Thursday, December 14, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

I've been going through the e-mails for an hour and a half and they're two groups: one complaining about how little there is to even suggest for a highlight and others containing highlights we won't note.

On the latter, someone who cheerleaded the war now works for elsewhere and he seems to think his remarks in editorial board meetings are unknown or forgotten. That's not the case here. I know damn well what he did from the sole person opposed to the war in real time, when it mattered, on the editorial board. He's written a lovely puff piece to some Republicans and going after other Republicans and I'm guessing his own political affiliation is unknown which is why his lousy piece of writing (which is actually to recast the illegal war if you read it closely) is featured at a left site. I've explained to members with highlights why those aren't going up here and that includes kinda-con who realizes that the American people are against the war so now he attempts to recast himself.

The other problem is a constant -- if someone's actually talking Iraq (or think they are), they're boring us with the James Baker Circle Jerk. A visitor actually sent in a strong piece on that, outlining all that is wrong with what the Circle Jerk produced. And I know the writer and I like the writer as a person, activist and writer.

If that had showed up last week, it would have made it into a snapshot. But on Sunday, we went out with Russ Feingold's criticism of the Circle Jerk. We're done with it. The fact that so many members are complaining about how Iraq's falling apart and writers are still writing those articles (dopey ones -- "There's a silver lining to the report . . ." -- or maybe multiple linings) demonstrate that the decision was the right one to make.

We only have the power we use. We can trash it, we can trash it by highlighting a kinda-con bully who couldn't handle that, on an entire editorial board one person, one person, was opposed to the march to illegal war -- that it unhinged kinda-con so badly he not only had a scream-fest, he also started throwing things. He doesn't fit with our politics (even with the recasting he's attempting) and, even if he did, we wouldn't highlight him.

I really am sorry about the writer the visitor found. Had it come as late as Sunday, we would have gone out with Feingold and the writer both. They would have both had the last word on the matter. But you take a stand or you don't. Sunday, I stopped the entry to talk to Ava, Jess, Jim, Dona and Ty. Jim asked, "So if Robin Morgan, Tom Hayden, Alice Walker and Naomi Klein wrote an article together on the Circle Jerk, it still wouldn't get highlighted?" No. And with those four we could wait and find other things to highlight. But the person in question does more activism and other things and doesn't write op-eds very often. So it pains me that we can't highlight him. But the decision was made and the community supports it -- and we're standing by it.

Could we do an entry without any highlights? Yes, we could and I was prepared to do so but a number of members responded to the e-mails explaining why something couldn't be highlighted by digging for something more.

Lyle was one of the members who had suggested the kinda-con (think of him as "Ye Shall Know Him By Those Who Praise Him"). Lyle e-mailed another highlight we can use, Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Dawdles for a Reason" (The Progressive):

With every day a wasting, with the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq now standing at 2,920 and climbing, Bush is dawdling.
[. . .]
My bet is that he's postponed his big speech till after the holidays because he doesn't want to dampen this season of cheer by announcing that he's planning on upping the troop levels.
Only 12 percent of the American people are in favor of that, according to an LA Times/Bloomberg poll this week.
But Bush and Cheney don't care what the American people want.
As Cheney said, right before the election, "It may not be popular with the public--it doesn't matter."

"It doesn't matter." Rothschild's nailed the reason the war continues and will continue for some time more. Iraqis don't matter. US troops don't matter. Public opinion doesn't matter. The public doesn't matter. The deaths don't matter.

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 number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 2921. Tonight? 2938. 17 more since last week and panning a laughable report because it's an easy topic to write about and you want to flash your 'bipartisanship' (talk about indecent exposure) doesn't end the illegal war. It does provide the cover.

It's nonsense. It's not ending the war and it's not intended to.

Maybe Bully Boy can find 'resolve' in the fact that Latvia just decided to stay in Iraq for another year? Xinhau reports that they will continue their number of troops in the country: 125. Maybe John McCain and Joe Lieberman can stop off in Latvia and ask them to send 15,000 - 30,000 additional troops?

