I am having more computer problems this morning (with the spare laptop), so I want to get something up quickly while I still can.

First off, have any of you using McAfee security software noticed your PCs doing some inexplicable things lately? Like suddenly turning off for no apparent reason? I ask because this week I’ve had spontaneous shutdowns on two separate computers while McAfee was doing scans and updates in the background. That may be a coincidence, but I do wonder.

Second, yesterday Cindy Sheehan led a group of protesters who shouted down and stopped a House Democratic press conference on ethics reform. Rahm Emanuel, of whom I am wildly ambivalent, was the leader of the press conference.

“Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership can no longer tell us what is on the table,” Mrs. Sheehan said. “We are the ones that put them in power and they are not including the peace movement. … It needs to be at least included in the discussion.”

She demanded the elimination of funding for the war, an investigation and impeachment of President Bush for what she called “lies” to justify the war.

Mrs. Sheehan was leading about 75 others lobbying congressional offices when they happened upon the press conference. The Democrats were there to present new ethics proposals as part of the 100-hour agenda with which they plan to begin the House majority today.

I’d like to hear your opinions on this. I was in the middle of a commentary on this very matter when the PC shut down (and fortunately recovered), and I may still finish it, but you guys have your say first. Points to ponder:

I’m all for holding Dems’ feet to fire, and if, say, in 2006 Sheehan had accomplished a similar shutdown of a Republican press conference we might have applauded (or not; I don’t generally like disruptive tactics that shut down speech). Are we being hypocritical if we complain about yesterday’s protest?

Is it really fair to slam Nancy Pelosi for not being sufficiently antiwar after she went out on a limb to get Jack Murtha appointed House Majority Leader?

Is it really fair to slam Dems for not holding investigations when Joe Biden is about to begin hearings on the Iraq War? Which is not something they could have done until now.

Did Cindy Sheehan actually play a role in getting Dems elected in the recent midterm elections? I honestly don’t recall.

Finally, do you think protesting in this matter could play a productive part in ending the war, or might it be counter productive by making an antiwar position more politically untenable?

68 thoughts on “Glitches

  1. Slamming Pelosi may be a bit unfair, but Emanuel deserves it. Joe Biden holding hearings? Won’t help global warming.

    The “dirty hippie” attacks will come; it would be wise not to give them much resonance (ie, no tie-dyes). But the Beltway needs to be penetrated. Keep the pressure on. (If only Webb and Tester had instant seniority.)

    Yes, McAfee sucks, and so does Norton. If you must use Windows, do NOT use any MS-brand email client, or IE. That eliminates about 90% of the problem. If you’re on an always on (static IP) broadband connection at home, consider a standalone firewall box; or at least run a decent firewall. That way almost all the routes of spreading a virus are closed, and you can do with a far less intrusive anti-virus product.

  2. I heard the protestors disrupt the press confernce. On the bigger issue, I have said all along that the Iraq war has become a political football and both sides are posturing for 2008. The GOP wants the Democrats to stop Dumbya so McCain and others can claim that we would have won in Iraq except for the Democrats. For there part I have very little faith in the Democrats having the political courage to stand up to Dumbya on Iraq unless they get sufficent support from Republicans—and they might just get that. For their part the Democrats will act like a minority party on Iraq because they know the war is lost and they do not want to give Dumbya and the GOP any cover. I find Ms Sheehan increasingly annoying. She was treated shabbily by Dumbya but so have most Americans. Admittedly her loss was greater, but her protests do nothing at this point but galvanize what little base Dumbya has left. Her suggestion that she had any responsibility for the Democrats retaking Congress is hubris on a magnitude usually associated with Dumbya and his cronies.

  3. Interesting question. IMO, Dems were glad to ride to power on an anti stupid-war mood. Not everyone who voted Dem is anti-war, but they are against a stupid war; Iraq qualifies.

    Now that they are in, some Dems are through with the war. It served their purpose to get power, but they have no answers that will please everyone. As long as Iraq stays a mess, they can blame it on Bush. This is the same ‘Blame Clinton’ tactic that served Bush his entire first term.

    Bush is going to escalate with no strategy. He has fired the generals who told him; ‘no more troops’. Dems need to take a strong unified stance in Congress that – lacking any strategy that can provide success, they want US troops out of that civil war.

