America in Iraq; Bull in China Shop


“Bull in China Shop” Art By Vic Roschkov [Canadian Editorial Cartoonist]

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Americans are five years into a battle gone awry.  Citizens of the United States cry out, “too much blood has been spilled, too many lives and limbs were lost,” we the people want to, “Bring the troops home.”  Hence, Congress holds hearings.  The inquiry is intended to help define the future.  For many it is time to exit Iraq and end a futile war.  The people have questions; when and how will we complete a failed mission.  On April 8, 2008, the Senior Commander of multinational forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, American envoy to Baghdad, spoke to United states Senators and attempted to address the public’s concerns.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker described an Iraq torn and in turmoil.  Each official spoke of the significant, although still-tenuous political progress.  The civil servants assured the United States Senators, Iraq is more stable and secure than it was a mere seven months earlier.  However, they state improvement is “uneven.”  

Senators, who supposedly speak on behalf of the people, proposed there must be a plan.  Several said America needs to make a correction.  A few pronounced the course must be stayed.  All agreed; Americans must have a strategy if Iraq is to ever be a successful, sovereign nation.  These thoughts have been expressed for years, and little truly changes.  A near million [or more] innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and many millions more have no home.  For refugees and residents, employment is but a vision from eras long passed.  Electricity and essentials are not part of daily life.  Nonetheless, reports are progress has been made.

The rhetoric rises high up into the halls of the Capitol.  As the world listens, people cannot help but be reminded of a bull in a china shoppe.

In a boutique, filled with fragile leaded crystal, porcelain wares of superior quality, sumptuous silver, fine figurines, and cherished collectibles, a beast, unfamiliar with the etiquette or elegance in this setting, enters and effectively destroys what once was beautiful.  

Initially, the bovine is attracted to the glimmers of light.  Refracted beams glow as the bull observes the glorious finery.  The shiny surfaces are hypnotic for the animal.  In a stupor, the bull moves towards what attracts him.

The bovine is as Americans.  Citizens of this country are drawn to the radiance of black gold.  Those who depend on petroleum products are mesmerized when they think of a place where the supply seems as endless as their demand.  People who  profit from the sale of fuel are also charmed.  Indeed, those who have the means are more enamored.  The oil-rich know that they can profit from the sale of the substance.  Two of these tycoons work in the White house.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the biggest bulls man has seen for some time.  These leaders of the herd were spellbound as they gazed upon fields of oil.  Moneyed moguls who work within the Executive Branch of government led the herd into a crystal palace, or a nation State known as Iraq.  

The two oilmen elected to office, bullies that they are, had smiled at the mere mention of Texas Tea in the fields of Iraq long before they ever claimed to have reason to invade the symbolic china shoppe.  The aggressive cattle, also known as the Bush Administration, may have appeared clumsy in their calculations.  However, these cows planned their entrance into the specialty store.  The tycoons expected to shock the shopkeepers, and awe their fellow Americans.  The bulls thought they would quickly clean up the mess they made.  Then, they would exit triumphantly with treasures in hand.  The bovine projected that they would accomplish their mission just as suddenly as they crossed the threshold.

However, the livestock did not understand; boutique proprietors and patrons might not welcome the destruction of valuable property.  

Raging bulls rarely contemplate how a perilous circumstance would effect any sane storeowner, shopper, or sovereign nation.  A charging bovine does not comprehend why the clientele within the walls of the shop, or civilians within the confines of a country’s borders does not greet the charging creature with rose petals and open arms.  

Again, we are reminded of an American Administration and the prospects the leaders of the herd envisioned as they proposed the United States and its allies attack Iraq.  

The bulls, President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and then Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice did not consider the culture, the civilization, or the fact that every being has the right to choose independence or his or her leaders.  Nor did the creatures who replaced a few of those in the corral.  Future leaders of the herd were as blinded by the light of power as the previous beefy bulls were.

The cattle now labeled the Cabinet, are no more conscious of what occurs when you purposely break the treasures of others than the earlier group of mammals was.

Hence, the axiom framed by the former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, cattle extraordinaire continues to guide Americans, “If you broke it, you must fix it.”

Indeed, the awkward, unaware animals busted the bone china, crushed the crystal, smashed the silverware, and flattened the figurines, and they continue to do so.  

