Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No quote tonight -- it's already too long

Mike's excited that it's hump day. I'll be excited when the weekend rolls around. But please visit Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's take on the news.

"Over 100,000 Protest President Bush in India" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, tens of thousands of people gathered in New Delhi today to protest a visit by President Bush to India. A police spokesperson said the crowd exceeded 100,000 people. Abdul Hussain, a spokesperson for one of the protest organizers, said: "Welcoming a person like him is like welcoming a murderer and he has become a militant and a war monger... he is a war president. So welcoming a person like him does not make any sense or meaning in a country like India. And welcoming him in the country of the Mahatma will desecrate our land."
Dozens of protests have been planned ahead of President Bush’s three-day visit. During his stay, Bush is expected to sign a controversial deal to sell India nuclear fuel from the US.

Oh, you mean Ana Nicole Smith isn't the most important story in the world? Anyone else thinking about the coverage the former Playboy model goes to Court has gotten and wondered what happened to real news?

It took an outbound plane years ago.

I don't think Bill Clinton was either God or fault-free; however, I can remember a time when we had someone in the oval office who wasn't hated by pretty much the entire world. He's argued, on the port deal, that we have to go through with it because, otherwise, how will it look?

How does it look to the world when he's in the position he's in. More importantly, if he's worried about how things might look then perhaps he needs to apologize rushing through a deal that has so much of the nation and Congress up in arms. If it's causing problems now, the problems are his for not properly vetting. He wanted to be the leader, he disenfranchised voters and went to the Court. When things go wrong, blame comes with the position.

That may shock him because no one got more breaks for 9-11 than he did. There should have been a serious and immediate Congressional investigation into his failures.

"Study: One in Three Iraq Vets Seek Mental Health Treatment" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting an Army study has found that more than one in three US troops who served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems. According to the report, soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq reported more distress than those returning from Afghanistan and other countries. More than half of all service members returning from Iraq reported that they had "felt in great danger of being killed" there, and over 2,400 reported having suicidal thoughts. Steve Robinson, head of the National Gulf War Resource Center, said: "In Vietnam, there were safe areas where people could go to rest and recuperate. That doesn't happen in Iraq; every place is a war zone."

I see this quite often. I take people who are recommended to me on a pro bono basis. C.I. and Rebecca think that's so wonderful of me. It's not that wonderful. The reality is that there's not money there for most of the returning vets to get the help they need. I'll return to this topic in some form in a bit.

"Former Intel Officials Say White House Ignored Insurgency Warnings" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, Knight Ridder is reporting the White House repeatedly ignored early intelligence warnings that the armed insurgency in Iraq was almost entirely local and growing in size. A National Intelligence Estimate as early as October 2003 said the insurgency was fueled mostly by local conditions, such as the presence of US troops in Iraq. It also said outside forces were playing almost no role in the insurgency. Robert Hutchings, the former chair of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005 said: "Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios." Another former high-ranking intelligence official said: "This was stuff the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear. They were constantly grumbling that the people who were writing these kind of downbeat assessments 'needed to get on the team,' 'were not team players' and were 'sitting up there (at CIA headquarters) in Langley sucking their thumbs.'"

You weren't a "team player" unless you were willing to toss aside common sense and lie. You can see how many people did just that and you can see that they got promoted for it. This administration has no accountability and appears to judge "failure" only by whether or not they managed to put one over on the American people.

Please check out C.I.'s "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" from this morning. It addresses yesterday's hearings and it's amazing.

I wasn't able to listen to KPFA today. Sunny was trying to get the stream to work online and couldn't access it. Why was I attempting to listen (or, rather, to get it recorded and listen later)?For this:

Against the Grain
Iraq veteran and conscientious objector Aidan Delgado, whose unit was stationed at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, talks about why he opposes the US occupation.
For resources and further information about topics covered on Against the Grain visit:

I gave up on it because I had a session. But Sunny (I've bragged about what a smart assistant she is and here's the perfect example) thought about something she's read at

The Third Estate Sunday Review (how Kat had set her phone by the radio when she went to take a shower to wake up and we were all able to hear Sunday Salon. She called Kat and asked her if she could put the receiver to the speakers. So thanks to Sunny's brains and Kat's kindness, I did have a tape of the show.

