Friday, September 21, 2007

My Answer to MoveOn’s ad: it’s clearly “General Betray Us”

I’m not sure I can add much to Cindy Sheehan’s and Kieth Olbermann’s slamming of Bush and the yes-vote Dems on the MoveOn ad issue. Olbermann is particularly strong on the very American line between the military and politics. Sheehan is particularly strong on why support for MoveOn is critical, but also why MoveOn needs to distance itself more from the Dems and less from what she considers the real peace movement.

My disgust goes out mostly to the yes-vote or no-vote-at-all Dems.

One of the most important outcomes of the Senate vote on 9/20/07 to repudiate an ad from that referred to Gen. David Petraeus as “General Betray Us” is a surprisingly neat division of the Democratic faction of the corporate party.

It seems to me that the “yes” voters would constitute the “fanaticism tolerant” faction of the Democratic faction (if not just the fanatical faction), whereas the “no” voters would simply be those who have to be a part of this faction, and this one-party system, in order to get elected.

I would be more disgusted by the charade of this Senate repudiation if this type of thing weren’t so common. To paraphrase a celluloid Colonel, America can’t handle the truth.

(Progressive voters, by the way, should scratch off any presidential candidate not clearly on the “no” list--even though I am not a Clinton fan. Feingold-Boxer for ’08?).

Democrats Voting to Condemn
Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Leahy (D-VT), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Mikulski (D-MD), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Salazar (D-CO), Tester (D-MT), Webb (D-VA)

Demsocrats Who Voted ‘No’:
Akaka (D-HI) Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Byrd (D-WV), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Stabenow (D-MI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR)

Democrats Not Voting:
Biden (D-DE), Cantwell (D-WA), Obama (D-IL)

In addition to the Senate repudiation, the MoveOn ad has been the talk of right-wing news. The repudiation, however, has also galvenized MoveOn members like me, and thousands of non-members have emailed to show support:
"I'm currently in Iraq. I do not agree with this war, and if I did support this war, it would not matter. You have the RIGHT to speak the truth. We KNOW that you support us. Thank you for speaking out for being our voice. We do not have a voice. We are overshooted by those who say that we soldiers do not support organizations like MoveOn. WE DO. YOU ARE OUR voice."

"I have given a son to this country. My brother, my father, my uncle have all served honorably and bravely. I am a loyal American. I am outraged and sick to death of the tactics this administration uses to try to silence dissent to a war that is unjust, built and maintained on lies, political power, and greed. I was content to let others fight more loudly, but no more."
–Sharyn W., NC

"I am a prior soldier who served in Iraq for 13 months, and am now an expecting mom with a husband who is deployed in Baghdad. I don't think I can ever forgive the Bush administration for the lies that tricked America into this war and hurt my family so badly. I am ashamed of those American politicians who would condemn an organization for practicing the Freedom of Speech that so many soldiers have died for. "
–Danielle B., OH

"As a US Navy veteran and an Iraq war veteran of over a year I want to ask, What has happened to us? What has happened to our voice? Where is this country going with stopping free speech and free press? ... Every time I think of the long nights I had in Anbar remembering what I was fighting for, well here it is.... "
–Ahmad H., LA

MoveOn has also received record contributions for their next political ad, "Betrayal of Trust," another truthful, hard-hitting ad, this one about how the GOP's so-called support of our troops keeps them longer in Iraq by keeping their tours unreasonably long.

Regardless of any potential tactical blunder of the "General Betray Us" ad, of throwing such a corporate-media-syntonic bone to the rabid fanatics of the large right-wing faction of the corporate party, MoveOn’s position, clearly stated in the ad and backed up thoroughly on their web site, was to simply suggest the obvious truth: General Petraeus mislead the American people in 2004 with his Washington Post op-ed piece, and did the same during his recent testimony in congress. He has clearly betrayed us, his country, his duty, his profession, and the oaths he repeatedly took to serve the constitution and to tell the truth.

Paul Krugman had it right in his 9/3/2007 NYT Op-ed column, “Snow Job in the Desert,” which made an excellent comparison between Colin Powell’s WMD address to the UN and Gen. Petraeus’s then upcoming testimony to congress. In both cases, “the political and media establishments swooned” as the Generals presented doctored evidence in the attempt to make the Bush administration’s lies seem true, their folly seem reasonable, their folie seem sane. Both Generals have clearly betrayed the American people and their country by being followers and not leaders, by being overly loyal to their boss and their political careers.

