Bill Moyers Journal: BODY OF WAR

Bill Moyers interviews former talk show host Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro on the true cost of war and their documentary, BODY OF WAR, depicting the moving story of one veteran dealing with the aftermath of war.

With extensive excerpts from the film, the filmmakers talk about Iraq war veteran Tomas Young who was shot and paralyzed less than a week into his tour of duty.

Three years in the making, BODY OF WAR tells the poignant tale of the young man’s journey from joining the service after 9/11 to fight in Afghanistan, to living with devastating wounds after being deployed to Iraq instead.

from www.pbs.org posted with vodpod

Go here for part 2.

“They volunteered..”

via: ABC News

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney was asked what effect the grim milestone of at least 4,000 U.S. deaths in the five-year Iraq war might have on the nation.

Noting the burden placed on military families, the vice president said the biggest burden is carried by President George W. Bush, who made the decision to commit US troops to war, and reminded the public that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered for duty.

The president carries the biggest burden, obviously,” Cheney said. “He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.”

Read entire interview.

The president carries the biggest burden?? Tell that to the soldiers that are being sent back for their 3rd, 4th, 5th ++ tour, leaving their families behind trying to get by without them. Tell that to the soldiers coming home with missing limbs or with traumatic brain injury – and their family members who will be caring for them the rest of their lives.

I don’t know what to say. I’m so disgusted.

Racism bubbling up

I believe we’re going to see an increasingly open and nasty expression of racism in the next few months, particularly if Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination. In the mainstream press, it will be heavily disguised with code words and innuendo and any criticism of the behavior will be greeted with a “What? Me? Don’t be silly. You people are so sensitive!” The really nasty stuff will appear on the Internet and be referenced repeatedly by the Right. Glenn Greenwald has a pretty good example; read his original post and all the updates here.

Immediately beneath that righteous celebration of Easter is a somewhat less charitable post purporting to take up Barack Obama’s invitation to speak about race. After listing a few black entertainers and sports figures he says he likes, here are some of the thoughts Instapunk offers on race:

On the other hand, I am sick to death of black people as a group. The truth. That is part of the conversation Obama is asking for, isn’t it? I live in an eastern state almost exactly on the fabled Mason-Dixon line. Every day I see young black males wearing tee shirts down to their knees — and jeans belted just above their knees. I’m an old guy. I want to smack them. All of them. They are egregious stereotypes. It’s impossible not to think the unthinkable N-Word when they roll up beside you at a stoplight in their trashed old Hondas with 19-inch spinner wheels and rap recordings that shake the foundations of the buildings. . . . Here’s the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country.

It doesn’t get any more pleasant, but the analysis that Greenwald and people commenting on his blog is excellent and well worth the time. And in Update II, there is an example of that “subtle” racism evident in the mainstream:

UPDATE II: Instapunk’s far-from-uncommon thoughts on race illustrate another significant point. What explains the media’s Obama/Wright fixation while virtually ignoring McCain’s embrace of people like Rod Parsley and John Hagee is the assumption that the controversial behavior of any one black person is easily attributed to black people generally, while white political leaders aren’t held accountable for the views of others solely by virtue of shared race. That dynamic is what explains this — Tim Russert interviewing Barack Obama, January 22, 2006:

MR. RUSSERT: I want to talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Belafonte went to Venezuela, as you well know, some time ago and met with the Hugo Chavez, leader of that country, and said some things that obviously were noted in this country and around the world. Let’s listen, and come back and talk about it. . . . Is it appropriate to call the President of the United States “the greatest terrorist in the world”?

Barack Obama has nothing to do with Harry Belafonte and yet, out of the blue, Tim Russert demanded that he opine on Belafonte’s statements — just as Russert demanded that Obama renounce Louis Farrakhan’s. Here, to my knowledge, is the only other time Russert ever asked anyone about the statements of Harry Belafonte — Tim Russert interviewing Colin Powell, May 4, 2003:

Iraqi casualties – is anyone counting..?