    Smart politics is not good statesmanship here. Democrats do not need to win the Executive branch in ’08 on the blood of thousands more GIs. Shehan is agitating in DC because she does not want other sons making the trip home in a body bag. I agree.

  4. I think it’s too early for Cindy Sheehan to do this type of protest. Let’s see what the Dems do in the first month-6 weeks. That track should tell us what to expect. If they’re dragging their feet, let’s hold their feet to the fire. I have mixed feelings about small demonstrations that do nothing but disrupt speech. I prefer the Women In Black approach.

    I got rid of Norton and Mcafee. It was too hard to get support for the wierd problems they presented. I’m now using roadrunner and I run spybot once a week. The only problem I’ve had is that my cursor freezes on a regular basis and I have to reboot. Pain in the A.

  5. At this particular point in time, I think Mrs Sheehan was out of line.

    We are all in for a ride the next few months, but we have to let the newly elected Congress get settled in, do the 100 hour agenda, and issue the subpoenas. From there, who knows where this all leads.

    Yesterday Sen Webb said, “There is no justification, in my view, as someone who supported the VietNam war, no justification strategically or otherwise for us to invade Iraq, decapitate a government and take over the responsibility to try to build/rebuild in a society in that part of the world. None.”

    And Mr Murtha acknowledged that even the redeployment of the troops would continue to cost $ 5 billion a month.

    So let’s insist that our leaders behave like grownups, and see what the bubble boy does. If he want to continue to be Anthony Fremont (Billy Mumy’s Twilight Zone character), then we should expect a million citizens on the National Mall on Memorial Day.

    Until then, if we want Democratic success, we have to pause the ranting. Of all the changes in the administration, the departure of Harriet Miers as White House Counsel signals that they are going to resist each and every attempt at oversight. Executive privilege will only take this so far.

    High crimes and misdemeanors are committed daily. If and when the political will to do something about it rises to the level of 17 Republican Senators voting Aye, well I expect streets full of citizens will play a part.

  6. I do not approve of shut downs except in response to being shut down. I would favor a wait and see approach.

    W is the Commander in Chief; he, not the Congress, is in Command. For him to be stopped, the Congress either has to shut off the funding (a blunt instrument indeed) or impeach and convict him. To do the latter, they have to find evidence of his crimes. That should not be hard, not with billions of USD stolen. My suggestion is to go after the theft. The wisdom of policy approaches can be debated; the wisdom of stealing a billion dollars cannot.

    If nothing is done on these fronts, then start holding feet to the fire, but not now.

  7. Oh yeah BTW; Why you intelligent people can’t figure out just how much better Macs are is beyond me.

  8. Why you intelligent people can’t figure out just how much better Macs are is beyond me.

    I’ve used Macs. They are not glitch-free, and I don’t see any difference in performance between the better PCs and Macs.

  9. Sheehan has the right to do this. I think her position is unimpeachable, and since she has been villified for her protests, she’s using her radioactive person to keep the debate alive.

    Look, if the right can tolerate Pat Robertson and Virgil Goode, why can’t the left tolerate Cindy Sheehan? After all, the game played by the right has always been (1) propose a completely outrageous plan; (2) let it percolate into the mainstream consciousness; (3) let “cooler heads” prevail (high Broderism and all that): (4) pass a slightly less outrageous plan: (5) let the pundits talk about the sense and sensibility of the republican leadership.

    I say use the in-your-face war protesters for that purpose. Don’t dismiss them, but take their (absolutely correct) ideas and come up with something that’s just a little bit more tolerable to the republicans, who will be appeased.

    It’s way past time for the Democratic party to be the party of courtesy.

  10. It’s all going to be game playing..subpoenas -invoke executive privilege and national security – to the courts – to the supreme court – rinse and repeat till you run down the clock.

    Iraq is not the problem, it’s one the symptoms.. Bush’s high crimes and misdemeanors are what the democrats have to openly denounce and aggressively pursue. Impeachment is the only course to correction
    It’s nice to put on airs of reasonablity with the appearance of wisdom and restraint, but it’s even better when you can assess a problem and attack its cause rather than its effects. Impeachment,whether successful or not is accountability, and thats what America needs most of all.