KPFA is supposed to post to the archives fairly quickly. I pointed that out and Sunny responded, "Oh, you'd never listen if you couldn't hear it on your way home" and she's probably correct.

I already have two e-mails on this because C.I. noted that I'd probably be writing about it.

One person's bothered by what Aidan Delgado said and wondered what I thought? (The other just wondered what I thought of the interview.)

Here's the thing, there is no space for many of the veterans returning to speak out. The mainstream media isn't interested. (I know that for a fact from two vets who had to go to the alternative media to get their own stories out. You should know it simply by the fact that the mainstream media acts as though they don't exist.)

Did I agree with everything Delgado said? No. There were two things specifically that I strongly disagree with. (If you heard the interview, you know that two out of all the issues discussed is not a huge number.) At one point during the interview, Delgado discussed how he started speaking out. He said he wasn't a public speaker by nature and that he thought it would be a one time thing which would allow him to discuss what he saw.

He's continued talking. That's part of the healing process. I don't diagnose people I've never met. (I'll make an exception for the Bully Boy and recommend both rehab and serious, daily visits with a therapist to work on a number of issues.) The reason for that is that all of us have our public faces and our private faces.

I hope Delgado is doing what he needs to in order to take care of himself. He, from his own statements, knows what he needs to do. The public face says he is doing it and I hope that's true.

But I didn't get offended by him and that's due to the fact that even the two points I disagreed with were not new to me. Nor were they surprising.

Let's deal with the two points.

First, he doesn't think marches and rallies are working and feels that too much time may be going into those that could be focused elsewhere.

I disagree. Strongly, I disagree. People coming together to work towards something is always a good thing. People mobilizing get attention (even when the mainstream press ignore them). In September, I saw that up close in DC.

So he and I will disagree on this. But his opinions seem similar to what a number of vets have shared with me. This comes from the fact that there are not outlets for them. Delgado found his which is a good thing. But there are vets out there who are wanting to talk and it is not a welcoming environment. Were I returning from Iraq tomorrow and pleased as punch with the work I'd done, I could get on Fox "News" in a snap as well as the other supposedly less right-wing outlets. That's a pleasing story and one the mainstream is fine with telling.

Delgado's opinions did not surprise me. Not every vet shares them, but a number I have treated do. It comes, for them, from a sense that there is no outlet. For some of them, it also comes from a sense instilled by the military of "can do." We "can do" it -- whatever it is. The civilian life and the military life are different. Delgado did not strike me as someone working from a prepared response, but someone attempting to express himself.

I hope he continues to do that. He and others like him need to be heard.

But the peace movement is not about one faction or one person. Cindy Sheehan was a spark to the movement but she would be the first to say that she's not the movement. She is a part of it. So is everyone who participates.

Here's the second point that bothered the e-mailer. I disagreed with this, but I wasn't surprised because I have heard it before. He spoke of some elements in the peace movement being 'too out there' (that wasn't his term) and how they needed to realize that vets were more conservative. If he means politically, not all, but some are. More importantly, they were trained for conservatism. I'm not speaking of political but of the approach to life which is a very orderly one. (Even in Iraq where it's a nonstop war zone. The training teaches you a set of guidelines that you access in situations -- good situations and bad ones.)

For vets I've treated who've spoken similarly, the issue with them was not "too left" or "out there." Those comments did come up. But when we dealt with the issue and addressed it, the usual underlying themes were the order instilled in them as well as a fear that they wouldn't be accepted.

This fear of not being accepted exists because a space has not been created for returning vets to speak out against the war anywhere other than in alternative circles.
I thrive on alternative circles. But I wasn't raised/trained to expect life to be orderly.
People who are leaving a war zone and have issues that the military has not equipped them to deal with are conservative in their outlook and structure. I'm not speaking of politics here. I've treated vets who were politically conservative and politically liberal and this is an issue for both camps.

