My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What to Recall, What to Forget Nov. 7

The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that only 29 percent of Americans approve of how President Bush is handling the war in Iraq.

That's terrible news for Republicans on the eve of mid-term elections. While some frantically try to distance themselves from the president, others are frantically trying to distract voters.

Please worry about illegal immigration, they say.

Worry about gay marriages.

Worry about income taxes.

Worry about the stand-up comedy career of John Kerry.

But please, please put the ongoing debacle in Iraq out of your mind when you walk into the voting booth.

Just try.

October was the bloodiest month for coalition forces in almost two years. According to the Pentagon, 105 U.S. soldiers were killed, most of them by improvised bombs.

Don't think about them November 7th.

Don't think about all the funerals at Arlington. Don't think about the months of rehab at Walter Reed, learning how to walk with prosthetic legs or eat with prosthetic arms.

Don't remind yourself of that day, so long ago, when Bush posed on the aircraft carrier and announced that major combat was over. Mission accomplished.

Don't remind yourself of how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld belittled the insurgency in Iraq, and predicted we'd make short work of it.

Don't ask yourself what those arrogant fools were thinking when they dreamed up this war.

Please don't think about the phantom weapons of mass destruction, or about the obliging and unquestioning members of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- who bought the hype.

Don't think about what happened at Abu Ghraib prison, or how it helped turn so many Iraqis against us.

Don't ask yourself how Afghanistan, haven for the guys who planned the 9/11 attacks, got shoved to the back burner. Don't clutter your head with thoughts of Osama bin Laden, still very much alive and spewing hatred -- in hiding nowhere near Iraq.

And please don't think about where we are today, stuck in the middle of a religious civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites, with violent fanatics on both sides. Also, don't worry about Iran waiting on the sidelines, juicing up its nuclear program.

When Bush stands up at a campaign rally and says America is safer now than it was five years ago, don't think about the National Intelligence Estimate completed by 16 U.S. spy agencies. Their conclusion: The occupation of Iraq has galvanized Islamic radicals and actually increased the global threat of terrorism.

That, from the top intelligence officials in our own government. Their report was done last April, but kept under wraps until the details began leaking in September.

Here's something else not to think about on Election Day: A 2005 study by the National Intelligence Council saying that since the invasion, Iraq has become the main training camp for the next generation of terrorists and future leaders of al Qaeda.

Every day the war comes home in a crushing way to another American town, to heartsick wives or husbands and to children. The finest soldiers in the world are fighting their guts out in a place where they are increasingly viewed, and treated, as invaders.

The same politicians who got us into the war promise to get us out, but they can't say how or when. They're more comfortable ranting against lesbian weddings and illegal farm workers than talking about the 105 coffins that were shipped home last month from Iraq.

They'd prefer that the war wasn't a big campaign issue, and that voters didn't wonder about the doubts of our own top generals or the bleak assessments from our own intelligence networks. Or about the president himself, grinning like a Muppet while defending the competence of Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Try not to think about that on Tuesday.

Just try.

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