    Bush will continue to jerk off the American people until they can get the brains or the balls to put an end to it. Reason and dialog won’t work with Bush..Force will. Hearings about Haliburton’s war profiteering doesn’t address the problem.

  11. I switched from McAfee to Norton before finding the NOD32 antivirus system, which is superior in every way.

  12. Doug Hughes – we have a mercenary army. This is not Vietnam. The Democrats did not only win because of Iraq, it was also the corruption and immigration considerations. Where it was about Iraq, it wasn’t only those who want to see us get out of there, some just wanted the policy to change and for us to stop doing what we were doing since it wasn’t getting us anywhere. I think Cindy Sheehan is making things worse, is rallying the Bush base and should just shut up – other than submitting petitions and writing emails. She has gone into the “lunatic fringe”.

  13. merciless — the thing is, if you look at political protesting in America beginning with, say, the mid-1950s civil rights movement to the present day, seems to me there are two principles to keep in mind. One, protests are effective when they are good public relations and result in people learning about and being more sympathetic to your cause. Two, accomplishing this requires protesting in a way that makes your opposition look like bigger assholes than you are.

    Last year’s big marches for immigration reform on the whole did a good job of following both principles. The civil rights marches of the late 1950s and 1960s, especially as led by Dr. Martin Luther King, remain the gold standard of American protesting. The racists and bigots who heckled the marchers, and the redneck police with their attack dogs and fire hoses, were way bigger assholes than the marchers. MLK was, of course, inspired by Gandhi, who made the whole British Empire look like assholes. .

    Cindy Sheehan’s encampment in Crawford in August 2005 also followed these principles. Here was the peace mom sweating in the heat while his lordship Dubya passed by in his motorcade, snubbing her. She definitely made him look like the bigger asshole and gained sympathy for the antiwar movement. It was very effective.

    However, when protesters don’t understand these principles and apply them to their protesting, the protests can turn out to be counterproductive. During the Vietnam era Richard Nixon brilliantly played off the protests to his political advantage. Much of the public judged that the protesters were bigger assholes than Nixon, which took some doing, but there were just enough hotheaded, juvenile punks in the antiwar movement to make that possible.

    Then there’s the whole bad history with the Democrats and the New Left back in the 1970s, and I don’t really blame the older Democratic politicians from running like hell from any movement that reminds them of that. I’d do the same thing.

    I very much hope the Dems listen to the antiwar movement and respect their opinions, but at the same time I think Cindy Sheehan should refrain from self-aggrandizing grandstanding that could be counterproductive to the cause.

  14. I agree with you that Cindy Sheehan should play it smarter. Still, I am glad that there is continueing pressure to stop this absurd war. I protested before the invasion and feel that that was far from adequate. I also campaigned for Kerry…

    As for the computer issues, I have noticed strange occurences with oversees emails and others have told me of there woes. However, as a Mac user the problems you are describing are quite alien to me. My experience and everything I have read points towards the Mac being a more stable platform online.

  15. I think I generally agree with most of the comments here: Dems have been in control of Congress for, what, 2 days? Although I think it’s crucial that our voices be heard and that we put some pressure on Congress to Do Something, Pelosi’s already said publicly that she plans to fast track her agenda to beat the SotU (although Pelosi’s agenda is largely domestic). So let Congress do it’s job for a little while and see how it goes, then start protesting if nothing happens.

    Sheehan keeps losing points with me. What started as a worthwhile cause has turned into a circus. The disruption becomes the story, not the cause for which the proceedings were disrupted, which seems pretty counterproductive to me.

  16. I think Ms. Sheehan could benefit from a period of quiet reflection and reading, perhaps on the political savvy of folks like Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. King.

    One thing to note is how Pelosi, Reid, Murtha et al handle these uncalled-for “interactions.” Bush was a rude ass to Sheehan when she was calm and stoic; I think there are political points to be gained for patiently tolerating her, even as she becomes strident and annoying.

  17. After employing various anti-virus software and firewalls, I’ve simplified it to where I’m only running the sucky Microsoft software firewall that comes with XP plus a hardware firewall/router. I once had a better software firewall, but couldn’t figure out how to talk through it to my network printer. I no longer run anti-virus software because it slows down my system, particularly on startup. I am real careful about opening strange emails, and have had no problems with this stripped down security. My system boots real fast and I am happy.

