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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:20 am:   

This forum has been quiet for some time... Did anybody really believe that Aircraft Carrier BS where Bush declared the war over?

Even if I were in charge of the world from here on out, I don't know what could be done to resolve an ugly situation. More troops, and a commitment to rebuilding Iraq? Turn everything over to the UN, and run back home? Turn everything over to the Locals and run back home?

Lucius predicted that as soon as the pyrotechnics on TV had died down, people would move on to the next controversy, and not give a thought to the years and years of problems that invasion inevitably caused. (Much, it seems, like they did with Afghanistan). Is this true? Does nobody care anymore? Anybody planning on attending the Washington DC October 25th “anti-occupation” rally? Timing places it the weekend before World Fantasy.

Has Afghanistan and Iraq finally destroy the paper tiger that was The American Empire? We may have smart bombs, but we don't seem to have the political foresight or will to actually follow through and build an empire. What kind of example has America set for our future foes? For Al Quida?

There are still many controversial issues that haven't been resolved. Has everybody just given up, and trying to ignore it? or is everybody just too tired... Or is this forum simply preaching to the converted, and it is not seen as a useful forum for debate?

Any insights appreciated.

-JL
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Luís
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 02:02 pm:   

Hi Jeremy,

I too am at a loss about what could be done now. If the US backs off too suddenly, civil war in Iraq will be more than certain; if not, shit will hit the fan anyway. I guess that what people there really need right now is a clear sign that the US does intend to leave the country, and take all the soldiers and administrators and whatnot with it.

And yeah, it appears people aren't as concerned. The media don't seem interested in overplaying it either . . . the tragic deaths of American and British soldiers that we witness nearly daily, compounded with the failure to find any WMDs and even maintain any peace, don't sell as well as a victorious campaign against the Enemy. However, many now realise that Bush and his allies lied about the reasons to invade Iraq, and that things aren't as simple as they promised after all.

Oh, and about the reconstruction of Iraq, I read an interesting article a few days ago in which the author lamented how few Iraqi contractors are in charge of rebuilding their own country (much like they were forced to do after extensive bombing during the first Gulf War) and argued that they could do it for considerably less while providing employment to thousands of Iraqis.

So instead, many people there are without a job, while their anger keeps on being fuelled as they watch foreign companies gain a foothold in Iraq. In the meantime, American economy is further deteriorated as Bush channels resources straight into the pockets of his corporate buddies, who overprice the costs of reconstruction to obtain considerable profit at the expense of a war-torn country and all the people who've lost their lives in it.

Luís
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 02:05 pm:   

Well, I for one am still concerned. Most of the news I read is about Iraq; so I follow the situation pretty closely. After invading the country it is pretty hard to say what is the best thing to do, as none of the options are very nice. Probably the best thing would be to hand over authority to the UN. Of course that is not going to happen
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Tim Akers
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 03:02 pm:   

Actually, I think handing power over to the UN will happen eventually. Bush has already started to cave on this. I'm hopeful of some kind of compromise on this, at least. But I'm a fool, as they say.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   

Will Iraq completely fall of the US media's radar the way Afghanistan has, once Bush and crew find a new "hot spot" (North Korea, Syria, or Iran?)?

I'm predicting that once the next inevitable terrorist attack on US soil happens (probably sometime in the middle of next year's re-election campaign) the media completely forgets about Iraq and Afghanistan, and that it was our inept occupation of these countries that lead to more terrorism...

Instead... expect to see lots of flags, and "God Bless America's" and other hypocritical bullshit. Nationalistic hypocrisy sells personal hygiene products much better then actual personal responsibility.

Everyone who voted for Bush… everyone who voted repug in the mid term elections, giving both the house and senate to the Neo-con crazies… everyone who didn’t bother to vote at all… These are the people who need to recognize what they are doing to the US and the world. Until there is recognition of personal responsibility, it will be the same old right vs. left football game mentality of politics that got us here in the first place.

I’m not attacking these people… It’s easy to be suckered, and its hard work to be informed… But the time for excuses is past…

To use the rhetoric of the right... You’re either for the principals of democracy and freedom, and the things that America is supposed to stand for, or you’re against them.

To use the rhetoric of a previous generation... Bring the war home...

-JL
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Luís
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 03:42 pm:   

"Actually, I think handing power over to the UN will happen eventually. Bush has already started to cave on this. I'm hopeful of some kind of compromise on this, at least. But I'm a fool, as they say."

