<\body> Stories in America: April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Can You Keep up with the Scandals and Lies?

Going to College? Watch Out for Bush’s Bandits
A scandal over privatisation of student loans has all the hallmarks of this administration’s worst habits

Prostitution Scandal Has Washington In New ‘Shock and Awe’

Allegations of Wrongdoing Plague Bush Reading Program

Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed

Justice Dept official resigns over investigation connected with Abramoff

Waxman wants Tillman documents

Renzi could soon resign U.S. House seat

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bush's 'Abstinence' Czar Uses Escort Service, Steps Down

Oh, the scandals are so difficult to keep up with...and this scandal just reeks of hypocrisy. Then again, which one doesn't?

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.Tobias, 65, director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), had previously served as the ambassador for the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief.

As the Bush administration’s so-called “AIDS czar,” Tobias was criticized by some for emphasizing faithfulness and abstinence over condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

In a 2004 interview, Tobias explained his approach as “A and B and C. . . Abstinence works. ‘Be faithful’ works. Condoms work. They all have a role. But it’s not a multiple choice, where there is only one answer.”

As a top official overseeing global AIDS funding to other countries, Tobias was responsible for enforcing a U.S. policy, enacted during the Bush administration, that requires recipients to swear they oppose prostitution and sex trafficking. USAID adopted a similar policy in 2004.

Along with his wife, Marianne, Tobias donated over $100,000 to Republican candidates and political committees, according to the campaign finance Web site OpenSecrets.org.

Tobias is the second prominent man to be identified as a customer of the Palfrey’s “sexual fantasy service.” Two weeks ago, Palfrey alleged that military strategist Harlan K. Ullman, creator of the “shock and awe” combat theory and now a scholar with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was also a customer. Ullman has said that the claim was “beneath the dignity of comment.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vets Who Support Democratic Plan to Withdraw Troops in October

"Now, the United States Congress has passed the first firm bill that mandates accountability on the war in Iraq, and demands that we begin a responsible redeployment. This legislation clearly supports the troops and veterans. Those who served on the ground in Iraq have been telling me they are completely supportive of this legislation, and the former brass that is part of VoteVets.org is supportive. This is what the Iraq Study Group recommended. It is what the American people want. Troops and veterans support it, because this legislation supports them. If the President vetoes this, he stands alone, and does so at our nation's peril."
-Jon Soltz, Iraq war veteran and co-founder of VoteVets.org

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NPR Report: Rapes, Abuse High for Indigenous U.S. Women

Kudos to NPR for running this report. Sadly, rape and sexual assault are still silent issues and it's rare for the national media to do stories about Native Americans:
Native American women and Alaska Native women suffer disproportionately high levels of sexual assault compared to other women in the United States – and they're the least likely to receive justice, according to a report from Amnesty International.

Aid workers say most of the crimes are not perpetrated by Native American men. The report says that the perpetrators are most often outsiders, who know little will be done to stop them.

The non-profit group found that cases of rape and abuse of Native women on reservations or in Alaska are rarely prosecuted, compared to non-Native women.

The Results of Bush's Abstinence-Only Policies

From Women's eNews:

Protect Women's Health - Call Congress on April 25

This is from the National Women's Law Center:

On April 18, the Supreme Court decided that Congress knows better than a woman and her doctor what’s best for her health and her family. By upholding a federal abortion ban with no protections for a woman’s health, the new Supreme Court majority has declared open season on the Constitutional protections women have relied on for a generation.

You can fight back. The Freedom of Choice Act would preserve women’s health and reproductive rights—as Roe v. Wade intended. The bill recognizes and respects the complicated life decisions women face, and it lets women, not government, make responsible decisions about their health and lives.

The Freedom of Choice Act makes good on Roe v. Wade’s promise to American women—the promise to protect their health and respect their right to decide in this most personal area.

With long-standing protections eroded and the fundamental freedom to make important life decisions in jeopardy, we need the Freedom of Choice Act now more than ever.

Join us for the national call-in day on April 25, the third anniversary of the historic March for Women’s Lives. Don’t let this attack on women’s health and rights go unanswered.

Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the Freedom of Choice Act.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Prominent Voices, Citizens Call for Impeachment on Tuesday in DC

Click here for more information:
A group of prominent Americans will gather at the U.S. Capitol to speak in support of beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney. Among them will be mayors, including Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City and John Shields of Nyack, NY; state legislators including Washington State Senator Eric Oemig; city council members, including Dave Meserve of Arcata, CA; and former government officials, including Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers; David MacMichael, a former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and a member of the steering committee of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; and retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, a career diplomat who quit in protest the day the war began.

Soldiers' Mothers Demand the Truth

Sadly, I'm not sure the word 'truth' is in the Bush administration's vocabulary:
Three Northern California mothers are bonded together by death and deceit. Each was told by the military that her son died gloriously in battle — charging up a hill to confront the enemy, fighting off an ambush or saving 60 fellow soldiers.

And each found out later — five weeks for one, 15 months for another, and two years for another — that the stories were false.

One of them — Mary Tillman of San Jose, whose son, Patrick, gave up an NFL contract to join the Army Rangers — will address a congressional panel Tuesday to demand the dignity of the truth and an explanation for the lies.

The sons of the two other mothers, Karen Meredith of Mountain View and Nadia McCaffrey of Tracy, were less well known but they feel equally betrayed. They talk almost daily and are counting on Mary Tillman to carry their message to Congress: This does not happen only to high-profile families.

"I wish I could be in Washington. I wish it could be Nadia, Mary and me. Those generals would probably run from the room," Meredith said. "I pity Congress if the three of us get in front of them. I say that with much amusement. They deserve everything they would get from us."

The congressional hearings, requested by the Tillman family and Rep. Mike Honda of Campbell, will investigate "misleading information from the battlefield" in the Tillman case as well as another high-profile soldier — Jessica Lynch. The Army supply clerk's "fighting-to-the-end" heroism story during a 2003 ambush and kidnapping was also untrue. Lynch, who later explained she never fired a shot, is expected to testify about how she felt wronged, how — as she told ABC's Diane Sawyer — "they used me to symbolize all this stuff."

In both the Tillman and Lynch cases, military spokesmen have explained that the "fog of war" or a "comedy of errors" gave rise to the stories based on faulty battlefield intelligence. In the Tillman case in particular, an investigation concluded there was no orchestrated coverup.

But to Mary Tillman, the story about her son's death was invented not only to cover up an embarrassing friendly fire tragedy, but as propaganda to exploit his image for a "recruitment poster."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Occupation Wall in Baghdad

Ahmed al-Dulaimi, a 41-year-old engineer who lives in the area, said the wall would turn the district into a "prison".

He said: "They are going to punish all of us because of a few terrorists here and there."

"We are in our fourth year of occupation and we are seeing the number of walls increasing day after day, suffocating the people more and more."

US soldiers however jokingly call it the "Great Wall of Adhamiyah", they say it is more akin to the fenced suburbs around US cities.

Must Read Article About Pat Tillman Cover-Up

On Tuesday, Congress is opening its first inquiry into the death of former football star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The hearing will also expose the Bush administration for taking advantage of Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch in April 2003. Lynch is expected to testify:
The Pentagon leaked false details about Lynch fighting back fiercely against her captors when she never fired a shot. Critics claimed the administration exaggerated her rescue -- televising the covert raid by commandos -- to boost public morale at a time the U.S. invasion of Iraq appeared bogged down. Lynch later complained, "They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It's wrong."
Here's information about Tillman's death and the Army cover-up:
"What is striking to me is that the two highest-profile soldier cases for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq both were characterized by false stories," said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, who requested the hearing.

"What we're trying to find out is, was this the result of incompetence, miscommunications or a deliberate strategy? In both cases, (the military) used the people involved in a way that put the war in a favorable light as a result of their heroics."
A key focus of Congress' probe will be to determine what role high-level officials in the Pentagon or the White House played in releasing the false information to the public.

Lawmakers plan to seize on a high-priority memo sent five days after Tillman's death to Gen. John Abizaid, then chief of U.S. Central Command, warning that the former NFL safety probably had been killed by friendly fire -- not by the Taliban, as the Army had claimed publicly.