Fortunately, these bulls have money; although admittedly they beg, borrow, steal, or print the dollars and cents used to fund a futile attempt to fix the country they fractured.  Regrettably, the beasts of burden do not realize they cannot repair what has never made sense to them.  The bulls cannot restore health to a shop that was not fashioned in a style they are familiar with.  Few of these creatures reflect on the wisdom of a physicist, the genius of a man who studied the scientific principles of matter, energy, force, and motion.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

~ Albert Einstein

What the bulls believe is best is send in the young.  Calves trained to act as the bigger beasts did and do, now crash into china shop doors and obliterate the fragile finery that is, or once was life in Iraq.  Generals and Ambassador, similar to the elders in a herd, gather the broken glass.  They collect the cattle in one locale or another.  The emissaries, just as the leaders in a pack, attempt to repair relations with proprietors and the public.  

However, these persons also approach those in the Persian Gulf as the Commander-In-Chief did and does.  To the people in Iraq a bull is a bull is a bull.

None of the livestock fully understand as long as they occupy the shop, more treasures  will be trampled.  The merchant wants no missionaries, or mammals to demolish what for him was his own.  Nor does the retailer appreciate a brutal beast in his shop or State.  The Iraqi citizens, just as customers in the shattered shoppe do not crave advise from cruel cattle.  “Correct” information from a bull who demolishes all creature comforts, seems contrary to those who have been terrorized by out of control cows for too long.

Information is not knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

Money will not mend what was shattered and what will be razed as long as the bulls reside in country.  Yet, the bulls bellow that they cannot continue to finance the destruction they have done and do.  Cattle exclaim too much cash has gone to cracked crystal.  Senator Clinton, who aspires to be the Lead of the American beasts explains, “We simply cannot give the Iraqi government an endless blank check.  The question might be asked, why not.  

The cattle found the dollars to destroy as they desired.  Why might the Lead bulls and those who wish to have the title of Cattle Commander-In-Chief believe they have the resources to remain in the shoppe, with the promise to be less visible and destructive; yet, the bovine does not have greenbacks available for repair or recompense.

Might the bovines consider as long as Americans stay in the boutique and break the bone china, we owe the proprietor reparations.  We bulls cannot ever fully compensate for what we caused.  The only way we, “the American people,” can clean up the mess we allowed our herd to make is to leave now, with sincere sorrow, and issue a blank check as a meager attempt to pay for the horrors we have wrought.

We cannot turn back the clock; nor are we able to replace the antique vases, or extraordinary entities once titled Mom, Dad, son, daughter, friend, or family.  Bovine blunders and bungles will not provide property owners and patrons to live their lives free of fear and further folly.  Perchance the adage bulls might adopt is, “If you break it; you pay for it and then, please, immediately leave the premises.”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

~ Albert Einstein

Sources and the Reality of Americans in Iraq; Bull in China Shop . . .

Human Cost of Occupation; 4000 American Soldiers Fall

4000 U.S Now Dead In Iraq

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Their names and faces are known.  Yet, these servicemen and women remain invisible for most Americans.  Their families suffer, and have for years.  When the troops were abroad, relatives worried.  Now that these four thousand are gone from Earth forever, the persons that love them still wish to bring them back.  Semper fidelis, always faithful and forlorn.

They were our soldiers, the American troops that served to protect us.  These military men and women took up arms to fight off terrorists.  They battled aggressors.  They [supposedly] kept us free from another attack.  Nevertheless, these persons were powerless against an Administration unbridled with absolute authority.  

None of those killed could stop the invasion into Iraq.  Upon entrance into the service, soldiers understood war was an option.  However, few could have imagined the reality or the risk.  Courageous lads and lasses sent to the Persian Gulf feared what could be a certain fate, death.  Yet,  they marched on.  Soldiers true to their country, had a mission.  They were intent on the hope of an accomplishment.

One in six were not old enough to legally buy a beer.  Nearly two dozen had lived long enough to qualify for an American Association of Retired Persons [AARP] card.  Eleven passed as the folks at home in the States sliced a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  An identical number fell while the people celebrated the birth of Christ.  Five were  slain on the anniversary of their births.  The surname Smith belonged to one percent of the dead soldiers.

