Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sad state of the 'peace' movement

Monday's snapshot noted Justice Robert Barnes' July 4th ruling in Joshua Key's case. Which resulted in X repeatedly e-mailing the public account. X explains repeatedly that he hasn't read the decision which is probably what should stop him before he feels the need to e-mail again. It's a 23-page decision. If you can't read a 23-page decision, you really have no right to disagree. You've got no standing to disagree. But X thinks that "military deserters and evaders" (Barnes) is "no big thing and just something written in passing." Yeah, that makes sense.

Of course Barnes was just writing in passing. He didn't mean for his ruling to matter, he didn't take it all seriously, and, no doubt, cobbled it together with little thought, intent or perspective.

If that's what you believe the only reason for believing that is you haven't read the decision.

Barnes is not practicing Anais Nin's symphonic writing (or Hannah Arendt's in her longer pieces -- not an insult to either writer) where the words twist and turn inward and outward so that the pace itself and the rhythm becomes as important as any thought expressed. He chooses his words very precisely. He is not going for symphonic writing nor is he redundant. It's a meticulous, carefully considered ruling.

"Military deserters and evaders" is not a classification he invented for that ruling. Those terms have been in use for a long time and, for present day purposes, they cover both a Joshua Key (who served in Iraq, "military deserter") and a Jeremy Hinzman (who did not serve in Iraq, "military evader").

Judge Barnes took the case before him very seriously. His ruling is rooted in Canadian law, in international law and contains careful citations. To dismiss his use of the phrase "military deserters and evaders" is to assume otherwise or to convince yourself, "Well, he was tired there and just rushing to finish writing it."

The Cliff Notes version is that Barnes explained why the 'board's' ruling in Key's case was too narrow. But the full decision explains why the rulings by the 'board' have been too narrow. That's why he bring in international law and non-governmental bodies (such as the International Red Cross). The entire ruling is an argument against the simplistic findings that the 'board' has repeatedly reached. (Canada's Refugee and Immigration Board does not make the decision, one member does. That's why I say 'board.') Joshua Key's case was the one before him. He was not required to mention Jeremy Hinzman by name; however, he does mention Jeremy by name. There's a reason for that.

To assume otherwise is to assume that Barnes' decision wasn't carefully considered. The only way you can reach that conclusion is to avoid reading the actual decision. Barnes' decision is a present day landmark. When you have a landmark decision, it gets built on. Barnes isn't an idiot, he full well knew that. He knew his decision would get attention and he knew it would come under scrutiny. So he sourced it throughout. There's not one section that's based on conjecture. It is a solid legal ruling in which every section is backed up and grounded in the law.

To insist that Jeremy Hinzman is just tossed out in passing and that Barnes didn't know what he was doing by mentioning Hinzman or that he was being redundant with the phrase "military deserters and evaders" is to argue something that the ruling (in it's 23 pages) does not back up.

X copies and pastes coverage from a daily paper when news of the ruling broke. Few journalists have any legal background or understanding. Even those who do have the constraints of deadlines. There is nothing in the article that suggests the reporter read the decision (in part or in full), let alone grasped it. There is no quote from the decision and the 'analysis' comes from quoting others. In the US (which is where X is from), when a government report is released and is covered, it's covered immediately. It may be over 100 pages. The reporters covering it out of the gate have not read the full report. And that's true, even in the next day's papers. Linda Greenhouse has left the New York Times and is now a college professor so it will be interesting to watch out how the New York Times' coverage of Supreme Court rulings is in the future. Greenhouse had a gift but she also had tremendous skill and training. The reporter highlighted by X covers a number of 'beats' and the legal beat is not usually one of them.

If we had a functioning press, Big or Small, Barnes' legal ruling would have been explored at length in magazines. (The daily press, by its nature, is about highlights.) We don't and Small Media has no real interest in war resisters period. (In These Times being the exception.) Before Katrina vanden Heuvel put her 'mark' on The Nation (which will come out with a little club soda), many lawyers did appear in the magazine. (Don't throw out Professor Patti inventing mythical French boys who tell her John Kerry's life story or combing through issues of People magazine to offer the racist and offensive comparison of African-American to black dogs. That's not a trained legal mind working, that's someone suffering from severe pop cultural damage.) That said, a number of attorneys have websites where they blog and there ws nothing preventing any of them from combing through the decision and writing about it. If you know one who did, by all means e-mail.