In the memo, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal urged Abizaid to contact "POTUS" -- the president of the United States -- "in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment."

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said the memo suggests that several top administration officials knew a false story was being spread to Tillman's family and the public but did nothing to set the record straight.

"The question is how high does it go? When did they know it and who knew it?" Honda said. "Hopefully Congress will bring that out. I think, along with the Tillmans and Patrick's widow, we and they all deserve the unvarnished truth."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How's the 'Surge' Going? 157 Dead

An Iraqi girl walks past the scene of an explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 18, 2007. A parked car exploded near a private hospital in the central neighborhood of Karradah, killing 11 people and wounding 13, police said. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pew Survey: Most Knowledgeable Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert Report'

A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans' knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989.

Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.

Told that Shia was one group of Muslims struggling in Iraq, only 32% of the total sample could name "Sunni" as the other key group.

The percentage of those who knew their state's governor dropped to 2 in 3. Almost half know that Rep. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House and 2 in 3 know that Condi Rice is secretary of state. But just 29% can identify Scooter Libby, 21% know Robert Gates and 15% can name Sen. Harry Reid.

But nearly 9 in 10 knew about President Bush's troop escalation in Iraq.

Men scored higher than women, and older Americans did better than younger, on average. Democrats and Republicans were about equally represented in the most knowledgeable group but there were more Republicans in the least aware group.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Had Enough?

“The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?”
-Lee Iacocca in his forthcoming book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Request from Iraqi Mothers

Maybe John McCain can help:
Millions of Iraqis are in a "disastrous" situation that is getting worse, with mothers appealing for someone to pick up the bodies littering the street so their children will be spared the horror of looking at them on their way to school, the international Red Cross said yesterday.

"The conflict in Iraq is inflicting immense suffering on the entire population," said a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"Every day dozens of people are killed and many more wounded."

The 13-page report, titled "Civilians Without Protection: the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq," was produced over the past two to three weeks, a spokesperson said.

A Day in the Life of a Nigerian Woman

Check out this photo journal from the BBC: Roadside Chef

Mary Uduru is one of the many Nigerians struggling to live on less than $1 a day, despite the country's vast oil wealth.
Some Nigerians hope their lives will be easier after April's elections.

Mary works from dawn to dusk cooking and selling food on the roadside in the small central town of Makurdi.

Her husband died when she was 26, leaving her to bring up her four children alone. She now cares for three of her grandchildren.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Granny D, 97, Still Fighting for Change

Preaching love and campaign-finance reform, 97-year-old “Granny D” spoke in Chico Monday.Surely one of America’s oldest political activists, Doris “Granny D” Haddock is renowned for promoting her cause by walking across the country when she was 89.

The new laissez-faire philosophy, which she called “neoliberalism,” creates wars and drains money from vital government functions, like police, fire protection, schools and health care, she said.

The solution is publicly funded political campaigns, she suggested. Since politicians depend on big corporations to finance their campaigns, they do the bidding of those companies once they are in office. If the public paid for campaigns, elected officials would really follow the will of the people, she said.

Haddock suggested Americans are “drones” who go to work each day, watch television each night to “receive instructions on what to buy,” then go to sleep to rest up so they can work long hours the next day.

“That’s not freedom by any name,” she said.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iraqis Are Sick of Being Occupied

Yes, this is a hopeful sign of freedom!

Iraqi Shiite supporters of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carry a huge Iraqi flag during an anti-US rally, in the holy city of Najaf. The White House on Monday downplayed anti-US rallies in Iraq and said such demonstrations were a hopeful sign of freedom.(AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye

A Typical Day of News Under George W. Bush

A compilation of the day's news from Truthout:

American Tortured in Iraq Sues Rumsfeld
Donald Vance was falsely accused by the US military of aiding terrorists. He was held without charge for more than three months in a high-security prison in Iraq, and subjected to psychological torture day and night without legal counsel or even a phone call to his family. On Wednesday, the former private security contractor was honored for his ordeal and for speaking out against the incident. In Washington, Vance received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, an award named in memory of Army helicopter gunner Ron Ridenhour, who struggled to bring the horrific mass murders at My Lai to the attention of Congress and the Pentagon during the Vietnam War.

