Saturday, March 24, 2007

Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus continues to grow... and David Sirota continues to piss me off

There are a couple of new additions to the Out of Iraq Blogroll on my sidebar.

David Swanson has a telling bit of backstory on the framing of the Iraq War Supplemental on the part of individuals at MoveOn.

David Sirota is becoming very annoying, and increasingly irrelevent, but I will address some of his issues in his latest hit piece on the antiwar movement, lying about Barbara Lee.

Sirota starts with this:

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is a progressive champion, and a smart legislator. I have known this for a while, thanks to the time I worked with her and her office while a staffer for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Unfortunately, some of the people trumpeting her work are trying to manipulate her behavior into some sort of "proof" that progressive Democrats who voted for the Iraq supplemental bill sold out the antiwar movement.


Personally I don't care whether "Progressive Democrats" in Congress sold out the anti-war movement. What is clear to me is that more of the anti-war movement needs to be in Congress, and we wouldn't have this kind of bullshit. This means paying attention and preparing to back more progressive, anti-war candidates for Congress in 2008, and not getting lulled into sleep with nonsense from "concern trolls" that are fixed with intent on hyping the electoral prospects of a couple non-progressive, obviously pro-war Democrats in their bids for the 2008 Presidential nomination.

This Iraq War emergency authorization that the house passed guarantees that we will still be heavily engaged in the Iraq war aftermath when the next batch of Congressmen and women have been elected and are sworn in.

If David Sirota really admired Barbara Lee and that piece of legislation, he'd be championing it, instead of spending so much time pissing on fireplugs and marking his turf as the authoritative voice of the progressive movement. You can read the Lee amendment right here: Barbara Lee and Colleagues Unveil Plan to Fully Fund Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq.

The fact of this matter is that it was introduced on the House floor for consideration under a "closed rule" which prohibited the attachment of amendments. Barbara Lee may have had an opportunity to attach her amendment in the Appropriations Committee, that is true. She didn't. It is unclear where Sirota wants us to assign blame. My contention is that it doesn't even matter. We need to prepare to put it into the next attempt at an Emergency Appropriation if Bush vetos the current measure. We need to elect more U.S. Representatives in 2008 that will resist the mindless militaristic excesses in the federal budget.

However, what I don't respect - and what no one else should respect - are people who fabricate stories out of whole cloth in order to justify their own political relevance. I also don't respect people who bill themselves as leaders of progressive political movements who simply haven't spent 5 minutes learning the legislative process. Whichever is at work here - lying or sheer ignorance - is unacceptable, especially from professional political activists.


The 'professional political activist' smears other parties with the same epithet. Yet he is really , really wrong. This is largely grassroots, largely political outsiders and newcomers, crying out for this thing to end. Whose fault is it that they don't have the same sense of the legislative process that you do, as a former Congressional staffer and a professional lobbyist? Do they blame you, for not doing enough outreach about it, Murtha and Obey for working closed session on their committees (Defense Appropriations work is nearly always closed to the public and the media), do they blame their High School civics class teachers or SchoolHouse Rock?

FWIW, there is a simple introduction to the process here: Tying It All Together: Learn about the Legislative Process

This bit is proof certain that David Sirota has never had a debate with random patrons in Northwoods bars on the cause of 9-11, or misteps in Iraq, etc:


Whipping up wild conspiracy theories does nothing but confuse people on the most important national security issue in a generation. That is an abominable disservice to the progressive movement, because it precludes issue organizing by destroying issue


Wild conspiracies are the solace that the general public has for explaining why politicians claming to be working in their interest screw them constantly. Some people probably can only process this bit of war funding, labelled as an anti-war measure, passed with the help of the Congressman responsible for branding french fries as 'freedom fries', as one gigantic Satanic experiment in mind control.

It doesn't matter one bit to me if it is or isn't. We just need to have the presence of mind, make the preparations, keep the pressure up, and hold all of these SOBs accountable in the spring of 2008.