  • Ninety-eight percent were male (compared with 99.9% of those lost in Vietnam).  Three-quarters were non-Hispanic white (compared with 86% in Vietnam).  The most common age was 21 (20 in Vietnam).
  • Nine percent were officers, including 24 lieutenant colonels and six colonels.
  • More of the fallen were based at Fort Hood in Texas than at any other military installation.
  • New York City, which has lost 62 residents, had more deaths than any other hometown.
  • More than half of the nearly 4,000 (52%) were killed by bombs, 16% by enemy gunfire.  Five percent died in aircraft crashes.  Fifty-five people drowned, and 15 were electrocuted.  Almost one in five died from what the military terms “non-hostile” causes.
  • Since the war began in March 2003, the Pentagon has reported double-digit U.S. fatalities on 35 days.  The bloodiest was Jan. 26, 2005, when a Marine helicopter crashed in a sandstorm, killing all 31 aboard, and six other service members died in combat.  The bloodiest month was November 2004, when 137 died; the least bloody was February 2004, when 21 were lost.  On 460 days of the war, no service member died.

How many American soldiers were wounded?  Can we calculate the ones whose scars cannot be seen?  What of the families and friends affected?  One heart, mind, body, or soul tortured wounds more than a single individual.  Savage combat destroys a society.  

“Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”

~ Thomas Edison [Scientist, Inventor]

As of this evening, five years and four days after the first bomb blast, four thousand American troops have fallen in Iraq.  The carnage is incomprehensible.  Countless civilians were massacred.  War, or mass murder, was waged in the name of the American people, and yet, the people on terra firma sit idly by.

“It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

~ Albert Einstein [Physicist]

For month’s United States citizens, cozy, and comfortable in America have allowed themselves to be distracted.  Combat seemed less crucial than an economic crisis.  Presidential politics has entertained the electorate.  The situation in Iraq is less sexy than a juicy scandal or a sensational sermon.  Tonight as the four thousandth soldier took a last breath might we contemplate the meaning of this milestone.

  • The wounded figure since March 19, 2003, is now well above 29,000.  It is far, far higher than the number killed, and often has a more lasting impact on those who sacrifice as a human tragedy and in terms of costs.  If one counts the number of men and women whose lives have been virtually destroyed by critical combat wounds and adds that total to the number killed, we reached 4,000 long ago.  Far too much media coverage focuses only on “killed.”  There needs to be balance in counting all of the wounded, and far more attention paid to the number of critical physical and psychological wounds and disability cases.  In many ways, news reporting on the “stats” of the fighting now covers only half the sacrifice of those who serve in uniform. . . .
  • No one can really predict at this time whether we will be able to sharply reduce the future rate of casualties during 2009-2010, and move to “strategic overwatch” and reliance on the ISF for almost all the fighting.  We could see a failure of political conciliation lead to more intense U.S. fighting and a new rise in casualty rates or even to U.S. withdrawal.  The odds of success in Iraq now seem higher than those of defeat, and events seem more likely to steadily reduce U.S. casualties, but there are no certainties.
  • As for the present, all the same data that show a major decline in U.S. and Iraqi casualties since last summer also show that the reduction of casualties has now plateaued and may be rising.  Al Qaeda and the extreme elements of the JAM have every incentive to find ways to raise the U.S. casualties between now and November, and will be seeking ways to use bombings to raise the rate and number.  These attacks may be far more important over the months to come than the 4,000 figure.
  • There is a great deal of talk about the ultimate future dollar cost of the war if we stay.  Much of this discussion somewhat unrealistically assumes that the dollar cost of fighting and aid remains relatively constant.  In practice, success in moving to strategic overwatch and shifting the burden to the ISF and Iraqi government expenditures would actually sharply reduce the out year dollar costs.  The same is true of the longer term trends in killing and wounded.
  • But, if we are in Iraq through the end of the next administration, the real benchmark may still be more than 5,000 killed and 15,000-20,000 more wounded before the costs in blood are over.

These numberrs represent only the Americans.  What of the innocent Iraqis now perished.  If we are to truly tally the losses, we must consider the millions of Iraqi civilians displaced,  A year ago, there were four [4] million refugees.

Could we count the Persians and Americans deeply disturbed.  As the instigators of battle we, the people of this “peaceful” nation must ponder the thousands, perhaps, millions mentally and emotionally impaired, adults, and the children who will never be the same.  The scars are deep; the sorrow deeper.  Will we, the American people allow the bloodshed to be our birthright.  Are ‘lives lost’ the legacy we wish to leave our children.

