The Marc Steiner Show

Archive for Iraq

From The Archives: Immigrants, Refugees & Asylum Seekers Share Art and Recipes In ‘Kitchen Stories’

Kitchen Stories (Photo Credit: Kitchen Stories Project on Facebook)September 24, 2015 – Segment 2

We’re joined by Baltimore artist Julie Lin, who tells us about her project, “Kitchen Stories”, which has brought together groups of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, to create art, share recipes, and cook. One of the Kitchen Stories participants, Enas, joins us, as well.

 


Islamic State Update

ISSeptember 3, 2014 – Segment 4

We return to our analysis of the Islamic State, which just released a video apparently depicting the beheading of another American journalist with: Dr. Steven David, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College.

 LINK


Katrina Vanden Heuvel on National and International Politics

katrina-vanden-huevel-katrinanationJuly 10, 2014 – Segment 2

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of The Nation, offers her political analysis on current national and international news events.

LINK


Update On Iraq

ISISJune 17, 2014 – Segment 2

Dr. Thabit A.J. Abdullah, Associate Professor of Middle East History and Associate Dean for External Relations at York University, Toronto, offers his insightful analysis of the current situation in Iraq.

LINK


A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal

March 19, 2014 – Segment 4

We meet Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal. They were arrested along the border between Iraq and Iran in 2009. They were accused by the Iranian authorities of being spies, though no evidence was ever presented to support that claim. Sarah Shourd was released 14 months later, and Bauer and Fattal were released in September 2011.

The three hikers have just published a new book, A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran, and will speak Saturday night at 7:30 at Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Avenue in Baltimore. For more information, visit redemmas.org.

LINK


Political Complexity in the Middle East: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt

IraqJanuary 7, 2014 – Segment 3

We begin the day with a roundtable on the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. Our panel of guests are:

  • Dr. Thabit A.J. Abdullah, Associate Professor of Middle East History & Associate Dean for External Relations at York University, Toronto;
  • Dr. Adil Shamoo, Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and Senior Analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus;
  • Dr. Steven David, Professor of Political Science and Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education at Johns Hopkins University;
  • and Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

LINK


Peace Activist Kathy Kelly

kathy_kelly

December 30, 2013 – Segment 2

We’re joined for a special conversation with peace activist Kathy Kelly. She is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end economic sanctions against Iraq. Kathy Kelly and her companions helped send over 70 delegations to Iraq, from 1996 to 2003, in open defiance of the economic sanctions. She lived in Iraq during the 2003 U.S. invasion and initial weeks of the U.S. Occupation. Kelly has been involved in numerous nonviolent campaigns to end war, some of which have involved lengthy imprisonment.  As a war tax refuser, she has refused all forms of federal income tax since 1981.

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U.S. Army Soldier Bradley Manning’s Trial Starts Monday

Bradley Manning Trial starts MondayMay 30, 2013 – Segment 2

Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Director, and Kevin Zeese, co-director of ItsOurEconomy.US and member of the Steering Committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network, update us on the trial starting next week for US Army soldier Bradley Manning, who was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of handing over classified Army documents to whistle blower Wikileaks.

 

 


10-Year Anniversary Of The Iraq War

Iraq Ten Years Later

March 19, 2013 – Hour 2

We reflect on the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the country. Joining us are:

  • Dr. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and author of the forthcoming The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East;
  • Dr. Adil Shamoo, professor and former chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Senior Analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus;
  • Dr. Richard Vatz, professor in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University, and regular contributor to Red Maryland;
  • and Dr. Thabit Abdullah, associate professor in the Department of History at York University in Toronto, and author of A Short History of Iraq: From 636 to the Present.

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Shane Bauer On Solitary Confinement

February 7, 2013 – Segment 1

We sit down with Shane Bauer, an independent journalist based in Oakland who wrote an article about solitary confinement for Mother Jones titled “Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside American Prisons.”

Bauer was one of three hikers detained by Iranian authorities at the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and held for over two years, with four months in solitary confinement.

 

 

 

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Veterans Day: Shawna Foster and Emily Yates

November 12, 2012 – Segment 3

In honor of Veterans Day, we speak with US National Guard veteran Shawna Foster and US Army veteran Emily Yates.They are part of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which, along with the Civilian Soldier Alliance, recently held its annual convention in Baltimore. We spoke to them about their experiences in the service, the challenges that women face in the military, and the Right to Heal campaign, which seeks to keep traumatized service members from deploying.


September 11, 2012 – Segment 2

We turn to a reflection on the events and after-effects of 9/11. Where have the consequences of that day taken the U.S. and the rest of the world in the past 11 years? Our guests are Charles “Sam” Faddis, former CIA agent, novelist, and author of the book, Operation Hotel California: the Clandestine War Inside Iraq, and Bill Fletcher, Editorial Board member and columnist for BlackCommentator.com and a Senior Scholar for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.


August 29, 2012 – Hour 2

A recent report showed that suicides among our active duty troops doubled in one month, with 12 suicides in June and 26 in July. Every 36 hours a veteran from Iraq or Afganistan kills themselves. Eighteen veterans from all wars commit suicide each day.

We take a critical look at the rising rate of military suicides and discuss what is being done to help our men and women in service. We are joined by:


July 17, 2012 – Segment 3

Join us for an Urbanite Radio story with Dario DiBattista, an Iraq War Veteran and author of the memoir Go Now, You Are Forgiven.

You can read Rafael Alvarez’s profile of Dario in Urbanite Magazine.


May 28, 2012 – Hour 2

In honor of Memorial Day, we’re rebroadcasting a conversation between Marc and Woody Curry from last October.  It was shortly after President Obama announced that the US was withdrawing its soldiers from Iraq, and the conversation ranged from the problems facing veterans on their return home, to the culture of the military, to the place of war in our society.

Woody Curry is a Vietnam veteran and is Clinical and Associate Executive Director of the Baltimore Station.


May 22, 2012 – Segment 4

Iraq Veteran Against the War member Maggie Martin joins us to speak about her participation in a protest outside the NATO summit in which she and other veterans threw their medals away.


May 17, 2012 – Hour 2

Captain Paul K. Chappell is a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Iraq War. He is also a soldier turned peace leader. Paul Chappell joins us to talk about his book Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity’s Survival.


May 15, 2012 – Segment 3

Join us for an Urbanite Radio story with Dario DiBattista, an Iraq War Veteran and author of the memoir Go Now, You Are Forgiven.

You can read Rafael Alvarez’s profile of Dario in this month’s Urbanite Magazine.


May 10, 2012 – Hour 2

Captain Paul K. Chappell is a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Iraq War. He is also a soldier turned peace leader. Paul Chappell joins us to talk about his book Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity’s Survival.


May 3, 2012 – Hour 1

We’re joined by Captain Paul Chappell, a 2002 graduate of West Point who served in the army for 7 years, including active duty in Iraq.  He is the author of the recently published book Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity’s Survival, and he joins us to discuss his own experiences as a soldier, and his belief in the necessity and practicality of waging peace.

March 20, 2012 – Hour 1

We discuss the tragic civilian massacre of March 11th, in which at least 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children, were killed. US Army staff sergeant Robert Bales is suspected of carrying out the killing spree. Three military veterans and one journalist join us this hour.  Our guests are Woody Curry, Vietnam veteran and Associate Executive Director of the Baltimore Station, former Army sergeant Chuck Luther, who served in Iraq, Graham Clumpner, who served in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger and is now an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War, and investigative reporter Joshua Kors, who has covered veterans’ issues extensively for the Nation magazine.


December 22, 2011 – Hour 1

The past decade has seen great change throughout the Arab world, and the United States has played a large role throughout.  From 9/11, to the wars in Aghanistan and Iraq, to the political upheaval in the Middle East and beyond over the past year, we’ll take a look at this recent history and where it leaves us today, four days after the last US troops left Iraq.

Our guests are Adil Shamoo, Senior Analyst at Foreign Policy in Focus, Thabit Abdullah, Professor of History at York University in Toronto, Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Robert Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Baltimore Hebrew University.


November 8, 2011 – Segment 2

As the United States prepares to withdraw troops from Iraq, we discuss the legacy of US involvement there.  Joining us are:
Peter Van Buren, a career State Department official, who served for a year in Iraq and is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
Dr. Adil Shamoo, an Iraqi native, who is a senior analyst at Foreign Policy in Focus

October 26, 2011 – Hour 1

Followinig President Obama’s announcement that the US will withdraw its soldiers from Iraq by the end of the year, we look at issues that face veterans, including substance abuse and mental health problems stemming from the trauma of war, as they return home. Our guest is Woody Curry, Vietnam veteran and Clinical and Associate Executive Director of the Baltimore Station.


September 21, 2011 – Segment 2

Join us for a discussion with local activists who are working to stop funding the wars and start funding our communities.  They are organizing a town hall next Monday, September 26, from 7 – 9 pm at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on Charles Street and University Parkway.
Joining us are:
Max Obuszewski – Member of the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore for 10 years
Charlie Cooper – Baltimore activist who helped found the Baltimore Ecomomic Crisis Response Network
Cindy Farquhar – Works with Fund Our Communities and has worked with Iraq Pledge of Resistance for 10 years

August 29, 2011 – Hour 2

Ryan Conklin, former Real World Brooklyn cast member and Army Veteran that was twice deployed to Iraq, joins us today to discuss his new book An Angel From Hell: Real Life on the Front Lines.

