Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Pox on Both Our Houses

Let’s take stock of the current political climate: The Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Congress. They’re dealing with the lamest of lame duck presidents. It’s been all but established that Bush’s wireless wiretapping scheme is a massive failure and a blatantly illegal, not to mention an unnecessary one since we’ve had FISA courts that had granted 19,000 temporary warrantless surveillance warrants out of 19,005 applications. It’s also been revealed that the Bush junta had abused these broad powers over a period of years to spy not just on suspected terrorists but millions of American citizens both here and abroad.

Perfect time to cave in, then.

Maybe the Senate and lawmakers in general think that we lack long-term memory. After all, we encourage this belief by electing more or less the same clowns in office every other year, seemingly daring them to pull the shit that they do except during those very brief periods in election years when they suddenly remember their constituency and badger us for votes and money while waving populist banners in our adoring, ever-hopeful faces.

Do they really want to get out of Dodge and go to their summer homes so badly that they’re willing to give this dry drunk rube even broader-sweeping spying powers or is it because they’re listening too closely to professional racist Trent Lott?

This latest collapse by the Democrats just breaks my heart and makes me think that there really is no hope for this democracy or the republic. And this particular cave-in is perhaps the most depressing:

Initial approval by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The administration relented to Democrats leery of Gonzales by adding McConnell to the oversight.

For those of you just tuning in, that would be the same Alberto Gonzales who felt it necessary to “correct and clarify” his statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee last July 24th in a letter admitting that, well, yes, we did have political strategy meetings with Karl Rove and other rabid Republican partisans, including a 2001 media strategy session for Bush’s re-election in ’04.

After telling the Senate Judiciary Committee the exact opposite thing.

So the Senate, which has said on both sides of the aisle that Gonzales can’t be considered trustworthy regarding the warrantless wiretapping scam is nonetheless trustworthy enough to be able to designate our enemies for warrantless wiretapping without either the immediate or prior participation of the FISA courts that were set up by President Carter in 1978 for this very same purpose.

But, hey, it’s all good. After all, this is only a stop-gap measure that’s going to last only six months until they can hammer out something that doesn’t buttfuck the 4th amendment quite so intrusively.

Yeah, just try prying Bush’s hands from these new powers after six months.

Now Bush is setting his sights on the House. How comfortable do you guys feel now with your 31 seat majority, especially when your party is led by a woman who steadfastly refuses to initiate articles of impeachment while simultaneously helping to remove language from a bill that allows Bush to invade Iran while bypassing Congress?

That would be the Democratically-run House that, like the Senate, has never once asked, Why can’t our intelligence community be trusted to provide the FISA courts, after nearly seven years, with a list of suspected terrorists before the wiretaps begin?

There's more: "A Pox on Both Our Houses" >>

8-6-01 blogswarm

Blogger Ripley just sent out this email to me and several others:

And another Hi, everyone!

Some of you know me, some may recognize my name and some of you probably have no idea Who the Hell I Am... I'm fwd. this message to you folks that I don't normally have much contact with, to spread the idea and get your feedback for an Aug. 6 blogswarm.

If you're not interested or miss the notice or don't know Who the Hell I Am(?!?), that's fine. If you're interested in the idea, let me know - and spread the word to anyone else you think might be interested. I'm open to ideas and welcome design help from those with more talent than I have.

(Steve M - I know you're out and about. If you're interested, maybe you could pass this on to your guest bloggers.?)

Thanks for your time, everyone!

Rip -

I've heard of Ripley so you can trust both him and me that this isn't a hoax. If you guys want to write something about August 6th, 2001, a day that will live in infamy and needs no introduction, then feel free. Pass the word and let's see if we can make this go viral (Are we listening, Susan?).

So collect your thoughts and feelings and let's reaquaint Middle America with the significance of August 6th, 2001 on August 6th, 2007.

There's more: "8-6-01 blogswarm" >>

Friday, August 3, 2007

Okay, to make you feel a little better

AP reported a few days ago on

[t]wo teens from opposite coasts [who] are marching across the country for peace, hoping to gain followers and attention with each step.

Ashley Casale, 19, of Clinton Corners, N.Y., and Michael Israel, 18, of Jackson, Calif., had hoped others who oppose the war in Iraq would join them on their 3,000-mile walk from San Francisco to Washington. ...