This is an exposure, for many, to a new way of encoutering people and, often, a new kind of people. In this war, many are going over there either out of high school or a few years after. They're maturing in a war zone. I didn't take offense to any of Delgado's statements because I've understood where others making similar comments to me were coming from.

That's not to suggest that he's right and someone else is wrong. That is to suggest that his actions are about healing and his comments are a form of a "talking cure." He may feel the same way in ten years, he may not. With the ones I treat, we process this and they come to their own understanding. Some alter their opinions, some don't.

But what he was doing was sharing his experience. The e-mailer who was so bothered was bothered most because he felt that Delgado was "going to come off like a friend and didn't." That's not Delgado's role. What he needs to do is to speak about what he feels. There are no rights and wrongs with feelings.

I don't know Delgado but I heard statements that reminded me of the feelings of invisibility that so many vets have spoken to me about. I've said it before this entry (and felt like I was screaming from a soap box but it's an important issue and one that no one wants to talk about) but, one more time, they don't have a space carved out for them.

Delgado's carved out his own space. I think he is very effective as a public speaker. I hope he continues to discuss and explore his experiences.

A space does need to be created for them, both in the peace movement and outside of it. A space where they can speak about what they saw and, more importantly, what that meant for them and what it means to them today.

However, the peace movment is not a military operation. It never was and it never will be. There would be no movement today were it not for the base, including people of all walks of life, that spoke out before the war and continued to speak out during it, even when it wasn't popular.

I think what's bothered the e-mailer is that Delgado's remarks came at a time when "tone" is a talking point. The peace movement can't strip out elements. If it does, there is no peace movement. There is and should be a place for vets in the peace movement. "A place." But it's not a zero sum game.

Nor are our only options to do what Delgado advocated (one on one contact) or to do rallies. They, and many other elements, compliment one another. Delgado should speak out his ideas for one to one contact and, hopefully, work with those who are interested in them. However, the peace movement does not put on the brakes and do anything because he says so or I say so.

His comments about the term "counter-recruiter" offended the e-mailer. He doesn't like the term. He's part of a counter-movement. (Not with the people, we're not supporting the war.) That's not a term that appeals to him. It goes to order and training (which also teaches definitions of "success").

What I thought I heard was someone who had returned from a war zone and been presented with no opportunites to share. He had to carve out his own. I think he's still on his journey back home. I don't mean to imply that he'll feel differently at a later date (he may not). I am saying that there is a lot of hurt over the fact that they return and there's no outlet for them.

The e-mailer wondered whether or not he was supposed to just "blindly cheerlead"? No, you're not. Accepting that others have different opinions does not mean endorsing them. I supported CODEPINK's rally outside the military base in March of 2005. I thought it was wrong that a vet ("We know, we were there") thought he could tear into CODEPINK because he disagreed with their choices of action.

What CODEPINK does is CODEPINK's business. It's not his. There are no marching orders on this. People who have been speaking out have their right to be heard as surely as any vet has. The military credentials do not trump anyone else's. Not within the peace movement. Outside of it, perhaps. But within the movement, no.

It's not the business of anyone not in CODEPINK to tell them what to do. That attempt by Mr. "We Know, We Were There" angered a lot of people. It's still not been forgotten by some. The pathology of that attack was distressing.

But CODEPINK didn't say, "Oh, the big name vet thinks we should stop so let's stop."
Their protest was a success. Maybe he learned something from that? Maybe he didn't. But the movement is not going to be turned over to any one faction.

It's grown too big for that. C.I. wrote a great thing leading up to the September rallies that I'm not going to be able to track down tonight. (When I spoke to C.I. tonight about this entry, I was told to just put in my words and don't worry about noting it but I won't do that.) As the rallies were approaching, C.I. wrote that we were working towards the same goal. You may see someone who's too out there for you or too straight for you but to remember the goal and to remember that the press (mainstream) would cover it if they could get a fight or spat going.

That doesn't mean you can't disagree or acknowledge your disagreements.

