Thursday, November 23, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

In the worst attack on Baghdad since the war to unseat Saddam Hussein, insurgents killed 152 people and wounded 236 in a series of car bombings in the Shiite district of Sadr City, security and medical sources said.
The attacks prompted the interior ministry to announce an indefinite curfew in the capital, effective from 8:00 pm (1700 GMT).
Wounded clogged the hospitals of Sadr City, with dozens lying bleeding in the corridors as overworked staff struggled to tend to the casualties.
"Of those killed, 88 bodies are in the Imam Ali hospital and 55 in Sadr City hospital," a medic told AFP, saying many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

The above is from AFP's "Worst bombing in Baghdad since war kills 152." The worst bombing (on the ground) since the illegal war began. And the Pentagon's weighed "Go Long," "Go Deep" or "Get Out." The last option could also be called "Get Real."

But there was no reality leading the nation into the illegal war so why should reality lead the United States out of it?

So the US military can announce three deaths ("Three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 diedWednesday from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al AnbarProvince"), Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) can report on the UN study's findings that October 2006 was the deadliest month for Iraqis since the illegal war began, the UN can note "that freedom of expression continued to be undermined, minorities continued to be adversely and directly affected, women's conditions continued to deteriorate, the targeting of professionals, such as journalists, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors and other intellectuals, political, tribal and religious leaders, Government officials and members of the security forces continued unabated and that violence is impacting education, preventing many schools and universites from opening," war resisters can be covered in print by the AP and other mainstream sources but ignored by our leading independent magazines, and the war drags 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 Thursday, the total number of US troop fatalities stood at 2865. Right now? 2871. 51 for the month. And the best anyone in Congress can do in terms of grabbing headlines this week is to offer the idiotic suggestion to reinstate the draft as a way to maybe end the war. ("Maybe" due to selling the draft on needing forces to deal with Iran and others which -- although it may use this decade's hula-hoop -- doesn't really come off as the slighest bit peaceful or even anti-war.) Though Charlie Rangel seems unaware, the movement during the Vietnam era was to end both the war and the draft. His 'well meaning' is neither appreciated or smart.

Today, it's taken for granted that males, when they turn 18, will register. Ronald Reagan brought that back, right? Wrong, it was Jimmy Carter. There was a mini-uproar. Some even publicly refused to register. (Emilio Estevez among them.) Ronald Reagan offered a campaign promise of ending registration. So along comes Charlie Rangel to play the Holy Doofus and make the situation far worse. War isn't the province of one party. Nixon didn't get the US into Vietnam. War is a bi-partisan process by which both parties screw over the people.

The Holy Doofus wants the burden to be shared. Is he really that stupid?

Maybe it plays well to the uninformed who are under some mistaken belief that a draft means everyone is drafted in the same manner.

For those who missed it, John Abizaid testifed to the Senate last week that the military did not have enough bodies to flood the ground in Iraq. A draft is the last thing that is needed and will hardly result in starving the war machine or in ending any war. It will take the onus for the current off Bully Boy and the GOP and maybe that's what needs to happen?

The Democrats in the 90s were just as eager for the war with Iraq. They weren't as brazen as Bully Boy to lie a nation into war but when you've never accomplished anything in your life and you're surrounded by minions telling you this is 'the moment' and that you can top your father, maybe it's no surprise that you go with an illegal war?

The war is illegal. The reasons for it were false. And it's easy for some Dems who supported it to claim that they were 'tricked,' but the reality is that some of the 'tricked' knew better in real time. The same is true of pundits. It wasn't just the ones who are right that cheerleaded an illegal war, it was some on the left or 'left.' Most of whom have now moved to the hand wringing circle of "The US can't leave now! It would rip Iraq apart!" It's just as phoney as their cheerleading of Colin Powell's laughable UN performance.

And the fact that there's always a place for them in big media lets you know where big media stands on war (they want it).

Independent media? On the left, they're against the war. In fact, if the illegal war accomplished nothing else, it finally woke the nation up to the fact that The New Republic isn't a left publication. But our big left magazines are against it in a strange sort of manner.

They can't cover war resisters within the military, they can't cover the peace movement, they can't expand the discussion. They take what big media offers and toss out a counter argument. They don't lead, they react. Sometimes the distract.

Such as getting all worked up about Ralph Nader running in 2004. Let me be clear here, when Randi Rhodes was hostile to Nader on air, I was quite happy. It took hearing the way Patti Smith and Ani DiFranco would be treated to check my own behaivor. But that's the sort of 'discussion' we got in 2004. Should Nader run or shouldn't he?

Of course he should. Anyone who wants to hold office should run. The dog pile on Nader was an echo of the dog pile in the 90s on Elizabeth Holtzman. In 2004, Nader was supposed to drop out of the race. Earlier Holtzman was suppoed to (in her case, a primary). The conventional wisdom was that Geraldine Ferraro had some pre-ordained right to a set in Congress. Well she didn't end up in Congress and John Kerry didn't end up in the White House.