Although it's the best possible solution I can think of, what frightens me is that it may be too late for that. An increasing number of Iraqis are beginning to see the UN as little more than a puppet to US interests, especially since it couldn't prevent the unlawful occupation of Iraq. The recent bombing of the UN headquarters in Iraq is a visible and tragic sign of that discontent.

Best,
Luís
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 04:23 pm:   

I'm just dreading Bush's re-election. . .
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 05:22 pm:   

Winning the peace? This isn't the peace. This is just the beginning of the war. All we won was the right to get our asses blown up truck bomb by truck bomb over the next ten years. As for what to do about Iraq: forget it. UN occupation, American occupation--either way, they're fucked. What we have to do is fix our own country and that might turn out to be the harder job. The left wing in this country has to stop (no offense intended) preaching to the choir and get off their collective ass during :"peacetime" and learn how to compete with the right, because they've fucking forgotten how. They have to stop relying on protests, which have all the PR value of a death fart, and start building a real competitive structure to counter the structure built by the right. They have to learn to get nastier, meaner, and more effective mediawise than the right. The smartest move anybody has made since this crap began is Al Gore beginning to develop a left-biased broadcasting network to counter Fox et al. The revitalized Left will require Media and Marketing, not more freaking rallies. I don't know if Gore's network will get off the ground. God knows, maybe he's planning to populate it with the usual suspects--Martin Sheen, Jeannine Garofalo, and other such lightweights. That'll be the kiss of death. Gore should hand the reins over--as he did not do, to his great regret, during his campaign--to a savvy media guy like James Carville and let him run things. Clinton should be utilized, if for no other reason than he makes the right froth at the mouth and act from weakness. This is not the Sixties. Hell, the Sixties weren't even the Sixties. Like Peter Fonda says in The Limey, "just '67 and a part of '68." The Yippies and the Chicago convention protests are not going to do it any more. We need tactics that suit the times, not a bunch of idiots busting out windows during a World Economic Summit. Hey, busting windows is fine by me, but that can't be the main program. We need to get radical in newly efficient ways. We need a vast left-wing conspiracy, not people trying to Levitate the Pentagon and belching out tired platitudes in the rain. We have to be covert, duplicitous, and ready to wipe out the enemy by any means necessary. We've given the right a tremendous head start in this arena, but we can catch up because the right is limited by the short-sightedness of their ideas. It's taken the left basically abandoning the fray in order to let them get this much power. We can win, but not by dancing in the streets and going Nyah-nyah. We can utilize their tactics more cleverly than they can--we just have to decide to do it. The people, drenched in rightist propaganda, have been persuaded to believe that the left are wimps and granola eating wusses. We need to remind them that's not so. Whether or not this is a good thing, the way you get respect in this country is not to make more sense than the other side, but to compete better. We've let the right paint the left as weaklings and crackpots. It's time to change that image.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 05:26 pm:   

The bombing of the UN headquarters was a calculated move to prevent an international body from legitimizing the US occupation to the common Iraqi's, and to the world at large. The bombing embarrassed the US and demonstrated the lack of security within the country, AND it has helped scare out the UN, at least for the time being -- a double bonus to the warlords and militants who stand to gain the most from the chaos that currently exists.

I don't think it had anything to do with how the Iraqi's perceive the UN... or especially anything to do with how the people throwing bombs view the UN. It is a subtle point, but the forces arrayed against the US are not simply ignorant third world savages that lash out randomly at perceived enemies. This war has taken a disturbingly ugly, calculated turn... Keeping the Blue Hats out further strengthens the hand of militant iraqi's. Less order and stability (crime, lack of basic services etc.) means more rapid radicalization of the population.

-jl
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 08:00 am:   

Yeah, the UN bombing was very deliberate, very cunning. Iraq as rapidly destablizing charlie fox is ideal for the radicals. Rumsfeld and co. have tried to run this operation on the cheap from day one, and they simply haven't made the commitment to bring about valid, workable peace. As usual, they didn't think the whole plan through, and they're only making things worse. I believe that getting america out of iraq will end up as a major campaign point, with dems espousing UN participation and control. Maybe that's the tipping point.
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JV
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 08:17 am:   

Lucius:
I totally agree with everything you said. It's been frustrating to see liberals everywhere giving no one any excuse to rally around them--and it's been equally frustrating to see today's youth squandering their energy on protests.