    I didn’t see Cindy in action, and so my reaction from a distance is that she’s taken a very absolutist position (no funding for Iraq – which I mostly agree with) and is stamping her feet until she gets her way (childish). I am always put off by leftists who “demand” things.

  18. However, as a Mac user the problems you are describing are quite alien to me. My experience and everything I have read points towards the Mac being a more stable platform online.

    My newer laptop (a Compaq Presario) has given me near flawless performance since I bought it a year and a half ago, which is a pretty good run. What few problems that developed were easily fixed by me, which means they weren’t too serious. As for the Internet, I do find that Explorer can be glitchy, which is why I mostly use Firefox. Anyway, one crash in a year and a half doesn’t speak badly of PCs, IMO.

    PS — I should add that I’m running cable modem to a wireless router, so the Internet connection is always on.

  19. As much as I liked Firefox, I switched to IE 7 (just out) for the sake of my eyes. One of the touted improvements to IE is something they’ve done to render text more sharply, and I must say it was enough of an improvement for me to let go of FireFox.

  20. I don’t know the answers to the questions your posed, and frankly Ms.Sheehan makes me a bit nervous as the voice of anti war thinking..although given her loss I wonder who has more right but…

    I think it is years past time someone started to speak the truth about this war..the public needs to hear it before they can entertain it in their minds and I say given the results of the last election the public is ready to listen.Maybe not to Ms.Sheehan perhaps,sadly….but from someone.

    I think the voting public smelled a rat in Nov…maybe those who do not involve themselves in political affairs didn’t even know for sure what was rotten in denmark(pardon the cliche) but they knew damn well something was…for those people I think there is a sense of waiting for someone to get to the bottom of what has been going on…for them the jury is still out…their minds seem to be open to understanding what has happened.

    People here feel like they had the shell game played on them and they still have not figured out how they were scammed.. it is like watching people after their town was swept away by a tornado , they have this vacant look in their eyes as though they are trying to grapple with what has happened as they survey the wreck around them….

    While I think SOMEBODY had to say the first words to jump start the minds and conversations of Americans, the words are far to few …the public needs substance not more one liners…it is time for someone to step up and explain to the public how they were scammed, because they already know we were.

    I think it is important the public be educated VERY FAST in this department because bush is going to try to pull it again with Iran.I would bet most people don’t even realize bush is building up ships in the region…and recall when bush used funds for Afghanistan ILLEGALLY and without the consent of congress to begin funding Iraq?????What do you wanna bet he is doing the same thing with Iraq funds to prepare for Iran?Naw, it’s not like he has a record of this kind of dishonesty, so maybe I am wrong…..anyhow perhaps if the public was educated about this we could stop bush from doing it again…knowledge is power.

    Ms.Sheehan was as involved in making the change as any of us in the voting public were, and I think it is right to let them know that we voted for a change from the mess we had and their feet will be very much held to the fire to make it.I think the Dems should relax a bit and not be so afraid to rock the boat..the public is behind change.

    Ms.Sheehan will only matter to rush and insannity, the angry mob of voters has directed their anger at the GOP….they will have to stop complaining about george and ask “cindy who?”…..

    Let them ponder the idea in their minds then the left needs to re- enforce the comments with some substance…the substance will be the part that sticks….just my 2 cents worth….

  21. The cable modem means you need a firewall (the attack here is to make your system a spam relay, or proxy in serious attacks on other systems). A hardware firewall/router will give much better protection than a software firewall.

    Attacks that come through email or IE are more inclined to be malicious vandalism.

    Back to Sheehan: she’s answering Froomkin’s query – “where’s the outrage?”. Yes, she could’ve handled it better (it wasn’t planned), but since she attacked Dems, she’s not going to provoke much from the Right. Meanwhile, Ellison’s class act made them look like total assholes.

  22. Gordon — I’ll look into that. I’m not sure the problem was caused by McAfee or even the Internet, though. I’m about to go pick up the new(er) laptop from the repair shop, so maybe the techie there will know something.