Details of Shocking US Missteps in Iraq
In a rueful reflection on what might have been, an Iraqi government insider details in 500 pages the US occupation's "shocking" mismanagement of his country. A performance so bad that by 2007 Iraqis had "turned their backs on their would-be liberators." "The corroded and corrupt state of Saddam was replaced by the corroded, inefficient, incompetent and corrupt state of the new order," Ali A. Allawi concludes in "The Occupation of Iraq," newly published by Yale University Press.

10 US Troops Die in Iraq; Six on Sunday
Among the 10 US deaths announced Sunday were three soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling south of Baghdad; one killed in an attack south of the capital; and two, who died of combat wounds sustained north of the capital in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces. On Saturday, the military said, another four US soldiers were killed in an explosion near their vehicle in Diyala. At least 3,280 members of the US military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war.

Iraq War Protester Marches to Bush's Ranch
Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan urged Bush to "end this madness" in Iraq on Friday in a march toward Bush's ranch. Sheehan, a vocal protester of the war since her soldier son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, also expressed disappointment with Democrats in charge of the US Congress for failing to stop the war.

Robert Parry | Bush/Cheney Still Lie With Abandon
Robert Parry writes, "What makes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney such extraordinary threats to the future of American democracy is their readiness to tell half-truths and outright lies consistently without any apparent fear of accountability."

The New York Times | Another Layer of Scandal
"As Congress investigates the politicization of the United States attorney offices by the Bush administration, it should review the extraordinary events the other day in a federal courtroom in Wisconsin. The case involved Georgia Thompson, a state employee sent to prison on the flimsiest of corruption charges just as her boss, a Democrat, was fighting off a Republican challenger," writes the New York Times.

US Prisons in Iraq Are Breeding Ground for Extremists
US-run detention camps in Iraq have become a breeding ground for extremists, where Islamic militants recruit and train supporters. Prisons have long served as an incubator for radicals, and mass roundups by the US military after the 2003 invasion are now blamed for antagonizing Iraq's Sunni Arab population and feeding the insurgency.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Soldier, 22, Dies: "I Feel Like We're Fighting Ghosts"

From the SF Chronicle:
Pfc. James Coon was under consideration for a Bronze Star after risking his own life in an attempt to save two wounded Army buddies after their unit was hit by a bomb in Iraq. Now, the honor would have to be awarded posthumously.
Coon, 22, who grew up in Walnut Creek, died in Balad, Iraq, on Wednesday after an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

His death came less than three weeks after his unit was hit by a pair of bombs as it returned from a patrol in Baghdad. On March 15, he ran from his vehicle without protection or a weapon and put tourniquets on two wounded soldiers, but they and four others in the unit died.

"It really disturbed him," his stepmother, Marie Coon, 46, whom Coon considered his mother, said Friday.

In an e-mail to his family a day after the incident, her son wrote, "Everyone is calling me a hero, but all I did was what I thought was right. I wanna come home so bad. I don't wanna play Army any more." But he added, "Ima do what I have to do to stay alive out here, but if I have to, I will risk everything for my buddies out here." Even before then, Coon had told his mother that he didn't believe the military presence was "doing a lot of good," she said.

Coon, a 2003 graduate of Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, enlisted in the Army before his 21st birthday and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He was deployed to Iraq in October.

"I'm very proud of my son," said Jim Coon, 49. "I would like everybody to support our troops." But he added, "I don't support the government and what they're doing with this war. I don't believe the war is right."

Coon said his son recently told him about what he regarded as an unseen enemy: "Dad, I feel like we're fighting ghosts. There's nobody out there to fight."

The couple spoke at their Walnut Creek home Friday as their son's beloved rottweiler, Tyson, sat at their feet. When two Army officials came Wednesday to notify the family about their son's death, Jim Coon said he began shouting and crying, "No, this ain't happening." The dog, who has "not a mean bone in his body," growled menacingly at the men, Jim Coon said.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who requested the report's declassification, said in a written statement that the complete text demonstrates more fully why the inspector general concluded that a key Pentagon office -- run by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith -- had inappropriately written intelligence assessments before the March 2003 invasion alleging connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq that the U.S. intelligence consensus disputed.

