Monday, November 28, 2005

Rogue Voice December Edition

The third edition of The Rogue Voice is nearly completed. We go to press Monday and will be on the stands Thursday, Dec. 1 (look for our new polished black racks with the Rogue Voice logo).

It's hard to account for the focus and tone of each issue as it comes out. Our debut edition was a mish-mash resulting from first-time jitters, and number two contained a wonderful quality of pathos (although a few detractors found it depressing), and the forthcoming third edition is hugely political. We didn't plan these things. They simply happened.

Our only criteria has been literate, readable stories you'd want to read with a glass of wine, or with whatever medicine suits you best in those special quiet moments when you want to get away.

What's clear is that we're a bit quirky, maybe unorganized, but fully devoted to quality material. We're also hoping to encourage dialog among those who may disagree.

For example, the December edition's lead story by Jacqueline Marcus focuses on the government's case against John Walker Lindh. Is he a traitor or a scapegoat? Marcus makes it clear that the government was looking for someone to blame amid the smoldering ruins of 911. Have we delivered justice to the real perpetrators of that horrible crime? And does Lindh really deserve 20 years of prison time?

Then, Dr. Steven J. Sainsbury writes a compelling argument in defense of the death penalty, noting that Stanley Tookie Williams' execution scheduled for Dec. 13 will come not a day too soon. Once dead, he'll never hurt another soul again, Sainsbury says.

Miguel Rivera, in a piece titled, "The racial divide," inspired by Bill Cosby's controversial remarks of blacks taking responsibility for themselves, points out that violence is more likely to occur within one's own community than to come from outside. It's pointless, therefore, to blame others for the harm and injustice we do to ourselves.

The overall slant of this edition, though, tilts heavily to the political left of the spectrum with a key piece by West Virginia author Charles Sullivan, "Iron-fisted America;" my own "War talk" editor's rant which praises Jack Murtha for having the cajones to speak his mind; and Dell Franklin's "Sharing the misery," a critique of the "affluent" generation's refusal to partake in the sacrifices we all make to share in the burden of living.

We hope you enjoy our next edition and look forward to hearing your comments. Please eat and drink responsibly this weekend, and have a great holiday.

Editor's Rant for the December 2005:

Nobody Wants To Hear It, But It’s Time We Had A Conversation

By Stacey Warde

As we go to press, the House of Representatives is in an uproar, the Bush administration is on the defensive and Dick Cheney is still delusional about ties between Saddam Hussein and 911.

These things happen.

The mighty and the deranged fall, and--we can only hope--better, wiser men and women will take their places.

The mighty arrogant, of course, go to hell. And by the time they’re gone, things have gotten so bad that anyone who
replaces them--wise or otherwise--will be an improvement.

Don’t expect many esteemed wise or better leaders to arise from the centrist Democrats who continue to fail miserably at usurping conservative values from Republicans.

They can’t seem to locate themselves on the values map, so they’ve been mimicking their counterparts across the aisle in Washington, showing little of their own initiative, originality, creativity or chutzpa. They haven’t found it in themselves to articulate their own or their party’s values, let alone come up with any interesting talking points or compelling and worthy legislation.

Recently, however, Congressman Jack Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who’s managed quite well to extol conservative and sensible values, won both esteem and scorn in the House for being a much better, wiser politician than any who’s spoken in a long, long time.

Murtha, a decorated war vet, stood up in his formidable Marine Corp bearing and said, it’s time to bring the troops back home from Iraq. Bring them home, he said, not tomorrow or 10 years from now--but now.

Both Democrats and Republicans must have freaked when they first heard it. They’re so used to falling into lockstep with Bush that no one’s ever ventured a disagreement, or suggested charting a new course in the war on terror. We’ve lacked a good fight like this in Congress far too long.

We haven’t had much worthy debate or discussion in the nation’s highest offices in nearly six years. It’s about time someone stood and said, “Enough.”

Republicans, of course, initially called into question Murtha’s character, arguing that only cowards cut and run. Democrats responded angrily, demanding apologies, and finally, if only haltingly, rising to the occasion of a challenge. Reports from Washington said that during the heated debate House Democrats “surged” toward Republicans, calling into play images of soccer fans on the verge of rioting.

It’s great stuff, really, filled with drama, and a shift toward addressing and hashing out some substantive issues. The White House, meanwhile, has toned down its criticism of Murtha, agreeing that yes, indeed, he’s a real patriot, and someone who can’t be written off as another quack-mouthed liberal, but he’s wrong about withdrawal.

The whole debate thing has taken interesting turns, with Democrats rising in defense of Murtha’s impugned character, and Republicans reminding the nation that public discourse, even high-profile disagreement, is healthy in a democracy, which is a far cry from the “yer either fer us or agin’ us” post-911 rhetoric of George W. Bush.

Debate such as this ought to have occurred long before Congress gave away its power to wage war way back in 2002, turning over its war powers to the executive branch — one that, as it turns out, has had difficulty reading intelligence reports. But that’s another story. Simply stated, the Democrats have been a bunch of pussies--until now.

Finally, at least some members of the party have demonstrated enough courage to voice what a majority of Americans have known from the beginning: The Bush administration, whether knowingly or unknowingly, misled the nation in its call to arms against Iraq.

It was an unnecessarily costly and fatal mistake that could easily have been avoided had Congress initially engaged in a lively debate on the merits of such a war. From the start, the war against Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction, fighting terrorism, or spreading democracy. It had everything to do with an administration
run amok, and no one stood in the gap to oppose it.

The problem with the Democrats, and this whole country, in fact, is that in the shadow of 911 we gave up our capacity for wrangling over competing ideas, the basis of democratic governance. We didn’t challenge, for example, the faulty theses for staging a preemptive war that had little or no basis in fact.

The rationale for war was presented as a slam-dunk to the American people, and even to the United Nations, and nary a Democrat uttered a single protest.

And it’s not as though there weren’t any signals along the way, on the road to Baghdad, to warn us that this was going to be a terrible mistake. Any armchair analyst could have seen the case for war with Iraq was bogus from the start.

Who couldn’t have felt badly for Colin Powell, for example, when he tried to convince the United Nations and the world of the urgency to take action against Saddam Hussein as Powell unveiled cartoonish drawings of alleged mobile chemical-biological units that the Iraqis supposedly kept in their arsenal and which was one example of several
terrifyingly immediate threats Iraq posed to this country and the world?

The cartoons suggested loudly and clearly that intelligence for this supposed threat rested on thin evidence. Where were the satellite images? Where was the hard evidence for weapons of mass destruction?

There wasn’t any. Even an unqualified analyst could have told us that. But we were too spellbound by the phantasmagoria of the Bush administration’s call to arms to question the source of these fantastic claims, a guy codenamed, of all things, “Curveball.”

Meanwhile, when it became clear that the U.S. was determined to strike Saddam Hussein, an estimated 10 million citizens worldwide marched in protest. Where were the voices of dissent in Congress? They, too, it appears, were fooled by faulty intelligence, and too absurdly kowtowed by the administration’s misbegotten crusade to liberate the world from a tyrant instead of bringing terrorists to justice.

Murtha’s right, we need to get the hell out of Iraq, reposition our combat troops where they can be most effective against terrorism, and return to the tradition of healthy debate in our public and political discourse.

Stacey Warde is the editor of The Rogue Voice, an independent monthly publication on the Central Coast of California. He can be reached at stacey warde at roguevoice dot com.

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