Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mark Morford's Dirty Pictures Return to regular view
Very, Very Dirty Pictures
You want explicit? You want raw and uncensored and free of media bias? Here you go
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, December 3, 2004

This is what you won't see in the paper.

This is what you won't see on CNN or on MSNBC or CBS News or on any major media Web site anywhere and especially no goddamn way ever in hell will you see it within a thousand miles of Fox News.

You aren't supposed to see. You aren't supposed to know. You are to remain ignorant and shielded, and, if you're like most Americans, you have been very carefully conditioned to think Bush's nasty Iraq war is merely this ugly little firecracker-like thing happening way, way over there, carefully orchestrated and somewhat messy and maybe a little bloody but mostly still patriotic and good and necessary and sponsored by none other than God his own angry Republican self.

And hence you and I both have no real idea what the hell goes on in Iraq, no real images to gnaw on and be deeply horrified and saddened by, except for maybe a tiny handful of carefully sanitized snapshots of bombed-out Iraqi cities and maybe some grainy video of U.S. soldiers enjoying a dusty game of pickup football and a turkey dinner at the posh military digs way, way outside of Baghdad.

Or maybe you think war is manly and heroic and cool, as exemplified by that now-famous shot of that macho "Dogface" Marlboro-smokin' Marine whose dirt-encrusted mug was eagerly picked up by newspapers and media Web sites across the nation (including this one), and he became an instant icon for the war and the military was positively giddy about using him an ideal recruitment tool, a model of how to make soldiers look all studly and rugged and badass as opposed to the often poorly educated, disposable hunks of politically abused postpubescent meat BushCo considers them to be.

So then. Here is your uncensored truth: Real pictures from Fallujah. Real pictures of war. Brutal and explicit and shocking and just one site of many. Be warned: this is very graphic content. Horrific and deeply disturbing. No censorship. No suppression. No Photoshop. No bogus shots of happy Iraqi children running in the streets begging for candy from American soldiers. No night shots of Marines in bitchin' night-vision goggles bustin' down the door of some palace and then cheering.

Because if you think that's what it's all been about, if you really think war is just this tragic but necessary evil that contains some unfortunate violence and regrettable death but is nonetheless still full of righteous democratic American truth, you have been wildly misled and deeply deceived and might want to consider a nice intellectual emetic. You and Dubya both.

Mind you, is not all gross-out shots of imploded skulls or severed limbs or brutally decapitated children or mutilated women or splattered brains or rivers of blood and intestine and excrement lining the Iraqi streets. Those horrific photos are indeed available (just Google "Iraq war pictures"). But, really, who wants to see that? Not Dubya, that's who. Besides, that's what slasher movies are for. Republicans and war hawks don't actually want to see that stuff in, you know, real life.

And maybe you already know that our government instituted an unqualified ban on pictures of all those flag-draped U.S. coffins that are pouring into American Air Force bases by the hundreds. Maybe you remember that cargo worker who lost her job last spring for leaking such photos to The Seattle Times.

Maybe you know how back in June the Republican-led Congress upheld the ban on coffin photos, all under the guise of "respecting soldiers' families," which of course translates directly into "If the pubic saw all those kids coming home dead, they might not wave that flag so wildly."

As the saying goes, Bush may be dumb, but he ain't always stupid. Even he doubtlessly remembers the effect of watching TV in the '60s and seeing all those American kids coming home from Vietnam in body bags. Not exactly good for morale back home. Not exactly good for the country's view of itself. And true poison to the pseudo-noble idea of just what the hell it is we think we're doing by launching such brutal and unwinnable wars in the first place.

Make no mistake, the government knows the power of the photo. Words, it's not so worried about. After all, you can read the war descriptions and you can check the appalling U.S. death stats and you can scour the dour headlines and still most of us just shrug our shoulders and say gosh that sounds bad and get on with our day.

But much like that other "un-American" site,, exemplifies so beautifully (in a wholly different but no less effective way), sometimes words just aren't enough. You need to see it. You need to feel it. Visceral and human and deep.

Funny thing is, many right-wing neocons consider the act of displaying such pictures unpatriotic, even traitorous. As if revealing the true horrors of war somehow disrespects our long-suffering soldiers, somehow harms them by depicting the full violence of what they must endure for Bush's snide and viciously isolationist policies. You think soldiers don't want the folks back home to know what they have to deal with? You think they want you numb to the truth of war and pain and death? Guess again.

Maybe this should be the rule: If you can't handle seeing what really goes on in a war, maybe you don't deserve to support it. If you can't stomach the truths of what our soldiers are doing and how brutally and bloodily they're dying and in just what manner they have to kill those innocent Iraqi civilians in the name of BushCo's desperate lurch toward greed and power and Iraqi oil fields and empire, maybe you don't have the right to stick that little flag on your oil-sucking SUV. Clear enough?

The major media, by the way, is often hamstrung and torn. They can rarely run such photos. Newspapers and TV are hemmed in by "no-sensationalism" policies and are often paralyzed by the notion that if they ran such pictures, they would be called insensitive or inflammatory or anti-Bush and advertisers and readers alike would run away in droves. After all, most readers just aren't keen on seeing gross-out pics of 19-year-old kids from Kentucky with massive bleeding head traumas. It just totally ruins "Garfield."

