Christopher Hitchens, in a cold denunciation of Maureen Dowd's philosophical bestowal of "absolute moral authority" upon Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier, says that he distrusts "anyone who claims to speak for the fallen."
While I agree with that opinion when it comes to political groups or individuals who do not have loved ones who have served in the military, I vehemently disagree that a mother does not have moral authority to speak out after losing her son to an American cause. It was her sacrifice, too.
"...and I distrust even more the hysterical noncombatants who exploit the grief of those who have to bury them," says Christopher Hitchens.
No one is asking for Mr. Hitchens' trust, it seems. If anyone out there is opining about Mrs. Sheehan, they are either voicing their moral support for the woman as the mother of a fallen soldier, or they are smearing her with every ridiculous excuse they can find.
I don't trust Christopher Hitchens here, which falls right in line with his own philosophy, curiously. So I suppose he would have no argument with me.
He begins his column with one of the angriest anti-neocon statements he could dig up on Mrs. Sheehan.
What is "dreary sentimental nonsense" to the matter-of-fact intellectual Christpher Hitchens is pure Apple Pie to most Americans. What he neatly categorizes away as the military and its relatives having no extra claim on the chief executive's ear is about as accurate as saying that those who serve in the military get no special respect in America, when in reality they are held on a pedestal when they fight our wars. (Just look at all the yellow ribbon magnets - which Hitchens will probably say is "sentimental nonsense" and a "waste of space" as well).
A mother's love for her child is fierce. Mr. Hitchens should know better. It's not about the head - it's about the heart. The maternal instict is traditionally American and universally accepted. Motherhood does not end at a child's death.
Mr. Hitchens asks:
"Are we so sure that he would have wanted to see his mother acquiring "a knack for P.R." and announcing that he was killed in a war for a Jewish cabal?
The question, rephrased, is: Are we so sure he WOULDN'T?"
Voila! None of us has the answer.
You are still free to decide if a mother has special moral authority to speak for her fallen young man - a boy she raised to love his nation enough to serve it as a loyal soldier.
"This is powerful language, not just because it comes from a mother whose son was killed as a result of an act of unprovoked aggression by the United States against Iraq; but because her words are a clear challenge to the collective mindset upon which every mob depends for its power. Cindy’s stance is reminiscent of that of Wang Wei-lin, the young man who confronted the row of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989. When the human spirit stands up to the cold, faceless, dehumanizing, destructive machinery of the state, there is a release of emotional energy whose force transcends material calculation."
Raw Story has received limited access to intelligence documents which reveal how Senator Pat Roberts and a handful of other strategically-placed Washington players stymied all questions into pre-war intelligence on Iraq and post-invasion cover-ups, including the outing of a CIA covert agent, by using targeted leaks and artfully deflecting blame from the White House
From Raw Story:
"....what was said to be an effort to protect the United States became a tool by which the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) ensured there was no serious investigation into how the administration fixed the intelligence that took the United States to war in Iraq or the fabricated documents used as evidence to do so."
Kudos to Muriel Kane and Larisa Alexandrovna. Here are links:
Page One of Robert's activities: Senate Intelligence chairman quietly 'fixed' intelligence, and diverted blame from White House over Iraq
Page Two of Roberts' activities: Through leaks and smears, Senate chairman protects White House to blame CIA, Democrats
I would still like to see hack journalist Jeff Gannon/Talon News' part in this. Was Roberts leaking the INR memo information to the fake journalist as part of a plan to smear Joseph Wilson? The CIA was extremely pissed off at whoever did.
slander: words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another aspersion: an abusive attack on a person's character or good name defame: charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
Is Powerline Slandering Mother of Fallen Soldier? You decide.
John Hinderaker is clearly desperate - accusing mother of fallen soldier Cindy Sheehan of "anti-Semitism" because an organization called the Crawford Peace House, has provided her with moral and financial support.
This is forwarding a false notion (some may call it slander) that Mrs. Sheehan is far more involved in the politics of Israel than she has ever been.