This show is a rebroadcast.  Click here to listen to the rebroadcast.


June 28, 2011 – Segment 3

James Risen is a New York Times national security reporter who uncovered some of the biggest stories during the years of the Bush Administration, including the waterboarding of detainees in Iraq and the secret NSA spying program.  The Obama administration has continued to subpoena Risen to reveal his anonymous sources, which he has refused to do, and which could lead to jail time for the reporter.

We’re joined by Conor Friedersdorf, associate editor at The Atlantic and founding editor of The Best of Journalism, for a discussion about James Risen. Friedersdorf wrote the article Obama Has Finally Become Dick Cheney on theatlantic.com.

 


May 18, 2011 – Segment 3

Happy New Year is a new dramatic film about a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who returns home and attempts to heal from mental and physical injuries in a psychiatric ward at a remote Veterans Hospital.  Members of the cast and crew stopped by our studios to discuss the film and the difficulty of reentering civilian life.
Joining us are:

Lorrel Manning, Writer/Director/Producer of Happy New Year

Michael Cuomo, who plays Staff Sgt Cole Lewis

Joseph Harrell, the film’s Military Advisor/Associate Producer

Join Lorrel, Michale, and Joseph for a sneak preview screening of the film tomorrow, Thursday, May 19th, at 6:45pm at the Charles Theater.  The event benefits  Maryland Veterans.


March 28, 2011 – Hour 2

The first few months of 2011 have been marked by conflict, revolution, and uprising in the Middle East. Conflicts occuring in Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Syria have become an increased news focus in America. Marc continues this discussion today with guests:

 

Ali Zaghab – Palestinian born local businessman

Steven David – Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University

Thabit Abdulah – Professor of History at York University in Toronto, and author of Dictatorship, Imperialism, & Chaos: Iraq Since 1989.


February 14, 2011 – Hour 1

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from his position over the weekend, causing a victorious uproar in Egypt and around the world. We speak with Maryland residents of Egyptian descent or who lived in Egypt about their take on Mubarak’s resignation and the future of Egypt. 

Our guests are Najwa Al Amin, an artist who lived in Cairo and is originally from Iraq, Sondos Awad, a Baltimore resident, from Egypt, Dr. Khalid Metwally, a dentist and resident at the University of Maryland Medical School, Ahmed Gharib, a student at UMBC, and Sarah Abaza, a student at Johns Hopkins.


October 18, 2010 – Segment 3

Zainab Al-Suwaij is the founder and Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress.  She was one of the few women to join the failed 1991 intifada uprising against Saddam Hussein, and now lives in the United States and promotes inter-faith understanding and women’s equality.  She joins us in studio to discuss her work and her perspective on the ongoing conflict in Iraq.


October 18, 2010 – Segment 2

We’re joined by Haneen Alshujairy, who fled her home in Iraq with her family in 2003, and Justin Sirois, a writer living here in Baltimore.  They are the co-founders of the Understanding Campaign, which seeks to teach everyone in the world one word of Arabic.  Fhm (fuh-hem’), literally means understanding. Their hope is that by learning one simple word, people can begin to bridge the gulf between Arab and Western cultures.

Read Michael Corbin’s piece about the Understanding Campaign, One Word at at Time,  in this month’s Urbanite Magazine.


October 7, 2010 – Hour 2

Today is the 9th Anniversary of the Afghanistan War.  As the war stretches on and more and more troops are required, it has become common practice for the United States to redeploy members of the military who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma.  We’re joined by Maggie Martin from Iraq Veterans Against the War to discuss their new campaign to end the practice of sending these wounded veterans back into war zones
Then, when we look at a beautiful painting, what happens to our brain?  How can architects combine an aesthetic sense of what will look good in a particular space with their knowledge of engineering?  What does poetry tell us about how our minds use language?  We tackle all that and more in this hour, when we talk to some of the participants in the upcoming The Science of the Arts speakers series.  The series will take place on October 20th and 21st at the Walters Art Museum, the Visionary Art Museum, and The Baltimore Museum of Art.  For more information, click here.
Our panel is:
Susan Magsamen, Co-director of the Neuro-Education Initiative at Johns Hopkins University
David Hess, a sculptor
Ed Connor, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University
David Foster, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University
Barbara Landau, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University

September 2, 2010 – Segment 1

President Obama has announced the formal end of the combat mission in Iraq, but what does that really mean in terms of day-to-day life for Americans and Iraqis?  Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies joins us to discuss her take on the situation in Iraq, and the way forward.


September 1, 2010 – Segment 3

Iraqi-American independent journalist Emad Ashour Alkhafaji speaks to us from Baghdad to update us on public sentiment in Iraq after President Obama declared the end of the US combat role in Iraq in his address from the Oval Office last night.


June 24, 2010 – Segment 3

Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, both radical scholars and former members of the Weather Undeground, joined us to discuss activism and the work they do in Chicago.

Then, we’re joined by Iraq Veterans Josh Stieber and Conor Curran, and Salam Talib, a refugee from Iraq.  Together they embarked on a speaking tour of the United States to advocate for a more peaceful world.  Learn more about their trip, The People’s Journey, here.


June 14, 2010 – Segment 3

Yesterday Baltimore City Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba, wanted in the fatal shooting of Iraq War veteran Tyrone Brown, turned himself in to city authorities.  Tshamba fired 13 bullets at Brown after the two men were involved in a fight outside a Mt. Vernon bar.  We discuss the case with A. F. James MacArthur, Contributing Editor and Crime Correspondent for the Investigative Voice, and Douglas Colbert, Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

April 26, 2010 – Hour 1

We begin the show with another trip to the University of Maryland Hospital to  visit the Center for Advanced Fetal Care.   Dr. Chris Harman talks about how the care care of pregnant women has changed and improved.

Then, we speak again with journalist Joshua Kors.  He wrote "Disposable Soldiers" the cover story of this week’s issue of The Nation Magazine.  The article follows soldiers who are dismissed with "personality disorder," which means that they are denied important long-term benefits.  Joining us were two soldiers who were both diagnosed with personality disorder.  The first, Chuck Luther, is a former army sergeant who served for twelve years.  He’s founder and Executive Director of Disposable Warriors Soldiers’ Advocacy GroupEthan McCord, who spoke to us two weeks ago about the Wikileaks video controversy, joined us again to discuss his discharge with personality disorder.  He served in the Navy from 2002 – 2005, and then transferred to the U.S. Army, where he served in Iraq and was injured in an IED attack.

To read Joshua Kors’ continuing coverage of this issue, click here.

To join the Disposable Warriors facebook page, click here.

Also, click here for the "Stop Personality Disorder Discharges for our Wounded Soldiers" facebook page.


April 13, 2010- segment 2

During the second segment we continue our discussion of the WikiLeaks video controversy.  The video, which was released last week, shows numerous people, including a Reuters journalist and his driver, being killed by shots from a US Army helicopter in Iraq in July 2007.  Today, we were joined by two veterans from the unit involved in this incident, Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, who is shown in the video carrying wounded children from a van.  


April 7, 2010 – Segment 3

Ryan Conklin, former Real World Brooklyn cast member and Army Veteran that was twice deployed to Iraq, joins us today to discuss his new book An Angel From Hell: Real Life on the Front Lines.


April 7, 2010 segment 1

During the first segment we talked about the video that was leaked by the Wikileaks website that showed a helicopter firing on civilians and two Reuters journalists in Iraq. We are joined by Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on U.S. security policy in the middle east and south asia.  

 


March 8 2010 – hour 2

Baltimore County residents LaGina and Tom Facinoli were part of a successful suit against ExxonMobil after a spill from a nearby gas station contaminated their well.  Last week the Maryland Department of the Environment ruled that Exxon no longer has to monitor some residential wells for contaminants.  We discuss the controversial ruling with the Facinolis and with Jason Timoll, associate with Snyder & Snyder, who was a lawyer for the residents in last year’s trial.
In the second hour we discuss the intersection of military service, rap music, and the First Amendment.  Soldier Marc Hall had served two tours of duty in Iraq when his service was involuntarily extended.  After sending an angry and explicit rap song to his chain of command, and then filing as a conscientious objector Marc Hall is now awaiting trial for endangering fellow officers.  Our guest Jeff Patterson was the first active duty military resister in the Persian Gulf War, and now works with Courage to Resist, and organization that helps conscientious objectors.
You can hear Marc’s song, sign a petition, and learn more here.

March 8 2010 – hour 1

The Oscars were last night, and a bit of Hollywood
comes to the Marc Steiner Show on the first hour of today’s show as we
discuss this year’s awards.  After a night of so many firsts – first
woman awarded Best Director, first African American awarded Best Screenplay – our guests take on questions like what Precious means for the African American community, how Hurt Locker portrays the Iraq war, and more.
Ann Hornaday is the film critic for the Washington Post
Ishmael Reed is an author, poet, and jazz pianist. His new book, "Barack Obama and the Jim Crow
Media" will be published next month.  He’s the co-producer with Steve Cannon of the cult movie classic, "Personal Problems."

