Sunday, September 23, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

The United States Senate has voted 72-25 to express "the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, commanding general, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces." The resolution was passed by a bipartisan coalition comprised of forty-nine Republicans who emulated Joseph McCarthy and twenty-three Invertebrates who channeled Barney Fife. Congratulations must be extended to Hillary Clinton for voting "no" and to Barack Obama for fleeing in terror. Whatever motivation led her to oppose the resolution Clinton showered herself with glory, and since Obama didn't have the guts to stand tall he was wise to make himself scarce.
Then there are the rabble rousers who use congressional resolutions as garrotes with which they strangle dissent. Their latest orgy of pseudo patriotism represents conservative politics at its most demagogic: "The Senate strongly condemns personal attacks on the honor and integrity … of all members of the United States Armed Forces." Point of clarification: Are we allowed to condemn the torturers at Abu Ghraib? How about the Marines who slaughtered citizens in Haditha? And what of the GI's who have raped our own female soldiers? Is their honor and integrity also beyond critique? Or is this resolution somewhat rhetorically overblown, and the practical significance is that we are merely forbidden from criticizing generals who spew deceit while promoting the corporate agenda? was overly kind to General Petraeus. Not only has Petraeus betrayed the American people, history will record that he is a liar and a coward.

The above, noted in the public account, is from David Podvin's "Psuedo Patriotism" (MakeThemAccountable). Let's talk about the real quick. It's a huge topic in e-mails. Podvin gets highlighted, others won't be. I have no interest in weak ass 'defenses'. I also have no interest in journalists (and two journalists' writing was e-mailed -- actual jounalists) who quote a sexual predator. A visitor who identifies as a long standing member of the org Podvin's writing about wrote to say, "Thank you for defending them." No thanks needed. And no need to e-mail me. Use that e-mail time to call out the people who are offering so-called defenses. For instance, calling it "juvenile" or whatever is just inane. WalkOn ran an advertisement. NIKE's Just Do It campaign wasn't the height of sophistication (and those involved knew the sexual overtones). Ads aren't editorials, they aren't sparkling essays. They are attention getters -- or intended to be such. Offering that the ad was "juvenile" is not defending free speech or even grasping what advertising is.

WalkOn has nothing to apologize for and hopefully they won't. Regarding Hillary, (a) she couldn't vote against WalkOn and (b) she wouldn't have. There are a lot of little boys (including failed comics) who are all hot for Hillary today but where were they went Snorah O'Donnell (one of NBC's worst offenders while she was at the network but they didn't call her out -- not even for partying with Dick Cheney's staff who threw her a welcome to DC party) told one lie after another about Hillary? Playing dumb. When Hillary's book was coming out, Snorah showed up to 'report' (on Today) that Hillary was embarrassed and distancing herself from her 90s pronouncement of a "vast right-wing media conspiracy." That's what's known as a lie. Snorah sold it. (The next day it would be corrected on Today in an interview.) Hillary, for any other strengths or negatives, does not back down from stands. If your chief concern is in having a Democrat who won't cave, Hillary should probably be your choice of the 'front runners' because she's demonstrated repeatedly that under attack or when the attack fades, she does not back down. It's hard to imagine, for instance, her making Al Gore's mistake of listening to advisers insisting that the Florida issue should be left to the courts. I can't imagine her (and I know her) buying that for even a second but, if she had, all it would have taken was one soundbyte from James Baker making the news for her to insist on a real fight. If she said (I don't believe she has said this yet) that every vote needed to be counted, she wouldn't pull a John Kerry and, under pressure from the 'experts', make a decision the early morning after the election to back down.

Hillary does have her negatives and I'm not endorsing her or anyone else for president. But what you saw with the vote was the perfect example of Hillary at her best. There will not be a backdown on this from her. That is not her style when she does take a position. Attacks from Rudy G or anyone else are not going to hurt her politically and they aren't going to hurt her personally. She's lived through this all before. She doesn't need on the job training to learn how to fight a smear campaign, she learned how a decade ago. Barack Obama?

What's his campaign motto? "I was against the war before it started"? That seems to be his only soundbyte. He leaves out the fact that, once in the race for the Senate, he was against withdrawal. But you saw a perfect example of how he has no strength with that vote. He ducked out. In a crisis, Barack will run. Of the two, I have no problem saying Hillary is the stronger. But that's rather obvious, isn't it? He wants credit for being right and standing up in 2002 (while praying no one starts circulating his statements against withdrawal in 2004). He does his whole talk about how it's important to be right from the start. (Apparently, we're supposed to believe he's never been wrong?) He's a bit like a guy who picked the winning Superbowl team in 1997 and refuses to play in the football pool again because he wants to be known for that one winning bet. Can't play again because he might lose and that would tarnish his image as a 'winner'. That vote tells you one thing about two Democratic candidates for president -- one is willing to take a position and one disappears because it hasn't been polled yet.

Again, I'm not endorsing Hillary (or anyone). Trina wrote passionately of Hillary's negatives on Saturday. She makes many strong points and I can say that because I'm not obsessed with who gets the nomination and who doesn't. All the Democratic candidates have their pluses and their negatives. And we have members who belong to third parties. I'm not endorsing anyone, today or tomorrow, for president. But that vote was illuminating in terms of the differences between Hillary and Barack.

