Sunday, January 20, 2008

Martin and Bobby

Tomorrow I will participate, for the first time, in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. march in Denver, CO. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say, "for the first time", as it has always seemed that things such as work or other scheduling issues, have prevented my participation in the past. Well, not tomorrow. I have taken the morning off from work for the march and for the speeches at City Park and Civic Center Park. It is supposed to be about 16 degrees above zero tomorrow, so I will be "marching" rapidly, in order to build up the ol' body heat. Dr. King followed a tradition that goes back to Leo Tolstoy, and then Mahatma Gandhi, regarding the issue of nonviolence and opposition to violent actions such as war. He studied the works of both of these men, and incorporated them into his own thoughts and works on the issues of nonviolence and racial justice in this nation. In addition to his work on civil rights for all in this country (sorry, Hillary - but his work was in fact more important than LBJ's subsequent passing of civil rights legislation, as that never would have happened without MLK's being a prime catalyst for it), Dr. King was in great opposition to the Vietnam War, and was on the verge of leading an even wider movement in the nation that focused more upon class issues, planning a Poor People's March on Washington, when he was taken away from us. I've been reading Daniel Ellsberg's (the govt. analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the NY Times, revealing the lies of the Vietnam War) memoir on his life and the war in Vietnam, "Secrets", and am struck by the parallels between that time and now, with regard to our involvement in yet another unjust, immoral action. Here are just a few statistics which usually don't come to light, concerning our involvement in the occupation of Iraq, courtesy of Iraq War Results & Statistics as of Jan 2, 2008

Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated - A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian casualities have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian casualities at over 600,000.

Troops in Iraq - Total 170,961, including 160,000 from the US, 4,500 from the UK, 2,000 from Georgia, 900 from Poland, 650 from South Korea and 2,911 from all other nations

US Troop Casualities - 3,905 US troops; 98% male. 90% non-officers; 80% active duty, 12% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 10% African-American, 11% Latino. 18% killed by non-hostile causes. 51% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 70% were from the US Army

Non-US Troop Casualties - Total 307, with 174 from the UK

US Troops Wounded - 28,822, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries (total excludes psychological injuries)

US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems - 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home

Private Contractors in Iraq, Working in Support of US Army Troops - More than 180,000 in August 2007, per The Nation/LA Times.

Daily Insurgent Attacks, Feb 2004 - 14

Daily Insurgent Attacks, July 2005 - 70

Daily Insurgent Attacks, May 2007 - 163

Estimated Insurgency Strength, Nov 2003 - 15,000

Estimated Insurgency Strength, Oct 2006 - 20,000 - 30,000

Estimated Insurgency Strength, June 2007 - 70,000


Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 - 2,255,000

Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan - 2.1 million to 2.25 million

Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%

Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 28% in June 2007 (Per, July 30, 2007)

Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 10.9 in May 2007

Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 5.6 in May 2007

Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 16 to 24

Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%

Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies - 70% (Per, July 30, 2007)

Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%

Tomorrow will be a day to remember and honor Dr. King, as well as Robert F. Kennedy, to remember all of those who died in Vietnam and Iraq, and to begin the work for change so that such tragedies will not be allowed to happen again. 16 degrees, suddenly, doesn't seem so cold now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's Barack, Baby!!!

Barack Obama has won the Iowa Caucuses tonight on the Democratic side, with John Edwards taking second and Hillary Clinton in the third position close behind. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa with Mitt Romney taking second, and no one really cares, because no one wants Republicans in the White House for a very long time. This is great news, because the more I think about it, the more that I feel that Hillary Clinton will not be electable against a Republican candidate due to how she is perceived by right and wacky far-right voters in this country. And, I've increasingly come to see her as the Democratic candidate of Big Money and the status quo, essentially as a corporatist that many Republicans could actually deal with, were she to be elected. Where as with Barack Obama and John Edwards, a vote for either of these men is certainly a vote for a new direction for this nation. Obama is such an impressive figure, despite his lack of political experience (which actually may be a plus), who is an intellectual giant (oh, how refreshing that would be!) and who brings back excitement for real change unseen since the days of John and Bobby Kennedy in the 1960's. And John Edwards has definitely burned all of his bridges with Big Money, vowing to take this country back from corporations which only seek to enrich themselves at the expense of democracy itself in this nation. I can't remember when I have heard a politician speak the truth about how corporate elites have taken the nation away from its roots, and down a road that comes dangerously close to fascism, a word Edwards has not used as far as I know, but who clearly expresses such ideas in his populist speeches. Both of these men would be fantastic choices for this nation, and can you just imagine an Obama/Edwards, Edwards/Obama ticket for the top two offices? Especially against say for instance, "old man" John McCain and "Grandpa" Fred Thompson? No, a new day is coming after these last seven years, and America (as well as the rest of the world, I'm sure) both deserves and is ready for it!