But Delgado was speaking from his perspective and it's a perspective that knows they have been shut out of the mainstream media. I understood where he was coming from and was thankful that KPFA and other alternative outlets exist.

That does not mean that we turn over the peace movement (or higher office) to a vet or vets. We live in a democracy. One person, one vote. Not "one vet"="two vote" and "one civilian"="half a vote."

In a democracy, everyone exchanges ideas. If Delgado's ideas turned you off, then those aren't ideas you should work on. If his position on some aspects of the peace movement prevented you from hearing his ideas, I hope you'll think about what he discussed.

What he would like to see more of (and I don't think anyone would have taken offense had it been phrased that way -- "In addition to marches and rallies, we can . . .") is one on one contact. His point was that packages can be sent to vets and, along with other items, you can pass on information. He wants to reach them.

During Vietnam, a coffee house movement existed, a G.I. coffee house movement, and I think that would be the better idea. (My thoughts.) The reason for that is that C.I. regularly sends stuff to friends serving in Iraq and sometimes the package arrives intact and sometimes they pull out the main section of the Sunday New York Times. (The sports section always arrives.) I know those are not isolated incidents. (I'm rushing to get this completed and done. C.I.'s busy dealing with an issue, Ava and C.I. both in fact, and I don't want to bother by calling. But I'm not sure that the issue of packages has ever gone up at The Common Ills. If I've just "outed" something C.I. wanted kept quiet, I am sorry and that was not my intention. In offline life, C.I. has been very active, since the start of the invasion, getting Rebecca, myself and others to correspond with people in units who did not receive much mail. Not in a Baby Cries A Lot/Al Franken kind of way. Besides modesty, I think that would be C.I.'s biggest concern if I'm "outing" here.C.I. does not bandish the slogan "Support the troops!" as a weapon -- nor feel the need to say it or hide behind it as a number of people do. So let me be very clear on that. The troops were people C.I. knew before the war and they know C.I. was opposed to this war before it began.)

But there are packages that will arrive with no problem. Delgado's idea is worth exploring if it's something that you would like to make time to do.

You're not going to know whether the idea is something for you or not if you can't hear it. I don't blame the e-mailer for feeling offended anymore than I blame Delgado for sharing his feelings. In an ideal world, the two would meet, share face to face, and forge some ideas larger than either of them.

But the e-mailer is concerned. He feels that there's a tendency to play cheerleader. Certainly Baby Cries A Lot has done that casting himself as the Bob Hope of the 21st Century and the result has been for Baby Cries A Lot to use "support the troops" to scream and cry that we have to stay in Iraq. That's where the e-mailer is coming from.
I understand that. I also understand that Delgado's comments were surprising in their own right because they're not comments you hear on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, et al.

It's also true that when our leaders (over all) demonstrate so little courage, we look for heroes elsewhere. Delgado does a brave thing everytime he speaks out. It's a heroic act in the times we live in. However, he did not strike me, from his statements, as someone seeking the office of "hero."

His concerns are his experience there and here. That's what he's speaking from. Troops in Iraq are victims of Bully Boy's illegal war of choice. They are not the only victims. Democracy is a victim. Those speaking out here are victims. The world is a victim. Equally important, the Iraqis are victims. (If you're someone who doesn't care for the word "victim," substitute your own term.)

All of those voices are part of the peace movement. They're all speaking from their own perspective and, if they're given space to speak, all of us can come to a stronger understanding.

But I do agree with the e-mailer (on many things, but especially this) that protests are important. The e-mailer noted that one-to-one contact struck him as one more form of isolation. I believe Delgado went on to speak (in a sentence) about the connections that could be forged as a result. One to one is important. So is mass activism. All of it is needed. All of it and much more. We're entering the third year and it is easy to get depressed.

But we have accomplished a great deal. The actions by the part of everyone working to stop the war have helped with public opinion. A war does not end over night, nor from one effort (massive or one on one). Everyone that wants to play a role in stopping the war has a place in the movement. There have been efforts to co-opt it or channel it and they didn't work before nor will they now.

