For the second straight day, insurgents struck at Shiite pilgrims and other civilians across central Iraq on Wednesday, apparently seeking to reignite a cycle of sectarian retribution as hundreds of thousands of Shiites made their pilgrimage to Karbala to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein.
In Baghdad, a movement to form a cross-sectarian political front appeared to be gaining ground, with a significant party declaring that it would leave the main Shiite bloc and was open to joining discussions to form the possible new front.
At least 70 people were reported killed across Iraq on Wednesday, victims of bombings, drive-by shootings and assassination, according to hospitals and local police officials.
The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Attacks on Shiite Pilgrims Continue" in this morning's New York Times 0r -- as it comes off more and more these days, The Daily Undercount. 90 -- that's the figure most news outlets were using yesterday -- at least 90 reported deaths. Still Rubin's aware of more deaths than Gordo (next entry). And what will Congress do?
Martha notes Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray's "As Iraq Exit Plan Arrives, Democrats' Rift Remains" (Washington Post):
Even in her conservative Kansas district, calls and letters to freshman House Democrat Nancy Boyda show a constituency overwhelmingly ready for U.S. troops to come home from Iraq.
Yet as the House nears a legislative showdown on the war, Boyda finds herself wracked with doubts. She is convinced that Congress must intervene to stop the war, but is fearful of the chaos that a quick U.S. pullout could prompt. "Congress has an obligation to do something," Boyda said. But she is unsure what to do, worried about anything that "affects commanders on the ground."
Oh, that quick pull out! Oh no! Most often the withdrawal date tossed around in the press is 2008. That's not a quick withdrawal. In the same article, Blue Dog and all around idiot said Stephanie Herseth, flashes her War Hawk signs by saying, "I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls." No, never overreact or even respond to public opinion which has hardened against the war and which swept the Democrats into control of Congress. Just keep ignoring them Herseth like a good little faux Democrat who doesn't believe in listening to the people and takes pride in ignoring the will of the people.
In other news of so-called leadership, Lloyd notes Ernesto Londono's "Shiite Bloc in Parliament Diminished by Defection" (Washington Post):
A small Shiite political party on Wednesday pulled out of the governing Shiite parliamentary bloc that put Iraq's prime minister in power.
The move could lead to more squabbling in a parliament widely seen as paralyzed by sectarian and political differences. Some interpreted the pullout of the Fadhila Party, which holds 15 of the 275 seats, as a sign of growing dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Fadhila leaders said their withdrawal from the United Iraqi Alliance reflected a desire to defuse sectarian influences in the country's politics.
What happens when the puppet loses his internal support (shaky as it always was)? Stay tuned.
Marci points out that in the Libby-Libby-Libby craze, most appear to have dropped the story "that still needed exploring." She notes Bob Woodruff and Jim Hill's "Coping With the Invisible Casualties of War" (ABC News):
Gina Hardy never had much of a chance to enjoy her husband's homecoming from Iraq. Warren Hardy, a decorated veteran of the Iraq War, had sustained an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury when his armored personnel carrier rolled over a land mine near Tikrit.
"You see pictures of soldiers coming home, reuniting with the families and … everything is great," said Gina. "We didn't have that kind of reunion. When I saw him for the first time, I was disappointed. He was just different, and I couldn't understand why."
Hardy was sent to Iraq with the first armored division in 2004, and was injured by the land mine a few months into his tour. An eyewitness to the explosion said Hardy's 14-ton vehicle went 10 feet into the air. Military doctors diagnosed Hardy with knee problems, but he wasn't screened for a head injury, even though he blacked out after the explosion.
'Something Was Different'
"When I went into the combat hospital," said Hardy, "all they did was look at my knees and X-rayed them. And they put down on my emergency sheet, [I] have a lump on my head. They gave me two days' rest and then returned me to duty, and I went straight back onto patrol again.
"I just don't think the doctors at the time really understood … the new kind of injury that I had coming out of Iraq."
After the blast, Hardy immediately felt like a different soldier. "I was always banging my head against obstacles," he said. "And it's like my memory of what's around me wasn't keeping the information. So I would always end up with these cuts and scrapes on my head. I just didn't feel as smart. I knew there was something wrong, [but] it never dawned on me that I had a head injury that way. I just noticed that something was different."
When Hardy returned home, he was unable to concentrate and would have unprovoked outbursts. He could walk and talk, but with his memory failing him, he found it impossible to return to work as a software engineer.
I guess the above doesn't have the appeal for the pundits of the political jockey set. Or maybe it was just too much reality for them and took away from the hours of the political equivalent of fantasy football (a game The Nation is obsessed with).
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