From the Baby Steps Department where Democratic leaders plot policy comes a letter to President Bush signed by the opposition party's Congressional leadership, as well as a number of House and Senate Democrats who have been associated with national security and intelligence issues.
The letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and their partisan compatriots identifies the crisis of the moment: "Iraq has exploded in violence. Some 6,000 Iraqis were killed in May and June, and sectarian and insurgent violence continues to claim American and Iraqi lives at an alarming rate. In the face of this onslaught, one can only conclude that the Baghdad security plan you announced five weeks ago is in great jeopardy."
The letter identifies the broader crisis: "U.S. troops and taxpayers continue to pay a high price as your Administration searches for a policy. Over 2,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and over 18,000 others have been wounded. The Iraq war has also strained our military and constrained our ability to deal with other challenges. Readiness levels for the Army are at lows not seen since Vietnam, as virtually no active Army non-deployed combat brigade is prepared to perform its wartime missions."
The letter identifies the source of the crisis: "Far from implementing a comprehensive 'Strategy for Victory' as you promised months ago, your Administration's strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat."
The only thing that is lacking is a proper response to the crisis.
The above, noted by Ruth, is from John Nichols' "Dems on Iraq: Still Vague, Out of Touch" (The Nation). The plan? More like a suggestion. More like a "What are our options?" I think Nichols covers it wonderfully.
Something isn't right -- I don't know I know;
But baby, it's despite your dog and pony show.
I can hear it coming -- you're only going through the motions, baby;
With your engines humming, you're just going through the motions, baby
-- "Going Through The Motions" written by Aimee Mann, off her CD: The Forgotten Arm.
Which is how it seems for the Dems. It's a statement. It's a move in a direction. It's one the public's been ready for months now. It's news. I wouldn't call it great news. It is a sign that they're feeling some pressure to respond to the demands of their constitutents.
In answer to a question in several e-mails, yes, I'm doing the Troops Home Fast still and scheduled to go off it this weekend. I don't think I'll be extending but I will pick up a one-day-a-week fast until September 21st when it ends. The KPFA Evening News reported a short while ago that Cindy Sheehan is planning on fasting until September 21st. Anyone who is thinking of grabbing a one-day still has time to do so. The KPFA Evening News also reported on the delegation headed to Jordan (Sheehan's a part of that). I really am tired and was in the e-mails when Susan had an argument for an evening post that would be "easy" (I'm so tired right now, I'm not sure that there is an easy one.) Other community sites have been noting songs and Susan is a big music fan so she thought maybe something similar could be done here. (If you missed it, read Betty's "Hey Now Young Mothers"; Kat's "Mel Gibson, Maria McKee, Iraq"; Cedric's "Diana & Marvin by the way"; Elaine's "Goodbye Blue Skies" and "Night Ride Home" and Mike's "All the words are going to bleed from me" -- by the way Betty's "Thomas Friedman focuses on foundation" is her latest chapter at her own site and it went up today.)
Susan provided a highlight that works in Graham Nash's "Chicago," Cindy Sheehan's "Won't You Please Come to Camp Casey" (Truth Out):
When I travel the country and talk to people in the anti-war movement, many of them say: "If there were only a draft, people would get off of their butts and protest the war like we (they) did during Vietnam."
I don't believe in giving people an "out" by using the draft excuse. By 1968, 30,000 of our troops had been needlessly slain and countless numbers of unfortunate "collateral-damage" Vietnamese citizens had also been brutally slaughtered. College students who had their deferments were shutting down administrative offices to protest their schools' defense research and collaboration with the war profiteers. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had already been assassinated and there were over 50,000 people who converged on Chicago to protest the "National Death Party" rubber-stamping another murderous four years of Lyndon Johnson's war. The draft and the burning of draft cards, most notably by the Berrigan brothers, was just one of the issues. Graham Nash wasn't about to be drafted when he wrote the song "Chicago": people just cared. While students were protesting to make the world better and soldiers were being ordered to go to Vietnam, against their wills, George was AWOL from the Alabama Air National Guard. He must have gotten tired of playing pilot -or maybe his codpiece was on too tight.
Today, just a little more than 3 years into the bloody conflict in Iraq, 2,579 of our soldiers have been killed, and the collateral civilian damage reaches into the hundreds of thousands, with over 6,000 Iraqis slain just in the past two blood-soaked months. Our brothers are being "bound and gagged" and "chained to chairs" in Guantanamo, which, contrary to what George said about wanting to shut it down, is being expanded and renovated so the sadists can carry out new and improved forms of torture. Israel continues to receive US support in slaughtering Lebanese civilians to consolidate its power in the region.
Politicians sit yourselves down
There's nothing for you here,
Won't you please come to Chicago for a ride.
Don't ask Jack to help you
'Cause he'll turn the other ear,
Won't you please come to Chicago or else join the other side.
In Vietnam, the National Death Party were the Democrats; it was after all, a Democratic war, and the students who came out to protest were also mostly Democrats who wanted their party to do better. In the occupation of Iraq, the Death Party (and certainly the executive branch) seems to be the Republicans - but I would argue that, with a few notable exceptions in both parties, the Death Party is bi-partisan. War is good business for politicians - and the war profiteers are great at greasing every one's blood-stained palms with the mammon of other people's flesh and bones.
Recently, the Democratic leadership did come out and ask George for a "redeployment" plan for our troops from Iraq. Yes, they should be redeployed, but to their homes. Redeployment is good for most of our soldiers, temporarily, but it just means increased aerial bombings on civilians and death squads.
So with that in mind, I'll try for a post, but again, I'm tired (I'm really feeling the fast this week).
