e-poem and e-magazine of the month: September 2007

Okay, so this isn’t from September, 2007.  Nor is it an e-poem or from an e-magazine.  But I’m still upset about Petraeus, Bush’s speech and the Iraq war.  So …

This month’s e-poem and e-magazine are:

Rane Arroyo’s “For a Bitter Veteran Student Who Is 24 Years Old” from Beloit Poetry Journal


See all of FrameWork’s e-poems and e-magazines of the month


Some of You Are Not Even Listening

Until we learn that the war on terror is a war of ideas, not of weapons …

Until we learn that to fight a new kind of war we must fight a new kind of war

Until we learn that the war on terror is a war of public relations …

Until we learn we are losing the war of public relations to the radicals who were globally condemned after 9/11 …

Until we learn that terrorists are like the KKK and Neo-Nazis in America and can be defeated like the KKK and Neo-Nazis in America by forcing them to the fringe and making them the laughingstock enemy of the entire globe, rather than acting in ways that encourage people to believe them and their ideologies …

Until we learn that the global war on poverty is inextricably linked to the global war on terror …

Until we learn that invading a sovereign nation, destroying its social structure and debilitating its infrastructure will have negative consequences for us …

Until we learn that making the lives of poor people more difficult by taking away their electricity and running water and turning it over to the whims of people who want to take what little power and money those poor people have will have negative consequences for us …

Until we learn that we cannot force anyone to become democratic …

Until we learn that when we do force someone to become democratic (Palestine) and then punish them (by taking away all foreign aid) for having fair and free elections, the outcome of which we don’t approve (electing Hamas), will result in continued hatred of America and American foreign policy …

Until we learn that Osama bin Laden and his leaders are not upset about democracy, women’s rights, Christian cultures, Levis jeans, hip hop music, and Western culture in general but rather are upset about the way America’s foreign policy has impoverished and disempowered their lives …

Until we learn that they hate the fact that there are permanent Western military presences in nearly every major Islamic holy area of the globe …

Last night, President Bush laid out a plan that went beyond just the Petraeus Report and that sounded, to me, very much like a permenant military presence in Iraq.  If this is the plan, “more of the same” has turned into complete insanity.  Ignoring the will of the American people has turned to a complete refusal to accept that the American people have anything valuable to say about the war.  Lack of understanding about the history we are messing with has turned into a complete denial of the struggle we are in.  I cannot imagine a more dangerous plan.

Richie Havens Woodstock Excellent” posted by flyagaric29

Hey, look a-yonder and tell me what you see
Marching through the streets of Baghdad
Looks like Handsome Johnny, his helmet and his vest
Marching to the Iraq war
Yeah, marching to the Iraq war

UPDATED 9/15/07: 2:26 PM

Here is the text of President Bush’s speech.

Here is the Democratic response.

Here are some editorials in response:

It Came from Planet Bush
A Surge, and Then a Stab
No Exit, No Strategy

How Iraqis Feel

Amid General Petraeus’ report, there has been a lot of talk about how Americans feel about the Iraq War and about the surge.  I guess now is as good a time as any to also ask how Iraqis feel.  Here is a posting from Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, posted on September 10, 2007, that I just finished reading:

How Iraqis Feel

UPDATED 9/7/07, 12:34 PM:

More on how Iraqis feel can be read in a recent Op/Ed from The New York Times:

What They’re Saying in Anbar Province

General Betray Us?

By now, you have all heard about the MoveOn.org ad criticizing General Petraeus.  And likely you’ve also heard about the move to attack the ad.  If not, read this article from CNN.com:

GOP calls on top Senate Dem to condemn anti-Petraeus ad

A brief run down of the responses to the ad:  Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, called the ad a “boorish, childish, unworthy attack.”  House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “I support that right [to freedom of speech], but I find the way they have chosen to exercise it today to be disrespectful and downright reprehensible.”  And Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) called on the Democratic leadership to denounce the ad.

And, despite what some conservative commentators on FOX News might want you to think, Democrats have denounced the ad.  But, before I get to the Democrats response, here is a brief interruption from Ann Coulter, transcribed from the September 10 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:

NEIL CAVUTO: All right, well, you might have heard one or two congressmen referring to this MoveOn.org — that was a front — not a front-page but a full-page ad in today’s New York Times, among other major newspapers, where it essentially accused the general you’re looking at right now [Petraeus] of being a liar and betraying the facts. I want to bring Julian Epstein into this. He’s a Democratic strategist of some renown. Ann Coulter is here as well to talk a little bit about it. I think we’re not quite set up with Julian, but, Ann, this ad and the fact that so many are quoting it and saying, “Look, don’t trust the guy who is still perpetuating a bad war.” How does it resonate?