By the time this treatise is read, the totals will probably be incorrect, the data outdated  One more life will have been taken.  Another will soon depart.  Those who live and suffer will not be evaluated, and few will reflect on the sign hung in Albert Einstein’s Princeton office.

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

May we stop for a moment, maybe more.  Might we bring the troops home now, before one more body falls.  Lets us all rest in peace before we are buried alive by the effects of a wasteful war.

Sources and Scars . . .

Peace, Justice, and Prosperity

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

For most of my life I have been a dreamer.  As a child I sat many a fine hour on a creek bank with a cork floating on the water (often with no bait on the hook) and dreamed of other times and other places.  In those years science fiction was a staple of reading.  Television was young and barely available.  Entertainment was found by one’s self or not found at all for the most part.  

In years past I dreamed of a better life for myself and my family.  In those days the dream was more about myself than for other people.  As life has continued in time the dream has come to encompass the people around me and now extends to the nation and around the entire globe.  Today I dream of a world in which peace, justice, and prosperity are the rule of the day.

Most of all I dream of a United States President who works to insure our nation benefits from the principles of peace, justice, and prosperity.  The dream includes a President who brings our troops home from our occupation zones around the world before more damage is done on either side of the affair.  The dream holds an administration focused on diplomacy using carrots instead of sticks to deal with foreign nations.  

The dream means a world in which peace is a primary objective to be sought far ahead of any thought of belligerence or of military operations.  In my dream the world’s military forces are maintained at low levels in peacetime status.  The forces are prepared to defend their individual nation from outside attack, but are not used to invade or to occupy any nation without being attacked first.

I dream of a world in which justice reigns as a supreme rule for all people no matter their sex, age, skin color, or nationality.  Every person in my dream is treated fairly according the same rules as every other.  In the world of my dreams all have an equal chance at finding success and happiness in their own fashion.  There are no special rewards accorded the rich and the powerful beyond those of just treatment.  Education and health care are given freely to one and all as a benefit of society and to benefit in return the society.  A nation that holds an educated and healthy citizenry will be a more prosperous country at the end of the day.

Prosperity rules in my dream as all peoples of all nations work to the betterment of the entire globe.  In the absence of massive military expenditures to drain national economies, investments are made in basic research, in infrastructure such as highways and public buildings, and in education.  Factories produce goods that people with good jobs can buy.  And the capitalist circle continues to the benefit of all.

Is this too much for which to dream?  I think not.  Every day we hear news of the failures in our nation and in our world at large.  There are more than enough reports of crime to go around these days.  The housing market is slumping.  The financial markets suffer.  News of war zones and various areas of armed conflict around the globe are terrible.  Global warming increases day by day as the environment is affected by the actions of humankind and the natural forces of our globe.

When ever will this situation end?  Can my dream of peace, justice, and prosperity come to fruition one day?  I submit the dream is much more than the meanderings of a simple mind unable to face reality.  Leaders with great visions and dreams of a better future exist in our country today.  The trick is to find those people and to see to their election at every level in our nation.

We need leaders who not only espouse great dreams but who have solutions to the issues facing us today.  Any person can find fault and point out the problems.  The real trick is finding solutions.  We need leaders who surround themselves with problem solvers.  We need people with the ability to see a problem and to find a variety of solutions to the issue.  Then we need a leader who can sort through the various solutions to find the one way to best face and correct the problems.

We need our dreamers in the world today, and no, I am not talking about any one political candidate of the day, but speaking in general to one and all.  In particular I speak to the voting public at large.  We each and every one must take action every day to see to solutions.  We must cease our bickering and begin to work together to make the best solutions become reality.  We have no more time to complain about what is not happening.  We must move to make progress on all fronts.

Together we can move a nation.  We must hold to that dream of a finer place one day.  Those who let go their dreams lose all hope.  We who dream must share our hopes and our ambitions and our dreams that others, too, may find the right to dream.  We stand together or we fall apart.  We are after all in this together.  

By touching one heart, one mind at a time we can begin to make the differences that will shape our world for generations to come.  It is only by failing to take action and failing to share our dreams that we insure the status quo.

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-01.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

Reflections of A Solitary Peace Protester

Another time; another place, a long protracted war.

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by.  I recall the tune; it rings in my head as I position myself at the intersection.  I plunk myself there each Saturday pleading for peace.  Today was the second time that I stood alone.

