Monday, September 25, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Iraqi political parties have agreed to delay the formation of any new autonomous federal regions for at least 18 months.
"An agreement has been reached by all the political parties," Khaled al-Attiya, an aide to Shia deputy parliament speaker, said on Sunday.
"They agreed to hold the first reading of the bill on federal regions on Tuesday, but will not be able to implement it until 18 months after parliament approves it." The move came as Kurds began to debate their own constitution, a controversial document that sets conditions for the region to remain part of Iraq.
He also said a committee would be formed on Monday to start reviewing possible amendments to the constitution - a key demand of the Sunni minority.

The above, noted by Lynda, is from Al Jazeera's "Iraq delays federalism decision." It's Sunday (ha ha, it's Monday morning in all time zones -- I spent three hours on something else, important, that I had planned to be using to post) Delays, doesn't stop it, just delays it.

Nothing delays the violence. Picking up with the Sunday New York Times (I noted this morning that we'd grab it in this entry), Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Hosham Hussein report on Saturday's violence noting that 35 people died in Sadr City (bombing), that "[m]any of the victims were burned to death" and at least 24 were female. They also note the death of four US troops. They quote an eyewitness to the bombing, Bassim Mohammed, as stating: "It was like an oven. Bodies were burned everywhere. I saw seven bodies of small boys. They are just boys! They did nothing. Why do they attack us?" (Article, on A8, is entitled "Bomb Near Gathering of Women Kills at Least 35 Iraqis.")

That was Saturday. Among the violence on Sunday? Reuters reports eight people dead in Baghdad from car bombs; one dead from a roadside bomb in Mosul; a car bomb killed two Iraqi soldiers in Tal Afar; a man died from mortar rounds in Mussayab; four corpses were discovered near Kirkuk; ten were discovered in Falluja (signs of torture on both the four and the ten); and, in Fallua, Najim Abdullah al-Isawi and his son were shot dead in their home. AP reports a convoy attack ("near Abu Ghrabi") that resulted in the death of "three civilian drivers," and five were shot dead in the Diyala province. That's 38 reported deaths -- we count corpses. In addition to that, the US military announces two soldiers are died Sunday in Al-Anbar Province "from enemy action."

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq stood at 2684. Right now? 2702. The 2700 mark was passed Sunday morning (or noted by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count Sunday morning). You know that the right (and the psuedo left) hates the Vietnam comparisons, but when the body count started rising during Vietnam, there were those who justified it publicly. And once you can justify a couple of thousands, it's not that a big a stretch to justify 10,000 or 20,000 . . . So we need to realize that the number rises each month, that the violence continues and that the only thing that will stop it, is to end the war. I wouldn't propose a "fine," because I support free speech but maybe someone should start an agency that collects money for the future DC memorial and everytime you hear someone pooh-pah the number (usually the figure's prefaced with "only"), you could hand them the agencies card and suggest that they make a donation to the memorial that will be built. Should they respond that they don't think a memorial needs to be built yet, you could ask them what the magic number is, note it on the agencies card, as well as the person's contact info, and send them a message when their 'magic number' is reached.

Because the number of the 'cakewalk' fatalties is climbing. Continues to climb. It's not stopping. It may drop a little -- and doesn't the press rush in with hoseanas of "Only forty died in the month of ___!" Only forty? Only? That's forty lives that were lost in an illegal war, that's, minimum, forty people in America who won't ever again see someone they loved because the Bully Boy wanted a war of choice and wanted it so badly he was willing to lie a nation into it.

It's very likely the US troops fatality count will hit 3,000 before the 4th anniversary of the illegal war. (It's likely that it will hit that even sooner.) Will Bully Boy please stand in front of his "Mission Accomplished" banner on that day? Will he please explain then exactly what was accomplished by his illegal war?

The current president says we must honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers by completing the mission. How will more bloodshed and more dying honor my son, who was killed in Iraq more than 2 years ago? The president can prevent the creation of new Gold Star Mothers. It is time for this president to put ALL options on the table and make necessary and immediate changes to his disastrous course in Iraq. He can start by bringing the troops home now. We will never forget our loved ones; they will live forever in our hearts. On Sunday, the citizens of this country must remember our sacrifice and consider the human cost of this war. That and our broken hearts are something that Gold Star Mothers live with forever. I AM the proud Gold Star Mother of Lt Ken Ballard, KIA 5.30.04, Najaf, Iraq
Karen Meredith
Ken Ballard’s homepage
Karen’s blog: Gold Star Mom Speaks Out

That's from Karen Meredith's "Gold Star Mom Speaks Out" (Truthdig). Ken Ballard was one person and his mother is one life touched by his death, you better believe others were as well. The Bully Boy? Not touched by it. He needs to glad-hand with pre-screended families who will tell him what he needs to hear in their limited time with him, time for which he doesn't even appear to prepare by learning the families' names. Hence, as Cindy Sheehan's noted, his use of "Mom" in place of an actual name -- do you really think Sheehan or any other mother who has lost their child needs to hear the Bully Boy calling them "Mom" when their own children can't any longer?

I'm sure I've told this story here before at some point, but, during childhood, a dog had a litter of puppies. All died. There was a kid who went around after the mother (Taffy) and he thought it was funny to do a little bark. Taffy would stop and start looking around for the puppies while the boy grinned. To me, when Bully Boy calls a the mother of a soldier who died in his illegal war "Mom" it's the same kind of twisted abuse.