I've seen no material indication whatsoever that Israel has ever been a pointed concern of Ms. Sheehan's, other than the discomfort she feels with the neocon/Israeli connection and the Bush administration's foreign policy on Iraq. Recent U.S. indictments against the Pentagon's Lawrence Franklin would reasonably support this kind of suspicion. One doesn't have to be an anti-Semite or anti-American to be concerned about the outing of a CIA agent, the smearing of Joseph Wilson, the 16 words in the President's 2003 SOTU speech, the Downing Street memo leaks, the likelihood of the abuse of intelligence by war planners, and the abuse of the public trust in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
We know one thing clearly:
America and support of its troops is the grieving mother's overt cause.
Excerpt from Powerline:
Cindy Sheehan: is she a poor, benighted woman unhinged and rendered irrational by grief, or is she a calculating, vicious anti-Semite and anti-American like the extremists with whom she associates?
The woman is no more irrational than is she an anti-American OR an anti-Semite. She is very clear in her mission. She's had an anguished year to pay close attention to President Bush's words about the Iraq cause. She wants clarity, honesty, truth. She wants an end to slogans and spin. Most Americans are fed up with the slogans and the spin.
What's anti-American to ask for truth, transparency, and honesty?
A mistake the radical right often makes is to portray themselves as Israel's only friends, and it's laughable.
I fully support the people of Israel and their democracy. Most liberal Jews support the people of Israel. It doesn't mean every last thing the Israeli government does is something all must agree with or they are automatically official anti-Semites.
I can't speak for Cindy Sheehan's opinion on Israel, except that it seems to only revolve around the palpable anguish she feels over the loss of her heroic son, the fallen American soldier fighting for America's cause.
"Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full-well that my son, my family, this nation, and this world were betrayed by a George Bush who was influenced by the neocon PNAC agenda after 9/11.
I guess the booming majority of Americans who put stock in this same opinion, after reviewing all the facts that have been laid out for media consumption, are all anti-Semites. (NOT!).
The Israel/Palestine problem isn't the reason Cindy Sheehan's in Crawford, regardless of who's deciding to offer their support.
In the case of activism regarding Israel's politics, Crawford House is fair game.
Have at Eugene Bird; have at Ward Churchill.
Just don't expect anyone with half a brain to think Mrs. Sheehan's in lockstep-league with Eugene Bird and Ward Churchill.
Cindy Sheehan is not fair game. She's in this cause because of her son Casey, a boy she helped along to become an Eagle Scout. Nothing she has done implies that she is an "anti-Semite" as Powerline is falsely accusing her of.
If Hinderaker and the Little Green Footballs crowd want to go for a political target, I would expect them to get tough on Crawford House, but to imply that Cindy Sheehan is a wild-eyed Jew hater is so ridiculous that if Powerline wasn't such a visible sight, I would laugh it off.
By the way, if you don't agree with every move the Israeli government makes, it doesn't make you an anti-Semite, you pea-brained f**king fools - just as criticizing our government is our democratic responsibility and is not anti-American.
_ _ _
Note - If you want a real whiff of what anti-Semitism is about, see William Donahue, the leader of the radical Catholic League, who recently said "Jews who hate Jesus control Hollywood."
I have been categorized as "heaping on apologetics" for Cindy Sheehan by a fellow blogger because of an e-mail he dug up on a search. Here's what I said, in response:
I do try not to practice hyperbole, so I must say that I don't think your categorization of my "heaping on apologetics" was a fair one at all.
I do think that Powerline was coming very close to slandering Mrs. Sheehan, I stand by that, and Mrs. Sheehan has said this herself:
"Another "big deal" today was the lie that I had said that Casey died for Israel. I never said that, I never wrote that. I had supposedly said it in a letter that I wrote to Ted Koppel's producer in March. I wrote the letter because I was upset at the way Ted treated me when I appeared at a Nightline Town Hall meeting in January right after the inauguration. I felt that Ted had totally disrespected me. I wrote the letter to Ted Bettag and cc'd a copy to the person who gave me Ted's address. I believe he (the person who gave me the address) changed the email and sent it out to capitalize on my new found notoriety by promoting his own agenda. Enough about that."
