Those complaining liberals

Saddamized: Some weeks in Sacramento seem to have a single focus, or maybe a couple of foci. State budget deliberations have rightfully grabbed the spotlight, with Governor Gray Davis proposing $10 billion in cuts, interest groups singing doomsday songs and the legislators getting down to deliberations. But before Bites steps onto this well-trod ground, let’s hit the other major issue of the day: Iraq.

Sure, this is a decimated country on the other side of the world, but, if the powers-that-be in D.C. can suddenly be so over-animated about all things Saddam, it shouldn’t be surprising that there has been a lot going on in Sacramento on the topic. And, in the last week, there has been.

Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Saul Landau was on the Sac State campus last week to debut War Against Iraq, a 23-minute film based on a trip he took to Iraq this fall with current and former members of Congress.

The film highlighted the Bush administration’s relentless, logic-stretching and self-serving drive to make war on Iraq and also probed fallout from our last attack on the war-wracked Iraqi people. But another aspect of the event was even more illuminating: The Redwood Room where Landau presented his film was less than half full, while hundreds of students milled about outside the doors in the University Union, studying, eating, gossiping, flirting and engaging in other pastimes of youth.

Americans have become as blasé about the prospects of war as they are easy for the warmongers to manipulate. That’s why the silent majority of Americans tell pollsters they support this war. But it’s the loud minority who question our commander-in-chief—people like Sacramentan Simone Campbell—who are now trying to wake people up to the realities of war.

Campbell is a Catholic nun and lawyer who heads JERICHO, an interfaith social-justice lobby. She is also part of the Iraq Peace Journey, a delegation of prominent religious leaders who left last weekend for a two-week trip to Iraq to preach peace and reach out to religious organizations there.

Bites spoke with Campbell before she left, and she confided that she was “scared spitless” about the journey. Scared of entering a dictatorship that was about to be attacked? No, Campbell said, she was more scared about returning to the United States from an unsanctioned trip to Iraq during a time of war fever.

“We are aiding and abetting the enemy, it could be called,” Campbell said.

Nonetheless, she is so incensed by Bush’s warmongering and his disingenuous new “preventive war” doctrine that she felt compelled to act—even to engage in this, her first act of civil disobedience.

Adding to the local avalanche of anti-war sentiments this week was a passionate speech by author Michael Parenti; a showing in Davis of the film Hidden Costs of War, which is about Gulf War Syndrome; and an anti-war protest in which nine people from various area peace groups were arrested for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in Sacramento.

Budgetitis: The possibility of preemptively bombing a sovereign country into submission may have some people mad, but it was the state budget that elicited the best doom-and-gloom rhetoric of the week.

Just before Landau showed his film to a big, half-empty auditorium, the California Federation of Teachers and other California education leaders shoehorned dozens of journalists into a small CFT meeting room near the Capitol, with many reporters spilling out into the hallway.

California Teachers Association president Wayne Johnson predicted an “education disaster” and said, “I see nothing but doom and gloom if we make major cuts,” which is exactly what Governor Davis officially proposed the very next day.

Similar press conferences and appeals were launched by the full array of advocates for the poor, the disabled, the young, the hungry and those without health insurance. It seems the entire underclass and its progressive supporters were upset.

Is it just a matter of those whiny liberals always looking to complain about something? Or could it be the fact that, so far, nobody has asked the rich to pay a dime toward closing this massive budget deficit?