Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Hate The War

What's more pathetic? Deluding one's self that Bambi's against the illegal war? Or having endorsed him and then showing up to say "We need to force the issue of the war with both candidates?"

They're both equally pathetic positions. And the left isn't about electing candidates. Read Elaine's post from yesterday and enjoy. It's dead on. And I'm biting my tongue to avoid adding my two cents (including, as Elaine noted Tuesday, about the poll).

What's going on?

A number of things are going on.

In terms of our 'anti-war' 'leaders,' this isn't about ending the Iraq War, this is about trying to set their end up. They aren't leaders and no one listens to them. But word drifts slowly to the mainstream. And so they rush to 'turn out' a 'constituency' that will 'prove' they are 'power brokers.'

I haven't endorsed a presidential candidate and still plan not to. There are two main reasons for that position (announced here in 2004 and repeatedly noted ever since).

1) We have a diverse left community. Endorsing a Democrat or a Green isn't what The Common Ills is about. We're not trying to be 'power brokers' and we're too diverse for an endorsement. (And it would be pompous of me -- one member of the community -- to try to speak for the entire community.) It would hurt feelings and create a division. It's not worth it.

2) 2004.

As Naomi Klein rightly noted, the peace movement gave John Kerry the gift of impunity. They went into hiding. They refused to call him out. They refused to challenge him. We were all supposed to be 'good little soldiers' and fall in line without questioning.

Maybe that's why independent media in this country can't support war resisters? They don't just fall in line, they think for themselves.

As a favor to a friend who had already booked campus appearances in Feb. 2003 when another, larger opportunity to speak out (bigger campuses) popped up, I agreed to fill in. March 2003, after the illegal war started was the most depressing for students who had been told if they just turned out for the big protest in February, the Iraq War would never start. They were hyped and they were lied to and now they were depressed. It did a lot of damage.

I've tried very hard not to engage in that on campus or here. After the 2004 elections, where everyone shut up to get Kerry elected and he didn't end up in the White House, the peace movement had to come out of hibernation. Not only did it have to come back to life, it had to struggle against 'friends' who were arguing that the illegal war really didn't matter. Like Bully Boy, they apparently thought the election was a 'mandate' on the Iraq War. How could it have been? The two major parties offered candidates for the illegal war.

Instead of dealing with the illegal war, many wanted to pontificate on the 'value voters' -- a myth created by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder on the front page of the New York Times -- the paper's own polling that the story was loosely based on didn't back up the claims put foward but why go to the trouble to read the polling when you can gas bag? (We covered this four times the day the paper front paged those lies. If your late to the party, too bad. Find the entries or find the poll. You really only need to look at the same-sex questions to see that they fudged the polling by combining two sort-of similar categories that fit their premise and ignoring two categories that didn't.)

The peace movement would have sprung back to life regardless because the illegal war was dragging on but Cindy Sheehan is the spark that reignited. And if you doubt that, read some of our 'strong' voices today -- only read them back then -- when they were saying Cindy wasn't for ending the illegal war and other lies that were meant to make her 'palitable.' Yes, being opposed to the illegal war that cost her son his life was considered 'controversial' in the summer of 2005 by the tut-tuting class.

November 2004 through August 2005. It's actually over eight months. The peace movement can't afford to take eight months to pull their act together after the November 2008 elections.

People are going to vote (or not vote) for whomever they want and it's their business. But 'independent' media can't allow that. They try to game the system with non-stop attacks on Hillary and delusions and fantasies about Bambi.

Now some of them, after launching one hateful commentary after another on Hillary, grasp that she may win. When ___ is worried enough to argue that we need to press both of them (after ___ has already endorsed Bambi) and hold their feet to the fire, you better believe Hillary stands a real chance of winning because ___ knows a little bit about winning and a hell of a lot about losing. He's in a panic and trying to restructure himself, reinvent himself, before our very eyes because Hillary may win and where does that leave him!

See, he's not a leader for the peace movement. He's not interested in that. He's interested in Big Media seeing him as such. He's interested in the Democratic Party seeing him as such. He's interested in setting his own end up (a pattern throughout his life, but I'll bite my tongue).

There are websites/blogs that do endorsements (group blogs or solo blogs) and that's their business. We're not talking about them. We're talking about Little Media defined as print (with websites as well, but print magazines) and broadcast.

And what are they talking about?

Are they coming to the aid of war resisters in Canada? Are they sounding alarms on Iraq's refugee crisis? Are they finding ways to write about the illegal war?


The Nation dropped their "Iraq" folder on their website. A good thing because they have so little to offer. The new issue they just put to bed appears to be yet another issue about the presidential elections. In other words, they've basically rewritten the same issue the weekly has provided you with since week after week since 2007. (Actually since the end of 2006.) The most important thing in the world for Katrina vanden Heuvel to blog about was what Howard Dean should do about the two major candidates still in the Democratic race. Not Iraq. And certainly never war resisters.

Ross Spears is class of 2007. Class of 2007 war resisters got nothing from independent media with the exception of In These Times. A large number of service members went public and where was independent media?