  23. Talking strategy – I want to compare MLK and Malcolm X. In the civil rights movement. MLK is rightlkly regarded as the more powerful leader. But Malcolm X got a LOT of press and was regarded as dangerous, violent and subversive by the establishment. Throw in race riots and the black panthers and the establishment, which was entrenched against any change, finally (and not too gracefully) embraced reform in the MLK mold.

    My point – had there NOT been the radical fringe, would the sane position of MLK been adopted? Eventually. But they would have dragged their feet for a decade more.I would like it if the Dems felt that their majority in the Senate will be at risk in ’08 if they fail to show progress (not posturing) on the war. Performance inside the DC beltway is proportionate to uncertainty about the next election.

  24. Maha, I think the problem was my firewall…..I am so sorry for all the trouble…and I am so glad I didn’t have to change my name to spam I am 🙂

  25. I have no gripe with Cindy Shehan’s behavior. She came out swinging at the new congress, promising to hold their feet to the fire on day one. The time for playing nice is over. We are at the threshhold of a war which may well go global. Think about that…GLOBAL. By this I mean the U.S. has a battle group headed for the Persian Gulf right now. It appears the Mr. Bush intends to wack Iran, I’ve read several articles lately that the Govt. of Israel wants us to hit Iran A.S.A.P. .China is on the verge of investing Billions in Iran’s oil infrastructure.Russia is on the verge of building nuclear reactors in Iran. The Caspian basin is the prize in this global chess game.The Caspian basin is in the back yard of both Russia and China.There is far more at stake here than 3,000 dead soldiers. 3,000 will sound reasonable when compared to what WILL happed if Bush is not removed. Pelosi is on the record as saying no to impeachment. Folks, we are on a bus with a psychotic drunk driving it. Asking the driver to “please pull over” won’t cut it. Pelosi and company had better get busy, and by that I mean about Iraq and impeachment, NOT minimum wage, prescription drugs, or gay marriage.They would be wise to investigate and prosecute members of the A.E.I and P.N.A.C. Start digging around in their yard and you will find things of international crimes and treasonous behavior, not to mention corruption.
    If the runaway bus isn’t stopped, we won’t need any prescription drugs or minimum wage.No one will care about the handful of surviving gays.
    The news today is focusing on the fact that Bush is the commander of the armed forces and that Congress has few options to counter Bush’s will. BULLSHIT!!!
    Congress and THE PEOPLE can shut down government AND the economy. We’d better get ready to do it,with over 3,000 dead soldiers, over 20,000 maimed soldiers, and about three quarters of a million dead civilians in Iraq, the time of playing nice is over.
    I’m VERY happy Sheehan has the guts to take a stand, she has been doing it for a long time. I trust her judgement to escalate the retoric. If she is the “fringe”, so be it.She lost her son to this bullshit, something I doubt anyone commenting on this blog can relate to.
    To your statement about Rahm Emanuel, Maha….
    The dude creeps me out.Does he have dual citizenship? I bet he does.

  26. As someone who has spent a pretty long life at the uncomfortable intersection of nitty-gritty electoral party politics AND outsider protest movement building, I think we need both, though they can’t be expected to like each other. If the outsider wackos weren’t there pushing, our pols would get completely comfortable in their bubble. Pelosi, hailing from San Francisco, probably even understands this.

    Moreover, the outsiders who give justice and democracy a push are NEVER respectable in their time. Hell, there are folks who still think MLK was a terrorist. Bad protest behavior is defined by the political posture of the beholder. And if “civil disobedience” is too civil, it become theatrical obedience.

  27. Seems premature for Cindy to bite into the Democrats now, give them a month or two. “Timing is everything”” as the saying goes.” I’m not so sure the death of American troops should be used for political purposes even if it’s our own relatives, maybe bad taste at best. I didn’t attend our local vigil for that reason. By now most people know the numbers. It’s not even news anymore. I’ve read a lot of negative comments about her on blogs because of this. She seems to be unaware of the principle that using the same old routine over and over again even your most loyal supporters will become tried of hearing it. The majority of people seem to know the war is a disaster. Why keep repeating what they already know?

