Thursday, May 18, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

As he pursues his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain is appearing at a series of university graduations. His speech, unveiled last Saturday at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, calls for "winning" the war in Iraq, a feat he deems necessary to the security of the world and in keeping with American "interests and values."

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006
1:30 pm
As he pursues his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain is appearing at a series of university graduations. His speech, unveiled last Saturday at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, calls for "winning" the war in Iraq, a feat he deems necessary to the security of the world and in keeping with American "interests and values." On Friday, May 19, he will deliver this speech at the New School's 70th annual commencement at the invitation of President Bob Kerrey. President Kerrey has also been a supporter of the war, and in 2002 helped promote the U.S. invasion through his membership in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Kerrey has disregarded a letter from the University Student Senate calling on him to withdraw the speaking invitation, as well as a petition to that effect with over a thousand signatures by New School faculty, students, and staff. New School activists will protest outside the ceremony and invite the support of the local anti-war movement. Signs stressing "books not bombs" and other pro-education, anti-war messages are especially welcome.

The above, noted by Rachel, is from jwnyc's "Friday Emergency Demo! -- Protest McCain at New School Commencement" (NYC Indymedia). Rallies, protests, they do make a difference.
Take Oregon's highlight, William Hughes' "Code Pink Challenges White House" (Portland IMC):

Washington, D.C. - On Sunday, May 14, 2006, a colorful protest action, sponsored by "Code Pink: Women for Peace," was staged directly in front of the White House. It included a mini-parade, a sing along and plenty of roses waving around. The event, a 24-hour vigil, began the day before. Its theme was "Declare Peace on Mother's Day."
On a warm, but cloudy afternoon, it featured speeches, from 2 to 4 PM, by activists, like: Cindy Sheehan, a leader in the "Gold Star Families for Peace; and Susan Sarandon, a member of the Screen Actors Guild and a celebrated film actress.
Sheehan said that this Mother's Day has been wonderful, but "very emotional for her." She related how a soldier came up to her earlier and gave "her an orchid as a present." Sheehan continued that Casey (her son who was killed in Iraq) had "brought all of us together" and had given her "so many gifts." She added that the activist community is "making a difference" and that the day will come when the Bush-Cheney Administration "will be held accountable and that we will bring the troops home."
One of the campaigns that Code Pink, a national organization, has launched is to get the junior Democratic Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, "to listen."
(1) She's a pro-Iraqi War Lite in the image and likeness of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Code Pink activists are pushing her to sign on to a Resolution calling for bringing all the troops home, now. Clinton continues to vote to fund the war, which was initiated by the Bush-Cheney Gang based on damnable lies.
(2) In essence, pseudo-liberal politicos, such as Clinton and Kerry have acted as accomplices of the Bush-Cheney Gang. As of today, 2,439 brave American military personnel have died in the war, another 17,869 have been wounded. The cost of the conflict is now put at $280.8 billion, while Iraq, a country of 27 million, lies mostly in ruins, and its death toll may exceed 100,000. (3) Reading an "Open Letter" to First Lady, Laura Bush, Sarandon mocked President George W. Bush as a warmonger and derided him for calling himself, "The Decider!" She reminded Laura that Americans really "don't want their kids to go off to war and die."

Sing the song.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American fatality count stood at 2432. Right now? 2454. That's the number of American military lives lost in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice that he lied us into. To, again, note ER, Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra attended the funeral of her husband Michael, a doctor serving in Iraq. As Michael's father puffed out his chest and talked to some men (of course) about the "kind of boy I raised," the "mindset of a warrior" and sharing stories of Sitting Bull telling people "this it was a good day to die," Neela walked over, shoved Michael's medals at him and refused to take them back.

She informed him that, "To me all they mean is death [. . .] How dare you, how dare you stand there and say that. 'A good day to die'? [. . .] You could have kept him here. You could have saved him. But instead you made him want to go back. For what? Because there was something 'noble' in it? Why did you do that when it would have been just as easy to convince him to stay for a much better reason? Because we loved him. Because we loved him."

A powerful moment and one that addresses the cost of war beyond dollars and cents. But don't expect it to be noted. This has been an ongoing story on ER as Neela has been vocal about being against the war. That's not been noted. It wasn't noted in the episode when she was informed Michael died. There's always some White Male to praise week after week. Usually doing a funny. Maybe that's a little easier to relate to?

