Sunday, November 05, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Isaiah's latest and I wanted to comment on it as we ease into the Sunday night entry (I'm very tired). It's awfully strange how Bully Boy's locks are golden, grey, streaked with black, you name it. Ever changing. Not even Ronald Reagan was able to get by without people commenting on his obviously false hair color.

I saw Isaiah's comic as I was posting (as I was attempting to remember the password to post, actually) and thought it was funny (which it is) but then Ty was hollering to come look at the TV and we all went to look. Bully Boy was blathering on about what the Saddam Hussein verdict meant for the world (no mention on whether Rumsfled and Poppy were next in line) and it truly did look like he was going for the Farrah look from when she was Farrah Fawcett-Majors. The ever changing colors of Bully Boy's hair (or the campaign trail weight he packed in 2002, 2004 and this cycle) never get noted by the press. They can create/lie about a Bill Clinton haircut, they can note Reagan's laughable 'natural' color but if you think the press is 'back' and 'alive,' you're kidding yourself.

He still be can't commented on the way others have been. Not by the mainstream. So be glad for Missy Comley Beattie who never shies from saying what needs to be said. Mia's highlight is MCB's "Bush Shock" (CounterPunch):

I think I am having an anaphylactic reaction to George Bush. It seems that when I watch him speak, my immune system releases histamine that causes breathing difficulty. I know you understand. Some of it has to do with Bush's body language, the posturing that becomes more grotesque as his desperation increases. And the rough, tough, and often mangled delivery of his words. But, then, I'm also having a reaction to Tony Snow, Bush's sanitation engineer, the man whose tongue moves so fluidly in cleaning up after his boss and in presenting a charming image to the public. It must be the lies, hypocrisy, the death, and the destruction in addition to my inability to comprehend how any compassionate person could support this administration.
As George continues hitting the red areas to lasso his base, he is shouting, "We're in the midst of a war on terror and one of the most fundamental fights is in Iraq and yet the Democrats have no plan for victory." This is stunningly stupid for reasons too obvious to write. If you can bear to watch the performance, you notice a worshipping smile on some nodding face very close to the Decider. Is this an actor for hire, paid for by the Republican National Committee, or a genuine Bush believer?
And there's this: "The only way we can fail is if we leave before the job is done." Mind-numbingly moronic for reasons that also are too obvious to write.
Meanwhile, we are three days into November and eight U.S. troops have been killed this month, bringing the total to 2,826. One thousand servicemen and women have died since I wrote my first op-ed article after the death of my nephew on August 6, 2005. I vividly remember thinking at the time that my message might have an effect that would help end this war so that no more families would have to hear the words my brother received, "We regret to inform you." How naïve I was.

Missy Comley Beattie is a member of Military Families Speak Out. And from that organization, Doug wanted to this letter, "From the Father and Mother of Cpl. Jeffrey Michael LuceyOctober 29th, 2006:"