January 28, 2010 – Segment 1

Last night, President Obama gave his first State of the Union Address to the nation. The speech highlighted many issues facing Americans, including the economy, healthcare reform, civil rights issues and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tonight, Marc and Anthony McCarthy, host of WEAA’s own Anthony McCarthy Show, assemble a panel to discuss the address.

We’ll hear from:


January 26, 2010 – Hour 2

We talk with author, U.S. Marine Infantry Veteran and director of Ronin Counterterrorism LLC, Mike Tucker. Marc discusses his newest book, Bring the Heat, as well as his deep concern for our troops. Tucker is the author of several other books, including Long Rifle, Among Warriors in Iraq, and co-author of Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq.

For the second part of the hour, we get a report from Sundance from the director of the Maryland Film FestivalJed Dietz. Check out Jed’s blog here.


November 9, 2009 – Hour 1

We’re joined by Russ Baker, investigative journalist and author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America and Charles Faddis, retired CIA Operations Officer and author of Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq.  We discuss Russ’ recent article "What Obama is Up Against."

Later in the hour, we’re joined by David Riggs, Executive Director of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University.


October 19, 2009 – Hour 1

Anthony McCarthy co-hosts with Marc today, and Cornel West joins us to discuss his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

Then, with a decision of how many more troops the US will send to Afghanistan pending, we take a look at US foreign policy there.  Our guest is Phyllis Bennis, who is working on a book about the war in Afghanistan.  She’s also the author of Ending the Iraq War and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis, as well as the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


September 22, 2009 – Hour 2

In the second half of today’s show, we journey to Baghdad to learn about the ways that the American invasion changed the daily lives of ordinary citizens.  Filmmaker Ziad Jazzaa and impressionist painter Shakir Alousi are both refugees from the Iraqi capital who now live in Baltimore.  Ziad Jazzaa’s new online film, Hometown Baghdad, follows three young Iraqis whose hopes for an ordinary life were shattered by the invasion.  Alousi’s work explores the realities of life in a war torn country.  With Sawsan Al-Sayyab from the Baltimore office of the International Rescue Committee translating, they joined Marc to talk about their work, their new life in Baltimore, and the future of the creative arts in post-invasion Iraq.

This Thursday join Ziad Jazzaa, Shakir Alousi, and other refugees from Iraq at the Creative Alliance for a screening of Hometown Baghdad, an exhibition of Alousi’s paintings, and an Iraqi food tasting.  You can watch Hometown Baghdad here.


September 3, 2009 – Hour 1

We take a look at current events in Afghanistan, as the recent election continues to be disputed, and the US military approaches the last month of their eighth year of war there.

We’re joined by:

Phyllis Bennis – Author of the 2008 book Ending the Iraq War: A Primer

Devin Hagerty – Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at UMBC


August 17, 2009 – Hour 2

We begin our second hour with an in-progress continuation of our conversation with Anthony McCarthy about youth violence and possible solutions for our community.

Next, Phyllis Bennis comments on the speech President Obama gave to the VFW convention in Phoenix this morning. Phyllis Bennis is the author of Ending the Iraq War: A Primer.

Finally, a planned screening of Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, the most expensive pornographic film ever made, caused state lawmakers to threaten pulling $424 million in funding from the University of Maryland.  Now, the University is faced with trying to create an official policy regarding the showing of pornographic materials on campus.

Marc speaks with Aaron Titus from the Maryland Coalition against Pornography and Robert O’Neill, a constitutional scholar from the University of Virginia, and director of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.


August 13, 2009 – Hour 2

In our second hour, Marc is joined by three Iraqi-American guests to discuss the current state of Iraq. Adil Shamoo, born and raised in Baghdad, is currently a senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, Iraqi-American Sami Al Banna, architect of complex technology systems, with experience in socio-economic development and the use of technology for accelerating change, and Tareq Ismael, professor of political science at the University of Calgary, president of the International Centre for Contemporary Middle East studies, and editor of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi studies join in on the discussion.


July 15, 2009 – Hour 2

It’s no mystery that the United States healthcare system is ailing. About 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Vets returning from Iraq struggle to receive sufficient treatment for the physical and mental tolls taken on them during deployment. Unexpected medical bills contributed significantly to the house foreclosure crisis. Millions of families around the country are struggling under the weight of climbing healthcare expenses, sometimes even when they have coverage.
Today, Marc broadcasts live from the main campus of Sheppard-Pratt Health System, in Towson. In our live panel, we had Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Steven S. Sharfstein, President and CEO of Sheppard-Pratt Hospital System; State Senator Dolores Kelly and former Maryland Governor, Bob Ehrlich. They discussed the ways they’d like to see the system revamped, the possibilities for change in a new presidential administration and debate the impact of healthcare expenses on employers.

This show is a rebroadcast. Click here to listen to the podcast on the original show page.


June 25, 2009 – Hour 2

First, we’ll speak with Baltimore artist Julie Lin about her project Kitchen Stories, which has brought together groups of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, to create art, share recipes, and cook.

One of the Kitchen Stories participants, Enas, joins us, as well.  Enas and her husband left Baghdad out of fear for their lives during the war in Iraq.  They fled to Syria, and then received help to relocate to Baltimore.

Julie will be giving a talk about Kitchen Stories this Saturday June 27th at 2pm at The Library Project at 1401 Light Street in Baltimore.

On July 25th there will be a closing reception for Kitchen Stories, featuring a potluck of international dishes, also at The Library Project.

Then, labor leader and auto industry veteran General Baker joins us to discuss the auto crisis.  Read what he’s written about the struggling auto industry here.


June 1, 2009 – Hour 1

Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan, joins us this hour to discuss his new book Engaging The Muslim World.  We’ll discuss withdrawing US troops from Iraq, escalating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine, and more.  Check out Juan Cole’s website for his insightful analysis of world affairs.


December 2, 2008

The terror attacks that rocked Mumbai last week reminded everyone that terrorism is still a very present threat.  How will the global War on Terror be changed by an Obama administration?  What have we learned from the failures and successes of the past seven years?

 Marc spoke with Charles "Sam" Faddis, a retired CIA officer as well as author of the book Hotel California: The Clandestine War in Iraq; Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Senior Advisor at the State Department; and Tahir Shad, an associate professor of Political Science and  International Studies at Washington College.


November 11, 2008

It’s no mystery that the United States healthcare system is ailing. About 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Vets returning from Iraq struggle to receive sufficient treatment for the physical and mental tolls taken on them during deployment. Unexpected medical bills contributed significantly to the house foreclosure crisis. Millions of families around the country are struggling under the weight of climbing healthcare expenses, sometimes even when they have coverage.
Today, Marc broadcasts live from the main campus of Sheppard-Pratt Health System, in Towson. In our live panel, we had Sen. Barbara Mikulski; Steven S. Sharfstein, President and CEO of Sheppard-Pratt Hospital System; State Senator Dolores Kelly and former Maryland Governor, Bob EhrlichThey discussed the ways they’d like to see the system revamped, the possibilities for change in a new presidential administration and debate the impact of healthcare expenses on employers.

October 28, 2008

In July of 2002, 8 Americans crossed the Harburr River from Turkey into Kurdistan. Their mission? To strike and kill Al-Qaeda, and take down Saddam Hussein’s Baathist dictatorship.

Charles “Sam” Faddis was the leader of that operation. In a new book written with Mike Tucker, he delivers a blistering indictment of the national security blunders made by the Bush administration-and for the first time, tells the story of that operation, which had profound consequences for the Iraq War. He joined Marc live in studio.

We also spoke with Baltimore Councilwoman Helen Holton, who is introducing a resolution to seek an update from the Baltimore City Police Department on the investigation into who killed former Councilman Ken Harris. Councilwoman Holton said that the council needs to regain a “sense of urgency” about the murder problem in Baltimore.

The Marc Steiner Show airs at 5 p.m. each Monday-Thursday, and you can be part of the show by calling (410) 319-8888 or emailing us at steinershow@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your questions and ideas!


October 15, 2008

In the beginning, many pundits predicted that race could cost  Senator Obama the election.  Too many people had strong prejudices against African Americans, conventional wisdom went, to elect a black man as president.

But Slate.com reporter Chris Beam says that for various reasons, Obama’s race may actually help him in this election.  From the economy to racists’ belief in Obama’s exceptionalism, Beam says there are plenty of reasons that those who dislike blacks in general will go to the polls in support of Obama-and why this does not necessarily represent a victory over racism.  Chris Beam joined Marc by phone.

And then, we discussed the Winter Soldier hearings that are taking place in Baltimore this weekend.  Veterans of Iraq will be coming to Baltimore to share their stories and discuss why they are now against the war.  We spoke with Trey Kindlinger, an organizer of this event who is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Fort Meade Chapter, and Brian Casler, the NE Regional Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We also heard stunning, horrific testimony from the March 2008 Winter Soldier event in Silver Spring.

 

Note: Due to a technical error, the first few seconds of the broadcast were not recorded.  Our apologies.



October 2, 2008

We opened tonight with a short conversation with David Rocah, an ACLU attorney, about recent developments in the case of police spying on non-violent, anti-war activist groups.

For the rest of our program, Marc and a telephone panel discussed the veteran benefits scandal, the many hardships our vets have encountered in obtaining needed support from the VA, and the role the current financial crisis will take in the availablity of veteran’s care in the future.