The two met 10 minutes before beginning their journey. Casale just finished her freshman year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and Israel recently graduated from high school. ...

On Wednesday, the two stopped for lunch in Montezuma[, Iowa]. Wearing T-shirts and displaying deep tans, the two described the blisters and achy knees they have endured as they crossed the western deserts, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.

"We've never thought about quitting, but there are parts of the country that are so isolated and towns are so far between we feel like we're alone without any support, but then we come across a town and see the support we have and it helps," Casale said. ...

Israel said he felt good about what he and Casale have accomplished.

"I hope it inspires people to be more vocal and politically active and become more aware of what's going on around them," he said. ...

"Our message is about ending the war in Iraq, but it's more than that," Casale said. "It's about cultivating peace in our daily lives and responding to things in a peaceful, nonviolent way."
The pair - actually now the trio, as they picked up a third go-the-whole-way walker in Iowa - crossed the Mississippi River on Tuesday and hope to be in Washington DC on September 11. This is the kind of action that usually gets very little national press but can generate boatloads of local coverage. You can follow the progress and offer support at

There's more: "Okay, to make you feel a little better" >>

Now that you're depressed...

...time for your jaw to drop. This is from the MoJo Blog at Mother Jones magazine, dated July 30.

In this morning's Washington Post, Robert Novak reports that select members of Congress were informed last week of a covert operation now underway to target leaders of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist movement in southeastern Turkey. [Emphasis added.]
Over the last two years, the blog reports, members of the PKK have been staging more frequent cross-border raids into Turkey while taking refuge in the mountainous areas of nothern Iraq where Kurds have established an essentially autonomous state. Turkey has been responding by shelling areas over its border with Iraq and making increasingly bellicose noises about undertaking harsher measures. But, as Novak correctly notes, if it did it would surely find itself engaging not just the PKK but the military forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government: a second real shooting war on a second front in Iraq, this one pitting two US allies against each other.
[I]t's unclear what the U.S. can do to calm things down. Bush apparently believes that deploying Special Forces troops to hunt down PKK leaders will help resolve the issue. This seems doubtful. But it could succeed in exhausting the patience and goodwill of Iraq's Kurds. What then?
Well, by then Bush will be out of office and he won't give a damn. As for the Kurds, our use and subsequent dismissal of them would hardly be unprecedented. If it came down to a choice, I don't think there's any question that the "tilt" would be toward Turkey - especially as pressure mounts for withdrawal from Iraq and the poster-child status of the "success" of the Kurdish region becomes less important in US political schemes.

There's more: "Now that you're depressed..." >>

Okay, if that didn't depress you...

...this will. Amid the noise and shrapnel of sectarian violence in Iraq, with Sunnis killing Shias and Shias killing Sunnis and both very likely supplied and supported by their regional allies, we can sometimes - frequently - forget that there are other communities in Iraq with their own stories and facing their own pain. From the BBC:

Caught in a triangle of religious, ethnic and criminal violence, communities which once made up as much as 14% of the country's population get little state protection, said Hunain Qaddo, chairman of the Iraqi Minorities Council, a Baghdad-based non-governmental organisation. ...

He says that his own community, the Shabaks of the Nineveh Plains, face oblivion as a people, targeted physically by al-Qaeda militants because they are mainly Shia, and politically by Kurdish separatists with claims on their land. ...

Iraq's minorities range from large communities like Turkmens and Christians to small groups of Armenians, many of them descended from refugees from the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago, and Palestinians given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein. ...

[T]he number of minority group members among the 2m refugees from Iraq is believed to be disproportionately high.

Mandaeans who fled to Syria told the BBC earlier this year harrowing stories of forced conversion, rape and murder by Islamists.

A Minority Rights Group International report published in February notes that Mandaeans, who follow a religion which pre-dates both Islam and Christianity, are also targeted by criminals because they traditionally work as goldsmiths and jewellers. ...

Christians have found themselves in a similar dilemma: targeted by Sunni extremists because of their religion and by kidnappers - who are often Shia Arab militants or rogue members of the security forces - because of their wealth.
These communities, unlike the big three, have no militias for their protection and the Iraqi police are simply not up to the job even assuming they're interested in doing it. They are, essentially, on their own.

