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Iraq Moratorium goes mainstream; well, kind of

Who’s the guy with the big Iraq Moratorium button?

Could it be a presidential candidate?

Indeed, Sen. Mike Gravel joined tens of thousands of others who observed Iraq Moratorium #3 on Nov. 16.

The Alaska Democrat, former Senator and presidential hopeful wore a big, black Iraq Moratorium button all day, the Moratorium website says. It’s in the Moratorium Day #3 reports.

That makes him the first presidential candidate to actually get on board the peace train, although a would-be First Lady beat him to it by two months.  

For antiwar Yellow Dog Democrats, 1968 looms again

Six months ago, I was confidently telling people that if the Democrats couldn’t win the presidency in 2008, we should just disband the party.

Lately, I have started hedging my bets.  

And an hour with the front section of Sunday’s New York Times was enough to make me think that we are headed for another heartbreaking and unnecessary loss.

What did we learn today from the “liberal media?”

1. Violence is on the decline in Iraq.

2. One brigade of US troops has started to pull out.

3.  The troop surge has not produced the political progress that was promised, so the Bush administration is simply downsizing its goals, to make it look like progress.

4.  The Democratic presidential candidates appear ready to soften their stances, or at least their language, on Iraq and change the subject to domestic issues.

Here we go again.  

We will be fooled again, it would appear.

Which brings us to the question: What is an antiwar Yellow Dog Democrat to do, after reading that one of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy advisors, Michael O’Hanlon, is saying:

“The politics of Iraq are going to change dramatically in the general election, assuming Iraq continues to show some hopefulness,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s and a proponent of the military buildup. “If Iraq looks at least partly salvageable, it will be important to explain as a candidate how you would salvage it – how you would get our troops out and not lose the war. The Democrats need to be very careful with what they say and not hem themselves in.”

War stops thousands of beating hearts

I saw that on a bumpersticker recently, and thought it was a cogent reminder to so-called right-to-lifers that saving lives of real, whole people who actually exist and function as human beings should be at least as important as saving unborn fetuses or frozen embryos.

But to the religious right, and to the Catholic church, which I don’t lump in with the evangelicals, some “beating hearts” are more important than others.

When you go to Abortion Stops a Beating Heart website, you discover that Pro-Life Ministries “supports President Bush and our brave soldiers fighting Islamic terrorism.”  A link takes you to this explanation of Islam:  

Why you Need to Understand Islam and Islam’s False Religion of Hate, Intolerance and Errors Which Leads its’ Followers to Hell and Eternal Separation from God and Become a Follower of Jesus Who is the Christ, the ONLY Son of God, and sits at God’s Right Hand!

But are their Islamic hearts, and the hearts of Iraqi civilians, beating, or is it only the US military, whose hearts beat true for the red, white and blue?

What prompts this post not anything new from the fundamentalists, but a recent statement by the Catholic bishops.

True cost of Iraq war: Trillions

Such a deal.

The Iraq war already has cost a family of four $16,500, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

A new report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee says the cost per family is going to be $36,900.

And total expenditures, direct and indirect, could exceed $3.5-trillion if the U.S. stays the course and keeps even 75,000 troops in Iraq through 2017 — hardly a rash assumption, since none of the leading presidential candidates in either party will pledge to have the troops home by 2013.  (To be fair, “only” $2.8-trillion is for Iraq, with the rest for war in Afghanistan.)

Amitabh Pal for The Progressive online:

Predictably, the analysis has the Republicans crying foul. They allege that the Democrats in charge of the committee have played with the numbers. But this is the right way to measure the cost of that unnecessary conflict. The budgetary impact, as large as it is, captures only a fraction of the economic toll on this country.

The report details the multiple ways in which the war has been detrimental to the U.S. economy. Most obviously, the turmoil in Iraq has contributed to a diminished global oil production, making all of us pay higher prices at the pump. The report estimates that the Iraq fiasco has contributed at least $5 per barrel to the increase in oil prices.

And then there are several other costs, too. The government has had to spend borrowed money for the war, diverting spending from more productive uses and paying massive interest payments on its war profligacy. Substantial sums have had to be paid for treating wounded war veterans. There have been several lifetimes of lost productivity for the injured. Considerable military equipment has been damaged. And the list goes on.

Even that dollar count, of course, doesn’t count the real toll of the hundreds of thousands of lives shattered beyond repair, a cost the world will continue to bear for decades.

UPDATE: The Pentagon has found one way to cut costs: By asking wounded vets to give back the signing bonuses they got for enlisting, because they couldn’t fulfill their contracts. More here.

Pal continues:

I’m not going to do that whole guns versus butter thing and lament about all the productive expenditure this money could have been utilized for. It’s giving the Bush Administration too much credit to assume that they would have guided all that amount to more rational uses. (For those interested in such numbers, the American Friends Service Committee has some heartbreaking comparative statistics on the myriad ways the funds could have been better spent.)

Cross-posted on Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.

Six million turn out to protest Iraq war

OK, that headline is only true in my dreams.

But on a per capita basis, the equivalent happened on Iraq Moratorium  #3 last Friday in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Hayward, a city of 2,129 in northwestern Wisconsin, is better know as the Musky Capital of the World than as a center of antiwar activism.

But 40 people turned out for a vigil to call for an ending the war and bringing our troops home.

