Tuesday, February 28, 2006

". . . providing security for the people of Iraq has never, from day one, been a priority of this occupation"

"Report: Over 1300 Killed in Iraq Violence" (Democracy Now!):
The Washington Post is reporting over 1300 people have been killed in less than a week of violence in Iraq. The death toll is at least four times higher than previously reported, and one of the biggest outside of major US operations since the war began. Violence has increased across the country following Wednesday's bombing of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra. Earlier today, separate attacks in Baghdad killed at least 36 people and injured dozens more. In the biggest attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Baghdad gas station, killing over 20 people and injuring 50 others.

36 dead. What's the purpose? What's the mission? Operation Accomplished What? There's an article by Ron Jacobs that I'll note here instead of repeat myself two days in a row.

"Iraq's Going According to the Plan?" (Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch):
The civil war potential remains great and, from Western accounts, seems to be growing. According to these accounts, such a war would be (or is, depending on the source) between certain Shia factions and certain Sunni factions, with Baathist siding primarily with the Sunni groups. Another perspective is one presented by a US military officer in an article published by the Washington Post on February 25, 2006. I quote: "the hope is that U.S. forces will be able to focus on foreign fighters, while Iraqi security forces take on the native insurgency. But that hasn't happened yet. The hardest fighting, especially in rural areas, still is being done by U.S. troops." Now, if that doesn't sound like a scenario for creating civil war, than I don't know what is. If the makeup of the Iraqi military is primarily Shias, then it might be possible to portray the battle as one between religious sects, but the underlying reality is that the real war would be between those who support the US-installed regime in Iraq and those who don't. In other words, it would be the same as it is now, only with Iraqi forces doing even more of the killing and dying than they are now.

I'll return to Iraq after the "reality quote" near the bottom.

"Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush's overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President’s handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

As Mike wondered on the phone, "You mean Bully Boy didn't get a 'bounce' from all the killings?" (Mike was being sarcastic.) The glow and luster (created by the press) is falling off Bully Boy. That's bound to happen when you sell an illegal war as a "cakewalk" and three years later it's anything but. Brenda e-mailed to note the only thing worse than Bully Boy was Cheney's numbers. The Claudine Longet of this century's approval ratings stand at 18% so don't expect a forthcoming CD entitled Cuddle Up With Cheney anytime soon.

The hearings today? Sunny had them on in the outer office, courtesy of Pacifica. I was in and out of sessions and only caught about 15 minutes (plus Sunny's recap at lunch). I did catch Orrin Hatch making a fool of himself. (That's kind of hard to miss on any given day, isn't it?) C.I.
captured it perfectly.

"Democracy Now: John Pace, Dave Isay; NSA hearings -- Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo (O. Hatch!)" (The Common Ills):
But let's focus on Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo: O. Hatch! Oh, Orrin. Always there for the comic relief.
In a silly moment, and all of Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo's moments are silly, Miss Priss and James Woolsey engaged in stroke-athon (we can't call it a debate). Miss Priss appeared to lead the waltz of "It's hard work." Getting a FISA warrant is hard work. It played out like this:
Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo: Now Mr. Woolsey, what are your feelings about the food safety guidelines?
Woolsey: As someone who served my time in fast food, let me say that they are just too much of a burden.
Miss Priss: That's correct. I go into a Burger King to order a hamburger. They have to raise the cow. They have to kill the cow. They have to grind it into beef. They have to form a beef patty. They have to cook the beef patty. They have to grow wheat for the bun. They have to grow the tomatoes, the lettuce, the cucumber for the pickle. What about the salt? Do you realize how hard it is to get salt? When they have all the ingredients cooked and assembled on the bun, they have to wrap the bun. With what? Paper. And do you know how they get the paper? They have to do all of that in order to serve me my burger. Who has time for hand washing! We'll never accomplish anything!
Woolsey: It is time consuming.
Miss Priss: That's all I'm saying! Thank you! Do you want to eat or starve? That's all I'm saying.
Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo. Hachet Boy Toys sing "Yodel-ay-hee-hoo" (except John Corny who sings: "Yahoo-uh-what-was-it-again?").
Let's break it down for Miss Priss. All these things he feels are needed for a FISA warrent, these 'cumbersome' things? They should already be on hand. The reason you're requesting a warrant? Well, gee, if you need to do work to figure out why you're
asking for a warrant, chances are you're not ready to request one. It was like that on every thing he ticked off on the 'time consuming' list. All of the items were items you should have already.

"Reality Quote" (Naomi Klein, April 20,2005, Democracy Now!):
NAOMI KLEIN: Those forces are already controlling Iraq. The resistance largely controls Baghdad at this point, a situation where there are between 50 and 60 attacks a day. The militias that Erik is warning about already control large sectors of Iraq, because providing security for the people of Iraq has never, from day one, been a priority of this occupation. We saw the abandonment immediately by allowing the looting to take place and only guarding the Ministry of Oil, and it’s only gotten worse. You know, when I was in Iraq a year ago, this was the most persistent complaint -- was spiraling crime. And that's actually how the militias were created. They were created as a response to the fact that US Occupation never, ever prioritized giving security to Iraqis. The other issue is this idea that somehow US forces are helping to train Iraqi police, and that it's just a problem of training. What's actually happening is that there is -- is that the greatest liability for Iraqis to gain control over their own country security-wise, is the fact that the security forces have been embedded in the occupation itself and are seen as an extension of the hated and loathed occupation. So they get attacked as collaborators and slaughtered. They're not provided with any protection, and so on. So the best way for them to build up their own force and their own credibility, which is really what's needed, is a clear break with the occupation, which means immediately announcing a withdrawal of troops and setting up a transition plan. The first step has to be the announcement of troop withdrawal.

First, let's note that Naomi Klein made these comments in April 2005. For those who are still confused, does it clear things up? There are a lot of people who refuse to accept what's going on in Iraq. Maybe it's because there has been so little reality like Klein's speaking outside of the alternative media?

Saturday, Ruth's Public Radio Report went up and for that one, noting the tenth anniversary of Democracy Now!, Ruth asked us to share a report from the show that had stayed with us. We all just named what first came to mind, more or less. But C.I. kept telling me I needed to check out Jim's pick. I'm sad to say that I still haven't had time. But Eddie did and the quotes from the episode Jim picked (it's actually the report after Jim's pick -- Klein's there for two reports). Democracy Now! is celebrating its tenth anniversary and I'm not sure I've noted that here. I can't imagine anyone drops by this blog and has never heard about Democracy Now!, but in case that is possible, let me urge you to please check the program out.
C.I.'s offered that to celebrate the ten years, we should all make a point to tell ten people about it between now and the end of March. I think that's a great idea. Something we can all do. Get the word out to ten people you've never spoken about the program too. Will they all listen? Great if they do. But raise awareness on the show. If you mention it and then, a week or two later, someone else does it, the person may think, "I need to check this show out." If they never do, at least they're aware it is out there. So I'll join C.I. in urging everyone to make a point to tell ten people about Democracy Now! from now until the end of the month.