There's more: "Okay, if that didn't depress you..." >>

Depressed yet?

If not, this from CNN for Wednesday will undoubtedly help in that direction.

Upset over being "marginalized," Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc Wednesday made good on a threat to leave the Cabinet.

The move, which will likely further cripple the embattled Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, came on the same day as a wave of bombings shook Baghdad and left dozens of people dead.

The Iraqi Accord Front has been critical of legislative stalemates and the failure to achieve national reconciliation, a key U.S. benchmark for Iraq, and it warned last week that it would pull its six Cabinet ministers.
Another resignation could follow: Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi is also from a member group of the Iraq Accord Front and he's expected to submit his resignation to the bloc, which will decide whether he should remain in office.

It occurs to me that there are undoubtedly some who will be cheered rather than depressed by the news, figuring that anything that leads to the downfall of the "US puppet government" in Baghdad is good news. I actually disagree that the Iraqi government is a true "puppet" of the US, although it clearly is heavily dependent on it and won't stray too far. But while all the main factions within the government (note that I am not talking about the public at large) want the US to stay, they want it for different and to some extent contradictory reasons: The Sunnis regard the US military as their bulwark against Shia attacks and oppression. The Shias are concerned that if the US withdraws, the government they dominate (and thus their institutional power) will collapse. And the Kurds figure those troops are a guarantee against Arab attacks undermining their autonomy.

More to the point, personally, I have a hard time thinking of even greater chaos in a country already measured as the second most unstable in the world (behind only Sudan) as a good thing. Maybe it looks good from a distant political perspective - but I doubt that perspective is shared by the Iraqis who would have to live with the result.

There's more: "Depressed yet?" >>

Here we go again

The opening discussion here is by way of introduction.

Richard at American Leftist quoted the blog Lenin's Tomb commenting on an exchange between Alexander "More Revolutionary Than Thou" Cockburn and Katha Pollitt.

Cockburn, who thinks that global warming is a hoax perpetrated either by environmentalists to fundraise without offending corporate sponsors (2001 version) or some combination of NASA, the UN, climate modelers, the IPCC, and Al Gore to support nuclear power (2007 version), wrote in Counterpunch in mid-July that "the antiwar movement is pretty much dead" and suggests as a main cause "the lack of solidarity with the Iraqi resistance," unlike the solidarity shown during the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua. "In other words," he said, "support their troops."

Pollitt shot back in the pages of The Nation.

With whom, exactly, are we supposed to be showing solidarity? Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia? Shiites massacring their Sunni neighbors? Sunnis killing Shiites? Religious reactionaries who have murdered doctors, professors, working women, Christians, students, hand-holding couples?
She insisted, rightly in my view, that there is a fundamental difference between then and now: "The Sandinistas and the FMLN were far from perfect, but they were leftists." The variegated resistance in Iraq, even Cockburn conceded, is "murky and in some aspects unappetizing to secular progressive coalitions in the West."

Comments on the post at American Leftist were divided; beyond noting that my own contention is that it's not an either/or and that I feel no obligation to embrace the Iraqi resistance in order to condemn the invasion and occupation, I'll leave it to you to check out the whole exchange, including its extension to here, if you're so moved.

I do so because, as I said at the top, that was the introduction. More on the flip side.

The subject is the weakness of the antiwar movement. And I say that the real reason that the antiwar movement seems unable to stop the war despite having the support of perhaps two-thirds of the public is that too much of that "movement" to too god damned concerned with its own image. Too god damned concerned with being "respectable," with being seen as "serious," as truly "pro-American." Too god damned concerned with politics over praxis, with positioning over protest. As a result, it has surrendered tactical decisions to the leadership of the Democratic Party and moral leadership to a crew of inside-the-Beltway wannabes both on- and offline who have mocked demonstrations and made Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi the arbiters of the acceptable limits of debate. And that has been a horrendous blunder, both tactically and ethically, with disastrous consequences for Americans and even more - far more - for Iraqis.