During this past weekend, we have heard time and time again so many quotes from this administration or about the administration.
Despite not holding any important positions of influence or wealth, we - just being ordinary citizens and parents of one who answered his country's call to arms and then subsequently became a veteran - would like to take a moment to respond to some of these quotes.
From Secretary Rumsfeld, we heard to back off and relax. We wanted to scream back to him that it is too late for us and especially for our son to relax and back off. For you see, due to their lack of planning and unrealistic expectations, our son - along with so many others - is dead. We would think that one holding such a position would truly understand, be sympathetic and empathetic - as well as being politically wise - yet again and again shows themselves to be so truly insensitive and uncaring. How can one of such hardness for our own be of the government of the people, for the people and by the people?
We then heard him speak of mythology - We were stunned! The masters of the war mythology had spinned so many tales of WMD and links to terror and 9/11 - which all proved to be false; then these same storytellers ask us to believe that they were totally misled and given wrong information - this country which has the best funded spy and satellite system in the world and work in concert with the countries which have the most developed and refined information gathering systems on this planet.
For us who have lost all - it is so difficult to even consider - never mind believe!
Then the commentator stated that Rumsfeld's importance is enhanced due to the fact that he knows where all the bodies are buried in the Pentagon. Well, we do know that he does not know where our son is buried - nor chances are that he would even care ... due to the fact that no one from the upper levels of this administration has attended a funeral of anyone on the formal acknowledged list of casualties listed in the media. Why would any of them pay attention to those who are uncounted, unrecognized and unacknowledged?
Then, finally, a Congresswoman stated that we should be so beyond looking at and questioning the rationale for the basic premises for the war. She added that she had had members of her family who were in the military to buttress her opinions and positions. We would first have to ask why would she ever want anyone in this country to compromise one of the greatest strengths of being a citizen of this great country ... not only to question but demand answers from those elected to govern - for those elected are answerable to those who have elected them. The second reason and this is the most frightening - would she not want the people of this nation to learn from the mistakes which led this country to such a tragic and deadly decision.
We state that these are some of the issues which bother us tremendously but these issues are not limited to just these. The emphasis to " stay the course" has led to the deaths of so many as well as to hurtle so many families into the depths of Hell while they struggle to keep their loved ones alive. Some will access the VA healthcare system only to discover the horrible truth of how broken the system is -due to the fact that once the soldier serves his/her purpose - the person becomes disposable ... and with the VA's perception of immunity - regretfully a callous and insensitive attitude has been fostered which will lead to so much pain.
We hold all of our loved ones as heroes and as those who have suffered so much as such special people deserving of recognition.
Regretfully, through the showing of " The Ground Truth ", people may begin to understand the true horrors and terrors of that which we call War. If people everywhere could truly understand all that is said and shared, then we would pray that we would never expose our children or anyone else to these horrors ever again.

With Love and Peace,
The Father and Mother of Cpl. Jeffrey Michael Lucey

They have an event coming up (and many actions), so we'll note that now:

On November 9, 2006, Military Families Speak Out members, along with Iraq veterans and veterans of other wars, will be delivering a petition to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and to Congress calling for an end to the Back Door Draft and for all of our troops to be brought home now! On November 11, Veterans Day, we will be honoring the fallen in Washington, DC, with a display of flags representing U.S. troops who have died in the war and photographs of Iraqi children, women and men whose lives have been lost. We need your help!
Click here to sponsor a flag and sign our petition online.
Click here to read statements from military families about the impact of the Back Door Draft on their loved ones and their families.
Click here to see the press release about the November 9th actions
Click here to read the letter to Donald Rumsfeld from MFSO.
Join us on November 11th to Honor the Fallen 10 am to 5 pmOn the National Mall near the Washington MonumentBetween 14th and 15th Streets South of Constitution Avenue

Now, returning to Missy Comley Beattie's highlight, the people who have been speaking out, have made a huge difference. I'm not pooh-pahing her feelings that more shouldn't have happened by now (I agree 100%). But Mia noted this one and Lonnie noted another one (that one's passed on to Rebecca because it's a topic she's been planning to write about). It's a rare thing where Missy Comley Beattie doesn't get noted in an e-mail by a member these days. So the point is, in the current system of 'media,' it takes time for people to find voices. You can be sure that those who read MCB's August 2005 commentaries got the points she was making. But more people are aware of her commentaries today and more can be aware tomorrow. That means all of us sharing them, passing them on, talking about them.

There really isn't an interest in this topic. I'm tired and too tired to pretty up and tie a shiny ribbon around it. CounterPunch does cover it. They run MCB's commentaries, Common Dreams does as well. I e-mailed Mia with some questions and she was kind enough to answer. She said she wasn't the first to highlight MCB here. She saw an excerpt here and enjoyed it. Then, awhile later (she thinks it was several weeks), she saw MCB at CounterPunch and e-mailed to note it. Mia usually visits CounterPunch several times a week ("at least six") and she reads whatever she has time for based on the titles listed and the authors listed. Because she recognized MCB's name, she started reading her commentaries.

That's the way it works. That's the way anything works. It's why marketing structured the way it is. It's why films are advertised the way they are. You have to get a name or a title out there over and over and over. At which point, someone says, "Hey, have you seen that thing . . ."