 Our panel included: 

  • Joshua Kors, an investigative reporter at The Nation Magazine, winner of the National Magazine Award & George Polk Awards among others for his work uncovering the veterans benefits scandal last year.
  • Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans For Common Sense.
  • Sergeant Juan Jimenez, a veteran who served in Iraq who is now part of the lawsuit against the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

 


Remembering Lucille Robinson

Deborah Sarsgard introduced us to Lucille Robinson, a grandmother in Baltimore who was raising a house full of grandchildren on her own.  We had Lucille and some other grandparent caregivers discuss their lives and the challenges they faced on The Marc Steiner Show.  Then we decided to spend more time with Lucille, and the interviews we recorded became the first three episodes of Just Words.  We’d like to thank Deborah for sharing some of her thoughts and memories of Lucille with us, which you can read  by clicking here.

Lucille Robinson was my hero and her death, although not entirely unexpected, leaves me with a mixed bag of feelings: profound gratitude that she allowed me to enter her life yet deep anger at the systems that forced her to expend her dwindling energy fighting just to subsist.  During the six years I was a social worker with the Grandparents Family Connections program, I worked closely with Lucille and the grandchildren she was raising.  Her grace, feistiness, earthy elegance, and compassion will always remain with me.  She was my teacher about the human spirit, my inspiration, and my dear friend. 

Baltimore should be putting up banners honoring Lucille and all the other grandparents who are raising the city’s children.  Instead, every obstacle imaginable was placed in her path from the day she got the call from the Department of Social Services that the first grandchild she took in was about to be placed in foster care.  She did not hesitate for a second to take him in or to answer the calls to pick up the next five grandchildren.  They were turned over to her without as much as a can of formula or a box of diapers.  She went through the arduous process of becoming a foster parent (an option denied most grandparent caregivers who take the children directly from DSS rather than through the courts) so she would have enough money to meet their basic needs, but was soon disqualified because her home—like most in inner-city neighborhoods–did not pass the agency’s inspection.  Her food stamps were constantly cut off because she did not attend reconsideration hearings (the letter would arrive two days after the hearing was scheduled).  Even when she was tethered to an oxygen tank, she’d have to spend an entire day at DSS waiting to see a worker, to be told the mistake would be corrected the next month (and what were the children to eat until then?).  I went with her whenever I could and we talked about how differently she was treated when a white professional woman was with her.  She was profoundly aware of classism and racism, yet never expressed bitterness.  She believed “we reap what we sow.”

It was much the same story with her medical care.  Somehow she had been convinced to sign up for a Medicare opt-out HMO plan.  The doctors who had the expertise to treat her lung disease and might have prolonged her life would not accept this plan and few of the drugs she needed were covered.  Once again, it was only when I was able to accompany her to medical visits that a token effort was made to ease some of her symptoms.  She saw one of these doctors the day she died and was told she was “fine”; she knew she wasn’t.  These doctors could have learned so much about the resiliency of the human spirit and the wisdom that comes from a life of struggle had they looked up from their files into the face of the human being before them and listened to her story.  Had they only “seen” her, I know they would have at least tried to save her life.

I will never forget how excited Lucille was when Marc and Jessica came to interview her for “Just Words.”  She could not believe that her humble life was “newsworthy.”  I will always remember, as well, the outpouring of kindness from the Baltimore community that followed the three broadcasts.  Jessica asked me if I would be the intermediary for those who wanted to make holiday donations to the family.  I drove all around the city and county picking up donations and met up with people in mall parking lots and pizza parlors to collect gift baskets and envelopes stuffed with cash.  Some were wealthy, but most were working people who knew they were one paycheck away from being in Lucille’s shoes.  People’s generosity and willingness to be moved by her story made these wonderful holidays for me as well as Lucille.

Lucille was profoundly distressed by the violence that plagues Baltimore and tried to “talk sense” into the young men on the corners.  She lost one of her grandsons to the drug culture.  Before he was incarcerated, she said to me, “You know, I wish he didn’t have a record so he could go to Iraq.”  I knew Lucille was against the war and asked what made her say that.  She replied, “I know he’s going to be killed by a gun anyway, and I’d rather him die a hero in Iraq than be gunned down on the streets of Baltimore and be just another statistic.”  Her other grandchildren are doing well and, in fact, her 21-year-old granddaughter has stepped up to raise the two young boys who remain at home. 

Lucille was far more comfortable helping others than admitting she needed help.  When she found out I was leaving Family Connections and did not yet have another job, she was worried.  “Honey,” she said, “I don’t have much, but if you ever find yourself without a roof over your head, I have a double bed and you can share my yogurt and crackers.”  That was the last time I saw her.  That was Lucille.

Deborah Sarsgard
Baltimore, MD

 To read Marc’s tribute to Lucille, click here.


September 11, 2008

We took some time to reflect on the anniversary of 9/11 at the beginning of today’s show, listening to some of the sounds of that day, as well as voices of people in 2008, as they look back.

Then we discussed the war in Iraq and looked at how the presidential candidates are addressing this issue. Marc and our guests Jared Ball, professor of Communications at Morgan State University, Stephen David, Vice Dean for Centers and Programs at Johns Hopkins University, and Adil Shamoo, an Iraqi-American professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine offer a variety of perspectives on where we are and where we need to go in Iraq.


More Follow-up on Protests and Arrests During RNC by Sonia Silbert

Sonia Silbert, Co-coordinator of the Washington Peace Center, wrote last week with updates on the mass arrests and detentions by police of activists during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.  Here are some more reports from her from later in the week.  You can also listen to her interview with us during the RNC on The Marc Steiner Show – click here.

Click here to read more!

In The Jail – treatment and abuse.

Tuesday morning we called the jail and learned that Jonathan and Kari were being held on felony charges, which blew us all away.  There was no way they could have the evidence to back that up, so we were sure the charge would be reduced when they finally saw a judge, but it meant that they would be held another night in jail.

As of Tuesday evening, our friends had been in jail over 24 hours.  Kari, the 20-year old, had managed to call her mom in Pennsylvania, who called the legal line in a panic.  I got her phone number and called her back to reassure her regarding why she got arrested (photographers are scary, I guess), how she would be treated (kept with the protesters, not the general prison population, and I didn’t tell her about the rumors of prisoner abuse that were seeping out of the jail), and what would be the repercussions of this (she’ll be freaked out, but there’s no way she’ll be convicted of a felony…Inshallah).

JAIL SUPPORT

Wednesday afternoon, I went down to the jail where people had been doing a vigil all day.  Everyone who had been arrested on Monday had to be charged and released by today since it had been 36 hours – it turned into many more hours than that, but they started the process at least at the 36 hr mark.  Our friend Tobin, the minor, had gotten out that morning and his dad had flown him back home.  His police report basically just said that he was recognized at an earlier action and that was all the evidence provided – we were all pissed that the public defender didn’t ask for the charges to be dismissed.  He has a court date back in Minnesota in October.

There were about 100 activists sitting in the grass outside the jail talking, playing guitar, eating, etc.  Needless to say, we were surrounded by riot cops, some on horseback, on all four corners.  They continued to group and regroup throughout the afternoon and evening, letting everyone know we could be raided, detained and arrested at any time.  Our crimes?  Some kind of felony I would guess.  Talking too loud or something.

One by one, arrestees were meeting with public defenders, standing in front of  a judge, getting (most of) their possessions back and then being released.  We went into the court building which was surrounded by wire fencing and guarded by National Guard. 

Our friend Aaron, who is an Iraq vet from Chicago, pointed out that even here you could see a huge difference between city cops and the National Guard.  The RNC had $50 million to spend on policing the Twin Cities and every cop had brand-new full-body riot gear – padding from shoulder to toe, helmets, gas masks, tools and toys bulging out of every pocket so they had a hard time walking too fast.  The Guard, on the other hand, were wearing their camo (so they couldn’t be seen in the city?) and a flak vest without any protection in it.  Even in a case like this, the funding doesn’t go to the members of the military.  Funny, because it sure feels like a military state out here.

Kari finally went in front of a judge and got her charge reduced to a misdemeanor, just like Jonathan.  However, for some reason her judge gave her $300 bail, while Jonathan had none.  Some of the main organizers who had been locked up all week were being held on $70,000 bail, which they negotiated down to $1000 bail.  Apparently bail bondsmen usually only charge 10% (this is information I now know), but for the RNC protesters they were raising their charges a lot.  We were told we’d have to pay $200 to get a bondsman to pay her $300, so the 5 of us from our affinity group went to an ATM and split the amont and pay her bail. 

Hours later, I got a collect call from Ramsey Co. Jail on my cell phone from Kari.  I knew that I’ll only have 45 seconds before they’d cut me off and demand money, so I quickly told her that we had paid her bail and were all waiting outside for her.  She said that the money hadn’t shown up in the system yet and they were transferring her back upstairs to another cell. 

She sounded so scared and sad, as if she was never going to get out.  I felt the same – if they had lost the bail money (which had to be cash and we had been given no receipt) or were just going to take forever to process it, she’d have to spend another night in jail, this time without many of the activists she had been in with all week. 
 