The war needs to end. It's not going to end in the rush to defocus on other topics such as decrying this nation's leader or that nation's leader for remarks. On that topic, Zach notes Jeff Cohen's "'Devil' in the Eye of the Beholder" (Consortium News) and wonders what to excert? A problem. We'll go with the following because it relates to Iraq and includes a mention of Cohen's new book (which is at the house and next on my reading schedule, but it's supposed to be very good so take a look at it -- online, in stores, in libraries -- and see if it interests you). As you will remember, Hugo Chavez had some descriptive words for the Bully Boy when he addressed the UN (and after). Not at all surprising considering the US backed attempt to overthrow him in 2002. (And "US backed" is being generous.) But everyone had to cluck (including Pelosi and Rangel) and act outraged. (Manufactured Outrage.) Cohen, prior to the excerpt, is noting that reaction. Here, he's tying in the psuedo outrage expressed today (and psuedo shock) with similar words by some of the same posing as outraged today:

Also incensed by Chavez was MSNBC host and former GOP Congressman, Joe Scarborough -- who last night played a lengthy excerpt of Limbaugh pontificating about the Chavez remarks. Somehow Scarborough couldn't dig up the tapes of Limbaugh declaring that Daschle was the devil.
In my new book
Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, I dissect the hypocrisy of a TV news business that has long catered to hateful rightists like Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell and Ann Coulter. In TV land, vicious epithet-hurlers get to define and denounce outnumbered or silenced progressives as the name-callers.
When I worked at MSNBC on Phil Donahue's primetime show in 2002-2003, management often complained that Phil - who never named-called and was one of the most courteous hosts in TV history -- was "badgering" guests. His patriotism was questioned. As the Iraq invasion neared, an internal NBC management memo described Donahue as "a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war." Why? Because he insisted on presenting guests who were "skeptical of the administration's motives."
With Donahue terminated on the eve of war, MSNBC brass turned to hosts like Scarborough and talk radio bigot Michael Savage, known for his declarations that developing countries like Venezuela were "turd world nations"; that Latinos "breed like rabbits"; and that women "should have been denied the vote." In a TV industry bent on placating the far right, Donahue was "a difficult public face for NBC." But Savage was deemed an acceptable face.
Three weeks into the Iraq war, Scarborough was gleeful at boycotts and cancellations aimed at antiwar "elitists" like Janeane Garofalo, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. As a guest on Scarborough's show, Savage declared that "Hollywood idiots" are "absolutely committing sedition and treason." Responded Scarborough: "These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass."

Pru gets the last highlight, it's from Great Britain's Socialist Worker and it addresses Saturday's protest in Manchester, England:

This article should be read after: » Reports and video of Manchester Time to Go demonstration, 23 September 2006
"More than 50,000 protesters tell Blair it's Time to Go:
A Tony Blair reaper looks over the die in
" (Pic: Richard Searle)
by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Between 50,000 and 60,000 protesters converged on Manchester city centre today for the Stop the War Coalition's "Time To Go" demonstration on the eve of the Labour Party's annual conference.
Marchers from Penzance to Aberdeen were united in their demands to get British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan - and for Tony Blair to get out of 10 Downing Street.
There was a strong regional turnout for Stop the War's first national demonstration outside of London, with large contingents from across the north west of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands. Some 1,000 protesters travelled down from Scotland in a fleet of coaches.
Many of the protesters were young people like Louise Marsland and Hannah Clarke, who came down from Preston with a group of students.
"I'm really impressed with the size of the demo," Louise told Socialist Worker. "I don't know who will follow Blair, and I don't know how they will clean up the mess Blair has made. But this has gone too far and it has to stop now."
Hannah said, "I came to the demo because I've been reading the papers all week and it made me really angry. My brothers have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blair is George Bush's lapdog - he should go now."
The demonstration started at lunchtime with an opening rally in Albert Square, before heading off on a circular route around the Labour conference's city centre venue.
The march was marked by blazing sunshine and a series of street theatre events, including a mass "die in". Other protesters dressed up as "Butcher Bush" or carried coffins to symbolise the deaths of thousands across the Middle East.
The closing rally was addressed by speakers including Tony Benn, Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition and Rose Gentle from Military Families Against the War. Trade unions were represented by Tony Woodley, general secretary of the T&G, and Unison's deputy general secretary Keith Sonnet.
MPs addressing the crowd included Respect's George Galloway, and Labour left wingers Michael Meacher, Alan Simpson and Jeremy Corbyn. Tommy Sheridan MSP also spoke, representing the new Solidarity movement in Scotland.
For several speakers it was their first time addressing a Stop the War rally. Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, spoke out fiercely against the government's policies of imperial war.
The Lancet was the first journal to publish scientific evidence that over 100,000 civilians had died in Iraq as a result of the invasion - figures that were attacked and rubbished by the government.
Gemma Tumelty, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said the money the government was wasting on war should be spent on education. She was one of several speakers to attack New Labour's moves towards privatisation in the NHS.
"The NUS is built on a foundation of internationalism," she said. "We want to send a message of solidarity to students, trade unionists and the people of Iraq."
Several speakers underlined how the anti-war movement had a different vision of the world to that pushed by Bush and Blair. "We stand for justice and liberation, while they stand for tyranny and oppression," said Soumaya Ghannoushi of the British Muslim Initiative. "But the future belongs to us, not them."
One surprise speaker was Lauren Booth, journalist and half sister of Cherie Booth, Tony Blair's wife. She said Blair should be ashamed of himself for refusing to call for a ceasefire during Israel's recent assault on Lebanon. "Yo Blair - it's time to go, Blair," she added.
Don't forget The Stop the War Coalition has organised a Time for Change alternative conference in Manchester on Sunday 24 September to bring activists together after the protest. It will include speakers such as George Galloway MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Lindsey German, Moazzam Begg, Walter Wolfgang, Tariq Ali and many others. It is at Roscoe Building, University of Manchester, Brunswick Street from 10am to 6pm.
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.
If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by supporting our »