Thursday, May 24, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

5:56 David Obey once again accuses Bush of abandoning the troops by vetoing the last bill.
I'll say this again: I object to the idea that the Dems should accuse Bush of "abandoning the troops." If we don't FOR CHRISSAKE STOP ONCE AND FOR ALL PRETENDING THAT WARS ARE FUNDED FOR THE TROOPS, WE WILL NEVER EVER END ANY WARS. Sorry for the caps, but I don't know how many times this has to be said or how to make it any clearer.
Pelosi promised the media repeatedly in recent days and over the past year that "Our troops will be funded." This is UNADULTERATED FATALLY SELF DEFEATING BULLSH*T. Nobody is ever going to abandon the troops. They are either going to be left to kill and die and be wounded and traumatized in Iraq OR they are going to be brought safely home. There is no third possibility called "abandoning" or "not supporting" or "not funding" them.
If the peace movement keeps talking about "funding the troops" there will never be peace. Believe it or not - and I know this seems insane - there are some things we should NOT accuse Bush of.
6:02 John Boehner just claimed Hussein had been a threat to Iraq's neighbors, and that he had WDMs but shipped them somewhere when the US invaded. Unbelievable! Then Boehner said that once you send troops somewhere you cannot question whether or not you should have. So presumably he's continuing to believe the lies as a matter of principle.

The above is from David Swanson's "Congress Licks Bush's Shoes" (AfterDowningStreet). Lucy noted it and wondered if there was a reason Swanson wasn't quoted in the snapshot from his appearance on Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room?

There are actually a number of reasons and none of them have to do with him. First, I'm not at home, I'm on the east coast (right now, I'm at Rebecca's, earlier today I was speaking on campuses) so I didn't hear the entire show. I was dictating the snapshot to a friend when I heard Medea's voice in the background and said "Turn it up!" Tina Richards was also on the show. I didn't hear the entire thing. I heard enough to get what's in the snapshot.

Medea Benjamin is a community favorite (and has been for some time, go back to the second month of this site when she was awarded some community honor in the year in review for 2004). As such, she gets noted very often. If I had heard the entire show, Tina Richards may have been noted. David Swanson would not have been. Not because of anything he said 'wrong' (he's very well spoken) but, look at the snapshot. Male, male, male, male, male, male, male, male, male . . . Other than Medea Benjamin the only women represented (in quotes) are Lynn Woolsey and Laura Flanders. Barbara Lee (another community favorite) had nothing up at her site when the snapshot was being dictated. The Iraq war matters to women. Polls have repeatedly shown, throughout the illegal war, that women have been opposed to it in greater numbers than have been men.

Of course you wouldn't know that to surf online. We noted Matthew Rothschild and we didn't note Ruth Conniff. Go read Conniff's weak commentary on the caving (Pollyanna, your life is calling) and you'll see why that is. Katrina vanden Heuvel? As Mike's noted, she decided today was the perfect day to write about American Idol. With brave voices like that is it any surprise the left has so little impact in Congress? (Stealing from Jim, personal note to Mike: No, I'm not mad. You wrote about your frustrations and feelings. You have nothing to worry about or apologize for. Possibly a grown adult, on a day with a Congressional vote as important as today's was, boring us with her thoughts about American Idol while allegedly leading a left weekly has apologies to make, but you have none to make.) I did six talks on Iraq today on four different campuses and I farmed out research on indymedia to friends because I wanted the snapshot to note the criticism of the surrender in Congress. When I was getting reports on that (traveling between campuses), I kept asking the same question: "Are no women writing about this?"

