Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan Resigns

From CNN's coverage:

Anti-War Mom Cindy Sheehan Gives Up Her Protest

(CNN) -- Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared Monday she was walking away from the peace movement.
She said her son died "for nothing."

Sheehan achieved national attention when she camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, throughout August 2005 to demand a meeting with the president over her son's death.

While Bush ignored her, the vigil made her one of the most prominent figures among opponents of the war.

But in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.
She wrote that she is disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad. His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace.

But in Monday's 1,200-word letter, titled, "Good Riddance Attention Whore," Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing."

"I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful," she wrote. "Casey died for a country which 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.

"It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years, and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."

Cindy Sheehan's sister, DeDe Miller, told CNN that the group would continue working for humanitarian causes, but drop its involvement in the anti-war movement. As for her sister's letter, Miller said, "She cried for quite a bit after writing it."

Sheehan warned that the United States was becoming "a fascist corporate wasteland," and that onetime allies among Bush's Democratic opposition turned on her when she began trying to hold them accountable for bringing the 4-year-old war to a close.

In the meantime, she said her antiwar activism had cost her her marriage, that she had put the survivor's benefits paid for her son's death and all her speaking and book fees into the cause and that she now owed extensive medical bills.

"I am going to take whatever I have left and go home," she wrote. "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."

The full transcript of Sheehan's letter can be found here.

It is not at all surprising that CNN, pawn of the Democratic party that it is, would make the smallest possible reference to this section of her letter, near the top:

...I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

No matter how much I may have disagreed with Ms. Sheehan's stance, I could never find it in my heart to have any kind of rancor for her. A grieving mother will naturally and properly rail against that which killed her son, and a passionate one will move mountains to change it. I feel sad for her, and fervently admire her steadfastness in the face of a political system that has long since (and unfortunately) outgrown grassroots movements such as hers.

Now Cindy Sheehan know what many of us have known all along: that she was a tool of the Democratic party, though not at all by her own doing. As soon as she became politically inconvenient, they were quick to remove her from the spotlight as quietly as possible.

It is appropriate that her letter was entitled "Good Riddance Attention Whore." Cindy Sheehan just found the cabfare the Democratic party left on the dresser two years ago.

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  • At 5/29/2007 3:39 PM , Blogger Wayne Conners said...

    So very sad, in so many ways. I think it's a shame the way she was treated by both sides. It wouldn't have hurt W one bit to have talked with her for 10 minutes.

    She should have been honored and respected by both parties, and instead she was disrespected by both.

    She's right that this war has become an issue for all sides.

    On a slightly-related topic, I find it interesting that lots of people seem to think that if you're against the war, this means that somehow you don't support the troops.

    How ridiculous is that?

    You can think that the war is an unnecessary waste of young American and Iraqi lives, and still honor the troops for their bravery, sacrifice and commitment.

    You can think that the people who made the decisions that sent those soldiers to Iraq did so recklessly and for absolutely the wrong reasons, and still respect the fathers and sons and brothers and sisters and daughters who followed orders and went, because that is their commitment and their training.

    How much more support can you give the troops than by wanting them to come home safe and sound and soon?

    You can love your country and still be tired of reading about how many kids were blown up by an IED today, and wanting it to end.

  • At 5/29/2007 7:06 PM , Blogger Scott Wichmann said...

    I think her column is timely, as we all have had enough of today's version of the democratic party. I thank her for speaking her mind, and for standing up to say what many of us already feel.

    and the beat goes on...

  • At 5/29/2007 9:04 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Wayne remarks, "It wouldn't have hurt W one bit to have talked with her for 10 minutes."

    That is demonstrably true, since Cindy Sheehan had spoken privately with President Bush some weeks before she camped out and demanded another audience. Her insistence that she be granted access to the Commander-in-Chief at will was one of the more surreal parts of her career as an activist.

  • At 5/30/2007 8:40 AM , Blogger Wayne Conners said...

    I didn't know that...thanks for the information.

  • At 5/30/2007 4:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bush lied.
    Her child died for nothing.
    She reacted.
    You want to talk about surreal? This presidency embodies that word.

    Quite frankly, I don't see anything wrong with someone trying to hold this organization accountable for a serious manipulation of the American people. I'm glad for her efforts. And she deserves a rest.

  • At 5/30/2007 11:28 PM , Blogger Frank Creasy said...

    I have to say the whole "Bush lied" or "When Clinton lied nobody died" mantra is pretty tired and SO naive at this point. Whether you opposed the war from the beginning (many Dems did not and voted for action) or supported it (and still do, or don't) is not really relevant.