A clear example of that kind of "CYA first" attitude was seen just about two weeks ago: In its July 30 issue, The Nation published an article by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian with damning evidence about the conduct of American soldiers in Iraq gathered in testimony from US veterans of that war.
From these collected snapshots a common theme emerged. Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.

Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
A man named Corey Mitchell posted a diary at DailyKos which referred to the article's description of
damning photos of a U.S. Soldier using a spoon to literally scoop out the brains of a dead Iraqi and pretending to eat the gray matter [which] were recently acquired.

Of course, everyone is appropriately appalled and make all claims of disgust and finger-wagging. Research shows, however, that such unacceptable behavior happens more often than the United States military wants you to know.
Mitchell then cited several notorious serial killers and mass murderers who were military veterans before noting that
[a] survey determined that only 25% of all soldiers during [World War II] actually fired their weapons. The main reason cited was that soldiers were more afraid to kill another human being than to be killed. ...

[But due to increasing use of conditioning techniques in military training, b]y the Korean War the percentage of troops that fired their weapons rose to 55%, while by Vietnam it had sky-rocketed to 90%. ...

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Vicki Haddock in a 2006 article entitled The Science of Creating Killers, U.S. soldiers' killing efficiency and coping mechanisms have only "improved."
Mitchell condemned the fact that the military deliberately "undermined [the] moral autonomy" of soldiers, sought to make killing an automatic, emotionless, unthinking response, but did and does nothing to decondition those soldiers when they leave the military, offers them little or no help in making the psychological transition to civilian life. As a result,
[m]any soldiers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, others commit suicide, and still others go on murderous rampages. ...

The newest crop of Charles Whitmans and Jeffrey Dahmers should be prowling our streets any day now - and for many years to come
as a result of the government's failure.

And of course he was immediately and harshly attacked for supposedly branding US soldiers, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, as serial killers. And not just by the right, but by the left as well: The diary collected, according to one commenter on another site, "151 comments, 95% of which criticized or excoriated the author," a fact noted happily as a defense against the claim that "the left hates the troops." Other comments at DKos suggested Mitchell was actually a rightwing troll who posted just so wacko sites like Little Green Footballs could get the screen shot. Mitchell, seeing he was unwanted, deleted the diary. (He changed his mind a few days later and posted it on his own site.)

Meanwhile, John Cole of Balloon Juice, called "a man of integrity" by Armando Llorens at Talk Left, labeled Mitchell "some anonymous wingnut [who] wrote a nasty anti-military screed on DKOS." Llorens, for his part, noted that contrary to Cole, it was Mitchell himself, not DKos, that took down the post, but found it necessary to call Mitchell a "first time diarist with no history at all at daily kos," that is, a stranger, an outsider.

What is the message of all this? What is the collective voice of the "responsible" left saying?

"Oh, no no no! He's not with us! Oh no, no way! Hey, you! Get outta here, you, you, wingnut! You, you, you troop-hater! Scram!"

So fearful are these responsible, these serious, these clear-headed, thinkers of being tainted with even the suggestion of a hint of a possibility of being "anti-troop" that they will cut off, ice out, denounce, anyone who doesn't toe the "support the troops" line. They will do it even if what that someone is saying is that a combination of military training, combat experiences, and lack of mental health services can leave veterans emotionally scarred - and neither the military nor the VA will acknowledge that fact: A recent lawsuit by veterans noted that only 27 of the VA's 1,400 hospitals around the country have in-patient PTSD programs. As I said in my own comment on this,
[y]ou may disagree with [Mitchell's] argument, but to call it hatred of the troops is absurd.

The line Mitchell crossed was a very different one, the line in our current political culture that says any criticism of "the troops," even by implication, is beyond the pale, marks you as an enemy, an outsider, a heretic to be attacked and shunned.
And so he was. Because he was, as another commenter said, "off the reservation."

That, folks, is why the antiwar movement is weak. Because, as I've been saying for years, we spend too much goddam time going "Oh no, they're not with us!" Too much time covering our own asses by collectively kissing the asses of the military and political establishment and staying "on the reservation."

