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August 13, 2005
The collapsing storyline
Digby is wondering what it is about Cindy Sheehan that gets under the right wingers' skin. My own quick two cents: she makes them realize they're losing control of the narrative. For four years, conservatives have answered any criticism by invoking the flag, the troops, and of course 9/11 itself. But "the troops" are not an ethereal concept or a moment frozen in history--they are individuals, each with their own stories, not all of whom are going to happily hew to the party line. (I hear tell that some of them may even be--gasp--Democrats.) Cindy Sheehan drives this home. As the mother of a young man sacrificed on the altar of George Bush's hubris, she has the moral authority to challenge the precarious worldview they've constructed, and deep down, they know it.
August 12, 2005
Greg Saunders :
Getting Answers For Cindy
It should be noted that the search for answers regarding the Iraq war goes well beyond a grieving mother camping outside the President's posh ranch. For example, during the press conference for last year's Senate report on pre-war intelligence, committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts promised that the follow-up investigation on the use of Iraqi intelligence by senior policy-makers was "one of my top priorities". Well, it's been more than a year later and phase two isn't on anyone's radar, except for a few tenacious lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein :
I am increasingly dismayed by the delay in completing the Committee’s ‘Phase II’ investigation into intelligence prior to the Iraq War. As you know, the Committee voted unanimously on February 12, 2004 to investigate five questions on pre-war intelligence, including use of intelligence by policymakers. Nearly eighteen months later, much work remains before these questions will be satisfactorily answered.And that just covers the lies that led us into this war. As far as how the hell we get out of it, I've written in the past about the Pentagon's foot dragging in regards to giving the American public a clear set of benchmarks by which to judge the administration's performance. As I mentioned, getting those answers was legally required by the most recent war appropriation bill. Well, it seems that Congress got some answers a couple weeks ago, but they fell short of the mark.
Congressional critics of Bush administration Iraq policy lashed out at the Pentagon Thursday for keeping classified parts of a report that gave a detailed assessment of the readiness of Iraqi fighting forces.A few days after those remarks, the Democrats were rebuffed again, this time by the Republicans in the House :
Iraq benchmarks: Voting 203 for and 227 against, members on Wednesday rejected a Democratic request that President Bush set public benchmarks for measuring U.S. progress in Iraq in areas such as defeating the insurgency, establishing democratic institutions and bringing U.S. troops home. This occurred during debate on a bill authorizing State Department activities and other foreign operations in fiscal 2006.Cindy Sheehan is sitting in the dirt outside the President's ranch hoping to find out what the "noble cause" is that took her son's life. In seeking those answers, the American public deserves to know what the practical cause is for the Iraq war as well. Administration justifications about WMD's, ties to 9/11, spreading democracy, and "rape rooms" have been proven to be either lies or hypocritical posturing. Rhetoric about troop levels, training of Iraqi security forces, and the strength of the insurgency has been shown to be equally hollow. Two and a half years into this nightmare, we still don't know the real reason why we went there and how it's all going to end.
In the past, I've suggested that readers help in the search for those answers by contacting their representatives, but I've lost all hope that this would do any good. Clearly one side of the aisle is concerned with getting answers and the other side it concerned with covering the President's ass. At this point, if you want to get involved, contact the media and ask why they aren't concerned with the same questions. Why hasn't Wolf Blitzer shown as much interest in "phase two" as he has in patting himself on the back for interviewing Bill Clinton? Why aren't local papers covering the anti-troop voting records of their Congressional representatives? I dunno, but I sure hope that Cindy Sheehan's crusade will prompt the media to finally seek the answers we deserve.
From the mailbag
I thought this was worth sharing. (Minor identifying details changed or excised to protect everyone's anonymity.)
I read your blog today about the Marine recruiter who met with the resistant (yet supportive!?!) parents.
Supporting the troops
Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.
And that's the problem, isn't it? Americans always want something for nothing. You know the old saying: everybody wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to die.
I was listening to some right wing radio guy and his producer talking about how silly the chickenhawk argument is--the latter apparently young enough to enlist for military duty but uninterested in doing so, regurgitating the standard Jonah Goldberg argument: I'm flabby, I have other things to do, I wouldn't make a good soldier anyway. Well, gosh, that is a compelling argument--you guys go die, you're much better at it than me, I'll just stay here and wave the flag--but really, this fellow shouldn't let poor self-esteem hold him back. After all, isn't that what boot camp is all about? After nine weeks of basic training, I'm sure he'd feel a lot better about his own abilities.
The producer did allow that if this were a World War II-style conflict, and his country really needed him, he'd be more than willing to serve. In the meantime, I guess he'll continue to support the war wholeheartedly, while guys like this pay the price:
"I just want to get it done, come home, and continue my life."
Speaking of which...I have no doubt that Cindy Sheehan--who has paid the biggest price a parent can pay--will continue to be attacked by people who think they're doing all they can by putting ribbon magnets on their SUVs. (And isn't that ultimately the pefect metaphor for this war and its supporters? Think about it: it's a magnet. Peel it off and it's as if it was never there. You can support the troops and not even risk the slightest damage to the finish of your car. That's real commitment.)