Possibly because there's no space for the movement in the mainstream at all, we may feel a desire to scramble for our piece of what is out there? Delgado shared his story and it, like the peace movement and all the participants, is a story still being told. Reject what doesn't speak to you, I firmly support that. I do not expect anyone to cheerlead blindly or to give greater weight to one person's narrative because they were in Iraq or they were in office or . . . In a democracy, all voices should be equal.

But in terms of Delgado, what I heard was someone attempting to explain his journey from his perspective. I didn't take offense to it. I also didn't lump him in with Baby Cries A Lot or someone attacking CODEPINK.

This is a touchy subject, I understand that. For those not aware of why Rebecca started her website, it was due to something that happened to me. I was a fan of Air America' Unfiltered. I'd grab about ten minutes of the last two hours and usually could catch the first hour. But one day, I posted the apparently "outrageous" suggestion that since they featured a weekly segement with a vet ("Talk to a Vet") they might also consider featuring a regular segment with a peace activist (non-military background). I worded that in positive terms and made a point to compliment Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow's work. Lizz had an on air tantrum. She was so enraged by the comment that she began griping on air at the wrong person. She was so enraged that she got the name wrong and was griping at another woman.

Rebecca was outraged (and only listened because it was one of my favorite shows, C.I.'s as well). That's what gave her the push to finally start blogging.

I was never outraged. I found it humorous. I still do. That a mild suggestion (with compliments) that they might add another segment to each week would enrage Lizz so was funny to me.

I don't question Lizz's politics. I also miss her on the air. But that was the tight rope being walked back then. If I'd posted what I really thought about the segment, she would have had something to scream about.

Since I didn't then, I will now. No one who served in the military is any better than anyone who didn't. The left shouldn't mimic "Dr." Laura with her applause for any woman who calls in that's a mother. (I've only heard "Dr." Laura once. I was waiting in the dentist office.)

I didn't question Lizz's "left-ness" then (nor do I now). But I did (and do) question the need to hide behind the military (ex-military) to make a point. That's not how a democracy works. (That need wasn't Lizz's position. It did seem to be on air policy for a number of shows, however.)

Rachel always put me to sleep (and was a big military jock sniffer, in my opinion). But the only time I ever had a problem with Lizz's comments on the show was when she felt the need to clarify, after Tariq Ali was no longer either present or on the phone, that his appearance on the show wasn't an endorsement.

Other than that, Lizz always amused me and made me laugh (even when she was enraged at me). I frequently would listen to what I'd missed on the show via Air America Place later that night. She and the comedy bits were the reason I enjoyed the show. (Chuck D as well but he was often not on the show.)

That was the tight rope then. How do we speak out? I think the range has opened up. But possibly that's due to the fact that I listen to Pacifica now? I hung in for The Majority Report until Janeane was gone night after night. (And I listen to Laura Flanders on the weekend.) But Lizz was an outspoken voice. She supported reproductive rights and it wasn't lost that as she was "disappeared" the Democratic Party was backing off that support.

Rachel Maddow's sneer/slam at Pacifica is well known to the community. I always found her useless. She seemed to be in it for herself in an NPR sort of way. I'm not at all surprised that Lizz Winstead was "disappeared" and Maddow got not one but now two solo shows. Rebecca dubbed her "big brain" which I found hysterical and true. She always sounded as though she was speaking down to the audience. I often wonder if she still does her "stay the course" nonsense? (Though I don't wonder enough to listen to her bland voice.) The voices who I enjoyed were the ones who spoke in their own voice: Lizz, Janeane and Randi Rhodes. I didn't always agree (I agreed with Janeane the most often). But their public voices were real and approachable. (As is Laura Flanders. I left her off the list only because I still listen to her.)

So I do understand where the e-mailer is coming from. But I hope he understands where Delgado is coming from. I also hope he agrees that the movement has come so far that no one person "owns" it -- it belongs to everyone speaking out against the war.

By the way, Ruth may include the appearance in her report this weekend. I spoke with her to go over what I was going to touch on and to make sure I wasn't poaching anything that she had planned to discuss. I also spoke to Mike and C.I. and I think them and Ruth for their input and for listening.