Done deal

May 29, 2007 by barbara

by barbara

George W. Bush’s war has generated enough tears to hydrate the Sahara. This morning, more tears. Cindy Sheehan has thrown in the towel. Her protest against the war that killed her son Casey is over. She has come to the conclusion that Casey died for nothing. Nothing at all. That, and her realization that America “cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.” She’s right. There's more.

It's not so much that I've been a big Cindy Sheehan fan. But I've admired the way she never minced words in her long struggle to bring Bush’s immoral war into national focus. She infuriated a lot of people with her candor. Bush blew her off, refusing to speak to her, even when she camped out in his neighborhood. But Bush will not speak to anyone who has not been thoroughly vetted by his people. He will not converse with anyone who disagrees with him. Which means, of course, that he is completely isolated from reality. But then you already knew that, didn't you?

The woman is not a saint. She made mistakes and missteps. But she never stopped trying. Her gutsy stand cost her her marriage, her savings and her health. That’s how much she loves her son. That’s how much she wanted to help move her country onto a moral track. Clearly too big a job for one woman.

Cindy Sheehan. Love her or despise her. Either way, she has been this country’s fearless conscience for three long years. She has spoken out in ways that put our cowardly politicians to shame. There’s that five-letter word again. The thing of which there is zero, zip, nada in Washington D.C.

In the end, even the Democrats turned on her. You see, she wouldn’t sit down and behave herself. She pissed off everyone by calling America “a fascist corporate wasteland.” The thing is, she’s right about that, too. One nation, under the god of rampant consumerism and the bottom-line.

Cindy said, “I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.”

You know that thing about not knowing what you had until you’ve lost it? We have lost our most consistently strong voice in the land of the mealy-mouthed. We have lost the burr under George’s saddle. It sickens me to think of his smirky celebration of the news that his nemesis has packed it in, even as the Democrats are losing their way, if indeed they ever knew what it was. And once again, America comes up the big loser.

I want so much to be able to tell Cindy that her son died for something. Turns out he didn’t. How many more? How many?

UPDATE: Check out Cindy's letter to Congress, sent yesterday. Not sure I agree with every jot and tittle, but she has delivered a blow to the Dems. Couldn't hurt. What're you thinking about this?

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Comments

susan | May 29, 2007 - 11:13am

This isn't going to win me friends. This is going to sound very naieve, and likely it is. But, Cindy's letter to the Democrats got me to thinking about Bushco's veto. I agree that the Dems come off as lily-livered and forgetting who got them there and I'm as pissed as anyone that there wasn't a stand-off.
But, I've been at many DFL conventions, supporting candidates who come close but finally can't close the gap. We ballot and reballot and another gorgeous Saturday in May goes by while we huddle in highschool gyms eating donuts at dawn, pizzas at dusk. And finally, after the 9th ballot that still doesn't reach the required percent for endorsement, and after much strategizing and blathering and grandstanding from the floor and chair alike, we all go home exhausted and wondering why we still use the caucus system in MN, which allows those with staying power to determine who runs for major office, not always a winning strategy come the general election.
So, I see Pelosi et al as being somewhat in the same box. They were never going to get the votes to over-ride the Bush veto and he was never going to back down. The charade could have played out until all the donuts and pizza were eaten and the lights went out.
Would this make them strong or just stubborn and stupid? I mean, bottom line, they only barely "control" congress and Mr. 28% still holds the veto, so he does still have the final say. If the congress were firmly in control, with the votes to override the veto, and they had backed down, then I'd be over-the-moon pissed. This way I'm just pissed and disappointed and sad for all the lives lost and those to come. But the focus of my real rage remains BushCo, who is indeed stubborn and stupid.

Also, in a way, I find the "no" votes of Hillary and John Kerry more political and offensive than the yes vote of Amy K. (sorry) It's easy now for Hillary and John Kerry to do the political grandstanding, but where were they back when Paul Wellstone courageously stood against the invasion? (I'd lump Obama in there too, but he's consistently opposed the war and wasn't there for that vote.) I get the stuff from Kerry's PAC, and nearly threw up at his glowing, "I voted no!" heading.