  28. Check the various configuration options in McAfee Antivirus. Disable everything you think you don’t really need like the firewall which doesn’t really do much. A firewall may sound nifty but no firewall in Windows is really very effect and not worth the problems since any hacker over 10 years old can easily crack it.

  29. “why keep repeating what they already know”
    The best reason is the squeeky wheel gets the grease. Just because everyone knows the problem, it doesn’t mean anyone will act to fix it. Look, we’re not talking about violent protests or firebombs, we’re talking about “tough love”. The new Congress can get aggressive with this out of control executive branch, or just go back home and send someone that will.An old foreman I used to work for put it simply, “If you don’t want to do your job, just go home!”
    Don’t loose sight of the fact that the President cares little for the rule of law and considers himself the boss of all the world.
    The Democrats have the power, I’m quite sure that when they get serious a number of patriotic (truly patriotic) Republicans will join them.

  30. Mrs. Sheehan’s demonstration would, in the long run, have been far more effective if she and her group had quietly stood holding signs expressing their various issues. The attending media would have given her ample exposure.

    Years ago I was trained in how to conduct one’s self when participating in a non-violent demonstration ala Gandhi. The guide lines for how to behave were very specific. Foreinstance, if you are, say, blocking an entrance and the police ask you to get up, you get up. Going limp so that you have to be carried away is, according to Gandhi, a violent act on your part. I would call Mrs. Sheehan’s behavior in this instance violent.

    Gandhi believed, as did King I think, that non-violent demonstrations accomplish far more in the long run than violent ones. Of course, Mrs. Sheehan may have a different agenda.

  31. With all due respect Felicity Smith,Sheehan’s demonstration was VERY sucessful. She kicked them squarely in the back side .I believe this evening’s news shows she got some bang for her buck. Sheehan’s demonstration was assertive, NOT violent.
    Sheehan should be applauded, she is taking the middle path, non violent, yet not limp wristed.

  32. I think Cindy Sheehan has a right to her actions.
    The important thing is that she be responded to. Not snubbed like Dumbya did. I read her statement to be along this line: Listen to me! she is saying.

  33. There is an American Indian saying about not judging a person until you have walked a mile in his/her moccasins. I have no children; so, I have no clue what it is like to be a mother. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I had a child and he was killed in a war based on lies and waged only for the needs of a political campaign. I think Cindy keeps the lack of compassion of W in the news and that is important. But, I won’t sit in judgment of Cindy as to what is right or wrong for her or whether her actions are right or wrong for the cause..

    I believe that the right has gotten their control these past years by controlling the news to their skewed point of view and the left did not speak up early enough to keep the radical right from grabbing control of this country. The left is doing better with blogs that are intelligent, literate, and based on facts such as Maha’s blog and others–too numerous to name. I agree with janinsanfran that we need both types of people.

    I do not trust the Dems to show the political courage needed right now without constant reminders from us, including Cindy. And, as Glenn Greenwald has written many times about answering all attacks and quickly, we should not go back to being silent as during the period these rightwingnuts drowned out the “so-called” liberal press and brainwashed too much of America and the no-longer liberal press. Taking back our country cannot be done by Maha alone, or me, or Glenn, etc. We all need to contribute to this cause. Cindy makes her contribution as she believes she needs to and that is good enough for me. It leaves Maha free to contribute through her blog and me to contribute in my way. Presently, I have some friends who don’t like to visit me any more because I put up pictures of dead, maimed, or frightened Iraqi children crying with blood all over them in various places of my apartment. I may be childless; but, I do know what a precious resource children are–all children, not just American children. It is just so sad when you see what is happening to the children everywhere because of this wrong-headed war.

  34. I won’t sit in judgment of Cindy as to what is right or wrong for her or whether her actions are right or wrong for the cause.

    I can’t fault her morality, and I agree with her cause. The question is, are her tactics doing the cause more harm than good? For that matter, are her tactics doing herself more harm than good?.

  35. Sheehan’s protest was successful in triggering this discourse, for one thing. Because of temptations to be “pragmatic,” the Democrats need to feel the heat, and Sheehan is providing some…. one more grain of sand on the scale. Being shouted down helps burst their comfort bubble. This serves as a healthy reminder that they govern with consent.

    I use a Mac partly because I was frustrated with viruses.

