complained of voter intimidation from Obama's team during the Texas caucuses.

"These underhanded tactics undermine the process that all parties agreed to," said Ace Smith, Clinton's Texas campaign director.

Of course, the "intimidation" never happened. It's another Clinton lie.

The fact that a Clinton campaign is lying is hardly surprising, and that is far from the worst aspect of this. It is the intent of the lie that is so sickening.

Our nation has a terrible history of lynching black men, often for something completely inoffensive like flirting with white women. Fraudulent accusations against black men of this nature played to the most fundamental fears and prejudices that provided the ideological underpinning of white supremacy.

Lynching may be illegal and largely over, but the fears and hatreds that justify it largely remain. By peddling false accusations of "intimidation" by the Obama campaign against the Clinton campaign, the Clintonistas are trying to create a backlash against a black man supposedly mistreating a blond, white woman.

Racism has been the main campaign theme for Hillary Clinton, but this is taking things to new depths of depravity. There just isn't any excuse left for supporting KKKlinton.

As someone who is mostly white, but has some non-white ancestry as well, I take this kind of hatred and bigotry personally. I'm so sick of the Clintons acting as if anyone who doesn't fit their Aryan purity test is inferior and dangerous.

Hysterical Parody of Clinton's 3:00 AM Commercial

Posted by libhom Monday, March 03, 2008 4 comments

I hope people come up with more clever parodies of mindless campaign commercials.

Ron Paul supporters on the Internet were flooding comments sections insisting that Paul's campaign was going to take the GOP, and eventually the country, by storm. Interestingly enough, the only major GOP candidate to do worse than Paul was Giuliani.

I'm curious what people, especially Paul supporters, think happened.

Karl Rove Defends Hillary Clinton

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 02, 2008 5 comments

Clinton is under pressure from some Democrats to drop out if she does poorly in Tuesday's primaries. She has gotten a surprising defender.

From the New York Times Website 3/2/08:

But Karl Rove, the former senior political adviser to President Bush and architect of his presidential election victories, said such calls from Democrats for Mrs. Clinton’s withdrawal were unwise and unbecoming.

“I think it’s a mistake for his campaign to be calling for her to drop out,” Mr. Rove said on Fox. That would be seen as “rubbing her nose” in the fact that she is trailing, he said. “It’s up to the delegates at the convention to decide who wins and loses,” he added.

There are at least three reasons why Rove is doing this.

1) He loves media attention.

2) He wants the Democratic race to go on as long as possible to use up as much Democratic campaign money as possible.

3) He has made it clear that Clinton is the candidate he thinks would be easiest for Republicans to beat.


Talking about how the war on Iraq is costing us jobs here at home is a very important message. The economy and the war on Iraq are connected to each other, not isolated concerns like the corporate media would like us to believe. You can learn more about Kucinich at his campaign website.

I've been going to a lot of blogs lately in my efforts to promote the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War, and I have noticed a very bizarre thing.

Some supposedly liberal/left blogs are supporting a right wing Republican: Hillary Clinton.

They aren't just supporting Clinton; they are parroting Clinton campaign talking points, even the most absurd, in a completely uncritical way. They are demonizing Barack Obama, a centrist Democrat who agrees with liberals and progressives on more issues than Clinton does, in the most bizarre ways. What do these blogs have in common?

They seek and run advertising.

It is no secret that corporations and their owners prefer Clinon over Obama, since she has dedicated her life to promoting corporate power and corporate interests. Someone who was on the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart and who has consistently supported the Iraq War has passed the corporate loyalty test. Clinton's vote authorizing war with Iran was gilding the lily as far as corporate interests are concerned. That's why Clinton is getting more money from big donors than Obama is.

Guess who pays for most advertising.

This is why people need to be savvy media consumers not just when they read print media or watch TV, but when they read blogs. Blogs that are commercially driven face the same pressures that MSNBC and CNN face. Making money promoting a liberal agenda is a terribly difficult thing to do. For some, the pressures to sell out are just too great.

Kurdish Americans Protest Turkey's Invasion of Iraq

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 01, 2008 1 comments

From Free Speech Radio News 2/29/08:

In Washington DC, about 4-dozen people from the Kurdish American community, many of whom have family in Kurdistan, protested Turkey's invasion of Northern Iraq.

They delivered petitions to the State Department, intended for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The letters express opposition to and disappointment with the US's support of Turkey's use of military force against the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Ismial Sindi's relatives live on the border of Turkey and Kurdistan.

"We are helping each other when we changed the Iraq regime so we want the United States to stay with the Kurdish because we help the United States."

Sharif Behrez says Turkey is violating Iraq's sovereignty.

"It's territory should not be violated but also because the Kurds have been able to put together a peaceful and stable region and the Turkish invasion de-stabilizes the region and Iraq as a whole."

The activists also sent letters to members of Congress, urging the US to change their policy and advocate for diplomacy. The Government of Turkey has said all Turkish troops would be out of Northern Iraq by this morning. But denies that that decision was in any way influenced by the United States.

This particular invasion of Iraq has been suspended, but it is highly likely that Turkey will invade Iraq at its slightest whim. This illustrates several aspects of the situation in Iraq that the corporate media would like us to ignore.

1) The situation in Iraq is a quagmire and is getting worse. No amount of wartime propaganda will change that fact.

2) The US military, with two wars and over 700 military installations in the US and abroad, has little left to respond with in situations where that might be necessary. That is a major reason why the Bush regime did nothing while Orthodox Christian extremist Serbo-Croats burned down the US embassy in Serbia. ("Serbs" and "Croats" actually are the same ethnic group. They are divided along the lines of religion.)

3) The Bush regime is highly dependent on Turkey as a supply route for its illegal war in Iraq, which gives Turkey a huge amount of leverage over the US. That is why pro-war Democrats like Nancy Pelosi backed down on a long overdue House resolution to condemn the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Empire, which included Turkey.



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