Friday, March 17, 2006

"War Got Your Tongue?"

Mike is energized tonight so please visit Mikey Likes It! I'm not sure what I'm up for tonight. We've already all done a discussion for Saturday's gina & krista round-robin and I'm honestly not sure how many more comments I have left in me. I've got the music playing, probably too loudly, hoping that will give me enough energy to get through an entry. (You might want to try something similar if you're attempting to read this.) Right now James Blunt's Back to Bedlahm is playing.

"US Launches Largest Air Assault Since Iraq Invasion" (Democracy Now!):
US and Iraqi troops have launched what the military is calling the largest air assault in the three years since the Iraq invasion. In a press release, the army said over fifteen hundred troops and fifty aircraft have been deployed in a “suspected insurgent operating area” northeast of Samarra. Operation “Swarmer” is expected to last for several days. No casualties have been reported so far.

Operation "Swarmer" because when you're launching destruction, a catchy name is really important apparently. The intent/hope is probably that a cutesy name will have the media focusing on the buzz and not the reality.

"Hidden In Plain Sight" (Norman Solomon, CounterPunch):
The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. "In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased," Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. "Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border."
Hersh added: "As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war."
Here's a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon's bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war.

That's the reality. But will big media focus on the reality? Probably not. They'll probably be taken in by "shock and awe" instead. I see no indication that they've learned a thing from their mis-coverage in the lead up to the war.

If that seems harsh, you obviously missed today's "New York Times Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon Defends Pre-War Reporting on WMDs" where the New York Times' Michael Gordon could justify (or ignore in some cases) every bit of mis-reporting he did. You can read the transcript, but to appreciate the sheer arrogance of this man, you need to listen or watch. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez deserve strong praise for the work they did on that interview.

"Over 500 Events Planned For Events Marking Third Year of Iraq War" (Democracy Now!):
And as the invasion and occupation of Iraq reaches the three-year mark this Sunday, activists are staging anti-war events around the world. At least 500 protests are being held in the US this weekend alone. United for Peace and Justice has organized actions in all 50 states. Some began earlier this week. A veterans march for peace, which began in Alabama Tuesday, will end in New Orleans. According to USA Today, a new poll shows 60 percent of Americans believe the war was not “worth it.” In London, the Stop the War Coalition will stage a protest Saturday to demand the withdrawal of US and British troops from Iraq. Similar demonstrations are to be held in cities in Iraq, as well as in Mexico, Japan, and other parts of Europe.

It's so important that you make yourself heard. Maybe a mass protest/rally isn't your thing? Then you need to figure out what is "your thing" because we can't afford to be silent. If you've forgotten, this was sold as a "cake walk" and it's been three years. Now Bully Boy's talking "Long War" and you better believe nothing's changing if you're not willing to make it change.

We all have the power to say "no" to the war and I hope that we'll use our voices. That might not be a protest for you. That might be a house party or something else. But you need to be heard. You need to be counted among the many who are opposed to the continued occupation.

"And the war drags on (Indymedia Roundup)" (The Common Ills):
Talk about what was done in Iraq. Talk about how we got over there. Hearing tales from high ranking military officials about how they wished they had more whatever (bombs? troops?) is nonsense. We shouldn't have been over there and trying to sell the hogwash that there could have been a "win" is nonsense, it's jerking off, it's fantasizing and it's attempting to tack on even more days to the occupation as Americans are told if-only's and led to believe that Rumsfeld can carry it off this time.

It doesn't need to be 'carried off.' It needs to be ended. It never should have started. For three years a lot of people have deluded themselves about the tensions (against the occupiers) in Iraq. As though we could trample around their country and impose our concept of "order" upon a people -- an intelligent people, not a group of ignorant children. We can't. If that's not obvious to people now, it never will be.
Fortunately for those who practice the religion of denail, the likes of Michael Gordon scribble badly written articles that let them think, "If only we'd fought this way or that way, we'd have peace now!" No, we wouldn't. When one country occupies another, you don't get peace. When the host country wants the occupiers to leave, you don't get peace. When you import workers from out of the country and deny jobs to Iraqis, you don't get peace. When you have a tag sale on their public goods, you don't get peace. When you make noises about taking away their food subsidies, you don't get peace.
Why take away their food subsidies? Especially if they don't want them taken away? Because it doesn't fit the "free market" model we've attempted to impose upon Iraq, that we've attempted to force onto the people.
That's not democracy. That's occupation. We're calling the shots, and Iraqis don't like it. That's not a surprise to anyone awake. And hearing about the grumbles from the leadership of the military doesn't begin to address reality.

I was talking to Rebecca about the above, on the phone, this morning. As she said, "What do you say after you read that other than 'Wow!'?" I know it was written in the midst of the discussion for this morning's roundrobin. I know that C.I.'s probably about to fall over and it's not even time yet for the latest edition from The Third Estate Sunday Review. I don't know what to say other than I will never understand where C.I. gets it -- this energy. This "I'm about to fall over or pass out but something still needs to be done so let me grab a fifth or sixth wind."

I wish I had that kind of energy. Or focus.

If either of the two who read Wednesday's post are here now, I think it's pretty sad that you went whining to C.I. about what I wrote but didn't have the character to e-mail me. I stand by remarks. (And thanks to C.I. for backing me up.)

This isn't a time for silence. We all need to find and use our voices. Hence, our reality check for tonight.

"War Got Your Tongue?" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, December 9, 2005):
Let's give it up to the bloggers and the op-ed columnists with bravery because they've weighed in the war. The war that hits the third year mark in March.