The other protesters remained across the street.

As I held up my index and middle fingers in the sign harmony, I thought of how I am not observing fancy, flashy, or forlorn females pass.  I am interacting with my community.  Men, women, the elderly, the young, and the middle age.  I cannot tell who will acknowledge me or how they might react to my request for an early exit from Iraq, Afghanistan, or war.

The exchanges may seem superficial and distant; we are not necessarily meeting face to face.  However, when you are the sole person situated on a sidewalk, carrying a sign that speaks to love and not war, people look at you.

They wave, smile, honk, or extend their fingers in a sign of triumphant tranquility.  Tears well-up inside me as I experience the responses.  As I hold my banner high and my digits higher, I work not to cry.  I am often overwhelmed by my feelings.  The public’s response is inspiring.

The whole has its effect; however, the parts consume me.  The two young teens crossing the street declare, “If I had a horn, I would honk.”  They affirm their agreement.  They want the troops out of Iraq and believe working together for a common cause worldwide is essential.

The man riding by on his bicycle stops.  He stays for a long time.  This gentle soul maintains a physical distance; however, he is enveloped.  His face glows; this chap cannot conceal his excitement.  He beams and smiles. Then, he silently slips away.  His expressions reveal that his heart was filled.

Then there are the frequent and quiet exchanges. Inaudible loving words mouthed as I gaze into the faces of a driver, a passenger, or a car full of people.  These are numerous and uplifting.  The muted tones wow me as do those that I could not, or would not predict.

The man that appears to be quite affluent sits in his new Mercedes Benz convertible.  The traffic light changes.  He approaches my corner.  His top is down.  His skin is golden and tan. This chap is very well dressed.  His hair coiffed, although, blowing gently and gracefully in the breeze.  I wonder; will he scorn my presence, scoff, or deliver a stern message.  No, he does none of these.  He looks in my direction. He grins, offers the peace sign, and then, almost as an after thought as he proceeds forward, honks his horn.

It is an oddity, an enigma, to me.  Each week I walk to “work.”  I have a “job” to do.  I receive no pay.   Yet, I am rewarded.  I am deeply committed to the cause.  I feel as if I have a purpose as I stand before the people beseeching them to work towards ending conflict.  I pursue this passion with vigor.  I would not wish to be late.  My work is gratifying, satisfying, and stimulating.  It puts no money in the bank.  Nevertheless, it fills my heart and mind.  For me, there is nothing like watching peace grow.

A wave of sound vibrates through the air.  Often, I can hear cars more than a block away tooting their horns in anticipation.  They know what they are fast approaching.  They have traveled these crossroads on many a Saturday.

The junction is in the center of town.  It is a bustling place.  Numerous vehicles race pass me as I stand.  Some automobiles move slowly. They want to read my sign.  Words of affirmation are exchanged.  Drivers do not always beep.  Some gesture signs of support.  It fascinates me.  I never know what to expect or from whom.

The city bus drivers usually sound their horns.  Only once did a transit worker ignore me.  Parcel truck operators from nationally renowned companies often hoot.  Each week I see suppliers for grocers drive by in their eighteen wheelers.  They never fail to salute and show their loud approval.  These people are not merely praying for peace; they are speaking their minds, honking their hearts out.

What I find most interesting is that the young, the old, the disabled, those that appear extremely wealthy, and those of lesser means all join in.  Some are vocal; others shy.  Couples chant out together.  At times, only one person in the car calls to get my attention.  Very few shun me.  Fewer scream out in disgust.  Even automobiles with the American flag placed prominently on their window or bumper proudly point at me and say “Peace!”  “Bring our troops home now.”

As I stand in solitude, I recognize a power that I am less aware of when with my compatriots.  Typically when with other activist we chat. ; We make eye contact with each other.  We address the persons as they drive by; however, I realize the interaction with motor vehicle drivers is not the same.  It is more intense, and such a delight to share in one-on-one.

Today, a woman in the passenger seat of a car flashed a sign of good will.  I nodded and said thank you.  She smiled broadly.  We were literally inches apart from each other. Mutually, our hearts were warmed. Acknowledgment is much appreciated.

On numerous occasions, a vehicle on the far side of the street will beep and beep while waiting for the traffic flow to change.  I have come to realize, they want my attention.  Me, a small, little insignificant, and unknown person curbside can change the way they feel about the world.