But Cindy Sheehan can speak for herself:
People have asked what it is I want to say to President Bush. Well, my message is a simple one. He’s said that my son -- and the other children we’ve lost -- died for a noble cause. I want to find out what that noble cause is. And I want to ask him: “If it’s such a noble cause, have you asked your daughters to enlist? Have you encouraged them to go take the place of soldiers who are on their third tour of duty?” I also want him to stop using my son’s name to justify the war. The idea that we have to “complete the mission” in Iraq to honor Casey’s sacrifice is, to me, a sacrilege to my son’s name. Besides, does the president any longer even know what “the mission” really is over there?
August 11, 2005
Sixteen tons and what do you get
In its ongoing effort to crush what's left of organized labor in this country, the NLRB has ruled that employers can tell you who and who not to spend your free time with:
It is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers.
"The link of brotherhood and solidarity has been broken."
From the Washington Post:
That last part is especially interesting, because it's one of those touchy-feely things even those of us skeptical of the benefits of those "free market polices" rarely discuss. Even if we were not talking about powerful countries rigging the rules of "free" trade for their own benefit, even if things were as open and fair as advocates like to pretend, isn't it obvious that the disruption of a way of life is going to have effects -- some of them extremely negative -- that no one can control, or even predict?
Most of us baby boomers had parents who told us stories about surviving the Depression only because everyone was in it together, and people helped each other. I don't think any of us can even fantasize that we live in the world of our parents' childhoods any longer.
Are we better off with more things and fewer connections? Do we think Africans will be?
The no-spin zone
O'Reilly says that he and Michelle Malkin were "respectful" when discussing Cindy Sheehan. Here's what Bill considers "respectful":
O'REILLY: Well, I have to say that she obviously does because she's the lead story on Michael Moore's Web site on an almost daily basis. And she knows -- I mean, Michael Moore isn't a subtle guy. Everybody knows where he stands.
She's a treasonous radical who hates America, but apart from that we respect her point of view.
As for the nonsense about the "inconsistent" story--I haven't had much time for blogging the past few days but pretty much every major liberal blogger has been on this one. Short story: it's a bullshit Swift Boat smear attempt that O'Reilly is dutifully repeating.
August 09, 2005
Another missed opportunity
Hindsight is everything. Events played out the way they did and the world is what it is as a result. But you still can't help but wonder, when you read something like this: what if...?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 - More than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, a small, highly classified military intelligence unit identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as likely members of a cell of Al Qaeda operating in the United States, according to a former defense intelligence official and a Republican member of Congress.
UPDATE: Never mind. I didn't read closely enough. Weldon's involvement with this story diminishes its credibility immensely.
Who will Bush have arrested first: Osama Bin Laden, or Cindy Sheehan?
With apologies for having neither the time nor graphics-wiz abilities to repeat the whole post here, but over in puduland I'd like to offer a couple of possible frames of the Cindy Sheehan protest in Crawford.
Remember, the CIA's head guy on the ground is saying that U.S. intelligence did so too know for sure that Bin Laden was trapped at Tora Bora in December 2001. The only thing which prevented his capture was a lack of troops, courtesy Rumsfeld and Bush.
So Bush could have had Osama arrested. And blew it.
So, pending developments as the week goes on: almost four years now into the War On Tara, who will George W. Bush have managed to arrest? Osama Bin Laden, or Cindy Sheehan?
Another frame that jumps out: the wide variety of human rights abusers and oil-soaked dictators Bush has happily made time for, even though he can't find half an hour for a grieving mother.
Then again, Cindy Sheehan has never opened fire on protesters.
Maybe she should have tried that.
August 08, 2005
Greg Saunders :
Is Our Children Learning?
Now, I'm sure you could write similar articles about history students who think George Washington wrote the constitution or math students who think a rhombus is a drink from Starbucks, but this is probably what we should come to expect from a political climate that insists on blurring the lines between science and religion :
While sleek crime-scene TV shows have turned students on to forensic science, an investigation of today's high school laboratories shows that reality isn't so flattering.The study also found that the vast majority of science classes required students to bring their own Bibles from home. How are students supposed to test the salinity of Lot's wife or the molecular transformation of water into wine without the proper materials?!
Joking aside, here's a real example from a few days ago of sneaking a particular flavor of Christianity into public schools under the guise of Bible history :
The Texas Freedom Network, which includes clergy of several faiths, also said the course offered by the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is full of errors and dubious research.To be fair, that last part does make a lot of sense. There are ten commandments and ten amendments in the bill of rights. That can't have anything to do with the fact that we use a decimal number system and that we're naturally drawn to numbers divisible by ten. No way. You'd have to be a complete moron to not see the similarity between the third commandment, "Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.", and the third amendment, "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law". This country was clearly founded by people who interpret the Bible the exact same way as James Dobson, Roy Moore, and Pat Robertson.
UPDATE : Since I've gotten a number of emails on this post, lemme clear up a couple of things. (1) The whole bit about children having to bring Bibles from home to their science classes was a joke. (2) The commandment I identified as the third is only considered the third in Catholic and orthodox Christian traditions, but it's considered the fourth by Protestants and Jews. Meanwhile, it sorta looks like it' the fifth of eleven commandments on the Judge Roy Moore version. If you're bothered by the misquote, just pretend I said "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." instead.
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