Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Other Items

As Kat noted, Tom Hayden and Frances Fox Piven are scheduled to be guests on the first segement of KPFA's The Morning Show, that's 7:00 am PST (the show airs from 7:00 am to 9:00 am PST, they're scheduled for the first segment after the news break).

Yesterday, we noted Sheldon Rampton's "Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" (Center for Media and Democracy) which was actually Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's article. Why won't WalkOn move foward? A14 of the New York Times today contains a brief/article that notes WalkOn.org is supporting the weak, toothless House measure that will not end the war. It also notes that it 'polled' (that's mocking WalkOn, I'm making no comment on the article/brief) it's 'membership' (ibid). WalkOn claims 3.2 million 'members.' It had 126,000 voting. That's not even a tenth of the supposed 'members.' For the nonsense of the poll's 'options' see Rampton and Stauber's "Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" (Center for Media and Democracy). It's time to again note that WalkOn's 'membership' is in decline. (In some cases losing 'one' 'member' means losing several because some 'members' are the same individual signing up multiple times in 2004.) WalkOn does not speak for the peace movement, it never has. It WalkedOn after the 2004 elections. Joshua Frank, Norman Solomon and others have noted that WalkOn has had to be pushed and prodded to weigh in (over and over). Rumors of it's 'membership' (numbers) have long raged. If you've asked your members to vote and 126,000 voted, you don't have 3.2 members. That's rather basic.

It's also rather basic that WalkOn can't and won't lead on the war. That's been obvious since they refused to walk with the issue (forget lead on it) in the aftermath of the 2004 elections -- it can be argued that it was also obvious when they attempted channel energies into stopping the war into supporting a War Hawk candidate. NOW has offered leadership on the issue, WalkOn has not. Peace is a feminist issue (as NOW rightly points out on their home page), but it needs to be noted that NOW has done more to end the war then what is repeatedly promoted by the press as something it is increasingly not. From Melody Drnach's "Four Tragic Years" (NOW):

March 19, 2007
At this tragic conclusion of the fourth year of George W. Bush's war for oil and control of the Middle East, we grieve the loss of more than 3,200 U.S. soldiers and between 58,000 and 600,000 deaths of civilians in Iraq. The fact that we have no idea how many Iraqis have perished speaks volumes about this administration's concern for humanity.
As we rush through our lives, four years can pass in a flash, but for people living and serving in Iraq, four years can be a lifetime. Consider how long four years really is. A baby born in Iraq at the start of the war is now walking and talking, knowing only the sights and sounds of war. A sixteen-year-old, who was learning to drive the family car is now the 20-year-old service member learning to walk with a prosthetic leg. During these past four years, thousands of children have lost a parent, sibling, aunt, or cousin, and thousands of families have been changed tragically, forever, by this war of Bush's choice.
For four years, we have marched in cities across the country calling for peace, calling for an end to the war. Hundreds of thousands of peaceful people have held vigils in communities across the country and in cities and towns around the world. Since the war began, thousands of activists have visited members of Congress pleading for peace.
In November 2006, we the people, tired of the Republican leadership refusing to listen, elected a Democratic-led Congress -- many were elected because they pledged to end the war and bring our troops home. Despite the nationwide cry for peace, the U.S. Senate failed on March 15, by a vote of 50 to 48, to pass legislation setting a deadline to begin bringing the troops home. The new Bush plan isn't working -- unless the sorrowful deaths of the 73 soldiers who have fallen since the commencement of the "surge" are part of his "Mission Accomplished" strategy. We vow to continue to press members of Congress to end this war.
Women and War
Since 2002, NOW has consistently spoken out against the war, and the fact that women, both in Iraq and in the U.S., are disproportionately affected by war. As the Bush administration rushed to invade, we knew that women and children in Iraq would suffer the horrors of war, and that young women and men would die needlessly in pursuit of oil and revenge. We could only hope, in the face of greed and aggression, that our military leaders would fulfill their responsibility to protect the women under their command and the women of Iraq from rape, sexual assault and harassment by U.S. soldiers. Their leadership has failed us.
Rape and sexual assault of both U.S. servicewomen and Iraqi civilians has been extensively reported, and evidenced by military tribunals. As predicted, Iraqi life in many areas has degenerated into bloody chaos, fear and despair. Hatred of the United States, because of our policies, has deepened, and women have been driven, in terror, inside their homes or have been forced to flee their country. The full story of the rape, sexual assault and harassment has yet to be told by women in the military, though it has started to come out in the
mainstream press. NOW calls for an inquiry into the treatment of both U.S. and Iraqi women and for full Congressional investigations.

There are many organizations doing great work that focuses solely on Iraq. The point of noting NOW's work (which deserves to be noted) is to dismiss this nonsense that WalkOn doesn't do "as much" as it should because it's pursuing so many things. NOW has a full agenda and NOW has managed to stand and be present throughout. Turning to Military Families Speak Out, who, unlike WalkOn, have never dropped the issue of the illegal war just because Beltway pundits say no one cares, has taken a position on the toothless House measure:

Mar 19, 07 On the 4th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, members of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), the Appeal for Redress, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Veterans For Peace (VFP) will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, March 19th on the Cannon House Office Building Terrace, detailing the many ways in which U.S. troops have been abandoned by the Bush Administration and by Congress, and calling on Members of Congress to support our troops by voting against the House Supplemental Appropriations bill and end the funding that allows the war in Iraq to continue.
read more »

That's the measure WalkOn's supporting, the one Military Families Speak Out, et al are asking Congress to vote against. WalkOn has made itself and its membership, all 100,000 of them, useless. While WalkOn staged timid little vigils that didn't even have to include a call for an end to the war, others got serious. Martha notes David Montgomery's "Far From Iraq, A Demonstration Of a War Zone" (Washington Post):

There's a lot of weirdness every day in the capital city, but this one pushed the envelope: 13 Iraq war veterans in full desert camo going on "patrol" from Union Station to Arlington National Cemetery. They carried imaginary assault rifles, barked commands, roughly "detained" suspected hostiles with flex cuffs and hoods -- and generally shocked, frightened and delighted tourists and office workers.
"How does occupation feel, D.C.?!" shouted Geoff Millard, head of the local chapter of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, who previously served on a brigadier general's staff in Tikrit.
They cut a swath across downtown, taking imaginary sniper fire and casualties on the grounds of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, scouting the White House, performing mock arrests at the foot of the Capitol steps and a vehicle search on the Mall. At the Capitol, the veterans almost got detained themselves by civilian peace officers with real guns. The vets brought their act to a military recruiting station on L Street NW and concluded with a memorial ceremony in the cemetery.
The 12 men and one woman included one veteran of Afghanistan, and they represented the Army, Marines and Navy. They were young, intense, disillusioned. Home from the war, on yesterday's fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, they wanted to bring the war home to Washington.
They called it Operation First Casualty -- citing the adage that truth is the first casualty of war. The premise of their guerrilla-theater incursion was that, for all the yellow ribbons and "support the troops" sloganeering, life goes on at home pretty much oblivious to what it's like for American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

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