I don't know why you would go to the trouble of getting a law degree, starting a website and then deciding your 'contribution' would be to gas bag over election talking points. Which brings up another e-mail. James Branum is an attorney and he has a website. This entry is dictated around what I put in earlier this morning. I forgot to put in a link to the National Lawyers Guild and the person I'm dictating too is unfamiliar with links. So no link in this for the National Lawyers Guild for that reason. But a visitor suggested we link to Branum on the permalinks to the left. We'll highlight Branum in entries (with links in entries). We won't link to him on the permalinks.

That's nothing against him but has to do with a stunt someone pulled which enraged the community. When that happened, all the NLG links were pulled. There's an entry (probably a Thursday night "I Hate The War" entry) where it's written about. I support the NLG but I know the community and when the community turns it's a waste of their time and my time to try to 'override' that. A NLG person did a STUPID thing. Surprising because the person is so smart. But at a time when emotions were already charged across the country, the person decided to wade into electoral issues (no reason at all for that) and wrote an embarrassing column ("embarrassing" is my call). It destroyed support for the NLG in this community.

When people are in a position where they are the face of the organization, they need to think about how to build the organization and how to build recognition and support for it in the larger world. Political candidates? That's not really worth their commenting on and it kind of cheapens the organizations when they do. There was no reason nor need for that column and its opinions expressed were uninformed. I heard about the column from a friend and dreaded going into the e-mails because I knew there would be a severe backlash to the NLG. And there was a severe backlash from the community. As there should have been.

A lawyer knows the term "charged language" and that column was nothing but "charged language." I have no idea what was in it for ____ personally but I doubt the fallout was worth it. In the position ____ holds, the column clearly became in the eyes of many an endorsement of a candidate (and a screed against another). That's not why office holders of an organization are elected. The column's subtext was all 'decent' people support Barack and all 'indecent' people support Hillary. That would not be reflected in a polling of NLG's own membership which includes a number who do not believe in party politics, a number who are not impressed with Barack, a number who belong to a third party (including an increasingly vocal segment that's asking why the hell some in leadership of the NLG -- an independent body -- is working overtime to prop up the Democratic Party to begin with) and some that, yes, supported Hillary.

It was a stupid decision to write that column. It was extreme stupidity to post it.

It has caused more fallout -- not just within this community -- than was ever expected. And it is exactly the reason that the NLG should stay out of party politics.

Katrina vanden Heuvel has destroyed The Nation magazine to the point that unless you're addicted to the text version of the cable chat & chews, the fact-free, water cooler gas bagging, you no longer have use for that periodical. That same easy, immature mindset has now taken hold at The Progressive as well. It is among the reasons that we can't get discussions of war resisters, let alone of other real issues. Everything must be filtered through so that it does not have a negative impact on Barack.

I have no idea why so many people want to prostitute themselves for any candidate -- regardless of whom he or she is. But the facile musings being offered do not challenge, do not inform and do not help the left. That was obvious long before ____ wrote the column attacking Hillary. There was no reason for the column and all it did was cause fallout.

For that reason, all of the NLG links were pulled from the permalinks.

My guess is that had the same person championed a candidate in a third party or an independent candidate (regardless of right or left), it would have been viewed differently. But the idea that the NLG is attacking Hillary, distorting her, to promote a corporate candidate offended just as many non-Hillary supporters as it did Hillary-supporters.

And when you hold the office ___ does in the NLG and you are insisting that Hillary was calling for someone to be murdered, you are seen as writing for the NLG. That's a serious charge and, as an attorney (one highly placed in the NLG), you give that impression.

A whiner attorney e-mailed to complain we didn't note his (non NLG) event. In Los Angeles, at the same time people were going to town on Hillary and accusing her of murderous desires for noting the fact that Robert Kennedy was assassinated, a symposium was being held on the RFK assassination. Hillary mentioning historical fact is calling/hoping for murder? Noting history is that? But this organization can stage their event without any fallout?

The organization's website featured a column -- while they were holding their conspiracy convention -- saying that Hillary noting RFK's assassination was a 'threat' to Barack. If they honestly felt that way, then maybe the organization should have cancelled their convention? If Hillary mentioning history is a 'threat' to Barack, then surely a conspiracy convention is a great deal more.