There's not a lot of effort to get the stories of the war out. All this time later and we still don't have an independent magazine offering a peace columnist (a real one -- not a pie-in-the-sky theoretical one who's writing and re-writing the same columns he penned when Bill Clinton was in office) and we still don't have an independent media radio program whose focus is Iraq. Missy Comley Beattie is among those who've been weighing in for some time. There are others. There are others who preceed them. And most of those names we're lucky to know because the war isn't a topic that independent media treats too seriously. And they certainly don't feel the peace movement aspect is worthy of coverage. Now possibly if the peace movement was coming out of the White House, they'd be interested in covering it.

I have tremendous respect for Media Benjamin and agreed with the points she made an interview with Andrea Lewis. They included that people saw a mass mobilization against the illegal war before it even started and when actions happen today, they may be factoring that in.
I think that's a valid point. But I also think the fact that the media doesn't build excitement around the movement, doesn't even cover it, is another valid point.

Why did Amy Goodman, in Exception to the Rulers (with her brother David), talk about how anti-war voices were shut out of the mainstream media debate on Iraq? Why did FAIR do a study of The NewsHour and criticize the program for refusing to offer a peace activist as a guest during the study period? Because those are seeds planted and they impact. If I'm thinking "I don't agree with this war" and all the voices I hear or see are people for it (or people who want to dicker over strategy), I may feel all alone. Or worse, I might think I'm in the recovering neocon camp because that's the only group, the war cheerleaders who have rethought, that gets attention.

If you don't see your opinions reflected, if you don't see voices similar to yours included, you are left with the impression that you must be someone whose thoughts are so in the minority that they can't even find a gas bag to represent you. Visitng various groups to speak out against the war, I've seen changes. I've seen an increase in interest (that continues to grow) among students. I've seen hopes, like the kind MCB writes of, be abundant and students express how sure they were that this was the time, this was when the movement was going to be treated seriously. These days, we usually open the talk by noting something local and who bothered to cover it which, more often than not, becomes a list of who didn't bother to cover it.

Outlets that are not covering the war are making themselves useless and I heard that on campuses for months before I started noting it here. Across the country, from students involved in or interested in stopping the war, you will hear that complaint over and over. There's nothing written here (or helped with the writing of at The Third Estate Sunday Review) that captures the anger and disappointment and, honestly, rage that students are feeling towards the independent media that refuses to cover the war. That's also translating into how they themselves are covered. Either they're sneered at by desk jockeys who don't have any clue what they're doing to end the war or they're rendered invisible because they aren't trying to be 'power players' in an election.

As the student who coined the term 'Eisenhower Democrats' to describe the sort of students The Nation is covering noted, it's not surprising considering how they've refused to cover the war. It's not surprising that they're hiding behind big money groups (again) with deep pockets and an interest in 'influencing' the 2008 election. The lame brain who offered that sometimes you have to skip chaining yourself to a tree and 'put on a suit' was something I was willing to let pass. Dona, Jim, Ava, Ty and Jess rightly saw that as appalling and insulting. It was only when I was speaking to students in high school and college and they were citing that repeatedly and sharing how offended they were by that remark (and the coverage) that I called the gang up and said, "You're right. Let's address it."

MCB is a spirited and passionate writer. We're lucky to have a voice like that and we have quite a few voices like in the movement to end the war. They just don't get attention. I don't disagree with the feelings MCB is writing of and it can be very depressing to realize what a struggle ending this war still is. But the truth of the matter is, there's not been much support from independent media for ending the war. There's been very little effort to cover it in terms of anything other than what the beltway says and maybe a "He said on Chris Matthews __! He is wrong!" And "he" is usually a columnist or a pundit and they're not really an anti-war voice even if they're among the few who've turned against it.

It's a funny sort of fan club coverage that continues to emphasize the beltway while many of them (FAIR) fail to go beyond it. FAIR's right, The NewsHour should have had a peace activist on in the time they tracked. It's also true that CounterSpin, FAIR's radio program, should have had a peace activist on during that time period; however, they didn't. If you think it's worth noting that The NewsHour doesn't present the voices of peace activists (I happen to agree it is), then you should be using your own program, which you produce and control, to get those voices out there. The fact that so many don't, the fact that we have no columnist covering the peace movement (shocking when you consider that this country has been involved in the illegal war for three years and eight months), goes a long way towards explaining why the war continues to drag on.