About half an hour later – about midnight – a group of arrestees are released all at the same time and everyone rushed over to applaud them and see who it is.  We are all kinda glum, knowing it wouldn’t be our friends, when through the crowd I see Lily, Ryan and David grinning the most honest and joyful smiles I’ve ever seen, and I peak over the heads and I see Kari!  She’s been released and has no idea why and is so happy to be out of there. 

Within minutes Jonathan and a group of guys are walking down the fenced walkway and there is a beautiful Hollywood moment when Kari and Jonathan run towards each other and he picks her up and spins her around with one arm while flipping off the jail with the other hand.  It was pretty great.

The riot cops have backed off – perhaps we’re not as scary when everyone is so happy.  At one point, 2 cops weave their way through the celebration and folks start chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute – take off that riot suit!”
 
ABUSE IN THE JAIL

As more people get out, we hear more stories from inside the jail that are pretty awful.  There are two guys who have been beaten up pretty badly by the guards inside – one has been released, one they couldn’t find in the system.  The one they couldn’t find was James, Lisa’s friend and a member of the Pagan Cluster.  Jonathan said the 5 or 6 cops went into his cell with batons and beat him up and then moved him elsewhere.

The one who was released was a 19-yr-old named Elliot.  He later spoke at a press conference detailing what had happened.  He and others had been chanting for medical attention and 5 or 6 cops came into his cell, punched him unconsceiounce, then banged his head against the floor, waking him up.  They took him to a separate cell where they put a hood over his head with a gag and used pain compliance holds on him for about an hour and a half – this included disconnecting his jaw and bending his ankles all the way backwards.  He had bruises and scrapes on his face and was obviously still traumatized. 
 
A friend of mine who I was watching the press conference with broke down while listening to Elliot’s testimony – he had had similar pain compliance holds used on him by the cops 4 years ago.  I had felt traumatized enough being detained at gunpoint and feeling vulnerable on the streets – this intense torture by government officials is something that I don’t know if you ever recover from.

Watch Elliot’s testimony here.

On The Streets: harrassment and more mass arrests

Police harassment and arrests continued throughout the week even though the main protests that were designed to block the conventioneers were only planned on Monday.  The police presence and abuse throughout the week is hard to overstate.  Veteran activists said they hadn’t been so scared or seen such police activity since Miami in 2003 – the FTAA protests notorious for its brutality.  That mobilization sent many activists I know into support roles because they couldn’t be on the street anymore. 

This kind of police aggression is not the norm for mobilizations – even when “those scary anarchists” are involved.  It’s amazing how quickly it becomes normalized though – just don’t walk alone, take off that black hat, oh, there’s another row of 40 riot cops, let’s cross the street.  People get used to everything, but this was a rapid normalization of an extreme police state.  “Minnesota nice” was out the window.

TUESDAY

Tuesday afternoon, there was an all day peace concert at the state capital – Rage Against the Machine was going to make a surprise appearance at the end of it, but the cops wouldn’t let them play for some reason.  So the band stood in front of the stage and passed one bull-horn back and forth and sang some of the crowd’s favorites…  they then led the crowd down to join the Rally for the Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign that was started out further down the hill.  The riot cops were out in force and seemed to be looking for a fight I guess.  In any case, they tear gassed and pepper sprayed the crowd again – the Poor People’s March organizers got out of there as the cops started escalating their tactics.

I was at an action in downtown Minneapolis at a party thrown by the American Petroleum Institute for Republican delegates and lobbyists.  We were doing a parady, dressed up as oil execs and thanking the Republicans for supporting more and more drilling.  Billionaires for Bush have now become Lobbyists for McCain and they came to the celebration.  A lone polar bear also made an appearance and got in a death match with Sarah Palin who, as all have been hearing, is pretty tough in situations such as this.  The bear didn’t fare too well.  While we were greeting party attendees, we also were getting text messages that our friends were getting beat up and tear-gassed in St Paul…  our crew got out okay.  Funnily enough, our cynical chants of “Drill!  Drill!  Drill!” were echoed inside the RNC later in the week, but I guess those folks were serious.

Later that night we found out that the Bedlam Theater, a local music venue in Minneapolis that had a punk show on that night, was also surrounded by riot cops.  I think about 100 people were arrested at that show.  It seemed like the cops were using this week to harass local activists or venues they’d had their eyes on for awhile.

WEDNESDAY

I went to Peace Island, a local peace conference, that was perhaps the stereotype of a peace conference – lots of lovely grey-haired aging hippies.  One of them raised her hand and said that she was outraged at the police brutality and harassment throughout the week and how they were targeting protesters based on their appearance.  She suggested that all the grey-haired folks in the audience put on bandanas and black hoodies and go out in the street and protect the activists!  Everyone applauded, but no one rushed outside. 

I still felt uncomfortable walking around in my own black hoodie, even though the temperature had dipped into the 60’s and it was needed.  The targeting based on appearance was scary and continued all week.  I suppose it’s cliché to say, but it’s an amazing reminder of what I think it’s like to walk around as an African-American young man…

RAIDING THE LEGAL OFFICE

As I was leaving the conference, I got a text that the legal office was being raided and was calling for observers.  By the time I got there, the cops were gone and media cameras were everywhere.  The legal office’s location had been kept pretty secret from the general public – you had to be escorted there by someone who was working there – because the consequences of its being raided would be really awful.  They were in the same building as I Witness Video, which was filming the convention.  At the RNC in NY 4 years ago, I Witness’s footage had proven the innocence of a lot of protesters arrested by NYPD. 

The cops showed up at that building because they claimed they had received a phone call from someone in the building being “held hostage by an anarchist”.  They didn’t have a warrant and weren’t let in, but the building almost evicted the legal office and they were restricted to having only 8 people in there at a time after that.  Given that the phone was ringing off the hook from calls from the street and the jail, there were piles of info from those calls that needed to be entered into the database, and lawyers were operating out of that office to collect statements, challenge the use of force by the cops and work to get folks released, this was a big hinderance. 

MORE ARRESTS

On Thursday, most of my affinity group left town, including Jonathan and Kari.  The cops hadn’t returned most of their property, including Kari’s camera, but they had to leave that place.  I agreed and avoided downtown St Paul.  It was the last day of the convention and there was a student anti-war protest.  Apparently they were a little slow on their march and had reached the end of the time on their permit around 5:00 or so and the cops trapped them on a bridge.  My friend who was there said he had never seen so many cops – not this week, not at other protests.  There were lines of riot cops, cops on horses, bicycle cops, and then a row or two of National Guard, plus snow plows and dump trucks to block streets.  The students sat down on the bridge and the cops used tear gas and concussion grenades and arrested about 400 of them.  400!  This included about a dozen journalists, including a Democracy Now!  producer who who had been arrested at Monday’s protests as well.

That night, IVAW member Adam Kokesh and two CODEPINKers got into McCain’s speech and interrupted him.  The CODEPINKers said it was incredibly easy to get into the convention.  There was no way they could’ve gotten into the DNC because the security was so tight, but the RNC was a piece of cake.  All three interrupted McCain’s speech and none were arrested. 

As of Friday, I believe everyone has been bailed out, many though generous donations from allies.

OVERALL

Overall, about 800 people were arrested this week – after seeing the judge, only about 30 of the 130 felony charges are still standing.  There are many civil suits being discussed; I think Amy Goodman and the 30 or 40 or so journalists who were arrested are doing their own suit, and the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild are both planning suits as well.  It’s funny to think back on Friday night and how shocking that original raid of the convergence space was.  It seemed so outrageous and worthy of its own civil suit all by itself.  And then the week began and we realized that was just the beginning. 

HOW TO HELP

Donate to the legal support fund for general arrestees and for the lead organizers who are being charged with pretty serious charges.  Also donate to the Welcoming Committee for organizing all logistics for the weekend.  Links to donate are at www.nornc.org.

Get some media attention!  The police brutality was barely covered in the mainstream media, even more liberal outlets such as NPR or the NY Times.  Call your local station, write a short letter to the editor, and demand coverage of such extremism. 

Also, hug an independent journalist!  Check out Democracy Now! and your local Indymedia site for the news the other guys don’t want you to hear, then forward all this info on to any other caring folks you know.

Read Sonia Silbert’s blog here.


Let The Elderly Never Sound Retreat by Djelloul Marbrook

Here’s a piece contributed to our site by the author Djelloul Marbrook.  Check out his site to see more of his writing and to learn more about him.

The way to take government back from corrupters is at hand. Don’t wait for the press to do it for you. It’s a do-it-yourself job. It’s the perfect job for retirees, because their years and diversity of experience are invaluable tools.
 

Click here to read more! 


But first, learn a little about the muckraker I.F. Stone. You don’t have to read his biography, although it’s worth it. Just consider his ideas:
 
—Government doesn’t belong to politicians, it belongs to you.
—Information about the government, federal, state and local, doesn’t belong to the press, it belongs to you.
—Government leaves a trail. Follow it.
—You don’t need to be a trained journalist to ferret out what government is up to. But you do need to read between the lines and wed your intuition to your common sense.
—Government would like you to believe that it’s paper trail is so hard to follow that only lawyers can do it, and you have to pay them to spit. Don’t believe this. You can follow the paper trail, and very often it can send people to jail.