Day after day, week after week, they're somewhere else. Usually on the horse race.

When it is time to 'talk' about Iraq, they go back to 2003. They really have damn little to offer since then. So Elizabeth DiNvoella asks Amy Goodman (The Progressive, February 2008), "What do you think was the mainstream media's biggest failing regarding the Iraq War?" Good golly, we're playing nostalgia trips in 2008? The illegal war's not even over and we're asking what "was" the failure?

Goodman declares later in the interview when asked what the pressing issue she sees when she's around the country:

War is the defining issue. We cannot take the focus off of that because we are determing who lives and who dies.
In Iraq, the population is just decimated, displaced, killed. We have destroyed a civilization. It's horrifying. And as long as that is going on I think it is our reponsibilty to show that. Then people can make up their own minds. But as long as it falls off the front pages of the newspapers, people can think, "Well it must not be that bad." It's our job to make sure it's front and center.

That is your job, Amy Goodman. Here's a little performance review for you, from the start of last month, on your daily-Monday through Friday show, you devoted no segment to Iraq until January 25th except for your "we only have one minute!" 'interview' with an activist who was protesting Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and maybe John Edwards as well (he was still in the race at the time). We only have one minute!

Front and center? January 25th is the first damn day of the month you can devote a segment to it and that's front and center? How many of the class of 2007 war resisters did Goodman bring onto the program last year? None. Not Ross Spears, not Kimberly Rivera, not Eli Israel, not James Burmeister, not . . . No one. And yet she says in The Progressive that one of the focuses of her upcoming book (written with her brother) will be "dissident soldiers and officers who say no." Apparently it's time to nostalgia trip again.

Let's just focus on Eli Israel for a moment -- goodness knows independent media didn't. Eli Israel was serving in Iraq. He made clear one day that he was against the illegal war. He was very worried about what the response would be from the command (for good reason). Blogs and websites (not associated with magazines) got the word out on him. Independent media didn't do a damn thing to help. A soldier serving in Iraq, resisting publicly while serving in Iraq and not a peep from independent media. He gets his discharge, comes back to the US and is speaking out. But independent media can't cover him, can't even mention his name.

Eli Israel publicly resisted the illegal war while serving in it in Iraq. He needed support, he needed independent media to amplify his case. They didn't do a damn thing. They didn't a damn thing after he got back.

It's like Sarah Olson. A reporter who is being asked to testify in Ehren Watada's court-martial (Feb. 2007). She wants the whole world to stop for her. Watada's facing years in prison if convicted. Olson's facing a few weeks or months if she refuses. Somehow, she's more important.
If she refuses she'll be sent to jail (not prison). But she's not refusing. She's not doing a damn thing. She's whining to everyone who will listen (and plenty did) that it's not fair that she's being asked to testify and people should stand up for her even though she won't take a stand herself and say, "I won't testify." Ehren Watada did not say, "They want me to go to Iraq and that's not fair! Stand up for me! I can't tell you whether I'll go or not but stand up for me!"

People who had never written one damn word about Watada started writing columns for Olson. Often, when they included Watada as a side note, they got him wrong. He hadn't deserted (as one 'name' claimed). He was still reporting to the base every day. But they weren't even interested enough in the stand he was taking and the sacrifice he was making to get the facts right. They were more interested in saying, "Don't you force Sarah to make a decision! It's not fair that Sarah has to make a decision!"

Now any grown up with a little perspective would easily grasp that Olson's potential punishment was not the end of the world, was not the most pressing issue of Watada's court-martial. Any grown up would have grasped that when you're writing about two people, you emphasize the person who's taken a stand. Not the pathetic person begging you to help her not take a stand.

But that's how it's been over and over. Anything can steal attention from a war resister -- even a reporter covering a war resister.

But it's not just war resisters. Abeer was gang-raped by US soldiers. She was gang-raped by them while they murdered her parents and five-year-old sister. She was 14-year-old. They killed her after they finished the gang-rape. They tried to set her body on fire to destroy the evidence. 'Insurgents' were blamed for the crimes. When the truth came out, where was independent media? When the August 2006 Article 32 hearing took place, where was independent media? When soldiers entered guilty pleas at their court-martials last year, where was independent media?

Steven D. Green maintains his innocence. He'll be tried in a federal court. Maybe they were saving their 'strength' for that April trial?

In 2004, an effort to stop Ralph Nader for running was launched. "Ralph, Don't Run!" seems to have allowed a lot of 'independent' types to fancy themselves as power brokers. They didn't stop Ralph from running and even all lining up single-file behind John Kerry didn't get him into the White House. (I supported Kerry, for those late to the party. March 2003 was when I made a choice. I donated to the campaign. I did not mix speaking on Iraq with my support for Kerry. And when I made my decision, the media hadn't glommed on him.) They stayed silent about that ridiculous 2004 DNC convention which was an embarrassment and a shame. Protest pens? People seem to have forgotten that. Medea Benjamin was escorted off the floor (with the original intent being for her to be arrested) for unfurling a banner against the illegal war. On stage democracy wasn't being celebrated (and Bully Boy wasn't being criticized -- couldn't go there!). It was shameful. Obama's speech was an embarrassment. John Kerry "reporting for duty" was ridiculous. Disowning the bravery of speaking out during Vietnam was cowardly.

