Category Archives: Americans Against Escalation In Iraq

>Good Ol’ Shoe


No one could have anticipated:

Muntader al-Zaidi, the now-infamous shoe-hurling Iraqi journalist, has reportedly been “beaten in custody,” according to the BBC. Al-Zaidi’s brother reports that the journalist is suffering from a broken hand, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. Yesterday, TV al-Sharqiya in Iraq reported that the al-Zaidi had “signs of tortures on his thighs.” Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqis have taken to streets on Tuesday for second day to demand al-Zaidi’s release.

What’s this about signs of Democracy, President Bush?


Since President Bush himself is making light of the Iraq shoe incident, why shouldn’t the rest of us?

Where was the Secret Service?’s War Room blog reports that because the press is pre-screened, security isn’t quite as vigilant for a press conference as, say, when the President is mingling with the hoi polloi. Whew.

Thank you, Salon. That question was one many of us were asking, and we sure didn’t get an answer from the MSM, who seemed more interested in downplaying the incident–no doubt taking orders from the White House on this one.

I love it when the media goes into damage control mode. “Just act like nothing’s wrong,” I can hear them say. How else to explain the President’s incredibly lame “that’s what people do in a free society” comment after the incident? Like that happens all the time here in America?

Hey, let’s ALL throw shoes at the president! Yeah, try it, I dare you. Just watch and see what happens.

And what’s with all of the “if he’d thrown a shoe at Saddam he’d be dead” BS? We’re all so sure this reporter is alive and well and all is forgiven right now? Last I heard, he was still in custody. This is incredibly lazy and dishonest of the media. Come on, get serious.

Watching our fawning media report on the President’s “size 10” quip like it was the most courageous thing a Commander in Chief had done since George Washington crossed the Delaware is surreal, to say the least.

MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer and the NBC reporter assigned to cover the story gushed how “back in Saddam’s day, that reporter would have received the death penalty.” Um, excuse me, when was the last time anyone in America threw a shoe at the President and lived to tell about it? Hello? And has anyone bothered to mention to either of you two idiots that the incident has sparked demonstrations of support across the Arab world?

Of course the White House wishes to act like this was No Big Deal. Heaven help us if anyone should point out the obvious: the country we “liberated” hates us for it. Ouch.

Let’s face it: the Iraq War has been President Bush’s favorite PR backdrop since he posed with a platter of fake turkey and fixin’s at his “unannounced visit” with the troops in 2003. “Unannounced” being the operative word — the Iraqis would have hurled more than old shoes at him if they’d known he was coming back then.

Bush’s lame attempt to salvage something resembling a positive legacy on Iraq backfired big-time. In the meantime, the shoe incident has me in mind of a fabulous Willie Nelson moment from that most cynical of political flicks, “Wag The Dog.” Someone needs to release that old song in honor of Muthathar al Zaidi, no doubt having electrodes applied to his genitals as we speak.

Recently I was accused of being overly “angry.” Like the bumper sticker says, if you are’t pissed off, you haven’t been paying attention.

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>A Modern Anti-War Movement

>“Why aren’t we hitting the streets about (fill in the Bush Administration outrage du jour)!”

Ah, the oft-heard progressive lament. It’s usually followed by a list of complaints about the ignorant American “sheeple,” too consumed with sports scores and Lindsay Lohan news to care about what the government is doing in their name. I don’t necessarily buy this. I think Americans are able to pay attention to Lindsay Lohan and follow news about the Iraq War.

When someone cries out to me “why aren’t we hitting the streets!” my first answer is usually, we are–including massive rallies in New York City during the Republican National Convention and the huge Sept. 2005 march on Washington, D.C.

But there’s another reason. Sunday’s New York Times Magazine contained an article about the new, post-hippie style of war protest–the K Street kind. The article looks at Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, “a coalition of activists, policy outfits and labor unions,” working to lobby Congress as well as mobilize constituents. The question they ask is, Can Lobbyists Stop the War?

The playbook for opposing a war has changed markedly since the street-protest ethos of the anti-Vietnam movement. Tie-dyed shirts and flowers have been replaced by oxfords and BlackBerries. Politicians are as likely to be lobbied politely as berated. And instead of a freewheeling circus managed from college campuses and coffee houses, the new antiwar movement is a multimillion-dollar operation run by media-savvy professionals.

“They are to the left what the N.R.A. is to the right,” says a
Democratic strategist with close ties to the party’s congressional leadership. “They’re very effective in turning up the volume and demanding a response.”

This is all true. I’m not sure the right wingers have completely grasped the truth about the modern anti-war movement, that we’re not tie-dye wearing hippies munching on vegan stew and driving to protests in biofuel-powered vehicles. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, of course.) Part of the reason is that we do still have old school war protests; who can forget all that media coverage of Joan Baez serenading Cindy Sheehan and her fellow protestors at Camp Casey? The media loves this stuff because it’s an easy sell; the image is already in the collective unconscious: “anti-war protestor = hippie.”

And that’s fine with me. While the wingers and MSM focus on obvious targets, coalitions like Americans Against Escalation in Iraq are lobbying Congress and raising funds, and have pushed the anti-war movement farther, faster, than the previous generation’s Vietnam War protests did, and we don’t have a military draft to fuel our movement. We have righteous outrage at an unjust war that is bankrupting the country.

And then there’s this:

“The moment we’re in can change the course of American history,” he said. “We can show that conservatives can never again be trusted to run the foreign policy of this nation.”
A.A.E.I. is far more integrated into the political and media establishments than the hippies ever were. “They couldn’t figure if they wanted to take their clothes off, smoke pot, burn the Capitol or end the war,” Wiley Pearson, Matzzie’s other deputy, says of the 1960s counterculture protesters. Pearson, who is 59, spent 22 years in the Marines before finding a second career promoting progressive causes. Matzzie says political and lifestyle radicalism was a gift to supporters of the Vietnam War that his allies will not give again. “Nixon’s strategy was to demonize his opponents,” Matzzie says. “Some of the politicians who are supporting the war want to be protested by fringe groups. We’re not going to play that game — we’re not going to let them off the hook. We’re going to put their own constituents in their faces.”

The message to pro-war conservatives is simple: We’re organized. We’re well-funded. We’re politically connected. We have access. And we will win this debate because the American people are with us. We are the American people, rank and file. So you can either get on board now and end this debacle in Iraq, or you can go down in history as the political party that can never be trusted to run our foreign policy again. It’s your choice.

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Filed under Americans Against Escalation In Iraq, Iraq War, Nashville protest