Monday, October 18, 2010

The media silences on the wars

Notice anything missing on the campaign landscape?
How about war? The United States is now in its ninth year of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest wars in American history. Almost 5,000 men and women have been killed. More than 30,000 have been wounded, some so gravely they're returning home to become, effectively, wards of their families and communities.
In those nine years, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion on combat operations and other parts of the war effort, including foreign aid, reconstruction projects, embassy costs and veterans' health care. And the end is not in sight.
So why aren't the wars and their human and economic consequences front and center in this campaign, right up there with jobs and taxes?

The above is from Tom Brokaw's "The Wars That America Forgot About" (New York Times). But did the people forget or did the press forget? (The press forgot.) The answer's pretty clear when you turn to Jared Hunt's article (West Virginia's Daily Mail Capitol Reporter) on the US Senate race between Joe Manchin and Governor John Raese and how, when asked, candidates will discuss the Iraq War. Manchin terms it a distraction "with a tremendous cost to human life, the personal tragedies that the families had to endure, and the financial cost of this mission." Raese speaks of his opposition to "adherence to rules of engagement in combat" (which would put him at odds with the Pentagon's official position) and asserts that the US military in Iraq has been forced to conduct "a politically correct war".

Meanwhile Andrew Dys (South Carolina's Herald) reports on Iraq War veteran Brian Dunn who was wounded in a May 9, 2005 roadside bombing who "is fighting to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for artificial disc replacement surgery in Germany. Back surgery, he says, could give him a normal life again." And Henry Schuster (60 Minutes) blogs about homeless veterans (and includes a link to Scott Pelley's report on the topic which aired on 60 Minutes last night). Last week the House Veterans Affairs Committee issued the following:

Washington, D.C. – House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) announced that President Obama signed H.R. 3219 into law. The Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 improves and modernizes certain benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans and their families.
Chairman Filner said, "This new law is the result of numerous productive hearings and markups, meaningful oversight and bi-partisan compromise – all to ensure that those who were willing to lay down their lives for our country and their families and survivors, receive meaningful, world-class, 21st Century benefits. These improvements will make a big difference in the lives of many of America’s brave veterans."
Specifically, the new law addresses the needs of veterans by enhancing employment opportunities, preventing and caring for homeless veterans, ensuring the welfare of veterans and their families by increasing insurance limits, protecting service members called to combat, honoring fallen service members and their families, strengthening education benefits, addressing housing needs of disabled veterans, and investing in research for Gulf War veterans.
Chairman Filner concluded: "This Congress has been extraordinarily productive for America's veterans. Speaker Pelosi's strong leadership has been critical as this Congress passed caregiver legislation, approved advance appropriations for veterans' health care, raised the VA budget to adequately care for veterans during wartime, and passed a G.I. Bill for the 21st Century. I am privileged to work with the Members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee who set an aggressive agenda and stood together to ensure that the cost of the war includes the cost of the warrior. They have truly shown love and compassion to America's veterans evidenced by their hard work to keep the promises made to our Nation's heroes of the past, present, and future."
American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster offered the following assessment of progress made for veterans: "The 111th Congress may be remembered for banner legislation such as health-care reform, financial regulation and the recovery act. But in our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America." Reflecting upon his visit to Washington last month, Foster said, "I came to town to deliver my testimony on the needs of our nation's veterans. Before I left, Congress had passed half of our legislative agenda."

Summary of H.R. 3219 here: Bill Summary
Details of the bill available here: Press Release

As the MSM has dropped and hidden the topic of the Iraq War (and even to a degree the Afghanistan War), it's been the college press that's continued to explore the topic. From Zach Fix's "U.S. should stop its war in Middle East" (The North Wind):

Iraq and Afghanistan did not bomb the world trade center, terrorists did. This was an attack on our citizens but there are plenty of countries that are harboring terrorists that the U.S. is not at war with. I am not saying that we should isolate ourselves, but using military force should be our last option. Instead of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on a war that is just creating more problems, think of better ways to spend it. Our military's budget is $623 billion dollars. Given the current state of the economy, it is ridiculous for the U.S. to be spending like this. At the time that I am writing this article, the U.S. debt clock is at $13,584,802,000,000. I checked this on Wednesday, Oct. 13, and by the time this paper is in your hands, it has already exponentially risen. Instead of spending this money fighting overseas, how about we use it for our citizens. Think about how much that money could do. We need a military to serve and protect Americans instead of police the world.