Jeff
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

One thing worries me about the UN taking over in Iraq. What will this do to Bush's future plans? He blatantly went against the wishes of the UN to go to war, and now the UN may take over the situation. Will this lead to Bush again thinking he can ignore the UN, do whatever he wants, and then let the UN clean up the mess he made? Or will people finally have enough backbone to question him if he tries to do this again?
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 10:15 am:   

Robert brings up a good point... what happens when the blue hats take over, and the US has a couple hundred thousand troops freed up? I think this is one reason why Syria and Iran haven't been too worried about closing the borders with Iraq... Keep the ugly Americans tied down in Iraq, so they don't come-a-smart-bombing other identified members of the "axis of evil".

On a different note: Lucius, I agree mostly with what you say... but am ambivalent about your's and Jeff's feelings about protests. For the last 10 years, the left in America has been systematically EXCLUDED from the political discussion, by "centrists" democrats from the Democratic Leadership Council. If you have no party to represent your interests in a 2 part system, your options are very limited, especially considering how politics is funded in the U.S.

Also, what separates a protest from a grass roots political rally? To my mind, the only thing is that separates them is a) how the media covers it, and b) the presence of "COINTELPRO" style violence used to discredit the protest.

I believe that serious campaign finance reform needs to happen, at the local and state level throughout the country, before any meaningful political change will occur. A thousand "liberal Radio stations" won't change the fact that the U.S. political system is completely corrupted/funded by big money, and that money is inherently conservative, and pro-business.

-JL
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 10:24 am:   

"America is a lot less powerful than she appears to be." -- Osama bin Laden

Fortunately or unfortunately (take your pick) that is true, and it's starting to {look} true as well...

I have an idea that the next place for the USA to get bogged down in (politically if not militarily) will be Saudi Arabia, rather than Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 10:31 am:   

Robert -

I dont think we need to worry about the UN taking over the situation. The Bush team will never let that happen.

As to protests being a waste of energy, I dont agree. The truth of the matter is that the protests that happened all over the world prior to the war brought a tremendous amount of attention to the problems of the whole thing which otherwise would have been ignored by the media. It also gave the governments of the world a clear sign as to how the population thinks - and how they might very well place their votes. So I strongly believe that things like protests are not a waste of energy. We should remember that people like Martin Luther King and Ghandi changed history through peaceful protests - so it seems mildly ludicrous to say that they are not effective methods of promoting change.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 10:33 am:   

I've always said that if America is serious about human rights in the middle east, and spreading democracy isn't just a political catchphrase or suitable excuse, and they're committed to making changes in the status quo with smart bombs and such, then the first thing they need to do is start rolling the tanks into saudi arabia. That place is a hellhole on the whole humanitarian rights thing. They won't, for many different and varied political reasons, but they've got no ground condemning it in one country and bankrolling it in another. Lot of history of doing that, but no right.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 11:05 am:   

Jeremy and Brendan...

These are not the days of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. These are the days of JLO and Ben Affleck. Protests are fine, but the fact remains, they are reactionary, they are reactions against policy, not constructive attempts to build a left-wing power base. They are after the fact, and what the left needs now is to develop a pro-active "peacetime" presence. It may seem mildly ludicrous to you, but I've been through enough protests to understand that the most they can do is tilt public opinion against a policy that's already becoming unpopular. The fact remains that our Iraq policy won't materially change until enough of Middle America has grown uneasy with the prospect of more American deaths. At that juncture protests may have some effect, but by themselves they are not an effective tool for building a stable and strong resistance that will effectively counter the forces mounted against it. The protesters will dissipate and things will drift rightwards again. Then, too, I'm not at all sure protests can be as effective as even once they were. Neither Ghandi or Martin Luther King had Rush Limbaughs and Joe Scarboroughs and Ann Coulters yelling against them to the nation, accusing them of sleeping with beasts and committing various other vile acts. The media as it now exists is a weapon that King and Ghandi didn't have to deal with -- I'm not sure either man could have overcome that weapon. Furthermore, this is not a case of something is bad and must be stopped. Protests are not a discrete tools for policy-making -- they may add some weight to a movement that will end our Iraqi involvement, but they won't save Iraq. All such protests can possibly effect is that American troops get pulled out -- they won't educate Middle America about more effective policies. Other strategies need to be utilized.

Tim,

I have to respectfully disagree. Tanks rolling to the gates of Mecca would, in my view, pretty much bring on the apocalypse.

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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 11:07 am:   

Jeff,

Yup.

And thanks for taping THE GAME for me....
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 11:45 am:   

Lucius,

I'm not actually espousing that. I agree that tanks rolling into Mecca qualifies as a bad thing. I'm comparing the reasons given for going to war. One of the justifications I've heard over and over again is "hussein is a bad guy" and "we're trying to free the people of iraq."