It was always insane to argue Hillary was suggesting or rooting for something to happen to Barack but it was never as insane as coming from the organization that was holding their kook convention which no one fretted over, no one called out. But the kooks could call out Hillary?

No, we didn't promote that organization's event. I never said we would. (A reply went out noting that Ruth probably would and that, they assumed, I might.) When there was all the high drama over Hillary's remarks, the promotion of that event became iffy. When I visited their website and saw that they were declaring Hillary's mentioning of previous candidates who were in campaigns for months was seen as a threat, there was no way we were going to note the convention.

Referencing history is a threat? But a bunch of kooks getting together to jerk off over conspiracy theories was fine and dandy?

I don't usually call people 'kooks' or toss around 'conspiracy' as a pejorative; however, if your organization wants to offer theories that are counter to the accepted history for days and days at a public convention and you also want to attack Hillary for mentioning historical facts, you're a kook. You're a crazy. You're a nut job.

Due to the climate that the left created over Hillary's remarks, the convention being noted here was always going to be 'iffy' but what got them blocked out was that they joined that climate with the story on the front page of their website. If you think Hillary noting an assassination in a sentence is a threat to Barack, then your multi-day convention covering the same assassination (IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR! as the idiots loved to scream at Hillary) shouldn't have been scheduled for an election year and should have been called off by your own reasoning.
You can't apply a standard to her brief comments and act as if your multi-day event is somehow immune to the same (false) charges.

That makes you a kook and a nut job.

We don't have time for crazy. We're focused on the Iraq War. (And that illegal war is enough insanity and then some.)

The presidential election will come and go. Unless the election results in Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader (alphabetical order -- and no links because I didn't plan to mention them in this) taking office, there's not going to be an end to the Iraq War because of whomever is installed in the White House. I'm not really sure how much power the gas bags have (individually they have none, collectively they may have some) but they will have wasted perceived or real power by making an election their focus. It's not a topic that isn't already gas bagged over by a multitude. There is no gas bag shortage I'm aware of. It's a damn shame so many who actually have an education of value or experiences of value (or both) elected not to use their strengths and write about topics that could have increased understanding because they instead wanted to pretend they'd been invited on Meet The Press. You sort of picture all of them, at the end of the day, sitting on their sofas by themselves, taking part in imaginary roundtables where, no doubt, Tim Russert is still the moderator.

2004 saw the destruction of the peace movement in the United States. That happened because ending the illegal war took a back seat and John Kerry called "shotgun!" Suddenly, the peace movement was supposed to exist to drive a candidate (one who was not promising an end to the illegal war -- anymore than Barack is today) to victory. Picking up the pieces after Kerry lost (yes, gas bags, sometimes even with you all acting as a cheering section, your candidate will lose) was beyond difficult. You had MoveOn . . . moving on from the illegal war and they were far from alone. You had left 'voices' floating that the Iraq War wasn't such a bad thing (Tom Hayden -- in an increasingly rare, brave moment -- called one such 'voice' out). Cindy Sheehan single handedly brought the peace movement back to life. She can't do that again. (And she also got infected with election madness -- I'm not referring to her own campaign, I'm referring to her comments left on articles at Common Dremas.) And no mother similar to Cindy can. The press attitude will be, "Oh, we've reported that already."

So what does The Cult of Barack really think is going to happen after the November election? Their candidate may win the White House. If so, he's not promised an end to the illegal war. He refused to promise that all troops would be out of Iraq, if he was elected, by 2012. His 'promise' was that he would withdraw 'combat' troops in 16 months. That's not all troops and we've long noted here how the phrase 'combat' can be manipulated. And Samantha Power revealed to the BBC and Barack himself revealed to CNN that his 'promise' wasn't binding and he'd decide what to do about Iraq if he got elected. So what does The Cult plan to do after? I wouldn't recommend a mass suicide but haven't they already committed 'voice' suicide by repeatedly prostituting themselves out to pretend he's promising the end of the illegal war? Equally true is that Barack may lose. Kerry did. (Had he fought the Ohio count, he likely would have won. But he didn't fight by his own choice so he lost.) The peace movement does what then?

"Nothing" to those who pay attention to Tom Hayden's increasingly ridiculous writings. According to Hayden, if Barack doesn't win, it's over. (Yes, he did write that. He's become that foolish. Again.) For those who remember 2004, the template seems to suggest that for months and months, the peace movement 'leaders' will be inactive and 'voices' will suggest that we can learn to love the illegal war. And, at some point, if we're really lucky, a genuine leader will emerge to respark the peace movement and we can start all over rebuilding what we tore down for a War Hawk candidate.