Often, a person, or many individuals will wave and wave, toot.  and toot, until I turn, look at them directly, and acknowledge their participation.  It is important that they know I see only them.  Once I recognize a person that was anxious to express their beliefs, offer them a nod, direct my hand motions toward them, and say aloud “Thank you!” they go on. They, as we all only need to be understood, heard, cared about and cared for.

I often wonder, if warriors were to meet and greet each other as individuals, not as enemies, if they were to see the face of their foe would they be able to shoot, to maim, or murder this person?  Might the human being, a few feet from them, be more real, if they could or would look into their eyes.

Exchanging glances, being aware of the gestures, and allowing yourself to connect in an authentic way is so very powerful.  It is so pleasurable.

Perchance, if combat did not take place on fields, if soldiers did not bare arms, but held signs, or spoke softly, the quality of the exchange would change.  If the troops stood toe-to-toe and gazed into the visage of those they disagree with, might they chat before they bomb each other to smithereens.

Oh to think, if our adversaries had a face, a place in our heart, might the world be a more peaceful delightful space.  If only, we would try to engage rather than do battle.  Iraqi, Afghanis, and Americans alike could stand on the corner, serenely, sanguine, watching all the girls and guys go by.

Troops Out Now Coalition Calls for Citizen Action

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Many of you may feel as I do.  I wonder why does the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan continue.  I feel hopeless, even now with a Democratic majority in Congress.  In truth, I did not celebrate the Democratic win in November 2006.  For me, until actions are taken, and policies put into practice, I feel no reason to rejoice.  Currently, the Democratic majority is not doing much better than the Republicans did.  Conservatives are not inclined to impinge on the power of the President.  Centrists are concerned; dare they be thought too Left or Right.  The anti-war contingent is anxious.  Might they regret moving too far or too fast.

Each day while Congress patiently convenes, Americans sit comfortably in their cozy homes, apathetic or pounding away at the keys at their electrically powered computers, actively protesting the wars.  Meanwhile, civilians, children, and soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As citizens in this country ponder the blood spilled and scream, ‘We want justice,’ life [or death,] in the Persian Gulf goes on as it has for years. 

Bombs fall; bullets blaze, and bodies plummet to their death.  What were once daily rituals are doomed.  Citizens in the Middle East cannot find calm.  They may pretend to go about their day-to-day doings as they did in the past; however, they cannot.  In recent years, normal is avoiding sniper fire, finding shelter from shootings, scrupulously searching for suicide bombers, chatting while walking in a combat zone, or awaiting a home invasion.  Peace is merely a postulate.

Americans can make a difference.  Troops Out Now Coalition is calling for citizen action.  Tell members of Congress to cut off the funds.  Reach out to your Representatives in Washington and say, “Use the Power of the Purse!”  Troops Out Now Coalition invites each of us to participate in protests in Washington District of Columbia beginning March 12, 2007. 

Volunteering or contributing to the cause might make sense to you.  Whatever you choose please consider, Congress continues to delay. 

Currently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is focused on Party Unity.  Forget Iraq for a moment or more.  It may be months before the Democratic leadership thinks to use the power of the purse to end war efforts.  Pelosi claims to care, as Democrats do; however, the main mission seems to be consensus building.  In the minds of many “liberals,” we must stave off the idea of cutting funds for this futile battle.  The Progressives believe to appease the people they must demonstrate their unflinching support for the troops, while maintaining they are ardent in their fight against terrorism. 

“She has the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, a Pelosi loyalist who as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee is also a political realist.

Like Pelosi, herself a longtime critic of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq four years ago this month, Honda said the House has to take a step-by-step approach in what the Democratic leadership views as a showdown with the White House over the war.

“Being in the majority, we have to produce something that can pass muster not just in the House, but in the wider community. I’m impressed with her intensity in trying to achieve that,” Honda said.

So slowly, and patiently Congress perseveres.  They strategize, maneuver, and engage the President with nonbinding resolutions.  The Democratic House expresses their disapproval of the President’s plan, as though their disdain will affect a certain surge.

The first step in the strategy was last month’s nonbinding resolution expressing the House’s disapproval of Bush’s strategy to send more than 21,500 extra combat troops to Iraq to help quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.