That's why the GOPpers and the rest of the reactionary kill freaks know they can taunt the "antiwar" leaders in Congress about funding the war: If you oppose the war, they say, you can just cut off the money - so why don't you? They know that actually stopping the war, you'll pardon the expression, dead in its tracks is too "radical" for those "leaders" who - again, echoed by a goodly portion of what passes for an "antiwar" community online - equate cutting off funds with being or at least and perhaps worse being labeled as being "anti-troop." (That does not mean, I hasten to add, that no antiwar forces urged precisely that course, i.e., simply refusing pass any appropriation for the war, noting that such action could not be vetoed as there is no legislation to reject. That idea was advocated persistently and strongly by, among others, Armando Llorens. Credit where it's due.)

That's why, in the wake of the play-acted Senate filibuster on a withdrawal motion earlier this month which ended with another failed cloture motion, AP was able to report this without generating, so far as I'm aware, any response from the Big Blogs:
The 52-47 vote fell far short of the 60 needed to advance the legislation and marked the final act in an all-night session that Democrats engineered to dramatize their opposition to the war. ...

Democrats seemed content, having labored overtime to reassure and other anti-war constituents of their commitment....
Democrats seemed content? There was no vote on the motion, no withdrawal of any sort, no date set, the whole staged thing was a complete failure legislatively but Democrats seemed content because they had reassured MoveOn and other anti-war constituents of their "commitment." Their commitment to what, precisely? To positioning for 2008? That seems a hell of a lot more likely than a commitment to ending the brutal carnage in Iraq.

And yes, it is brutal. And brutalizing. These are selections from two different emails received from Iraq by journalist Dahr Jamail, who wrote about his feeling of being back in the US on TomDispatch on July 17:
[1] I called my cousin in the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad to check if they are still alive. She is in her sixties and her husband is about seventy. She burst into tears, begging me to pray to God to take their lives away soon so they don't have to go through all this agony. She told me that, with no electricity, it is impossible to go to sleep when it is 40 degrees Celsius [104 degrees Fahrenheit] unless they get really tired after midnight. Her husband leaves the doors open because they are afraid that the American and Iraqi troops will bomb the doors if they don't respond from first door knock during searching raids. Leaving the doors open is another terror story after the attack of the troops' vicious dogs on a ten-month old baby, tearing him apart and eating him in the same neighborhood just a few days ago. The troops let the dogs attack civilians. The dogs bite them and terrify the kids with their angry red eyes in the middle of the night. So, as you can see my dear Gerri, we don't have only one Abu Ghraib with torturing dogs, we have thousands of Abu Ghraibs all over Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

[2] Today I went to the morgue. I saw horrible things there. I didn't see [H's] photo among them. Some figures cannot be easily recognized because of the blood or the face is terribly deformed. I saw also only heads; those who were slayed, it's unbelievable. Tomorrow, we will have another visit to make sure again. In your country, when somebody wants to go to the morgue, he may naturally see two or, say, three or four bodies. For us, I saw hundreds today. Every month, the municipality buries those who are not recognized by their families because of the capacity of the morgue. Imagine!
Imagination hardly reaches to what people live with in Iraq, conditions not only of violence and fear, but of deprivation. A new report by Oxfam International, released Monday, finds that four million Iraqis – 15% of the population - are in "dire need" of food; 70% of Iraqis are without adequate water supplies; 28% of Iraqi children are malnourished and a truly shocking 92% of them suffer learning problems, mostly due, Oxfam says, to the climate of fear; and more than four million Iraqis have been forced from their homes with more than two million people displaced inside Iraq and two million more refugeed, mostly in Syria and Jordan. (The full Oxfam report, in .pdf format, is at this link.)

Brutality. Deprivation. Fear. That's what we have worsened where we have not created it. And that's what most of our so-called "antiwar" movement seems content to continue, albeit at some lower level, for who knows how much longer as Harry Reid pushes "withdrawal" motions like the one in that overnight pose-fest which would withdraw troop by next spring
with the exception of a residual force to fight terrorists, train Iraqis and protect U.S. personnel and possessions. ...

Democrats have provided no estimates on how many thousands, or even tens of thousands, of troops would be required to fulfill those missions. [Emphasis added.]
The "withdrawal" bill in the House added Iraqi border security to that list of tasks to be undertaken by US troops after this supposed withdrawal. I don't know about you, but I don't feel the least bit "reassured." Or the least bit impressed with a "movement" that allows itself to be cast as satisfied with such half-measures, if "half" is not overstating the case, while twitching with trepidation over fears of what it might be called unless it casts out anyone who goes "off the reservation" defined, in effect, by Democrats more concerned with how it looks than with what it does.