You have to seek the facts yourself. You have to dare yourself to click, to take it in, to see if you can, in fact, handle the truth.

It is not easy. It is definitely not pleasant. But in this time of ever escalating numbers of war dead and flagrant BushCo lies and sanitized BS about the real effects of war, all coupled with a simmering plan to attack Iran and maybe North Korea someday real soon, seeking out such visceral truth is no longer just optional. It is, perhaps, the most patriotic thing you can do.


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©2004 SF Gate

Barbara Ehrenreich....A NEW COUNTRY

Published in the January, 2005 issue of The Progressive
by Barbara Ehrenreich

Welcome to the website that matches you with a NEW country appropriate to your personal tastes and values! You wouldn't want to keep a spouse or a job that you've grown estranged from, and there's no reason to be stuck with a nationality that doesn't reflect the REAL you. After all, your nationality is one of the few things you can change WITHOUT SURGERY, simply by filling out the forms below, including your up-to-date passport and credit card numbers.

Many people write to ask: Am I betraying my country by leaving? The answer is NO, your country has already betrayed you. Maybe you grew up believing America meant bacon cheeseburgers, Martin Luther King, rock 'n' roll, and Saturday afternoon softball. But-as you've probably noticed-the operative images in the world today are Abu Ghraib, Condi Rice, and the flattening of Fallujah.

And when you first pledged your allegiance to "one nation under God," you probably didn't realize that God would be delegating much of the day-to-day managerial responsibility to James Dobson and Tom DeLay. It's America that's changed-not you!

The good news is that there are a lot more countries out there than the US media are generally aware of. France, for example, with its ample coastline and curiously creamy cuisine. China, with its fascinating blend of runaway capitalism and communist repression. Or if you're looking for something REALLY different: Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela now all have democratically elected leftwing leaders. How exotic is that?

Note: Some of the alternative nations previously offered on this site are no longer available. A year and a half ago, shortly after Colin Powell announced that there would be free health care and education in Iraq, heavily promoted that beautiful, ancient, multicultural site, and thousands of Americans applied for relocation to it. Since then, however, Iraq has experienced a steadily worsening shortage of viable physical structures-apartment buildings, hospitals, schools-and we have been forced to withdraw it from the list.

Also, we have taken the preemptive move of removing Norway from the list of alternative nations, despite the lovely fiords, smoked fish, and free higher education. As a small, oil-rich country, Norway runs too high a risk of being the neocons' next invasion site.

To help us match you to a country, please answer the following questions: The most surprising thing I learned during the recent Presidential election season was:

1. that most Ohioans and Floridians who voted for Bush were so ashamed of their choice that they lied in the exit polls

2. that John Kerry counterfeited his Vietnam war medals out of Teresa's melted-down jewelry

3. that so few of my red-state neighbors routinely sacrifice sheep and goats as required by the Old Testament

My primary reason for re-nationalizing is:

1. eagerness to marry someone of a similar sex

2. desire to escape all references to Sponge Bob

3. need to fill a prescription

4. concern that my children will watch a pornographic film on TV, like Saving Private Ryan

Language capabilities (check all that apply):

1. I can say "where are the restrooms?" and "I didn't vote for Bush" in two or more languages

2. I believe most people can understand English if you speak loudly enough

3. Pouilly fuissé is best served (a) on toast, (b) cold, (c) boiled with mustard

4. Prefer to abstain from communication until I have something nice to say

Tastes and values:

1. I was disgusted by the sight of Nicollette Sheridan's naked back in the NFL promotional video

2. I was sorry not to see Nicollette Sheridan's naked front in the recent NFL promotional video

3. I feel that this scandal, along with Janet Jackson's nipple, has received insufficient media coverage and that, if Scott had known about abortion, Laci would still be alive

4. The food at the Olive Garden is spicy enough for me, thank you

Governmental preferences: I enjoy (check all that apply):

1. leadership from within the reality-based community

2. voting on machines manufactured by a major contributor to the Republican Party (Diebold, for example) after waiting 4 hours in the rain

3. scientific medical care as a supplement to prayer

4. rule of law, any law

GREAT! You're halfway there! We'll e-mail you your country match tomorrow.

Of course, some of your friends and family may choose to remain behind. There are people who take a somewhat inflexible view of "patriotism," just as there are people who never give up on their first, childish, seventh-grade object of infatuation. Perversely, these diehards think it's their RESPONSIBILITY to remain in their country of origin just as it becomes an international source of terror and a mockery of democratic governance. Whether out of masochism or misdirected altruism, they feel OBLIGED to stay and straighten things out.

To them we say: Can't you take a hint? Would you loiter at a party where gross drunken acts are being performed and, on top of that, people are dissing you everywhere you turn?

We also say to them: Bravo and hasta la vista! We'll be back when you've got America, as we knew it, up and running again.

Barbara Ehrenreich is a columnist for The Progressive. She is the author of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" and "Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War."

© 2004 The Progessive