ANN COULTER: It’s just part of the same treason the Democrats have been promoting from the beginning.

Yeah, Coulter’s up to her usual tricks.  So is Rush Limbaugh.  Read his “commentary” on the topic here.

Meanwhile, back in reality, Democrats have responded in the following ways:  Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), speaking through a spokesman, responded by saying, “[Petraeus] is a good man and a fine soldier. The problem is that he was brought in to administer a war that had already been badly mismanaged by President Bush.”  Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) called the ad “over the top” and said that “[The legitimate questions asked of Gen. Petraeus] ought to be done without casting any aspersions on anyone’s character or motives.”  And Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), who admitted to not seeing the ad, said the attacks were “not appropriate” and “not fair.”

Now, I am neither going to criticize nor defend MoveOn’s ad.  I will say that Monday night, Anderson Cooper reported that MoveOn had played fast and loose with the facts.  But he also reported that General Petraeus had played fast and loose with facts.  So you may decide for yourself.  And before I do move on to make my point, I will reveal my bias (for those who somehow have missed it in previous posts).  I have never worked for MoveOn.org, but during the 2004 Presidential campaign, I proudly worked for a similar group, ACT Ohio, personing the phone booths.  So, if you still don’t know my bias, then you need some better critical reading skills.

What I am interested in is the public’s response to this ad.  Skimming through some emails sent to CNN in response to the entire day’s coverage of the Petraeus report, I found some interesting, though not shocking, things.  Sure there were the usual slogans of the anti-war and the pro-war groups.  Nothing new there.  But I also found a lot of people adamantly defending General Petraeus.  Again, this didn’t come as a surprise, really; I just found it interesting.  Here is one example, from Jean Sherwin of Benbrook, Texas:

Shame, shame on the Democrats! How dare they call the general a liar. How dare they say our brave military men are ineffectual and not doing the job they, and they alone, are trained to do. My solution: Issue the Democrats guns and send them into war. I’m sure they can get the job done by Christmas.

I’m not going to go into the fact that questioning General Petraeus does not constitute calling him a liar.  Nor will I mention that I don’t recall Democrats calling the troops “ineffectual.”  But I will ask why there is such rancor over this ad.  Or rather, I will ask why there is such rancor, from conservatives, over just this ad.  I may be assuming here, but I bet it is because people think it is wrong to criticize the record and expertise of a decorated member of the military, especially when the facts in that criticism are questionable.

And yet …

Where was the rancor when George W. Bush sat idly by as Thomas Burch attacked the military record of Sen. John McCain, a decorated Vietnam veteran and POW?  Where were the calls for Bush to distance himself from that with more than a “I didn’t say it.  I didn’t hire him.”

Where was the rancor from conservatives when Swift Boat Veterans for Truth lied through their teeth about a decorated Vietnam veteran who happened to be the Democratic candidate for President?  The Swift Boat Liars questioned a number of things, including Kerry’s Silver Star, without a shred of evidence to back up their so-called “truth.”

In 1992, after Bill Clinton won the Presidential Election, Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, wrote then President-elect Clinton a letter, which read, in part:

For me — and I believe for the nation as well — the Vietnam war finally ended the day you were elected president.  By their votes, the American people, at long last, recognized that the Allers [a friend of Clinton’s who resisted the Vietnam draft and then killed himself in 1971 because of the conflict he felt regarding his resistance] and Clintons, when they questioned the wisdom and morality of their government’s decisions relating to Vietnam, were no less patriotic than those who served in uniform. … [Y]our refusal to draw back from the belief that it is the responsibility of all citizens to question the basis for any decision to send our youth to war, has strengthened the nation for all time.

I’ve never been quite sure about whether or not I agree with McNamara regarding Clinton’s election in this regard, though I do find the election of someone falsely labeled a draft dodger significant.  I also am not sure if I agree with many people who wrote to Clinton after his election to tell him the scars of Vietnam were finally healing.  I do know one thing, though.  If those statements are true, then the recognition McNamara described and the healing other citizens described were ended when George W. Bush and his friends began firing upon decorated Vietnam veterans.

So I’m pretty sick of hearing conservatives complain about “playing politics with the war.”  They’ve played politics with wars for as long as I’ve been alive. 

And before you complain that Senators McCain and Kerry are somehow different because they are political figures, be aware that General Petraeus is also a political figure.  He is the latest in a line of poor souls charged with the fool’s task of defending Bush’s doomed war strategy.  That makes him a political figure.