This is just so flaming stupid it's hard for me to comprehend. They should not be setting our agenda on the war, we should be setting theirs and "reassuring" us should be regarded as another word for a failure to act and a failure of nerve. Screw "respectability." Screw "seriousness." Screw "a seat at the table." And screw right down through the floor the fear that drives us to attack and isolate our own real and potential comrades because some right wing flakes and their media hack ass-lickers call them names.

We have been down this path before, oh so frustratingly many times, and the result is always the same: a weakened movement for peace, for justice, for whatever, without ever accomplishing the supposed goal of political strength through "moderation." I say again, as I have said before,
acquiescence is not an answer. ... Most of all, slicing away your friends and supporters will not help you. Spending time and energy going "oh, no, no, no, I'm not one of them" only narrows your base, reduces your potential support, and will not satisfy your attackers.
So why why why WHY do we keep doing it? Why do we attack the Corey Mitchells? Why do we, despite all the evidence of crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq, why do we jump into CYA mode and reflexively denounce those who dare to speak that unpleasant truth and face what militarism, what war, does do and has done to all involved? Why after all this time do we still fail to realize that, as I have declared God knows how many times,
the movement for peace and social justice in this country has been at its strongest and most influential when it has spoken the truth without giving a flying damn if anyone was "offended" or not.
A lesson that we have not, that we seemingly have refused to, learn. Instead, we tie ourselves to what is in fact the more conservative portion of the opposition to the Iraq war - even to the point of fawning over Ron Paul - in order to prove our "reasonable," our "centrist," our "serious" credentials. That is our weakness. That is the source of our ineffectiveness. That is our failure. Not refusing to "show solidarity" with the Iraqi resistance. Not refusing to "support their troops." Not refusing to endorse even by implication IEDs, sectarian murder, and purveyors of the most reactionary forms of sharia law. But rather our fearful failure to speak the truth as we know it and to embrace those who speak those truths, especially when they are unpopular ones.

Acquiescence is not an answer. Slicing away your friends and supporters will not help you. Until we learn those simple truths, we will continue to wonder at our frustration as the war drags on.

Footnote: As another poster on his blog noted, Mitchell was vindicated a few days later when a commission headed by Bob Dole and Donna Shalala - pretty establishment, there - reported that the VA had made inadequate efforts to address post-traumatic stress disorder and recommended the agency be required to give it more attention.

Meanwhile, that same poster informed us, the LA Times reported on July 24 that
[a] recent report by a special Pentagon task force found that 38% of soldiers and 50% of National Guard members coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan have mental health issues, ranging from stress disorder to brain injuries.
Yeah, I'd call that some serious measure of vindication.

There's more: "Here we go again" >>

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pentagon War Games Iraq Withdrawal

"War games show Bush wrong on Iraq pullout; Qaeda unlikely to succeed"

Supporters of the war in Iraq -- including President George W. Bush -- claim that a withdrawal of US forces would lead to an al Qaeda takeover of Iraq. Yet according to Pentagon war games, this scenario is highly unlikely.

On Wednesday's Countdown Keith Olbermann interviewed Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks who discussed his article on Pentagon war gaming for a post-US Iraq.

Pentagon simulations on US withdrawal find the most likely scenario would be a three-way split of the country between Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis. Ricks warns while the breakup would be "very ugly," with possibly "tens of thousands of people dying," an al Qaeda takeover of Iraq would not be possible by "any stretch of the imagination."

There's more: "Pentagon War Games Iraq Withdrawal" >>

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Demanding Democratic answers on Iraq and mercenaries

This Guardian story references a rumor that, when the British pull out of Basra, instead of leaving a vacuum for U.S. troops to fill, they’ll instead have their places taken by mercenaries.

This is another reason Obama’s and Clinton’s partial draw-down is simply not acceptable. Their plans say nothing about the Blackwaters of the world in Iraq, as to whether their numbers will be kept the same, or even increased.