In either scenario the illegal war continues. Foreign fighters (including US service members) continuing dying in an illegal war as do Iraqis. Iraqis continue being refugees within and outside their own country. So where's the big pay-off?

The Cult gets to say, "We got Barack into office!" Is that supposed to lessen the death of an Iraqi child's parents? Is that supposed to allow an illegal war to go down the throat a little easier?

In 2004, The Nation couldn't stop hyping the election to the point that they declared it the 'Torture election,' decreed it was a referendum on torture. They made that declaration so, by their own 'logic,' 2004 was the year that Americans embraced torture. By their 'logic,' the electorate (they're never concerned with the people, just the electorate), torture is now embraced by the people and has been since November 2004.

The November election will come and go. Some people will be happy with the results, some people won't be. That's how it's always been and how it always will be barring some mutation in humanity. The same Cult that couldn't persuade Barack to stick to an actual promise (FISA) won't be in any stronger position if he's elected. They've never demanded anything of him, they've never held him accountable. They've excused him and begged from him. He's not royalty. You make demands on politicians. You hold them accountable. They work for you.

2008 has been so-called 'alternative' media acting like some stereotypical slutty wallflower, so desperate to land the quarterback (even for one night), that s/he will do anything. Well, Panhandle Media 'put out' and I'm not seeing a damn thing they have to show for it. Not even a preganancy scare/AIDS test, so let's all assume that, if nothing else, they practiced safe sex.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is holding Super Rallies to put issues on the table and to call for opening the debates. If the debates are not opened, no issue will be on the table. We might get 'musings' by this year's John Edwards and John Kerry of whether or not Dick Cheney loves his gay daughter. (Tricky Dick loved both of his daughters, there's no reason to have ever doubted that Dick Cheney loved his children. But somehow that passed for an 'issue.' By two candidates -- Kerry and Edwards -- who didn't have the guts to come out in support of same-sex marriage.) That's the sort of thing that will pass for 'issues' and for an 'informed discourse' if the debates again invite only two candidates. The debates need to be opened to all candidates. August 27th is the Super Rally in Denver and the html on this is just going to be pasted in (again, the person I'm dictating this too is not familiar with linking):

Nader 2008 Blog
Kilmer, Sheehan, Morello with Nader in Denver
Posted by The Nader Team on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 02:43:00 AM
As late as yesterday, we didn't think we had a chance.
For the first time in this campaign, we were at serious risk of missing a self-imposed financial goal.
Then, yesterday, you came through.
And now, we're back in it.
Now, we're just shy of $42,000.
And we have a chance to hit our goal of $50,000 by 11:59 pm tonight.
But we're going to have to bust a gut to get there.
All out.
All day.
All night.
So, we are calling on 900 of you -- our most loyal supporters -- to
donate $10 each now to push us over the top.
(900 times $10 equals $9,000, right?)
And for every $10 contribution you donate today, we will give free admission to a needy student who wants to come to hear Ralph Nader at our Open the Debates Super Rally at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. ($10 in advance, $12 at the door.)
Ralph will be joined by his running mate Matt Gonzalez.
And -- breaking news -- a star studded line-up will join Ralph and Matt in a call to open up the Presidential debates.
Featuring -- Val Kilmer, Cindy Sheehan and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Jello Biafra, Nellie McKay, and Ike Reilly.
So, please -- give a student a chance to attend this historic event.
Donate $10 now -- or whatever you can afford -- and send a student to raise the banner in Denver -- Open the Presidential Debates, More Voices, More Choices.

Keep an eye on our widget throughout the day.
Watch your name go up in lights.
And see if we blast through our goal.
Donate now.
And let's get it done.
Together, we will not be denied.
The Nader Team.
PS: Last chance to get our two DVD Sicko/Awake from Your Slumber package. If you
donate $100 or more by tomorrow night, we will send you the best argument yet made for single payer Medicare for all health insurance -- the DVD Sicko. Plus, we'll send Awake from Your Slumber -- the DVD starring Ralph Nader and Patti Smith -- autographed by Ralph.

Micah wants a video highlighted and that can't happen today. Embedding the code can be a problem for even those who are familiar with links. We'll note that Nader campaign video tomorrow morning.

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