The news is not where you think it is. It’s not where the camera is. It’s not where politicians are shooting their mouths off. It’s not even at official meetings. It’s in documents. And the press won’t be caught dead reading them because it’s time-consuming and it may lead up blind alleys.
 
So where does that leave us? Up the creek. Because those documents are where the skullduggery is. Anyone stealing your money or your rights has very likely left his paw prints in those documents. Corrupt governments keep records of themselves, just as the Nazis so famously did.
 
Why is the government now taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Because forensic accountants from Morgan Stanley spent hours, days and weeks going over their books. Never mind the press conferences, the Sunday talk shows, the pundits. They’re just finding news ways to repeat themselves. The truth is in documents., which almost no one reads, especially not lawmakers.

There is hardly a town hall, city hall or state capital building free of scandal and corruption, but the press doesn’t want to pay reporters to spend hours and days and weeks and months reading reams of papers, microfiche and computerized documents. So many of the most important stories go untold.
 
The dirty little secret about most corruption scandals like the Whitewater foofaraw of the Clinton years and the fact that the Pentagon today can’t say how much it has spent in Iraq is that there are similar scandals all over the nation, in every county, town and city, and the cumulative effect is to send corrupt politicians to Washington and weaken the fiber of the republic.
 
This is what I.F. Stone knew. And he and his disciples spent the time reading the records. But the I.F. Stone Weekly is a memory now, although journalism students, all of us really, should study it.
 
When the federal government intends to impose a new rule or change an old rule, when it posts invitations to bid for contracts, it must by law say so in The Federal Register, the most important fine print in the land. It announces hearings, it sets times for comments, and it closes the comment period in the Register. And it counts on you not to comb through it.
 
Oh, sure, if you ask federal officials, they’ll tell you the Register exists for public scrutiny. But the truth is they don’t want you or the press to pay attention, and they’re usually unhappy when you do. They usually don’t have to worry about the press, because the press is increasingly loathe to spend its money where it can’t gin up soap opera.
 
Each state has its own register which functions very much like the Federal Register. These are public documents. You can’t be barred from them. They are intently studied by people who do business with government, by people who cheat government, by people who want something specific from government, and by lawyers.
 
When local government buys things or services, it usually advertises specifications in local or regional newspapers. It also advertises rules and changes, intent to exercise eminent domain, etc. In other words, it advertises its business. This is a big source of revenue for newspapers,
and local government often tries to punish newspapers for being too inquisitive by rerouting advertising to competing newspapers.
 
But most readers read commercial advertising skip over government advertising, which appears in small print in the classified section. Too bad. Because the first clues that something is fishy are probably going to appear in those advertisements and announcements. They can get pretty tricky, and it can be a lot of fun to analyze them. For example, a city may put out specifications for a new fire truck. It seems on the up and up, because the city is looking for competitive bids. But on closer analysis you might see that the specifications are written so that only one manusfacturer can meet them. In other words, the dice have been loaded and the fix is in. Then the question arises, who was paid under the table to load the dice? Isn’t that as interesting as bridge?
 
This is just the beginning of what a determined citizen can do to keep his local government honest. Those records at town hall and city hall and the county building and the state capital, they all belong to you, the citizens. Some officials will try to make it hard for you to get to them, imposing rules of access; other officials will lean over backwards to accommodate you. Whenever someone makes it hard for you to get to records, you’re smelling a rat. Your common sense and intuition will kick in, you’ll get your back up and persevere. Don’t be afraid to be a gadfly. A republic depends on its gadflies.
 
I’d like to see an army of retired people descend on government across the land and study the records of every single government action. I’d like to see clubs and groups of people come together and strategize about keeping government clean. All with the knowledge, however saddening, that the press isn’t going to do it.
 
Maybe we better explain a bit more why the press isn’t going to do it. First, it’s expensive. Second, many young reporters don’t have the experience to to do  it. Third, there is a pervasive belief in journalism that the subject of government isn’t as interesting as sex, scandal, catastrophe, demolition politics, sports, weather, rich ditzes, you name it. And that’s a catastrophe, because a republic can’t operate without intense scrutiny. Without it, you end up with authoritarian government.
 
There is another reason the press can’t be depended on to open the doors and windows and air government out. The press is very often the recipient of largesse in the form of advertising from the corrupters. For example, a developer who has bought off public officials to get the kind of zoning he wants or the exceptions he needs or the project he is proposing is likely to be a major advertiser. The lenders, realtors, appraisers and everyone else involved in the current sub prime mortgage debacle all advertised in the press. So where was the press’s incentive to keep them honest? The press was riding the gravy train, just like the appraisers, the realtors and the bankers.
 
I believe that legions of retirees, and anyone else with the dedication, can clean government up at every level if they simply follow I.F. Stone’s example: read what government says about itself.
 
Don’t depend on attorneys general and other public lawyers to go after the bad guys, first, because it’s too late by the time they get into the act, and second, because they’ll turn it into cryptology. And, of course, all too often the public lawyers are part of the problem.
 
Reading up on what government is really doing, compared, say, to what the bloviators say it’s doing, might just prove more interesting than bridge or golf. And it will certainly be a public service.
 
But who’s going to print what we find? you say. You are, of course. If you’re reading this, then you can do it—on the Internet, on blogs, by e-mail.
 
And if you get stumped, if you can’t understand something, you can put out a call for help. For example, suppose you’re a retired engineer and you see something you don’t fathom, you can put out an e-mail alert to see if there are any forensic accountants around.
 
Just think of the human resources we have at hand in our elderly population. They could change the face of American government with their combined knowledge and experience. Task groups could be formed to  take on specific projects. This would be grassroots democracy at an unprecedented level, and the upshot would be that none of us would feel quite as helpless as we do now.


Iraq Veterans Against the War

Here’s a guest post by Nick Morgan, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW.)  He was a guest on The Marc Steiner Show while in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention.  Click here to listen to that show.

As a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), my experience in the Twin Cities was a unique one. With our organization on the list of over 200 groups on a list studied by Minnesota National Guard and various police units, it was still no secret that our message was completely non-violent and direct. Our mission was to march in formation and in uniform to deliver a message to Senator McCain informing him of the issues veterans are facing today. As a fellow veteran, we were presumptuous to assume that the presidential candidate would listen to our simple message.

With a permit for our action on the opening day of the scaled-back RNC, no member of IVAW was arrested during our action (or the rest of the convention). We shared a certain level of lateral respect with the law enforcement at the RNC because we have all been placed in similar predicaments in the name of serving our country and democracy. Not to mention the fact that many of them were veterans as well and could relate to our logical viewpoints. The clear difference here is that these men and women are dealing with American citizens on American soil, hired as mercenaries for the RNC to the tune of a 50 million dollar liability insurance policy for their protection.

I have to say that I haven’t been in an environment so unsafe for average citizens since I left Baghdad in 2005. One notable difference is that the police in Minneapolis have better body armor and protection than American soldiers and Marines do in Iraq. It is a sad day for the United States when a kid on a bicycle is pepper sprayed in the face by a cop just for riding too close when there where no violent protests taking place. What does it say about this country when the police are arresting people with press credentials hanging from their necks just for recording and reporting the interactions between police and American civilians.

I hung out for a period of time with some independent media personnel who understandably added an additional level of anxiety to the air. Pardon my vagueness as I don’t want to divulge too much information about individuals. Many of them were just coming back from jail and were on high alert for near by police activity. At one point, myself and a few of my fellow IVAW members were beginning to loose the battle to subdue our PTSD. We decided it was best that we went on a drive outside of the city to get some fresh air and escape all the violence multiplied by paranoia.

Please take some time to consider the implications of the absolute police state that was enforced in the Twin Cities. When the people making the decisions in this country don’t want to hear the voices of the people they are making the decisions for, I am saddened. When the people’s voices are silenced with clubs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and zip ties, I am appalled.  This concludes my humble testimony of how I experience the RNC.

Thanks,

Nick Morgan
Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Iraq Veterans Against the War
OIF II, 458th En. Bn., Ist Cavalry Division


Yes He Can! The Moving Acceptance Speech of John McCain, by Richard Vatz

From RedMaryland;

 

John McCain gave a powerful acceptance speech tonight, devoid of artificial drama and devoid of gimmicks. More on that later.

Leading up to his speech was a moving tribute by his wife Cindy, a tribute which left no one in doubt about the genuineness of their union and both of their commitments to public service.

Preceding that address was a specific appeal which this critic found tremendously convincing.

Click READ MORE below!

The Senator from South Carolina, Sen. Lindsay Graham, made a clear, unambiguous focus of this convention the one available operational definition of the difference in military policies between John McCain and Barack Obama: the “Surge” in Iraq.

Sen. Graham said simply “The Surge has worked.” He cited Sen. McCain as the politician who led the fight to support Gen. Petraeus and his successful war strategy, while Sen. Obama and the Democrats almost succeeded – and came within 2 votes – in de-funding the war. The Democratic Senator who was the difference, according to Graham? Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been threatened with political retaliation from his own Democratic Party for criticizing Sen. Obama as callow.

Sen. Graham convincingly argued that the “Surge” was a critical milestone in the war against terror, for its loss, about which Sen. Obama and the Democrats appeared to be sanguine, would have led to an al Qaeda success and the loss of any United States military credibility in the war against terror.