The report, in a passage previously marked secret, said Feith's office had asserted in a briefing given to Cheney's chief of staff in September 2002 that the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda was "mature" and "symbiotic," marked by shared interests and evidenced by cooperation across 10 categories, including training, financing and logistics.

Instead, the report said, the CIA had concluded in June 2002 that there were few substantiated contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and Iraqi officials and had said that it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

MLK: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Martin Luther King gave this speech on April 4, 1967, a year before he was murdered:
If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under the new regime, which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task: while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment, we must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible.

These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Now, there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another Soldier Coming to Terms with the Lies

“I’m sick of seeing yellow ribbons and ‘support our troops’ bumper stickers. They mean nothing. This idea that anti-war is anti-troops is completely backwards. Bush has been more detrimental to our Constitution that anything else.”
-Iraq war veteran Fabian Bouthillette
A cadre of enthusiastic youngsters carrying homemade banners and balloons called for an end to the Iraq war this weekend in a kid-centric “peace parade” stretching from the playgrounds of Carroll Park to the arch at Grand Army Plaza.”Money for schools, not for war,” the children shouted from their Razor scooters and inline skates as they moved up Union Street. “Impeach Bush.”

Adults from Midwood to Park Slope including members of Brooklyn Parents for Peace, First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn, the New York State Green Party and a drum corps called The Himalayas accompanied the kids, filling three-quarters of the block between Smith Street and 3rd Avenue at the outset of the march.

One Carroll Gardens mom said that her 10, 9 and seven-year-old children knew “quite a bit about the war” and that she was worried about what effect the conflict is having on them.

“They talk about it at school,” she said. “They see it in the newspaper, they see it on TV. I don’t know if they understand all the difficulties involved in it, but I think it’s hard to portray war as good for kids.”

At Sixth Avenue, onlookers outside the Union Market applauded and cheered on the children while moms on porches unfurled banners denouncing the Bush agenda.

Automobile horns and joggers flashing peace signs greeted the marchers at 7th Avenue.

By the time the procession reached 8th Avenue, the kids were shouting “Stop the war now, we want our money back.”

Local dad Floris Verschoor walked behind his son, Nick, at the head of the parade and hoped his boy wouldn’t enter his teen years with the war in Iraq still ranging.

“There’s no reason for our troops to be over there,” he said.

At Grand Army Plaza, the kids formed something of their own “mosh pit of peace” dancing with drummers and chanting “We need forests, not a Bush.”

Iraq war veteran Fabian Bouthillette looked out over all the peace signs stenciled on helium balloons and kid-crafted slogans like “Iraqi Children Make Peace” and “War Is The Opposite Of Life,” and addressed the crowd.

“I get choked up seeing all these kids,” said Bouthillette, now a teacher in Manhattan. “Seeing these kids is energizing. It’s all I need to keep going.”

A member of Iraq War Veterans Against the War, Bouthillette said he was studying at the naval academy when war broke out and was later stationed on a destroyer in the Arabian Gulf where three of his shipmates were killed by suicide bombers.

“I’m sick of seeing yellow ribbons and ‘support our troops’ bumper stickers,” he said. “They mean nothing. This idea that anti-war is anti-troops is completely backwards. Bush has been more detrimental to our Constitution that anything else.”

The Iraq war veteran blasted the billions of U.S. dollars already poured into the conflict - 10 percent of which he charged could have been used to restore hurricane ravaged New Orleans.

One of the hardest things he’s ever had to come to grips with, Bouthillette revealed was, “coming to believe” that George Bush - his commander-in-chief - had lied to him about the war.

Demonstrations like the one that occurred this weekend in Brooklyn make it easier for others service men and women like him to speak out, Bouthillette said.

City Councilmember David Yassky urged those opposed to the war to continue pressuring their elected officials in Washington, D.C. to stop it and bring the troops home.

“The war was a mistake from the beginning, and it is a fiasco now,” he said. “Every American soldier sent from here on is a tragedy.”

