Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Hate The War

A SHOCKING 615 Scots soldiers, more than an entire battalion, are AWOL or off sick.
The number of troops absent without leave or unfit to fight has soared by almost 25 per cent in just a year.
The grim figures reveal the depth of the manpower crisis in the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
And they add to growing fears that the pressure of manning two deadly fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan is pushing the Army to breaking point.
The Daily Record used Freedom of Information laws to obtain the absence and sickness figures from the Ministry of Defence.

The above is from Stephen Stewart's "Exclusive: Army crisis at 615 Scots soldiers go AWOL or off sick" (Daily Record). It's not just the US. But the US is where James Burmeister was court-martialed yesterday and where Robin Long was deported to. This is from Terry Theodore's "U.S. army deserter deported from Can." (The Canadian Press):

Sarah Bjorknas, a co-ordinator for the War Resisters Support CampaignWar Resisters’ Support Campaign, said Long is the first Iraq war resister to be deported back to the United States.
About 50 other American war deserters have contacted the support group asking for help to stay in Canada.
Bjorknas isn’t worried that Long’s deportation will set a precedent for other objectors seeking refugee status.
‘‘Their circumstances are very similar, but they each have their own case,’’ she said. ‘‘We don’t intend to let his happen again.’’
Bjorknas said her group is very suspicious of the timing of the deportation so quickly after Parliament passed a resolution saying U.S. war resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada.
That resolution is nonbinding on Stephen Harper’s government.
Bjorknas believes the government wanted to indicate where it stood on the war resisters’ issue by using Long as an example.
‘‘The timing was convenient for them,’’ she said. ‘‘This may be just another attempt to pull the rug out from under us.’’

And the silences drag on. We've seen it all week. Over and over. What have they offered us instead? Campaign press releases? Passed off as news?

If we actually got news we could use (the supposed cry of alternative media), don't you think we'd get a lot more actual news and information?

Where's the left outlet that's not spitting on Ralph Nader? Where's the left outlet that's taking Cynthia McKinney's campaign seriously? Outlet? Let's focus on print. Why does Yes! even exist if all it's become is the same magazine as every other but with a touchy-feel nature?

What is this crap (labeled "Summer 2008: A Just Foreign Policy") that they're running. Erik Leaver's the author but I don't think you can blame it on him. It's pathetic. Leave aside the analsysis and the writing. Just zoom in on the title "Summer 2008: A Just Foreign Policy." Summer 2008? It's a look at presidential candidates. There's John McCain, there's Barack Obama. There's no Nader, no McKinney. But I don't think it's fair to blame Leaver for that because he's including not just Hillary but also Bill Richardson. Richardson who dropped like a fly quickly. January 9th, Richardson was in all the news for being out of the race.

At that point, Ralph Nader had not declared. Cynthia McKinney was declared. She should have been included in the article, this alleged look at presidential wanna bes. But what sort of 'thinking' goes into entitling something "Summer 2008: A Just Foreign Policy" when it was clearly written before January 9th?

To sing along with Stevie Nicks, "Who in the world do you think that you are fooling?" Summer 2008 is what they're offering it under. At this rate, the Spring 2009 issue may feature a look at the presidential candidates . . . from the previous November.

That helps anyone how? Three candidates aren't even mentioned: Nader, McKinney and Bob Barr. They are the only candidates who have their parties' nominations -- everyone else is 'presumptive.' Yes! apparently has no blogs. In These Times does. What does a check of it show? The ITT List lets you know that, with Barack the presumptive Democratic nominee, it's okay to mention Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. They supported Hillary's run and, like most who did, were rendered invisible (vanished) by Panhandle Media throughout the primary process. Wonder if Joe's going to feel like talking to all the backstabbers when they come calling now that Bully Boy's doing the presidential equivalent of pleading the fifth?