Beyond Iraq, we need Democratic candidates to honestly address the question of U.S.-incorporated mercenary companies like DynCorp in places like Columbia, as well, especially since they are now fixing their eyes on getting a slice of U.N. peacekeeping budgets in war-torn areas where the U.N. is trying to step in.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

There's more: "Demanding Democratic answers on Iraq and mercenaries" >>

The Iraqi Childrens Debacle

A new generation of Iraqis learning the benefits of Bush style freedom and democracy and liberation.

From the UK Guardian yesterday (via Iraq Today)

Children hardest hit by humanitarian crisis in Iraq

The number of Iraqi children who are born underweight or suffer from malnutrition has increased sharply since the US-led invasion, according to a report by Oxfam [Rising to the humanitarian challenge in Iraq - 30 July 2007] and a network of about 80 aid agencies.

The report describes a nationwide catastrophe, with around 8 million Iraqis - almost a third of the population - in need of emergency aid. Many families have dropped out of the food rationing system because they have been displaced by fighting and sectarian conflict. Others suffer from the collapse in basic services caused by the exodus of doctors and hospital staff.
Forty-three percent of Iraqis are in "absolute poverty", partly because of a 50% unemployment rate. Basic services in 2003 were poor after a decade of sanctions and under-investment by the Saddam Hussein regime. But they have worsened since. The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies, for example, has risen from 50% in 2003 to 70% now.

Eighty percent lack effective sanitation, and diarrhoeal diseases have increased. Most homes in Baghdad and other cities have only two hours of electricity a day.

Children are suffering the most, with 92% showing learning difficulty because of the pervasive climate of fear. More than 800,000 have dropped out of school, because they now live in camps for the displaced or because schools have had to be taken over to shelter the homeless.

Around 40% of Iraq's teachers, water engineers, medical staff and other professionals have left the country since 2003.
Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country.
--George W. Bush

As to Saddam bad though he was your country is far worse.
--Dr. Maryam, Iraqi Pediatric Oncologist

There's more: "The Iraqi Childrens Debacle" >>

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Who Will Be The Last?

Last to Die for that Man in the White House and His Lies
Meteor Blades at Daily Kos today:

Four thousand dead Americans and other Coalition soldiers will soon be in the count. Dead, in many cases, as we have seen, because of the incompetent know-it-allness of an Administration still swarming with chickenhawks.
They are dead for lies. Futilely dead. Dead because war criminals sent them abroad fraudulently in the name of liberation, security and prevention.

Dead because of people who waved the bloody shirt of 9/11 in one hand, Old Glory in the other, simultaneously managing to shred our Constitution and decades of international law. People whose closest brush with battle was reading the Cliff's Notes version of Sun Tzu, which they promptly forgot. People who, if this were a just world, would soon be making journeys in shackles to The Hague.
Not to mention the dead Iraqis.

We know how little those who lied us into this war try not to mention those dead Iraqis. To downplay their numbers. Nobody really knows how many have died. Estimates diverge wildly. Let me just say I think any count below hundreds of thousands is off the mark. Hundreds of thousands dead, still larger numbers injured or maimed, more than two million in exile, two million internally displaced. All for a pack of lies.
If Russ Feingold's August 2005 proposal for withdrawal had been adopted, American troops would have been home since Christmas. We might already know who was the last one to die for the lies of that man in the White House and those of his pals. But for two years, the withdrawal plans of Feingold, John Kerry, Jack Murtha, Wes Clark, George McGovern, the Center for American Progress, and, and, and have been ignored. So, the skulls are stacked, American, Iraqi and others. The bloodbath goes on, and the dithering ceases not.

With no end in sight.
It is time for everyone who believed or still believes the lies to face it squarely and, however painful it may be to say, admit what they know in their hearts is true. The Iraq invasion and occupation has turned into the worst Foreign Policy debacle in American history.

All for a pack of lies.

Who will be the last... to believe or deny the lies?

It is time to face reality.

It is time to bring this debacle to an end.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy day for Iraq

Photo: Iraqi soldiers and residents celebrate in a street in Baghdad July 29, 2007, after their Iraqi team won the final game of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup soccer tournament against Saudi Arabia in Jakarta.
REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ)

They are joyful today, and I am happy for them. I hope many more days of joy come their way soon. And I hope they keep winning their football games (even though I don't care about sports at all)!

