They stood shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, palms shielding flickering candles. They were silent as the Rev. Bob Moore read out the names: "Dennis W. Zillinski, Freehold ...Carl Jerome Ware Jr., Glassboro ..."
A bell ring followed the reading of each name of the 50 New Jersey residents who have been killed serving in Iraq.
As a Christmas tree in Palmer Square gleamed a few hundred yards behind the protesters, a man talking on a cell phone flashed a thumbs-up; a white-bearded man walked by, mumbling about "safety." But most people deftly threaded their way between Moore and the line of people without a word or a glance.
Moore and the 25 members of the Coalition for Peace Action who joined him were demanding an end to the bloodshed and an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, but their protest was hardly enough competition for a holiday sale or a cup of eggnog in a warm tavern.
Moore was undaunted. "When a mistake has been made, we need to repent of it," he said. "We've lost enough. The Iraqis have lost enough."
The above, noted by Erika, is from Alex Zdan's "Give peace a chance, pacifists urge: Princeton coalition calls for end to Iraq war" (Trenton Times). Give peace a chance? Not likely for the War Hawks. Attempting to grab the wheel from the Bully Boy and hit the gas pedal to ensure not just that the country go over the cliff but that it does so quickly, John McCain. From John F. Burns' "Military Considers Sending as Many as 35,000 More U.S. Troops to Iraq, McCain Says" in this morning's New York Times:
Senator John McCain said Thursday that American military commanders were discussing the possibility of adding as many as 10 more combat brigades -- a maximum of about 35,000 troops -- to "bring the situation under control" while Iraq's divided political leaders seek solutions to the worsening bloodshed here.
After talks in Baghdad with Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and other top American generals, Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, said a substantial United States troop increase was one of the strategy changes the generals were considering as they reviewed what he called "a steadily deteriorating situation."
He said meetings with Iraqi government leaders showed that they, too, "have certainly not ruled out the option of more troops."
"Five to 10 additional brigades is what is being discussed," Mr. McCain said, outlining an increase that could bring overall American troop strength to the highest levels since the invasion in March 2003. While American combat brigades vary, Pentagon officials say they average about 3,500 soldiers. At present, there are 15 combat brigades in Iraq, amounting to about 50,000 of the total American force of about 140,000.
"The American people are disappointed and frustrated with the Iraq war, but they want us to succeed if there is any way to do that," Mr. McCain told a news conference. Unlike some American military commanders who have said any troop increase should be temporary, he said any increase should last "until we can get the situation under control, or until it becomes clear that we can't."
No, McCain, that's not what the polling's reflected for some time. Most Americans feel it was a boneheaded mistake to start an illegal war of choice. Senator Bonehead is, as usual, out of step with the American people and more interested in selling war than in listening to the people. He can repeat his nonsense over and over and it can go into papers and over airwaves without being questioned but it's not reality.
Some may mistake it for that. Some may rush to hide behind or cheerlead the generals. Did someone say Michael R. Gordon? Gordo and Thom Shanker contribute "Top Commanders Appear Set to Urge Larger U.S. Military:"
The review of Iraq policy by senior commanders appears to be headed toward a recommendation to increase the size of the American military, both to sustain a long-term commitment in Iraq and to leave the United States better positioned to deal with potential adversaries, in particular Iran and North Korea, Pentagon and military officials said Thursday.
[. . .]
Officials who took part in the session or who were briefed on it would not give specific figures that were being discussed for growth goals. But their descriptions revealed a broad conclusion that has received increasing support in Washington: that regardless of the exact shape of President Bush's new strategy on Iraq, the Army and Marine Corps are stretched thin by their commitments around the globe, in particular in Iraq.
Gordo's too modest. Support from Washington?
Support for this doesn't come from the people but it does come from the War Hawks and from those who have spent 2006 demonstrating repeatedly just how useless they can be. Refusing to address the war, hiding behind generals, go down the list. And anyone who thinks that means "mainstream press" has been comatose for most of the year and missed the majority of the cover stories coming from The Nation.
The war's not ending. Not only that, now it's very likely more US troops will be sent over. You can thank people who have made themselves useless repeatedly in 2006. Maybe they wanted to ha-ha it with talk of the Oscars (they don't grasp the process and let's hope it was humor that allowed them to 'simplify' 2000's election and not an honest reflection of their grasp on reality).
Maybe they needed to be the last word in food. Or maybe they just wanted to give one more "F.U." to the readers? (The song Mike's referring to is Jackson Browne's "Shaky Town.") What they didn't want to do, repeatedly, was address the war in a serious manner that provided them with no cover to hide behind.
If the skirmish in 2005 resulted from a desire to nag, nag has been giving up, now they just flip the bird while asking that people pay to be flipped off.
We'll close with reality, noted by Martha, from Sudrarsan Raghavan's "Gunmen Kidnap Baghdad Shopkeepers, Bystanders" (Washington Post):
Hardly a soul stirred on Thursday afternoon inside the warren of narrow dark alleys and side streets in Sanak, one of the Iraqi capital's busiest commercial districts. Shop after shop remained closed, their steel doors sealed with thick padlocks. Empty stalls, flanked by apartments filled with cowering residents, served as a silent coda to what had unfolded two hours earlier.
Gunmen in camouflage uniforms drove up in 11 cars at about 10 a.m. and surrounded the area, just around the corner from an Iraqi police checkpoint, witnesses said. Some wore black ski masks, others black bandannas. They casually went from business to business, spending 30 minutes rounding up at least 25 shopkeepers, witnesses said. The men hustled their captives past the stalls and stunned customers, grabbing a few bystanders along the way.
"They took Sunnis, Shiites and Christians," said Ziad Ali, one of the shopkeepers. "They did not differentiate. They even grabbed six boys."
The mass abductions, brazen even by Baghdad standards, were the latest sign of worsening insecurity in the capital.
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