To the ITT List's credit, Mark Berlin offered "Turning the Grassroots Green" on Friday and "Greens Tap McKinney" on Monday. But how does ITT justify ignoring the Democratic scandal in Pennsylvania, BonusGate where Democrats cleaned up for their work keeping Ralph Nader off the ballot? And since In These Times is based in Chicago, how exactly do two blog posts on the Green Party convention (last Thursday through last Sunday) qualify for coverage? Do they have an article they're sitting on? As a Chicago based outlet and 'big' for little media, shouldn't In These Times have set the mark for coverage of the Green Party convention?

Actually, Berlin doing two pieces -- sad but true -- on the Green Party convention may be the 'mark' for 'alternative' media. The Progressive? Not a word on the convention. How does that happen? How does a political party on the left hold a convention and a magazine that bills itself as "The Progressive" never even bothers to note it?

When the mainstream media does that, our brave Panhandle Media 'leaders' call it out?

Or look the crap being offered at The Nation? Joann Wypijewski embarrasses herself, shames herself, by writing a piece of crap the mag bills as "the hot married love of Barack and Michelle." Did all the adults leave the building? What the hell is that crap? What the hell is Joann doing writing that nonsense? Is it remotely news or issues? Not at all. It has nothing to do with nothing and it's the sort of crap women were stuck writing fifty years ago but Joann's willing to disgrace herself by willingly writing it today. As Ruth Conniff might put it, "Yuck!" How damn pathetic can you get? Not much more but damned if the useless Nation magazine won't keep trying.

Katty-van-van shows up to gas bag about the topic we've tried to avoid here because everyone has talked it to death. (And it wasn't earth shattering to begin with. Did the US become Denmark this week?) But Katty's never been known for her 'awareness' and she flaunts in her 'discussion' piece by turning to regular Nation cartoonists and, of course, never noting that "the women of the Nation" (her phrase from not all that long ago) don't include cartoonists. It's really cute to read that dithering and realize a woman wrote the bulk of it and put together the rest and never had the slightest bit of awareness -- even while quoting that more African-American cartoonists are needed -- of just how sexist that magazine remains.

For how stupid it remains, Air Melber shows up tangled in the net to promote War Hawk Sammy Power as a voice worth listening to by the left. That's the same Sammy who DID NOT oppose the illegal war. She doesn't even make that claim herself. She'll let others make it and not correct it. But Power is a War Hawk -- one of the so-called 'liberal interventionists' -- and she's certainly revealed how stupid so many on the left are as they've sang her praises over and over. Did they read her latest book? If they didn't want to wade through trash, all they had to do was check out the blurb she gave to the army's counter-insurgency manual. If it's too hard for the idiots of The Nation to grasp: When someone praises counter-insurgency, they are not 'anti-war.'

The Miseducation of the American Left. Someone beg Lauryn to go in the studio and work on that. What all the above has in common is hero worship. (Katrina worships The New Yorker and dreams of being profiled in it.) When you've got juveniles with school-girl/boy crushes, you don't have an active left and you never will. While Air makes moon eyes at Sammy Power, things are happening that really matter. While Joann's filling a scrapbook with photos of Michelle and Barack, actual earth shattering events are taking place. As a general rule, adults keeping scrapbooks of JFK and Jackie didn't end up part of the peace movement during Vietnam. But that's how dumbed down the left is today.

And while you got all that crap, and so much more of it, they didn't cover Robin Long getting deported and they didn't cover James Burmeister being court-martialed. Those aren't 'stories' they can gas bag over. Those aren't stories that 'excite' them. Those are actual stories that matter so better they should pull out their paper dolls and spend hours trying to get their dream outfits to stay on them. Bend the tabs, Joann, bend the tabs.

It's embarrassing and it's exactly why the illegal war drags on and why so many in this country are still so unaware. They're misinformed and they are misdirected. Noam Chomsky should do another Manufacturing of Consent but focus on our allged 'alternative' media because not only do they not trust you enough to give you all the information on candidates and let you make a decision (you're not smart enough to be trusted in their eyes), they don't trust you enough to give you the information you need to move from awareness to action.