Now try to follow this if you can. On WBAI, Law and Disorder Radio airs Mondays at 9:00 a.m. EST. Usually. If the station is in fundraising mode -- which it is all month -- then the program can start at 10:00 a.m. and the hosts can be on for two hours during the bulk of which they fund raise for the station. So today on WBAI, you might or might not hear attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler discussing the FBI raids and the issues of grand juries. If you don't, you can always go to the Law and Disorder Radio website to stream the latest program or you can listen on whatever radio station you normally catch the program on. If you're asking what FBI raids (because you missed it or because there are so many FBI raids), Friday, September 24th raids took place in at least seven homes -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. The same day the raids took place the National Lawyers Guild issues a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi is one of Law and Disorder's three co-hosts, the other two are Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner. And they addressed the raids on the program that began broadcasting September 27th. Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "No Lift Off" went up last night. We'll close with this from John Anthony La Pietra's campaing:

John Anthony La Pietra for
Fairer, Better Elections
Secretary of State * Green Party
386 Boyer Court * Marshall, MI 49068

News Release: October 17, 2010

La Pietra Files Campaign-Finance Report Early
Posts Pre-General Summary Page on Website the (Sun)day It's Due;
e-Mails Full Packet to Lansing, Willing to Send Hard Copy Too

Transparency -- and Commitment: Living Up to His Promise to
"Take 100% of Anyone's Vote But No More than $100 of Anyone's Money"

John Anthony La Pietra, the Green Party of Michigan’s candidate for Secretary of State, today e-mailed the Bureau of Elections in Lansing his required campaign-finance report for the "pre-general" period -- which ends today.

The report isn't due until Friday the 22nd. But the books closed today, and John doesn't see any reason to keep the Bureau -- or the people -- waiting.

He's even posting the signed cover page and the summary page of his report on his campaign Website, at

John’s Webspace is limited, so he’s not planning to post the whole 535kB of the nine-page report. But if someone wants to see all nine pages, they can e-mail John at

To John, this is more than just a matter of routine transparency and disclosure (or what should be routine, anyway). He's also pledged, in his flyers and on the campaign trail: "I’ll take 100% of anyone’s vote but no more than $100 of anyone’s money."

John feels this is one important way to see to it that Michigan's Chief Elections Officer serves the people, and is not beholden to any party or other special interest. And one of his "discussion papers", on "Money and Politic(ian)s", talks about several other ideas to achieve this.

In the meantime, John will be calling the Bureau of Elections on Monday to confirm that his e-mailed report has been received, and to find out where else they would like him to send it in what medium.

For more information on John’s other ideas for non-partisan administration of fairer, better elections for the people, read his “discussion paper” on that subject at

# # #

NOTE to assignment desks, editorial boards, etc.:
John plans to issue at least three more news releases this week; please let him know if there are other people or e-mailboxes to whom he should be sending those releases:

* One on continuing preparations for his voting-conditions survey,
featuring a status report on which county clerks have provided
what information on the numbers of voters registered for each
precinct in their county, and the polling places.

* One renewing yet again his invitation to his four rivals to agree
to split the fee and arrange for a joint statewide recount --
since state law does not allow for the type of sampling audit
John and the Michigan Election Reform Alliance have called for.

* And one kicking off John's effort to gather information on all
official write-in candidates so voters across the state have
one place to check to find out who they can write in and still
have those votes count.

If you are (or plan to be) working on any articles reviewing the Secretary of State's race, please e-mail your plans, your timeframe, and your deadline as soon as possible. But please do your audience the courtesy of not treating John as an "also-running" afterthought. Remember, he earned his official place on the November 2 ballot four weeks *before* either Jocelyn Benson or Ruth Johnson. (And at that, John was nominated a month after Robert Gale of the US Taxpayers Party, and two months after Scotty Boman of the Libertarians.)

If you have an editorial board or other body that is considering making any recommendations or endorsements for Secretary of State, John should have heard from you already. But please e-mail by the close of business on Monday what dates and times are possible on your end for interviewing John in person or via telephone (or even e-mail) as part of that process. He will get back to you as soon as he can.

The e-mail address for this site is