In addition, I wish to comment that, when we call people out as anti-Semites, the accusation means a lot more, in its connotation, than saying you think someone is angry with Neoconservatives and governments. It is an accusation with overtones of hatred for an entire race. It is ludicrous to accuse Ms. Sheehan of such hatred.
Bottom line, I prefer to give Mrs. Sheehan the benefit of the doubt, based upon her own words. If I'm wrong, I'm still no apologist. I'm simply somone who chose to take the word of a distraught mother of fallen soldier over right wing partisans at Powerline who will go to any length to discredit her. No apologies.
That's what I want to say today, at this difficult time for those who have been living in the Gaza Strip and now must leave.
My heart aches for them. I'd like to hug each one of them and tell them that their dreams won't end, because they will always have their determination and the freedom their democratic nation affords them - even if it means making a life in a new place.
I hope their nation will afford them every available opportunity for a comfortable new life.
My heart yearns for peace for this nation, filled with so many good and hopeful people from all corners of the earth who share a dream.
My prayer is that they do not lose hope - and that this move will be a positive one for the state of Israel. This is a dramatic act of good will and good faith toward Israel's Palestinian neighbors.
May it succeed, because the pain it's causing is profound.
Goalposts moved on Constitution - WaPo Positive Headline finds popularity at a time of Doubt
I couldn't help but notice that one particular article is getting a lot of blog attention today. The headline is intriguing - Iraqi Sunnis Battle To Defend Shiites - it sounds so bold, so new, a mark of success. Curiously, it's at a time of a lot of confusion in Iraq. The goalposts have been arbitrarily moved on the deadline for the Iraq constitution, which is not in accordance with Iraq's original Transitional Administrative law.
Here's an excerpt from the WaPo article:
Washington and the U.S.-backed Iraqi transitional government have worked to split mainstream Iraqi Sunnis from the radical foreign fighters, hoping to draw them away from the insurgency and into the political process that many rejected after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated government in 2003. [WaPo]
I have serious questions about the accuracy and tone of this particular statement. The writers, who are both excellent writers, in my opinion, lead us to believe there are mainstream Sunnis, and there are radical foreign fighters.
And nothing in between.
They also seem to ask us to believe that Washington has consistently worked to win the hearts and minds of Sunni-Arabs, yet I have seen actions (political and military) that scream something different. One example - Operation Lightning, where Shi'ites and Kurds were employed to fight Sunni Arabs - an opening salvo to civil war if I've ever seen one.
Iraq's Sunni Arabs believe things have never been worse. As recently as two months ago, Sunni Arabs accused Shiite militiamen of killing their clerics and hounding them out of government jobs to make way for supporters of ruling coalition parties. These are not foreign fighters we're talking about here, people.
Approximately 15 percent of the population who are Sunni Arabs, primarily of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, subscribe to a broad spectrum of ideologies and affiliations, many of which have little to do with religion. Their ethnic identity is more of a force for either social unity or discord than their religious identity. Iraq's Sunni Arabs inhabit the valleys of the Euphrates above Baghdad, and of the Tigris between Baghdad and Mosul. Ar Ramadi is about 75 miles West of Baghdad, on the road to Damascus via Rutba. It's the capital of Al Anbar province.
The story about Sunni neighbors helping to protect Shi'ite neighbors is a positive one, and there are close ties of friendship, marriage and compassion which bind Shiites and Sunnis in Ar Ramadi. (as quoted from the WaPo article).
I am not surprised that most of these people do not want their city to be turned to rubble, as they saw happen to al Fallujah. I do not blame them for fighting back on their own. I would imagine any of us decent souls would do the same thing.
Now let's get back to the big picture.
The Sunni Arabs-Shia division has been, mostly a political and socioeconomic struggle over the allocation and distribution of wealth and political power, with "radical foreign fighters" as a minority (albeit a powerful minority).