The four-day House debate over that resolution, which was approved Feb. 16, was partly overshadowed by an interview given in the midst of it by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Pelosi’s closest House allies and, as chair of the military appropriations subcommittee, a key convert to the anti-war cause.

In the interview, broadcast on the Internet by the anti-war group, Murtha said his legislation for the $96 billion special spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would severely limit Bush’s ability to send units to Iraq.

The reaction was not exactly what Murtha or Pelosi expected. The White House and Republican congressional leaders said Murtha was a defeatist trying to abandon Iraq to terrorists. But more important was the wary reaction among moderate to conservative House Democrats, some of whom had defeated Republican incumbents in November in districts where voters were upset over the president’s conduct of the war but were not yet ready to pull the plug.

Ah yes; we need to continue pandering to the President and his perfect plan.  Spreading fear into the hearts of Americans is apt.  Congress must recall, those sitting snugly and safe in their American abodes know best.  Terrorism is a threatening reality, especially if you live, work, or fight in the Persian Gulf.  What of those men and women; can they wait as Congress calculates.  Do they want to?  Perhaps exiting Iraq immediately does not mater to the House Majority Leader.  Party unity is her priority.

The reaction also showed that Pelosi had to move carefully and artfully to keep the 233 Democrats together on the second step of her anti-war strategy — the spending bill to pay for the war through Sept. 30 that will come with conditions attached, if not exactly the ones Murtha originally wanted.

So began the selling job and the need to change Murtha’s proposal. Involved with Pelosi were senior Democratic leaders such as Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin, Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Together they wooed the party’s factions.

Gone from the spending bill were Murtha’s ironclad conditions for sending units to Iraq. The measure was watered down to provide Bush with the ability to publicly waive the deployment rules on training, equipment and time at home.

Weakening the measures so as not to offend the President will do little to secure an exit strategy.  Making resources and training less available to an already struggling military will not benefit the men or the women waiting a seemingly certain death.  Time at home, well that was treasure few thought they would claim.

Also written into the legislation — to lure the strongest anti-war elements — was a withdrawal schedule tied to a set of benchmarks for the Iraqi government to attain in the next few months. The Iraqi government’s failure to meet the benchmarks would trigger an immediate start of a U.S. force withdrawal. And in no case would any U.S. forces remain in Iraq past 2008.

Sigh!  Might this be a welcome sign of relief or is this too merely a mirage.  Perhaps it is.  the Congress seems to say we will exit Iraq, eventually, only to strengthen our surge into Afghanistan.

To show that Democrats are serious about fighting terrorism, the bill provides more money for operations in Afghanistan, which Pelosi said should be the main focus of antiterrorism operations.

And to show that House Democrats don’t want any more Bush military operations, they are considering adding language specifying that the president must return to Congress for a new authorization before any attack on Iran.

The latter might be thought of as a ray of hope; however, we all know . . .

Bush has already said he’ll veto the bill if it ever passes the House and the narrowly divided Senate and reaches him, but, if so, he runs the risk of not being able to pay for the war’s continuing operations.

The Democratic leadership also might allow its most vehement anti-war Democrats who make up the Out of Iraq Caucus to offer an amendment to their measure saying that no military funds can be used for anything other than withdrawing U.S. troops.

They might; however, again, I have no faith in the Congress.  The continue bureaucracy challenges beliefs.  What I observes is a Congress that woos, wanes, and waits, while the war continues.  Some say America is strong and resolute, or are they merely resigned to let George W. Bush stay the course?

We know that in years passed Congress has cut funding for wars and other worrisome efforts involving American engagement.  As I stated in The Price of Addiction. Bush and War,

I do not comprehend what moves Congress to act as they do.  Iraq war veterans are against this war.  Some of these soldiers were elected to office in hopes that they would find a way to stop the blood bath.  Freshmen members offer words of wisdom; yet nothing changes.

“We stand together to tell this administration that we are against the escalation, and to say with one voice that Congress will no longer be a blank check to the president’s failed policies,” said freshman Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), who was a captain with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad. “The president’s plan to send more of our best and bravest to die refereeing a civil war in Iraq is wrong.”

We are still funding a failed war effort.  The argument is that if we stop supplying the dollars we will not be supporting the troops.  The troops themselves dispute this claim.  However, members of the House and the Senate fear the people will not believe this is true.  It seems Americans do not recall this action has been taken in the past.