In the two most highlighted pieces re: WalkOn, one argues that the media is the problem and the other argues that the Beltway is the problem. They're both right. They should merge their articles. Kayla wonders how long we're going to note this topic? Probably not very long. It'll probably referenced again but it's not going to be the bulk of an entry. I understand Kayla's concern and share it. There's a larger story beneath what everyone's talking about and that's the glorification of the military. As Cokie Roberts once described herself (on Letterman?) she's a "sucker." A sucker for a man in uniform, I believe she said but, yes, she is a "sucker." And this goes beyond the Beltway or the right-wing media. It goes to an alleged democracy that regularly shows disdain for the people while glorifying the military. And that is a topic we've continually covered. And will continue to because I've never had the need for a "Daddy" to save me from the world and find it dismaying that so many other alleged adults are so willing to rever back to childhood. And it's not just Cokie or just the press. The glorification takes place in the Congress as well. Tattered democracies that begin worshipping the military usually end up in the status known as "junta." I find that even more alarming then the bad hair color used on Petraeus before he started his dog & pony show to Congress. (What was that? Two-Tone Brown?)

The glorification, as Cokie explained, goes for those with all the medals, the brass, it doesn't extend down to the mere enlisted. Which is why papers like the New York Times don't bother to 'mingle' with the enlisted. So the illegal war starts and suddenly Petraeus has multiple decorations and the press and Congress rush to worship at his feet. Meanwhile, the ones stuck in the illegal war, the ones on the ground and not hidden away in base offices, are one undistinguished blob to them.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3781. Tonight? 3798. That's two away from the 3800 mark. 4098 is the total number of foreign forces (non-mercenary) killed in the illegal war (US, UK "and "Other"). 1,044,607 was the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war (not a full count) last Sunday. Tonight? Just Foreign Policy lists 1,062,627.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings (no known casualties or fatalities) and 10 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes a bombing of a pipeline in Baiji, that an attack on Abd Dhiab Ajaili (Minister of Higher Education) resulted in two of his bodyguards being killed, a corpse discovered in Hawija, a Kirkuk bombing injured two people, 3 corpses discovered in Ramaid, a Kirkuk shooting that left two police officers injured and 4 corpses discovered in Jbela.

Turning to the mood of the enlisted, The Fayetteville Observer offers "Q&A with Chuck Fager" who is the director of the local Quaker House:

Q: What changes are people at the Quaker House noticing as the war continues?
A: At the end of 2002, we had 3,000 calls. Last year we had 9,000. And most of the months this year have set records for each month.
As of the end of May, we have received 4,320 calls. At that rate, and I’m cautious about projections, but we are certainly on track for more than 10,000 calls. In the first five months of 2006, we had taken in 2,575 calls, so that’s about 800 more.
Q: What are those people calling about?
A: Well, people talk to us about ways to seek a medical discharge, a hardship discharge, they talk about conscientious objection ... homosexual conduct, pregnancy, and going AWOL (absent without leave.)
We’re getting more and more calls about (AWOL) ... sometimes from people who are thinking about it and sometimes from people who already are.

Meanwhile the puppet caved. No surprise. Nouri al-Maliki is a puppet. What's amazing is how greedy the US administration is because pulling Blackwater would have resulted in transferring to political capital to al-Maliki. At least for a brief time. Al Jazeera reports:

The Iraqi government has made a U-turn on threats to kick out US security firm Blackwater.
Instead, the US and Iraqi governments have started a joint investigation of security contractors following Blackwater's alleged involvement in the killing of 11 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 12.

Pru notes Sadie Robinson's "NUS backs Stop the War demonstration outside parliament" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The National Union of Students (NUS) has joined calls for people to attend the Stop the War national demonstration outside parliament on 8 October.
As MPs return to the Commons after their long summer break, protestors will be demanding that all British troops are withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gemma Tumelty, president of the NUS, told Socialist Worker, "Student activism is vital to the anti-war movement, so it is important that we mobilise as many students as possible on 8 October.
"We can't be complacent about the threat of a US-led invasion of Iran."
Students from around the country are organising to get people to the demonstration.
Tom Skinner, the general secretary of Manchester university students' union, said, "The anti-war movement is the most important movement of our time.
"Our student union is organising transport to the demonstration. And we're holding a Stop the War rally next week to advertise the demonstration to students."
At Newcastle College the students’ union banned the Territorial Army (TA) from attending their Freshers Fair after hundreds of students, staff and ex-servicemen signed a petition. A motion to ban the TA was passed almost unanimously at the students' union executive committee.
Jamie Wyatt, one of the students who had been campaigning to stop the TA, told Socialist Worker, "This is a great result for us. The college thought we would quietly allow students to be recruited to fight in the illegal wars of terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"But this campaign has led to the formation of a new Stop the War group on campus."
Students at the college are now building support for the 8 October demonstration.
Despite the clear failure of the occupation in Iraq, Gordon Brown refuses to bring the troops home and looks set to increase the number of British troops in Afghanistan.
Stop the War activists met in London last Saturday for a dayschool on Afghanistan. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned, "The ministry of defence is now planning for a 30-year engagement in Afghanistan."
This makes opposition to the war all the more important. The demonstration in October is a chance to clearly demand all troops are brought home now.
For details of the demonstration visit the Stop the War website,
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