    There's lots of history that can't be covered in a posting such as this, but the Iraq WMD situation was not unlike the military intelligence regarding the former Soviet Union. As a veteran who had top secret clearance during the waning years of the Cold War, I can tell you that ALL intelligence pointed to the fact that the Soviets possessed the means to destroy Western civilization and rule the world. The truth, we now know, was a far cry from that. So it was with Iraq, and with many totalitarian regimes - getting reliable intelligence is a tricky proposition because the truth has multiple versions even among the top political insiders! It wasn't just American military intelligence, either...many other countries came to the same conclusion.

    Casey Sheehan died for nothing? Well, there's been no terrorist attack within our borders since 9/11. Coincidence? I don't think so, and many military servicemen and women don't either. And that has a direct impact on our economy...which is, in fact, the TRUE target of terrorism. They can't blow us all up, and they know that. It's enough to destroy our way of life, and they know that VERY well indeed (though the ignoble Ms. Sheehan would call it a "fascist corporate wasteland". Sure, one in which those fascist corporate entities force people to take jobs for which they applied and were hired over other candidates...good example of fascism there, Cindy, you really know your stuff.)

    Take issue with the war and the president - okay. But if you go off on a two-year rant and disrespect your dead child who wore his country's uniform proudly, then you'll sure get no respect from me. You'll earn my disdain and disgust. Cindy Sheehan has done that in spades, and I can assure you millions like me are out there. If they're too busy working jobs and contributing to this society to take much interest in someone as irrelevant as Cindy Sheehan, don't take their silence as consent. Take it simply as indifference.

  • At 5/31/2007 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Frank, my friend.
    You're right about the mantra, but I wasn't citing that. I was just trying to remember the facts as Cindy Sheehan does. And speaking of naive, 'Intelligence' isn't really the issue. Accountability is. At a time when the United States was screaming for blood, the president and his administration put forward that they had 'hard, irrefutable evidence' (without ever presenting it) that Hussein had massively destructive weapons and was in kahootz with Al Quaeda. He and Rumsfeld even said they knew exactly where those weapons and laboratories were. "And we'll find more weapons as time goes on, But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." WP, May 31, 2003.
    Powell backing them sealed the deal. Now, you have one of two choices here: 1. We had bad intelligence. 2. We needed to establish a military presence in the middle east and lied about our interests.

    Either way, the president is accountable for his actions, and by presenting false information to justify an invasion of a country is against the law, not to mention really, really infuriating after your kid just got shot in said war. Maybe this wouldn't be such an issue if we weren't still there. Incidentally, there were no terrorists coming out of Iraq until after our invasion. And most of the Al Quaeda operatives that are there now aren't from Iraq either. So what does your cause and effect argument about no more 9/11's defend, other than the fact that Iraq is simply now more populated with Americans? If anything, you're calling attention to the fact that we are simply drawing fire from our borders by giving Al Quaeda living targets on their own soil.
    Also, wouldn't you say it's naive (nay, hypocrtical) to justify defending our precious economy by starting a multi-billion dollar war? Wait, could that mean we have other interests in mind? The economy we are currently defending is not behind our borders at home...
    All that aside though, it's unfortunate that things spun out of control in the way they did for Cindy. As a mother (or any parent) she took two FACTS and put them together to find some sense. One: her son was killed in battle. Two: The battle he was fighting for was founded on a lie/bad information. These two nuggets combined, I think, would stir anyone to call the powers that be into question. Yeah, it got pretty messy, but I really don't think she disrespected her son by asking the country that her son died for to be accountable for policies that have since killed thousands more Americans and scores of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
    I guess what I'm responding is your comment about irrelevance. I suppose that's all a matter of perspective. But things sure seem more relevant when they effect us directly. And this presidency does just that. For some reason, however, noone seems to take notice that our reasons for this whole war has changed several times: from supplanting a dangerous man with dangerous weapons, to liberating Iraqis, to winning the war on terror, to defending liberty, to making Chicken Lorraine, to...
    And that's what she was calling out. What's more American than dissent?

  • At 5/31/2007 3:33 PM , Blogger Scott Wichmann said...

    Saddam Hussein would never, ever give
    nuclear weapons to Islamic extremists
    if he had such weapons, which he didn't. The man was so fixated on keeping control of his country that there would be no way in hell he would ever jeopardize that control by allowing unpredictable rogue elements like Al-Qaeda or Shia groups loyal to Iran to pose a direct threat to his power position. It simply makes no sense... Absolutely none, and it boggles the mind that those reasons for going to war were swallowed hook line & sinker by average Americans who know little or nothing about the historical relationships between different religious factions in Iraq & the larger middle east.