This is the topic Ava and I will be addressing at Third on Sunday. But between now and then, you can think about Clamor. Clamor ceased publication. It didn't take part in the circle-jerk that passes for 'independent' media and it trusted that its readers were mature enough to actually want to think -- as opposed to being told, "Think this!" It challenged and explored touching topics that no one else would. Maybe Big Money would have tossed it money if it had turned off the brain to be like everything that's 'surviving'? ('Surviving' because circulation isn't flat, it's tanking.) This is more of a seed planting than anything else. But all the above explains why the illegal war will hit the six year mark next year. Also, somewhere John Nichols did a piece on McKinney. I don't feel like surfing that awful site but I had planned to link to it. Good for Nichols for doing one online column/blog post on McKinney. But that's really not enough . . . (yes, to be continued).

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 4116. Tonight? 4122. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,236,604 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the Iraq War up from . . the same as last week.

To reply to an e-mail, no the snapshot did not contain and endorsement by me of John McCain. I've stated I wouldn't vote for him and stated that from when this site started. John McCain declared that the US had 'won' the Iraq War. When someone is a presumed presidential nominee for an election four months away and they make that call, they need to be asked immediately about withdrawal. McCain has slammed Barack for having a timeline for withdrawal of combat troops. Barack's timeline is meaningless because he's not going to stick by it. But if McCain wants to declare the war won, he needs to be asked about withdrawal. If he has no answer, then he's an idiot. An obvious one. If you're saying the Iraq War is won and you're trying to become the president of the United States, the people of America have every right to ask, "Okay, you say it's won. So troops are coming home?" He doesn't have to give a timeline since he apparently loathes them. But if he thinks it is 'won,' then he should be able to speak of the transition he envisions. I don't think he can honestly. I think that was nonsense he tossed out and didn't mean. But he tossed it out. If you tell me, "You're hired," my first question to you is going to be, "When do I start?" If a presumed presidential nominee says the illegal war is 'won,' then there should be some discussion on what happens now? If he really thinks it's won then the approximately 140,000 US service members don't need to be over there, right? So -- leaving aside 'timelines' -- can he explain to the American people what he does next? If it's 'won' and he has no answer then he's not much of a leader because when one phase is over, you move to another phase. So if he calls a 'win' for the illegal war, the phase after a 'win' is that people leave the battlefield. He needs to be pressured to discuss that.

I don't think people are getting this, people in the press. Maybe they just don't care? But he could have avoided discussing withdrawal through November. He could have just kept saying 'timelines' are 'bad' and other nonsense. And he would have fallen back on his 'We will win' nonsense. He wouldn't have been pressured on withdrawal by most in the press because that was your answer. But now that he's called a 'win' for the Iraq War, he's in a corner.

If he can't talk in even general terms about how he would transition to the next phase (the one that follows a 'win'), he's demonstrating to the American people he can't lead. That's those in favor of the war and those opposed to it. Let me put it in sports terms in case it's not clear. If the football/baseball/soccer game has been won, do you trust a coach who leaves the players on the field for days after? I don't think so. When the game's over, people are supposed to leave the field. If McCain can't come up with a solid response, he's telling the American people that he lacks the leadership and skill to be president because his 'answer' to a 'win' is to continue to keep all those Americans in Iraq.

His '100 years' remark was about bases and he likened it to North Korea, etc. So, for example, his calling the Iraq War 'won,' means he should be willing to talk about that phase. Americans have a right to know his post-war phase. They did before his announcement today but they especially do now. And his favoring a permanent presence (which I disagree strongly with) is not keeping all the US service members in Iraq. That permanent presence was a hypothetical he could avoid because the illegal war was going on. But once he declared it a 'win' the hypothetical became very real. He's making the call, he needs to show how, under John McCain, the US transitions to the next phase. I don't think he can. I'm surprised the pro-Barack sites aren't hitting him hard with "Okay, now what?" This isn't something Charlie Gibson tossed at him, "Senator McCain, when the war is won, what would you do?" He declared a 'win' and he needs to explain what happens next. (I don't think he can. I could be wrong and often am.)

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james burmeister
robin long