But it was ABB (Anybody But Bush) and no one better speak out or pressure Kerry to take a real stand. Today, the Dems have two candidates with stands stronger than Kerry's was -- as weak as their stands are, they are both stronger than Kerry was. (Mike Gravel is in the race and for pulling all troops. I'm not doing any links. I'll put in one for Ehren Watada above but that's going to be it. I'm very tired.)

A lesson should have been learned. It wasn't. The lesson instead was, "Hey, look at what we almost did. If we start even earlier this go-round . . ." So we've had to get that crap over and over. Like we're children who aren't smart enough to make up our own minds. (Of course, making up your mind isn't enough. Independent media settled on one candidate long ago. I'm biting my tongue there due to an article at Third. If we don't have time for it again this Sunday, it will be "And the war drags on . . ." Sunday night.)

They've offered nothing. Take Amy Goodman's ridiculous roundtable on the Democratic primaries that took place on Super Duper Tuesday. Wednesday, what didn't get explored? It's not just that she won't book Hillary supporters. What group turned out more than any other? Women. And what group did she refuse to address? Women. She did the same thing, if you missed it, after the 2006 mid-term elections when it was time to 'analyze' those results. How do you do that? When the biggest group of voters were women, how do you 'analyze' the results without anyone on to discuss the gender vote? She must have thought she did a bang up job because she ignored women again this week.

So let's not pretend or kid that they've offered anything of value. They haven't. They've offered lies and half-truths. They've mixed in a little Britty Spears to show how 'cool' they are and maybe to chase down that 'youth' vote as well.

And throughout they have ignored the illegal war. Iraqis can't ignore it. They can't escape it. US service members serving there (or at home knowing they will be called up) can't escape it. But independent media always has something else to do.

As they've ignored it, some polls have Iraq dropping to number two (on the Dem side and on the GOP side). And don't think it's not related. And don't think Amy Goodman's self-serving statements to The Progressive mean a damn thing when she doesn't practice what she preaches.

We have the power to end the illegal war. We also have the power to end 'independent' media that doesn't cover what matters. The campaigns are proving to be yet another distraction from the illegal war. And they'll all play like they have no long term memory as they tell you if the Dems get __% in the House and the Senate, the war will end. Remember when they shoveled that lie for the 2006 elections? Remember when they protected and covered for Congress. Over and over.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3943. Tonight? 3952. Stop a minute and grasp that. Nine deaths have been announced since last week. Where is the coverage? We're less than 50 away from the 4,000 mark and where is the coverage? Did anything you read or listened to in 'independent' media since last Thursday do anything to inform you that in seven days, there have been nine announced deaths? What will most likely be similar to the November 2004 slaughter of Falluja is about to take place in Mosul and where's 'independent' media?

Every few months ___ writes the public account and feels the need to type, "I'd like you better if you were nicer." I'm not trying to be liked. This isn't a popularity contest. This is about an illegal war. And when we don't have the coverage of it, we all suffer. When we don't have coverage of war resisters, we all suffer including war resisters and their families. But always Iraqis suffer as an illegal war continues in their country. Five years later in March. An illegal war the US started. An illegal war the US government continues. Apparently covering it is too much for 'independent' media. I'm not upset that __ doesn't like me better. I could care less if he liked at me all. We're not trying for new community members and I'm not trying to set myself up with a post-TCI position. Anything good we've done here is the result of members not of me. Anything bad we've done is all me. But day after day we've shown that Iraq can be covered. And we didn't need to beg for money to do that. The easiset thing in the world is to play the 'criticize big media' game. It's easy. It's overdone. A lot of people have made 'names' for themselves doing that. But where's independent media on the illegal war?

If you're ready for five more years of this illegal war, then don't hold independent media accountable. Don't hold them to their own standards. That's what's happened here (or with Ava and in the TV pieces for Third). We haven't invented a standard. We've taken the standard Little Media applies to the Big Media and seen how Little Media was measuring up. The results haven't been pretty. And as long as they aren't called out on it, watch it get even worse.

Democracy Now! in the summer of 2006 ignored Camp Casey while Amy Goodman was giving interviews citing her work covering Camp Casey in the summer of 2005 as an example of the power of independent media. Camp Casey finally popped up when Mark Wilkerson's taped announcement from it was played. Wilkerson may have been the last new war resister they bothered with. They didn't cover Ivan Brobeck returning to the US to turn himself in (on election day in November 2006) with an open letter to the Bully Boy. And then came 2007 when no new war resister could get on the program. It's 2008. If you're willing to accept that, have at it but grasp that you are joining independent media in prolonging the illegal war. The standards independent media has created to critique Big Media with are not unreasonable. And the same standard can be applied to Little Media and should be.

Just Foreign Policy's total stands at 1,173,743. It was previously (for last Thursday, the one before and the one before that and maybe the one before that as well) 1,168,058.

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