Both of these things are true statements. But they can be equally applied to places like the UAE, qatar and especially saudi arabia. So the question comes up how do we ally ourselves to forces that are so clearly anti-humanitarian?

I don't know. I have very mixed feelings about globalization. As the big kid on the block, does america have a responsibility to the rest of the world, or would everyone be better off if we just stayed home and kept our dick in our pants? We rush into baghdad, where no one wants us, but we linger off the coast of liberia, where everyone is begging us to get involved.

Anyway...can't seem to produce coherent posttext right now. Maybe I'll be clearier later.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 12:41 pm:   

How do we ally ourselves to forces that are so clearly ant-humanitarian?

Tim, this requires a very long response and I'm going to make one, but I can't today... deadline. Tonight or tomorrow though, I'll get back atcha....
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 01:20 pm:   

Fair enough. Probably good, since I'm clearly incapable of coherence today.
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JV
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 01:29 pm:   

Lucius:

No problem, re the game. I'll be, as they say, glued to the tv anyway, so...

Re the rally/protest thing--what I see more and more are young people who really hate the war and the current administration, but who have formed a subculture that takes them out of the mainstream. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. They protest, but they don't vote. They stage rallies, but they don't care about educating themselves formally. They eschew technology and repudiate the middle class, but at the same time use email and cell phones and other products of that society that they cannot do without.

A lot of these rallies have become what I would call social events. The rally itself becomes the important thing, not necessarily the cause behind it.

It's great in a sense. It's hypocrisy in another. But most importantly, it's not as effective as what Lucius suggests we really need.

JeffV
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 03:07 pm:   

Lucius
I agree with your point that protests are reactionary... and the limited amounts of change they can affect. I still think they are sometimes necessary as media events. Contemporary media pretty much ignores or marginalizes anything that doesn’t generate ratings… 100,000 people in the streets gets their attention.

As to weather King could have withstood Rush... King managed to withstand J. Edgar Hoover the entire FBI (right up until he was assassinated, I suppose). The foot soldiers of conservatism have been privatized, and sent to the networks... but they have always been there. The KKK and its actions were far more vile and harmful then anything Anne C. has done (though her rhetoric seems to match theirs -- replace "liberal" with "nigger" and its almost word for word).

However, you are absolutely correct that the level of media sophistication that the right uses is light years beyond anything previous generations of progressive activities have faced, or achieved. Any new progressive movement that wants to be effective has to be equally-or-more media savvy...

Do you think Howard Dean's "internet" political machine, and organizations like "moveon.org" are effective ways to build new progressive political organizations? Do you think liberal “infrastructure-resellers" like Working Assets (a long distance company that donates profits to liberal causes, organizes email and paper mailings to its customers... and has "call your congressman email alerts" when important votes are being held in congress) are ways to go about building this new, media/internet/tech-savvy progressive base? Has the green party been forward looking, or backward looking, in your view?

I know you are on deadline, so don't feel you need to respond in detail right away. I tend to agree with most of what you are saying, and wondered if anybody out there, in your opinion, seems to be moving in the correct direction.

-jl
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 11:32 pm:   

Lucius and Jeff -

I don't disagree here. I am not saying that protests are the absolute means of change. They are simply one thing a person can do. Of course the most constructive thing (at this juncture) is to express one's opinion at the voting booth.

Should the left(?) become more sophisticated? Absolutely. But that does not mean, for me, that the people protesting are wasting their time.

Also, I think a lot of these protest people get put into a glutinous lump, when in fact they are a mass of indivduals. So maybe it is hard to say what the 'average protester' is like? I imagine a good many of them are people who will be voting against Bush in 2004.

All these things are for me hard to look at in an absolutely clear way however, because we are in the midst of them--so in that sense it might be difficult to see the historical significance of certain events . . . (protests etc.)
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Jorge
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 06:58 am:   

While I do agree with most of what has been written here, I wander if you people realize the implications of some of the things you propose.

The fact is that the contemporary right-wing media machine is a complex designed to be successeful in mass manipulation of flocks of brain-dead idiots, people who are incapable of realizing that they are being lied at even when they loose their jobs or have their kids slaughtered in a war they will never understand.

Now, what does it mean to be media-savvy? Being able to manipulate? Or counter-manipulate if you will? Are you really talking about the setting into place of a mediatic machine aimed at mass manipulation, only in the opposite direction? Can that be a good thing? Ever?