It's not like they don't watch ER -- Noah Wylie's return and cause was noted -- but then Noah Wylie is a White Male. As, week in and week out, we can giggle at a comic or get excited by a Saturday Night Live skit or bluster about a speech in a courtroom on the Patriot Act, we never can find the time to note this ongoing storyline that's provided many powerful moments. Maybe that's it? Maybe it's easier to look away at the pain that's on the screen. It's a character Nagra's playing. She's doing a powerful job. Maybe we just don't want to note it because it's too powerful. I don't know if John Kerry's going to be on Mad TV this week, but, if so, I'm sure it will suck up all the discussion online.

Bully Boy hides the dead. I have no idea why we choose to hide the fictional dead. But ER's tackled the war. They should receive credit for that. The writing and Nagra's performance should receive nominations (should receive Emmys) but is anyone talking about it? In the way they linked to a stand up routine? In the way they linked to a skit? In the way they noted a lawyer try to win a case by delivering a speech?

If we can't even note a fictional portrayal of the costs of war, I have to wonder what that says?
But maybe it just does come down to the fact that Nagra isn't White and isn't Male? If we can't note the costs in fiction, how will we ever note them in reality? Marcia has an article on some of the physical costs to those returning wounded. From Michael de Yoanna's "Eight of 10 need help: Military accused of turning blind eye to PTSD victims" (Colorado Springs Indy):

Eight of 10 active-duty troops likely suffering from combat stress upon returning from Iraq or Afghanistan never received a referral for further mental assistance.
That finding was included in a scathing report released last week by the Government Accountability Office that said the Department of Defense "cannot reasonably assure that service members who need referrals receive them."
The federal investigative arm of Congress reports that about 5 percent -- 9,145 of the 178,664 active Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine troops that served in Iraq or Afghanistan between October 2001 and September 2004 -- were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Yet just 22 percent of troops who showed an indication on questionnaires that they were at risk for PTSD received a referral for a mental health follow-up.
"It's disgusting," says Georg-Andreas Pogany, who runs Operation JUST ONE, a Colorado Springs mental health initiative that advocates for troops returning from Iraq to get proper access to mental care. "It shows the majority of those who need help aren't getting it when they need it."
PTSD is a severe mental condition that affects soldiers, as well as other individuals who suffer from trauma. The condition can lead to domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide. Treatment, many experts say, can be effective in lowering the incidence of such problems.
The Army has the largest number of troops at risk for PTSD: 7,935 across the nation, according to the report.

While some return wounded, others try to wound those who spoke out. Megan notes
Eli Sanders' "The War on Jim McDermott" (Seattle Stranger):

It is spring in Washington, D.C., the air already hinting at the sticky summer humidity to come. Around the Congressional office buildings, aides scurry about in newly dusted-off seersucker. And in a crosswalk on Independence Avenue, Seattle's long-serving Democratic Congressman, Jim McDermott, is hurrying toward a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He is wearing, as he often does, his "Save the Children" tie, red and printed with rows of happy multicultural kids holding hands, an almost too-perfect accoutrement for the man widely regarded, and reviled, as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Over his nine consecutive terms representing Seattle's ultraprogressive 7th District, McDermott has used the platform of his safe seat to become a national voice of the uncompromising left--the guy Michael Moore turned to for quotes about Republican fear-mongering in Fahrenheit 9/11, the guy who flew to Baghdad in 2002 and predicted that President Bush would "mislead the American public" into war. His outspokenness, particularly about the war, has made him a popular national figure among Democrats.
It's also made him a lot of enemies.
Across Independence Avenue, and now on the Capitol grounds, McDermott, the son of a fundamentalist minister, passes a large cluster of kids who have arrived in D.C. for National Prayer Day. Now a quietly religious Episcopalian, McDermott makes no comment as he walks by. ("My father and I, we came to terms with one another," he tells me later. "I went my way, and he went his.")
Past the kids, past the white marble columns of the Capitol Building, past the security checkpoints, and now on the lush blue carpet of the House floor, McDermott casts his vote: "No." Across the aisle, the man who has tethered McDermott to a politically hobbling and financially draining court fight for the past eight years, Republican Congressman John Boehner of Ohio, casts his vote: "Yes."