If people in Milwaukee turned out in equal numbers, as a percentage of the population, there would have been 12,000 at the downtown rush hour vigil Friday night.  Instead, there were perhaps 100 at most.

In New York City, there would have been 160,000 in the streets.  In Houston, 42,000.   In  San Jose, 18,000.  And that’s without including any suburban populations.

This inspiring photo, which graces the Iraq Moratorium website, is not from Hayward, but from Sewanee, Tennessee, with a population of 2,335. You can count about 30 people in that small community at last month’s Moratorium.  Its turnout is almost on a par with Hayward’s.

Those kinds of successes, in small town America, are what inspire activists in the antiwar movement and help to keep hope alive as the senseless, endless war continues.  

What if there was an antiwar movement and no one reported it?

This can’t be blaming the messenger, because the complaint is that they aren’t bringing any messages.

But one can’t help but wonder whether the antiwar movement in this country might grow a little faster if the news media reported on it.

Currently, there is an almost total blackout on coverage.

Case in point: Friday’s Iraq Moratorium.

In small towns and big cities across the country, people held events to call for an end to the war in Iraq.  Some were small vigils, but others were clearly newsworthy and video-friendly.

Want to guess how much coverage there was, either before or after?  

Feeling guilty? Buy an M-Day indulgence

Happy Moratorium Day, Bucko.

What’s that?  You say you’re not planning to do anything today for the Moratorium; too stressed out, overbooked, busy, sick, exhausted and who knows what all?

And if you weren’t in sad enough shape, you’re feeling just a teensy bit guilty about not doing something, anything to stop the war today?

Well, Bucko, we’ve got just the solution for you:  Buy yourself an indulgence.

Simply go to the Iraq Moratorium website and make a contribution.  A one-time donation of any amount counts as doing something.  And the Moratorium desperately needs the dough.

Of course, if you don’t intend on doing anything on the third Friday of coming months, either, you might want to consider a monthly pledge — sort of a plenary indulgence that will keep you in the state of grace right on through.

Out-Onioning The Onion

From the Are You Shitting Me Department:

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman urged bipartisan action from the next administration and Congress to address the global war on terror, health care, energy independence and climate change during his lecture Wednesday night at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union Theater.

He said these issues are vital to the welfare of the country and must be resolved without adherence to political alliances. He decried the last generation of politics as “hyper-partisan,” suggesting that most people decided ideological positions based on their party affiliation rather than on the issues themselves.

However, with the need to address these universal and fundamental problems facing the country, he expects a shift away from partisanship in politics.

“On all of these issues instead of seeing red versus blue, which we have seen the past couple of years and two presidencies, you are going to see much more of what I call ‘free agent politics,'” Mehlman said.

Mehlman, who was the campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 2004 bid, praised the entire field of presidential candidates from both parties, describing this as a unique election in the country’s history. He predicted the balance between the public’s apparent desire for change and the concern of being in a prolonged war will significantly impact the election.

I thought it must be a joke, but it is reported seriously by WisPolitics, a usually reliable political site.

I’m too stunned to comment, although you are welcome to do so.

Tomorrow’s the day; What’s your excuse?

Tomorrow is Iraq Moratorium #3.

Is there a reason you can’t participate?

Too busy?

Too burned out?

Too sophisticated?

Too cynical?

The bloodshed never takes a day off.

The Pentagon operates 24/7/365.

So why not join the growing number of people who take the pledge to do something on the third Friday of the month to call for an end to the war?

Bridge players speak out; Can you trump this?

A U.S. team of world-class bridge players, tired of being asked to defend their country’s indefensible actions, disavowed George W. Bush’s policies — and risked their livelihood. All sorts of penalties are being threatened.

All they did was hold up a handmade sign saying, “We did not vote for Bush.”  But they did it at a public event in China.

In the polite, refined world of duplicate bridge, it rivals the black power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Which leads to the question: If they can do that, what are we going to do Friday, Iraq Moratorium Day #3?

Iraq Moratorium Friday: Do something!

Friday is the third Iraq Moratorium.

Organizers ask people to do something — anything — to call for an end to the war in Iraq.

Cynics say it won’t do any good.

But I am participating because it seems obvious that doing something is infinitely more likely to have an impact than doing nothing.

It’s a largely unstructured, grassroots event, designed to continue to grow, expand and escalate.  It recognizes that it’s going to be a long haul to stop the war, and is digging in for a prolonged effort. It happens on the third Friday of every month.

There’s no shortage of ideas of things you can do.  A few suggestions:

Waking up the silent antiwar majority

On Friday, Nov. 16, antiwar activists will take the “Anti-Torture Train” to San Jose, Calif., where more than 20 groups are sponsoring a march, picket, and news conference in front of a corporation that organizers say profits from illegal kidnappings and torture by handling the logistics for the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” flights — torture flights.

On the way, they will leaflet Caltrain passengers to educate them about U.S. torture policy, the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” of suspects to other countries for abusive interrogation, and efforts in Congress to end the practice.

In New York City, a morning rush hour action at Union Square will feature hand-painted Pietas and black-clad leafleters.

Protesters in a number of cities will bang pots and pans in front of Congressional offices, as part of the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins campaign, inspired by the late progressive columnist and activist.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, a student walkout is planned at a number of schools and campuses at noon, with an all-day teach-in and workshops, reminiscent of the 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium, at Macalester College.

It’s the third Iraq Moratorium Day.

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