Battling the Right Wingnuts

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by Ed Kociela

Among my loyal readers is a guy named Jack, who frequently sends me those bogus e-mails about all the “good things” the “liberal media” refuses to print about what’s “really” going on in Iraq.

He's sent pictures of soldiers giving candy to Iraqi kids; photos of troops sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner as their Commander in Chief carries around a plastic turkey with plastic trimmings for a plastic international photo op; stories of how many schools have been built; and how this newfangled Iraqi democracy is “working.”

It’s necessary, he tells me, to fight ‘em over there so we don’t have to fight ‘em here.

Now, the fact that Jack has a computer and is able to use e-mail means he has at the very least enough motor skills to qualify as a human, but I don’t think he should be allowed to amble down the street.

His most recent missive is a rehash of the things he’s written over the years, with a “Did You Know?” headline and tagged with:

“OF COURSE WE DIDN'T KNOW! WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW? OUR MEDIA WOULDN'T TELL US!

“Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag-burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the presidential motorcades."

“Tragically, the lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes: it is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States, thus minimizing consequent support, and it is intended to discourage American citizens."

“Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense Web site.”

I couldn’t overcome the urge to send Jack my own “Did You Know?” list that went as follows:

Did you know that 58 percent of the American public wishes the Bush presidency was over?

Did you know that only 30 percent of Americans give Bush a favorable rating as president?

Did you know that Dick Cheney’s approval numbers are less than that?

Did you know that one of the biggest worries of the current military experts from the Pentagon is that the Iraqi military and police force will turn on the Americans?

Did you know that the electricity is on in Iraq less than when Saddam Hussein was in power?

Did you know that the Iraq War has cost more Iraqi civilian lives than all of those lost during the Saddam Hussein reign?

Did you know that the American public holds very little stock in the 'facts' coming from the Department of Defense and the White House these days?

Of course, his feathers were ruffled, his back went up and he began his defense with,

“I’m glad I’m one of the 30 percent who support the president” and ended with “The evidence you talk about is mostly lies the left-wing press has generated while not giving them (the administration) credit for what has NOT happened. We will be a sorry mess if they (the Iraqis, I presume) succeed in carrying out what they intended to do to us.”

In essence, what Jack would like, I guess, is a lapdog media with a love-it-or-leave it attitude when it comes to this country. What he wants is a media that puts a White House spin on every story. What he wants is a media that manipulates the news so the American public can go about life guilt-free for the sins of its leaders.

Ain’t gonna' happen, Jack, at least not on my watch.

I was raised on Cronkite and Breslin. I inhaled every word written by Hunter S. Thompson and a fan of every newsperson who had/has the courage to grab the American public by the throat, yank them off their couch and spit the truth into their blind eye.

If not for a credible press, we’d still be marching in Selma, Ala. for civil rights; we’d never have learned about the Nixon scandal; we’d still be in Vietnam, and that’s a fact, Jack.

I don’t do what I do for fear or favor and I make it a rule that as far as politicians are concerned, no matter what their party affiliation, I don’t trust them until I have reason to trust them.

So far, that number’s embarrassingly low.

I’ve had a friend in the administration ask me to “take it easy on his boss.” I’ve looked a couple of the most familiar faces in Washington, D.C. in the eye and asked hard questions without flinching.

I view this country’s current situation as appalling, an embarrassment and dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than any other time in our history.

A young co-worker recently asked me if I am still “a believer,” if I thought this noble profession was still valid, if we could make a difference.

I told her that if I didn’t, I’d be better off flipping burgers at the local McDonald’s than agonizing over which word should follow the last.

No, Jack, there are loyal, honorable, decent people in this country who are outraged, who ache for those who have lost their lives behind a pack of lies, whose hearts have been plundered by an unreality that has become our reality.

And, we’re reaching out, Jack, to shake you from the stupor that has glazed over far too many eyes in this once honorable republic.

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