The only solid evidence these two testimonies gave was for the fact that, since George Washington, generals more and more should stay generals and keep out of politics. Powell never ran for President, though a 2004 bid would have been welcomed because anyone is better than Bush. His UN address would have haunted him in the general elections, of course, but many Republicans are still making the same arguments he made to the UN, so he may have had a chance in the primaries.

Three things have struck me about the career of General Petraeus. First, Bush’s grand warrior didn’t see combat until he arrived in Iraq four years ago as a Major General (!). This veteran and Air Force Academy graduate knows that this is really unusual. Second, his military effectiveness there has come under considerable criticism (of course, in utter contrast to the administration’s obviously effective staging). And, third, there is a credible report that he wants to be president someday.

The latter makes more sense when you consider how inappropriate it is for an Army General to write any op-ed piece while in command during a war, and particularly one that was so blatantly partisan, one so blatantly timed to influence the elections, and one that can now be seen as so blatantly untrue. Beyond kissing Bush’s ass, few besides Gary Hart and Rachel Sklar have mentioned that this presidential election season op-ed can also be understood as the General writing his own report card for the job he had been doing in Iraq. The Democrats never should have allowed Petraeus to testify since they should have known he would once more be giving himself and Bush a B+ when they are obviously failing.

Rachel Sklar, however, is significantly off the mark in her Huffington Post piece. She states that the basic evidence against Petraeus is not “enough to damn the Petraeus report on its own, not by a long shot.” Her reasoning here strikes me as more swooning over uniforms, rank, and medals: “There are four stars on his shoulder that didn't get there by being on the sidelines.” No, he’s been in the game, but the game has only recently included war: he had only two stars before he saw combat at all. Kissing ass to Bush secured the other two.

Sklar includes most of the important evidence against Petraeus. She summarizes Krugman’s main two points: “(1) Petraeus, whose assertions are being so eagerly awaited, has been wildly wrong before; and (2) The publication of that op-ed so close to an election is suggestive of a political/partisan interest.” Actually, Krugman’s first main point is that Petreaus lied in 2004. In other words, Petraeus “betrayed us” in 2004. His second point is that the op-ed piece is much more than “suggestive” of inappropriate partisan politics.

When you combine his crass partisanship, the inappropriateness of the op-ed piece, the fact that Petraeus is clearly a Bush kiss ass with political ambitions, and Hart’s point that “(3) The credibility of the report [and the congressional testimony] is affected when the reporter has a stake in the outcome,” it seems to me that there is clearly more than enough evidence here to substantiate an answer to MoveOn’s question.

Moreover, this military fetish is itself a huge problem in our unbelievably militaristic nation: the swooning, the pedestal granted to the uniform, etc. Remember, we live in a country where “support our troops” means keeping them in Iraq to either die, get maimed, or suffer from PTSD (and then be neglected by the VA). According to the GOP (and too many in the Democratic faction of the corporate party), “support our troops” also means we have to kowtow to four-star generals even though they got their stars mostly by being kiss-ass politicians and liars—and not by being a great warrior.

Krugman is an economist and his 9/14/07 column “A Surge, and Then a Stab” simply asks us to follow the money when we think about the current state of the Iraq war. He makes it clear where the smart money is going: out of Iraq. Bush crony Ray Hunt and his Hunt Oil know this. The column also makes it clear that Bush and crew know this.

Petraeus is a member of Bush and crew. The plan seems to be to keep the money and blood flowing while hoping for something better—but, if that something better doesn’t come, Bush’s tenure is almost over (thank god!) and Cindy Sheehan, the peace movement, MoveOn, and even some Dems can be blamed like the peaceniks were for Vietnam. Bush has obviously been laying the groundwork recently for this type of revisionist history with his troubled, bizarre and hypocritical comparisons of Vietnam and Iraq. Laying the groundwork for right-wing revisionist history is the only explanation I can muster for this odd move. I don’t look forward to the Rambo equivalents of tomorrow where the hero is bemoaning the MoveOn ad.

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