But I do wonder if we were in those same shoes, the Dem congressional shoes, what we might have done. What I might have done. I know that I've stayed to the 9th or 11th or umpteenth ballot at my conventions, because I'm loyal to my candidate, but there comes a point each time where I'm thinking, "Why am I doing this? There's no way we're going to get the outcome we want."
So there you have it, I'm a no-longer closeted pragmatist. And I dearly hope that in the not-too-long term this does play out in a way that furthers the nation's disgust in the war and all things Bush, that his numbers tumble to single digits, and we'll find another way to end this horror before anymore lives are lost. And I'm just not sure that the Dems holding firm would have made any real difference in that regard. They look like spineless twerps, but do we care? All I want is to find the most expedient exit plan we can. With Bush holding the sceptre, the only thing I can think of is a palace coup. Because we have to take out Cheney at the same time. And knowing that's not likely to happen, I think the national mood is just to sit it out for 600+ more days. Six hundred more days of senseless death. Easy for people like me to say, not so easy for Cindy Sheehan and thousands of other people whose lives are on the line. I'm sorry for all of it.
And finally, it looks as if Bush is prepared to hand this bungled disastrous war off to the next president, who will surely bring the troops home. And most likely the killing and terror will continue in Iraq until someone gains the upper hand, most likely the Shiites, and frankly that's not a 100% woman-friendly nor human-rights friendly scenario. And then BushCo and the war zealots will wag their fingers at all of us and say, "We told you so." And I may have to be put in restraints at that point, because surely my meds won't be enough to hold me back.

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Barbara aka Babs (not verified) | May 29, 2007 - 1:38pm

Minnesota does indeed have an weird and convoluted caucus/endorsement process. Most recently, I went to the mat for a candidate who ultimately lost the endorsement, only to see the "winner" throw away his chance to win the election, going down in ignominious defeat to a snakeoil huckster whose raison d'etre is to occupy Blair House. So there was no good outcome for anyone. All the strategering, posturing, positioning was for naught.

That's what I fear with the Dems now. Is there such a thing as a Pyrrhic defeat? Lose the battle and then lose the whole enchilada? That's my bone-deep concern.

Now there are those who might say that I'm a relative rookie in the world of hardball politics, and they'd be right. The implication is that I don't know what I'm talking about. Also right. Sometimes. But the brightest bulbs in the firmament aren't doing all that well either, at least on the face of it. And there's got to be a tipping point somewhere along the line where people look back and say, "Crikey! We've all been had. Why didn't we intervene?"

Periodically, I sound the cry to storm the Bastille. The principal difference between me and Cindy Sheehan is that she actually DID it. And she really got under everyone's skin. Was that a bad thing? I don't think so. And at least she was out there, doing something, versus (as Perhansa noted) waging word war at our computers.

Surely there are people who, unlike me, have energy and raw courage enough to stay in the face of BushCo and Congress. It's risky business for sure.

As some in MN are fond of saying, "WWWD?" I think Wellstone would kick ass. Any volunteers out there?

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leftymn (not verified) | May 29, 2007 - 4:23pm

Susan
I am quite disillusioned about the entire matter of the Supplemental Defense spending bill and the Dems inability to prevail on it. I recommend a post by Digby about the whole matter in which he cites Glenn Greenwald extensively and argues the Dems as usual did a very poor job of framing the issues. Essentially they argue that "supplemental" funding of the Defense department is a canard and yet again another gift to the military industrial complex. There is more than enough blame to go around, but if you look at the comments there is one very succinct comment which points out that the Dems were foolish again tactically by agreeing to sit down with Bush and supposedly discuss ways to cooperate and compromise, this commenter very rightfully says the Dems should have placed the Congressional Repugs in the position of going to the WH to sit down with Bush and Cheney and work on the issues, the loss of the supplemental now sets up two possible future scenarios for the GOP. Firstly they can say that the Democratic Congress supported the surge and can share the blame for Iraq, but mostly it allows them time to lower expectations and come up with GOP plans for withdrawal with dignity, ala the Nixon strategy of 1968, where the tough guy McCain, or Giuliani will by this fall have a plan to draw down our troops with dignity and steal the proverbial bacon, something of a deus ex machina of sorts...

Personally I am disappointed in all of the Dems who voted yes on this... and I remain quite disappointed in Sen Klobuchar's performance to date.

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susan | May 29, 2007 - 9:46pm

Well, thanks everyone. Really. I needed to hear these things. I am often billed as someone who will be at the barricades when the time comes, and I think that's true. (Except hasn't the time come and where are the barricades and more to the point, where am I?) I am, and have always been, a fighter. Even as a little girl I used to get home from school a few hours late (we walked in those days) because I stopped along to way to rescue baby squirrels or intervene in some bullying nonsense along the way. It's not my nature to be so -- murky. Maybe it's a sign of the times that the needle on my 60 year old compass is spinning.
All of your comments, and the referral to Digby and Greenwald, helped put my head back in the right gear. And forgive me, but once again I'm on this little rocky island where the big news is that the hardware store manager's wife ran off with a dude from the mainland. I have no TV, no newspaper, and my internet connection is dial-up. It's sort of all right to be in the black hole of news, but then when I try to write I tend to sound like an idiot.
So, apologies. I get it now.