  36. I agree with Cindy as I am sick of Washington telling us what the agenda is , am sick of their agenda.
    Frankly protest is of little value but getting into a news conference to remind them at the start that we are watching and expect results is not a bad idea.

  37. The question is, are her tactics doing the cause more harm than good?

    The get out of Iraq./anti-war scale has been tipped past the point where it could ever return back to balance or weigh in favor of the war mongers. 7 out of 10 people know that Iraq is a lost cause, and Cindy Sheehan can’t screw up big enough to reverse that trend.
    Whether she’s harming herself more that helping herself is a question that can’t be answered by anybody but herself.. But my guess would be she’s healing by giving meaning and value to her sons life/ death.

    Bush lied and deceived our Nation to indulge a neocon fantasy..The 3000+ soldiers who have died so far didn’t die to protect or defend the United States..they died in vain so that Bush could consolidate political power, and to glory in his own ego as a liberator/warrior.

  38. Sheehan is sucessful because she rattled their cages.According to the comments on this blog, approx 2/3 of us “lefties” disagree with her tactic.I happen to think her timing is dead on.Time will tell.
    The bear is in our camp , better to bang on the pots and pans than to lie in our tents in fear. We are four years into the quagmire, spending millions per hour, killing and maiming, and threatening other countries as our allies walk away.
    Sheehan realizes we are governed by the crimimally insane and the opposition party bows to the the lobby of a foreign government that wants war with Iran next.
    I don’t know if Sheehan is unhinged, unplugged, or uncorked, but she is unleashed and apparently unstoppable.

  39. Sheehan’s protest was successful in triggering this discourse, for one thing. Because of temptations to be “pragmatic,” the Democrats need to feel the heat, and Sheehan is providing some…. one more grain of sand on the scale. Being shouted down helps burst their comfort bubble. This serves as a healthy reminder that they govern with consent.

    “This discourse” isn’t advancing the cause of ending the war, however, because as near as I can tell everyone participating was already in favor of ending the war.

    The consent thing works both ways. Yesterday Pelosi and Reid sent a letter to Bush opposing the surge, and telling him it is time to end the war, and the composition of that letter surely has been in the works for a few days. Joe Biden is about to start hearings on the war, and that’s been in the works since the midterm elections. In other words, many Dems in Washington are already responding to the antiwar message and doing what we asked them to do.

    A lot of people worked really hard to elect a Democratic majority in the Senate. Even more, a lot of people worked hard to establish credibility with the Dems that we (meaning lefties against the war) are willing to work with party politics and are not just a bunch of teenage New Left-style flamethrowers. This means we not only help them get elected, but that we have their backs and support them in media and other public discourse AS LONG AS THEY ARE RESPONDING TO OUR AGENDA. Think positive reinforcement. That’s the only way the Dems will ever be reformed to becoming a reliably progressive party.

    If the Dems are going to be slammed even if they are trying to do the right thing, why wouldn’t they just look at us and say, the hell with you?

    Sheehan’s grandstanding tactics are much like the New Left tactics that broke up the New Deal coalition and ripped the soul out of the Democratic Party many years ago. Let’s not repeat the same damn mistakes now.

    On the other hand, there’s a new freshman House Dem named Nancy Boyda who actually said this on ABC News:

    Gibson: Would you vote in favor of money to support another 20,000 to 40,000 troops in Iraq?

    Boyda: I think we’re going to vote to support what the commander in chief and head of military asks to do. At least, I am certainly going to vote to support it.

    Gibson: If he wants the surge, he’ll get it.

    Boyda: Yes.… He is the commander in chief, Charlie. We don’t get that choice. Congress doesn’t make that decision.

    Boyda needs to be made seriously uncomfortable. If Sheehan and her group had shouted down Boyda because of what she said, then that would have made some sense. But screaming at Dems just because you stumble onto a group of ’em is stupid, counterproductive grandstanding. It’s not about ending the war, it’s about gratifying Cindy Sheehan’s ego.

  40. I agree with “Pollyblog” that if it’s possible, more overt shout-em-down forms of protest against the dems should be pared back, at least for a short while. (at least till, I dunno, the end of February?) On the other hand, there’s out-to-lunch deferentialness like Boyda’s occuring now, and as you point out it needs definitely a response of some kind.