Assemblymember Joan Millman and City Councilmember Bill de Blasio also lent their support to the peace parade.

Reps. Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velazquez, however, faced a rough time addressing a crowd unhappy about their support of the latest supplemental spending bill that allocates more money for the war.

But the representatives maintained that the vote was necessary to avoid giving President Bush a “blank check” and empowering Republicans in Congress.

Still, chorus after chorus of “impeach Bush” went up from the crowd.

Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the New York State Green Party, said that Republicans would oppose Democrats no matter what so “Why not stand up for something that really has meaning?”

Fourteen Democrats did oppose this latest round of funding for the war, including New York Rep. Michael McNulty.

Brooklyn Parents for Peace co-founder Carolyn Eisenberg blamed “Republicans and moderate Democrats” like Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton for putting Democratic opponents of the war in a tough position.

“They believe it is good policy to threaten war with Iran,” she said. “We don’t need baby steps. We need giant steps to end this war.”

Velazquez, who voted against the war as well as the PATRIOT Act, argued that for the first time since Bush took office Democrats have the “power of the gavel” and are providing oversight of the administration.

Eisenberg jeered Bush, saying that the president’s insistence of war in Iraq was “delaying the time when that country can heal.”

“Permanent war is not acceptable,” she said.

Local mom and peace parade organizer Helen Selsdon closed out the event quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Monday, April 02, 2007

Stretched Army Sends Troops Back to Iraq

For just the second time since the war began, the Army is sending large units back to Iraq without giving them at least a year at home, defense officials said Monday. The move signaled how stretched the U.S. fighting force has become.

A Monstrous War Crime

From the Guardian:
With more than 650,000 civilians dead in Iraq, our government must take responsibility for its lies.

Conservative Phyllis Schlafly: Women Cannot Be Sexually Assaulted By Their Husbands

Pro-choice Republicans aren't happy with the extreme wing of their party.
Phyllis Schlafly, mouthpiece for the extreme right wing, is at it again. Speaking recently at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, Schlafly revealed the extent of her radically extreme beliefs. Schlafly attempted to turn the clock back 50 years with statements like, "Women in combat are a hazard to other people around them. They aren't tall enough to see out of the trucks, they're not strong enough to carry their buddy off the battlefield if he's wounded, and they can't bark out orders loudly enough for everyone to hear."

She went on to argue that married women cannot be sexually assaulted by their husbands saying, "By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape." Ms. Schlafly further stated that a woman cannot have a career and raise a family at the same time.

Sadly, this is the same Phyllis Schlafly who works the halls of every Republican Convention like it is her own personal garden party. She is welcomed with open arms by many RNC members who proudly promote so many of her fanatical views as Republican gospel.

As real Republicans we want to set the record straight that Ms. Schlafly represents a small extreme minority and NOT the majority of Republicans. As we head into this most important election cycle do GOP leaders really want to hold Ms. Schlafly up as a true representation of the GOP? Let's end the pandering to the extremes and stop giving them a soapbox from which to perpetuate their out of touch beliefs. It's time to stand up for the real Republican Majority, promote compromise, common ground and common sense, and then maybe we just might win back the trust of American voters.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Former Bush Aide: "Kerry Was Right"

Guilt hurts. Bush's inner circle will have to live with it for years to come:
In 1999, Matthew Dowd became a symbol of George W. Bush’s early success at positioning himself as a Republican with Democratic appeal.

A top strategist for the Texas Democrats who was disappointed by the Bill Clinton years, Mr. Dowd was impressed by the pledge of Mr. Bush, then governor of Texas, to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington. He switched parties, joined Mr. Bush’s political brain trust and dedicated the next six years to getting him to the Oval Office and keeping him there. In 2004, he was appointed the president’s chief campaign strategist.

Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.

In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.

“I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things,” he said. He added, “I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.”

In speaking out, Mr. Dowd became the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.

He said his decision to step forward had not come easily. But, he said, his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s presidency is so great that he feels a sense of duty to go public given his role in helping Mr. Bush gain and keep power.

Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled “Kerry Was Right,” arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Lt. Col. Andrew Horne's Response to Bush's Radio Address

Listen here.