As columnist Jim Hoagland said back in 2003, democracy has been a code word for U.S. domination to Sunni Arabs, and even many in the Shiite majority. We have never seemed to have developed a successful strategy that has convinced Sunni Arabs that a new Constitution would adequately protect their interests. We have not yet succeeded in splitting the Sunni Arab population from the killers based among them.
If we had succeeded, there would be a Consitution today, with Sunni Arabs ready and willing at the table. Instead, I've heard talk that they may have to be excluded from the Constitutional process altogether in order to meet the deadline.
It sounds as if Iraqi neighbors helped their neighbors today in Ar Ramadi. That's a good thing. I happen to believe that the Iraqi people are not unlike you or me - we have compassion for our neighbors. I'd imagine this is not an isolated incident, although it has been brought into the spotlight by the White House at a most necessary time - and for a political purpose.
The story as told by the Washington Post today, especially the misleading headline, seems frighteningly reminiscent of the old pre-war Iraq adherence to the White House-style "happy talk" without a nod to the larger reality on the ground.
Perhaps I'm just feeling defensive of hard truth after seeing the public led down a garden path in Iraq. I am confident that Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer are both wonderful writers.
It's just that today, of all days, I understand that the struggle cannot ever be "won" without winning the Sunni Arabs, and we are hearing this one bit of positive news on the day when the Iraq Constitution has failed to meet the deadline.
Is this more of the mainstream media editors creating "happy talk" headlines without the journalists properly educating the reading public about the realities? Isn't it their job to be particularly clear in thsi time when teh public is scrutinizing what they read in the press? I'm not sure who the orininal leads were for the journalists' story, so I'm not presuming to know - I'm just wondering.
Iraq remains the most dangerous place in the world to work as a journalist, yet even the New York Times is being pressured to talk "happy talk."
Why Ashcroft recused himself; appointed Special Counsel
Murray Waas [Village Voice] is all over this Plamegate story. His latest clarifies the importance of the naming of Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and shed light on then-Attorney General Ashcroft's self-recusal. Basically, John Ashcroft appointed the special prosecutor because the FBI had questioned his Rove connections:
"...new disclosures as to why Ashcroft recused himself from the Plame case and why a special prosecutor was named are important for a number of reasons:
First, they show that from the very earliest days of the criminal probe, federal investigators had a strong belief and body of evidence that Rove and perhaps other officials might be misleading them.
Second, the new information underscores that career Justice Department staffers had concerns that the continued role of Ashcroft and other political aides might tarnish the investigation.
Finally, the new information once again highlights the importance of the testimony of journalists in uncovering whether anyone might have broken the law by disclosing classified information regarding Plame. That is because both Rove and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney—who are at the center of the Plame investigation—have said that they did not learn of Plame's employment with the CIA from classified government information, but rather journalists; without the testimony of journalists, prosecutors have been unable to get to the bottom of the matter."
Judith Miller is still sitting in jail, refusing to talk.
It genuinely pains me to see Americans mocking military families - especially when those families have lost a son or daughter to a cause in which America is engaged - in a war that many of the mockers support.
I want to share some comments I made to a person at a blogpost that I believe is particularly in poor taste, and has obviously been inspired by some major Right pundits.
The post featured a photoshopped iamge of Cindy Sheehan as a marionette, strings attached, cameras focused on her. Curiously, it asks you to "pity" Cindy Sheehan, not because she lost her boy Casey in the war and has initiated a pilgrimage to Crawford to seek a face-to-face with her President once again, but because the blogger wished to forward a political attack upon the mother's moral supporters.
Who's using who?
I had commented that I thought the posting was in poor taste, and was immediately categorized as "a moonbat," rather than being seen as an individual with individual ideas.
One reader commented:
I just believe that some things are worth fighting for and although Hrubec (another reader) in his fake indignation can't see it, this war is changing the middle east and sowing the seeds of democracy and freedom.
You see, I can find agreement in your words. I regret coming here and being referred to in deragotary words such as "moonbat" (whatever that is supposed to mean).
Some things are, indeed, worth fighting for. Who can doubt that any one of those military families wants to believe their loved one died for a successful cause?