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Much Ado About Nothing as the Recess Draws Near

As the regularly scheduled August congressional recess draws near, the internecine squabbling picks up.

Those tired of the war and wanting a way out of the occupation of Iraq are forming alliances to sponsor toothless legislation that doesn’t even amount to a stern warning, but it’s something to take to the voters back home…and conservative chickenhawks like Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) (I’m comfortable calling him a chickenhawk. He was in a FANG unit 66-72) seized the opportunity to catapult the propaganda represented by President Bush's over-the-top, pugilistic and patently dishonest speech Tuesday at the USAF base in Charleston, S.C.. In that speech, in which Bush referenced al Qaeda 94 times, he conflated realities and sternly shook his finger at those with the sense to oppose his criminally inept cabal; hysterically accusing them of “surrendering to al Qaeda.” Isakson took comfort in this psychotic display, saying he was glad the resident was finally “hitting back.” Never mind that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq 60 days before Bush invaded, and there will be no al Qaeda in Iraq 60 days after the U.S. withdraws. The Iraqis hate all foreign occupiers, and they put al Qaeda in this category, too.

On either end of the debate are the unbudgeables, but from there emanates great sound and fury; while in the center, there seems to be some semblance of cohesion, but it amounts to jello. Is squishy, it’s jiggly, there is no substance and even with nothing to support, it can barely stand alone.

Give me a freakin’ break.

*Jello* is not what that election in November was about. Yeah, yeah, I know that one of the suspects in that game of electoral Clue was the moderate Christian in the voting booth with the corruption. (Democrats forget this important factor at their own peril.)

But more that that, it was the G.I., without a mission, in the voting booth, with the voter’s conscience. It was about “Bring ‘em on” and “Mission Accomplished” and the occupation of a country that doesn’t want us there.

We sent a Democratic majority to Washington to stop this obscene fucking war.

Another reality that the Democrats ignore at their own peril.

When they come back in September, they will face citizen action on a scale unseen since the Veitnam era. On the third Friday of September, and every month thereafter, those of us committed to the end of the occupation of Iraq are committed to taking action as part of the Iraq Moratorium movement.

But before the politicians get down to polictickin’ for the 2008 elections, they will come back from recess to a gallery of silent citizens, staring them down.

What a fabulous idea! I wish I was near D.C.! I would so do this!

It's time we took responsibility for what our country is doing.

Almost a year ago, Americans went to the polls and sent a clear message to our government: it's time to bring our troops home from Iraq. But our responsibility does not end when we exit the voting booth. We cannot wait for the next election and hope that America's government will eventually catch up with its people. We must confront Congress now – not with letters or marches, lobbying or phone calls – we'll meet them inside the House and Senate chambers. Congress reconvenes after their summer vacation on September 4th. Let's be there to let them know that we are watching.

We are calling on Americans to join us inside the Capitol, where we will gather in the House and Senate galleries and, at a given signal, rise to our feet together to stand watch over our government. Letters informing each member of Congress that citizens have come to watch over their progress in bringing the Iraq war to a close will be delivered in advance, so that there will be no mistaking what our action means when we take to our feet.

This is not a protest – it is citizens directly overseeing their government at a time when it has refused to respond to a crisis.

Here's how it works:

Come to Washington and visit your Representative's office – that's where you get tickets to visit the House and Senate galleries. Then, join us in the halls of power. Nothing can be brought into the galleries, and protests are not allowed, so leave your buttons and signs at home. The act of taking to our feet together to silently oversee Congress will speak loudly enough. Until the signal is given, we will be tourists visiting our nation's capital. When we stand together, we will be citizens taking responsibility for our government.

I can't participate directly - but I can do my part to spread the word, and I can voice my support for the effort. Yes, oh yes yes yes yes yes...I want to see a hundred responsible citizens watching with a silent critical eye, holding accountable those we chose, right there in plain view and on C-SPAN. And I want to watch that number grow, until they can not say "no" to the will of the people.

We are not to be trifled with any longer. Our legislators work for us, we know this and we are not bashful about reminding them of that fact. And every last elected official needs need to check their's populism-thirty, and no seat is safe.

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