Now I'm sure that some women were. But in terms of the voices this community listens to (or tolerates in the cases of those who have made it a point to prove how useless they can be), there wasn't anything except Laura Flanders. So when I heard Medea's voice in the background as I was dictating the snapshot, I asked my friend to turn the radio up so I could grab from that. That was nothing against David Swanson but we had plenty of men already. (Nothing against Tina Richards either. I grabbed from Medea's earliest remarks -- earliest after the radio was turned up -- and rushed to dictate the rest of the snapshot.) KPFA's Living Room is the link to the archives if you missed it and are able to listen online. If you're not able to, Living Room is the radio program Ava and I will be writing about for Hilda's Mix next week and we'll note something from each of today's guests. (We're also going to be dropping back to the roundtable Antonia Juhasz was a part of some time ago.)

A feminist friend, disgusted with the raunch culture passing itself off as feminism, gave me the report on our Ladies of the Mudflaps who had not one damn word to say about Iraq today. Possibly, they're still recovering from their "Michelle Obama for president!" lunacy? (Get the feeling that if this was 1980, they might be writing, "Nancy Reagan for president!") Or maybe it hasn't registered with them yet? What was it, three days after Yolanda King died that they suddenly announced "Yolanda King Dies"? Again? They're a little slow on the uptake.

But the reality, as my friend pointed out repeatedly (and I agreed with every word she said), is that sort of nonsense prolongs the illegal war. To repeat, along gender lines, women have been opposed to the illegal war in greater number than men have from the start of the illegal war on through today (and Ms. magazine's polling has consistently demonstrated that -- as has other polling). Now let's be really clear, women were a driving force in bringing an end to the slaughter in Vietnam. Women were such a 'threat' that the FBI spied on feminism organizations repeatedly, much more so than they did other groups (as Ruth Rosen documents in her brilliant The World Split Wide Open). So this nonsense today where alleged feminists never feel the need to weigh in the illegal war is nonsense. They can promote their raunch culture all they want but let's not kid that it's feminism anymore. Off Our Backs isn't afraid to call out the illegal war, Ms. has devoted several issues to it. But go to the alleged feminists websites and find anything on the illegal war. You can find titters over the word "C*nt" in a book title, you can find fretting over a Van Fair cover. You just can't find out about the illegal war. It's as though they've all locked themselves (gladly) away in their own little Yellow Wallpapered Room. (Which may be why one of the most idiotic posts of last year has to be the "Newsweek owes Susan Faludi an Apology" nonsense -- Ava and I addressed it here.)

So yes, it's even more insulting when Katrina vanden Heuvel felt the most important thing to write about today was American Idol. Now Ava and I do TV commentaries every Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Neither of us pushed for that. Jim's the one who wanted that. (And originally they were group efforts.) They ended up being something that pulls in readers each week. They are a drawing card and they are used as such so that those dropping by just for that will find other things as well. But we're not gushing over American Idol. (A show I've never watched but did find it interesting to read Katrina's shout outs which, for the record, didn't include Diana Ross.) So I'm not saying, "Pop culture must never be discussed!" But I am saying nothing's done with it. It's not used to draw in readers and expose them to anything else nor is there any attempt (serious or half-hearted) to grapple with what's on screen. (Katrina writes about her own fantasies of American Idol's 'meaning.') We've tackled the lack of people of color, the lack of women (in cartoons as well as live action programming). We've questioned the soap opera Grey's Anatomy for failing to grasp who uses the emergency room (something that would be drilled into any real life resident). We've questioned the authoritarian screeds (often embracing brutality and torture) that spew from the minds of Bruckheimer and Wolf. We'd both prefer never to have to write another thing on TV again. But we do try to go beyond the most simplistic nonsense. There's no attempt to do that when you're gushing over American Idol (or for that matter Michelle Obama).

But what it really comes down to for me, still, is that Molly Ivins went out trying to bring the war home, trying to cover it. And all the so-called tributes to her after she died were meaningless because the same ones doing tributes never bothered to follow up on what she would be doing if she were still here. So when sites supposedly catering to feminists can't be bothered with addressing the illegal war, they really shouldn't be considered feminist sites. The destruction of women's rights in Iraq is a feminist issue. Honor killings are a feminist issue. War is a feminist issue. And when so many use their platforms to promote fluff, 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 American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3403 (ICCC). Tonight? 3438. (87 for the month thus far -- making it the second highest month thus far -- April had 104.) Does that not matter? Does the nearly a million of Iraqis who've died in the illegal war not matter?