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Barbara aka Babs (not verified) | May 30, 2007 - 10:15am

Someone asked me why the hell I was lamenting the end of Cindy Sheehan's crusade, or at least why news of it led to profound sadness. Good question(s).

First answer is that I'm still re-entering the rabbit hole that used to be the United States of America. It's truly surreal.

Second answer is that it's not so much about Sheehan herself as what her packing it in represents. For all her quirkiness and abrasiveness, she had the guts to speak her truth. Loudly, clearly, often, publicly. And some of her truth was our truth. The whole thing about the immoral war of our feckless "leader." The systematic dismantling of our democracy by George and the boys. The wholesale slaughter of American troops and Iraqi citizens.

So echoing what Susan said above, I suspect some of the sadness is directed at myself. I am part of the great unwashed. The do-nothings seated in the bleachers, watching and critiquing the action on the field. Worse yet, exhorting the masses to rise up, speak out, make themselves heard and then waiting to see if anything happens. Who will speak for me?

Oh, wait. I can speak for myself, can't I? Even if my knowledge base runs a mile wide and a quarter inch deep, I still have something to say about all of this, don't I? Don't we all? So what the hell are we doing??? What are we waiting for? Permission? From . . . ?

Even as I write these words, I suspect I will heave a huge sigh and go back to waiting. For Amy Klobuchar and Tim Walz and John Conyers and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Patrick Fitzgerald and, and, and to do the right thing, whatever it is.

Yeah, well, good luck on the watch, Babs. Do ya need a butt cushion on the bench?

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paul miller (not verified) | May 30, 2007 - 10:41am

in the end the dems acquiesce whether it's Gore v. Bush 2000, Kerry's determination to challenge the manipulated results in 2004 (took his $51 million war chest to bed with him on that one) or the most recent aquiescence on the war funding.

It leaves the rest of us looking for some sort of ultimate plan. Face it, there isn't one, which is what Cindy Sheehan found out. Her righteous anger was absolutely spot on. The democrats feign righteous indignation then return to the status quo, every time. After six years of extremism they continue to follow the same pattern.

Like Charlie Brown we need to recognize the pattern of Lucy pulling out the football and move on to looking for other solutions. You can't feign sanity in an insane reality. Bush/Cheney is the drunk dad and the dems continue to play the disfunctional family covering for their drunkeness, creating an alternative reality. The whole family is sick.

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susan | May 30, 2007 - 11:03am

So, what do we do, if anything? is there a sort of al-anon for us kids as we watch our drunken daddies bully and plunder the world? I had a friend in grade school whose parents routinely got violently drunk, and the kids would hide under the beds with their pillows over their ears. Is that all we can do? Or do you, Paul, have something else in mind? Not knocking what you say, just wondering.
I don't write op-eds much anymore and people ask me why, and I say that I'm out of things to say about this stinkin' criminal regime.
Sometimes I get an image that we're scurrying around on the deck of a huge tri-masted ship, think the Bounty, barking orders into gale winds, clutching the wheel, sails flapping, rigging straining, heroically taking control of the ship from Captain Bligh, and then the camera pulls back and the ship is already run up on the rocks, the hull cracked open, and large rats are skittering off into the night, carrying away what's left of the cargo. Ah, such happy times.
Can we relaunch this ship? Can we stage a mutiny? Or do we join al-anon and learn that we are powerless to change our drunk daddies' behavior? Move over on that bench, Babs, and yeah, bring another butt cushion while you're at it.

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perhansa (not verified) | May 30, 2007 - 12:05pm

Sounds like we're going to need a lot of cushions and a big bench. I drove by a meditiation center on University Ave. in N.E. Minneapolis yesterday and there were a half dozen people standing along the street protesting the war and demanding peace. I honked and gave them a thumbs up but then thought, why didn't I stop and get out and hold one of the signs with them...half a dozen people, coulda been seven.