Every one of the jaw boners tries to pan for the 'negotiation' invention! It must be a new invention, negotiation, the way they're all so taken with it. The reality is negotiations have gone on and the US has walked away repeatedly -- which, for those who do remember Vietnam, indicates that it's just going through the motions. (Kind of like the sappy report.) With one example of previous negotiations, Lynda notes Gareth Porter's "U.S. Weighed Sunni Offer to "Clean Up" Militias" (IPS):

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad negotiated with Sunni armed groups for several weeks earlier this year on an agreement that would have supported Sunni forces in attacking pro-Iranian Shiite militias, according to accounts given by commanders of armed Sunni resistance organisations.
The revelations of the intensive U.S.-Sunni negotiations, reported by Hala Jaber in the Sunday Times of London Dec. 10, are consistent with an account of those negotiations provided by a Sunni participant last May in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
But the new accounts make it clear for the first time that the main objective of the talks was to explore possible U.S. support for building a Sunni military force directed primarily against Shiites in Iraq.
The Bush administration never responded to the Sunni offer and resumed its support in April 2006 for fielding an almost exclusively Shiite and Kurdish army and paramilitary forces to suppress the Sunni resistance. The decision against any accommodation with the Sunni organisations made it virtually impossible for the United States to curb the rising tide of sectarian Shiite killings of Sunni civilians and the open sectarian civil war that has followed.
In the talks, the Sunnis assured the ambassador that the Sunni insurgents had sufficient manpower and knowledge to deal successfully with the problem of Shiite militias in Baghdad, which Khalilzad had begun to recognise as a serious policy problem for the Bush administration. "If he would just provide us with the weapons, we would clean up the city and regain control of Baghdad in 30 days," one insurgent leader was quoted as saying.
The Sunni participants did not refer to potential cooperation against al Qaeda in Iraq and other jihadist terrorist networks in Iraq, but the organisations involved had parted ways with al Qaeda on central issues and some insurgent leaders had reportedly offered in late 2005 to turn al Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al Zarqawi over to the Iraqi government as part of a broader peace agreement.
The negotiations between Khalilzad and Sunni insurgents were said by the Sunni leaders to have been brokered by former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, at Khalilzad's request. Allawi apparently convinced Sunni resistance leaders that they could find common ground with the United States over Iranian influence in the country, which was exercised through Shiite political parties and militias. Allawi established his bona fides with the Sunni resistance on the Iranian threat to Iraq by having his defence minister refer to the main Shiite list in the first parliamentary elections as the "Iranian list".

See, there is a great deal worthy of attention -- possibly some are too taken with White officials or maybe it's xenophobia or a desire to appear 'respectable'? Who knows?

Caitlen (a visitor who said to use her first name) wanted to know why Dennis Kucinich has now appeared in two snapshots this week? Caitlen feels that I've violated my principle not to endorse. I haven't endorsed anyone. Kucinich is addressing the war. He was in the snapshots before because of that. Since his campaign doesn't run from the war, he'll probably be noted in the snapshots for some time to come. That would be true of anyone. And we noted Tom Vilsack
in the snapshot when he had something to say about Iraq. (It was a slow day in terms of news. I quoted Vilsack, I didn't offer a comment on his statement. Read the statement and you'll see why.) If Kucinich has something to say (and I'm aware of it), he'll make the snapshot that day.

Expect to see more of him. I'm not endorsing anyone but he'll probably make the snapshot more than many others because the majority flirting with going for the 2008 nomination are not people who make brave statements. 'Rock Star' Obama? I wasn't impressed when I met him in 2004 and said, "He's only speaking this way because he has an opponent." When he didn't have a real one, he began back pedaling. He's continued to do so. He's the Jerry Bruckheimer of candidates -- Feel Good statements so you can Feel Good about Feeling Good. Short of a spine transplant, don't expect to see the 'Rock Star' quoted in the snapshot.

At this point he's merely a distraction as is all the talk of 'hopefuls.' For all the carping that certain candidates should have dropped out during the last cycle (Kucinich was targeted with that), this nonsense of "HE MAY RUN!" eats up more time than anything. It's gas baggery. And offers nothing. Unlike the candidates being urged to drop out in 2003 and 2004 -- who were actually offering (or trying to) something to the debate. ("Trying to" only because they weren't covered as candidates in 2004 because the press was too busy gas bagging and handicapping a horse race.)

