Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Hate The War

Plans to hold a referendum that could have accelerated the withdrawal of American forces have quietly been shelved, as even those Iraqi politicians who were pushing for the poll conclude that it would no longer be a useful exercise.
Sunni Muslim politicians had wanted the referendum on the U.S.-Iraqi security pact to be held in January, at the same time as national elections. But with the clock ticking on preparations for the elections and parliament still deadlocked over a new election law, there is now not enough time to also draft and approve the legislation required to simultaneously hold a referendum, legislators say.

That's from Liz Sly's "Iraq's plans for referendum on U.S. pullout fades" (Los Angeles Times). Sly goes on to offer conjecture which just happens to be the sort of conjecture the US government loves. The will for it has vanished. Really? Are we that dumb or do we just look it? The will vanished? Or the US strong-armed to ensure that the referendum would not happen?

Liz Sly would have you believe that Iraqi politicians have decided to put that issue aside because they're concentrating on wooing voters.

Anyone else see the problem with that 'logic'?

Iraqis deciding whether or not US forces should leave?

Very popular with the Iraqi people. And 70% is the estimate the State Dept had earlier this year on what the results would be if the referendum was put before the Iraqi people -- 70% would vote to nullify the Status Of Forces Agreement.

So the referendum would be hugely popular with Iraqis.

To believe the story, we have to be stupid, we have to believe that Iraqi politicians are stupid and Iraqi politicians have to be stupid.

That's a lot of people who need to be stupid in order for LAT's conjecture -- which just happens to be what the State Dept wants put out there -- to be true.

Or we could all be smart and note the reality: The US never wanted the referendum (Bush & company allowed it to go into the process in November 2008 only because they knew it could be killed through pressure) and the US ensured there would be no referendum.

Moving on.


A few e-mails have already come in re: GI Bill hearing. Vistors are expressing disappointment that it wasn't in today's snapshot and why couldn't the disabilities hearing have been held over? It could have been. But I think the disabled are always told to 'wait' and put on hold. It was a serious hearing with serious issues and it needed to be covered.

I also needed a break from the GI Bill issue and with a friend (Iraq War veteran and veterans advocate) wanting to share some thoughts on today's hearing before I wrote anything up, I grabbed that as the excuse to avoid unpacking all of that.

If you'll recall, when that scandal was breaking, that week, we were already noting the problems ahead of the scandal. And that's not the only VA scandal. But we've covered it and covered it and today it was one of two hearings with the other being on the disabled.

The Common Ills community includes the disabled. We have always included the disabled and we always will. We have some couples where one person has a hearing issue or a sight issue. For that reason, we include a variety of links (or try to). In the case of sight issue, an audio (or video) link allows the couple to listen to something together and one person's not reading it.

That's why we started noting, early on, "link has text and audio," or whatever. It's why Democracy Now! and Bill Moyers Journal remain on our links -- they provide video, audio and text, they serve all the public who can get before a computer. If nothing else, those programs serve all. Sometimes that's about the only thing nice I can say about either -- but that's still a huge amount of praise. There are, for example, PBS programs that offer nothing. Or they want to charge for everything. So it is something that the makers of both programs (DN! is not a PBS program) do attempt to serve everyone. And when I'm pissed by either or both programs, I never think of delinking because I know they serve both. It's why Politico is now on our links. And I'm known for hating Politico. I've made fun of it repeatedly here -- and even worse off line. But their news stories frequently also have an audio option. It does matter. And it matter more than whether or not I like them.

Community members do care about disabled issues. Hilda started the wildly popular community newsletter Hilda's Mix to serve the disabled community members and it's now two newsletters (one text, which Hilda does, and one audio which the Ty, Dona and Jess work on assembling) which the entire community enjoys. Hilda herself is one of our community members with a hearing disability. So we do have to cover those issues here even if the issues are ignored elsewhere (as, too often is the case, the disabled community itself is ignored nationwide).

Outside the community, a snapshot with a Congressional hearing attracts two kinds of visitors who e-mail regularly. The first is someone working for a Congressional campaign who wants to know how they get audio or video of the statement by ___ quoted in the snapshot. In one instance, Dona had to not only explain it to them, she had to watch it and tell them where in the hearing it was. When I found that out, I said, "If they can't watch an entire hearing and locate it on their own, too bad. We don't have time to spoon feed." The other group are veterans. They may be right-wing veterans or left-wing ones or centrists ones or apolitical or sick of all politics or what have you. They do appreciate that a VA hearing was covered even if they disagree with my commentary and observations (which demonstrates that there is far too little coverage in the press of VA issues). In that group is a number who have hearing issues and explain that the exchanges offered (transcribed) are helpful to them.

I'll add my own shock that I've attended VA hearings on disabilities and not seen anyone who signed despite the fact that there is someone attending the hearing who cannot hear. (If I know that ahead of time, I will try to sit by them and I'll sign during opening statements and then let them read my note pad as I take notes during the hearing -- opening statements are almost always read from prepared remarks which are easy to obtain a copy of.) Yes, many can read lips but there are microphones that can block the Congressional members' mouths and most of the time visitors are facing the backs of the heads of the witnesses so lip reading's not going to help there at all.

But the disabled are part of our community and they are a part of the country and they are a part of the veteran community. And I'm a real asshole but if I do one thing right at all online, it is recognize that we don't all have the same abilities and ensure that those with special or extra needs are at least acknowledged even if I'm not able to meet all the needs.

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 4349. Tonight? the count remains 4349.

The e-mail address for this site is

liz sly