The problem is, this war, at least the way we've approached it to date, may have changed the Middle East for the worse. Iraq is a breeding pit for violence and terrorism today - and is already suffering the consequences of civil war, whether or not we citizens choose to see it as such.
The U.S. is resorting to 'Iraqification' - using Shi'ites and Kurds to fight Sunnis - and it's a sign that we know we have lost the original vision we may have had about "winning" the Iraq war.
What "Iraqification" actually means is sectarian fever translated into civil war. "Operation Lightning" - the highly publicized counter-insurgency fought with 40,000 mostly Shi'ite troops rounding up Sunni Arabs - can be read as an early salvo of civil war in Iraq. (see: El Salvador, 1980s)
It has been an unwinnable war all along, and President Bush was not up-front with the American public about that fact. (Just as he was not up-front while leading the American masses toward war).
If we can realize our mistakes and come up with a better, successful plan for the fragile burgeoning democracy in Iraq, I'd love to see it.
I don't want to think any of those men and women died in vain - and their families don't, either. We need to stop attacking the military families - and one another - and ask our leaders for a real plan for success which does not include employing Kurds and Shi'ites against their Iraqi brethren. Otherwise, Iraq will fall apart - and we don't want that, believe me.
If any of these sentiments and opinions are once again called Moonbat ravings, I'll consider this blog a non-productive partisan venue and will remove it from my list of blogs to check.
We deserve to give one another far more respect, and we should use more care in how we talk to one another about such serious issues.
This isn't grade school. People are dying.
Our sights have been lowered in Iraq. How will that translate to a just and noble cause? It remains to be seen. The heavy hand of reality is just now meeting with activity within the Bush administration that, to me, has bordered upon a flight of neocon fancy. How this will turn out is unclear. The new and ever-changing rationales dished out by the Bush administration are going to lead us to slow success with greatly lowered expectations - or sure failure with an unstable Middle East. The buck stops with the Commander in Chief.
I heard Fox News Sunday pundit Bill Kristol intimidate Democrats yesterday on the show. Speaking about Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace (a coalition of military families whose loved ones have died in war), Kristol said "Is this the message Democrats are identifying with?"
Kristol was trying to say that supporting Casey's mother would be a "disaster" for the Democrats because of an implied "anti-war" theme. The truth is that many military families who have also lost loved ones have rushed to Mrs. Sheehan's side in search of answers to questions which they have deemed as important to their peace of mind.
Think about that for a moment. Kristol would like you to believe the Democrats who support Cindy do so because they are using her for an "anti-war" cause.
I see this as a cheap and all-too-easy "slam-dunk" for Right-minded partisans to use against the Democratic party, but the problem is actually a moral one.
When the political smoke is cleared away, and should the end of August come and Cindy Sheehan has packed in her gear and goes home alone without her President having looked her in the eye, President Bush will have had a gaping moral hole exposed for all to see.
The Right can scream all they want about military families' "anti-war" causes, but no one can remove the truth - the sons and daughters of these families have died for America's cause and what they seem to want is clarity. These families have strong moral authority.
Rather than this being an "anti-war" cause, a "successful plan" cause is closer to the truth of what these military families are calling for.
Every one of us is smart enough to know we cannot "cut and run". Our President got our country into this and we are a decent people. We need to have a plan to get them out while taking care to shore up a plan for Iraqi peace. I don't think anyone with a heart wants to see the Iraqis' burgeoning democracy fall into a void of further violence.
President Bush needs to learn a lot about the word "humility," which is one of the greatest virtues a leader could possess. He (and his administration) need to come up with a better plan for success in Iraq.
I've yet to see it.
I've been blogging about this for well over two years. During that time, I've publically pleaded with the President to act humbly, with strength, and to convince the world that he has a plan that would summon the angels of their better nature -regardless of what respective nation they live in - whether it's France, Iraq, Germany, Iran, England, Morocco, Israel, Spain, Indonesia, or Timbuktu.
But here's what Kristol, O'Reilly, Drudge, Michelle Malkin, and many others on the Right are doing, and it pains me to see them doing it: They are saying that families of fallen soldiers are "the enemy."
