Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our focus on Iraq

A few people -- community members as well as visitors -- have e-mailed regarding our focus.  Our focus is Iraq.  With that focus, we can cover the ongoing war and events in Iraq and we can also cover veterans issues.  Attacks on the US press have always been covered here and usually lead a snapshot.  That's beyond our current scope but we cover that because we always have.  We cover Benghazi because of the vast stupidity in the so-called 'reporting.'  Four Americans who died (Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Chris Stevens) are not your punchline.  The left has embarrassed itself tremendously over Benghazi, demonstrating a lack of a humanity and concern.  As someone on the left, I will not feed into that and I will not treat four dead Americans as a punch line.

Nor will I stupidly say, "Soldiers died in Iraq!"  As though that's the same thing.  I don't believe Chris Stevens, wore body armor or was trained in combat.

Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were Iraq War veterans.  And it's cute how some on the left sniff at the crotch of the military at the same time as they mock two dead veterans.

I don't sniff at the crotch of the military, nor do I worship the military.

I also don't make  remarks, likes ones on Twitter yesterday, about John McCain and how he can't speak out for veterans because he supported the Iraq War.

That is such a stupid statement.

I am deeply opposed to the Iraq War.  That's why this site started, that's why in February 2003 I began speaking out.

Can I call for veterans to get what they were promised?

Yes, I can.

Even though I am opposed to the illegal (and ongoing) Iraq War?

Yes, I can.

It's wrong for anyone to suggest that I can't because of my position on the war.  It's wrong for anyone to suggest that John McCain can't support veterans because of his position on the war.

John McCain supported the Iraq War -- one of the many issues we disagree on.

But his support for the war doesn't mean he doesn't support veterans.

I think he wrongly and foolishly believes that the Iraq War is necessary (to his credit, he's not one of the ones who thinks the fighting has ceased) but that his belief.

His belief is not, "I want to send people to die in a fake war."

He thinks it is and was a war that needs to be fought.

I can call him out on that (and have) and mock him on it (and have) and use any tone.

But it is dishonest if I ever pretend that he doesn't care about veterans because he supports the Iraq War.

Equally true, the Twits making these Tweet charges don't give a damn about Iraq.  They're not concerned and they don't care that Nouri's using collective punishment -- a legally defined War Crime, one even the US government recognizes as a War Crime -- on the civilians in Falluja.

They don't care.

They make that clear with their silence on the issue.

It is May and Nouri has been bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja since January.  The civilian dead includes children.  Not even that has prompted any horror on the part of the American Twitter brigade.

Today's shelling has left a man, a woman and a child injured.

A family whose 'crime' was living in their home.

So when they start talking 'about' Iraq, they've got nothing to say.  It is their political football as we've pointed out repeatedly in the past weeks.

In recent days, our emphasis has been on the VA scandal.

Again, that's in our scope.

But there's another reason it's the emphasis.

I'm not NPR.

I'm not going to waste my time or anyone else's.


We'll note Alice Fordham's "Despite Bloody Conflict, Iraq's Leader Looks Likely To Keep Power" in today's snapshot.  We'll quote from it.

It's rare US coverage of Iraq and we'll note it.

But that's not going to be my focus today or any other.

It's non-news.


And I'm aware how many months it took in 2006 to form a government and how that increased even more in 2008.  If anyone thinks I'm going to spend months on conjecture about the still-not-emerged Iraqi government, they're mistaken.

Not only is it not news, it will the same (feature) story every day for months.

We're not making that our focus.  We'll cover genuine news out of Iraq.

We'll even include feature stories like Alice Fordham's.  But that's not going to be our emphasis or focus.

It's worse than horse race type coverage of US elections.  I'm just not interested in it -- the self-interested whispers where various factions promote themselves to reporters and this is passed off as news?

The VA scandal is a real issue, a real story.

When there are real issues and real stories out of Iraq, we'll note them.  But I'm not spending every day wallowing in speculation over the possible political outcomes.  It's like a never-ending game of telephone.

If you're late to the party, in March 2010, Iraqi's held parliamentary elections.  It wasn't until November of that year -- eight months later -- that a government was formed.  I am not spending eight months where every day in the snapshot our focus is on this rumor about the new government or that rumor.

My time is important to me.  We'll note the gossip, we'll treat it as gossip.  If State Dept friends pass on anything or want anything noted, we'll include that as well.

But to spend months focusing on  and emphasizing gossip, speculation and conjecture?

We'll note some of today's violence, it is news.

National Iraqi News Agency reports two police members were injured in a Mosul shooting, Joint Operations Command states they killed 23 suspects in Anbar, Joint Operations Command announced they killed 9 suspects in Falluja, a Mosul home invasion left 1 police member, his brother and another family member dead, Baghdad Operations Command announced they killed 15 suspects in Baghdad, and security forces say they killed 3 suspects in Abbid Weis.  All Iraq News adds 1 Sahwa was shot dead in Tikrit and three more injuredAlsumaria reports that a woman was shot dead in Mosul (she was a university professor and had run in the parliamentary elections -- her name isn't given).

The following community sites -- plus On the Wilder Side, the ACLU, Jake Tapper,, L Studio and Pacifica Evening News  -- updated:

  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). We'll close with this from Bacon's  photo essay "WORKERS AREN'T A DISPOSABLE PRODUCT" (New Labor Forum):

    Eulogio Solanoa is a Mixteco migrant from Oaxaca, and was a farm worker for many years.  After leading strikes and community protests, he went to work as an organizer for the United Farm Workers.  Today he lives in Greenfield, California, where he told his story to David Bacon.  Thanks to Farmworker Justice for the support for this project of documenting the lives of farm workers.

    I've been here in Greenfield since 1992, so that's twenty years.  But I'm from a small town called San Jose de las Flores in the Putla district in Oaxaca.  My family has ejido land there -- not a lot of land, just what they call a cajon, less than a quarter of an acre.  That's about the amount of land everyone has there.  We only have enough to live, but not enough to buy a house or car.  My father didn't even own any land -- the land we have comes from my mother.

    The entire town is an ejido [communities created by Mexico's land reform that hold their land in common], but everyone has their own little piece of land.  We don't choose a different plot each year -- whatever piece of land you first got is what you keep.  That is what Emiliano Zapata fought for, so that everyone can have their own land.  We didn't have that before.  But it's not enough land for a family to live, only enough to grow corn and a few beans.  It's enough to eat, but not enough to grow crops to sell.

    That's why we didn't have clothes and barely enough to eat.  When I was fourteen and going to school I still didn't own a pair of shoes.  I was barefoot.  I really enjoyed going to school, though.  My teacher said I was the brightest one in class.  But I couldn't continue - I had to go to work with my family. 

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