The simplest plans are the best. Show up, with likeminded neighboors at your caucuses in 2008. This is a pretty good model: Peace in the Precincts. We only got 22% in the statewide contest we targeted, but it created an opportunity for Keith Ellison to successfully challenge Sabo, who was dumped primarily for funding these emergency appropriations. Rep. Betty McCollum, or even Nancy Pelosi could be next, if someone wanted to challenge them in the endorsement battle based on their funding this war.

I never set out to be anyone's leader. I just want to be able to work and pay taxes without funding this war, and without having to move to France. I want to not be harassed or profiled as a potential terrorist by people who don't understand how this whole thing came about, just because of where I have travelled and what languages I speak. I would like America to be a credible actor in humanitarian operations.

Unfortunate truth of this is that only impeachment can end this war, now that we are on course to fully fund it well into 2008.

Where are you on impeachment, Mr. Sirota? I invite you to sit down with me for a cheap domestic beer and a discussion about the whole fucking thing with my neighbors up at the Turtle Creek Saloon. I have actually managed to persuade folks in my very Republican precinct that I care, that I am listening, that I would apply something like progressive economics to the logging, tourism (hunting/fishing/snowmobiling), and smokey bar fueled economy. I have actually done almost everything I can to not create economic friction and pay taxes towards this war. My clothes are threadbare. So I have never had a cozy job on Capitol Hill. I am probably not likely to be offered one anytime soon, either.

In fact I slept in my van for ten days this winter, and begged gas money (tens of dollars) from Gold Star Moms for Peace like Becky Lourey and Cindy Sheehan so that I could lobby Congress on behalf of the Department of Peace, and to clue people into what USAID really did and did not do in Aceh, what that conflict really looks like.

I have actually crawled out of U.S. Navy helicopters in a real live war zone, in a 'black zone' that nobody exactly controlled and where the Indonesian Marinirs had threatened to shoot down civilian helicopters, to talk peace with the locals and coordinate humanitarian assistance. Turns out there is peace there now but I suspect it will be very tenuous and short lived because there is a profit motive for many parties in keeping it going. More light needs to be shined on it, and similar conflicts in Thailand, the Philippines, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc. There is a way to achieve peaceful co-existence with the Islamic world. It is not surrender, either. Colonial wars don't end with surrender, they end when we leave, and we can trade with people who don't accept our cultural products.

What have you done for peace, Mr. Sirota?

This is not going to be really helpful, but it is how I feel: Fuck you, David Sirota.

I am pissed, but I would still sit down for that beer and a frank chat on my home turf, and you can play catch up with me in doing outreach about how the caucus/convention processes and legislative processes work, out in the real world, outside of the "sexy wonk" echo chamber of your limited fan base. Or you can find me at Internext and AVN, trying to persuade people with really loyal fans to be come champions of peace and humanitarian causes. I may never have been called "the sexy, sexy wonk" by Al Franken on the radio, but I am known as "Seksi" in the porn universe. Someday, some of those models are going to start stirring up their fan base, encouraging them to make calls to Congress on the war, on censorship and free speech, etc.

I am not diplomatic enough to be a professional peace activist, but I will tell the truth when it can save lives and won't immediately cause me to be detained or imprisoned. And plenty of people doubt my purity, anyway, confusing peace with porn, but I can't just obsess about the things I've seen and been outraged by, I have to spend some time on the things I find beautiful, too. I like pretty girls with large natural breasts. I like dancing, but I also have to admit that I actually like helicopters and big ships - I have to admit that lots of military hardware and technology is also seductive... I like tropical agriculture, conserving biodiversity and the cultural knowledge and the actual, living people who know how to live in it where it is most dense.

I have too much sympathy for the military and the intelligence community to fit into every peace group. I even have some sympathy for Paul Wolfowitz, and a funny story about him in Banda Aceh.

I would rather be honest, and I would rather be involved more deeply in Erica Campbell (or similar) than the fucking antiwar movement. God bless them, actually, most of them are sincerely committed and have pretty good tactics for communicating ideas and dissent. But everyone has to what they can from where they are and with what they happen to have left...

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