And don't tell me that it'll be all about speaking out the trouth. It won't. The trouth is a complex thing that needs lots of time and alertness to be properly explained and understood. And that's not how the media works: it's incresingly based on fast slogans and soundbytes, as simple and based in middle class common sense as possible, a lower common denominator, designed to be understood, at least partially, even by total imbeciles.
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 07:59 am:   

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1036571,00.html
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 08:15 am:   

Tim,

I've been doing research for a number of years about a man named Lee Christmas. He was a railroad engineer in Louisiana in the late19th and early 20th Century. Back in those days, engineers worked in 48 and 72 hour shifts, sometimes getting no sleep. As a result many would fall asleep at the wheel. This happened to Christmas. He wrecked his train and fled the country to avoid being prosecution, winding up in Honduras, where he landed a job driving a train on a narrow gauge railway belonging to a small fruit company. He was on the job in 1904 when a revolutionary force led by General Manuel Bonilla stopped his train. They were at the point of executing Christmas, but he told them he could help and showed them how to armor the flatcars with the scrap iron left along the tracks, Thus armored, Bonilla and Christmas took over the entire north coast of Honduras in a week. Bonilla made Chritsmas a general and the American took to wearing a fancy uniform with an ostrich plume in his hat and a big sword. He thought it was all a joke. His feeling was that he had ruined his life permanently by what he had done in the States and he truly didn't care all that much whether he lived or died. Anyway, not long after the revolution, the founders of the United Fruit Company came to Christmas --they were a group of robber barons,among them Jacob Wettstein, known as the Parrot King, who made his fortune by smuggling parrots into the USA and causing an outbreak of psitacosis which killed 50 thousand children. They offered Christmas a gig as their personal political enforcer and, seeing this as a means of redemption, he accepted. He brought in a friend, an ex-cop from New Orleans, known as Machine Gun Guy Maloney, and together they became a sort of evil Butch Cassidy and Sundance, going into countries that were balking at fruit company policy and fomenting revolution. They were both brave to the point of insanity. Maloney once blew up an armory atop which he was standing in order to prevent it from falling into counter-revolutionary hands. Through their actions, United Fruit came to control every Central American govt. and so initiated their control of all Latin America. They actualy had a war with their main rival, Standard Fruit, known as The Banana War, that spread all over Central America, and Maloney and Christmas played a large part in that. Eventually United Fruit became so powerful, they were known by Latin Americans as El Pulpo, The Octopus. Their headquarters was in Honduras -- they basically isolated that country from the rest of the world, making it a company enclave for the next 70 years. With the help of the US government, during that time, they employed men like Christmas and Maloney and propped up corrupt dictators all over Latin America. On of my prize possessions is a photograph of of an old Maloney taken with Vice President Richard Nixon in 1955, shaking hands at an airport in La Ceiba. It's emblematic of how the process works, business hand-in-hand with politics in the interests of greed and corruption. That's why we prop up dictators and corrupt regimes all over the world. It's business as usual. As Franklyn Roosevelt once said of Somoza, the president of Nicaragua and one of the most violently oppressive men in the history of the western hemisphere: "That Somoza's a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch." Truth, justice, and the American way don't have a damn thing to do with our foreign policy. What we support and have supported since the Teddy Roosevelt administration is our business interests. That's a simple answer, but it essentially. You go back a hundred years or so, and you can find Lee Christmas' story repeated over and over in one variant form or another throughout every quarter of the world.

Anyway, I want to respond to more about protests and stuff, but I need to get some work done first.

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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

oops. Should read:

"That''s a simple answer, but it essential is the truth."

There's so much more to say about this. The Green Revolution in Indonesia, during which we runied the Indonesian economy in order to allow our companies to sell agri-productsto Indonesian famers that were too controversial to sell here ; how we let our drug companies sell experimental drugs to foriegn pharmacies; the horror that is NAFTA.....it's just one fucking horror story after another, this story of American business and foreign policy.
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

Jorge -

Actually, after my last post I started thinking about the same thing and came to a similar conclusion. It seems to me it is always better to be simple, straight forward and truthful, even if that does give the other guys (who manipulate) an edge.

Being honest often has unpleasant consequences, but if we are not, and try to manipulate others by dressing up the truth, then it is certainly a bad thing.

Maybe it is better, instead of trying to compete with the Bush team on 'spin', for the 'left' to become adepts at something that they (Bush team) know very little about: honesty.