What's Geraldine Ferraro done since Bully Boy was installed in the White House? Elizabeth Holtzman? She's calling for his impeachment. If Ferraro is such a leader that Holtzman should have stepped aside for her, where the hell is Ferraro today?

Who's the fighter? Who's the leader?

Janet Reno, Janet Reno!, is objecting to Bully Boy's power grab. Where the hell is Ferraro? As the only woman to be on the presidential ticket of one of the two main parties, Ferraro should have lived up to her 'legacy' some time ago. (For the younger members, Ferraro was second on the ticket when Mondale was the Democratic candidate for president in 1984.)

But this mid-term election cycle, we again saw 'endorsements.' Was it as bad as the slam job in 2004 portraying Nader followers as pathetic and sad? Maybe not but there wasn't much attention given to any non-Democratic candidate. If nothing else, a third party candidate can introduce concepts and ideas. ("If nothing else" is not intended as a slam, just noting that this is a generally agreed upon point in the field of poli sci.) That doesn't happen when they're not covered.

Coverage does matter. And it matters for more than just a candidate, it matters for our understanding of where we could be headed. The Democratic Party, at this point, shows little desire to take us there. Due to the struggles going on, that's hardly a surprise. (Struggles within the party.) It is a surprise that our independent media can't or won't take us there.

What was the point of building up John Murtha? Apparently nothing but gas baggery because last week we saw him taken out. I'm not fond of Murtha. We didn't offer him as a savior here. But it was really amazing to see some of the same sources that spent forever pushing him suddenly turn on him. ABSCAM was tossed out even though, for anyone old enough to remember, Murtha ddidn't take a bribe. That wasn't explained, but nothing was. Just toss out the phrase "ABSCAM," tar and feather him with it, and never bother to explain what it was or the fact that there were repeated attempts to bribe him and he repeatedly did not take the bribe.

Why did our independent media even care? A true independent media wouldn't read like a gossip sheet on Congress, Rona Barrett's Congress!, it would remind people that what goes on in this country wasn't a spectator sport for the public. It would drive home the very real power that people have and the very real they are effected by the 'decision makers.'

When Cindy Sheehan staged her first Camp Crawford, a blogger tried to insist that Sheehan wasn't for bringing the troops home and when a member provided the proof that Sheehan was indeed calling for the troops to come home, the blogger offered that it didn't matter what Sheehan wanted, that Congress should make those decisions. In a democracy, according to that blogger, the will of the people is unimportant and people demanding action or accountability was unimportant. That's the message when someone believes that a citizen's voice isn't worth listening to.

Where would someone get such an idea? From a shaking civics understanding obviously. But you could also point to a lot of independent media outlets that repeatedly pants and drool over DC and never report on the people. In the Wednesday entry (that the visitor e-mailed about), I referred to the "no-stars" of independent media. That's a phrase I've used often in columns for Polly's Brew and the gina & krista round-robin. But it was new to visitors e-maling to offer that ___ and ___ were stars. The e-mails were so pathetic you'd think Erin Moran wrote them.

The "no-stars" did not refer to the fact that there are "no stars" in independent media. Amy Goodman is obviously a star of independent media. The only name listed in the e-mails that I personally agreed with. Goodman's not without her problems (no one is, that's part of being human) but she's not doing what the no-stars do. The no-stars seem to read their Times (sometimes their Washington Post) and attempt to figure out how to present the same points from a left perspective. The Times doesn't exist for people, it exists for officials (which is why they cover what they do and how they cover what they cover).

Goodman doesn't do that. The reality is that's probably why she's a star. If you're offering watered down NYT (form the left!) the reality is people can get it in a better package by reading the paper. Imitations rarely become stars. When they do, they're still jokes. (As the then Mama Cass observed of the Monkees, so what, we'll still have the legacy.) I wouldn't argue 2006 has been the finest year for Goodman, but she's still had more moments than anyone else can point to. Those moments didn't come about because she tried to figure out how to respond to the Times. She can, and does, fact check them. But she has a very strong vision of what matters and what doesn't. That vision doesn't rest upon whether Obama is the Water Cooler Talk this week or not. It rests upon the belief that people do matter and that, if they're made aware of their power, they can be agents of change.

That powerful (and liberating) view is why she's a name. Not because she's wasting everyone's time with trivia for political junkies.

The inability of other independent media outlets to do the same may be just as responsible for the current state of the country.

Unlike the illegal war, 2006 is almost over. 2007 would be better spent by independent media devoting attention to something beyond the beltway 'players.' Instead of all the attempts to provide a racing forum for the election of 2008, they might actually offer something that was independent and that did reflect a point of view -- setting the agenda instead of constantly responding to an agenda set by the mainstream.

The e-mail address for this site is