Devastatingly, Sen. Graham referenced the frequent iterations of Sen. Obama of how he “appreciates” the United States military, characterizing such protestations as disingenuous and “playing politics with our national security.”

His conclusion? Sen. Obama is a man who loves his country, but one who just “doesn’t get it.”

The lengthy but memorable acceptance address by Senator John McCain was the last speech of the convention, of course.

His appeal to conservatives already seemingly solidified through his Vice Presidential nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, he seemed to focus on centrists of both parties and independents, a natural historic constituency of his.

Sen. McCain, amid constant – sometimes too interruptingly constant – cheers of “U-S-A;U-S-A,” pledged to be an active President whose primary missions would be to restore fiscal discipline, return prosperity and keep the country safe.

He pledged an honorable-but-tough campaign against a formidable opponent, Sen. Obama, whom he would not demonize, but also from whom he would not shrink from criticizing.

Assuring his audience that he picked the “right partner,” Gov. Palin, perfect in substance, vision and style [but lacking foreign policy credentials and knowledge to deal with the resurgent imperial Russia described to be on his radar during his presidency, as well as the continuing threat of al Qaeda], he pledged to fight prolific spenders, corrupt politicians and promised to make public the names of legislators supporting pork barrel spending. He pledged to stop the hemorrhaging from our treasury monies that go to potential foreign enemies who sell us oil. These arguments may work to, as the Senator implied, expropriate the concept of “change” for the Republican Party.

Sen. McCain’s signature line that he would rather “lose an election than lose a war” was detailed in his support of the “Surge,” a successful military tactic that he claimed believably may lead to an indisputable victory in the Iraq War. The Surge, he argued, as have all major speakers in the Republican Convention, was opposed by Sen. Obama and the Democrats in general and to this day has not been acknowledged as a military success. This was a major reason cited by Sen. McCain of his needed stewardship of the United States military and foreign policy. In a series of rousing rhetorical contrasts of public policy differences, Sen. McCain crystallized the powerful differences between Sen. Obama and hinself.

Sen. McCain reassured the country that he “hates war” because he has experienced war, and he took us through some of his experience as a P.O.W. to show the power of fellowship.

He ended his speech with a powerful crescendo of “Fight,” “Fight” and “Fight” for America…

When the ethos of the speaker is consistent with the message, a long speech does not disappoint; it energizes, and the convention hall and presumably most Republicans and maybe even most Reagan Democrats who witnessed this powerful address were excited by the rhetoric of “change,” the \Republican\ rhetoric of change.

Professor Richard E. Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University


O’ Say Can WHO See? from Dr. Eric Durham

Let’s begin with the topic of CHANGE.

Click READ MORE below!


I noticed a phenomenon during the early portions of the Democratic
primary. A young man by the name of Barack Obama introduced himself as
an agent of CHANGE. He kept this topic as a recurring thesis in his
stump speeches; and he also placed the word on his campaign placards.
This one word became the goal, motto, direction, and purpose that he
ran on. THEN Hillary Clinton adopted CHANGE and put a "little twist" on
it by coupling it with experience. (Which, by the way, begin to signal
the disorganization of her campaign.) Then you begin to hear more and
more of the Democratic candidates squabble about who could be best to
bring about CHANGE. Now, I see the Republicans are doing the SAME
THING. Which baffles me, because, once they begin talking about CHANGE,
they come close to admitting that what they have done for eight years
is so messed up that it needs to be CHANGED. In short, I think it’s
very important to note that CHANGE has become so attractive that
everyone has decided to adopt it. Why?…because this is what the
American people have said they want: CHANGE. …and Barack Obama, in
his judgement and experience, knew it from the beginning.


Small note on Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery:

Over the course of the last two days, several Republican speakers
mentioned that THEIR party (the Republican Party) ended slavery. This
mention, just like their appropriation of CHANGE, is pure pandering.
Let me explain something to the voters of America. The constituents of
the Republican party that ended slavery are the same demographic of
people who constitute the contemporary Democratic party. The "political
ancestors" of the people we saw in the ExCel center over the last
couple days belonged to the "Dixiecrats," "Yellow Dog" democrats…the
members of the Solid South…those who wanted slavery…fought
Reconstruction…and I don’t think is much of a leap, supported the
terrorists activity of the Ku Klux Klan upon other (black) Americans.
With FDRoosevelt’s Public Works Programs enacted, the demographics of
the two major parties started to shift (1933-1945). Which is why a lot
of Blacks, some other ethnic groups, and liberals belong to the
Democratic party and fiscal and social conservatives are now
Republicans. So, for those that didn’t know this bit of U.S. History,
now you do…don’t be fooled by the petty pander. THEIR party was the
party of Herbert Hoover…but they didn’t mention that last night.
Remember the "Hoover Pockets" of the Great Depression? I think it would
be a wonderful American fashion statement to bring back now…"Bush
pockets."


The Dissenters in the audience:

Not even the chants of "USA" could drown out the dissenters against the
War last night. By the way, one dissenter wore a shirt that read
VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR. This, I understand, as quite a "trump card."
…and I forget the number right now, but Obama has GROSSLY out-raised
McCain among troops in Iraq. So, as much as the RNC attempted to
"decorate" war and military service through their video productions,
let us not forget, THIS IS AN UNPOPULAR WAR. And the issue of the
"surge" is so laughable to me, I won’t discuss it. Okay, one sentence
(question) on the surge: Are you seriously going to use a "surge"
(that’s a couple months old) to speak about a 5-6 year poorly managed
war?

I think it’s important to note that DNC didn’t have any vocal
dissenters. And was the case, despite the fact that they didn’t come
off as intimdating, sarcastic, or condescening. And by my count, the
Republicans had FOUR vocal dissenters last night…and ONE the night
before.

McCain’s speech:


"We’re all Americans….and that’s an association that means more to
me, than any other." And the audience roars?!?!! How do you clap so
enthusiastically as a result of this "cooperative rhetoric" when you’ve
been so enthusiastic about the "divisive rhetoric" (Palin, Romney,
Giuliani)?

There were parts of the speech where McCain was laying blame on his
party…but he kinda muddled that…then he said BOTH parties messed
things up….but, WE lost their trust. It was so muddled, I don’t even
know how to talk about. But, I will say, as a "scrutinizer of men," I
believe John McCain is a decent guy. I like him better than a lot other
people he’s surrounding by. …and I believe there were parts of his
speech that were muddled because he has to pander to different elements
within his party…and he’s trying his best to do that…and "stick to
his guns." Yet, in still, I applaud him for seeming courageous enough
to tackle the task. In short, I saw this as him attempting to
honorable…but he’s surrounded by a den of wolves! Tough task.

-Dr. Eric Durham

Dr. Durham is a Professor at Loyola College He blogs as the Good Doctor at http://drericdurham.blogspot.com/ .


Whatever you sellin’, I ain’t buying, by Guest Blogger Ronnie Djoukeng


It’s the economy stupid! The famous words from Democratic political strategist James Carville flashed in my mind while Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech. The McCain ticket is gambling big time that the trifecta: toughness, Iraq, and military service will pre-occupy voters mind. There’s something Reaganesque about the McCain approach too – it’s tried, true, and tired.

Click READ MORE below!

Here we are in the 2nd millennium and the Republican National Convention is homogenous and monolithic—it lacked diversity.  The cowboy stance of fighting terrorism isn’t currying favor with Americans or the rest of the world and Republicans couldn’t be more indifferent.  The RNC permitted Guiliani the glib speaker to be a man of contradictions.  In order to elevate Palin, he shot himself in the foot.  In order to contrast Palin and Obama’s political upbringing, Guiliani chose the words cosmopolitan and flashy to describe Barack and Chicago since Palin is from a dull small-town of Wasila with a scant population less  than 10,000. During his speech,  one had to wonder what descriptive language Guiliani would have used to portray  New York City in all of its glory?  If Guiliani was supposed to be selling Palin, it was more akin to window shopping—ogling at the shiny merchandise from the window but never enticed to actually purchase.  And if Palin was supposed to be selling the need for the McCain/Palin ticket, she demonstrated their ticket constitutes a want not a need.

The rhetoric might have felt good last night, but it is unclear what role if any  Palin would play  to ensure  Americans feel this way for the next 4 years?  Palin deliberately chose not to articulate any policy positions. The feel good mainstream references and false aphorisms she spoke will have to resonate with the rest of America and independents before the elections take place.  The most celebrated mainstream axiom of all – “where’s the beef”— fittingly describes Palin’s speech. Palin touched on job creation vis-à-vis her position on energy, but the scope of her detail appeared esoteric to Alaska excluding the steel plant workers of Ohio or motor city assemblymen of Michigan.

It is unclear what direction McCain’s speech will take tonight. If he is trying to sell his patriotism, he doesn’t have too – Americans are aware that he is a decorated veteran.  Although, he should wonder how patriotism will resonate with voters considering his Party dismissed his war record during the 2000 elections. And it was his Party that selected a candidate without a veteran record in the form of George W. Bush. And don’t forget it was his Party that trivialized the patriotism of another war hero’s candidacy for president.  Indeed, Hillary was right last week when she declared – “McCain is more of the same” this is Bush III after all.