We marked the death count of US soldiers in the Iraq War yesterday when it reached 4,000. But, is anyone even thinking of the death toll for the Iraqis? Does anyone even care?

MSNBC asked this question a year ago:

One person can tell you precisely how many Americans have been killed in Iraq. Another pays close attention to the names and hometowns of those who die each week. A third mourns for the families of fallen U.S. troops, but also figures it was their choice to enlist.

Americans are keenly aware of how many U.S. forces have lost their lives in Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll. But they woefully underestimate the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed.

This war was supposedly being fought for the sake of the Iraqis – you remember, to bring them freedom and democracy… Wasn’t that why we went there? Unfortunately, the reasons George Bush has given over the last 5 years have changed, over and over again. What we now know (and basically have known all along), is “it’s the oil stupid!”.

The news we hear every day talks about how many of our soldiers died, always updating the death toll, but the emphasis is different when reporting on the violence the Iraqis experience each and every day. Reporting covers car bombings and the numbers of victims per incident, but you don’t hear a running total of Iraqi deaths. You can’t help but get the feeling that they have just become numbers or just another news report of yet another bombing. After a while, it just becomes ‘white noise’. It becomes too hard to wrap your mind around the numbers.

I was just listening to CNN where Kyra Phillips was reporting from Iraq. She talked about the number of Iraqis who have died totaling around 20,000. 20,000? I know the numbers I have heard were higher than that.. Once I began looking, I was amazed at the difference in the totals.

From IBC (Iraq Body Count), the number is 82,349 – 89,867.

From Just Foreign Policy, the number is 1,191,216.

The Lancet Report (PDF) put it over 600,000 back in 2006.

Here’s some numbers from Wikipedia from 2003 – 2007.

There’s a pretty big gap between 20,000 and over 1,000,000 deaths. Will we EVER know the real cost in human lives to the people of Iraq? Will most Americans even be curious?

These people have lost their country, their culture, their security, their families, their children or their parents, their homes, and their lives. They live each day in fear, without clean water or electricity, most without jobs or a way to care for their families. That’s a pretty big price to pay – for what? So that we can secure oil contracts? Build permanent bases on their land? Build the biggest embassy in the world? Why are we there?

Is war EVER worth the cost? The blood spilled; the price paid?

Muse’s Monday Menagerie

Almost that time of year again.. Can ya feel it in the air..? We’re a week away!

Well, this is going to be shorter today. I am in a bit of a hurry..

This from RawStory: 97 percent of US death toll came after ‘Mission Accomplished’

At least 97 percent of the deaths occurred after US President George W. Bush announced the end of “major combat” in Iraq on May 1, 2003, as the military became caught between a raging anti-American insurgency and brutal sectarian strife unleashed since the toppling of Saddam.

140 American servicemembers died before May 1, 2003, out of a total 4,000.

More from Reuters on reaching the 4,000 deaths of US soldiers in Iraq, and a very good article from Juan Cole of Informed Comment.
Here is a post as well from Jon Stoltz (VoteVets).

From Truthout: For Wounded Veterans and Their Families, a Journey Without Maps
By Lawrence Downes
The New York Times

How much more can this country keep demanding of Justin Bunce, Daniel Verbeke and Michael McMichael?

The men – a marine, a sailor and a National Guardsman – went to Iraq to fight as ordered, served honorably and suffered grave injuries. When they came home another struggle began, to find the care to make them whole again.

There was a great op-ed in the New York Times on Sunday by Frank Rich called “The Republican Resurrection“. He lays out where the candidates and their campaigns are right now, with clarity and wit. I love his style, and he is right on.

From the BBS: New Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gillani has said he will order the release of all judges detained under emergency rule, minutes after being elected by MPs.

Also from the BBC, General Petraeus is now saying that the attacks on Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, that killed at least 60 people yesterday, well, he is saying that Iran was behind it. Putting this together with what I posted yesterday, I am thinking they are seriously start to beat those drums loudly. This feels very much like a ‘Colin Powell standing in front of the UN holding a vial of white powder’ moment.. This is way too predictable. It feels orchestrated, manufactured, whatever you want to call it. It is certainly convenient. They have been trying to build their case for war with Iran, even going as far as faking a video of Iranian war boats threatening them back in January, but they are seriously starting to ramp up their efforts now that Admiral Fallon is out of the way. People need to keep their eyes peeled.