Caitlen says that I supported Kucinich in 2004 and now I'm doing the same "all over again!" First, this site wasn't up then and, other than e-mails and reading, I didn't do anything online in 2004. Second, I've stated I supported John Kerry in 2004. Actually, I've stated I supported the campaign beginning in March 2003. And March 2007 is probably when I'll make some decision. Kucinich has been in the snapshots because he addresses the war. John Kerry, making the same statements he made up to 2004, wouldn't be. That's not addressing the war. It really wasn't at the time. Had the convention speech (recently misquoted in The Nation) been given earlier, I would have went with another candidate. We were supposed to see echoes of John Kennedy but it seemed to me to harken to John-John (the salute). I didn't care for the majority of the convention speeches. I felt war was being glorified.

Nor did I look at the 2006 election and think, "Thank God the vets are coming in to save us!" because military service is not a pre-requiste for public office in the United States and it seemed like a nice way to avoid the issue while hiding (as one candidate Amy Goodman interviewed this week demonstrated -- attempted to have it both ways -- vote for me because I served but I have no plans for addressing the war). A real candidate uplifts, not by providing cover to hide behind, but by inspiring. I also wasn't one of the ones fretting about military ballots in the 2000 election. If you're going to impose the rules, you impose them on everyone. There was one excuse after another for why they should be counted (and of course Joe Lieberman destroyed the Gore campaign with his stupidity on Meet the Press). Sorry, a legal ballot is defined by the law. There was no attempt to make excuses for any other segments of the public. In a democracy, no one's vote is more important. While there are classes that need protection due to historical violations and abuses, the military doesn't qualify for that category. How Florida's 2000 vote went was, you could be a legal voter denied the vote because of race but you could be in the military and not have a postmark or a signature or even arrive by the deadline but still have your vote counted. Forgetting all the other abuses in the Florida vote and reducing it solely to what the law was supposed to recognize as a legal vote, that's not how a democracy is supposed to work.

For the record, in 2002, I assumed I'd be supporting John Edwards. He will most likely run a better campaign this go round if he declares but I was less and less impressed with the campaign as it went along. I truly do not who I will be supporting for 2008 and I can't imagine a more boring subject to discuss. But Caitlen's concerns have been noted and addressed.

Which is more than most elected Dems do these days. Carl e-mailed with a question and a highlight. First the question: why hadn't other sites linked to Black Agenda Report? Templates are a pain in the butt. All community sites now link to the site (thanks to Carl's e-mail) but it was a case of it being on a list of things to do that hadn't been completed yet. I did call or e-mail everyone this evening noting Carl's question and we're all now linked. Margaret Kimberley, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon are names we know from another site and now that they've started a new one, we will highlight them here. Saturday is reserved for Kimberley who is a community favorite. Carl wanted to note another contribution (and if he or anyone will e-mail a highlight for the Thursday night entries, we'll note it each week). Today, Carl noted Glen Ford's "The Irreplaceable Cynthia McKinney: Outgoing Rep. Smacks Bush with Impeachment Papers" (Black Agenda Report):

"To my fellow Americans, as I leave this Congress, it is in your hands -- to hold your representatives accountable, and to show those with the courage to stand for what is right, that they do not stand alone." -- Rep. Cynthia McKinney on U.S. House floor, December 8, 2006
Cynthia McKinney will soon exit the U.S. House of Representatives, her second departure from Capitol Hill since voters first chose her to represent a majority Black, suburban Atlanta district in 1992. In parting, McKinney once again showed herself to be an irreplaceable presence in the Congress -- the only Member to dare submit a resolution to impeach President George W. Bush, along with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.To borrow an accolade bestowed on Paul Robeson, the great African American singer and political activist [
1898-1976 ], McKinney proved to be "the tallest tree in the forest."
"Confronted with the most lawless presidency in the history of the Republic, the thoroughly cowed Democratic 'opposition' shriveled into inconsequentiality."
Evidence of the Bush regime's multitudinous crimes has for years been available in abundance to every conscientious citizen and all 535 Members of Congress. Yet, confronted with the most lawless presidency in the history of the Republic -- a White House even more criminal than that of Andrew Jackson, who
defied a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring banishment of the Cherokee to Oklahoma, in 1832 -- the thoroughly cowed Democratic "opposition" shriveled into inconsequentiality.
Except for Cynthia McKinney.