 

Ronnie Djoukeng

 

Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, http://5andapossible.blogspot.com/ .


Marc’s Reflections on the Republican Campaign

Besides the usual tax and big government and vitriolic attacks against their opponents, several themes arose last night that may be the battlegrounds of the next two months.

Remember in 1992 when Clinton campaign chiefs Paul Begala and James Carville coined the phrase "It’s the economy, stupid?" It worked for Clinton. They tapped into the American angst of that moment.

 

Click READ MORE below!

Now I think it is "It’s your wallet, stupid." The housing crisis and oil prices have people very worried. People are terrified about the high price of gas, the diminishing value of their paychecks, the insecurity of their jobs, fear that oil prices are being controlled by foreign powers. We are worried about the future.

While polls indicate that most Americans want solar, wind and alternative energy for our future, they also put the need for new energy sources ahead of environmental concerns. Over 60% of American support drilling. So, both McCain and Obama have changed their positions on off shore drilling. At one time, they were both opposed, now they are behind the idea.

Even though our own Department of the Energy says we cannot drill our way of this mess, people are more worried about their wallets, their money, the cost of oil and the Democrats have not made their case about how this new Green Economy will work. Americans are comfortable with oil. It is part of the American persona and mythology. We are addicted to it. We know our cars, not mass transit. We are reluctant to give up our lifestyles. If we think that drilling will make gas for our cars, and oil and electricity for our homes, less expensive, as well as keep us secure from our enemies and provide jobs, then that is what we want. People want to keep more money in their wallets and want to know we will not be at the mercy of "foreign devils" that control our oil.

The Democrats have to make their case, and it can’t be complicated. How do we make this transition to the Green Economy? People want it, but want to understand simply how we get there. How will it work? Is it real or fantasy? What about our jobs?

While most Americans think it was a mistake to go into Iraq, polls show the American electorate is divided on whether the surge worked and whether we should pull out now or stay till the job is done. The Republicans are pushing the idea that the surge worked, that we are winning.


The Democrats’ opposition to the war has been tepid, at best. The American people were lied to about why we had to go to war. More and more evidence ties this war to a debatable geopolitical position in the Middle East and to securing Iraq’s oil. Over the last five years the Democrats have not pushed their opposition to the war; they have not demanded investigations of the beginning of the war or the complicity of big oil. Now they have to come up with a plan that stirs as much passion and interest among the people as the Republican message that McCain was right and the surge is working.

So, tonight we hear McCain. We can talk about that tomorrow together, right here.


July 02, 2008

(l to r) ed burns, eric kocher, evan wright, marc steiner, david simon

 

The US-led invasion of Iraq began on March 19th, 2003. As the war continues through its sixth year, with no end in sight, what can we learn from looking back at the invasion, the first phase of the war?

Generation Kill, Ed Burns’ and David Simon’s new HBO mini-series, tells the story of the First Recon Marines who were at the forefront of the US attack. They crossed the Kuwaiti border and travelled across Iraq to Baghdad in a convoy of unarmored Humvees. They were often the first of the invading forces to pass through vast stretches of desert, small towns, and large cities. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were frequently used as decoys, sent ahead in the hopes of drawing sniper fire or diverting the attention of the Iraqi army from the main body of the US forces.

Embedded with the First Recon Marines was a Rolling Stone reporter, Evan Wright. He set out to write about the young warrior class that makes up an elite marine unit, kids mostly in their early twenties who volunteer to kill and to risk being killed.

Today’s show is a conversation between Evan Wright, the author of Generation Kill, David Simon and Ed Burns, who produced and wrote the mini-series, and Sergeant Eric Kocher, one of the First Recon Marines whose story is documented in the book, and now the mini-series, Generation Kill.



August 6, 2008

New! Congresswoman Donna Edwards discusses the housing crisis and the war in Iraq. Then, hear a debate on why oil costs so much, and what can be done about it–and our energy future.

For the first 15 minutes of the show, Marc was joined by Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She is Maryland’s brand new congressional representative from District 4 and the first black woman ever elected to Congress from out state. She joined Marc to share her agenda in Washington and to give her thoughts on the biggest issues of the day.

Then, Marc and his guests examined high oil prices and the underlying causes. What role does speculation play in the cost of gas? Should government aggressively regulate the futures market? What about a windfall profits tax? Would that discourage development? We’ll examine all these ideas and more with:

  • Tyson Slocum (left), director of Public Citizen’s energy initiative
  • Bob Carpenter (right), economics professor at UMBC

Links for further reading:

Enjoy the show!


Iraq: The Real Cost of the War

What is the real cost of the Iraq War? According to the Bush administration, the tab so far totals over $500 billion dollars-10 times the $50 billion originally estimated.

Nobel Prize winner and former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz says that number is outrageous-not because it’s so high, but because it’s so low. In a new book written with Linda Bilmes, he says the true cost of the war is going to be closer to three trillion dollars. He alleges that the Bush administration is playing with the numbers by only counting upfront costs-and not including other costs, such as health care for veterans and increased recruitment costs. He also confronts the idea that this war could actually provide a much needed stimulus for the American economy.

Joseph Stiglitz joined Marc Steiner by phone to explain how he came up with the three trillion dollar amount, and what he thinks needs to be done to ensure America’s financial security.

Running time is 34:12.


Body of War

Tomas Young is a young veteran who was paralyzed in Iraq in April 2004. His life and his mission to end the war is chronicled in the new documentary, Body of War, by filmmakers Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue. It is also the story of his mother, Cathy, as she sends yet another son, Nathan, off to a war that has already sent one son home disabled. It is the story of his wife, Brie, who finds herself serving as Tomas’s nurse, a role that puts stress on their new marriage. And it is the story of Senator Robert Byrd, the senator from West Virginia who was 85 when he led the charge against war, an attempt that ended in ultimate defeat. Ultimately, it is the story of how a nation went to war, and the terrible consequences this nation now faces.

The film is being shown now at festivals and independent theaters across the country. Marc Steiner sat down with Tomas Young and filmmakers Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue to talk with them about the film and the message they hope it sends.

Body of War Interviews


4/3/08 More on Iraq War

Yesterday in Washington DC, we interviewed Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, who co-produced the documentary on the Iraq War, Body of War. The subject of the film is Thomas Young, an Iraq war veteran who was shot through his fourth vertebra and is paraplegic. It is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. On Friday, we are going to interview Thomas Young. Living with the injuries he sustained in that war tires him out, so, he could not join Donahue and Spiro when we interviewed them yesterday. He graciously agreed to reschedule our interview and meet with us tomorrow morning. Once we have that interview in the can, we will be producing an audio/videowebcast and public radio show on the Body of War. It is coming soon.

This week I have been thinking a lot about the veterans of this Iraq war. I watched Body of War three times preparing for our interviews with Phil Donahue and the others. I have been talking with Josh Kors who exposed how the Department of Defense labeled over 20,000 veterans with “pre-existing conditions” so they could deny them millions of dollars in benefits. And last Monday I gave a keynote address to veterans and those who work with disabled, addicted and homeless veterans.

On top of that, this week in Adbusters and Rolling Stone there were articles about the Iraq war’s Marlboro man, James Blake Miller.

The photograph of him taken during the battle of Fallujah with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, eyes staring off, with blood and dirt on his face became the iconic image of the young, tough, swaggering American war hero. He was a teenager then. His image was used and abused to support the war and entice other young people to join up. James Miller, who suffered severe PTSD, is now home in Kentucky, violent, angry, reflective and alone. He refused to let his image or name be used to support Bush’s war.

There are now over 4,000 American service people who have died in Iraq and almost 29,000 wounded or horribly maimed and crippled. There are tens and tens of thousands more who were wounded in body and soul. They estimate that up to 40% of returning vets will suffer from PSTD. The National Guard, whose rate of PTSD is astronomical, gets few federal benefits.

Our advanced medical technology kept those 28,000 badly wounded service people alive. If this were Vietnam, most of them would be dead. Yet the system of medical care for our veterans is in worse shape now than it was forty years ago. There is a scene in Body of War, when two veterans, one from the Iraq war and the other from the Vietnam war, both in wheelchairs, are talking. The Viet vet said he was in the hospital for a year with his wounds and was taught how to care for himself. The younger Iraqi war vet was in the hospital for only three months.

We went into this war without thinking about the consequences for Iraq, and for our veterans. All this mayhem and blood spilled for what?! For oil? For strategic political hegemony?

Yes, it was for oil. Yes, it was a war to protect our oil interests and our allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. We produced many shows on the lead to up to this war. In that, we discovered Project for A New American Century, a think tank in Washington DC. Papers written over a twenty year period by all the shining lights of the Bush administration (Abrams, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, and others) lay it all out in clear detail why we need to invade Iraq: protect the oil and secure American political power in the Middle East.

So now the Bush administration has gotten us into this madness, we have to deal with our responsibility to Iraq, a nation we have torn asunder, and to our veterans. We will be paying for the steep social and fiscal costs of this war for a generation, maybe more.

I don’t mean to rant or bring you all down, but when I meet and interview veterans of this war, and when I interview Iraqis here and in Iraq, I become so angry at what has been done to us. Now, we as a people have to make it right.

-marc