From today's snapshot:
In other courtroom news, Ryan Lenz (AP) reported that Bradley Mason testified in court today that he was threatened by four fellow soldiers (William B. Hunsaker, Raymond L. Girouard, Corey R. Clagett and Juston R. Graber) if he spoke of the May 9th events around the shooting deaths of three Iraqi civilians. Mason also testified that "Col. Michael Steele" (of Black Hawk Down 'fame') instructed them to: "Kill all of them." Finally, Mason testified that when the news of shooting the detained and bound three Iraqis was learned that the others "just smiled" but he informed Girouard that he wasn't "down with it. It's murder."
Here come the madmen, they're too excited for atoning
"Burn the mosque" they're shouting, "Burn it down!"
-- "Share the End" words & music by Carly Simon & Jacob Brackman, off Simon's Anticipation.
We noted that here on November 20, 2004 when the slaughter of Falluja was going on. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like we've gotten very far at all. The war drags on and on. What's changed is the number of people willing to speak out against it. That was the one small voice (Carole King's "One Small Voice" -- from the album Speeding Time -- or the children's story) that started the ball rolling and between that openess and the realities coming back from Iraq, the nation turned against the war to the point that the New York Times has to bury their own poll last week. Does the Times ever not front page one of their polls? Yes, apparently, when the poll is on Iraq and people are saying the war was wrong and that we need to have a withdrawal plan. On that poll, it can be buried inside the paper.
They can bury it, they can downplay it, but the mood of the country shifted against the war some time ago. The polls have been consistent over the last months. This isn't a spasm, it is a trend and the country will not suddenly embrace the war again. That, however, doesn't mean we can get any answers which is the transition for a highlight. Martha notes David Corn's "The Neverending Saga of Phase II" (The Nation):
Why is it taking the Senate intelligence committee forty times longer to examine how the Bush administration used--or misused--the prewar intelligence on Iraq and WMDs than it took for the United States military to topple Saddam Hussein? American troops reached Baghdad in three weeks (there were a few complications after that). But the intelligence committee, led by Republican Senator Pat Roberts, has dilly-dallied for two-and-a-half years when it has come to reviewing how George W. Bush and his top aides represented--or misrepresented--the WMD intelligence as they led (or misled) the nation to war. Last fall, the Senate Democrats shut down the Senate for a few hours to protest the committee's lack of progress in producing the so-called Phase II report that was supposed to focus on this matter. Roberts and the Republicans promised to conclude the inquiry soon. Yet another nine months have gone by, and as The Washington Post reported on Sunday, the committee is still not yet done.
They first shoved that report back until after the 2004 elections. We couldn't have it before. (Obviously, it would make Bully Boy look bad.) And it's shoved back ever since. Roberts has demonstrated how little he cares about the people's right to know, or for that matter, the lives lost in Iraq. Any of them -- Iraqi, American, British, go down the list. It's not important enough, this illegal war, that we find out how we were lied (if you prefer -- as one Republican visitor noted today in an e-mail -- "tricked") into war. 2582 is what the fatality count currently stands at (three for the month of August already). When the answers don't matter, the war doesn't matter so maybe we can consider Roberts an unspoken critic of the war? Or just another sorry excuse for a representative of the people who can't quite figure out his job?
Tell me how could it fail
The walls started shaking, I heard love crying out
Happiness is given away, security is falling down
He fell, I fell, all there is left to tell
Is all the king’s horses and all the king’s men
They couldn’t put our two hearts together again
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put our two hearts together again.
-- "All The King's Horses" written by Aretha Franklin, off her album Young, Gifted and Black.
Mike noted Brian MacQuarrie's "A Soldier Maimed by War Now Questions the Mission" (Boston Globe via Common Dreams):
President Bush came and sat by the side of Sergeant Brian Fountaine, a 24-year-old tank commander from Dorchester, a gung-ho soldier who had lobbied to be deployed a second time. Now Fountaine was among the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his legs amputated below the knees after an explosion June 8 ripped apart the Humvee in which he was riding.
The president chatted about the sergeant's beloved Red Sox, but made no reference to the war, the soldier said.
If the topic had come up, the president might not have liked what Fountaine had on his mind. In a dramatic change of heart, Fountaine now considers the war a military quagmire in which American soldiers are caught in a deadly vise between irreconcilable enemies.
A deadly vice that should have been forseen by real leaders. It was ignored. Just like Roberts ignores getting to the bottom of the illegal war -- ignores the very reason so many are dying each day.
And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again
And when the night falls I pray for Peace
Try to remember Peace
I joint the multitudes
I raise my hand in Peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again
-- "Living With War" written by Neil Young, off his album Living With War.
There was a time when it seemed like we'd wised up some. The so-called "Vietnam complex" that so worries the War Hawks (of all parties) seemed to mean we wouldn't be in another Vietnam. The War Hawks thought they could do these swoop-in-and-out wars and get the public used to them. If you remember, the illegal war on Iraq was pushed with that 'logic' -- cake walk. Hasn't turned out that way. It's sad so many had to die just so we would learn the truth costs, yet again. Even sadder that, had it been as quick as the liars said it would be, we might not have reached the level of revulsion we've once again reached.
Wally does a wonderful job at The Daily Jot. Most days, he calls before he posts, so I hear what went into the post and what else was available to write about. To a degree, he's boxed in on what can he write due to the format of that site. Today, he was noting the music posts and wished he could do that so when I read Susan's e-mail, I called him and told him he could pick a lyric excerpt and it would be the one the post would end with. With that in mind, he wanted to go with hope and determination and picked the following:
I'm a living sunset
Lightning in my bones
Push me to the edge
But my will is stone
I believe in a better way
-- "Better Way," written by Ben Harper, off his album Both Sides of the Gun.
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