Or maybe I am simply another idiot?
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 08:35 am:   

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27846-2003Sep4.html
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 09:10 am:   

Brendan, a few questions: Who in politics, left or right, do you consider honest? Which do you consider more an act of honesty? Expressing YOUR point of view and those of your best buds, or, putting your self in a position of power, one in which the expression of your POV might actually have some effect apart from disturbing the air? Did you ever hear of anyone WINNING a game by refusing to acknowledge the rules? I'd be interested in your responses.
:
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Jorge
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 10:18 am:   

Lucius, that's all very sound, both feet on the ground, etc. But it's also clearly a case of not looking at the means to acheive a certain goal.

Well, the world has plenty of experience with that kind of thing. From the simple "slaughter-the-bastards-and-blow-them-to-pieces" approach to more subtle ways to get at something. And the experience shows that whenever you use whatever means you think are necessary to acheive your goals, somewhere along the line those original goals get lost from sight and the means become the goals. That happened to several communist experiments that tried to build a radically fair society through brutal repression, that happened with socialists that tried to get to a fairer society by using right-wing economical policies, that happened everywhere.

So no, I don't think you'll ever be able to beat Bush and his troupes by playing the same game he's playing. That will only turn you into another left-speaking right-winger.

That's not the answer. The answer lies in refusing to play that game, in creating a whole new game and making them play this new game. It isn't easy, but sometimes it has been done.

And no, I have no hope at all in America. I believe something of the sort could be acheived in most of the world but never in America. Don't ask me why - it's just a feeling.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 10:52 am:   

Well, how would you create that new game, Jorge? I'm curious to know. Because the only way I see to do it is by reaching hearts and minds, and the only way to do that is by gaining control if some portion of the media.
You have no hope for America? Well, then why protest? What you and Brendan are saying exemplifies the attitude, in my opinion, that has served to disenfranchise the left. We're honest, too pure to play by your dirty rules, and so we're giving up hope, but we'll party in the streets once every great while and applaud our favorite speakers. Because what I suggest has been tried before and didn't work, that means it's never going to work? If that were the way things went, we'd never have made any improvements. Sometimes you can learn from your past errors. I'm not coming from a holier-than-thou perpsective here. I came to the same conclusions and exerted my little activist urge in other countries. But I see now I was fucking wrong and I'm going to do everything I can to remedy that mistake.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 11:19 am:   

To answer your question, yes, some of us are paying attention.

While you are reading and thinking, might as well read this letter from Tikrit.

http://www.sftt.org/cgi-bin/csNews/csNews.cgi?database=DefenseWatch.db&command=v iewone&op=t&id=185&rnd=621.6864684833763

You are all right. Things are not as it seems on television. But then that is what happens when you get your news from the media and not from the horse's mouth.

Respects,
Steven Francis Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Jorge
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 11:32 am:   

I don't know. I have more doubts than answers, I see clearer what's wrong than how could wrongs become rights. That's my curse, perhaps.

As I wrote earlier, I do agree with most of what has been said here. I agree, for instance, that getting hold of a chunk of the media would really be nice. But then I read things that make me think people are hoping to turn that chunk of the media into a left-wing counterpart of Fox and the very thought gives me the creeps.

And I agree that not voting is no solution. When you don't vote, that only empowers the bastards you despize. I voted everytime I could, but I always did it in the guys I saw as the least corrupt, the least sons of bitches, the least manipulative, the least idiotic of them all, regardless of the probabilities they had to be elected. If meny people did the same, they would be elected, and even if they are still corrupt, sons of bitches, manipulative and idiotic, their election would have been an improvement anyway, however slight.

But I trust nobody. And I have little hopes for whoever goes into politics.

Truth is, I believe in the power of art. So I write. Let's see if I can sell a short novel I just finished proof-reading, a sarcastic tale about who tries to get hold of power, how we choose our leaders and how puny the world of politics can become.

It also features bizarre ETs speaking in ultrassound, screwed automatic translators, air travel by zeppelins and lots of verses from Camoes' The Lusiads :-)
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, September 06, 2003 - 11:18 pm:   

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34457-2003Sep6.html
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 01:32 am:   

Lucius—

I cannot say for sure who is honest, but it is obvious to me who is dishonest. I suppose nearly no one is entirely honest. A guy like Jimmy Carter strikes me as being honest.

What do I consider an act of honesty? Being absolutely truthful, even if it hurts yourself or loses you an election or what have you. And I don’t consider this contrary to putting yourself in a position of power. It seems to me that the very fact that we are having this discussion proves that those demonstrations were effective. Because if they were not, then it would not even be a subject of debate. So, for me these things are more than just stirring the air.