You do know there's a war going on, right?
We kind of feel like we have to ask that question because most people don't appear to. Again, give it up for the bloggers and the op-ed columnists. Give it up for progressive media.
"'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" we asked at the D.C. protests in September. Here's how one person responded:
74) Ivan, 62, Michigan: I think today is great and am thrilled with the turnout. I protested against the war on Vietnam and there it took us years to get the momentum going. What I worry about is where are the people? I don't mean the protesters, I'm really encouraged with the cross-section today. But, okay, you've got Cindy Sheehan. Great spokesperson. Ralph Nader's here and maybe he can make up for the recent past or maybe not, but he's here. The actress from Tootsie and Cape Fear, right Jessica Lange. She's here and I didn't remember her name but she really did give a great speech. I'm glad those people are here. But we need more. And in my day, the people had others. Yes, we had Jane Fonda, Fred Gardner, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden and others front and center. But you also had people backing it up. Like Bob Dylan. I think he went to one protest with Joan Baez for civil rights. But his songs backed up what his actions didn't. Or you turned on Dick Cavett or David Frost and there was an author or singer or someone and they weren't at the protests but they'd put it on the line and they'd say, like John Phillips [Mamas and the Papas] that the war was wrong. I caught Jane Fonda on David Letterman, when her book came out. And he asked her about the war and she said she was against it and the audience just went crazy with applause and cheers. But are there younger people doing that? Is it just people my age? Maybe there are and I just don't know them. But part of the reason the movement finally did end the war is that our cultural heroes were willing to speak out. You hear a lot of that sneering "You're a celebrity, shut up" talk and that's really fearing the power if they do speak out. With Vietnam, and this isn't a full list, just names that come to mind, you had Joan Baez and Jane Fonda front and center, but you also had Phil Ochs, you had the whole Mamas & the Papas, you had John Lennon, Mia Farrow, Tim Hardin, Laura Nyro, Peter Fonda, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Janis [Joplin], the Rolling Stones, Grace Slick and the [Jefferson] Airplane, this whole list of people. And you had people my age and younger and we weren't that different from kids today, we thought about what was in front of us. So when you have these people that you watch or listen to talking about it, it put it front and center. There were a lot of priests and a lot of Quakers and a lot of really solid activists who worked and gave their time to ending the war. But what kept it on the front page was a) real reporting with real photos and b) the fact that you couldn't escape it. You turned on the TV to escape but there was some entertainer talking about it. It was front and center. Now maybe there are people doing that today. I don't watch much TV now. Maybe if I turned on Letterman every night, I'd see some young people coming on to talk about a movie or TV show and I'd hear them speak out against the war. But I really don't get the sense that's happening. The right spent a lifetime demonizing Jane Fonda. There's a reason for that. They want to make sure no one else is tempted to use their power. They're scared of what would happen if entertainers really started throwing their weight around and making the people buying tickets or records think about this war.
Hard to believe it to look around today, but that did happen. C.I. had lunch today with a friend who's trying desperately to work the war into a show he writes for. During the conversation a number of issues were raised about what's being ignored by the mainstream press. C.I. shared the converstation with Jess who said, "I had that same conversation!" C.I. came up with the title of this editorial. Jess tossed in something else. By then it was going to have to be a Third Estate Sunday Review piece because we all wanted to weigh in.
All we are saying is JUST TAKE A STAND
On this anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, we're surprised by how few seem to act as if a war's going on. Ripped from the headlines our asses. Hiding from the headlines. And it goes on everywhere.
Maybe pop culture doesn't allow you to comment on Harold Pinter's speech? Maybe a playwright is too "culture" and not enough pop? Maybe it's just not really handing out awards if no one asks, "Who are you wearing?"All we are saying is just take a stand.
If you're presenting as being on the left, why are you so silent on a war that's waged for almost three years? War got your tongue?
Hey, if you're for the war, come out and say it. You can find readers who'll support you. But quit hiding behind "I'm left" if you can't comment on the war.
You're not looking "moderate." You're looking ignorant. And when people read you years from now and see that you had nothing to say about a war that waged and waged, they're going to wonder about that.
We should wonder about it right now.
Bloggers, op-ed writers, Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman, The Progressive, The Nation, go down the list. They're the people who have kept the conversation alive, who have forced it to the front. They did that without you. They're still doing it without you even though polling consistently demonstrates a trend of the people turning against the war.
You waiting for it to hit 99% before you feel "safe" about weighing in?
Naomi Klein rightly argued about the need to bring Iraq to the NYC during the Republican convention in 2004. We echo that only we say it's time to bring it to the people. That means no jerking off over Jessica and Nick or whatever "hot" topic. If you're not weighing in on a war, what are you but a couch potato?
Are you in a coma? Do you not see what's going on?
We ask that question because Bright Eyes gets slammed online by a left site. "When a President Talks To God" is "trite, crudely so, and certainly unenlightening"? Harold Bloom, when did you come online? Or is it the Professor from Gilligan's Island? (We felt the Bloom ref might be lost on the "wit" who penned the critique.)
Maybe you missed the performance of that song? Maybe you weren't at any of the sites on the left that talked of this or listening to The Majority Report whan Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder played the clip? We're sure reading The New Rag takes up a lot of your time.
But is that your statement? Your full statement on the war?
Gee, thanks for weighing in. Maybe you're one of the sites or magazines that can also say you reviewed Jarhead?
We're so lucky to have you.
All we are saying is just take a stand.
Clooney and Damon have a new movie, you could blather on about that and claim you've addressed the war three times!
We're not sure what you're so scared of. Or why, having been silent, you think anyone cares what you think about the voices calling for an end to the occupation?
Are you Shelly Hack in Annie Hall?
"I'm bascially very shallow and have no ideas or thoughts of my own."
Is that it?
How's that working out for you?
As you muddle down the middle of the road, how's that working out for you?