I think there are many more of us unhappy and frustrated souls then we probably realize, we're just not organized into a mass movement. I am reading a fascinating book that just came out by Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest, in which he relays the history of the environmental movement and begins to bring attention to the worldwide movement that is quickly growing, though largely hidden from view, and largely diverse, to save the planet. His experience is that good things are happending but their mostly below the radar becasue there is no grand unifying vision/movement. He claims, based on his research and contacts, that this may be the largest social movement in history and it's gone unnoticed, because unlike previous movements, there's no one or two great leaders and no "common vision". They're all working in realtive isolation. This has its plusses--it's gaining power without being detected by those who would try to undermine or stop it since it's below the radar. But it's lack of cohesiveness is also its vulnerability. I've grown more optimistic and hopeful the more I read it and it echoed what I observed at the Green Rally at the State Capital earlier this spring...the world isn't lacking good people, we don't have each others phone numbers or know what the other is doing.

You guys are doing a valuable act by keeping up the blog. It's up to each of us to decide how and when we can get on the field and mix it up. I know for me, if I don't acknowledge ownership and my part in the situation, I will feel powerless to change it. When I start owning the problem, I start to see just where and how I can have an impact. I'll be searching for the protests and candlelight vigils coming up in the next few months for some opportunities to attend and get phone numbers. And to keep letting our elected reps know how I feel and what I want them to do on my behalf.

Our leaders serve at the pleasure of the people who elected them, and the majority of us are unhappy. It takes a lot of inertia to get people moving and the fact that no one is asking for sacrifice makes it easy for folks not to. And, the system is imperfect. Attending a peace rally might mean missing my kids' soccer game, or an episode of the Simpsons, or my evening walk around the park. I'm sure most soccer moms and NASCAR dads hope someone can just take care of this mess so things can get back to normal without us having to do anything because everyone is already so busy and working 50 hours a week and...who has time to participate in a Democracy? Who has time to organize or even attend a peace rally? I only have to walk up a dozen steps to get to my computer and connect with all of you. The rest will mean a greater sacrifice than I've made...am I there yet? Not just yet, I've go some proposals to write, a teaching gig in a couple weeks and a commission painting to get going on...maybe when they're done, huh?

Good thing the Founding Fathers didn't have kids to raise, television programs to Tivo, and to work for a living or we might not have this country...what is the average rate of active participation in our democratic process outside of the time we step into the voting booth? Anyone know? I'm guessing it's very small and I would not be included in the "active participant" group.

I have to stop writing now I'm starting to feel like I'm hitting my head on a brick wall again and running off at the mouth, something in the back of my mind keeps saying,"Oh shut up Perhansa, you're so full of s...you didn;te even stop and get out and hold a peace sign, blah blah blah

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Barbara aka Babs (not verified) | May 30, 2007 - 12:27pm

Ah, Perhansa, welcome to the inert head-banging, butt-cushion society. It's a non-exclusive organization. We don't know how many of us there are. We cannot ID any leadership. We have no measurable objectives. We even have difficulty articulating exactly what it is that moves us to the brick wall. We want our elected officials to do better, but better than what and what does that look like? We believe with our whole hearts that democracy in general and that of the U.S. in particular is the best of the best, at least in principle.

I think your observation that we're struggling under the radar is spot on. But always I come back to the question of how long we can allow BushCo to play whack-a-mole with us.

I used to scoff (pshaw! I would say) at those who likened what is happening here to the run-up to Hitler's seizure of Germany and attempt to rule the world. Words like totalitarian and fascist sounded extreme in the extreme. This is America, for Pete's sake (yes, even for Peter's sake). Couldn't happen here. As Perhansa and Susan have said, if we sit on our rosy duffs long enough, surely everything will work out in the end, so to speak.

So I guess the telling question becomes this: "What am I willing to do?" Truth be told, I have been putting off having to answer that beastie for a long, long time. I want to say,
"Put me in in, coach," but I don't know what that means for me. I am, at heart, a bit of a sissy, I guess. Afraid of . . . what? Not sure. But what I am sure of is that I am part and parcel of what Paul (in this post or another, I can't remember) described as the co-dependents in this seriously sick nation.

As an Alanon alum, that brings me to the good old serenity prayer, which with or without God language, seems apt for these times: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Growing up is hard to do.

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paul miller (not verified) | May 30, 2007 - 12:34pm

As the greastest American once said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Frederick Douglass, 1857

Speaking truth to power, perservering without knowing the outcome, you could not find a better example than what Frederick Douglas accomplished in the face of unbelievable odds.

I would hope that we would keep facing up to our dysfunctional system without judging our own limitations. What other choice do we have?