Has the hideous NPR gasbag posing as a reporter and Fox "News" talker apologized, on air, to McDermott? Admitted that she was wrong and he was right? No. Liar-Liasson hasn't. And she continues to offer her "insight" on Fox "News." Long after she should have been fired by NPR.

Maybe she can go after John Murtha next? Stan notes Drew Brown's "Pentagon Report Said to Find Killing of Iraqi Civilians Deliberate" (Knight Ridder via Common Dreams):

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon report on an incident in which U.S. Marines shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians last November will show that those killings were deliberate and worse than initially reported, a Pennsylvania congressman said Wednesday.
"There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed those innocent people," Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said during a news conference on Iraq. "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell."
Murtha's comments were the first on-the-record remarks by a U.S. official characterizing the findings of military investigators looking into the Nov. 19 incident. Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and an opponent of Bush administration policy in Iraq, said he hadn't read the report but had learned about its findings from military commanders and other sources.
Military public affairs officers said the investigation isn't completed and declined to provide further information. "There is an ongoing investigation," said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. "Any comment at this time would be inappropriate."
Both Gibson and Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said that the military has yet to decide what, if any action, might be taken against Marines involved in the incident.

Is that something we should turn our eyes from as well?

Brenda notes this update on an story we've been following, "Statement from Carol Fisher" (Cleveland Indy Media Center):

Let's get an assessment of what happened and where we go from here. The first thing I want to say is: "The World Can’t Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime!" And the reason why I'm saying that is because above all that is really what’s at issue here. Everything about this case and everything that happened from the moment I put those Bush Step Down posters up on the telephone poles and was assaulted by the police has all been about trying to intimidate people who are opposing this regime and doing whatever they can to step up in their way and turn this shit around and create a different future.
So we waged a hell of a battle to get to this point and its been incredibly inspiring from day one, because people were so outraged to see that this kind of thing can happen for the smallest example of someone speaking out against the Bush regime. And from there, I have determined and done all I could to steel myself to take a firm stand and refuse to apologize for anything and to say "I did nothing wrong--those police assaulted me".
In spite of all the slander, all the lies from the police, in spite of a trial that was filled with unbelievable bizarre stories from the police about all the things that I did to these cops when in fact the only hard evidence of any injury at all [to them] was three tiny little marks on one cop's hand. And this is the truth that I am telling you here. Sometimes it's hard to even believe that things have gotten to this point around this.
As opposed to what the cops' injuries were, my arms were bruised up and down, I had scrapes on my face, I was wounded on my mouth and not only that, humiliated in the hospital, being forced to undress in front of four male police officers, and then again humiliated and attacked over and over again, not only in the media, but also in the trial itself, where in the cross-examination, it was more of an interrogation that lasted two hours, where the prosecution was trying to trap me, and trying to make me lose my temper, and make me fit their profile of a crazy woman. And they didn’t get over with that.
In fact I think the trial itself was a real exposure of how desperately they are trying to whip up a very ridiculous and very conflicting story about what happened that day to cover over the fact that these cops have in general an intimidating attitude toward anybody who raises questions and that this particular cop had vengeance against me because of my anti-Bush stand, and they don't want people to know that he actually did arrest me unlawfully. [And they are trying to cover over the truth that this case is highly political, it has everything to do with trying to suppress the movement to drive out the Bush regime] That's the facts, very basically.

Brad found an article about Cindy Sheehan and we'll close with that. From Sarah Barry's "Sheehan voices anti-war message: 'Peace Mom' holds out hope for withdrawal from Iraq" (Daily Progress):

Cindy Sheehan has the soft, soothing voice of a mother. She has a gentle humor about her and she is generous with her hugs.
But Sheehan also has a message. Since her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq in April 2004, Sheehan has been campaigning for peace and an end to the Iraq War. In August 2005, she camped outside President Bush’s home in Crawford, Texas, asking why America’s sons and daughters were fighting in Iraq.
Wednesday night, Sheehan brought her message to Charlottesville. Reminiscing about her time in Crawford, Sheehan told an audience at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center that she remembered thinking, "This is the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq."
Sheehan's speech included both humorous anecdotes about her experiences speaking around the country and the world and heartbreaking personal information about her son.

This is a weak entry, not due to highlights but due to me being so tired. Don't expect much tomorrow morning either. Be sure to read the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow, they've got many things that will have you nodding. The e-mail address for this site is