What most weren't willing to do, Cynthia McKinney did. That's been true of her Congressional career. Not just once, but repeatedly she stood up. She didn't get a great deal of support and, in fact, was undercut (to put it nicely) by many in her own party. That includes Nancy Pelosi who wouldn't restore her seniority and it includes the thankfully cancelled Crossfire and their gas bags from the 'left' (camera angle?). What Greg Palast rightly noted as the "screwing" over of McKinney happened not just due to the mainstream press (and their faux left) but also due to the fact that so few refused to stand up and say "No." They should have. McKinney was a brave voice in Congress. She'll continue to be a brave voice outside of Congress. Maybe she'll run for president? Maybe she'll demonstrate that power comes not from official office but from using your power? McKinney wasn't afraid to call out the war. (Still isn't.) When she won back her seat in 2004, she could've played the game so many attempted to force on her but she didn't. She stayed true to what she believed in and what voters had voted for her to. As in 2002, she wasn't defeated by the Republicans, she was defeated by her own party.

Flyboy e-mailed a highlight after mentioning it on the phone (when I was noting that we might be doing a one highlight entry tonight -- which would've have been more than fine). He was helping Rebecca with her post tonight and had a question about how to put the map into her post. If anyone's missed it, Rebecca is pregnant. Between that and quitting smoking (due to the pregnancy) she's pretty wiped out right now. So anytime she has a highlight to pass on or for Flyboy to pass on, it will go up here. So they both note Robert Parry's "A Way Forward, a Look Back" (Consortium News) which is so far removed from gas baggery it should have many hanging their heads in shame:

So, given this unfolding disaster, what are the lessons that should be learned and what might a genuine new course forward look like?
First, the American people should hold accountable everyone who advocated or enabled the Iraq War in 2002-03 -- Democrats, Republicans, pundits and journalists whether they promoted the policy or just went with the flow.
These public figures either demonstrated a lack of judgment or a lack of courage. They represent threats to U.S. national security -- and should be viewed in that harsh light. Conversely, early skeptics of the war should be rewarded, not only out of a sense of fairness but from a practical appreciation of their farsightedness and bravery.
When looking for someone to lead the way out of this quagmire, it does'’t make much sense to rely on the people who led the way in.
Second, the U.S. press and politicians should cool the heated rhetoric about "terrorism" -- and start using the word more precisely and less ideologically. The definition should be confined to intentional violence against civilians to achieve a political goal. Plus, the word should be applied evenhandedly, not as a propaganda weapon.
When the word is hurled against any militant group that's unpopular with Washington or that has attacked U.S. soldiers, it becomes not only a way to incite irrational hatred, but an impediment to rational policy. Also, overusing the word serves the interests of actual terrorists such as al-Qaeda by lumping them together with, say, Iraqi insurgents.
Another harsh truth is that virtually no ethnic group, race, religion or nation has clean hands when it comes to "terrorism." Historians can point to a long record of Americans employing terror tactics going back to the origins of the country and continuing through recent atrocities and indiscriminate killings committed against Iraqi civilians.
It's also true that some Jewish extremists used terrorism against British administrators and Palestinians to advance the founding of Israel. Some of these extremists, such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, later rose to positions of prominence, including the post of prime minister.
So, avoid selective outrage.
Third, the United States must recognize that the best way to help Israel is not always doing what the Israeli government and its influential backers demand.
Possibly one of the greatest contributions to Israeli security was the Sinai peace deal with Egypt that President Jimmy Carter hammered out in the late 1970s, often over the angry objections of Prime Minister Begin and Israeli hard-liners.
On the other hand, the yoking of U.S. and Israeli positions during George W. Bush's administration has caused severe damage to Israeli security interests, including a stunning military-diplomatic misadventure in Lebanon in summer 2006 and a disturbing rise in Islamic extremism across the region.
Fourth, if the United States is to protect its interests in the strategic Middle East and improve prospects for regional peace, a dramatic change in policy is needed -- one that respects and addresses the legitimate grievances of all sides.

That's just an excerpt. The column says more than some have produced in all of 2006.

And that's what it's going to take to end the war. The e-mail address for this site is

and the war drags on