And before you attack, repeating Fox News’ claim that a recent poll shows Americans don’t trust Democrats or Republicans when it comes to the war but they do trust General Petraeus, I will point you toward the facts of that poll:  A poll from September 4th through September 7th, conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, asked the following question: “As you may know, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is preparing a progress report on the situation there. Do you think his report (will honestly reflect the situation in Iraq), or do you think it (will try to make things look better than they really are)?”  The results were: 39% said they felt the report would reflect the situation in Iraq, 53% said the results would try to make things look better, and 7% said they had no opinion.  Citing a poll that people trust the military more than the government is nice.  Reading and understanding the whole poll, especially the part of the poll that directly relates to this debate, are essential.

So let me say this very simply:  I support America’s troops.  I want them home very safely and very quickly.  And I want them to stop dying for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two men who, unlike McCain and Kerry, never served in Vietnam despite the fact that both of them were of military age.

UPDATED 9/12/07; 11:18 am:

CNN has an article discussing viewer responses to Petreaus’ Congressional report.  You can read it here.

Petraeus Says Surge Working; Bush Likely to Say Stay the Course

Today is September 11, 2007.

It has been 1,593 days since the mission in Iraq was accomplished.

3,771 U.S. Soldiers have died in Iraq.  And 4,069 Coalition Soldiers have died in Iraq.

27,186 U.S. Soldiers have been wounded in Iraq.

The war has cost over $450,000,000,000.

I don’t know what I expected to happen as General Petraeus spoke to Congress on behalf of George W. Bush (I’m sorry, but I cannot believe he is somehow independent yet managed to come up with conclusions different than every other Iraq report).

And I wish I could do more than just sigh because those are my students over there. 
And apparently, Joe Biden’s son.

I fear sounding flippant today.

All I can do is link:

American Friends Service Committee
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Code Pink
Food Not Bombs
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Not in Our Name
Poets Against War
Raging Grannies
School Students Against the War
September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Students for a Democratic Society
The World Can’t Wait
Theaters Against the War
Troops Out Now Coalition
United for Peace & Justice
Veterans for Peace
Voters for Peace
Women Against War

UPDATED 9/11/07; 7:30 pm:

There are things beyond linking that we can do, of course.  Like protest.  I’ve heard rumors of an anti-war protest occuring at my Alma Mater, The University of Toledo, tomorrow, though I have no information about said protest.  Where and when are the protests in your area?

UPDATED 9/15/07; 2:34 pm:

Here is the text of Petraeus’ testimony before Congress.

Fear Factory

Well, next week General Petraeus will report to Congress about the success of President Bush’s troop surge.  All early reports say he will recommend high troop levels into next year but “could accept the pullback of roughly 4,000 troops beginning in January, in part to assuage critics in Congress“.

Paul Krugman, who apparently I have become a fan of in the past few weeks, has an editorial in which he argues for what he thinks Congress’ response to the Petraeus Report should be:

Time to Take a Stand

The news will be filled with commentary on the Petraeus Report and Congress’ reaction.  We will hear every credible angle on every sentence of the debate.  And I guess that is a good thing, though that will depend on what the American people do with and about the debate.  If anything.

But what I find interesting is this new news item that happened yesterday:

Bin Laden to issue video as 9/11 anniversary approaches

Yep, here we go again.  Now, I’m no conspiracist and generally I find that coincidences are coincidences and I’m more than willing to accept those coincidences.  And I really am not convinced that the Bush Administration is in control of this coming video.  But, it does point me in the direction of questioning the Administration’s use of terror levels and “gut feelings.”

Coincidence once is coincidence.  Coincidence twice might be coincidence.  Coincidence thirteen times, as of October 2005, starts to make conspiracies seem valid.  Maybe even credible.  And in October 2005, Keith Olbermann reported thirteen “coincidences” where terror levels were raised during key moments of trouble for the Bush Administration, includding some that directly correlated with John Kerry’s ascendency in popularity during 2004. 

And now we are heading headlong toward the 2008 primaries.  Thompson is in.  Clinton is soaring in the polls.  Iraq is clouding everything.  And everyone is waiting with baited breath for General Petraeus to speak.  But not until after bin Ladin speaks.

Of course, there have been terror problems lately.  Major attacks have just been foiled in Germany and we witnessed the attacks in Scotland this past June.  And I’m not going to blame the Bush Administration for these things (though others have laid the groudwork for that conspiracy).

I have no real argument here.  I have no detailed, documented point to make.  But I do have a suggestion.  Watch as the 2008 election draws closer.  Pay attention to the terror alerts and pay attention to the information the government releases (which they’ve claimed must be kept secret for National Security reasons, but during an election that doesn’t matter) regarding the War on Terror.

See, I’d love to say that even the Bush Administration wouldn’t stoop so low as to use terror alerts to coerce the American people.  But I would also love to believe the Bush Administration wouldn’t attack the electoral process by trying to convince the American people that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for terrorists.  They’ve already proven they will do the latter.  We’ll see about the former.

Vote Democrat, Vote Terrorist” posted by Nedheads