You know, John Updike's a joke, a badly written joke, but during Vietnam at least he had the guts to admit he was pro-war. (Updike didn't feel citizens had a right to question their leaders. This inability to question explains the mechanical prose he's repeatedly churned out.) Those who are silent today? Are they for it or are they against it? You'll just have to guess from their silence.

But one thing they are is prolonging the war and silencing their own voices. Now that's not how it is offline where women are quite happy, at any campus I visit, to take the lead in discussions on the illegal war, to pull their weight. 35 more deaths of US service members since last Thursday. As Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) rightly noted, polls don't end wars. Neither does silence.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders' Laura Flanders has rightly noted that women aren't being invited into big media's conversation on the illegal war. [Remember Flanders' show airs at one p.m. EST Sunday beginging this Sunday -- Air America Radio, XM satellite and online.] It's also true that women who have no trouble at all, women in the US, voicing their opinions on rapes in London and NY stripping laws grow strangely silent on the issue of the illegal war. You almost start to wish that some male blogger would say, "Women can't blog about war, they're not physically suited to it." Why? Because that might be the only thing that would force some women to weigh in on the illegal war -- that some guy said they couldn't. We'll be addressing The Nation's whiner Christopher Phelps at The Third Estate Sunday Review this weekend; however, it needs to be noted that during Vietnam, women weren't handed roles in the peace movement, they had to carve them out. Which makes it all the more surprising that when women have done so much to end this illegal war, alleged feminist bloggers can't even cover them. The list of women who've been out there trying to end the illegal war includes: Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Sara Rich, Kelly Dougherty, Arundhati Roy, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Diane Wilson, Leslie Cagan, Sharon Smith, Phyllis Bennis, Amy Goodman, Alice Walker, Holly Near, Robin Morgan, Ani DiFranco, Laura Flanders, Barbara Lee, Riverbend, Tina Richards, Missy Comley-Beattie, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Branham, DeDe Miller, Kimberly Wilder, Aimee Smith, Judith LeBlanc, Margaret Kimberley, Joan Baez, the Raging Grannies . . . That's by no means a full list. If the names surprise you it may be due to the fact that when assorted males write their "They Were Right" columns women usually don't even get a token mention in the assorted top tens. Phelps is lost but it's not all his fault, women's involvement in the peace movement during Vietnam is minimized or forgotten today by many.

Today, when women are far more visible, it's really sad that so-called feminists can't even note that or the actions these woman take part in. That's making it all the more easy for women's very real accomplishments and efforts to end this illegal war to be erased. That's also making it very likely that a Phelps of tomorrow will stumble across archives of supposed feminist blogs and decide that the Iraq war really wasn't an issue to women. That's not reality.

This entry went a completely different way than I thought it would earlier today. But I'm thinking of the (sadly brief) conversation with a friend today, the vast number of young women not afraid to speak out on campuses today and, honestly, just wanting to spend time with Rebecca and her new baby. (And Flyboy, not to short change Rebecca's husband.) So, in the words of Kat, it is what it is.

That's the motto for the snapshots as well. (And thank you to everyone who takes dictation on days when I don't have the time to type it up myself.) There are plenty of things that never make a snapshot. One thing in today's New York Times (Thursday's paper) that's planned for tomorrow I'll toss out here just to underscore that war is a feminist issue in oh so many ways. This is from A16, "National Briefing:"

A former soldier was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for sexually abusing five female soldiers in their barracks at Fort Hood and in Iraq. The defendant, Clenard M. Simmons, 26, pleaded guilty on April 5 to four counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of aggravated sexual abuse for five attacks from February 2004 to May 2005. Prosecutors said Mr. Simmons attacked the soldiers in their barracks, groping and threatening them. He was discharged from the Army in May 2005. (AP)

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