It pains me because we are all Americans and it does not show support of our troops when we call soldiers' moms and dads "the enemy".
How could it all have come to such a sad state of civic affairs in our nation - where Republican leaders call troops' families "the enemy"?
When it comes to asking the President for clarity, truth, and honest talk, the most effective spokespeople for civic leadership are the mothers, fathers and family members of soldiers killed in Iraq, who are demanding to know why President Bush sent their sons, daughters, husbands and wives off to this war in Iraq. They're the ones with the real moral authority.
And yes, count me as one. THIS Democrat identifies with Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Familes. Proudly.
You may wish to see my BlogCritics.org political column [blogcritics.org]. It has garnered a lot of responses and discussion.
A particularly interesting comment (among many by vets and active duty soldiers on the comments) is #242. Excerpt:
I am a US Paratrooper and I am curious as to how Mr. Bush would treat my mom and what all of you people would say about me and my mother if I was killed as was Casey and if my mom wanted answers as does Miss Sheehan. I am SHOCKED and ASHAMED at what I am hearing..
I've pulled this directly from the page filled with almost 350 comments at my BlogCritics.org column from August 9 about Cindy Sheehan. It's easy for discussions, such as these, to get "lost in the crowd."
The following is a conversation between a reader named 'rebel' and an active duty soldier who simply refers to himself as 'wil'.
I wonder just how many American soldiers are thinking this way? In the age of internet technology, the free flow of information and the free exchange of ideas is connecting the troops to the world - and this opens a new adjustment of which war planners will have to make when plotting a strategy. (Providing that we citizens are to remain free - even at times of possibly endless war with no time-parameters or end games).
Transparence of purpose must be paramount in shipping soldiers off to battle, because they are going to hear and participate in an open discussion, even while the battle rages.
This soldier seems to have serious doubts that anyone at the top ever really cared about "democratizing Iraq." It seems that he sees the "democratizing" reason for war as an afterthought, after all other rationales for war slipped away, unsupported by truth.
Read it and decide for yourself:
Comment from a reader called 'rebel':
"As a "Proud F*ckin' Civilian", i think the mind set of those who have volunteered to protect the freedoms of my loved ones and myself are of paramount importance. You are protecting our freedoms, right?"
The last time I checked...
Comment from 'rebel':
"I understand you’re a little disgruntled over having been lied to and being asked to accomplish a definitive action against an ideology but nobody said it would be easy."
Nor did I expect it would be, but thank you for acknowleding that yes, indeed, I as well as every soldier, sailor and Marine has been lied to.
Look...if Mr. Bush had been honest from the start and said, "We're going into Iraq to remove Saddam from power and secure the oil fields" I wouldn't have a problem with it.
In fact, I'm all for it. We need oil, oil is important to our national interests (as well as our economic survival) and if it means we gotta swipe it from someone like Saddam so I don't go into the poor house topping off the tank on my SUV, so be it.
But do not, under any circumstances, bullshit me.
Don't tell me that there is a threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons where none exists.
Don't tell me that the country I'm about to invade is directly responsible for the tragedy of 9/11 when it wasn't.
And when those reasons are shown for the bullshit they really are, don't tell me that we're going to liberate and bring democracy to their people, especially when nobody ever gave a shit about democratizing them at all.
Comment from "rebel":
"I only hope that if (Goodness Forbid) you are ever tasked to actually DEFEND your homeland, you won't let this little episode sour your enthusiasm. Again, i thank you."
I am actually defending the homeland, 'rebel'.
I'm currently over here in South Korea, facing north toward the real threat, the one we should have been focusing on from the start. I'm patiently waiting for the missiles to start flying and for two million North Korean soldiers to spill over the border at any moment who would like nothing better than to have "One Korea, under communism."
As I look out the window, I see North Korean soldiers glaring back at me.
Yes, I'm *that* close.
Please don't presume to lecture me about "actually" defending my country, or being asked to accomplish a definitive action against an ideology. As you can plainly see, I'm all too intimate with the concept.