From The Guardian, Tibet protesters disrupt Olympic flame ceremony .

That’s it for now. Have a great week everyone!

Clinton tackles housing crisis – and proposes Greenspan to lead “foreclosure group” UPDATED

Hillary Clinton proposes Alan Greenspan to lead a “foreclosure group” which is supposed to determine whether the government should buy up houses to stem the housing crisis:

Clinton, a senator from New York, said the Federal Housing Administration should “stand ready” to buy, restructure and resell failed mortgages to strengthen the ailing U.S. economy.

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve boss, has been accused by some to be at least partially to blame for the current crisis, for keeping interest rates too low for too long, and thus providing the cheap credits at the root of the housing crash and the current financial markets desaster. Anna Schwartz says:

“They[the Fed] need to speak frankly to the market and acknowledge how bad the problems are, and acknowledge their own failures in letting this happen. This is what is needed to restore confidence,” she told The Sunday Telegraph. “There never would have been a sub-prime mortgage crisis if the Fed had been alert. This is something Alan Greenspan must answer for,” she says.

and

According to Schwartz the original sin of the Bernanke-Greenspan Fed was to hold rates at 1 per cent from 2003 to June 2004, long after the dotcom bubble was over. “It is clear that monetary policy was too accommodative. Rates of 1 per cent were bound to encourage all kinds of risky behaviour,” says Schwartz.

The financial markets crisis is, of course, not limited to the housing market. People are desperate for cash and while mortgages are known to suffer, the consumer debt in the US is rising, credit card defaults are rising, pawnshops are booming, pay-day loans, the basest kind of making money is rising.

I freely admit, I have lost track of the billions Ben Bernanke has promised to cough up to help the troubled financial markets, but to me it all sounds like they’ve kickstarted the afterburner on the money press.

What I hear nothing about, and would like to as much as Paul Krugman, is about regulations for the financial markets and measures to prevent future similar disasters.

UPDATEReuters provides us with the details of Hillary Clinton’s plans, here! The key measures are:

  • RESTRUCTURING HELP
  • FORECLOSURES WORKING GROUP
  • LEGAL PROTECTION FOR MORTGAGE SERVICERS
  • HOUSING STIMULUS PACKAGE

Is it just me, or is do I find the old: If it’s good for the economy(read: banks/mortgage servicers), it’s good for you! here? Same old, same old. This is one huge bailout, but not for you!

Dying to get in

Foreigners are recruited into our military with the promise of U.S. citizenship somewhere down the road. Unfortunately for some, that somewhere is a cardboard box.

There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship,” Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003.

So far, this country is still seen as such an economic opportunity that people are, quite literally, dying to get in. Be it from drowning in the Rio Grande or Gulf of Mexico, or dying of thirst in the deserts of Arizona or New Mexico, people die trying to get here. And how do we treat those who make it? Are they welcomed to the land of opportunity? No. We condemn them for their efforts.

To those who were so desperate for a chance to earn a living they broke immigration laws to get here, we greet with scorn, with contempt, with sub-minimum wages and living conditions. We, the descendants of immigrants who wrap the American flag around us as if it were our own blood which purchased our freedom, we no longer welcome all comers. We have a sort of false nationalism that says “We are Americans. We are the best in the world.” Yet we don’t want to do the jobs that illegal immigrants do, certainly not for the wages we are willing to pay them.

That may all change soon. Thanks to the War in Iraq draining our coffers, thanks to the Bush Administration policy of preventing States from enforcing predatory lending laws, thanks to rapidly increasing costs of fuel, and thanks to the Federal government printing new money increasing the money supply at the annual rate of 40%, thanks to foreign investors no longer willing to fund our deficit spending, we are looking at an economic melt-down the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1930s. Perhaps then our borders will be sealed, by Mexicans and Canadians wishing to keep Americans out!