    When I see Cindy Sheehan still doing what’s she’s always done I think of the (“physiology 101”)principle of ennervation(?), wherein if you keep hitting the same nerve ending, over and over, in the same way, eventually the nerve goes a bit numb to the stimuli.

    Now that Sheehan has attained a certain degree of stature in the antiwar/progressive community, maybe people are less likely to tune her out as just another 5-10 seconds of white noise in a typical harried day of work and kids and school and tv and radio and commuting etc,

    if she takes that stature and starts to use it to communicate in different ways. In February of 2003 we had a massive antiwar demonstration in DC (and elsewhere); maybe it’s time for another one.

    I know that has one slated for the 27th. (I wish they’d stop having these demonstrations on weekends when people are less likely to pay attention to the news, but what do I know…)

    I imagine that if she stayed out of the spotlight for a while then appeared on TV asking people to attend such a demonstration, that would be something different– not just the white noise of Cindy Sheehan, shouting, press conference…blah blah…change the channel..

    Nevertheless, I don’t want to be dismissive of Sheehan. I know money for such an ad buy doesn’t grow on trees, and I wonder if all sorts of people have come into her orbit trying to pull her in this direction and that, hither and yon, and, possibly overwhelmed, she’s decided to stick with what she knows best

  41. Jonathan — Thank you for your comments. I don’t necessarily think Sheehan should stay out of the spotlight, but I do think she needs to re-think her tactics in the light of changing realities. Sometimes activists get stuck in an “us versus the establishment” mode and forget that the ultimate goal (if you want to actually effect change and not just bitch about it) is to either become the new establishment or, at least, forge a working relationship with the old establishment. And you don’t forge a working relationship with people if you are still screaming at them about how awful they are after they’ve begun to move in your direction.

    If you go back and look at the really successful agitators, like MLK, Gandhi, and even Frederick Douglass, you see that they were willing to work with people who weren’t perfect but at least were trying.

  42. If the Dems are going to be slammed even if they are trying to do the right thing, why wouldn’t they just look at us and say, the hell with you?

    Hear, hear!

    Choosing the proper target, venue, method and timing are keys to any sort of political protest. Cindy Sheehan was spot-on originally, starting up the peace camp at Crawford. She was running on grief and a desire for justice then. She’s been too much in the limelight since, and in that time never developed a sense of perspective. She’s not this war’s only grieving parent; she’s not this war’s only ardent protester. At the moment, she just happens to be the loudest and most inopportune.

  43. Joanr16 – Sheehan seems “loudest” because the mass media has latched on to her; their medium thrives on symbols. She shouldn’t be blamed for this. She was joined by 75 others chanting:

    Bring the Troops Home, Now.”

    She does have “perspective,” supporting the priorities of the Democratic 100 hours, and recognizing that the cost of our Country’s militarization creates structural impediments to achieving tthose domestic priorities.

    They “targeted” Rep. Rham Emanuel; Emanuel generally withheld support from candidates that were highly vocal against the Iraq war, here coaching a war veteran congressional candidate:

    REP. ROM EMANUEL: I don’t want you tonight on TV to be angry.

    ERIC MASSA: Alright.

    REP. ROM EMANUEL: Okay, just take it down a notch.

    ERIC MASSA: Okay.
    Source: “Taking the Hill” documentary.

    The “timing” was on-the-mark: Day-one of the new Democratic Congress; like white on rice, the peace and justice movement is holding the newly elected leaders accountable. Having worked on the hill, and in presently in government, a loud constituency can be very helpful in creating vital political momentum, even if it is somewhat disruptive (Unfortunately, grassroots organizations have only blunt instruments with which to work).

    Interview of Sheehan by Amy Goodman the day following the demonstration.

  44. I may not get this comment through… away from home and using someone else’s computer.
    I very much dislike political strategists trying to impose their framework upon persons like Sheehan who have every right to be expressing themselves from their passions. Passion and heart issues arise spontaneously and are the energy behind the protests which happen to express those passions.
    I say, both are important, politcal strategies and passionate protests. But we become leftist rovians if we simply confuse the two in a way that co-opts our deepest feelings and the need to express those feeling into some intellectual consideration about politics.

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