As for the ‘rules’, I don’t think there are any. When you are born, the only rule is that you keep breathing until you die. Everything else in between is a matter of fortune and choice.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 07:07 am:   

Well, good luck, Brendan...though I feel you're being naive. The demonstrations, many of which I've take part in, don't have any effect on that portion of the electorate that Nixon called the Silent Majority...except to piss them off. And those are the voters that decide elections. The points of view expressed by you and Jorge, that art can effect change in this media age, that guileless honesty can win the day, are very admirable and idealistic, but unless ideals are hitched to strategy that entails more than gathering on a greensward and rooting for the home team, then they can have no more than a temporary effect. There are rules. They're called the way of the world. They've been in effect for all human history, and they're human rules, not nationalistic ones. I'm not debating the effect of demonstrations. They have some effect. But so long as the left win allows the right to paint them as whacko demonstrators--and they do allow it--then the left will be in an unweildy position. Someone in this thread suggested that I was putting forward the notion of creating a left wing Fox News. That not what I said. I said I wanted a network to counter Fox--doesn't mean I wanted to be Fox. We need a voice that doesn't arise from demonstartions by means of which we can demonstrate that oppression of the poor is not the way to bring peace, but rather that giving the poor dignity and shelter and a chance to earn a living wage is more effective in the long run than oppression. That can be done without using Fox tactics; but we also need to paint the left in their true colors; we need to as mean to them as they are to us. The advantage we have is we can be truthful.
Jimmy Carter...honest? Well, he's been a great ex-president, but as TE White said, Anyone who makes a serious run at the presidency has to be by nature a mean son-of-a-bitch. Jimmy Carter had to make his own accomodations as President. When I go to Honduras and work with crippled lobster divers, I don't get things done by being honest. I don't walk up to the coke dealers who own the lobster fleet and say, Sir, you are wrong in exploiting these people, because they would shoot me. So I bribe, I lie, I cajole, I go around the law, I commit blackmail (at the moment my colleague Robert Izdepski is blackmailing Red Lobster (who buy most Honduran lobsters) with the fact of their coke industry connection in order to get them to fund decompression chambers in the region. If we didn't do these things, we would achieve zilch.
So like I said, I have no problem with ideals -- they simply have to be employed tactically. Honesty, in most situations, is not an option. If you want an example of what pure honesty in politics get you, take at a look at the life and death of Emiliano Zapata.

I got to work....
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 07:54 am:   

Lucius--

I agree with a good deal of what you say. My meaning is certainly not that one should rely solely on demonstrations and the like, but that it is better to avoid the sleazy stuff if you can--at least certainly in organised situations. In other words, if you are in an individual situation such as that with the lobsters and you use some underhanded tactics to achieve something good, then that is fine. But to do such things in a large scale, organised way seems highly dangerous . . . and is also probably part of the reason that, through all of human history, there have been so many good causes and good people who ended up causing so much trouble . . . Of course I tend to believe that humanity never progresses, so maybe that philosophy automatically makes me wary of hopes for revolutionary change.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 07:57 am:   

This article will give you an idea of the War IQ in this country.
http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/news/story.jsp?floc=FF-APO-1110&idq=/ff/story/0001%2 F20030906%2F070198630.htm&sc=1110&photoid=20030827BAG503D
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 06:48 pm:   

Jeff,

Thanks for the links. The last one could probably stand in for just a general IQ report om the country...

Brendan,

I;m not exactly a Polyanna, but it seems to me that negative thinking enforces the certainty of a negative result. I'm going to try and think positively for a while.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 09:51 am:   

Last night was the perfect example of a biased media... Gov. Shrub got on TV and said he needed 87 Billion to... wait for it... FIGHT TERRORISM. He went on to continually link the war in Iraq with 9/11 ("We began this war two years ago...")....

AND NOBODY IN THE MEDIA called him on these outright lies and distortions. If that had been a donkey, instead of an elephant at the podium, the media would have savaged his ass non-stop for 2-3 months for spouting that bullshit. BUT since the shrub gives the media companies tax breaks and relaxes regulations... they know which side of their bread the payola is on...

Re-institution of the fairness doctrine, combined with massive re-regulation, and decentralization of the media is probably the only way to answer this bias. And that will never happen without campaign finance reform.

A single network (radio, tv or whatever) that is extremely partisan may be a first step, but it is not going to solve the problems that are plaguing America's democracy.

To address issues that Brendan brought up: It IS simply a matter of being honest. It IS simply a matter of reciting the facts, and pointing out every time a conservative pundit lies... But you have to shamelessly and mercilessly do this. I too shudder when I hear people say "There should be a liberal Rush Limbough..." That attitude makes me sick. You are absolutely right. Rush and his ilk pander to all the hatred and self-absorbedness of the "unwashed masses" and assures them that "Its not your fault... its somebody else’s fault."