    Furthermore, Saddam had no weapons nor even the capability to make those weapons. No one even remotely scrutinized Bush's endorsement of the claim that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack "in less than 45 minutes after the order being given."

    "An attack against whom?"

    "Ostensibly the Unites States mainland, of course. Wow, scaaary. I'm the only one that can protect you, and your democratic representatives in Congress and the senate are too afraid to look like pussies to make a critical inquiry,
    so why not jump on board too, Scotty??"

    "But, well, wait-- how exactly would Saddam physically deliver this deathblow in under 45 minutes??"

    "Umm... he just... CAN. It's complicated. Here, let me mention 9/11 again, just to scare the shit out of you. Now stop asking questions about the lack of evidence linking saddam and Al-qaeda. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. You're a funny feller, scotty, why don't you just keep entertainin' folks and leave the business of running the country to serious career politicians like Mr. Reagan and Fred Thompson."

    "But wait, those guys are actors too-- Hey, isn't that Dick Cheney turning a crank really fast?? Toto, come out of there!!"

    I cannot shout it to the heavens loud enough:

    "What a load of bullshit!!"

    The supposed documents supporting the Niger Uranium claim which were supposed to provide a foundation for the infamous '16 words' in the 2003 SOTU turned out to be fraudulent.

    "Who fabricated them??"

    "Umm... evildoers... uhh... scotty, look-- it's complicated, and by the way, Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent, chew on that for awhile, willya??"

    "Wait, did you just out a CIA agent who was working on WMD? I thought we were concerned about WMD-- why did you ruin the whole intel network she built if you're so concerned about WMD-- I mean, to the casual observer or the layman, that seems counter-intuitive and, I dunno, TREASONOUS??"

    "Hey, it wasn't my fault, it was common knowledge. We stand behind all of our brave men and women in the field as long as they're republicans and loyal kool-aid drinkers. (OH YEAH!!!) Now stop asking me these questions!! It's complicated, son, here's a yelow magnet sticker for your car. It was mad e in China, but who gives a shit. Now Go away!!"

    The PNAC and the Bush administration are crooks and liars.

    I believe that's what cindy sheehan was saying, and I wholeheartedly agree.

    I would strongly dispute the claim that the intelligence we had on Iraq was in any way similar USSR weapons-making intelligence. The USSR would never allow weapons inspectors to take a full and accurate inventory of their capability. Spy flights were conducted throught the greatest of difficulty, and the best we could do was concentrate on building our Nuclear deterrent and flex our muscle hoping that they would try to keep up. It eventually killed their economy and Reagan's administration can take all the credit it deserves for ending the cold war through a poker-faced staring contest.

    But Iraq is a lot different. I mean, we were bombing the country for almost ten years straight after
    gulf war I, surely we had better intel on surface conditions and changing patterns of movement in Iraq than cold war Russia. Ask Hans Blix. Ask Ray McGovern.

    And, on the off-chance that Iraq HAD such weapons, how would that have affected our game-plan going in? Surely we wouldn't launch a pre-emptive air and ground assault against a nuclear-armed country led by a madman who can deliver horrific retribution in "Less than 45 minutes." Tactically speaking, We would surely be held in check by what would be an Iraqi nuclear deterrent, no? The fact that we went in so recklessly, pulling weapons inspectors out so we could invade, speaks volumes about the eagerness of this administration to go to war no matter what the actual facts were. They cherry-picked intel that supported their claims, and perhaps most disatrously, closed their ears to any voice which said anything close to, "In the aftermath, you will foment a sectarian conflict which will be explosive in nature and which will strengthen the position of Iran."

    The Administration clearly made a mess of things in Iraq. We see it every day. They also have hung a recruitment poster for Al-Qaeda, since the US seems to endorse the Shia majority which the Al-qaeda-sympathetic Sunni minority
    can point to and say, "See? We told you, the western devils support the
    blasphemous Shia infidels!! they are no only in the Holy Land (Saudi arabia) but the crusaders are now here to kill us in Iraq!! Shia devils & US Crusaers oh my!! The only way to serve Allah is to kill them both!!" The same goes for the Shia-- they can kill americans and Sunnis and do the work of Allah & Iran by proxy.

    "Nice going, Mr president. Pretty soon we will be fighting them there AND here, and the only thing you will have left us is the hollowed-out husk of a federal government whose treasury you emptied to make your corporate pals richer while borrowing more and more scratch from China each day. We don't have a strongly-funded or co-ordinated emergency response system, and no national guard units left stateside. Given your track record with regard to responding the emergencies, What hope is there for the future??"

    "Well, scotty, you can always rely on my main faith-base initiative."

    "really, Mr. president?? What's that??"

    "Pray for help."


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