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susan | May 31, 2007 - 8:34am

This is actually a comment from our friend, Poet, frustrated by the idiocy of what it takes to post a comment on the C-Line. We're hearing from others that the correct answer to the "captcha challenge" math question -- a spam deflector -- is being rejected, comments are being lost and so on. We're working on this, but if you are having trouble getting through, please let us know via the 'contact us' address -- susan@clotheslineblog.com. We'll post your comment, and send along your complaints to our techies.

From Poet:
Susan I do not think you are any less revolted or oppossed to this war than me or anyone else. I respect your conflicted ambivalence on the matter. Having been a political activist and probably known the sweet taste of victory on some issue or principle must surely surpass any satisfaction that posturing based strictly on principle might provide.
It must look like someone walking away from what they consider a losing card game instead of playing thorugh their hand. Without citing Kenny Rogers lyrics from "The Gambler", let me say that (whether it be wisdom or not) I disagree.
I disagree because this matter of war is not just about what we can or cannot do, but more importantly it is about what we are or aren't as a people. At the end of the day the so-called loyal opposition has turned out to be neither. As far as I am concerned, I wish the Dems would simply say to the minority President--you have had more time to win this thing than it took FDR to beat the Nazi's (by the end of 01/08 this war will surpass all of WWII in length) and it's time for you to get the troops out.
No more money for anything military--if you insist on your own stubborness then we will speak the only language you understand and do the same. The real question to be debated on this matter is: What is so important that it demands that "business as usual" does not continue until it is resolved? How many deaths will it take till they learn that too many people have died?

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paul Miller (not verified) | June 1, 2007 - 8:16am

"How many deaths will it take till they learn that too many people have died?"

Dylan first asked that question of the more or less same creepy politicians in 1963. For the times they aren't a-changin - our legislators learn so little from history.

I remember hearing "Blowin in the Wind" in a Catholic church basement in St. Peter, Minnesota back in the sixties. The words struck me then as a 10 year old kid and they strike me know 40 years later. Years later we found out my dad, the Presbyterian minister, was on an FBI watch list for meeting with two other ministers and a Catholic priest to discuss the Vietnam War.

Kerry asked how many must die and then forgot all about the question as he "reported for duty" and tryed to out bluster the blusterer in chief, "we will KILL the terrorists"

MLK said that it wasn't the ones that directly opposed him that he had the most trouble. He said was those that preached caution and said now is not the time for radical change that disturbed him the most.

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perhansa (not verified) | May 29, 2007 - 12:29pm

I appreciate your dilemma Susan. Without defection from enough members of the Republican Party of Fear there was never any hope. I am wondering if it was more a blown opportunity on the part of the Dems to completely isolate Bush/Cheney. I don't see that they accomplished that. Is it any wonder the public approval rating for Congress is worse than Bush's, if that's possible. Did the Dems help their cause in the way they played this out or hurt it? They can claim this is Bush's war alone now but it isn't. Fool me once, shame you. Fool me multiple times, I have to wonder why I keep believing in chronic liars and politicos. What's my problem?

They knew they couldn't get the votes and now it all seems like a politcal charade and a lot of hot air, which, when Americans are losing their lives, seems callous and calculated. Maybe that's the best they could do. I think most Americans, no matter what the polls say, hope Gen. Petraeus is the Iraqi savior and that the surge/counterinsurgency (silver bullet) will work--whatever that means. They're all waiting for the September report card. In the menatime, there's always plenty of news about Lindsey Lohan or Paris or Rosie, et al. And it's summer drive time, even if the gas prices rise to $3.50.

The more I talk this out, the more I see that we own this war now. It's our war to end or continue. Where were the massive protests, where the public outcry over Bush's veto? It's our money they're giving to Bush to flush down the crapper. Where are the protests? Where are the people refusing to pay their taxes? The civil disobediance? We lie to ourselves daily about Iraq, Darfur, poverty, global climate change, etc. You've said it before--where's the outrage? Are we all numb and stupid? Are we all sitting at our isolated PC conducting electronic "pissing contests"?

We all know that elected officials want to retain power and if the power moves in the other direction they'll follow like dogs after a pile of shit. We haven't pulled the levers of power. That's why nothing is happening We pulled the election lever and thought that was all we had to do--now we want to blame Reid and Pelosi and Klobuchar, et al for not doing their job. What about our responsibility? There aren't enough Cindy Sheehans, that's why this is still going on and will still go on another 600 days when we'll pull the lever again and expect someone else to do the difficult work we should be doing.

We've seen the enemy and it is us. Finger pointed directly at myself first! I should be ashamed...

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