The left doesn't need that. But Lucius’ point stands. The left needs somebody who is willing to take the fight to the right... to call a liar a liar, and do it without buying into the soft-peddling of the lies. There are a lot of harsh truths out there, and it’s going to take a lot of persistence, and media savy to get people to recognize the truth.

Its not a matter of "everybody has their own versions of the truth..." Lies have become excepted as truth, and doublespeak is encouraged by the media. That has to change. The list of Bush’s outright Lies could fill dozens and dozens of pages… Everything is spin. And nobody calls them on it. Ever. Or if you do call them on it, you are slammed and slimed until no one listens to you. Does anybody remember what happened to the Georga senator who stood up to Bush and asked hard questions about 9/11? The media crucified her. I'd like to see Bush up on his own cross. And that is never going to happen under the current media-regime

-jl
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 01:40 pm:   

It is odd though: The Right continuously accuses the media of being biased towards "liberals".
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Tim Akers
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 01:59 pm:   

Matter of intolerance. Anyone who does not wholeheartedly and loudly express a view they agree with is labelled the enemy. Holds true for both sides of the political spectrum, honestly.
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Lefty
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 02:21 pm:   

You're wrong, you righty-tighty warmonger! Us liberal lefties are 110% tolerant!!!!1!!111
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Chris Roberson
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 09:03 am:   

This via Charlie Stross' blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1036571,00.html

Make of Meacher's conclusions what you will, some of the quotes culled from the mainstream media over the past two years are pretty terrifying.
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 09:26 am:   

http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war26.html
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John Picacio
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 01:05 am:   

Hey, Lucius --

I'm up late tonight. In a groove on a cover. Trying to fight off sleep until I get where I want to go. Taking a break and looking at this War thread for the first time. I'm too tired to comment extensively at the moment, but I just wanted to drop in very quickly.

Man, every once in a while I'll drop by Bill Maher's HBO program and see Ann Coulter on there and see her just wailing away on the Left. Of course, her grimaces, jabs, and one-liners against the Left are patently transparent, but I'm always thinking the same thing every time I turn it off. Where are the Left's media-savvy counter-forces to people like that? I hate to say it, but one of my favorite TV moments in recent years was when Clive Barker was on the program and I remember groaning when I saw that he was the "counter-puncher" to Coulter, but I stayed tuned just to see what he had to say. And damned if he didn't trade with her, blow for blow, and make her look like an idiot on the issues before the program was done. By the end of the program, he had the crowd moaning every time she opened her mouth and he was just speaking calmly and logically. It was beautiful. I remember thinking, "This is Clive Freaking Barker.....he's speaking calmly, articulately, and fearlessly. And is beating this Republican puppet bitch point-for-point. Where can I get more of THIS?"

So, anyway, my point is, I couldn't agree with your statements above more. And they hearten me like you wouldn't believe. Like I had buzzes in my head and you kinda parcelled out the signal-to-noise and articulated what I knew deep down.

It pumps me up.

I'll comment more another night when I'm not stretched so thin.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 07:17 am:   

Hey, John...

Good on, Clive. There have always been people out there who're capable of this, and the media used to put them on. My favorite clash was between William Buckley and Gore Vidal. Buckley kept pontificating and Vidal kept busting his balloon. Buckley grew increasingly steamed and finally just lost it. He was raving at Vidal, and Vidal just kept jabbing. Buckley was so red faced, he might have been parboiled. At last, shrill, his face contorted, he calls Vidal a fag. Unruffled, Vidal sits back, considering, and with icy calm, says, Doubtless, you have a point. Nonetheless, I would suggest it's more preferable to be a fag than a crypto-nazi. Buckley couldn't speak after a while. It was beautiful.

As for Ann Coulter...don't get me started.

I know about stretched thin--that's where I am too.


,
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paulw
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 11:13 am:   

God, what I wouldn't give for a tape of that Vidal/Buckley exchange!

But see, that perfectly illustrates what I think Lucius and others are talking about here. When they call for a leftist or even just-plain liberal media alternative to the Rush/Fox cabal, they mean superior wit and intelligence opposing mindless blather and aggression; it tells every time -- witness the recent exchange between Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly . . . and Franken is certainly not in the league of Vidal!



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lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 01:03 pm:   

Paul, what you said...yup!
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   

Ask and you shall recieve...
http://www.pitt.edu/~kloman/tapes.html
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paulw
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 09:06 am:   

Thanks, Jeremy!

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