A new report from the Center for American Progress details how, over the last 35 years, Congress has passed bills, enacted into law, [measures that] capped the size of military deployments, prohibited funding for existing or prospective deployment, and placed limits and conditions on the timing and nature of deployments.

Citizens did not clamor in disgust.  They were pleased to bring our boys and girls home with minds and bodies intact.  Might we again let our conscious be our guide?  Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!! 

Please contact Troops Out Now Coalition. Join your fellow Americans during the week of March 12, 2007.  Participate in a March on Washington District of Columbia or donate to the cause.  Volunteer if you are able.

The Weather forecast for Washington, District of Columbia is predicted to be mild, in 60’s for next week.
For the latest Encampment updates – check the Encampment blog

Do Not Let Them Get Away With It!!!
Antiwar Encampment in Front of Congress Starts on Monday, March 12, 2007

Don’t Be Fooled, the “withdrawal from Iraq” plan that Democratic Party leaders in Congress have just announced is nothing more than a cover for them to approve Bush’s request for $100 billion to fund the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan– in other words, to continue the war.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
Democratic Party leaders propose to begin withdrawing troops in a year to 18 months.  Over the last 18 months, more than 1,200 U.S. soldiers have been killed, and about 7 times that many wounded and maimed. Do the math: a year or 18 more months of war is a death sentence for untold numbers of soldiers and an even greater number of Iraqis.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
The “withdrawal time tables” along with the ” goals and conditions” that Democratic leaders are proposing are not fundamentally different than the ones that Bush proposed in his “State of the Union” address.  The real stink bomb hidden in this new “withdrawal” legislation is that Bush and his generals have the authority to “waive” any part of these so-called timetables and conditions, any time he wants to.
The fact is that these new proposals amount to nothing more than political posturing by Democratic leaders in order to get some of the antiwar heat off of them while they continue to fund the war. This plan is not a plan to end the war–it is just another non-binding resolution.  Representative Jerry Nadler had it right when he said, “All of this is just, and excuse funding another year of war.”

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
Democratic Party leaders can end the war right now if the exercise their power to simply cut off all funding for the war.
If they don’t do that, then it’s not just Bush’s war, or just the Republican Party’s war, it’s the Democratic Party’s war as well and now is the time to demand that they put up or shut up.

Cut Off the War Funds – End the War Now – Bring the Troops Home!!!
On Monday, antiwar activists from around the country will began camping in front of the Capital building at 3rd St. right on the Washington DC National Mall.
We will be there with tents, banners, placards, signs, noisemakers,  etc. demanding that Congress stop the BS and simply cut off the war funding, end the war now and bring the troops home. We need you to join us. We need you to march on the Pentagon on March 17.  Moreover, if there was ever a time to be in the streets, blocking traffic, occupying bridges, organizing walk-outs from coast to coast to stop this criminal war. This Is The Time!

The Encampment to Stop the War will start in just a few days – Monday, March 12 – and there is an enormous amount of work to be done in a short period of time.  We have an opportunity in the next few days to have a major impact, if we work together–here’s how you can help:

Let us know if you are coming to the Encampment.  Use the Volunteer form at http://troopsoutnow….

Volunteer at the Encampment – we will need hundreds of volunteers during the week of the Encampment let us know how you can help (logistics, security, medical, greeter, etc) – http://troopsoutnow….

Please Donate to help with the enormous costs of the Encampment

If you are not able to come to the encampment, help send a youth activist to the Encampment to the week- donate for transportation and housing costs here.

Please Peruse the Possibilities . . .

  • IRAQ WAR PROTEST: Interview w/Rep. John Conyers  YouTube.
  • Democratic win welcomed abroad.  USA Today. November 8, 2006
  • Democrats Steer the War in Iraq in Fits and Starts, By Robin Toner.  The New York Times. March 10, 2007
  • pdf Democrats Steer the War in Iraq in Fits and Starts, By Robin Toner.  The New York Times. March 10, 2007
  • Troops Out Now Coalition
  • Iraq pullout bill tests Pelosi’s grip on Dems, Speaker juggles disparate factions to hold party unity.  By Edward Epstein. San Francisco Chronicle. Saturday, March 10, 2007
  • The Price of Addiction. Bush and War, By Betsy L. Angert.
  • Donate.  Troops Out Now Coalition
  • Volunteer form.  Troops Out Now Coalition