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 Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2812. Right now? 2834. ICC currently lists 16 as the number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of November and we're on the fifth day of that month. Twenty-two since last Sunday and when the hell is independent media going to get serious about covering this war?

In Iraq, as people were supposed to pretend 'democracy' was once again being birthed (how many times will the water break?), the reality is that two Sunni TV stations were shut down on orders of the puppet government. That's the four-part 'plan' that you don't hear much about, that you never heard much about other than empty praise and the first two-parts. One of the 'steps' was curtailing press freedom. You didn't hear much about that because it's kind of hard to pass the lie of 'democracy' off at the same time Nouri al-Maliki's going to destroying the press.

Meanwhile, Reuters notes the following as among the violence that was reported (most isn't):
three people were killed and eleven wounded from mortar rounds in Bagdad; one person was killed and two wounded by a bombing in Kirkuk; five people were wounded by a bombing in Hawija; and two people were killed and five wounded when US helicopters fired on Balad.

In other news, Martha notes Ann Scott Tyson's "Possible Iraq Deployments Would Stretch Reserve Force" (Washington Post)

The Army's National Guard and Reserve are bracing for possible new and accelerated call-ups, spurred by high demand for U.S. troops in Iraq, that leaders caution could undermine the citizen-soldier force as it struggles to rebuild.
Two Army National Guard combat brigades with about 7,000 troops have been identified recently in classified rotational plans for possible special deployment to Iraq, according to senior Army and Pentagon officials, who asked that the specific units not be named. One brigade could be diverted to Iraq next year from another assignment, and the other could be sent there in 2008, a year ahead of schedule.

And Pru notes "George Galloway demands Blair held to account for Iraq" from Great Britain's Socialist Worker which addresses the uncomfortable reality Tony Blair had to face last week (more is on the way):

'It's a very modest motion before the house - a call for a committee of inquiry comprising seven members of the privy council.
It therefore speaks volumes that the government is opposing this attempt at the mildest of scrutiny into its conduct up to and including the outbreak of the disastrous war on Iraq.
The House of Commons today has a chance to redeem itself. This House voted to take this country into George Bush’s war on 18 March 2003.
Those of us who voted against the war, who mobilised the greatest mass movement of our age to stop it are now being joined - admittedly largely privately - by others who say they were misled about the case for war.
Those on the New Labour benches have the chance today to put the well being of people in this country and in Iraq above petty, sectional, party interest.
They have a chance to put the future security of hundreds of millions above the political prospects of the prime minister.
To those who claim that holding an inquiry will "demoralise" the armed forces: we got a pretty good estimation of the morale of the armed forces after the head of the British army spoke a truth that has so rarely been heard in this chamber, that the presence of British forces in Iraq is exacerbating the dangers this country faces.
That was before the US suffered over 100 dead this month; before the report in the Lancet that the most likely number of people to have been killed in Iraq since the war is 655,000.
The government's case against this motion is as flimsy and insubstantial as its case was for war. And the issue at stake in this debate is greater than the words on the order paper.
It is whether we are going to extricate ourselves from a foreign policy disaster that dwarfs the Suez folly of half a century ago. And it is whether members of parliament are going to summon up the courage to represent the people on this question.
If the answer to those questions is negative, the issue will be settled outside this chamber.
Which way members vote will be remembered by the electorate and will count in their reckoning as the death toll mounts, and the flames of war and extremism lap around this country.'
Movement forced war debate
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, spoke to Socialist Worker before she went into the House of Commons' public gallery to observe the debate.
She said, “It’s been over three years since there was a proper debate on the war in Iraq. The government has refused to put it on the agenda and the main opposition party has declined to do so until now. It has been left to the SNP and Plaid Cymru, to force this debate.
"If it wasn’t for the anti-war movement there would not have been this debate.
"Our pressure kept it at the front of the agenda. We are nearing what we fought for - the immediate withdrawal of British troops."
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As we noted this morning, US war resister Joshua Key was denied refugee status in Canada. Oklahoma native Key now goes through the process appeal that Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman have been going through for most of this year. And US war reister Kyle Snyder remains self-checked out after the military again broke their word to him on Tuesday of last week.

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